Category Archives: Bournemouth

Run(x4), swim, mow(x2), gym, plus procreation, frog mucus, and alternative medicine

I took a car in to the garage for a service on Monday morning and ran back – 6.3km (almost 4 miles). It was horribly hard – out of all proportion to the short distance. I had planned for the holiday ballast to go last week but having a son home meant more cooking and eating than usual – so this had better be a week of more discipline on the food front.

Gardening after that and then the swim doctor session in the early evening – my first for a few weeks. As hard as ever but enjoyable, nevertheless. About 850m of swimming, at a guess.

I ran with my wife on a cool but sunny Tuesday morning – 6km (3.7miles). Not fast but much better than Monday’s horrible run. I mowed again in the afternoon – I would have been happy to embrace ‘no mow May’ but the rain and holiday meant that the lawns were already out of control by the time May started.

However, I have not mown the paddock at all this year, so I think I’m doing my bit for the insects. In fact, the grass in the paddock is already so long that I’m not sure how I’m going to get a mower over it at all – but that’s a problem for another day.

On Wednesday I ran with my friend and training partner who has recovered from his broken metatarsal and (with his wife who recently hurt her knee) is back training for the Race to The Stones. I ran 17.3km (10.75 miles) along a mixture of farm tracks, roads, and muddy and sandy paths.

It started cool but finished fairly warm and I found it enjoyable but very hard work – I’ve not run that far since the 100km ultra last July. It does occur to me that I’d not now be too keen on (or capable of) running that 5 more times.

In the evening I drove down to Bournemouth and spent Thursday fixing two broken fence posts. A relatively tough job (I think it’s harder to replace posts than put new ones in). I managed it but then spotted a rotten rail further along so there’s more to do next visit. I also managed to mow – again the lawns hadn’t been done for quite a while.

Friday morning I went to the gym – it’s still camped out in the leisure centre’s foyer and one of the squash courts. The new floor in the proper gym was supposed to be finished by now but still has no completion date. It’s a pain because 4 of the machines I like to use are not set up – and the squash court doesn’t have air conditioning.

I’ve been getting very tired of the music playlist at the gym – it hasn’t changed for years and, if you go at the same time of day, you hear exactly the same songs. As an example of ‘be careful what you wish for’, it seems to have changed … for the worse.

After that I did the usual stint volunteering in the bike shop.

Lots of stuff on Saturday, including two trips to a friend in a nearby village to collect 5 bikes and a tandem from one of his neighbours who was donating them to the bike shop. Lovely British classic bikes, including three Merlins (the 1950’s Merlin Brothers bikes, not the modern ones), a Carpenter and a Bernard Lee (by the cycle frame builder of that name, not the actor who played ‘M’ in the early Bond films). I gardened, including repotting two olive trees.

We ran on a warm Sunday morning – 6.25km (just under 4 miles). I always find the first 1500m of any run to be hard, while my breathing and heart rate stabilise. It’s my own fault for never doing any warming up – but at the moment it’s harder than usual. I’ve lost about 3 lbs this week without doing anything particular to lose it but next week needs firmer action.

At midday I took another cycle training session – pretty successful with all the children making good progress from balance bikes to pedalling.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom

2. BBC News website: The celibate promoting procreation?

The Pope has warned that starting a family in Italy is becoming a “titanic effort” that only the rich can afford.

Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in the EU and births dropped below 400,000 last year – a new low. Warning that pets were replacing children in some households, the Pope said a woman had opened her bag and asked him to “bless her baby” – except it was not a baby, but a small dog.

I must say that I did my best all those years ago – but can’t claim it was a ‘titanic effort’. I guess he isn’t planning on making a personal contribution on this particular issue

3. BBC News website: Wondering what to do with that jar of frog mucus?

An Australian court has been hearing evidence about two sudden deaths. One was from a suspected cardiac event, while authorities believe the other person died after injuries from severe vomiting. Both incidents happening shortly after the use of kambo – poisonous frog mucus – in an ancient Amazonian ritual.

Kambo is a waxy substance harvested by scraping the skin of a live giant monkey frog. In a kambo ceremony, humans drink over a litre of water, small burns are created on the skin and the substance is applied to the open wounds.

It triggers an intense so-called detoxification process, causesing blood pressure to rise, the heart to race and the body to purge by vomiting or defecating – often both. Symptoms range in severity, and typically last up to half an hour.

4. BBC News website: DIY robbery?

A high-profile Sydney jeweller has been arrested for, it is alleged, planning a robbery at his own luxury shop, and then making a bogus insurance claim.

It is claimed that two men threatened him and a female staff member at his central Sydney store, demanding access to the safe, but police say he organised the incident to defraud his insurance company. He faces a string of charges including robbery, fraud and deception.

You have to feel sorry for the innocent staff member who was, allegedly, threatened by one man with a knife, suffering physical injuries and, I guess, real trauma

5. BBC News website: Thank you, but I’ll have an aspirin

A man has been arrested in Mozambique for being in possession of a man’s head and genitals, police have said. Investigations led to the arrest of the man who confessed to killing a man and cutting off his head and genitals so that he could sell them.

Body parts are used by some so-called traditional doctors to make potions, which they claim can cure illnesses, remove bad omens and improve peoples’ lives. It is said that the suspect admitting to killing and decapitating the bodies of three other people.

