Category Archives: Turbo trainer

Run(x2), turbo(x2), gym, plus tasering, short-hauls, and something nasty through the post

Monday started with some interval training with my friend and training partner. His idea was for a gentle warm up run (across the fields) and then to do 4 repeats of 4 minutes at 95% effort with 3 minute rests. With no idea how to judge 95% effort, I felt that running just about as hard as possible was only likely to be 5% out, at most.

The first sprint was interrupted by having to open a farm gate so we decided to do the remaining sprints by distance rather than time. There was a section between gates – there and back was close to 1km. The ‘sprints’ didn’t coincide with kms measured by my Garmin but kms 3, 4 and 5 were run at 4m 54s, 4m 44s, and 4m 32s respectively. I can’t believe they got faster – that’s not at all how it felt. In all, nearly 7km at an average of 5.44/km.

It was a really hard session. The rests were supposed to be ‘active rests’ but I found trying to breathe plenty active enough.

I must find out how to stop him reading Runner’s World in case it gives him any more crazy ideas.

I gave the swim doctor session a miss on Monday but got on the turbo early on Tuesday evening. I managed 45 minutes @26.8kph (16.6mph). With the trip out to the alps looming, I’ve realised that I’ve not been out on a bike since two very short rides in October. I fear that the alps are going to seem steeper this year.

On Wednesday I dropped off a car to the garage (rogue brake warning light – sensor wire broken when they changed out the winter wheels last week?) and then drove to our older son’s in Kingston-upon-Thames. The fireplace in one of the bedrooms is not going to be a working fireplace but some filling in of the existing hole is needed so that the new cast iron grate can be plastered in properly to give it ‘the look’.

The idea was that I would leave them the car and make my way back to our flat to meet up with my wife who’d had a day’s shopping. That did not work out because his resident’s parking permit application was rejected as the car isn’t registered to his address (just like it wasn’t last year when he was granted a permit)!

I drove home instead of heading into London – but after the work and more than 4 hours of driving I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to do any exercise.

I ran in to collect the car from the garage on Thursday morning – 4.5km (2.8 miles). They had broken the sensor wire when they changed the wheels over last week.

Later I set about starting repairs to the garden shed that was trashed by a falling branch a few years ago. I have no idea why I’ve had a mental block about doing anything to it – but in the meantime it has, of course, deteriorated further making it a bigger job than it needed to have been. Crazy.

On Friday I discovered that the new floor to the gym has now been finished – a moody dark grey. They even seem to have changed the loop of music (and not made it worse!). I did an hour with increased weights which was tough, followed by 3 hours in the bike shop and then back to the re-roofing of the shed.

Shopping and more work on the shed on Saturday, and I was also watching out for qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, the Rugby Premiership final, the triathlons in Cagliari (great wins for the Brits in both the women’s and men’s races) and some great racing in the Giro. What an afternoon’s sport. A session on the turbo later in the afternoon – 45 minutes @28.3kph (17.5mph).

Rest on Sunday – with some watering of the garden as (for once) we are enjoying a dry spell … wait for the water shortages and hosepipe bans.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: One who marries for love alone will have bad days but good nights

2. BBC News website: And I thought a ‘Fender bender’ was a car crash

A black Fender Stratocaster smashed by Kurt Cobain, the late frontman of US rock band Nirvana, has sold at auction for nearly $600,000 (£480,000). It was destroyed as Nirvana were working on their break-out album ‘Nevermind’ in the early 1990s. It has been put back together but is no longer playable.

It is signed by all three band members and also features an affectionate inscription by Cobain to his friend and musical collaborator Mark Lanegan – who died last year. Cobain, who often misspelt his own name, signed the instrument “Kurdt Kobain”.

3. BBC News website: And the aim is still to sell coffee

In a recent Starbucks advert in India a couple meet their daughter in a coffee shop after being estranged from her for years and the father shows his acceptance of her decision to transition by addressing her by her chosen name, Arpita, instead of Arpit.

The ad was released earlier this month and has since been viewed over a million times on YouTube and has over eight million views on Twitter. Many users praised the brand for its message of inclusivity, and for featuring a transgender model in the lead role but the ad was also criticised by some users who accused the brand of tokenism and claimed it was “against Indian culture”.

4. BBC News website: 95-year-old woman who was Tasered by police has died

She was critically injured after police responded to reports she was wandering around the care home with a steak knife at about 04:00 last Wednesday.

Last week, police said she was “armed” with a steak knife. On Friday, they confirmed that she required a walking frame to move and the officer discharged his Taser after she began approaching “at a slow pace”.

The 33-year-old senior constable who fired the Taser will face court in early July on charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.

5. BBC News website: You couldn’t make it up …

Australian police are investigating after at least 65 women received letters through the post with handwritten messages and containing used condoms.

