Category Archives: beach

Gym, run, (plus sheep in space, encouraging drinking and something strange in the kitchen)

Back running along one of the usual routes

Back to Oxfordshire on Tuesday after a great long weekend in Bournemouth, then sorting ourselves out and doing washing. The drought has now broken – amazing how quickly grass recovers.

Ramsey’s The Omil’s kitchen nightmares

I drove back to Bournemouth on Wednesday night for an early Thursday meeting with the electrician I had contacted about the kitchen sockets’ circuit that went wrong and kept tripping over the weekend. I waited beyond the agreed time and then phoned.

He said he’d been ringing on the doorbell and had got no reply. Eventually we worked it out – in my original call I’d told him that my next door neighbour, Nathan, had given me his name, and I gave the address. He had registered the name but had completely ignored the address – and then went next door to an entirely different person he knew called Nathan. No electrician was coming

On the off chance, I tried resetting the trip switch for the kitchen sockets’ circuit. It stayed and the sockets in the kitchen all work. It tripped perhaps 10 times while we were investigating the problem initially – how can that happen?

I have a list of other electricians but I guess there’s no point in getting one to come to the house just to see everything working properly.

It wasn’t a complete waste of time – I saw our older son and his girlfriend who are having a break at the house – one of the benefits of ‘working from home’ is that, for this purpose, ‘home’ can be anywhere.

I also picked up some keys that I’d forgotten to take back after the weekend, did some gardening, cleared the conservatory gutters and fixed one of the slipped conservatory roof panels.

Back to Oxfordshire (again) in the afternoon and some semblance of normality returned in the shape of a good gym session on Friday morning, followed by the bike shop.

A lady came in seeking help in setting up a turbo trainer for her husband – so I went on Saturday and did that for them. It made me think of getting on mine in the early evening – but I didn’t. A bit of demotivation after the cancellation of the triathlon, I expect.

I got out for a run on Sunday – my first for two weeks. No great pace but I pushed on for 12km (7.5 miles) and enjoyed it. There were people setting up dinks stations for an organised race with 5km and 10km distances – I’d not heard about it which is a shame as it would have been fun to enter.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A person with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace

2. BBC News website: Human remains in suitcases purchased from auction

The family had gone to an auction and purchased a trailer-load of goods – which included the suitcases – that were being sold as part of an attempt to clear abandoned goods out of a locker.

Bidders at similar auctions typically do not get to inspect the abandoned items closely before purchasing them with many bids placed in the hope of a surprise valuable haul but on unpacking the items they discovered the remains of two young children. The bodies had probably been in storage for several years and the victims are thought to have been aged between five and 10 when they died.

Sad and horrible

3. BBC News website: Japan’s young adults – too sober

Japan’s younger generation drinks less alcohol than their than their parents – a move that has hit taxes from beverages like sake (rice wine).

The national tax agency has stepped in with a national competition to come up with ideas to reverse the trend. The “Sake Viva!” campaign hopes to come up with a plan to make drinking more attractive – and boost the industry.

Reaction has been mixed, with some criticism about the bid to promote an unhealthy habit but others have posted quirky ideas online – such as famous actresses “performing” as virtual-reality hostesses in digital clubs.

4. BBC News website: Shaun the Sheep heading on a mission to the Moon

Animators Aardman (creators of ‘Wallace and Gromit’) has announced that the famous stop-motion TV character will be aboard the unmanned Artemis I mission. The mission will carry a range of mementos with cultural significance and will see the toy Shaun fly almost 311,000 miles (500,000 km) from Earth.

The European Space Agency said “We’re very happy he’s been selected for the mission and we understand, although it might be a small step for a human, it’s a giant leap for lambkind.”

Amy Pieters – update

Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters has been moved to an intensive neuro-rehabilitation facility in the Netherlands as she continues her recovery from severe brain damage suffered in a training crash in December 2021.

In April, an update said Pieters could recognise people, understand what was being said and that she was also able to “carry out more and more assignments.” However, doctors were unable to confirm what the three-time Madison world champion’s long term outlook would be.

I wish her all the strength in the world

Gym, swims (x3), turbo, walks (x3), rides (x3) and triathlon training – but in vain

Bournemouth at its best

For some time now, Mondays have seen a run in the morning and the swim doctor session in the early evening. This week it was gym and swim doctor – that’s me living life on the ragged edge.

No fitting in a lake swim this week which is a shame as it’s getting warmer here in the UK as we head towards another hot spell later in the week. That made Tuesday’s decision to get on the turbo trainer even more ridiculous – but I keep saying I must get back on the bike ahead of the triathlon (in less than 6 weeks) and I keep failing to do it.

I dripped my way through 30 minutes @29.3kph (18.2mph). Although the heat made it hard, my legs felt pretty good.

Afterwards, I took a look at the details of the triathlon. It’s an Olympic (or ‘Standard’) distance race which should be 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run. It seems that this one is 45.5km on the bike and 10.2km run – I’m not sure whether to be cross that it’s over-length or pleased at the greater value for money (oh, the irony of writing that).

The big things are to continue with long open water swims, to get out on the bike (and ride the triathlon course) and to keep doing 10k runs. Do I put the tri-bars on the bike and do I stick with the toe clips rather than clip-in pedals to save a shoe change into cycling shoes with cleats? I don’t think the bars or cleats were missed at all in the sprint triathlons but that might change for a longer race?

On Wednesday we drove down to Bournemouth ahead of our annual trip with friends. Thursday was spent doing some gardening and chores about the house. The bad news was that an email arrived from the organiser of September’s triathlon announcing its cancellation and the putting of the organising company into administration. Damn.

Everyone arrived in the evening in time for food and drink.

