Category Archives: Bournemouth

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, run (hill reps), run, run, gym, run (plus false alarms and robots on the loose)

Bournemouth seafront, looking towards Hengistbury Head (left) and the Isle of Wight (right)

I started the week with a turbo session. Strangely, after not being able to muster the enthusiasm to use it on Saturday, I was fairly happy to mount up for 45 minutes @28.7kph (17.8mph).

It was the usual 8 hill reps on Tuesday – and this time I logged nearly 9km with 292m of ascent (5.5 miles and 960 feet). I love the way the same run records differently every time. I managed to make the last rep the fastest again but I’m now wondering if that just shows that I’m not working hard enough with the others – it feels like I’m working plenty hard enough.

I’d decided to be tough and not wear the soft shell jacket – but it hadn’t got above freezing so yet again the cold weather wimp in me won the day and the jacket got an outing as usual. I did wear my less-than-warmest running tights – what a man.

I ran, properly (and fully) attired, with my wife on Wednesday – 7.4km (4.6 miles) – still cold but the sun came out. It feels like we haven’t seen it for a while. I had thought about going for a swim in the evening but couldn’t muster the energy – I’ve decided that not swimming this month will be my version of ‘dry January’.

More running with my wife on Thursday on tired legs, it being the third run on successive days, following a turbo session. It was one of our usual routes but it measured 7.45km (4.6 miles) which is longer than normal – the world must be expanding.

Gym and bike shop, as ever, on Friday. I’m still lifting the increased weights in the gym and trying to remember to do fewer reps and more sets – it’s hard.

Later we drove down to Bournemouth. Our older son and his girlfriend have been spending some time in the house down there so we joined them for a weekend break. I’m not sure if it constituted being invited for a weekend away in your own house but it was great to get down there and see them.

We arrived late afternoon but within a couple of hours we got an intruder alert for the house back in Oxfordshire. Unfortunately, the friends who have keys and know how to operate the alarm were away so I drove nearly 2 hours back to check on it. Of course, no sign of intruders but the door to the attic was open and I’m wondering if that was moving enough to set off the movement detector as a result of a bit of a draught coming down the attic stairs.

It’s given a false alarm once before when we’ve been in Bournemouth – why can’t it go wrong when we are running within a mile from home?

I stayed overnight and drove back to Bournemouth on Saturday morning. All that put paid to a morning run but we went for a walk and then walked to a restaurant for an excellent lunch – so that was about 2.5 hours on our feet.

I wasn’t going to run on Sunday but it was a lovely day – chilly but a bright blue sky and some sunshine. It was too good to miss so I ran along the seafront to Boscombe Pier and back – 8.5km (5.3 miles) – it was delightful and despite the extra, unnecessary, driving it was a very fine weekend.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra worries and plans)

I’ve started looking at training plans for July’s ultra. The organisers have a 20 week programme on the website – that would mean starting around the second week of February. However, the weekly distances for the first 9 weeks of the plan aren’t any bigger than I’d expect to be running anyway – although in the later weeks the longest runs are a bit further than I’d usually go.

I think 20 weeks is too long to be in a training plan so I’m ignoring it for now – I’ll pick it up in late March to make sure that I’m doing slightly longer runs by then.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Wood already touched by fire is not hard to set alight

2. BBC News website: Robot vacuum cleaner makes a break for freedom

The automated cleaner failed to stop at the front door of the hotel in Cambridge on Thursday, and was still on the loose the following day. Well-wishers on social media hoped the vacuum enjoyed its travels, as “it has no natural predators” in the wild.

It was found under a hedge in the grounds of the hotel on Friday.

3. BBC News website: Arnold Schwarzenegger involved in a car accident

The four-vehicle crash on Friday afternoon left one person with injuries, Los Angeles Police said. Images from the scene show Schwarzenegger’s large SUV on top of at least two vehicles. The actor can be seen standing nearby.

This is news? – didn’t they see his driving in The Terminator films?