Police believe the victims are linked and part of a targeted attack as all of the women who have come forward attended the same private girls’ school in 1999 and the women’s addresses were obtained from a yearbook they put together as pupils 24 years ago.

Some letters were handwritten, some typed, but all contained “suggestive and threatening… sexualised” messages. Investigators are carrying out DNA and handwriting analysis to track down the perpetrator.

6. BBC News website: The end of a glittering road

Mark Cavendish, one of Britain’s most successful cyclists, will retire at the end of the season. He has won 161 races since 2005, two green points jerseys at the Tour and in 2021 he equalled the legendary Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage victories.

Cavendish’s other major achievements include an omnium silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2011 Road World Championships rainbow jersey, the 2009 Milano-San Remo ‘monument’ one-day classic, 16 stage wins in the Giro and three in the Vuelta a Espana.

Can he win a stage in this year’s Tour to take the record outright?

7. BBC News website: Let the train take the strain

France has banned domestic short-haul flights where train alternatives exist, in a bid to cut carbon emissions. The ban ends routes where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours, largely ruling out air travel between Paris and cities including Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux, while connecting flights are unaffected.

Critics have described the measures as “symbolic bans”.

The UK is said (but only by me) to be considering the same but, taking strikes, cancellations and delays into account, banning air routes that can be replaced by a 2.5 hour rail journey only seems to rule out flights of about 25 miles

Turbo, run, mow, gym, cycle training (plus wine, lollipops, plane crashes and nearly a joke)

We planned to run on Monday – but it started to rain and the forecast was for that to continue all day. I quite like running in gentle rain but I find it harder to get out if it’s already raining – so the run got postponed.

The rain also removed the possibility of mowing but to save the day (sort of) I got on the turbo later in the afternoon (for the first time since early March). I managed 30 minutes @ 32.6kph which is faster than I’ve done for a while – more due to putting some air in the rear tyre than any great improved performance from me.

The postponed run happened on Tuesday. It was the warmest run for months (except for Mauritius) but we did 6.33km (about 4 miles) taking it gently. It was quite hard – I’d better lose the extra holiday ballast as quickly as possible.

I was very pleased with myself for mowing a month ago but the wet weather since then meant that I got back from holiday to find it even longer than it was before I mowed it in the first place. I bit the bullet on Tuesday afternoon and tackled it, driving slowly, with the blades set at their highest and stopping frequently to unblock the chute of cuttings. It took two hours and the best thing was that the thunder and heavy rain had only just started by the time I finished.

On Wednesday morning the lawn looked much better for the effort and the two magpies and dozen jackdaws on it seemed to agree. My wife then disappeared to London for a few days while I collected our older son from the station later. I gardened Thursday while he, having borrowed a car for the journey, had a 12 hour day going to the funeral of a friend’s father.

I went to the gym on Friday morning, only to find that its floor is being replaced and some of the machines had been set up in the foyer/coffee area and one of the squash courts. I can only imagine the effort taken to clear a gym of machines and free weights. Five of the machines I use weren’t set up in the new areas so I improvised a bit and managed a decent 45 minutes.

After that it was back to the bike shop for the morning session while our son worked from (our) home.

With rail strikes, he couldn’t get back to London on Friday so I took him to the station on Saturday morning. Significant road works meant the 30 minute journey there took over an hour – and another hour on the way back thanks to the necessary diversion. Later I did another couple of hours at the bike shop, providing cover for the usual Saturday afternoon volunteer.

My wife returned later on Saturday. Today (Sunday), I helped to take a children’s training session at the cycle park and we are off to see friends later for a what I know will be a delightful evening.

The impending challenges for 2023 are the Race To The Stones and a week’s cycling in the alps, both in July. After doing the 50km RTTS in 2021 and the 100km version last year, I’m pleased to say that this year that particular challenge is not mine. The friends who made a wonderful husband and wife support team for me in last year’s race are running it this year – with me and my wife as their pit crew.

I’m envious in some respects – it was a great experience last year (and I’d love to try it again in cooler weather, without the cramp) but being in support looks like a lot of fun … and the training for it might just be a little easier.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: One who loves the vase, loves also what is inside

2. BBC News website: The nutritional benefits of lollipops and wine

After setting off on what was meant to be a short trip travelling through dense bushland in the state of Victoria, an Australian woman took a wrong turn and her vehicle became stuck in the mud.

She only had a few snacks and lollipops to eat, and no water. Although a non-drinker, she had was a bottle of wine that she was planning to give it as a present – and that got her through. After five nights stranded, she was discovered by emergency services on Friday as they flew overhead as part of a search.

No mention of whether this has turned her into a wine drinker (or how she managed to make just one bottle last so long)

3. Last coronation stuff?

Last week, the satirical magazine, Private Eye, had a blank front cover save for the words ‘Man in hat sits on chair’.

