Category Archives: swim

Swim, gym (x2), run, plus asteroids, too few children and a missing pig

Monday saw my first swim for a month. It’s not my favourite thing and it’s difficult to get out of the house on a cold, dark evening, so I surprised myself by going at all.

The session was well attended and I was (mis)placed in a lane with the three fastest swimmers. I stuck to the faster drills and front crawl so as not to get in their way too much – and that meant that I ended up doing 1km, which is further than usual.

I had given a lift to my training partner and his wife. His foot fracture is mending nicely and he is now allowed to swim, although it will be 9 weeks from the date of the fracture before he can get back to running. That seems to put paid to his participation in the Brighton Marathon on 2 April, which is disappointing.

Into the (unheated) gym on another freezing Tuesday morning. It was hard again with the extra arm exercises but the big breakthrough is a long way off yet. Small progress with the (still disliked) gravitron machine now helping to the tune of 25kg, down from a starting 35kg.

I took Wednesday off exercise, other than for the daily diet of push-ups and bicep curls. I’m carrying on with those in a rather unstructured way, whenever I think of them, but it probably means an average of over 50 curls per arm and over 50 push-ups a day.

We are having some work done on the house so no run on Thursday – but I lit a giant bonfire that has been accumulating for some months as the weather and wind direction have been wrong for setting it alight. Only 5ft (150cm) high, but it was probably 15 feet (4.5m) in diameter at the base. It was a recalcitrant beggar and the day was every bit as hard as a gym session but much longer.

Gym for an hour on Friday morning and then three in the bike shop. The bonfire continues to smoulder happily and the wind continues in the right direction (blowing the smoke away from the village).

The breeze had dropped by Saturday morning and the bonfire smoke was likely to go anywhere so I put the fire out. A good result with only a modest pile left from the monster that started out on Thursday. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and tidying before friends came for dinner in the evening. We both had a terrific time.

As befits the excellent Saturday evening, Sunday morning started very slowly but I managed out for a run just after midday for a gentle 11.1km (7 miles).

Having sent off my passport for renewal last week, I have been a bit nervous about turnaround times for getting it back. Last year there was a good deal of national anguish as a high level of applications led to delays and missed holidays. The current official advice is to allow 10 weeks (and we plan to go back to France sooner than that).

A website that gives a real life picture on turnaround times suggests that the average has always been less than 10 weeks and that renewals are quicker than new applications. It says that, currently, renewals take less than two weeks. On Friday I got confirmation that mine has been approved and on Saturday confirmation of it having been printed so now just waiting for it in the post. Phew.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A wise person will always find a way

2. BBC News website: As over-population is an issue in many countries …

Japan’s prime minister says his country is on the brink of not being able to function as a society because of its falling birth rate. Japan’s population is 125 million but estimates suggest fewer than 800,000 births last year. In the 1970s, that figure was more than two million.

Birth rates are slowing in many countries but the problem is particularly acute in Japan as life expectancy has risen in recent decades, meaning there are a growing number of older people, and a declining numbers of workers to support them.

3. BBC News website: We know all about asteroids close to us – or do we

Just after midnight on Friday (UK time) an asteroid about the size of a minibus, passed by the southern tip of South America. Coming within 3,600km (2,200 miles), it counts as a close shave, closer than the orbits of telecommunications satellites and less than 3% of the average distance between the Earth and the moon.

It illustrates how there are still asteroids of significant size lurking near Earth that remain to be detected. This one was only picked up last weekend by an amateur astronomer in Crimea.

Where is Elisha Wood when you need him?

4. BBC News website: This little piggy went to …

A 20-stone pig has been reunited with its owners after apparently being dumped on a mountain. Two-year-old Gertie was found 40 miles (64km) from home, having (presumably) been stolen and possibly hidden for two days.

“I sobbed when I saw her I just burst into tears, I didn’t expect to find her alive,” said her owner. “It’s appalling. Who takes a pig, maybe hides her, and dumps her 40 miles away? It took me 45 mins to get there. She was exhausted when I found her, she was confused.”

I guess you have to know a pig well to tell when it’s confused

Run (x4), gym, push-ups (x822), plus cruising, Canada and ‘can I push now?’

The 100 push-up programme went back to 5 sets on Monday: 45, 55, 35, 30, 55+ (I managed 65) for a total of 230.

I ran with my wife after the push-ups – she’s just getting back into it after a break. We did 5.75km (3.6 miles) taken gently, thank goodness, as the push-ups are getting to me now. It’s not just the arms, chest and shoulders but also the cardio vascular system and everything used to hold the whole body straight during the exercise.