4. BBC News website: Egan Bernal in intensive care

Bernal, who rides for the Ineos Grenadiers, had a crash while training in Colombia. He suffered a fractured vertebrae, a fractured right femur, a fractured right patella [knee-cap], chest trauma, a punctured lung and several fractured ribs in the crash. Doctors were able to pin his right leg and stabilise the vertebrae. He is now in intensive care where other potential injuries are being managed, as well as the body’s response to the trauma.

Bernal won Le Tour two years ago at his first attempt and won last year’s Giro. He was widely expected to contest the Tour de France this year but it is not yet clear if he will be able to take part in the Tour which begins in Copenhagen on 1 July.

Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters was injured in training with the national track team on December 23 – there seems to be a dearth of information online after she had surgery to relieve pressure on her brain and was placed in a medically-induced coma.

My very best wishes for their speedy and full recoveries. Take care out there.

5. BBC News website: China rewrites the ending to cult 1999 film Fight Club

The original ending saw Edward Norton’s narrator killing his imaginary alter-ego Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, before bombs destroyed buildings in the climax to a subversive plot to reorder society, dubbed Project Mayhem.

For Chinese audiences, the authorities win. Before the explosions, a message now says “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”

Run, run (hill reps), gym and a Happy New Year to everyone

A sign off to 2021 at the gym – and not a piece of tinsel in sight

I’m not clear if the Chinese ‘may you live in interesting times’ is a blessing or a curse. 2021 qualified as ‘interesting’ – but may your 2022 be less interesting in some respects and much better in all respects.

I ran on Monday – 7.1km (4.4miles) – enjoyable but gentle and wet. I had a sore calf muscle – while exercising it in the gym on Friday someone started speaking to me about cycling and I lost count of the left leg calf raises but just kept doing them. As I get older, the dividing line between good exercise and overdoing it is getting ever more thin.

Christmas itself was great, the boys were back with us and we used most of the house – with just the two of us here normally we shrink our occupation of it but with champagne and stocking opening (at 9.30am) in the drawing room (pretentious, moi?), presents in the breakfast room, lunch in the dining room and a film in the snug, it felt like we got the best out of it.

We walked on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and probably clocked up something like 16km (10 miles) but on Wednesday the boys went back to their homes before the older son and his girlfriend decided (not unreasonably) that the house in Bournemouth would be a good place to see in the New Year. Here the house feels rather emptier but it was a great week we had with them.

We should be thinking about packing for skiing now but that is not going to happen with terrible Covid rates both here and in France – and we Brits are effectively banned from France anyway. The only thing that softens the loss of the holiday is the realisation that we are not missing out on skiing at its best – it would be a compromised holiday because of the restrictions we’d be operating under.

It was always going to be a light week for exercise so I ran hill reps on Thursday on the basis that they probably represent the biggest bang for the buck in exercise benefit (?) – 8 reps of the usual hill for 8.5km with 286m of ascent (5.3 miles and 938 feet).

Friday morning was the gym (the bike shop is still closed for the holidays). I calculate that before I increased the weights and reduced the reps, I was lifting nearly 19,000 kg in a session at the gym – about 18.5 imperial tons and nearer to 21 US tons. I have no idea if that’s good, bad, indifferent or just irrelevant.

Much of Thursday and Friday was taken up preparing for a dinner party for New Year’s Eve. I’m no big fan of New Year (to me it feels like the passage of just one more day rather than another year) but I do like a good dinner party and we had some excellent friends coming. We tested ourselves for Covid (thankfully, both negative) as did all our guests. We had a terrific evening – in a ventilated room – may that be a sign of good things to come in 2022.

2021 exercise round-up:

Runs: 130 Distance: 1,236km (768miles) – with nearly 14,000m of ascent it felt further

Rides: 68 Distance: 1,620km (1,006miles) – pretty poor, most on the turbo trainer

Swims: 30 Distance: 29km (18miles) – a mixture of open water and pool

Gym: 37 times – it was shut for some months

I didn’t set any targets for exercise in 2021 but that’s well over 240 hours in the year, my first ultra marathon completed and a triathlon done with a swim in the (previously) scary open water.