4. BBC News website: Most plane crashes happen by accident

A YouTuber who intentionally crashed an aeroplane for views (2.9 million to date) will plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation by cleaning up the site of the crash, US prosecutors say.

He left a Santa Barbara airport on a solo flight with cameras mounted on his plane, taking a parachute and a selfie stick. The claim is that he set off planning to eject from the plane and video himself parachuting to the ground, and his airplane as it crashed.

He hiked to the site of the crash and recovered the footage, before later claiming he did not know the location of the site. He returned by helicopter and removed the wreckage, which he later destroyed, the statement says.

5. BBC News website: In an almighty rush?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been fined £300, together with a £120 victim surcharge and £90 in legal costs and given three penalty points on his licence, after he was caught driving at 25mph in a 20mph zone last year.

He admitted the offence in writing and was sentenced at a private magistrates’ court hearing.

6. Almost a joke

I was asked if I could name a country with no ‘R’ in it.

‘No way’ I said.

Run (x3), mow (x2), swim, decorating and removals (plus ‘scoot’, AI, and more training needed?)

I started the week with a run with my wife – a gentle 5.8km (3.6 miles) on a cool but sunny morning. Later, I mowed – for the first time this year here in Oxfordshire.

Once I got the mower going (having temporarily forgotten one of its quirks that rendered it completely dead) I rejoined battle with the willow tree. It shows no signs of having given up on its main aims of taking the ear defenders from my head or, preferably, my head from my shoulders. It got in a couple of early blows but the judges all gave round 1 to me.

The Swim Doctor session in the evening was taken by a different coach which made for an interesting change of drills (especially 4 lengths of sculling – 2 head first and 2 feet first). As hard as ever but, at 800, fewer metres swum than usual.

Tuesday started with a frost but then turned out to be lovely and sunny. With the possibility of some rain heading our way, I gave the ‘best’ lawns, front and back, a second cut. I’m feeling quite virtuous but am already producing something akin to a grass cuttings mountain.

On Wednesday I ran with my friend and training partner, as he comes back from a broken metatarsal. I think I’ve only run 5 times in the last 6 weeks and those few runs haven’t felt great. I was expecting a tough time because of that, and the fact that while I am a solid ground type of runner, he likes the muddier stuff.

In the end, he was grateful that I’m not on great form, and I was grateful that he’s only just returning from his injury. We ran 6.7km off-road with a couple of decent hills, at a respectable sub-6m 30s pace – without either of us collapsing (or falling). The tracks were surprisingly good, given the recent rain but it was hard for a wimp who usually sticks to the roads.

I ran with my wife again on Thursday, it was windy but warmer – 6km, taken gently.

The other big news of the day was the start of the domestic cricket season. Of the 9 matches, 3 had delayed starts, one was stopped after just 4 balls were bowled, another after 8 overs and one had no play all day, due to the weather. Some things don’t change. (On Sunday my team – Essex – completed their first match with a 97 run win).

Friday was a Bank Holiday so we drove up to Kingston-upon-Thames for the final joint decorating session on the house with the parents of our older son’s girlfriend.

We just about finished what we’d set ourselves to do – decorating, and some refurbishing to skirting boards and picture rails in the sitting room, two bedrooms and the bathroom – and various other things including some gardening, clearing gutters, setting up a new fireplace, replacing rotten bits in the front door frame and varnishing the door itself. The main bedroom and sitting room are now set up as rooms rather than building sites,

Domestic stuff on Saturday, with some hoovering and floor mopping and moving 30 geraniums, two olive trees and a lemon tree out of the conservatory (and another lemon tree from the breakfast room) into the garden and potting a few into different containers. A bit more of the same on Sunday but a generally easier day with a lot of gardening and even more chocolate.

Happy Easter!

1. African wise words: It is better to live as a lion for one day rather than 100 years as a sheep

But not necessarily better for the antelope

2. BBC News website: On your bike …. (or, at least, off your scooter?)

Parisians have voted overwhelmingly to banish for-hire e-scooters from the streets of the French capital. Approximately 15,000 e-scooters could now vanish from central Paris at the end of August when the city’s contracts with the three operators expire.

Voting turnout was very low, with just 7.46% of the population voting, but 89% rejected e-scooters. Many Parisians complain that e-scooters are an eyesore and a traffic menace, and they have been involved in hundreds of accidents.

3. BBC News website: Artificial intelligence, ‘a major advancement’

Artificial intelligence (AI) could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs, a report by investment bank Goldman Sachs says. It could replace a quarter of work tasks in the US and Europe but may mean new jobs and a productivity boom, eventually increase the total annual value of goods and services produced globally by 7%.

Generative AI, able to create content indistinguishable from human work, is “a major advancement”, the report says.

‘You pays your money and takes your choice’

4. BBC News website: Artificial intelligence, ‘a threat to humanity’

A letter signed by key figures in artificial intelligence want training of powerful AI systems to be suspended amid fears of a threat to humanity.