On Friday we rode to Holmsley in the New Forest and walked the Holmsley Inclosure. It was very hot so we adapted the walk to keep more to the trees than the open heathland. We crossed what should have been a stream but was little more than a muddy puddle – the drought continues to bite. Very hot but a fine day out with a pub lunch – and a swim around a buoy out in the bay in the afternoon (nearly 400m of swimming). A walk to a very good Moroccan/Lebanese restaurant in Southbourne for supper in the evening.

On Saturday we were brave and cycled to ‘The Magic of Thailand’ in King’s Park. It was a risk and could have been anything – but it was surprisingly good. Stalls with clothing, souvenirs, lots of street food and traditional dancing, a cookery demonstration, thai massage (which the other 5 all tried), thai singing, thai boxing and a ladyboy show (slightly less sure about that, personally).

Still very hot but an enjoyable day and another swim around the buoy in the afternoon in a slightly rougher sea. I enjoyed it but being a distance from the shore in noticeable (but not exactly huge) waves was testing enough for me. I don’t swim in very straight lines at the best of times but I found it even harder in the sea once the waves and current got going.

Overnight, the only downer on the weekend was that the electrics tripped in the house. The problem is with the circuit powering the sockets in the kitchen. The cooker did work (as it’s on a separate circuit) and the same for the boiler, we powered the fridge from an extension lead from the sitting room and the kettle and toaster were moved to the conservatory. The microwave could have been moved to any convenient plug out of the kitchen. The remaining issue is the dishwasher which couldn’t be moved (it’s fitted in the space).

Sunday we cycled to the Russell-Coates museum towards the centre of Bournemouth. Set in the family’s house, it was fascinating. Russell-Coates was a great philanthropist who made his money through ownership of the Royal Bath Hotel in the town and spent a lifetime travelling and collecting art and artefacts from around the world.

On Monday, we cycled a few miles to the old Throop water mill and set out on a walk around part of the River Stour Way. I’d downloaded a route which turned out to require us to walk across the river. Being unable to manage that, we ended up scrambling through some brambles, across a small ditch and up a steep bank to get over a fence and to a bridge – that turned a walk of 8km into one of 12km.

On Tuesday morning everyone departed to the accompaniment of rain – the first we have had for a few weeks – very welcome and, for us, good timing. It was a terrific break – great friends, excellent company, fantastic weather and some very entertaining trips.

In all, about 65km of cycling, over 20km of walking and about 800m of swimming for me – a triathlon spread over four days. It was a fine long weekend on all fronts.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If love is a sickness, patience is the remedy

2. BBC News website: Cash is King (again)?

People are going back to cash to keep tighter control on their spending as living costs soar, according to new research by the Post Office. Post offices handled £801m in personal cash withdrawals in July, up more than 20% from a year earlier and the most since records began five years ago.

The chair of the Cash Action Group said it showed people are “literally counting the pennies” as they grapple with rising prices. “People will be taking out cash and physically putting it into pots, saying ‘this is what I have for bills, this is what I have for food, and this is what’s left’.”

Sadly, some might find that, after the pots for bills and food, there is nothing left

3. BBC News website: Global warming and changing weather patterns affect the water supply for the Panama Canal

Completed in 1914, the waterway links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and nearly halved the travel time between the US West Coast and Europe. Ships pass through a series of locks along its 50-mile (80km) length and are lifted up to 85ft (26m) above sea level before being lowered again. Every time a ship goes through the locks, 55m gallons (250m litres) of fresh water is used, then released into the sea. On average, 37 ships go through the locks every day, using more than 2bn gallons (9bn litres) of fresh water.

In the exceptionally dry year of 2019, the canal authorities had to reduce the amount of water they used to operate the locks, which meant that ships could not carry such heavy cargo because there was less water between the keel of the ship and the bottom of the canal. The canal authorities are looking at ways to store more water in rainy years to ensure a sufficient supply in drier times and deepening existing artificial lakes to capture more rainwater.

None of the options are easy.

4. BBC News website: They have pizza in Italy???

Domino’s Pizza’s last stores in Italy have been closed after the firm that operated its outlets in the country filed for bankruptcy. Domino’s had struggled to win over customers in the birthplace of pizza since launching there in 2015 and the franchise holder, ePizza SpA, was hit by the pandemic.

News of the fast food giant’s exit from the country was celebrated by some social media users.

Run (x2), swim, walk (x2), cycle (plus bulls, AI and kitchen cabinets)

Vicious things those kitchen cabinets

Monday I took a car to the garage and ran back – my first run post-ultra – just 4km (2.5 miles) but it’s a start. Swim doctor session in the evening – I dodged the drills and swam a gentle recovery 1km.

I spent the much of the day on the dismal task of mopping up dirty water. The dishwasher outlet pipe had blocked leading to a couple of days when, unseen, it spewed out water under the kitchen units. A very messy job but fingers crossed that all will be well thanks to a bottle of drain cleaner and a lot of bleach. Perhaps the best thing about the current heatwave is that everything dried well.

On Tuesday, an attempt to run the dishwasher revealed that all was not well as the pipe still failed to drain away the water it discharged. Bit by bit I had to dismantle the whole outlet pipe which was actually blocked in several places. A horrible job reaching under and to the back of the carcasses of the kitchen units, in dirty water and emulsified fat! I ended up with very sore arms and shoulders.

Also on Tuesday one of the friends I’d been cycling with in the alps posted a message on Whatsapp to say he’d just tested positive for Covid. I did a test but it came out negative (the ‘we’ve had Covid’ camp seems to be increasing rapidly but I’m very happy still not to have joined it).

Wednesday showed two things – the dishwasher was sorted and is now sharing its dirty water with the drain outside instead of the kitchen floor – but my arms had suffered in the cause. Both shoulders were sore and both biceps were raw and bruised. It the same way that I need bigger hands and feet for swimming, I need longer arms for kitchen DIY.