Continuing to mess with my head, the programme went to 9 sets (45 second rests) for Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday was 22, 22, 30, 30, 24, 24, 18, 18, 58+ (I struggled and managed just 60). Of course, it’s not that I’m nervous about the challenge itself but I did do another 60 later in the day.

After that I ran again with my wife – the same run as Monday. Mild and dry, but it was blowing a gale.

On Thursday morning I ran with my friend who is starting to think about training for the Brighton Marathon in early April. He chose the route (11.7km – 7.3 miles) and it was very largely cross country along field edges and muddy tracks. I lost my heel out of my shoe twice as it stuck in the mud, but the shoe stayed on and neither of us fell. I nearly always run on roads and well compacted farm tracks so it made for a hard run – but a really nice change. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps wearing my trail shoes would have been a good option.

Friday was the final session of the push-up challenge training with sets of 26, 26, 33, 33, 26, 26, 22, 22, 60+. I got through it (70 for the final set) and that is the 6 week programme finished – I did 822 in the final week. Secretly, I had hoped that a miracle would occur and I’d do the whole 100 for the final set – but that was never likely.

Now all that is left is the attempt at the real thing – one hundred push-ups in one go. I’ve done all the training so it ought to work (?) but I doubt that they set up the programme with 67 year olds in mind. I think my arms need some rest before trying it.

Afterwards I went for a short session in the gym and then to do my usual Friday morning at the (newly relocated and reopened) bike shop – very smart it is too.

Domestic stuff on Saturday so on Sunday morning I tried the finale of the push-up challenge. I was going to leave it until next week but simply got to the point where I wanted it finished. How did it go? I’ll do a post on the whole experience next week.

Later on Sunday morning I ran with my wife (the same route again) and then we are off out to supper with great friends – it will be an excellent evening.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If money were to be found up in the trees, most people would be married to monkeys

2. BBC News website: Just as you thought it was safe to go back on the cruise ship

Hundreds of passengers have been stranded on a cruise ship off the Australian coast after a potentially harmful growth, “biofoul” – an accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae or small animals – was found on its hull. Officials said the ship’s hull must be cleaned before entering Australia.

The ship was also, reportedly, denied permission to dock at Christchurch, Dunedin and Hobart. Passengers had not been able to leave the ship since 26 December and four scheduled port stops had been missed.

3. BBC News website: Bricks and mortar stay at home

A two-year ban on most foreigners buying homes in Canada has come into effect aiming to help ease one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the world. As of this summer, the average home price in Canada is C$777,200 ($568,000; £473,700) – more than 11 times the median household income after taxes.

New Zealand passed similar legislation banning foreign homebuyers in 2018 as the country grappled with its own housing affordability crisis. Inflation-adjusted home prices have continued to rise since the ban came into effect.

4. BBC News website: I wonder what influenced his decision?

Cristiano Ronaldo says his work in Europe is done, but he had “many opportunities” from clubs in Brazil, Australia, the United States and Portugal before joining Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr.

Ronaldo is reportedly set to receive more than £177m per year in a deal that runs until 2025.

I’m generally pro free-market … but £177m p.a?

5. BBC News website: Congratulations, it’s a … (immigration scam)

Spanish police are searching for 14 people who ran from a commercial plane flying from Morocco to Turkey after an emergency landing in Barcelona – which was forced by a woman ‘faking’ that she was about to give birth.

Authorities say that, once the plane touched down, a group of 28 people exited and “tried to flee”. Police managed to stop half of the group, but 14 escaped and remain at large. The woman, who was pregnant but not about to give birth, was arrested on suspicion of public disorder offences.

Run (x2), push-ups (x638), turbo, plus tigers, Welsh, a proper marathon man and a fail. Happy New Year!

Full of Christmas food and drink, day 1 of week 5 of the 100 push-up challenge made for a tough start to Boxing Day. It required sets of 36, 40, 30, 24 and 40+ which I (just) managed (45 for the last set).

We’d had a great Christmas Day and had managed to have a video call with our older son in who was in Quito for a few days before setting off for the Galápagos Islands. Interesting(?) fact: most of what we know as Panama hats are made in Ecuador.

The only blot on the weekend was me sneezing and wheezing somewhat – but not otherwise feeling too bad. In a bit of a kill or cure exercise I ran with our younger son on a cold but bright Boxing Day morning. He got a place for the London Marathon through the ballot and will soon be starting a training plan but we just ran a fairly gentle 6.3km (nearly 4 miles).

In the afternoon the two of us (my wife declined to come) went to watch our nearest football league team (Swindon Town, in Division 2). Swindon were probably the better team in the first half (but horribly lightweight up front), scored but then conceded the equaliser (an own goal) in stoppage time just before the break. The second half was fairly even but Swindon looked like they were running out of steam and ideas and Walsall scored a very late winner, again in stoppage time. Humph!