The letter says that AI systems pose significant risks to democracy through weaponised disinformation, to employment through displacement of human skills and to education through plagiarism and demotivation. According to the letter, in the future, advanced AI’s may pose a “more general threat to human control over our civilization”.

As I said, ‘You pays your money and takes your choice’

5. BBC News website: ‘And your driver today is ……. absent’

Full-size, self-driving bus services will begin in Scotland next month for a 14-mile route over the Forth Road Bridge, in what is believed to be a world first.

Five single-decker autonomous buses have sensors enabling them to travel on pre-selected roads at up to 50mph and will have the capacity for about 10,000 passenger journeys per week.

A safety driver will sit in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a so-called ‘bus captain’ will help passengers with boarding, buying tickets and queries.

So the driverless bus has one extra member of staff aboard?

6. BBC News website: Your safety is in good hands – we’re professionals

FBI agents carrying out a training exercise at a hotel in Boston broke into the wrong room and detained an innocent man, the agency confirmed.

The FBI said it was “assisting” the Department of Defence in conducting a mock investigation on Tuesday night but agents then stormed into the wrong room and handcuffed a man who had no clue as to what was happening. Agents reportedly interrogated the man for almost an hour before realising their mistake.

Skiing (just), driving (lots), plus Linky, indictments and the secret of good comedy

Last Sunday we set off early for France. We’d booked a second holiday in case our sons would be able to get out there – they couldn’t (older son being on a trek to see Orangutans in Indonesia seemed to be a decent excuse) but we decided to go anyway. The chances of skiing were not good with the continuing poor snow this year – but we also had an appointment with Linky.

The drive out there was horribly wet but otherwise incident free and, thankfully, the electrician turned up bright and early on Monday morning to fit Linky.

For some time now we have been getting messages from the electricity company saying that they could not read the meter (although that never stopped them sending bills). We tried to send a reading but the screen on the meter remained uncompromisingly blank, no matter that buttons were pushed.

We were told that the old meters could be read remotely but that this had to be done from near the apartment block – the ‘Linky’ meters are being pushed mainly as they send in the readings without the company having to send anyone to get them.

So, at the root of it, it seemed to be the same as the drive to fit new meters in the UK (the Linky being the French version of our smart meters) … simply to make the electricity company’s life easier. Anyway, Linky is working well, but we wrote off Monday and rested (I read the 400+ page “Dissolution’ By CJ Sansom, cover to cover).

Of course, I was distraught at missing the usual Monday Swim Doctor session!

We fiddled about on domestic things on Tuesday but skied on Wednesday. We were nervous about what we’d find so my new skis (bought with great timing in 2019) were not risked and the same for my new jacket. The picture is of us on a lift that has an auto photo-taking facility. Yes, it’s a subtle, original, 1980’s Nevica jacket, worn with pride, if not style.

More runs were open than when we were there in January and although the snow was a bit ‘heavy’ we had a great time, with the huge bonus of there not being many people out on the slopes.

They have plenty of precipitation out there – but it’s currently too warm for it to fall as snow instead of rain. The rain on Wednesday and Thursday dissuaded us from skiing again – I read ‘The Whisper Man’ by Alex North (again in a day) and we had a very good time exploring the town and watching some DVD’s.

There is one road down the mountain from Les Carroz, which splits into two, lower down in Arâches. The road we wanted from Arâches was, of course, going to be shut for road works so we left earlier than planned on Friday to get through before it closed.

Despite a lot of heavy rain and temperatures yo-yoing between 6℃ and 14.5℃ (43℉ and 58℉) the journey back to the tunnel was good. We were put on a crossing an hour earlier than booked and then (I guess they were not overly full) were directed onto a shuttle nearly an hour earlier than that.

On the UK side, the rain was even worse and the M25 was doing its best impression of both an orbital car park and a swimming pool with a lot of standing water and significant queues. We were hugely reilieved that we were travelling away from Dover, based on the traffic going that way (see below!).

Eventually ‘Waze’ took us off the motorway and back via the M40 to avoid yet more problems and delays on the M4. We made it home by 9pm, but it was a 14 hour journey for the 715 miles (1150km).

My wife was out on Saturday (more staying power than me – but there again, I did do the driving) so I got through heaps of washing (and even some ironing). I am not a very religious person but I never come closer to recognising the existence of the devil than I do when trying to iron a fitted bottom sheet.

I thought about running on Saturday and Sunday but came no closer than that to actually doing it. I doubt that a week off will do me much harm.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love for something makes a man blind and deaf

2. BBC News website: Storm(y) in a D cup

Former US President Donald Trump is set to appear in court next Tuesday after being indicted in New York. A payment to ex-porn star Stormy Daniels is at the heart of the case. Daniels says she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which he denies. The case is likely to revolve around how this was recorded.