For next year it’s a 100km ultra, some sportives and two triathlons, one of which is over the Olympic distance. Exciting and daunting in equal measure. Dare I think about a return of the annual cycling holiday in the alps?

Interesting things this week

1. African wise words: Even the lion protects himself against flies

2. BBC News website: “Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea”*

Sri Lanka plans to send $5m (£3.8m) worth of tea to Iran each month to clear the $251m debt for past oil imports. Sri Lanka is experiencing a severe debt and foreign exchange crisis, which has been made worse by the loss of tourist income during the coronavirus pandemic.

*Lyrics, The Beverley Hillbillies theme tune (1962-71)

3. BBC News website: Ecuador to make Covid vaccination mandatory

The health ministry said there were enough doses to “immunise the entire population”. The under 5s and those with a medical justification will be exempt.

The ministry said vaccines were a “shield of protection” against the virus, helping to prevent serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths and the decision was based in the country’s constitution, in which the right to health must be guaranteed by the state.

Did you know that Ecuador is the original home of the Panama hat?

4. BBC News website: Netlicks? ‘The TV screen you can taste’

A prototype “lickable” TV screen which can mimic food flavours has been developed by a Japanese professor. Ten canisters spray flavour onto a “hygienic film” which is rolled over the screen for the viewer to lick.

It is suggested that it could be used to train cooks or sommeliers remotely. If made commercially, the TV would cost an estimated $875 (£735).

5. BBC News website: Alexa challenge

Amazon has updated its Alexa voice assistant after it “challenged” a 10-year-old girl to touch a coin to the prongs of a half-inserted plug.

The dangerous activity, known as “the penny challenge”, began circulating on TikTok and other social media websites about a year ago.

‘Alexa, self-destruct in 10 seconds’

6. BBC News website: Woman self-isolates in plane toilet mid-flight

A US schoolteacher spent five hours in voluntary self-isolation in a plane’s toilet after testing positive for Covid-19 mid-flight.

Her throat started to hurt while travelling from Chicago to Reykjavik and she performed a rapid test with a kit she had brought with her. She remained in the toilet for the rest of the trip with a flight attendant providing her with food and drinks.

If you’ve not been, think about putting Iceland on the list of places to visit (conventional travel advised)

Turbo, run (hill reps), run, gym and Happy Christmas

An earlier post this week – exercise finished, family all back home and I now expect to devote myself to eating my body weight in chocolate. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Back home on Sunday night after the Covid-tested get-together with my wife’s brothers and (some of their) families. It was a cold Monday but I managed 45 minutes on the turbo for 22.35km @30kph.

Very high volumes of new UK Covid cases continue – for now no tighter restrictions are being put in place, but nor have they been ruled out. I wasn’t exactly feeling the joy of running on a cold Tuesday morning but managed to haul myself out for 8 reps of the usual hill – this time Strava made it 8.5km with 286m of ascent (5.3 miles and 938 feet).

Later I got in the car and drove to London to pick up our younger son. He’s been very careful and fortunate (and long may he stay so) and has stayed clear of the virus, despite being in a shared London flat where one flatmate recently had it, and working on placement in a London school for the last few months.

Wednesday was cold and frosty so our younger son and I canned the intended run but in the evening I drove to pick up our older son who had come out of Covid quarantine having tested negative for a few days. He was not able to join us last year because of last minute Covid restrictions so it’s great to all be here this year.

I drove to Bournemouth on Thursday to check on the house and an internet provider change – all is well. It was supposed to be mild and dry but it rained all the way down there. Happily, it cleared long enough for me to get a run down the seafront to Boscombe Pier and back – just over 8.5km (5.3 miles) and a negative split thanks to the headwind on the way out.

Gym on Friday morning for an hour, sticking with the increased weights.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra worries and plans)

I hate to tempt fate but (at a fairly low level of intensity) so far so good. The knee and Achilles tendons that have been problems for a couple of years are behaving reasonably well (right hip slightly less so) and the hill reps that they stopped me doing for all that time seem to be working well. I can do three or four runs a week for 30+km (20+ miles) but the true test will be when it all ramps up as proper training starts in a couple of months.

