Monday, 13 October 2014

And another thing

At least when you row in a boat with other crew members, you all cross the finish line at the same time.

Unlike yesterday's cycling event.

Two other Kevinettes (from my rowing past) were in the posse: the Aussie Solicitor and the Wine Writer.
Phenomenal rowers, awesome cyclists.
I should have known how things would pan out after watching them become mere dots on the horizon after two hundred metres.

There was also something of a hill (to climb) between us by then.

No matters. Onwards. And upwards. Quite of a lot of upwards, actually.
My mantra played itself on repeat in my head: "The more you do, the better you get. The more you do, the better you get. The more you do..."

So, with the three-woman pace line having fallen at the first hurdle hill, I was back to being Nobby No-Mates on my own two wheels. Madame Escargot at her finest. Although I was overtaking quite a few people, much to my own amazement (don't think they were trying hard enough really, I truly am not very fast).

And then my rear tyre decided to call it quits and with an audible "Pfffffsssss..." went flat on me around the half way mark.

Do not fear! LCM knows how to change a puncture! It will only take her fifteen twenty thirty-five minutes much longer than necessary! And the inner tube will refuse to sit flush inside the rim! Despite any attempts to fiddle or push or manipulate or start all over again!

Cue frustration, pedalling slowly with bastard uncooperative wheel to nearest marshall (a mere two hundred metres away, if only I had know earlier, grrrrr) and requesting mechanical assistance.

Eventually the van and man with all the gadgets turned up and faster than you could say "Victoria Pendleton" had me sorted and back on the road.

Small mercies.

Here's what followed:
  • hit bumpy section of road and watched precious unwrapped-to-make-consumption-easier bottle of energy drink self-eject in suicidal bid and land in path of oncoming car;
  • overtook others cyclists and felt very smug again until realising there was no one around (or ahead) and I could hear distinct rumbling of motorway; 
  • turned around before actually entering London-bound A3;
  • called additional 5km directional failure a 'scenic detour';
  • cursed gears when approaching last incline as chain refused to move into small chainring;
  • uncleated right foot and kicked front derailer whilst moving at speed (not advisable);
  • successfully changed into lower gear and remained upright;
  • finished race

By this stage I can add that the Aussie Solicitor and the Wine Writer had already consumed a full Sunday lunch, downed a couple of pints, and read all the weekend newspapers twice over. They were about to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea when I finally turned up.

You can probably see my point about the rowing boat now.

Oh, I also recall at some stage going through a village called - appropriately - Hurtmore.
No shit, Sherlock.

But, jokes aside, it was also great fun and a fantastic day out.

Just next time I will have teflon tyres.
Or alternatively my own personal support car and mechanic.

(c) Dave Walker


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Things I have learnt over the past few months

  • good friends are forever
  • laughter is still free
  • compliments can come from the most unexpected sources
  • time is valuable
  • networking is all-consuming
  • some contacts are just shite
  • others are brilliant
  • perceptions are deceiving
  • gut instinct is not
  • too much tea makes you wee lots more
  • spending hours at the computer makes your back ache
  • stepping outside is a welcome break
  • doing the laundry is not
  • pitching projects and ideas to new clients is exhausting
  • being a corporate nobody again would be worse
  • retaining a positive attitude is absolutely necessary
  • frustration is part of the deal
  • patience is a virtue
  • so is swearing
  • childcare - meh
  • BBC Radio 4 often begets the 'off' button
  • Barclays is rubbish 
  • headhunters still do my head in
  • empty vessels continue to make the most noise
  • job postings - load of bollocks
  • being fed up is unproductive
  • persistence is invaluable


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Doing my head in

Lots of networking.
Not enough (paid) work.
Ridiculous email replies.
Feckin' cold callers.
Doorsteppers wanting 'donations'.
At eight o'clock in the evening.
While I am trying to get dinner.
And sort out homework.
And figure who needs what kit for which activity tomorrow.
The cost of shopping for food and basics.
Which is getting higher.
Despite inflation 'falling'.
Indicating therefore that no government minister ever uses a supermarket.
Or is indeed in touch with reality.
A bit like OH.
Who despite twenty-one years plus of marriage has still categorically failed to master the basics of Italian.
And therefore announced to all and sundry last night that we were having 'pene' with our dinner.
Instead of 'pane'.
Which means bread.
Not penis.

(c) Gary Larson


Friday, 12 September 2014

Kevin's new member(s)

It's been a long time since we inducted new members into Kevin.

We did have grand plans about questionnaires, committees, admittance panels and examinations, but they sort of fell by the wayside as we are a very serious book club. All that stuff is far too airy fairy for the likes of us.