6. BBC News website: The train now arriving in 1945 …

Travellers on an intercity train in Austria were startled on Sunday when a recording of an Adolf Hitler speech was played over the train’s intercom shortly before the train arrived in Vienna.

Train staff were unable to stop the recording and were unable to make their own announcements – it is assumed that the announcements were made by people directly on the train via intercoms. It is understood that complaints have been filed against two people.

Swim, gym (x2), mow, run (plus, explosive printed matter, cosy leagues and ‘art or pornography?’)

The week started with a swim doctor session. Lots of drills so it was hard, but with fewer metres swum – just 850 of them.

Gym for an hour on Tuesday morning. It’s still very quiet there with just one person when I arrived and two when I left. I’ve put the weights up on a couple more machines but still slow progress on the chin-ups, with both elbows complaining at the moment.

I drove down to Bournemouth on a very windy Wednesday, mainly to do domestic things like mowing (my first mow of the year!) and taking the cuttings and more branches that I cut last year, to the local tip. No time for a run but I did walk the 200 yards to the sea to check it was still there (it was). A necessary trip, even though it meant yet more time in the car (two rather slow journeys, the return in heavy rain) after last weekend’s two trips to London.

The plan for Thursday had been for the turbo in the early evening but I couldn’t find the enthusiasm (even for an indoor cycle) on a cold, wet and windy day. Friday was a bit better and getting to the gym was much easier as it is a pretty well established routine that needs little in the way of thought or decision-making. That was followed by the usual bike shop session but my plan to mow later was thwarted by yet more heavy rain.

Saturday was very windy but I got out for a gentle run. The nasty wind (which, of course, only died down when it was supposed to be at my back) was accompanied by cloud, the occasional rain shower and odd sunny spell but I stuck it out for just over 11km (7 miles).

My best cycling-up-mountains weight is about 66-67 kg (c. 145-148 lbs) but it drifts over 70kg (this year closer to 72!) in the winter. I’ve just gone back under 70kg which is the first official sign of Spring.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He may say that he loves you, wait and see what he does for you

2. BBC News website: When being league runners-up is no great success

The Isles of Scilly Football League consists of just two teams – the Woolpack Wanderers and Garrison Gunners. They play each other in 18 league games each season, two annual cup competitions and a Charity Shield-style exhibition.

No player has a pre-ordained team, the two captains pick new squads at the start of the season, taking it in turns until there are no players left. 

In the ‘glory’ days, before the 1950s, there were four teams but the population has aged and dwindled. The islanders’ median age rose from 46 to 50 between 2011 and 2021.

3. BBC News website: Is it me, or are these becoming more regular?

An asteroid large enough to destroy a city will pass between the orbits of the Earth and the Moon (within 515,000km of the moon) this weekend – happily, missing both.

It is rare for such a huge asteroid – estimated to be between 40 and 90 metres in diameter – to come so close to the planet. According to Nasa, it’s an important opportunity for astronomers to increase their knowledge of asteroids, in the event that a dangerous object were discovered with the potential to hit Earth.

I’m pleased they have the opportunity to study it – but perhaps no closer, please

4. BBC News website: More on the potential dangers of social media

Utah has become the first US state to require social media firms get parental consent for children to use their apps and verify users are at least 18.

The bills will give parents full access to their children’s online accounts, including posts and private messages. The move comes amidst heightened concern over the impact of social media on children’s mental health.

5. BBC News website: Dot matrix is a thing of the past

An almost fully 3D-printed rocket has taken flight for the first time and powered skyward for a few minutes before falling back to Earth. Some 85% of the vehicle, which is 112ft (34m) tall, was produced using additive manufacturing techniques (3D printing).

The first stage burned for just over two-and-a-half minutes. The second stage should then have taken over to complete the journey to orbit but, after a few flickers, it died. The upper part of the rocket would have come down in the Atlantic Ocean.

Paper jam in the 3D printer?

6. BBC News website: The sort of insight that makes you Bank of England governor

Raising prices could drive up the cost of living even further and would hurt the least well-off most, the Bank of England governor has warned firms. “If all prices try to beat inflation we will get higher inflation,” Andrew Bailey told the BBC.

He said higher inflation “hurts people” and warned the Bank would raise rates again if prices continued to increase.

7. BBC News website: Michelangelo and Botticelli – art or pornography?

A Principal of a Florida school is said to have been forced to resign after a parent complained that students were exposed to pornography in a Renaissance art lesson where students were shown Michelangelo’s statue of David. The lesson also included references to Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” painting and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”.

The school is required to teach about Renaissance art in sixth grade (11-12 year olds?) but three parents complained that the lesson’s content upset their children.

The Principal said she resigned after she was given an ultimatum by the school board to resign or be fired. She agreed that a letter notifying parents of the art lesson should have been sent to parents but a breakdown in communication led to that not happening.

The failure to send the letter is poor but …

Quick, cover up the legs on that table Mother, and call the witch-hunter

Swim, run, gym, (and 497 push-ups) plus secretaries, actresses and cockfighters all missing. Happy Christmas!

Monday’s 100 push-up challenge required sets of 21, 25, 21, 21 and 32+ (I did 40). After this extensive research, I can confirm that push-ups are just as tough when done at my brother-in-law’s in Surrey as they are at home in Oxfordshire.

We drove home later in the morning, via our older son’s place in Kingston, to check on it and collect a sofa we are having re-covered for them.