With rather reduced arm mobility, I cancelled the week’s planned lake swim and gym session and resigned myself to a low key week for exercise.

On Thursday, my arms were improving, but still a rather fetching black and blue and still sore. I ran in the morning – 5.8km (3.6 miles). With just a 10km run in September’s olympic distance triathlon, it’s good to be able to run because I want to, rather than because I feel that I must.

We drove down to Bournemouth on Thursday night and spent Friday getting the house ready for a weekend with friends who drove down early on Saturday. When they arrived we went for a walk across Hengistbury Head with a picnic on the beach and then walked to Southbourne for supper in the evening – total walking 15km (9.3 miles).

On Sunday we cycled to visit the lovely gardens at Compton Acres – about 24km (15 miles) with stops at Sandbanks and Bournemouth pier for ice cream. Roast chicken Sunday lunch in the evening. Back to Oxfordshire after an excellent weekend.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Don’t set sail on someone else’s star

2. BBC News website: Heatwaves and solar panels

The UK’s heatwave is helping to generate large amounts of solar power – but, ironically, it’s actually too hot for the highest levels of electricity generation.

For solar power generation, the amount of sunshine is more important than the amount of heat as heat brings down the efficiency of solar panels slightly. In the UK the record for peak half-hourly generation is always in April or May, when we get sunny but relatively cool weather.

3. BBC News website: And I thought the ultra was tough running

In 24 hours three men have died from wounds suffered during bull-running festivals in Spain’s Valencia region. They had taken part in the traditional ‘bous al carrer’, when bulls charge through towns, often with people running ahead of them (but sadly, not always far enough).

The three men who died had all been badly injured during events in the past two weeks. 20 people are said to have died in the region in the past eight years.

The mayor of Meliana said the bull was an animal and chance accidents of this type were a risk that people took.

Ah, the bull is an animal …

4. BBC News website: AI – too smart for its own good?

Google has fired one of its engineers who said the company’s artificial intelligence language technology system is sentient and should therefore have its “wants” respected. He said that the system showed self-awareness and could hold conversations about religion, emotions and fears and this led him to believe that behind its impressive verbal skills might also lie a sentient mind.

Google, plus several AI experts, denied the claims and on Friday the company confirmed he had been sacked.

Corfu: swim, run, gym, turbo, repeat (plus the TT races and taxing animal methane)

Looking east over the hotel grounds towards its private beach and the Ionian Sea
(with mainland Greece in the distance)

We stayed in London on Sunday night and drove to Stansted Airport on Monday to fly to Corfu – our first real holiday since skiing in January 2020 (and after the aborted trip to Madrid that Spring).

Air travel from the UK had been a complete disaster all week in the prefect storm of the schools’ half term holidays meeting the airport and tour companies’ failures to recruit quickly enough to make up for the redundancies during the lockdowns.

Being cautious types we decided to get to the airport early but that proved unnecessary as everything held together pretty well – more dead time hanging around waiting, but was probably worth it as insurance. Of course, we got off the ground late but the flight was fine and the hotel had provided something to eat even though we arrived around 11pm Greek time (a short transfer from the airport to the resort was a blessing).

The drive in from airports is often a bit depressing – lots of sad looking car rental and other tourist-based businesses, usually with signs in English. I appreciate that tourist money is vital for many economies but, in visiting, I hope we don’t trample their national identities. Fortunately, I believe that Greece has a bit of history of its own (!!!) and will survive our trampling.

First day we tried both pools which were good – the larger of the two was very long and in all I swam about 400m (among people gently bobbing about, cooling off) but the area surrounding the pool was rather small which made the sun loungers squeezed together (and there were still too few).

On the second day we went down to the hotel’s small private beach which was lovely. I swam about 800m in the Mediterranean (more accurately, I guess, part of the Ionian Sea) which was like a mill pond. Fewer people, plenty of loungers and a good snack and drinks bar so we stuck with it for the remainder of the holiday.

I’m not really one for the heat (just as I’m not really one for the cold) but am happy to sit in the shade and read (this holiday it was F Scott Fitzgerald’s Babylon Revisited, a memoir of the Falklands war by a friend and neighbour, Richard Osman’s The Thursday Night Murder Club and an anthology of short stories by Anton Chekov – which, I think, counts as a properly eclectic mix). I enjoyed them all. The Chekov was very good – as long as you don’t want your short stories neatly tied up in a satisfying conclusion – and if you don’t want them to be happy and uplifting.

We’d booked an ‘all inclusive’ package, more for simplicity than gluttony but within a couple of days it dawned on me that I was eating twice what I would normally – for no better reason than it was readily available. I put that right on a cloudy and breezy Thursday and felt better immediately. Encouraged, I tried the very small and very hot fitness room (barely 5m x 3m) – I did 5km on the treadmill in 27:10, and some weights.

Friday treated us to a fine thunderstorm early on but it improved by midday before the rain returned later. I swam (500m in the sea), ran (5km in on the treadmill, 27:35) and did some weights again.

Back to glorious weather on Saturday so back to the beach, swimming (800m) and later treadmill running (another 5km in 26:50) and an excellent meal in the pool restaurant in the evening. I managed to stub my toe while sea-swimming on a glorious Sunday – I swam about 1km but the badly bruised toe meant no treadmill later (what a shame) so I settled for the static bike (30 minutes @35.12kph) and some weights.

As always the final day of a package holiday is less fun as there are hours to kill after vacating the room and living out of a packed suitcase – but it passed happily with reading and (yet more) relaxing before the stresses and strains of the journey back (what a way to spend our 35th wedding anniversary). Surprise, surprise, the flight was late and the communication non-existent. However, we made it back to the flat in the early hours of Tuesday and I drove back later that (this) morning while my wife is staying to watch the tennis at Queens.