We could only really use one surefire method to establish whether nominated individuals should be invited to join our mêlée: would they return?

Despite our penchant for a) senility, b) going off on tangents, c) scoffing the host's food and wine, and d) laughing at inappropriate comments, we have very high standards:
  1. read
  2. discuss
  3. eat
  4. drink
  5. eat more
  6. drink more (unless driving)
  7. discuss other things
  8. return to discussing book(s)
  9. ooh look more food
  10. top up? yes please
  11. what book?
  12. who?
  13. sorry what are we talking about now?
  14. bwahahahahahaha
  15. oh yum dessert too
  16. wassertime?
  17. who is hosting next
  18. can we have a short book please
  19. must go to the loo before heading home
You get the picture. It is exhausting stuff. And cerebral, that goes without saying.

So we issued invitations.
And waited with baited breath (well, not quite, but anyway) to see whether they would meet our exacting criteria.

*cue momentous pause*

I am delighted to announce that we have not one but two new Kevinettes: Tough Mudda and La Diplomat. Of course not their real names, but appropriate.
You have to be willing to be parodied to join our lot.

Of course, we haven't told them that yet.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Nothing in particular, aside from numbers

After being soundly beaten by Mr Man on Saturday morning by a margin of five minutes and twenty-eight seconds (and yes, I *was* trying my best) at our local Park Run, I started to look at some other numbers - randomly, of course - and began to compile a list of no particular importance (or relevance) which has been doing the rounds of my poor little brain.

  • Twitter followers - one day they are over eleven hundred, the next below, then up, then down, up, down, up, down, more than the proverbial whore's knickers. Why? Do other twitterati randomly decide to follow me, then are suddenly overcome with a notion of purity and god-fearing duty that requires them to exorcise any individual that swears in a public forum? No idea. Views welcome. (I am secretly hoping the ones dropping off are those infuriating mummy/baby-related accounts that should never be following me in the first place btw)
  • weight gain/loss and associated training - prior to the summer escapade, I was doing exercise of some sort approximately three to four times a week. My weight - according to the scales - went up, down, up, down, up, up, up, same, bit down, up. I return from doing close to bugger all over a fortnight's break (excluding kite surfing lessons, more below), eating whatever comes across my plate, drinking more beer/wine than is necessary, scoffing ice-cream like it is going out of fashion, and check the numbers. Hey ho, guess what? I weigh less than I did upon departure. Okay, only just, but anyway.
  • kite surfing lessons - you learn in stages:
Level one: launching, manoeuvring and landing the kite; walking with the kite, learning to change directions.
Level two: doing the same, but in the water; learning how to control the kite with one hand while you 'swim'. 
Level three: body dragging (your own, not some random individual you stumble across on the beach, although that happens as well); heading offshore, heading back onshore, trying not to a) drown, b) take out other kite surfers, or c) end up over the Gibraltar straits in Africa. 
Level four: doing all the above but with a 'small' surfboard which you somehow have to manipulate on to your totally uncooperative feet so that you can then manoeuvre the kite to gain power and - voilà - stand up and actually kite surf.
Level five: face plant, crash kite, relaunch, face plant, drink seawater, keep kite flying, have feet trailing somewhere behind you, grapple for board, lose board, crash kite, relaunch, body drag, drink more seawater, head for shore, exit like stunned mullet, hand kite to instructor so he can head out and locate lost board and return to you. Repeat.

Okay, I made the last level up, but you get the picture. Great fun btw.

  • pots, pans and general cooking utensils - my longstanding and erstwhile (and momentarily incapacitated) training partner BB was chez LCM for lunch with her entourage over the weekend. She marvelled at how tidy and clean the kitchen was given that our cleaner only comes once a week. "How do you do it?" she asked. I told her we have a 'golden rule', and the cherubs obligingly chorused for her, "Clean up as you go along, especially when cooking!" Shame, I added, that the only person who did not quite abide by this mantra is OH when dishing up meals. Why use one knife when you can use seven? Why present food in an oven-to-table dish when you can redistribute it and use one, nay three, different ones? Who needs to use the same tea mug when you are working from home and can express yourself liberally and line up five in a morning alone? Oh, and that strange thing called a 'dishwasher'? The plates magically walk themselves into it. Likewise cups, glasses, forks and spoons. Not to mention the six pots, three frying pans and two oven trays utilised for making fish and chips for dinner. Fascinating stuff.
But he does cook, and pretty well. 
Small mercies.