In the evening I actually went to the swim doctor session, my first since early October. The water is usually about 27℃ (80℉) but for some unknown reason it was 33℃ (91℉) I have never known a pool in this country to be too hot before. About 900 metres with various drills. I sneezed for the rest of the evening.

I took my own advice on Tuesday and gave the gym a miss in the hope that my arms would be better recovered for the next set of push-ups. The programme requires sets of 25, 29, 25, 25 and 36+ …. 140 of the blighters.

Overcoming the disappointment of (yet again) not being named among the UK Sports Personality of the Year contenders, I did the push-ups on Wednesday. I managed to do them all plus an extra 4 for the final set making 144 …. this challenge is getting really tough, it was a gross experience.

After that I went to the gym. Another 5km on the treadmill – 27m 45s – and then 30 minutes of weights, performing a bit like a kitten on the arm machines.

I ached on Thursday, I hope nothing more than might be expected after the push-ups, run and gym on Wednesday. I drove down to Bournemouth to check on the house down there – all was well.

If I thought doing 140 push-ups was bad on Wednesday (and, believe me, I did), 160 on Friday (with an extra 4 on each set) was a good deal worse – but I managed to do it all plus an extra 5 for the final set. At least that’s week 4 done … almost … as it finishes with another test where I have to do as many as possible, to exhaustion.

I still felt sore on Friday – mainly knees and back (it can’t be running on the treadmill instead of the road, can it?) so I did domestic things and finished my Christmas shopping – a day earlier than usual. Our younger son got back from skiing and made it to his flat in London before the next round of rail strikes. I drove the 3 hour round trip to collect him in the evening, getting back a bit before 11pm.

I should have saved the push-up test until Sunday – a treat for Christmas Day itself and an extra day’s recovery time, but I decided to have that day off so I brought the test forward to Christmas Eve. Ho, Ho, Ho, what a festive delight it was. By definition, doing push-ups until you can do no more is going to hurt and I collapsed after 60.

One son safely home and one in Peru, we are ready for Christmas. It’s been a tough year for many and more difficulties still to come in 2023 but I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and successful 2023.

Stay safe in the storms, American friends.

Football World Cup

With Argentina beating France to win the World Cup (and with Croatia beating Morocco for 3rd place), Qatar bows out.

Of course, the most important result of the entire competition was that I recaptured second place in the Fantasy Football league. I had slipped to third after the semi-finals by making the terrible rookie error of confusing the two French Hernandez brothers and transferring into my team the brother who was injured and not the one who scored and got a clean sheet bonus.

Older son’s travels

Our older son and his girlfriend decided that Peru was not perfectly safe (!) with the man who was president now in detention after what the constitutional court said was an attempted coup; his former prime minister gone underground and his former running mate now in power.

There is a nationwide state of emergency to quell protests in which hundreds have been injured and apparently tourists have been stranded in Machu Picchu as the rail link was suspended. Good call on their part. They decided to go to La Paz earlier than planned – it took three flights to get there but they arrived safely – albeit without all their luggage. After a few days on the salt flats and other Bolivian delights they got back for their luggage and are now in Lima.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: No matter how beautiful and well crafted a coffin might look, it will not make anyone wish for death

2. BBC News website: The 97 year old who went on the ‘run’

A former secretary who worked for the commander of a Nazi concentration camp has been convicted of complicity in the murders of more than 10,505 people. She was taken on as a teenage typist at the camp and worked there from 1943 to 1945. Although she was a civilian worker, the judge held that she was fully aware of what was going on at the camp – she was given a two-year suspended jail term.

When the trial began in September 2021, the 97 year old went on the run from her retirement home and was eventually found by police on a street in Hamburg.

If conviction merited only a 2 year suspended sentence, did it merit a trial? I guess it’s the symbolism that’s more important here

3. BBC News website: Enough fentanyl seized in 2022 to kill every American.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says they intercepted 379m potentially deadly fentanyl doses, more than double what they seized in 2021.

The highly addictive substance, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin, is said to be the deadliest drug threat facing the US. The drug is so powerful that a lethal dose is is just two milligrams, small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.

4. BBC News website: Controls are too weak for a Fortnite?

The maker of popular video game Fortnite has agreed to pay $520m (£427m) to resolve claims from US regulators that it violated child privacy laws and tricked users into making purchases. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the firm duped players with “deceptive interfaces” that could trigger purchases while the game loaded. It also accused it of using “privacy-invasive” default settings.

Fortnite has more than 400 million players around the world. The game is generally free to download, but makes money from in-game purchases of items such as costumes and dance moves.

5. BBC News website: A no de Armas

Film studio Universal can be sued for false advertising after two fans complained a movie trailer was misleading, a US judge has ruled. The fans of the actress Ana de Armas rented the 2019 film ‘Yesterday’. The actress is seen in the trailer but the pair were disappointed to find she had been cut from the final film.

The plaintiffs each paid $3.99 (£3.31) to rent Yesterday on Amazon Prime and are seeking at least $5 million (£4.1m) from Universal in the case, which has been filed as a class action on behalf of other disappointed fans.

How disappointed do you have to be for it to be worth $5 million?

6. BBC News website: Cockfighting not just dangerous to the cocks

Six people have been charged over the kidnapping of a group thought to have been abducted on their way to a cockfight in January.

Meanwhile, three former police officers have also been charged with allegedly abducting a cockfighting enthusiast from his house in August 2021, according to the AFP news agency and at least 27 people connected to the lucrative industry remain missing.