Trump’s lawyer paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet before the 2016 US election. The payment may violate laws about election financing.

I am not familiar with the lady (in any way) and have gone for the ‘D cup’ just for the sake of the (almost) joke – it might be an under-estimate

3. BBC News website: Yet again, the Channel is hard to cross (officially at least)

A critical incident has been declared at Dover, as coach passengers face hours-long delays caused by bad weather and long border processing times. On Saturday morning as the Easter getaway began, around 70 coaches were waiting at the port to be processed, a port official told the BBC.

Freight and car traffic was moving steadily but coach traffic has suffered significant delays due to lengthy French border processes at Dover and sheer volume.

French authorities said an “unforeseeable technical incident” in the Channel Tunnel meant French border police were delayed into Dover. Eurotunnel rejected this, saying “The critical incident in Dover started overnight. The minor technical incident at the Channel Tunnel occurred at 07:00 BST, well after the critical incident.”

4. BBC News website: Security is everybody’s business?

Russia has taken the presidency of the UN Security Council despite Ukraine urging members to block the move.

Each of the council’s 15 members takes up the presidency for a month, on a rotating pattern. The last time Russia had the presidency, February 2022, it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

It means the Security Council is being led by a country whose president is subject to an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

5. BBC News website: What’s the secret of good comedy (and parole management) …. timing

Oscar Pistorius’s bid for parole collapsed in South Africa after it was revealed he had not yet served enough time to qualify for early release. The parole board met to hear evidence, including from Pistorius and Ms Steenkamp’s mother, but instead of giving a decision afterwards, embarrassed officials admitted their timings had been wrong.

Earlier, they had ignored a letter from South Africa’s top appeals court, explaining that Pistorius has to spend another year and a half in prison before being considered for parole. The confusion stems from the fact that his time in prison has been broken up by appeals and by a period of house arrest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting stuff this week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paper jam in the 3D printer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The failure to send the letter is poor but …

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

Swim, gym (x2), turbo, decorating, Woodstock, hot shot cyclists and when Mummies are Daddies

Last week I got a text from the GP surgery telling me I was due a blood pressure test. In my 30 years with that surgery I don’t remember them taking the initiative over anything, and I’ve probably been in there only once in the last 15 years. Obviously, reaching the age of 67 years and 7 months is a major trigger for blood pressure tests.

I booked an appointment and, Monday afternoon, went to a local pharmacy for the test. Despite the booking, a confirmation and a reminder, I was told that they don’t do the tests on Mondays – perhaps they could have told the booking system? Lloyds Pharmacy is off my Christmas card list.

To make up for that disappointment I had the pleasure of a swim doctor session in the evening – 850m – and a lot of sneezing afterwards, although I didn’t start until nearly home.

Gym on Tuesday morning and later we drove to Woodstock – the one famous for Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, not the one famous for the 1969 festival in New York State. My wife wants to make the whole of this year (a big birthday for her) memorable as it progresses, so I’d booked supper and the night at the Bear Hotel.

If it’s known at all, it’s known as the place where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor began their affair (while each was married to someone else) – but to us it’s where we spent our wedding night in 1987, before flying on honeymoon the following day.

I still feel sorry for the taxi driver on our wedding day. Unknown to us, my mother-in-law arranged for us to leave the reception by helicopter and booked a taxi to meet us on landing and take us to our accommodation for that first night, not knowing where I had booked. No doubt the taxi driver was hoping for a long and lucrative trip – but we happened to land at Kidlington airfield … about 3 miles from Woodstock.

A great visit – Woodstock has changed little since I worked there first as an articled clerk (and then a newly qualified solicitor) over 40 years ago. Then back home on Wednesday after the best part of any hotel stay – a cooked breakfast that someone else has cooked.

Turbo on Thursday – 30 minutes @ 32kph. Recently it’s been 30 minutes at nearer 28kph – I don’t know what made the difference this time.

As ever, Friday was the gym (still slow progress on my chin-up challenge) and then the bike shop.

On Saturday I took a trip to Kingston-upon-Thames to continue work on our older son’s house. With his girlfriend’s parents going up on Sunday (which we couldn’t) I got on with painting the main bedroom, and replacing the rotted sill to the front door. The work there is quite enjoyable – the 4 hour round trip slightly less so. Three more visits needed?

Sunday was spent getting ready for supper with friends – making a cheesecake and some cleaning. It will be a good evening – currently we are incorporating watching the mini series on John Stonehouse around the supper. Looking forward to it.

The first week for a very long time with no running!

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: It is difficult for two long-nosed lovers to kiss

2. BBC News website: Another pro cyclist suspended … but this time …

Professional cyclist Antonio Tiberi (21) has been fined and suspended from his team. Reportedly, he said he was trying out an air rifle, pointed it at the the head of a cat owned by his neighbour (San Marino’s tourism and posts minister) and fired, killing it.