The frustrating thing is that I’d give a lot to be in this sort of shape in the early Spring rather than in December. I think the sensible approach is to keep doing as much as I feel able to without (I hope) risking injury. Easy, eh? With the triathlon in May, what I should be doing is improving my swimming – but it’s dark and cold so that will have to wait.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The axe forgets but the tree remembers

2. BBC News website: ‘Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie’*

An ambitious plan to eradicate mice from an island in the South Atlantic appears to have failed as a camera trap on Gough Island (roughly halfway between Africa and South America and home to one of the world’s largest seabird colonies) showed that at least one mouse had survived. The presumption is that where there is one mouse there are likely to be more.

Mice are thought to have been introduced to the island by sailors in the 19th century and have been feeding on the chicks and eggs of seabirds. The entire project costed more than £9million (about $12m) and the aim was that it would be a “one off”, to turn the clock back and eliminate the mice once and for all.

*’To a mouse’ by Robert Burns

3. BBC News website: South Korean dairy giant, Seoul Milk, apologises for advert

The clip starts with a man with a camera wandering through the countryside who then, hidden in bushes, films a group of women drinking from a stream and doing yoga. When he steps on a twig it startles the women who suddenly turn into cows.

The advert has sparked a national debate over sexism and gender sensitivity issues but some also voiced concerns about the man surreptitiously filming the group of women, with spy cam crimes in South Korea having risen over the past few years.

OK marketing department, who thought that could possibly be a good idea?

4. BBC News website: Brazil wildfires killed an estimated 17 million animals

Wildfires burned in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands between January and November 2020. Scientists attempted to count the animals killed by huge wildfires and estimate that as many as 17 million vertebrates – including reptiles, birds and primates – died.

22,000 separate fires recorded during the year destroyed about 30% of the world’s largest tropical wetland.

So sad. It’s hard to comprehend the scale of the destruction

5. BBC News website: Money manager disappears with $313m

A company that was once one of China’s biggest property developers says it has “lost contact” with a British Virgin Islands-registered wealth manager, that has $313m (£235m) of its money.

Fortune Land said it had expected the investment through China Create Capital to generate annual interest of 7% to 10% until the agreement was due to expire at the end of 2022 but it is now unable to contact the money manager.

I assume China Create Capital thinks it’s managed that money rather well

6. BBC News website: Chip shortage in Japan

For once it’s not a lack of semiconductors that is causing the problem but McDonald’s is suffering a potato shortage in Japan due to the global supply chain crisis. As a result it will only sell small portions of its French fries in Japan from Friday until 30 December.

McDonald’s said it usually imports the potatoes it uses from a port near Vancouver in Canada but ships have faced delays due to flood damage and the impact of the pandemic on the global supply chain. It will now turn to alternative measures, including flying supplies to Japan.

Forget Covid – this is the end of civilisation as we know it

Turbo, run (hill reps), swim, run, gym, run (plus, great sporting injuries and an unexpected catch)

Monday was cold – not a day to be going out if it wasn’t necessary. I opted for the turbo trainer in the early evening – 45 minutes @27.4kph (17mph). Still some way off what I was doing in the summer.

Hill reps on a rather brighter and slightly warmer Tuesday. I pushed it up to 10 reps this time – just over 10km (6.2 miles) and 335m of ascent (1,100 feet). I managed to make the last rep the fastest – but that owes much to the others all being pretty slow.

I’m not sure that it’s a textbook hill for running reps as I’ve seen it suggested that you should sprint up for about 40 seconds and then jog back down – my best for this hill is about 1:50. It’s so steep that anyone would be excused for not knowing that I was sprinting up it – and the steepness means that it’s not an easy jog back down.

It’s also a bit sad that I’ve taken the Strava ‘Local Legend’ title from the creator of the segment (but not so sad that I’m going to stop).