While taxes from live-streamed cockfights helped the government replenish its finances after the Covid pandemic, online fights were eventually banned, while traditional cockfighting was allowed to resume.

“I wouldn’t even want to call them missing cockfighters, but probably dead cockfighters,” Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla said this week.

The Justice Secretary eschewing politician-speak – but, sadly, probably telling it like it is

Gym (x2), run (x2), turbo (x2), Robert Zimmerman (x1 – there is only one)

My foot was still sore on Monday so I went to the gym, instead of running. It was a good hour although children from the nearby school arrived for a pretty chaotic session.

In the afternoon I got a call from the garage to tell me that the car had passed its MOT. It had failed on the emissions test and (surprisingly) the new catalytic converter hadn’t solved the problem – which left me wondering if it was destined for the great car park in the sky. However, a couple of mis-functioning glow plugs had, eventually, been diagnosed and the plugs and a new wiring harness injector (whatever that might be) fixed it in the twinkling of … 11 days and a few hundred pounds.

After a new timing belt earlier in the year (at nearly 130,000 miles) I’m now in the typical quandary of whether I should keep it or get rid of it while the going is good. I know something else will go wrong and I’ll then be wondering whether to throw good money after bad.

My foot had been improving all day so I decided on a gentle run (3.7km) to collect the car. Without enormous enthusiasm I went to book the swim doctor session in the evening but, apparently, no substitute had been found for the usual teacher so I had no choice but to put my feet up for the evening. What a shame!

Tuesday’s weather was dismal, I did paperwork and could raise enthusiasm for nothing more than a session on the turbo in the late afternoon. Just 30 minutes but a little faster than recent efforts at 29.4kph (18.26mph).

In the evening I got a call from a neighbour in Bournemouth to say that a section of our fence was looking rather worse for wear thanks to some very high winds. No great surprise as I have already bodged repairs twice but when I got there on Wednesday it turned out to be a different fence post that had snapped. I managed another bodge but I think this is nature’s way of telling me that the thing needs to be repaired properly.

I took my kit but it was still blowing a gale and by the time I’d cut up a load of the branches I’ve chopped off over the years – I did three trips to the dump (not quite finishing the job) so running was a very unattractive proposition. After a wet drive home I was beyond any exercise so I had the joy of working on all the family tax returns.

I got straight into running kit on Thursday morning but when I looked out it was raining heavily so I demonstrated my total lack of commitment and headed to the gym instead. A good hour, except for being descended upon by another class from the school – I do need to learn the times for their gym attendance. I went to a funeral in the afternoon, supporting my wife who is a friend of the deceased’s daughter.

With the bike shop in abeyance, pending the availability of the new premises, I ran on Friday morning. The Garmin recorded 7km at @5:21/km. I planted some new hedging and prepared for the concert in the evening.

As it was the ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ tour, it was no surprise that the music came from that album (luckily I really like it) … not a single ‘Dylan classic’ on the playlist. Having been a fan for over 50 years, this was my first (and probably only) chance to see him live – on the couple of occasions he stepped away from the piano, he looked very frail but there again, he is 81.

How to describe it? Just the great man and 5 backing musicians; no staging; no light show or video; no support act; not a single backing vocal; no interval, just a few minutes short of 2 hours played straight through; no showmanship; no audience engagement (until a short half-hearted bit at the end).

All very much on Bob Dylan’s terms … and it was magnificent! I was, strangely, quite emotional.

Afterwards we drove to London. I went to our older son’s place on Saturday and painted skirting boards. We’re making good progress. I took running kit but on Sunday it was raining on a Biblical scale. I believe Noah was Googling to find out the length of a cubit in centimetres*. We drove back home and I did the turbo in the early evening – 30 minutes for 13.94km (8.6 miles) – and I’ve hurt my foot again.


Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The eye never forgets what the heart has seen

2. BBC News website: Mutiny over the Bounty

Mars’ ‘Celebration’ tubs contain a range of mini versions of their chocolate bars. A survey of people aged between 18 and 65 suggested that 18% would feel irritated to find only Bounty bars were left in a tub, while 58% believed it would lead to a family argument. A limited run of “No Bounty” tubs will go on sale at 40 Tesco stores in the run-up to Christmas.

Polling suggested the sweet is popular with older consumers, with 38% of over-55s choosing it as their preferred bar.

3. BBC News website: Solar farms in space?

Work is going on in various parts of the world to develop a plan to harvest solar energy from space and beam it down to Earth using microwaves. The solar energy collected by the satellites would be converted into high frequency radio waves and beamed to a rectifying antenna on Earth, which would convert the radio waves into electricity.

Each satellite could deliver around 2GW of power into the grid, comparable in power output to a nuclear power station. It could be happening as soon as 2035 and, in theory, the approach could supply all of the world’s energy needs by 2050.

4. BBC News website: Oiling the wheels (and greasing the palms) of the oil industry

A UK subsidiary of mining giant Glencore has been ordered to pay more than £275m, in fines and confiscation, for bribing officials in African countries to get access to oil. The company paid $26m (£23m) to officials of firms in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast between 2011 and 2016. Prosecutors said employees and agents used private jets to transfer cash to pay the bribes.

In May, the firm agreed to a $1.1bn (£900m) settlement in the US over a scheme to bribe officials in seven countries during the course of a decade.