A court fined him €4,000 ($4,250; £3,500). His team said it strongly condemned the “reprehensible act”, suspended him for 20 days and said it would donate his forfieted pay to an animal protection organisation.

What could he have been thinking?

3. BBC News website: The clock is tick tocking

TikTok is setting a 60-minute daily screen time limit for users who are aged under 18.

If young people hit the new limit, they will have to enter a passcode to continue to use the service that day but they will have the ability to opt out of the new measure, which TikTok says will be rolled out “in the coming weeks”.

The China-owned video app said it is introducing the feature to help people “stay in control” of their use.

I have never looked at TicTok so I think I probably have the right daily usage

4. BBC News website: Mummy, girlfriend, boyfriend … whatever

Police in Peru searched a delivery man who came to their attention for acting drunk at an archaeological site in Puno and found an ancient mummy inside his cooler bag. He explained that he kept “Juanita” (his nickname for the mummy) in a box in his room, next to the TV. He said that he considered it “a kind of spiritual girlfriend”.

Experts said the body was between 600 and 800 years old and that it was that of an adult male rather than a woman.

Brendan Fraser would never make a mistake like that

5. BBC News website: Something smells a bit fishy?

Dozens of girls from 26 schools in Iran are reportedly being treated for poisoning at hospitals after another wave of apparent toxic gas attacks. More than 1,000 students have been affected since November.

No girls have died, but dozens have suffered respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. The poisoned girls have reported the smell of tangerine or rotten fish before falling ill.

“It became evident that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed down,” the deputy health minister said on Sunday. However, he later said that his remarks had been misunderstood.

6. BBC News website: Slim pickings if you’re looking for good news

The World Obesity Federation has warned that more than half the world’s population will be classed as obese or overweight by 2035 if action is not taken. It predicts that more than four billion people will be affected, with rates rising fastest among children, with low or middle-income countries in Africa and Asia being expected to see the greatest rises.

The report predicts the cost of obesity will amount to more than $4tn (£3.3tn) annually by 2035.

7. BBC News website: If you can never find a policeman when you want one …

A police officer has died and 79 others taken hostage during protests in Colombia’s southern Caquetá province.

Violence erupted on Thursday after residents blockaded the compound of the oil exploration company Emerald Energy. Many of the protesters are rural and indigenous people who want Emerald Energy to build new road infrastructure around the San Vicente del Caguan area.

Happily, they were freed on Saturday

Gym (x2), swim, turbo, run, plus schoolboy humour, fat trains and oily coffee

Having, as always, neglected to stretch after Sunday’s run I didn’t feel like running on Monday. Instead I drove to the gym where I’m fitting in more arm exercises to go with the normal routine. I found 5 different methods of making my biceps hurt – is that progress?

In the early evening I went to the swim doctor session with as much enthusiasm as usual. They were late setting up the lanes so it was 800m in about 25 minutes.

I discovered that last week was the first anniversary of my attendance at Monday swim doctor sessions. They are useful in ‘forcing’ me to go swimming but I’m not sure if I’m still improving and I still don’t love it. I wonder if continuing is fortitude, a lack of imagination or stupidity (noting that those options are not mutually exclusive).

Of course, to get better I need to go more than once a week – but that’s where the not loving it cuts in. Perhaps I need to go for an open session to swim 1km to see if I can beat the (approximately) 27 or 28 minutes that I could do before starting the lessons.

On leaving the pool, I started sneezing before reaching the car, equalling my personal best.

Not feeling great on Tuesday morning – a few aches and full of cold. I was thinking about a session on the turbo but decided against it and went for some more in-house bicep pain instead. The only good thing I can see from increasing the dumbbell weights to 12 kg is that it makes the previous 10kg seem easier.

I was still thick with cold on Wednesday, but able to enjoy helping the chap working on the house to break into his car, which he had managed to lock, with the keys inside. He had a spare set at home – but his house keys were in the car as well, together with his dog. I spotted that he had left a window open just half an inch and we were (eventually) able to get a piece of electrical trunking (what else?) through the gap and used it to push the unlock button.

Turbo in the early Wednesday evening – still not feeling great but I managed 30 minutes @27.9kph (17.3 mph) which might help to sweat out the cold? Still improving on Thursday but not feeling like a run so I bailed out of any exercise (other than the inevitable bicep curls, of course).

The hour in the gym on Friday morning was as hard as ever. It doesn’t feel like I’m making much progress on the chin-up challenge but it wasn’t long ago that I went up to 45kg on the lat pull down machine – and I’m now doing 55kg, so something must be happening. A 3 hour bike shop volunteering session after the gym.

I ran on a chilly and breezy Saturday morning. An annoying, aborted, start as I realised 0.5km into the run that although I’d locked the back door and set the alarm, I hadn’t locked what we call the ‘back, back door’ which the chap had been using to clear out his gear, having finished the work. An uninspiring 13.8km (8.6 miles).