I drove down to Bournemouth on Wednesday to take some stuff, to collect some wood I’d previously chopped up in the garden and – to my surprise in November – to mow the lawns. Listening to England being beaten by New Zealand in the semi-final of the cricket T20 world cup on the way back, was a downer but I had just enough spirit left to take my sinking legs to the pool in the evening.

I have researched the sinking leg syndrome and, luckily, it is a very straightforward matter. It is simply a question of poor head position, or breathing, or rotation, or leg kick, or catch or pull (or, more likely in my case, all of them). Once that small issue is sorted there’ll be no stopping me. I swam 1km in 27 minutes – a bit faster than usual.

Being a poor swimmer makes 1km in the pool hard work, so Thursday morning’s run back from taking a car into the garage was tough for just 5.5km @ 5:36/km (3.4miles).

Gym and bike shop, as usual, on Friday which went well but I had a miserable, interrupted, sleep when the cold that had been brewing for a couple of days arrived, in some style, bringing with it sneezing fits and a simultaneously blocked and running nose.

That put paid to the planned morning run on Saturday. The reserve plan was to get on the turbo in the afternoon but I canned that too after planting some hedging in the morning left me tired and a bit breathless.

I ended up just watching a succession of rugby matches while soaking a succession of handkerchiefs and generally feeling sorry for myself. Particular credit to Ireland for a fine win over the All Blacks and to England for beating Australia – but, my word, there was some bad hair on display.

I was feeling a bit better on Sunday so, with my wife out shopping, I decided to go for a run. I took it gently but ended up with over 12km (7.5 miles). I thought it might be a bit of an exercise in kill or cure but I appear to still be breathing and my nose is still running (even though the rest of me has stopped) so it looks like I have delivered on neither of the likely outcomes.

Second session of supper and Schitt’s Creek viewing tonight. It will be interesting to see how it continues to shape up – I’m not sure how many sit-coms make it across the Atlantic successfully (with, for me, the notable exception of Cheers).

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A roaring lion kills no game

2. BBC News website: One of the all-time great self-inflicted sporting injuries

After getting out late in Wednesday’s cricket T20 semi final against England, New Zealander Devon Conway punched his bat in frustration as it appeared that his dismissal would seal England’s win. Despite the fact that he was still wearing his batting glove, scans have shown that he broke the fifth metacarpal in his right hand.

Against the odds, New Zealand won the match – but Conway has put himself out of the final against Pakistan on Sunday.

If you’re reading, Alanis, that’s ironic

3. BBC News website: Buyers show remorse over pandemic purchases

Covid lockdowns led to a surge of sales of some items that people could enjoy at home or in the garden, or to keep up their fitness but now, a survey says that buyers’ remorse has kicked in for some, who admitted typically spending nearly £1,400 on the items.

Gaming equipment, DIY tools, home gyms, bikes, clothing and jewellery, musical instruments, kitchen appliances such as bread makers, garden furniture, pizza ovens and hot tubs all appeared on the regret list.

The survey of 4,000 people found some had sold or given away the items they regretted buying.

Wow – ‘some’ people regret their purchases and ‘some’ people have sold or given away things they regret buying. Whatever the survey cost it’s been worth every penny.

4. BBC News website: Fishing gear seller caught in hacker’s net

The UK’s biggest fishing shop has been hacked, with its website redirecting keen anglers to an adult website.

As well as the website redirect, its Twitter account was compromised and the attacker posted a mocking tweet claiming the company had been sold to adult website Pornhub.

The ultimate phishing scam?

5. BBC News website: Regular 10pm bedtime linked to lower heart risk

There appears to be an optimal bedtime – between 10pm and 11pm – linked to better heart health, say researchers who have studied 88,000 volunteers.

They followed up what happened to the volunteers in terms of heart and circulatory health over an average of six years. Just over 3,000 of the adults developed cardiovascular disease and many of these cases occurred in people who went to bed later or earlier than the “ideal” 10pm to 11pm.