I love the mention of the private jets – as if that makes it worse

5. BBC News website: Nick Kyrgios settles legal case with spectator

Kyrgios, the world number 22, was competing at Wimbledon in his first Grand Slam final when he complained to the umpire about a fan, saying she looked “like she has had about 700 drinks”. The fan instructed solicitors to bring defamation proceedings.

Kyrgios has now apologised for the comment and is donating £20,000 to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, a charity chosen by the fan.

Turbo (x2), run (x2), gym, plus goldfish, chess, trains and goldfish (did I mention goldfish?)

After battling through Covid, we both tested negative at the start of the week and something like what passes for normal life resumed, but cautiously as we both still have the remains of a cough.

I decided to miss the swim doctor session on Monday but took a trip up to our older son’s place to help with some decorating (there is a lot to do) and pick up the car he’s been borrowing and which needs an MOT.

Going via our flat I left a key to the place in Bournemouth for our younger son to collect ahead of his half term trip there with his girlfriend, next week. As teachers, they have no choice but to be off for the expensive holiday weeks so it’s good to be able to help them.

After the necessary domestic chores (it’s fair to say very little cleaning went on last week), my mind started to turn towards exercise. I had no plan to jump back in to the same amount as I was doing before the virus but I felt it would be interesting to see what effect it had.

I decided on a turbo trainer session on the basis that, if it wasn’t going well and I had to bail out, I wouldn’t be far from home. I tried it on Tuesday early evening – more out of curiosity than expectation – I knocked it down a gear to be cautious, but I managed an easy 30 minutes @ 27.7kph (17.2mph) and everything seemed to be working OK.

Everything felt fine on Wednesday – despite my continuing cold – but I took it gently and got back on the turbo again on Thursday. Another 30 minutes, a little faster, at 28.1kph (17.5mph).

I drove the car to the garage for its MOT on Friday morning, ran to the gym, did a 45 minute session on the weights, and then ran home. Only 4.2km (2.6 miles) but the first running and the first weights since the virus. Again, it all went pretty well.

Perhaps I’ve been listening to too many tales of post-Covid suffering but I’ve been expecting the worst all week … and it’s not happened, although I do feel quite tired and wouldn’t say I was entirely back to full strength. The gym was followed by the usual shift in the bike shop and a trip for my ‘flu jab.

Of course, not everything can go well – the car failed the MOT emissions test so that’s a new catalytic converter needed. Friends we had to postpone from last week came for lunch on Saturday which was great – and helped to put off any inclination I might have had for exercise.

Back down to Bournemouth on Sunday to do a few chores and set up the house for our younger son and his girlfriend who were arriving on Monday. It rained, with thunder and lightening, but at least I managed to put up a replacement gate post. I usually regret leaving Bournemouth without having done a run down the promenade – but the weather made it easier.

Strange week in many ways – Covid gone and some light exercise restarted but still with the feeling that normal service has not yet been resumed.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Nobody is born wise

2. BBC News website: The memory of a Goldfish?

A team from Oxford University trained nine fish to travel 70cm (2.3ft) after which they were prompted by an external cue – such as a researcher waving their hand – to turn around and swim back to the start position. They then received a food reward.

The researchers then tested if the fish would swim the same distance if the starting position was changed and the cue was removed. They found eight of the nine fish accurately remembered when to turn back to get their reward, without being prompted. Researchers said it showed the fish could accurately estimate distance and that the study disproves the long-held belief goldfish have little or no memory.

Do you sometimes think ‘researchers’ have too much time on their hands?

Goldfish Times’ led with the story about how goldfish researchers trained some scientists to give them food for something as simple as a short swim.

3. BBC News website: The growing environmental problem of “e-waste”

This year, 5.3 billion mobile phones will be thrown away although many people are keeping old phones, rather than recycling them, research suggests. It is estimated that in the UK alone, more than 20 million unused but working electrical items, worth as much as possibly £5.63bn ($6.29bn), are currently being hoarded.

Precious minerals not extracted from waste electronics, such as the copper in wire or the cobalt in rechargeable batteries, have to be mined.

4. BBC News website: Motoring In-convenience

A man whose job it is to help preserve Japan’s cultural heritage has accidentally smashed his car into the country’s oldest toilet at a centuries-old Buddhist temple.

The communal loo in Kyoto dates back to the 15th century and is designated an important cultural asset. Its ancient door was ruined after the employee hit the accelerator without realising the car was in reverse, police said.

5. BBC News website: The train not standing at platform

The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region were late for their press conference about “rail chaos” in the north of England because their train was cancelled.

6. BBC News website: The chess stakes get higher

As mentioned previously, in September Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen, accused US chess grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating in a match against him. Niemann is now suing Carlsen for at least $100m (£89m).

Niemann is also suing website, which published a report saying he had probably cheated in more than 100 online games. He says the defendants colluded to destroy his reputation and livelihood.

I wonder if the Sicilian defence works in Court

Run … then it rather fell apart, can you guess why?

Bournemouth – four days there and I didn’t even walk the 200 yards to the beach

The hill rep session on Monday morning was a very hard 8 reps for 9km and 265m ascent (5.6 miles & 870 feet). A little slower than usual because I developed a cold at the weekend.