Sunday was another trip to Kingston upon Thames for decorating at our older son’s place. A reasonably long day – out of the house for 11 hours – but together with his girlfriend’s parents, good progress is being made and there is every chance that they will return to somewhere that looks more like a house than a building site.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: A small house will hold a hundred friends

2. BBC News website: What’s in a name, a stadium by another name would smell ..

Bolton Wanderers football club has agreed a sponsorship deal with local building manufacturer, Toughsheet, which means the League One side will be playing at the Toughsheet Community Stadium for the next five years.

The company’s boss acknowledged that the brand name is a bit tongue-in-cheek, a bit schoolboy humour.

and if people don’t like the name, that’s just ….

3. BBC News website: Breathe in, we’re approaching a tunnel

Two top Spanish transport officials have resigned over a botched order for new commuter trains that cost nearly €260m ($275m; £230m), as the trains could not fit into non-standard tunnels in the northern regions of Asturias and Cantabria.

The trains were ordered in 2020 but the following year manufacturer CAF realised that the dimensions it had been given for the trains were inaccurate and stopped construction The Spanish government says the mistake was spotted early enough to avoid financial loss but the region of Cantabria has demanded compensation. 

4. BBC News website: Oiling the wheels of big (coffee) business

Starbucks says it is launching a line of olive oil-infused drinks in Italy. It says olive oil’s “unexpected, velvety, buttery flavour… enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.”

Starbucks is among the major US businesses that have not found it easy to expand into the Italian food and drinks market; it currently has around 20 stores in the country. Italy’s coffee scene is famous for its independent and often family-run cafes.

Yes, they have olive oil in Italy (but I don’t think they put it in their coffee)

5. BBC News website: The after-shocks continue

More than 600 people are now being investigated in Turkey over buildings that collapsed in the deadly earthquake on 6 February. On Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 184 suspects – including construction contractors and property owners – had already been arrested.

For years, experts warned that endemic corruption and government policies meant many new buildings were unsafe. The confirmed death toll in Turkey and Syria has now exceeded 50,000.

Swim, gym (x2), hard manual labour (plus smoke, pigeons and staying close to home)

After a day of builders and burglar alarm engineers, it was the Swim Doctor session on a cold Monday evening. I’m still looking for (and not finding) the silver bullet of an idea that will transform me into a swimmer.

There were quite a few people at the session so I ended up in a lane with the three fastest swimmers again – where I feel rather out of my depth (figuratively speaking) – but at least that pushed me to clock up over 1km.

I spent a hard hour in the gym on Tuesday as my puny cyclist/runner arms continue to be exposed to exercises designed for the chin-up challenge. Success still looks to be some way off at the moment but that’s OK, if it was easy it wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

With work being done on the house on Wednesday I was in when a knock on the door introduced a couple of chaps doing block paved drive washing. We decided to go with them (it had been quite a task for us to do in the last couple of years) and they did a good job for a very decent price (I rather think they might have underestimated the area involved). Cycle club company’s AGM on Wednesday evening.

The drive cleaning meant that Thursday’s run got postponed in favour of sweeping 175kg of kiln-dried sand into the block paving cracks across a driveway of about 100㎡. That supplied my back, arms and shoulders with a more than rigorous workout so I gave myself an exemption from any more exercise for the day.

The hours of sweeping didn’t exactly make the gym session on Friday any easier, but I got through it – and then the bike shop. In the afternoon I did more driveway sweeping – with much more to come, no doubt, as rain and the movement of cars will get the sand into the cracks more effectively than my broom and I ever could.

Domestic stuff on Saturday, but with push-ups and bicep curls, of course. Originally, I was using dumb-bells with a puny 10kg on each. I have increased that to an unimpressive 12kg on each of them, but that might be too much too soon.

In the late afternoon we drove up to London and took our younger son and his girlfriend out for supper which was great. We stayed at the flat and drove to our older son’s house on Sunday (not even time for a run beforehand) where we met his girlfriend’s parents and had a day of decorating, cleaning, gutter clearing and gardening.

The house is a bit of a project and they have been living in a building site for months, so the aim is that they will return from their 4 month sabbatical to a house that is decorated and immediately liveable. Good progress made – but only the first working day of several that will be needed to get the place straight.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: It’s better to fall from a tree and break your back than to fall in love and break your heart

2. BBC News website: No smoke without fire

Households in England face fines of up to £300 if they flout new log burner rules as a tightening of emissions regulations has reduced the amount of smoke new stoves can emit. This applies to homes in “smoke control areas” which cover most of England’s towns and cities.

Even in controlled areas there is no ban on barbeques, fire pits or bonfires, as doing so would be “disproportionate”, the government said.