A great holiday with the hotel and the location making up for a poor tour company performance. The 15km of running, 3.5km of swimming, a session on a bike and some weights would be a good week’s exercise for a holiday – shame it coincided with a training plan requiring 65km of running. Oh well.

Week (of 20) Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
16 65 15
Cumulative total 594 660

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love, like rain, does not choose the grass on which it falls

2. BBC News website: First sub8 and sub7 ironman distance triathlons

Britain’s Katrina Matthews became the first woman to finish the full Ironman triathlon in under eight hours with victory in the Sub8 in Germany. She finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and marathon run in seven hours 31 minutes and 54 seconds, beating the previous best by 46 minutes.

In the men’s Sub7, winner Kristian Blummenfelt (from Norway) finished in six hours 44 minutes and 25 seconds.

There were two athletes attempting each of the records and all four competitors finished inside their respective time barriers.

3. BBC News website: Isle of Man TT

I struggle with the TT races – a great spectacle and no doubt something that competitors love and for which they accept the risks – but a cause of way too much loss of life to my mind. After the TT races had a 2 year absence because of Covid, this year, a rider died in practice, another died on Monday and one of a French sidecar team died on Saturday.

If it could be made worse, race organisers have now confirmed that they named the wrong French sidecar competitor to have died. In a statement, they said rider Cesar Chanal had now been confirmed as having died in the crash during lap one of the first sidecar race of 2022 on the Mountain Course. Last Saturday, they wrongly said passenger Olivier Lavorel had died (but he remains in a critical condition in hospital).

On this Saturday, a father and son sidecar team both died in another crash, making five deaths in this year’s event.

Way beyond sad, my thoughts are with Oliver Lavorel and the family and friends of all affected by the terrible accidents.

4. BBC News website: Taxing cow and sheep burps

New Zealand has unveiled a plan to tax sheep and cattle burps from 2025, in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases. It would make it the first nation to charge farmers for the methane emissions from the animals they keep.

New Zealand is home to just over five million people, along with around 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep. Almost half the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mainly methane.

5. BBC News website: Woman in for payout after having sex in a car

The US woman said she caught the human papillomavirus (HPV) from having sex with her then-partner in his car. She claimed her former partner knew he had virus but did not disclose his condition, leaving her with “past and future medical expenses” and “mental and physical pain and suffering”.

She and her former partner entered arbitration. The arbitrator determined “there was sexual activity in [insured’s] automobile” that “directly caused, or directly contributed to cause” the woman to be infected with HPV. In May 2021, the arbitrator awarded her $5.2m in damages, to be paid by her former partner’s motor insurers who appealed the judgement. A three-judge panel has confirmed the lower court’s ruling and said the insurance company failed to defend its own interests by entering a defence on behalf of the insured man.

6. Last and, by every means, least: They told me I’d never get over my fixation with Phil Collins – but take a look at me now

Run (x4), swim, ride (x2) plus cycling stupidity, honesty, trains and J-C van Damme

This week was always going to be odd as far as training was concerned but, to give it a fairly normal start, I ran on Monday morning and did the swim doctor session in the evening.

The run was hill reps – tough, as always, but great to have got them out of the way for the week. This time it measured 9.34km and 287m of ascent (5.8 miles and 941 feet). At the pool, the usual swimming instructor was away this week but the stand-in was good and the change meant some different drills which was refreshing.

I ran with my wife on a milder Tuesday morning, 7.2km (4.5 miles). The rest of the day I was playing plumber, replacing some split copper piping and an outside tap.

Originally, we had planned to ski this week but decided not to because it was half-term, unseasonably hot out in the alps and the snow was not great. Of course, as soon as we made the decision, it got cold and snowed heavily. Instead, after domestic stuff, we drove down to Bournemouth on Wednesday afternoon.

We had our fingers crossed as the last time we were there the house alarm triggered in Oxfordshire and I had a wasted journey back. We think it was probably the door to the attic rooms not being shut and moving in a draught – but we can’t be sure.

There was plenty of draught in Bournemouth too – I abandoned a walk down the seafront as I was being sand blasted. We found a fairly new tapas restaurant in a local row of shops in the evening, a modest looking place but great tasting food.

It was blowing a gale and raining really hard all night. The morning was bright and dry, but still windy but I love running down there so I ran along the seafront – 10.2km (6.3 miles) – the first 4km of which was straight into the teeth of a relentless 35kph (22mph) headwind that was gusting up to 57kph (37mph). At times I was almost stopped in my tracks and at one point I passed a chap who had just got off his bike in favour of walking it into the wind but, luckily, the sand being blown towards me wasn’t getting above knee height.

Those 4kms out to Boscombe pier were as hard as any I remember running, only the later part of the Rotterdam marathon in 2019, or the 5k I ran from Les Carroz to Les Molliets up the Col de Pierre Carrée – an alpine climb at over 6.5% – would compare (was that really 2018?). I was about 50 sec/km faster with the wind behind me on the way back along the front.

The exact same run on Friday was, surprisingly, very different. The wind had dropped but swung around 180 degrees and there was a cold and persistent drizzle. For some reason, the Thursday run was 20 seconds slower but recorded as a little longer.

A terrific lunch at The Jetty, overlooking Christchurch Harbour and then back to Oxfordshire after a really good couple of days’ break (but I’ve missed the skiing – just the second year without it in nearly 40).

On Saturday my bike came out into the wide world for the first time this year, blinking in the sunlight. I checked it over and took it for a short 25km (15.5 mile) test ride. The reason was the sportive on Sunday but the first few miles felt so bad that I was wondering what excuse to give for not doing the sportive.