The cold became a bit more of a concern when a friend we saw on Friday tested positive for Covid – but I guessed the fact that I had just done the run meant a cold was the worst I could have. I tested anyway as I was planning to give friends a lift to the evening’s swim doctor session … and it was positive … damn.

Does 8 hard hill reps with Covid count as a personal best?

I’ve dodged the Covid bullet for so long, I didn’t think it was going to get me. I can’t be sure where I caught it but everything points to last Friday evening’s musical event in the village church – it looks like that was the culprit as there is now a new wave of infections in the village.

My wife recorded a mild positive and then a negative, so we started taking the obvious precaution of me staying at a distance, wearing a mask and sanitising like it was going out of fashion.

I didn’t sleep very well on Monday with a nose that was simultaneously running and blocked but, apart from that, I felt reasonably good. I decided to drive down to Bournemouth on Tuesday as it would keep my wife safer and me properly isolated (rather thwarted by her confirmatory positive after a bad night on Monday).

The painter arrived at the house in Bournemouth late on Tuesday – luckily with the painting of the outside, my isolation wasn’t compromised. On Wednesday we had to cancel friends who were coming for lunch and I stayed in Bournemouth with the promise that the painter would appear – but he didn’t.

I cancelled Thursday’s intended visit to our older son, again on the promise that the painter would appear – but he didn’t. It turns out that his car had ‘exploded’ when the timing belt broke and the engine wrote itself off. He was typically over-optimistic about how quickly it could be back on the road – and typically useless at keeping his customer informed. I’d decided that he was trustworthy but was now doubting my judgement.

Friday’s gym and shop sessions went by the board too – and the painter finally appeared at about 5pm and painted the front door. That was great except that, it being quite chilly, I was there at 9pm using a hairdryer on it to help the paint dry sufficiently so I could shut it safely and drive home to Oxfordshire.

Saturday’s turn at ride leader for the cycling club was cancelled but in the post I received the invitation to book my Covid booster jab!

We had booked a walk and pub lunch with friends on Sunday so that went the way of everything else and was cancelled – we would have been beyond the standard 5 days of isolation by then but my wife had continued to suffer worse than me and it just didn’t seem sensible to try that much activity that soon.

A week of isolation, hanging around pointlessly, frustration and cancellations. I was lucky that I haven’t felt ill beyond the symptoms of having a cold – but I will be happy not to have another week like it. Under UK guidance I’m now able to get out as people are unlikely to be infectious beyond the 5 days, but I’ll still be taking extra care, just in case.

Almost no exercise, so more ‘interesting stuff’.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable

2. BBC News website: Media Literacy

Finland is a high-trust society. According to an OECD report, 71% of the Finnish population trust the government, compared to the OECD average of 41%. Parliament, the civil service, the police and the media all enjoy high levels of trust. Critical thinking and media literacy is part of the school curriculum and children are taught the skills they need to spot fabricated information on social media.

There is a media literacy index indicating nations’ resilience to ‘fake news’. In 2021, of 35 European countries, Finland topped it with a score of 78, followed by Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Sweden and Ireland all scoring at least 70. The UK scored 62. At the bottom were Bosnia and Herzegovina with 19 and North Macedonia with 15.

Ah, but could this be fake news?

A high trust society is good – as long as the institutions you trust are trustworthy?

3. BBC News website: Fat Bear Week

Fat Bear Week 2022, saw people from around the world vote for the fattest bruin at Alaska’s Katmai National Park. Brown bear 747, tipping the scales at an estimated 1,400lbs (635kg), won 68,105 votes, beating Bear 901 with 56,876 votes.

Bear 747 nearly didn’t make it to the final because of an unprecedented case of voter fraud in the semi-finals as someone decided to spam the poll, but this was spotted and corrected by officials.

Chess, poker, match fishing and now Fat Bear Week – does (alleged) cheating know no limits?

4. BBC News website: Dame Angela Lansbury dies aged 96

The three-time Oscar nominee had a career spanning eight decades, across film, theatre and television and won acclaim as the star of the TV crime series Murder, She Wrote. She also won an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2013, a lifetime achievement award from Bafta in 2002, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Very sad. Thankfully, no suspicious circumstances … who would have investigated? 

5. BBC News website: Gaming not a medal event at 2026 Commonwealth Games

Esports was a pilot event at the 2022 Birmingham Games, but the organisers of the 2026 Games, in Australia, say esports will not feature.

They have refused to give any specific reasons but there have been many high-profile cases of competitive gamers taking substances such as the drug Adderall to enhance concentration and performance. It is thought that doping in esports may have been a factor with concerns about the problems of arranging year-round drugs testing across the various gaming titles.

6. BBC News website: Brain cells in a lab learn to play video game

The research team grew human brain cells grown from stem cells and some from mouse embryos to a collection of 800,000 and connected this mini-brain to the video game via electrodes revealing which side the ball was on and how far from the paddle.

The mini-brain learned to play in five minutes. It often missed the ball – but its success rate was well above random chance.

Great potential heath applications, no doubt, but l find this a little unsettling: ‘Call of Duty’ next and then Skynet?

Swim, run (x4), walk (x2), cycle (x2), gym (plus entangled quantum states and who owns the tattoo?)

Running and cycling along the seafront – lovely

An unreasonably early start saw me drive to Bournemouth on Monday morning to meet the painter who is about to do the house down there. Back home for the evening’s swim doctor session.