The researchers tried to control for other factors known to affect a person’s heart risk, such as their age, weight and cholesterol levels, but stress their study cannot prove cause and effect.

At last, some justification for my ‘lightweight’ tendency to make for bed by 10.30

Ride/run, run, award ceremony, Bournemouth, swim (SOW), gym – ready for the triathlon(?)

I was in two minds over swimming on Monday – but I resolved the dilemma by deciding not to. If only all problems could be solved so easily.

I had some chores to do by way of checking the bike and changing the pedals. This followed some good advice from the unironedman that I shouldn’t use the normal clip-in pedals and cycle shoes with cleats, as they would mean two changes of footwear and a certain amount of awkward running in them out of, and back into, transition.

That’s all the more sensible as my cycle shoes have a ratchet fastening so I couldn’t really leave them clipped into the pedals like the pros do with pure velcro-fastening shoes. It’s a short ride so I’m guessing the benefits will outweigh any minor loss of pedal power compared to what I would have got using the cleats. Simplification is good.

The first pedals I fitted rubbed the crank arm. I fashioned a spacer and then found that the shape of the pedals did not fit comfortably with my running shoes. The second pedals worked well enough so I decided on a small ‘brick’ session to test them out and to see how my legs reacted to a run straight off the bike. I had a 27km (17miles) ride @29kph (18mph) and then a 1km run.

This got dangerously close to proper triathlon training but my legs made it very clear that they did not like the experience one little bit.

I ran with my wife on a hot Tuesday morning 6.7km (4.2miles) and we then went for lunch with some friends who have just returned to the UK after some years out in Singapore. They have a house on the Cotswold Water Park which is built around some old gravel pits … including the one which has been developed as the lake where I do my open water swimming. I can’t get away from it.

We went straight from there to the presentation, by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, of the Queen’s Award for Volunteering to the cycle group. My wife and I (and our younger son, in absentia) were presented with badges in recognition for our efforts. Quite an achievement for a group that started as a few middle-aged Saturday cyclists.

Bournemouth on Wednesday to mow and fit various bathroom accessories, and hooks to the back of doors. We’ve only owned the place for 17 years – everything gets done in its own good time.

Thursday was the last open water swimming session before the triathlon. We both did the 1km that we set ourselves – last time was with 2 laps of the shorter course, this time it was one lap of the (significantly) more intimidating long course. I had thoughts of trying to go a little faster than before, but I have to accept that my swimming is not good enough to have much more than one speed.

I don’t know if this makes sense but it feels like my poor technique means I can’t swim faster just by putting in more effort – to go faster, I think I’d have to become a better swimmer. I have now come to terms with the fact that I swim just about as well as fish ride bicycles.

Friday was the usual gym session, followed by the cycle shop. I planned a gentle run with my wife on Saturday morning but wimped out as my knee felt a bit cranky.

I can now start to fret about the kit needed for the triathlon on Sunday. I have a check list of over 20 items (including the confirmation of the required clear lateral flow covid test performed on Friday).

I have already done the most important piece of preparation in fitting elastic laces (that a friend kindly gave me) to my running shoes. With only one pair of quick-fit shoes I can already feel my transition times come down to under an hour.

The bike and run courses are not flat, and cumulative tiredness and the transitions are unknowns, so getting round safely and enjoying it are the orders of the day – no time targets. I am told that the swim-to-ride transition involves a sharp uphill run of about 0.4km – oh joy.

Interesting stuff this week

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

2. BBC News website: Brazil v Argentina game stopped after 10 mins

The Brazil v Argentina football world cup qualifier was stopped on Sunday as health officials and police came onto the pitch and, according to commentator, detained the 4 UK based Argentina players for not quarantining on their arrival in Brazil.

The Brazilian authorities said “[The four players] were directed to remain isolated while awaiting deportation, but they did not comply.”

The Argentinian manager said that “At no time were we notified that they couldn’t play the match.”

Hmmm … hard to see how they can both be right

3. I always use my games of snooker to help with exam revision.

When I use the chalk, I ask myself a maths problem. When I play the blue, I ask myself a question on science. Pink is biology, black is geography … and the rest is history.