We all took it easy on a wet Tuesday dedicated to domestic things but the Hundred Push-Up Challenge threw a bit of a curve ball on Wednesday as it suddenly went from 5 sets to 8 (and shorter rests between sets) – I have no idea why. I’m hoping that there is some clever science behind this programme – otherwise it just looks like ‘if we get the idiots to do a silly number of push-ups, they are bound to get better at them’.

Whatever the thinking, my job is just to follow blindly, so I did. Sets of 19, 19, 22, 22, 18, 18, 22, and 45+ (I managed only 48) were dispatched with increasing desperation and decreasing style for a total of 188 push-ups. It’s getting seriously difficult now but I’ve come this far so I’ll carry on until I can’t do any more.

With an uncertain rail service (and a lot of luggage) I drove our son back to London on Thursday and we then put Christmas back in its many boxes – it has been a good one, despite missing our older son.

Still with the 8 sets of push-ups for Friday: 20, 20, 24, 24, 20, 20, 22, 50+ making a minimum target of 200 (I managed 205). I staggered through it and that’s week 5 of the 6 week challenge finished – apart for the usual ‘push-ups to exhaustion’ test which I will try over the weekend.

On the turbo on Friday early evening – 30 minutes @29.5kph (18.3mph). At least it’s easy on the arms.

Push-ups to exhaustion on Saturday – I could have done with another day’s rest but the target was ‘only’ 60 – and postponing to Sunday would just make Monday’s harder. I managed 70 but made the mistake of looking at next week’s programme which is a bit scary. Is another week and then a couple more days of rest going to be enough to make up the current shortfall?

Up to London later in the morning – we hadn’t got our act together early enough to get a table anywhere for the evening but had an excellent late lunch at a pub in Fulham (but it is the only Michelin-starred pub in London) and saw in the New Year at the flat.

I kicked off 2023 with a run along the Thames Path in London on Sunday morning – nearly 7.7km (4.7 miles) .

That’s a wrap for 2022. For exercise, it saw nearly 1500km of running, only 1200km of cycling, 70km of walking but over 40km of swimming, ‘active’ for more than 280 days. The 100 push-up challenge is work in progress.

Most importantly, we are all healthy and solvent (despite the Michelin-starred pub) and the year saw our sons settled in relationships and careers, even if the older is currently on a sabbatical – and is now in the Galápagos Islands (may they have a great trip and return safely). Despite the inevitable ups and downs life throws at us, I hope anyone reading this has had a good year, with an even better one to come in 2023.

Thank you for reading, be kind, stay healthy and be happy.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family

2. BBC News website: Tension fail of the year

In October, all eyes (no, not mine) were on The One Show as viewers waited to find out whether Glasgow or Liverpool would be hosting Eurovision 2023. The host was about to reveal the winning host city, building the tension with the kind of needlessly long pause that is standard when announcing anything on television.

The tension would have been palpable if some viewers hadn’t already spotted the words “Eurovision Song Contest Liverpool 2023” on the back of his card.

3. BBC News website: Welsh language schools in Patagonia need more teachers

The first Welsh settlers arrived in 1865 aiming to build a safe haven for the language and today it is estimated that between 2,000-5,000 Argentines speak Welsh.

Welsh is spoken mainly in the Gaiman area of Chubut province some 650 miles south of Buenos Aires, as well as in the towns of Trevelin and Esquel close to the border with Chile. The British Council funds three Welsh language teachers in the Wladfa settlement, but recruitment has been a problem since Covid.

I like traditions and culture being kept alive but hadn’t guessed Argentina and Wales shared anything much. According to the 2021 census, the Welsh-speaking population of Wales aged three or older was 538,300 (17.8%) and nearly three quarters of the population in Wales said they had no Welsh language skills

4. BBC News website: Suitcases, check; bags, check; tiger …

Police in Mexico who stopped a couple on a motorway for a minor traffic offence were surprised to find a tiger cub in the car boot, wedged in between suitcases and bags. Officers said they grew suspicious when the couple reacted “aggressively” after being flagged down. They also found four guns and almost 100 cartridges.

It is not illegal to own an exotic animal in Mexico, as long as the owner can prove it came from a certified dealer and was born in captivity. However, many of the animals seized in recent years were bought illegally or had been smuggled. Mexican law also bans the walking of tigers in public.

I remember the 1960’s Esso ‘Put a tiger in your tank’ slogan but this is taking it too far

5. BBC News website: A marathon a day for 2022

A man who vowed to complete a marathon on every day of 2022 to raise £1m for charity has begun his final run. The 53 year old from Cumbria often ran his 26.2-mile (42km) route before starting work. He has gone through more than 20 pairs of trainers and will have run more than 9,500 miles (15,300km) by the time he finishes his final marathon at about 14:00.