Another early start and back to Bournemouth again on Tuesday. It looked like the week was going to be both tiring and short of exercise – I was already doing well with the tiredness but I did manage to get out for a run. It was hard work into a strong headwind on the way out to Boscombe Pier which meant I was too tired to get the full benefit of running with it behind me on the return leg. It was a reasonably tough 8.5km @ 5m 27s/km but, strangely, with a string of personal bests on the leg running into the wind.

Back home and in the evening I went to watch the Championship football game between Reading and Norwich – courtesy of my friend who is related to one of the managers. An entertaining match which ended 1-1 and an excellent evening in fine company.

I took a car in for its MOT on Wednesday morning. I had planned to run back via the gym but two 6am starts, a late night after the football and tired legs made it easy to decide to walk the 2 miles straight back home. More gardening and domestic stuff – and the car passed the MOT so I cycled in to pick it up later.

Back to Bournemouth again on Thursday at silly o’clock. I decided to embrace the idea of having an easier week so I just went for a short cycle along the seafront on the old Gary Fisher mountain bike I keep down there. There’s a 10mph speed limit for bikes and it was hard to go that fast on the way out into a very strong headwind – and hard not to go faster on the way back. Just the 16km (10 miles) but it felt further.

I took a second car in for a MOT on Friday (it passed) and then ran to the gym, did a weights session and ran home. After that it was the bike shop and apple picking. In the evening we went to an event held in the church where a lady from the village (I think she teaches at the Royal Academy of Music) and others played a range of pieces (extraordinarily well). Drinks and some canapés to follow made for a terrific evening. As an entirely music-talent-free zone I really appreciate the skill of people who can play.

My wife’s two brothers came for the weekend – it’s always good to see them but I could have done without the three dogs. I managed to fit in a run before they arrived, one of the usual 7.2km routes, taken gently. We all walked the dogs on Sunday morning but a delightfully restful day.

A lot of exercise sessions in the week but many of them were quite short. I think I needed an easier week.

As ever, I’m not expecting my ballot entry to get me a place for the London Marathon next year. However, a friend has pointed out that while the ‘good for age’ entry requirement for age 65-69 is 4 hours, the requirement for the age group 70-74 is 5 hours – which seems quite generous.

I wonder if I could do a marathon in sub 5 hours between July and October 2025 to stand a better chance of getting in for the 2026 event. There are limited gfa places and they go to those who are furthest below their target time. Not easy – but possible?

I expect they’ll change the rules (adversely) by then.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who loves, loves you with your dirt

2. BBC News website: After chess, it’s poker and match fishing

After allegations of cheating in chess, top-level US poker and match fishing have been dogged by claims of cheating.

A casino is investigating after a player with an underwhelming hand called an all-in bet, apparently convinced her opponent was bluffing, and scooped a pot of $269,000 (£241,000). Pundits commentating during the live streamed match expressed their incredulity at the move.

Meanwhile, two fishermen have been accused of stuffing their catches with lead weights in order to win a tournament held on Lake Erie, Ohio. Viral video showed an official slicing open fish at a weigh-in, extracting lead balls and even fillets of other fish.

Two things:

  • there is such a thing as live streamed poker, with pundits???
  • thankfully, cycling is beyond reproach when it comes to cheating and nobody has ever questioned that day when I rode 1000 miles on my unicycle

3. BBC News website: Nobel Prize in Physics for research into quantum mechanics

The award has gone to a three scientists whose work could open the way to a new generation of powerful computers and telecommunications systems that are impossible to break into.

This three laureates conducted ground-breaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two sub-atomic particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated.

A bit like Jedward, I assume (Apologies to those unaware of Jedward – I suggest you keep it that way)

4. BBC News website: When you don’t own how you look?

The artist behind wrestling star Randy Orton’s iconic tattoos (this is what it says, I’ve never actually heard of Randy Orten) has won a case against the publisher of the best-selling WWE 2K video games. She claimed video game publisher, Take-Two Interactive, used her designs without permission. She won $3,750 (£3,300) in damages.

In 2016, Take-Two were unsuccessfully sued by artists for using basketball star LeBron James’ tattoos in the NBA 2K games without permission. At the time, James said “I always thought that I had the right to license what I look like to other people for various merchandise, television appearances, and other types of creative works, like video games.”

I’m not sure but presume that this is (at least in part) about the tattoos being on the Orton character in the video game?

The official court documents consistently refer to a defendant’s ‘principle place of business’ – just out of interest, does the US not use principal as the spelling for ‘main’?

5. BBC News website: Dart hits the bullseye

Last week, Nasa’s Dart probe was crashed into an asteroid to test whether an asteroid that might threaten Earth could be nudged out of the way by altering its trajectory. Scientists are now working to establish whether the test was a success.

Two days after the collision a comet-like plume of debris spreading behind the giant rock stretched for more than 10,000km (6,200 miles). It is expected to get even longer until it disperses completely, and will look like other space dust floating around.

Gym (x2), run (x3), turbo, (plus festivals, donkey parts, power outages and a 10k race)

Particular thanks to the marshal at the Longworth 10k who was manfully trying to stop a
small heard of cattle crossing the run route as I passed by

My back had improved further by Monday morning so I went to the gym, but kept to the machines. I gave the Swim Doctor session a miss for once. to go to a meeting at the village hall.