4. BBC News website: Climate change: Animals shapeshifting to stay cool

Scientists say warm-blooded species are evolving to have larger beaks, legs and ears to regulate body temperature as the planet warms up.

Wood mice are evolving to have longer tails, masked shrews are getting longer tails and legs, and bats in warm climates have bigger wings.

Several species of Australian parrot have shown a 4-10% increase in bill size since 1871, which correlates with the rising summer temperatures over the years, the study says.

The parrots have got off lightly – since Brexit, it feels like many of our bills have gone up more, and much faster

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.

Run, swim, turbo, gym, run – heading back towards normality?

With no adverse reaction to Sunday’s turbo session, I guessed I might be through the food poisoning so I ran (gently) on a very warm Monday morning – just under 6km (3.7 miles).

I ran at just under 6min/km but it felt a bit harder than it should have – a reminder to play myself back in carefully. That’s fine, as I don’t think I’m going to do any particular training for September’s triathlon (other than in the water).

I worked in the garden on Tuesday but went to the pool in the evening and swam 1km – I’ve no real idea as to the time as they seem to have lost the poolside clock. I’m not sure I’m getting much faster but it is getting easier and I’ll settle for that at this stage.

That completes a (sort of) triathlon since the turbo session on Sunday. At about 56 hours it wasn’t the fastest and I must work on the transitions – T2 was over 30 hours.

After more time in the garden I took the rest of the day off – still not back to 100% by any means and I’d only put on 0.5kg of the 3kg I lost being ill last week. More work in the garden on a wet Thursday but I did manage to get on the turbo in the evening for 30 minutes @ 30.5kph (19mph).

Friday started with an hour in the gym and a session manning the cycle shop before we drove down to Bournemouth later on to spend Saturday working to clean the house before the next visit with friends. With the need for cleaning time, heavy rain on and off, high winds, and (still) less than 100% recovery, the running kit remained unused – but the cleaning got done.

Back to Oxfordshire late on Saturday and a run on Sunday which started badly but improved as it wore on – about 7.2km (nearly 4.5 miles) at just under 6m/km. Still not quite right – but improving.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today

2. BBC News website: Firm fined £2.6m for claiming clothes prevent Covid

An Australian activewear firm has been fined £2.6m for claiming its clothing “eliminated” and stopped the spread of Covid. A judge said the company’s claim was “exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous”.

The company maintained that it had been misled by its own supplier. “A trusted supplier sold us a product that did not perform as promised,” said Lorna Jane chief executive Bill Clarkson.

Not sure on what basis that claim could have been believed

3. BBC News website: Backlash over marriage question in Olympian’s interview

A Chinese state media interview with an Olympic gold medallist asking when she would get married and have children has sparked backlash online.

The CCTV segment with Gong Lijiao, who won the women’s shot put final on Sunday, also described her as a “manly woman”.

4. Athlete: Cindy Sember

Cindy Sember (full name Cynthia Nonyelum Sember née Ofili) is a US born athlete who competes for Great Britain, specialising in sprint hurdles.

Interestingly, she is also the answer to the question “When is Christmas?”

5. BBC News website: 13-year-old Sky Brown wins Olympic skateboarding bronze

“It was a super sick final,” she told BBC Sport. “All the girls were ripping it, it was insane.”

13 and speaking a foreign language. I did manage ‘super sick’ a week ago but I’m not sure that’s what she meant ….. I must be getting old

6. BBC News website: German pentathlon coach thrown out for punching horse

A German coach has been thrown out of the Olympics for appearing to punch a horse which was refusing to jump or trot during the modern pentathlon.

Coach Kim Raisner was heard on German TV urging tearful athlete Annika Schleu to “really hit” the horse while she struggled to control Saint Boy during the showjumping round of Friday’s women’s event.

But bravo Tom McEwen – who was at school with our sons (and I remember as a thoroughly nice lad) who won team gold and individual silver in the 3 day eventing at the Olympics.

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