Sadly missed and died in 2022

This is the time of year the newspapers print list of celebrities who died during the year. Of course, each is its own tragedy and family loss but for me Queen Elizabeth II, Sidney Poitier, Angela Lansbury, Nichelle Nichols, Vangelis, Christine McVie, George Cohen and Pele stand out simply as being people I remember particularly well.

I like what former Hungary great, Ferenc Puskas, said about Pele. “The greatest player in history is Alfredo Di Stefano. I refuse to classify Pele as a player. He was above that.”

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

Push-ups (even more of them), turbo, run (x2), gym (x2), plus fusion, fish and fakes

Another week, another load of push-ups. On Monday the programme called for 14, 18, 14, 14 and 20+ and I managed 25 for the final set. The honeymoon (if there was one) is over as this week’s three sessions call for at least 80, 100 and 120 respectively. That seems pretty unreasonable to me.

It was too cold to want to go out to swim so I got on the turbo Monday evening – a chilly and lacklustre 30 minutes @28.6kph (17.8kph). To the gym on Tuesday for a 28 minute 5km on the treadmill and then half an hour of weights.

Wednesday’s push-up sets were 20, 25, 15, 15 and 25+ (I did 30) and it was hard. Doing arm exercises in the gym 24 hours before a push-up session might not be wise but I’m going to have to suck it up as I enjoy my visits to the gym. Perhaps the thing to do is go to the gym after the push-ups to give my arms a proper rest on the following day.

The challenge has been fairly easy up to now but the increases this week are brutal and I’m not sure where Friday’s extra 20 are going to come from. Later on Wednesday we drove to London and went to our younger son’s PGCE (post grad teacher training) graduation on Thursday morning. Very proud of him, as always.

Afterwards we drove to some friends for a late lunch. My friend’s late father was a captain of industry and turns out to have been a mentor and great influence on the career of my brother-in-law’s late father-in-law (if you are following this, well done). We were putting them together as my friend did not know a lot about her father in business and it gave her the chance to learn more about him, if rather remotely.

Back home on Thursday evening. Friday was push-up day: 22, 30, 20, 20, 28+ (I managed 35). That’s 127 push-ups in 5 sets with just 4 breaks of one minute each. Looking at the future training plan (which is scary), it’s astonishing how many push-ups seem to be needed to get rid of just those 4 minutes of rest. At least that’s week 3 done – half way through the plan … but am I half way to doing the 100 push-ups?

Into the gym later – another 28 minute 5km and half an hour of weights (with tired arms). In the evening we went to a drinks party, I’d been rather on edge as the day wore on, first trying (without success) to unfreeze our water pipes, and, secondly, worried about our younger son and his girlfriend getting out of London to her parents after work, to go skiing on Saturday.

There have been continuing rail strikes so I was on call for emergency transport to get them to her parents that night, or the airport early Saturday morning. Happily, they got a train just before the next strike started – but I’m also on call for getting him back on the 23rd or 24th.

I managed to unfreeze the pipes later Saturday afternoon after hours of crawling along the eaves amid dozens of pipes. With the house being so old, each extra bit of work done on the water and heating systems over the years has probably been very sensible in itself – but you end up with something no one would have ever envisaged if starting with a clean sheet of paper.

Village supper in the evening, catering courtesy of the Women’s Institute – excellent.

I did 90 more push-ups on Saturday and Sunday, that’s 407 for the week. I’m nervous about next week’s programme and thought some extra homework might be in order.

Sunday we drove to my brother-in-laws house in Surrey for a family Christmas do with my wife’s other brother and their families. Lovely.

Hundred push-up challenge

The author of the ‘runanother’ blog, who started the idea of taking on the push-up challenge, reported on his week 1 success – but had gone ominously quiet (including no replies to messages) in the two weeks since. I hope he’s OK and that it’s just a lack of reporting on success … but it looks like I may be on my own on this one.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A good deed is something one returns

2. BBC News website: Band AI(d)?

Since their debut single ‘I’m Real’ in 2021, K-pop girl group Eternity have racked up millions of views online. They sing, dance and interact with their fans just like any other band. The big difference between them and any other pop group is that all 11 members are virtual characters, hyper-real avatars made with artificial intelligence.

While I like the irony of the title of the debut single, I do rather despair at this

3. BBC News website: Breakthrough in the race to recreate nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion is described as the “holy grail” of energy production and physicists have pursued the technology for decades as it promises a potential source of near-limitless clean energy. On Tuesday researchers confirmed they have overcome a major barrier – producing more energy from a fusion experiment than was put in.