The meeting was about a project to look at a ground-source heating system for the whole village. I’m all in favour if it’s greener (and cheaper) but although the village has a real mix of houses, there are others like ours that is large, very old and built without cavity walls or any thought of energy efficiency. How these schemes work with a lot of energy-inefficient properties is not very clear.

For us, there is the added difficulty that we are ‘listed’ which means we are limited in what we can do to the property because of its age/architectural interest. It all looks quite problematic but what is obvious is that we should all be doing what we can sensibly to insulate and reduce our demand for power.

Hill reps on Tuesday – I managed the usual 8 reps and they were (a little) better and faster than the last two sessions. This time it measured 8.3km and 266 metres of ascent (5.1 miles and 873 feet). Exactly the same run was a kilometre longer last week!

I don’t obsess about my weight but I’m certainly over my cycling-up-mountains weight of under 67kg. I decided that a bit lighter would be a bit better for the 10km race on Sunday so I resigned myself to restraint for a day or two. I got on the turbo in the evening – 45 minutes for just over 22km @ 29.4kph (14 miles @ !8.3mph). It was a bit easier than last time, once I put some more air in the rear tyre.

Down to Bournemouth on Thursday to mow and check the troublesome electrics that had misbehaved last time we were there. All was well. Our older son had asked if he and his girlfriend could come back for the weekend, having just endured a stressful few days over some works to their house (happily resolved, but stressful nonetheless) and they arrived on Thursday evening.

That’s any chance of weight-loss gone, as my wife slips into cooking-overdrive.

On Friday morning I ran to, and back from, the gym with my training partner and did a weights session in between. Autumn is coming and there was a distinct nip in the air first thing. Only about 5.6km (3.5 miles) in total but quicker than usual. The normal stint in the bike shop after that.

No exercise on Saturday, just a lot of ferrying our younger son about from the station and to and from the wedding and evening reception. I could have done with the last taxi trip being before midnight – but at least it saved me from an evening with a bottle of red wine.

Sunday’s 10k race

Sunday morning (at a civilised 11am) saw the local 10km race I entered with my training partner and his wife – also joined by both our sons and our older son’s girlfriend. It’s a small village event but sees about 150 entrants, and I’m sure 80% of runners were wearing club vests. Last year, the winner – an under 18 – clocked 33.22 and it would have required 52 minutes to get in the top half of finishers. It’s not even a fast course!

The village sits a bit above the Thames so the race starts with a decent drop (on a rough stony track) to a section through fields and along the river itself, before turning back towards the village (with a sizeable hill) and a a narrow bridleway before the finish. It’s all off road and although it was dry, a lot of the paths were cracked and a fair bit of care was needed.

For me, it was going to be less of a ‘race’ and more of a ‘run’, I had no real target in mind but 56 minutes was the dream. I found it difficult not to push fairly hard in the ‘race’ environment so it didn’t end up as a gentle jog.

Although my Garmin registered a bit under the 10k, my son’s device showed it at just about the right distance and my personal timing gave me a time of 52 minutes 58 seconds, which was well beyond my highest hopes on what is billed as ‘not a course for personal bests’.

Our older son broke 50 minutes and younger son was just behind me. Great times all round including our friends and older son’s girlfriend.

An excellent event, well organised, friendly and with a lovely route (despite the treacherous ground underfoot in places). My only gripe is that the age categories for the results were too wide – veterans were in one group which included everyone over 44 years of age!

A fine weekend with all the family around, a run with our sons and a decent time, I loved it.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who refuses to obey cannot command

2. BBC News website: Music festival goes ahead but orgies are banned

Revellers have begun to arrive at Itanda Falls on the banks of the River Nile for the Nyege Nyege music festival. Uganda’s parliament had issued a directive that it should be cancelled over alleged immorality.

However, the festival will bring in much-needed revenue following the Covid-19 lockdown and promotes the country’s profile as a tourism hub so festival organisers have been issued with a number of guidelines to follow, including that minors are barred from the venue, sex orgies and nudity are prohibited as well as vulgar language, songs, expressions and gestures.

I’m not a festival goer, but does that undermine the whole idea of festivals?

3. BBC News website: BBC News website: The cost of traditional Chinese medicine?

Nigeria’s customs service has intercepted 7,000 donkey penises at an airport, that were headed to Hong Kong. The animal parts were packed in 16 sacks found in the animal export section.

The consignment is estimated to be worth 200 million Naira ($478,000; £416,000). Donkey parts are sought after in China where they are used to make traditional medicine but Nigerian law forbids such exports.

4. BBC News website: First instalment of invasion reparations paid

In a rare case of accountability for violations of international law, Uganda has handed over $65m (£55m) as the first instalment of a fine it was ordered to pay the Democratic Republic of Congo for invading the east of the country two decades ago.

In February, the International Court of Justice ( ICJ) ordered Uganda to pay $325m as reparations, made up as: $225m for damages to persons; $40m for damages to property; and $60m for the looted resources.

5. BBC News website: Sale of iPhones banned if a power adapter is not included

Brazilian consumer agency Senacon said Apple’s decision not to include power adapters with new iPhones discriminates against consumers by selling an “incomplete product” and Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security said it has fined Apple 12.275 million reais (£2.04m).

Apple stopped including power adapters and headphones in iPhone boxes with the launch of iPhone 12 in 2020 saying that the move would help reduce Apple’s carbon footprint, by making packaging smaller.

Apple said it will appeal against the ban.

and there I was thinking that no adapter or headphones was just cost saving

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.