They’re all heart

3. BBC News website: Coo – that’s a mistake

A pigeon-fancying drug dealer who was caught after he shared information about his loft in encrypted messages has been jailed. The 37-year-old was arrested after his pigeon racing references on the encrypted communication service EncroChat led officers to him.

He was said to have included references to his love of pigeon racing in messages and images which allowed officers to identify his pigeon loft and home address.

4. BBC News website: Cross country, not across the world

16 years old athlete Innes FitzGerald has turned down the chance to compete in the World Cross Country Championships.

Her reason is that the contest is in Australia, thousands of miles from her home in Devon. Innes says she cannot justify flying in a climate crisis.

5. BBC News website: Get on your bike (but not in NI in 2023)

All motorcycle road racing, short circuit racing and trials in Northern Ireland have been cancelled for 2023.

The Motorcycle Union of Ireland, the organising club, deemed it impossible to run events because of soaring insurance charges. Quoted costs for public liability insurance for 2023 have tripled, amounting to more than £400,000.



















Run (x3), swim, turbo, gym, (plus forgive me Delilah, for not running quickly enough, while crossing the road)

I started the week running hill reps. I’ve not done them for a while and the hill seems to have got steeper in my absence. Six reps for nearly 7.5km (4.6 miles) with 214m (700 feet) of ascent.

The swim doctor session in the early evening was good – 900m of swimming, including various drills to make it (even) harder – as if the morning’s run hadn’t made it hard enough. I took Tuesday off but I ran with my wife on Wednesday, 5.7km (3.5 miles), and carried on with the bicep curls and push-ups.

On Thursday I drove to Newbury to drop off the sofa we are getting re-covered for our older son (who is having a great time in Brazil at the moment). I got on the turbo trainer in the early evening – the first time for a month. Just 30 minutes @28kph (17.4mph) felt very hard.

To the gym for an hour on Friday morning, including more exercises that are designed to get me to my chin-up challenge. Some small signs of progress after two weeks as I can do perhaps three chin-ups from slightly-less-bent arms. Bike shop volunteer session after the gym.

More bicep curls during the rest of Friday and throughout Saturday before I set off for London to see our younger son for supper, which was lovely. A run with my wife (and later more bicep curls) on Sunday to finish off the week – just the 5.7km (3.5 miles).

Goodbye (again, and this time finally?) to Tom Brady. I’m not one for sporting ‘GOAT’ labels because times change, games change, competition changes, etc etc … but I might make an exception in his case.

Passport renewal

As of today (Sunday) the Passport Office website is still saying that my passport had been printed (it was printed 8 days ago) and will be transferred to their delivery supplier in the next few days, after which Iwill be contacted with a tracking reference.

The inactivity would have been a bit worrying – were it not for the fact that the new passport had already arrived, unannounced, last Tuesday.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges, and the foolish build dams

2. BBC News website: Slow run, no runs

Dane van Niekerk has been left out of South Africa’s squad for February’s Women’s T20 World Cup after failing to meet the minimum criteria for fitness, having failed to achieve the required time of 9 minutes 30 seconds for a two-kilometre run. For male players, the standard is 8m 30s.

Captain in all formats since 2016, Van Niekerk, who has been recovering from a broken ankle, last played international cricket in September 2021.

I don’t know if the run is track, road or treadmill but perhaps cricket isn’t the poor relation in terms of fitness that it once was.

3. BBC News website: Something to make a song and dance about

An Iranian couple in their 20s have, reportedly, been given jail sentences totalling 10 years after posting a video of themselves dancing in the street.

The couple’s arrest came after they posted the video to their Instagram accounts, which have a combined following of nearly two million. They are said to have been convicted of “promoting corruption and prostitution, colluding against national security, and propaganda against the establishment”.

4. BBC News website: Why, why, why (not), Delilah

Choirs performing at international rugby matches at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, have been banned from singing the 1968 Tom Jones classic, Delilah.

The stadium said it would no longer be performed by choirs after removing it from half-time playlists in 2015. The song has caused controversy, with lyrics depicting the murder of a woman by her jealous partner.

Clearly, domestic violence is unacceptable, but this is a song which is over 50 years old. It doesn’t (to my mind) glorify or condone the violence, but the perpetrator is full of remorse for his actions and is about to be arrested to answer for them

There is also a move to ban the song Cwm Rhondda (Guide Me O’ Thou Great Redeemer) because the repeated line ‘Bread of Heaven’ might upset those with a gluten intolerance

(or I might have just made that up)

5. BBC News website: Good sense or nanny state?

Zambia has passed a law that prohibits pedestrians from crossing the road while wearing headsets or talking on a mobile phone. A person who contravenes this regulation commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding 1,000 kwacha ($16; £12).

A pedestrian must also wait for the traffic lights to turn red for motor vehicles to stop, before crossing a road at a junction that is controlled by traffic lights.

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