Experts say there is still some way to go before fusion powers homes. The experiment produced enough energy to boil about 10-15 kettles and required billions of dollars of investment. 

Only a little more, per boiling kettle, than we are now paying domestically in the UK

4. BBC News website: Police rescue art installation

Two police officers saw a woman slumped over a table in the locked Laz Emporium art gallery in Soho, central London and forced entry to go to her aid.

But the “woman” was actually lifelike sculpture – a depiction of the gallery owner’s sister, Kristina, with her head in a bowl of soup. It was made of packing tape and foam filler, and had been commissioned by Banksy’s former agent.

5. BBC News website: Sadly, the fish cash in their chips

A giant aquarium containing a million litres of water in the lobby of the Radisson Blu in Berlin has burst, flooding the hotel and nearby streets. The “AquaDom”, home to 1,500 tropical fish, – is (was) 15.85m high (52 ft) and was described as the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world. Two people were injured by falling glass.

Police said there had been “incredible” damage, video showed an empty tank with water pouring into the hotel lobby. A spokesman for Berlin’s fire brigade told the BBC the vast majority of the fish had died with the cold weather making rescue attempts more difficult. The tank had contained more than 100 different species.

Push-ups (many and often), gym (x2), walk, turbo, plus (insufficiently) fast food and persistent staring

My back ached on Sunday – to fail the push-up challenge for anything other than inadequate muscles would be cruel but, happily, it eased overnight and I started week 2 of the challenge on Monday. Session 1 required sets of 14, 14, 10, 10 and 15+, I did them all (20 for the final 15+) but my back was getting a little unhappy by the end.

I’ve found that fantasy football leagues can rather spoil the game. I put three of England’s attacking players into my team on Sunday and found myself hoping we would concede a goal (but still win) to deny clean sheet bonuses to competitors with England defenders. How pathetic is that for a low-key fantasy league with a £10 entry fee?

My three forwards managed two goals and two assists, before two were substituted off after about 64 minutes. Does the manager not care about my fantasy team?

I was going to the swim doctor session on Monday (honestly, I was) but it got cancelled. To celebrate I had an hour in the gym on Tuesday (largely to feel better about not wanting to run in the cold). It was tough as I put up the weights across the board with increases between 10% and 20%.

I think my painful back is due to bringing in over 30 potted geraniums, 2 lemon trees and two olive trees on Saturday as I could feel it again when moving a third, larger, olive tree to a more sheltered position on Tuesday. I bought a fleece jacket to protect the large olive tree – I’ll buy some more for next year so more plants can stay out.

On Wednesday we woke to the first proper frost of the year – and a couple of colder weeks to come. The push-up challenge is ramping up – it required sets of 14, 16, 12, 12, 17+ (press-ups find out if your back is not 100%!) but still OK – I did 25 for the 17+.

In the evening we went to the theatre in Oxford. Our last two visits were for the opera (Tosca) and Bob Dylan – I am ashamed to say this time it was Mamma Mia. Benny and Bjorn wrote many fine and catchy pop songs but cramming 22 of them into just over 2 hours was a bit much for me. Not exactly my thing but I’d promised my wife that I’d take her and a promise is a promise. It was a very good production and a very strong cast – and my wife loved it which was the main purpose of the exercise.

Thursday was even colder but we’d arranged for a walk with friends so we braved the freeze in what was otherwise a lovely crisp, bright day. A fine walk nicely followed by a very good pub lunch – 8.7km (5.4 miles).

Friday was week 2, day 3 of the 100 press-up challenge and required 16, 17, 14, 14, 20+. I worked hard to get to 30 for the final set, making it 238 for the week so far. I now have to do a test to see how many I can manage in one go – and that determines the programme for the next two weeks.

To the gym with my friend and training partner after the push-ups, neither of us was feeling the love for the weights but, in my book, that means the effort counts double.

I took the push-up test on Saturday morning and managed 38. I’d hoped for 40 but it was just a day after doing 91 of them and a gym session, so perhaps the small amount of muscle I have was not fully recovered. The programme has different plans for people managing between 16-20, 21-25 and over 25 in the test – so I guess it’s OK. Later, 30 minutes on the turbo @ 28.8kph – 17.9mph.

In the evening, England were knocked out of the World Cup at the quarter final stage. We had more possession than France, more shots than France, more shots on target than France, more corners than France … sadly, it appears that it’s the goals scored that really count. Ho, hum.

It was snowing when I woke on Sunday (but not as badly as the picture which is of the garden a few years ago). To commemorate the occasion I repeated the ‘push-ups to exhaustion’ test and managed an improved 45. That’s 321 in the week.