Eventually, I (almost) remembered how to cycle but no matter how many times I have to learn it, the fact that running legs and cycling legs are very different things never fails to come as a horrible shock.

The bike was not sure about coming out of the shed – I think it’s developed agoraphobia over the winter

At the start of the ride is was hovering about freezing. I did a slightly sensible thing and went for the 70 mile and 4065 feet of ascent (113km and 1239m) route instead of the 90 miler – and went for the ‘get round and don’t worry about the time’ approach. Two good decisions as the shorter distance was plenty far enough and although the legs protested they got me up all the big hills. I rode round non-stop in under 4h 50.

I’m happy to go on record that the distance was really too far for the training I’d put in. Not only were the legs not really ‘cycle fit’ but my backside needed much more toughening up before being subjected to nearly 5 hours on the sheet of carbon fibre that passes for my saddle. However, I did it, slowly, but without too much discomfort and I’m pleased with that. It was still enough to earn the ‘Gold Standard’ and I was fourth in my age group.

An odd week – four runs but no long one, no gym but plenty of time in the saddle. Friends are coming for supper tonight – I’m hoping I don’t fall asleep in my bowl of soup.

Interesting stuff this week

1. Africa wise words: If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do no harm

2. BBC News website: Liberian taxi driver: returning $50,000 changed a life

A struggling motorbike taxi driver found $50,000 (£40,000) wrapped in a plastic bag by the side of the road. He gave it to his aunt to look after and returned it to the rightful owner who appealed on national radio for help in finding the cash.

Some mocked him for his honesty but President George Weah handed him $10,000, a local media owner also gave him cash and the owner of the money donated $1,500-worth of goods.

He was also given a place at one of Liberia’s most prestigious schools and a US college offered him a full scholarship once he had completed his secondary education. He now has six years of secondary school ahead of him and will be 25 when he graduates. He wants to study accounting at university “to prepare myself to help guide the use of the country’s money”.

3. BBC News website: Cracks found in more than 180 trains

The rail regulator has found fatigue and corrosion led to high-speed trains being withdrawn from service. It said fatigue cracking was caused by the “trains experiencing greater loads from train movement than allowed for in the original design”.

… and there I was thinking that train design probably allowed for quite a lot of movement

4. BBC News website: Many Delhi meat shops closed for Hindu festival

Mayors of south and east districts said most people fast or abstain from eating meat during the festival and many had complained that they did not like seeing meat being cut in the open.

However, the move has riled many who have taken to social media to express outrage saying that it violates India’s pluralism, pointing out that someone’s choice to abstain from meat should not infringe on another’s freedom to eat meat or earn a livelihood.

Life is so complicated when trying to keep everyone happy

5. BBC News website: ‘Muscles from Brussels’ head to DR Congo

Famous action film hero Jean-Claude van Damme says he is thrilled to have been given a Congolese diplomatic passport.

“I am going to try to convince international stars like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Jacky Chan and many others,” he said as he accepted his passport and role as cultural, youth and wildlife ambassador for the country. “There are also singers like Jennifer Lopez and footballers like Messi, Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo. They must come to the country to show that it is safe, to show that Congo can protect those in showbiz.”

Not sure I got the reason why Jennifer Lopez Messi, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo must come to the the Congo but I guess he might be quite persuasive

Turbo, swim, Bournemouth, ride, walk, swim, ride, walk, ride

Bournemouth seafront with Hengistbury Head to to the left and the Isle of Wight in the distance

Working in the garden on Monday, repairing a wall and making a gate for a path that goes nowhere – apparently, it’s all about ‘the look’. 30 minutes of turbo reality later @30.9kph (19.2mph).

More domestic bliss on Tuesday, finishing both the wall and the gate and then off to the pool in the evening. I still don’t love the swimming but it needs to be done if the triathlon next month is going to begin without a complete disaster.

One good thing about the swimming is that it seems to be putting a little muscle on my puny runner/cyclist chest, arms and shoulders. I swam 1250m and then started sneezing before I reached the car park.

Still slow – but I did notice the benefit of the ‘drafting’ effect of swimming behind someone (before he swam away into the distance). With the buoyancy of the wetsuit, if I could latch on and follow a slow swimmer, it might just work.

On Wednesday we got ready to go down to Bournemouth for a long weekend with two couples who are very good friends. We drove down on Thursday morning fora bit more mowing and housework in preparation, and they all joined us later in the day.

Even though we have managed to have frequent evenings together, Covid has meant that we hadn’t done our usual group weekends in Bournemouth or the lake district for a couple of years, so it was great to resume a very fine social tradition.

On Friday all 6 of us cycled to Brockenhurst in the New Forest and had a really good 5 mile (8km) walk around the town and its surrounding area – lots of New Forest ponies on the loose and we found a very good site for a picnic. A round trip of just over 31 miles (50km) on the bikes.

I’m always nervous setting routes to places I don’t know because I feel responsible for everyone’s enjoyment of the ride. As it was, although I’d used the ‘avoid highways’ option the route finder, eventually, it had us on a slightly busier road than we’d want on the way there. We found a quieter alternative and came back by one of the national cycle routes which used a lot of defunct railway line paths – why would the route finder not know about those?

On Saturday we cycled across to the other side of Bournemouth to Compton Acres – 10 acres of really lovely gardens set in a valley heading down towards Poole Harbour. It was a bit of a punt on my part as I’d not been before but it was very good indeed, even though we had to cycle back along the roads rather than the promenade as that bans cycles between 10am and 6pm in July and August. Nearly 28km (17 miles).