Our older son and his girlfriend have done the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, shared photos of their meal of guinea pig and chips and are now on the Amazon.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love is a despot who spares no one

2. Comedian John Bishop: Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day

3. BBC News website: No sex please, we’re Indonesian

Indonesia’s parliament is expected to pass a new criminal law this month that will punish sex outside marriage with imprisonment of up to a year. Cohabitation before marriage will also be banned and those convicted could face a six-month prison sentence.

The law, if passed, would apply to Indonesian citizens and foreigners alike and business groups have expressed concern about the damage the rules might do to Indonesia’s image as a holiday and investment destination.

4. BBC News website: When fast food isn’t fast enough

The Kraft Company markets microwaveable cups of Velveeta Shells and Cheese as “ready in 3.5 minutes” but a Florida woman is suing them on the basis that it takes longer.

The $5m (£4.2m) lawsuit claims the time advertised does not include preparation time – opening the lid and sauce pouch, before adding water and stirring.

What? $5m for a few seconds is one heck of an hourly rate

5. BBC News website: The madness continues

Twenty-five people have been arrested across Germany on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. The group of far-right and ex-military figures is said to have prepared for a “Day X” to storm the Reichstag parliament building and seize power.

The plotters are said to include members of the extremist Reichsbürger [Citizens of the Reich] movement and QAnon adherents who believe their country is in the hands of a mythical “deep state” involving secret powers pulling the political strings.

6. BBC News website: Are you looking at me …?

Sexual harassment on the street will be made a specific crime in England with jail sentences of up to two years. Wolf-whistling, catcalling and staring persistently will be criminalised under government plans.

Sexual harassment is already illegal but it is hoped creating a new offence for street harassment will encourage more people to report it to police.

Of course, any harassment is unacceptable but it’s a sad society that needs to legislate against persistent staring

Turbo (x2), gym, run (x2), (plus football, the metaverse and, sadly, it’s terminal)

A quiet start to the week with a painful right foot (again). That ruled out a run and the Monday swim doctor session but I got on the turbo – just 30 minutes for 13.5km (8.4 miles)

Having hurt my foot recently through an ill-advised long walk in ‘work shoes’, I blistered it again on Saturday after nothing more than a day wearing a pair of trainers that have caused no problems whatsoever in about 450km of running. The foot became a bit red and puffy – a low level infection?

On Tuesday we went for our Covid seasonal booster jabs, having waited as required after we had Covid itself. My foot was improving but was now feeling more like I’d dropped something heavy on it (which I hadn’t). I remembered that, to bodge the fence in Bournemouth last week, I had my foot under the gate to lift it so I could latch and bolt it to the broken fence post. I think that probably bruised my foot – and the blister on Saturday was a random and unconnected bit of bad luck.

So, no great dramas on this occasion but it’s always the small toe on my right foot that causes the problems (it was the site of the only blister after the summer’s 100k ultra) so it needs watching.

Nothing for it but another session on the turbo on in the evening – 45 mins @27.2kph (16.9mph). Not that long, not that fast but the third day in a row and plenty tough enough – possibly not helped by the Covid jab?

I didn’t feel any obvious bad reaction to the jab but I didn’t sleep that well and felt shattered on Wednesday, so I did very little (one of the luxuries of retirement). I slept nearly 11 hours Wednesday night (another luxury of retirement) and felt a lot better.

The sport recently has been spectacular with World Cups going on in the women’s and men’s rugby league, the women’s rugby union and the men’s T20 cricket. A phenomenal performance on Thursday saw England’s cricketers into Sunday’s final (fingers crossed for the weather in Melbourne), with the women’s rugby union team in their final on Saturday (in New Zealand, against New Zealand – we are favourites but I’m very nervous as they are improving all the time and we seem to have hit a plateau).

Off to the gym later on Thursday for a good hour – I can still feel where the jab went in on Tuesday, but even the arm machines were fine.

With the foot problems and no run for a week, I expect Friday’s should have been ‘shorter and slower’. I scored one out of two with my ‘longer and slower’ decision but I had an enjoyable run along the farm tracks to Eaton Hastings and back – just over 11km (short of 7 miles) but well outside 6m/km. I hadn’t intended to go fast – but nor had I expected to go that slow.

Disappointment at the women’s rugby as England lost the final to New Zealand by just 3 points having played three quarters of the match a player down after an early sending off. Thus ends a 30 game winning streak – what a time to lose it!

I thought about a turbo session on Saturday but couldn’t find the motivation so had a day off. With low expectations for exercise next week, on Sunday I did the same run as Friday – just over 11km (nearly 7 miles), but this time at under 6m/km.