Getting back reasonably early, we all went down to the beach for a (non-wetsuit) swim afterwards. It was cold with some moderate waves so not exactly triathlon training but good fun nevertheless and more acclimatisation to the SOW (scary open water). It reinforced my view that an open water triathlon swim in a lake is certainly plenty enough for me at the moment.

Sunday was one of our friend’s birthdays so we walked out along Hengistbury Head and had a picnic on the beach. When we got back, virtuously, David prepared a route and I rode it with him (about 25km – about 15.5 miles). Much more virtuously, Ian (who is the friend with whom I will be doing the triathlon) went back to the beach and swam, putting me to shame.

Everyone went off on Monday morning and we followed fairly close behind. Not a big week for training but a really excellent weekend with lovely, intelligent and interesting friends who are a delight to have as house guests.

The Fantasy Football competition started again on Friday, with the resumption of the Premier League. It’s very difficult in the first few weeks as teams settle down after so many players have been involved in international tournaments during the summer. Oh, the pressure.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Being happy is better than being king

2. BBC News website: Postcard from Chile arrives in UK after 30 years

A postcard sent from South America has been delivered to its intended recipient 30 years after being posted.

Neil Crocker sent the card from Chile in 1991 when he was serving with the Royal Navy, returning from the Falkland Islands, on board HMS Cumberland. He said he “vaguely” remembered writing and sending the card which commented that the “weather and beaches are lovely”.

Cutting edge news like that is worth waiting for

3. BBC News website: Germany fears thousands got saline, not vaccine from nurse

Authorities in north Germany have asked more than 8,000 people to get repeat Covid vaccinations because a nurse is suspected of having injected saline instead of vaccine in many cases.

In April the nurse had admitted giving saline to six people to cover up the fact that she had dropped a vaccine vial on the floor but as the police investigation has suggested that many more people had been given saline instead of the vaccine.

4. BBC News website: Tusk reveals woolly mammoth’s massive lifetime mileage

Mammoth tusks were a bit like tree rings, insomuch that they recorded information about the animal’s life history and some chemical elements incorporated into the tusks while the animal was alive can serve as pins on a map, broadly showing where the animal went.

By combining these two things, researchers worked out that a male mammoth that lived 17,000 years ago in Alaska had covered 70,000km of Alaskan landscape during its 28 years on the planet. For comparison, the circumference of the Earth is 40,000km.

Turbo, sick as a dog, turbo

A couple of days in Bournemouth and I didn’t even make it to the promenade

My run last Saturday was uneventful but by the afternoon my back hurt. Standing around at Saturday’s wedding and Sunday’s BBQ didn’t help so I gave it a day’s rest on Monday.

My back had improved by Tuesday but it wasn’t quite right so, out of an excess of caution, I shelved the planned run. Much of the rest of the day was spent at a funeral (and driving to and from it).

It was the funeral of my sister-in-law’s father – a very wealthy man, perhaps not always everyone’s cup of tea, but someone I got on well with. He did great things as a benefactor in sport and education to the tune of several 10s of millions of pounds.

An excellent ‘do’ which easily passed the test I usually apply to funerals: “would he have enjoyed that?”. I’m not sure that my back entirely enjoyed the 4 hours+ driving.

I’ve been noticeably slack in exercising since the ultra and sportive (the usual post-challenge motivation slump, I assume) so just the 30 minutes on the turbo on Wednesday, but a bit faster at 31kph (19.26mph).

On Thursday, our younger son and I drove back down to Bournemouth to do some work in the house and garden. We left later than planned as I was as sick as a dog Wednesday night. Classic food poisoning by the feel of it, no need to go into details but 6 times to the bathroom between 2 and 6.30am – a big personal best.

By midday I felt I could drive but after a journey of less than 2 hours and unloading the car, I was completely wiped out and needed to sleep. The pattern continued, I could make minimal efforts at anything but then needed to rest or sleep. No solid food throughout the day – just one cup of tea and some water.

My son mowed, but by Friday I had just about rejoined the land of the living. I had taken running kit but the chances of me managing more than 100 metres were about as good as me flying to the moon, so that was abandoned and replaced by fixing a shower cubicle, putting up coat hooks, bracing a slightly flimsy wall to the front garden and mending a gate.

Back to Oxfordshire late afternoon and then to a social do with the cycle club to thank all the volunteers for their efforts over recent months. We didn’t stay too long but I ventured to eat a little food – my first for over 48 hours. Still feeling rough, at least I did not see it again.

It was our older son’s birthday on Saturday so we drove up to see him and his girlfriend. Still a very low key day for me but I really enjoyed seeing them both.

Back home for a quiet Sunday, still improving and I ventured a turbo session in the evening while watching the Olympic 3 day event. Not something I’d normally watch but one of our team (in gold medal position with the show jumping to go) was in the year between our sons at school. A reasonably gentle 30 minutes @29kph – 18mph.

A week without a swim, a ride or a visit to the gym – unheard of. I finish the week older, no wiser, no fitter but, thanks to the food poisoning, 3kg (about 6.5lbs) lighter.

Interesting stuff this week

1 African wise words: Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty

2. BBC News website: Gold toilet found in Russian police bribery probe

A gilded toilet and other luxuries were found in a mansion raided by Russian investigators, who say they busted a gang of corrupt traffic police who, allegedly, took bribes for issuing fake permits to businesses.

Rather nicely, talking about the garish residence one Russian newspaper said “It’s sad that in 30 years we’ve learned how to steal, but not how to spend the money.”

3. BBC News website: Nigeria kidnappers abduct man delivering ransom

Kidnappers in Nigeria have seized a man who was sent to deliver a ransom payment to secure the release of dozens of abducted school children.

Six people were sent by the children’s parents after they managed to raise $73,000 (£53,000) by selling land and other possessions, to meet the kidnappers near the forest where the children were being held. The gunmen demanded that one of the group, an elderly man, follow them into the forest to count the cash but they later called to say the money was not sufficient.