A funny old week in many ways – a bit of injury, a bit of illness (and/or reaction to the Covid booster), decent gym sessions, OK on the turbo, poor with the first run and not great with the second. All part of life’s rich tapestry …

… and just time to confirm that England won the T20 Cricket World Cup. Of course, we didn’t make victory over an excellent Pakistan side at all easy, but we got there.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow

2. BBC News website: Sporting commitment or just the football red mist?

Ten players were sent off as Racing Club won an Argentinian Champions Trophy final that ended early because Boca Juniors had only six players on the pitch.

Each team had a player sent off in the 95th minute after an argument, while another Boca player was dismissed for a second yellow card five minutes later. However, Carlos Alcaraz’s 118th-minute winner was the flash point for the major incident when he celebrated in front of the Boca fans. The Boca players surrounded him, grabbing him by the ear and throwing the ball at him.

The referee sent off Alcaraz along with five Boca players, including one of their unused substitutes, and a player who had been replaced earlier. An unused Racing substitute was also shown a red card.

3. BBC News website: Billions being spent in metaverse land grab

Nearly $2bn (£1.75bn) has been spent on virtual land in the past 12 months, as people and companies race to get a foothold in ‘the metaverse’. It is confusing but there are actually many metaverses and until one platform starts to dominate, or these disparate worlds join together, companies are selling land and experiences in their own versions.

In Sandbox, one of the crypto metaverses, Adidas, Atari, Ubisoft, Binance, Warner Music and Gucci are just some of the multinationals buying land, and building experiences to sell and promote their products and services.

Gucci has also built in Roblox which is seen as one of the most mainstream of the fledgling metaverses. Gucci Town has had more than 36 million visits in the year since it was launched, while Nike Land has recorded more than 25 million in 11 months. In Gucci Town, players can buy clothing for their avatars with real money. In Nike Land they can get T-shirts and shoes for avatars with points earned by playing games.

The thing I agree with most in all this (and perhaps the only thing I really understand) is the statement “It is confusing

4. BBC News website: Football World Cup approaches

This week the disgraced former head of world football said that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake. Really? The bidding was for a (N. hemisphere) summer world cup but after its award they suddenly discovered Qatar is hot in the summer so it was moved to winter.

More importantly, there are concerns about human rights, the treatment of foreign workers building the competition infrastructure and Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people, as same-sex relationships and their promotion are criminalised, with punishments ranging from fines to the death sentence.

A Qatar World Cup ambassador has just told a German broadcaster “[Homosexuality] is haram. You know what haram [forbidden] means? I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind”.

The world football governing body (FIFA) recently wrote to the World Cup teams urging that football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles”, conveniently ignoring the fact that it was them who created exactly those circumstances.

Qatar’s World Cup organisers have said “everyone is welcome” and no-one will be discriminated against, but the Qatar 2022 chief executive has also said the government would not change its laws on homosexuality, requesting visitors “respect our culture”.

Everyone is welcome … but some are more welcome than others?

5. BBC News website: Sadly, it’s terminal at the terminal

Born in 1945 in Iran, Mehran Karimi Nasseri flew to Europe in search of his mother in the late 1980s. Expelled from countries including the UK, the Netherlands and Germany for not having the correct immigration documents, he ended up making the airport’s 2F Terminal his home in 1988, inspiring the 2004 Tom Hanks film, The Terminal.

He was given the right to live in France in 1999, but stayed at the airport until 2006. He ended up returning to the airport a few weeks ago, where he died of natural causes, an airport official told AFP.

6. BBC News website: KFC (Kindly Forgive Catastrophe?)

In Germany, the fast food chain sent an app alert, saying: “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

‘Kristallnacht’ was a Nazi-led series of attacks in the country in 1938 which left more than 90 people dead and destroyed Jewish-owned businesses and places of worship. It is widely seen as the beginning of the Holocaust.

The message, heavily criticised for its insensitivity, was later blamed by KFC on “an error in our system”.

It beggars belief

7. BBC News website: Just as we thought it was safe to back in (on) the water …

A cruise ship carrying 4,600 passengers and crew has docked in Sydney, Australia, having sailed from New Zealand. About 800 passengers had tested positive for Covid-19 by halfway through the 12 day cruise.

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.

*45.72

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.

Swim, run, gym, walk (x2), turbo (the world’s dirtiest man, ‘active’ politicians and snakes)

We stayed in Bournemouth on Sunday night and drove back on Monday after a walk along the promenade, in a weak sun and a strong wind.

I decided to get back on the horse (figuratively) and went to the swim doctor session on Monday night – my first swim for three weeks. It wasn’t so much that I’d missed it, more a feeling that if I left it much longer I would have found it even harder to get back to it.