4. BBC News website: Pensioner’s WW2 tank in basement

Lawyers in Germany are wrangling over how to deal with a pensioner who stored a World War Two tank, anti-aircraft gun and torpedo in his basement. The items were removed from a house in 2015 with the help of the army.

Possible penalties are now being negotiated, including a suspended sentence and a fine of up to €500,000 (£427,000).

Turbo, turbo, swim (lake), swim (sea), run

Happily, it was a calmer sea in Bournemouth for Thursday’s swim

The week started like the previous one finished – hot. I know that I complain about the cold but at least it is possible to put on more clothes.

The results are available from the sportive. It seems that 100 riders did the 50 mile route that I did and I was fifth fastest – on only my second ride since April. Our sportive is relatively low-tech with the focus on great routes and terrific home-cooked food, so no age group results are published.

Yet more mowing during Monday and then a very hot turbo session in the late afternoon – 15.3km (9.5 miles) in 30 minutes – and back on the turbo for another unpleasant 30 minutes on an even hotter Tuesday – 14.8km (9.2 miles).

The friend I am doing the triathlon with suggested that we should join the swimming club at the lake where we’ve had our two lessons, and go for non-coached sessions to get more practice.

We signed up and booked for Wednesday – then I read the sad headline ‘Seven drown trying to cool off’ documenting deaths in lakes and rivers in England over the weekend.

Fine, I will be wearing a wetsuit, attached to a tow buoy and the lake is professionally managed with proper safety measures, but nothing has changed my view that it is scary open water (henceforward referred to as SOW). Despite that, the swim itself was very good. I have no accurate idea as to how far we swam but guess it was about 1km.

I tried some different methods of sighting. Although I (sort of) managed the instructor’s way of doing it, I prefer the simpler way suggested by the general oracle that is ‘unironedman’ (on wordpress and at unironedman.com). Sighting is a welcome skill to have a nodding acquaintance with (I will not say I have ‘mastered’ it by any means) as I appear to be totally unable to swim in a straight line in the SOW.

I seem to have improved a little at getting out of the wetsuit – one key thing is not to let it dry (on the outside) before removal.

On Thursday we drove to Bournemouth to join our older son and his girlfriend who have spent some time at the house, working and then holidaying. We had a great walk around Hengistbury Head (7.5km – 4.7 miles) and a swim in the sea in the afternoon. The water was about 16℃ (60℉) and without a wetsuit felt pretty cold. Potentially ESOW (even scarier open water) it was very enjoyable staying fairly close to shore – but I’ll stick to the lake for the time being.

Another hour of walking in the evening going to a tapas restaurant made a really good day – but tiring. Our son’s phone app registered over 23,000 steps. The tapas was very good indeed in parts – but any dish that takes three times as long to explain than it takes to eat, and involves 15 ingredients and 12 processes but produces so little, has to be questioned.

Back to Oxfordshire on Friday and croquet in the evening to finish a great couple of days. The weather broke early on Saturday and it was forecast to rain pretty much all day but I ran our usual 7.2km (4.5 mile) loop in the morning with our younger son, between showers. Later we went to the wedding of a friend that we have known for nearly 40 years.

Happily, the forecast proved over-pessimistic and the wedding was excellent – and dry at all the right times (photos, walk to the reception and pre-meal outside drinks). On Sunday the bride and groom hosted a BBQ and the poorer weather never arrived – it was a fine way to round off a very good week.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If you offend, ask for a pardon; if offended forgive 

2. BBC News Website: Swimmers sent home from Olympics after selection mistake

Poland have sent six swimmers home from the Tokyo Olympics initially 23 athletes were picked only 17 were allowed under the world governing body qualifying rules.

Polish Swimming Federation president has apologised and said he understood the anger of those who have returned home. The majority of the Poland swimming team have signed an open letter calling for the board to resign over the incident.

3. BBC News Website: Beach Handball Championships: Norway hit with bikini fine

Norway have been fined 1,500 euros (£1,295) for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms at the European Beach Handball Championships.

The European Handball Federation (EHF) said it had imposed the fine because of a case of “improper clothing”. The issue has been debated in beach sports circles for several years as some players find the bikini both degrading and impractical.

If beach handball deserves its place in the sporting calendar, it’s has to be as a sport not some sort of titillation show.

Oh, the irony of this appearing the day after reports that UK world champion para-athlete Olivia Breen was told to wear “more appropriate” shorts after an official at the English Championships said her the briefs were “too short and revealing”. Would the shorts have been OK if she’d have been playing beach handball?

4. BBC News website: Covid-positive man boards flight disguised as his wife

A Covid-positive Indonesian man who disguised himself as his wife to board a domestic flight was caught mid-air. He wore a full-face veil and was carrying his wife’s passport and her negative Covid test result.

He may never have been caught but he changed into his regular clothes midway through the flight, causing a stewardess to raise the alarm.

Police say they will move to prosecute him as soon as his quarantine ends.

5. The Guardian (UK newspaper) headline: Tokyo Olympics 2020: Carapaz wins men’s road race, boxing, swimming and more – live!

Now, that must have been quite a day for Carapaz

Run, Bournemouth, mechanic, London, run, run

Ships that don’t pass in the night – cruise liners moored in Bournemouth bay

A morning run in the rain around Badbury Clump on Tuesday. Rarely do I find I’m not enjoying a run – this one came close to start with but turned out to be really good by the end. Nearly 7km – 4.3miles.

The inevitable work in the garden in the afternoon.

On Wednesday we went down to Bournemouth. While we have had our younger son with us for some weeks, our older son and his girlfriend have been spending a good deal of time at our place down there as an alternative to both working from the flat they share in London. It’s a great feeling to be able to help both sons in different, but appropriate, ways over the last few months.

It was really good to get down there – even with the mowing and various diy bits that needed doing. We walked along the seafront and were taken by surprise by the four large cruise ships moored in the bay, mothballed until the cruise market recovers (I suppose it will – but to the previous levels?).

Back home, younger son and I did a stint in the charitable pop-up cycle shop on Thursday morning and went down to the reopened snooker club in the nearest town to chase some balls around the baize in the afternoon. Our next house move (if there is one) should be a down-size but I wonder if that would permit a room set aside for a full-sized snooker table.

We drove our younger son back to London on Friday. Long and difficult journeys through torrential rains that threatened to submerge Oxford, and busy ‘Friday-before-bank-holiday’ traffic. We are pleased that he is getting back to normality (and work on Tuesday) but sorry to lose him after so many weeks of lockdown with us.

I ran on Saturday morning. Bravely I tried a new route thanks to one of the walks we did last weekend as part of ‘Bournemouth at home’. It is almost entirely on private farm roads (which are also footpaths) and I passed three cars and perhaps 4 walkers throughout.

I had no real idea of where I’d run to – or how far it might be – so it turned out to be one of those runs when you think ‘I’ll run to the next corner/farm building/oak tree’ … but end up carrying on just because it’s good to be out.

I ran into a stiff headwind on the way out which, of course, died down to give me little help on the return. In all 13.25km (8.2miles) at a comfortable 5:51 per km (about 9:23 a mile). Shame it was an out and back route but the circuit would have involved running across or round fields and through a wood – with the rain we’ve had in the last couple of days that didn’t feel like a good idea.

Lunch with friends later on Saturday and then Sunday morning saw another run but this time with my wife. Just over 7km (nearly 4.4 miles). it was her first run under 6:30 per km for some years so a very good way to finish the week.

A week rescued late on as far as exercise is concerned – but just the three runs and much labouring in the garden. Still 10 months until the postponed ultra marathon – in some ways I wish it were closer so I could to start some focused training.

Well done Lizzie Deignan for winning La Course, and bravo for the start of La Tour (I just hope the worsening Covid position in France doesn’t stop it getting to Paris safely).

Interesting stuff this week

1. Iranian musician Mehdi Rajabian says he is facing trial for working with female singers and dancers. Rajabian says a judge told him his latest project “encouraged prostitution”.

What?

2. BBC news: ‘The penguin watching Pingu so he doesn’t get lonely’.

The penguin was found washed up on a beach in the south west of Australia. The keepers were worried he’d not get enough socialising while he gets healthy enough to return to the wild so they’re showing him the cartoon, along with live streams of other rockhoppers around the world.

3. African wise words: ‘It is pointless preaching to a hungry man’

4. BBC news: Mr Gay England: The trans man competing ‘against an idea of male beauty’.

I’m a bit of a liberal – but I find this confusing

Turbo, hospital (visiting), turbo, gym and a village on high alert

What danger might lurk down the most innocuous of lanes?

Based on a sample of one, I am all in favour of winter holidays to escape the cold weather – the only drawback is that when you get back it feels even colder than it would otherwise.

With a hotel holiday there is also the weight gain of course. Somehow, the week in Barbados only accounted for about an extra kilo – just over 2 pounds – which is more than strange considering the cooked (and continental) breakfasts each day and the 3 course evening meals. Both those issues are a price worth paying, I think.

If the house were a ‘lock up and go’ sort of place we might even be tempted to go away for longer. Potentially, that would be great for the running and cycling if we found somewhere a bit cooler than the Caribbean. Unfortunately, houses over 400 years old are rarely ‘lock up and go’ and the village is on high alert at the moment after apparently being ‘cased’ recently by some unsavoury characters known to the police.

A chap came down the village, house to house and into gardens, while lining up a brood of children in front of properties, ostensibly taking a picture of them but actually photographing the house behind them. We had a house-sitter for the trip to the Caribbean and hope that our alarm system is a good deterrent (not that we have stuff worth stealing – it’s just a requirement of the property insurers). I hope the alarm box came out clearly in the photos he took of our house.

It’s sad to think that we don’t have to make the house absolutely secure (although we do take a lot of care over that), we just have to make it look less attractive than neighbouring properties. Not exactly the community spirit I’d like.

In fact, part of me thinks that we are probably safer than normal for a few months. If I were a burglar, knowing that the casing of the village was spotted and the chap taking the pictures was captured on a few CCTV cameras, I’d expect the village to be on high alert and so I would wait wait for a while until everyone forgets about it and lets their guard down a bit. Our guard is permanently up!

Anyway, back to England, rested and relaxed, and back on the turbo on Tuesday – a very hard 30 minutes but quicker than expected, at an average 32.3kph (20.1mph).

Not quite back to the normal exercise routine yet, as my father was taken ill while we were away (a fairly innocuous cough that became a proper chest infection) so I drove up to Wigan on Wednesday to visit him in hospital. Unfortunately, on Tuesday he was moved from a ward that had pretty well open visiting times to a ward allowing just one. So, seven and a half hours in the car (4.5 hours there and 3 back – oh, the wonders of driving late at night) for an hour’s visit. Happily, he’s improving but that’s not a quick job at 95.

Turbo again on Thursday, not wimping out at 30 minutes like recent times. I pushed it to all of 45 minutes at 30.9kph (19.2mph). Gym on Friday morning – the first time for two weeks and it was suitably hard, although I just managed the normal weights.

For now, no injuries, Achilles tendons behaving and weight under control. Too good to be true – no doubt, it won’t last until next year’s cycling challenges or the ultra marathon in July.