I was a little apprehensive because of the continuing cough but I made the swim a pretty steady front crawl for 900m. Even that left me breathing really hard … but it always does so it probably doesn’t prove anything other than that I still don’t swim efficiently.

Considering how lightly I got away with my recent (first and, I hope, only) dose of Covid, and being at the lower end of the sensitivity scale, It’s odd how much I’m anticipating problems as I get back to exercise. Despite that, I ran one of my usual loops on Tuesday – 7.2km (4.45 miles) and, to my surprise, managed just outside 5:30/km – a bit faster than usual.

I can only assume that I’m lucky enough to have little or no Covid legacy, and that perhaps the two recent parkruns and the 10k race have changed my perception of how fast I can run. Perhaps I just don’t feel that I have to leave the house and immediately slip into my previous ‘default’ plod?

As a matter of absolutely no surprise whatsoever, I maintained my annual ritual of failing to get a ballot place for the London Marathon. Our older son was in the same boat but our younger son got a place so my belief that the ballot is pure myth can’t be true.

An hour in the gym on Wednesday morning went really well and I managed to fit in sit-ups, the plank routine and some stretching alongside the weights. I drove up to London on Thursday for lunch with some old work mates.

Full of beer, good food and good wine, I decided to walk most of the way back to the flat – about 5km (just over 3 miles) in uncomfortable shoes that gave me blisters and a sizeable bruise on my right foot. I stayed overnight and walked (with different shoes) another 3km (nearly 2 miles) to pick up the car on Friday morning. Then I drove to our older son’s to help with more work around the house and garden and to pick up a ladder, some wood and some rubbish for disposal.

My foot was still sore and bruised on Saturday so I opted out of a run and, for a couple of pleasant hours, joined a working party developing part of the churchyard into a ‘garden of contemplation’.

I made the most of the clocks going back an hour on Sunday morning – and had the extra time asleep. If anything, my foot was worse so that put paid to the intended run. Instead I spent a couple of hours helping to clear out the bike shop – we are having to move as the current premises are being redeveloped and our new ones won’t be available for a month so everything is going into storage.

With the foot not allowing a run, I tried it on the turbo in the afternoon. Fortunately, in cycle shoes, it was fine and I managed an hour for 26.8km (16.65 miles) – longer than I’ve done recently but hot work.

An odd week for exercise, only one run but enjoying the benefit of liking a lot of different types of exercise. With no events on the horizon, I’m sure the relative rest won’t do me any harm.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: To get lost is to learn the way

2. BBC News website: More on Amy Pieters

Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters has taken her first steps since suffering severe brain damage in a training crash in Alicante in December. The 31-year-old, three-time Madison world champion, only regained consciousness in April after being put in an induced coma following surgery.

She is recovering in an intensive neuro-rehabilitation centre. Her website said she could “walk for short moments when supported” but could not yet talk.

Fate can be very unfair, but where there’s life …

3. BBC News website: “The world’s dirtiest man” dies aged 94

Iranian, Amou Haji had refused to use soap and water for more than half a century, fearing it would make him sick. He had avoided previous attempts by villagers to get him clean.

According to local media, he finally succumbed to pressure and washed a few months ago but became ill shortly afterwards and died on Sunday.

4. BBC News website: Woman killed and swallowed whole by a python

The lady, said to be in her 50s, had made her way to work at a rubber plantation on Sunday morning but was reported missing after failing to return that night.

A day later villagers found a python – which was at least 5m (16ft) long – with what appeared to be a large stomach. Locals later killed the snake and found her body, largely intact, inside.

That is just so sad

5. BBC News website: Are politicians too passive?

A Brazilian politician is in custody after throwing grenades at police officers who came to his house in Rio de Janeiro state to arrest him on the grounds that he violated the conditions of his house arrest.

The 69-year-old former leader of the PTB political party, also fired a number of shots from a rifle, shattering the windshield of a police car. Two officers were wounded by shrapnel before the politician surrendered.

6. BBC News website: Brian Robinson has died aged 91

Robinson, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, was the first British cyclist to finish the Tour de France (in 1955) and was the first to win a stage of the race in 1958 (and another in 1959). He also won the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine stage race in 1961 and was the first Briton to stand on the podium of one of cycling’s Monuments, Milan-Sanremo, finishing third in 1957.

Robinson, joined his local cycling club as a teenager and later took up racing while working for the family building company. He competed for Britain at the 1952 Olympics before turning professional, riding the Tour de France for the first time in 1955 when he finished 29th overall.

With all the success in more recent years, it’s easy to forget riders like Robinson who was a trailblazer, inspiring the generation that followed, including Tom Simpson and Barry Hoban. 

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 Chess.com, 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