I will now go and find something more erstwhile to focus on.
Like work projects.
The numbers might be more productive there.

(c) Scott Adams


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Kite surfing for the 'older' generation

For some years now I have wanted to learn how to kite surf.
In fact, for a rather long time, come to think about it, ever since first spotting the early uptake as way back as 1998 in Tarifa, on Costa de la Luz.

Back then, there were a couple of dudes mucking around with these big flying things, carrying around more paraphernalia and lengths of strings and small surf boards and harnesses and helmets than you could shake a stick at.

Oh, how we windsurfers scoffed at them.

"Passing fad," I think we even muttered under our breath, silently in awe of the ease of set up and acrobatics being displayed on the waves. "It'll never catch on, it's far too windy here for it to be safe!" we continued, shaking our heads.

Fast forward sixteen years - yes, we have been returning here that long - and the kites now outnumber the windsurfers. By a ratio of about one hundred to one.

Don't believe me?

Okay, spot the windsurfer then:

clue: they're not in the water

So kite surfing beckoned.

For a number of reasons:

  • I am a useless windsurfer (get on the board, wobble a lot, haul the sail up, head out, come back, fall in, repeat until my knees are raw, my hands numb and my back totally buggered) and never quite mastered the beach start, let alone the water start - mind you, trying to learn the latter in a large swell with three foot waves, a howling twenty knot wind and cold Atlantic water is unrelenting at the best of times, so I'll excuse myself on that front
  • I like a challenge (this includes having a lesson in four different languages, simultaneously)
  • I could be as good, if not better, than OH at this (he too is a novice here, unlike windsurfing)
  • the instructors are great fun (read: tanned, fit, entertaining, and happy to massage your shoulders whilst telling you to "Relax!" as the kite catapults you headfirst onto the beach in front of an amused audience of professionals ducking for cover)
  • it gets me away from the demands of young children on the beach ("Is it lunchtime yet?" "Can I have an ice cream?" "My brother/sister is not playing with me/does not want to go in the water/is kicking sand/buried my hat/took my towel/smashed my architectural masterpiece...")
  • it just looks FUN

So I have taken the plunge. Or rather, OH and I both have (okay, he started last year, but I caught up to his level with a couple of sneaky lessons before he arrived). 

Stay posted. I might just be able to show some footage at some stage - although logistics are eluding me at present and I have visions of my Nokia Lumia being trashed by sand, sea and wind by one of the well-meaning offspring as they attempt to capture proceedings.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this clip.

This girl was so good until I decided to catch her on film.




Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Sushi me up baby

It's funny, isn't it, how some some things come round to bite you in the arse backside behind haunt you.

Not more than two days ago I was chatting with a group of friends about how "I don't do guest or sponsored posts on my blog", recalling the idiocy of many PR approaches ('insert name of blogger [here] and send out random email with non-sensical offer that has nothing to do with who they are or what they are interested in') and the absolute joy of that fabulous key, also known as [delete]

Anyway. Lo and behold within the space of twenty-four hours yesterday I found myself agreeing to take part in something that caught my fancy, for two reasons:

  1. the PR lady (Elly, super efficient media woman) had gone to the trouble of actually reading the LCM blog and passing an amusing comment on my last post; and,
  2. it involved food, more specifically sushi.

As my close friends will attest, the LCM offspring trio are somewhat partial to such fare. A recent holiday outing saw me asking for an overdraft facility when the bill was presented.

So was I 'up' for a lesson* with a sushi chef? Of course. Just don't have me saying that on repeat after a few drinks (sushi chef, that is).

Hmmm... sushi sushi shushi shitzu shit...

Less than twelve hours later and I showed up at The Atrium at Westfield as directed.

It was packed.

straining at the barriers, I tell you

I presented myself, gave my name, watched the nice lady run through the list (which I could read upside down)... and then heard those infamous words: "You're not registered."

I had figured this out already - my upside-down list-reading skills are invaluable in this regard - and showed her the email from my newest bestest media friend Elly.

"Am so!" I retorted.

She looked me up and down. I had even gone to the trouble of dressing up and putting make-up on, yet she still did not look convinced.

"Oh." she said. "Are you a blogger?" she queried, trying hard not to look at me in a condescending manner.

"Uhmm, yes..." I answered, not sure what relevance this had.

"We are seriously oversubscribed for this," she said, "But I might be able to squeeze you in."

And I was allowed into the Holy Quadrant.

Start time came and went. The venue was even more packed. So lucky they let me in.

yes ma'am, the crowds were thronging

Finally a few more people meandered into the enclosure, including one rather intense American who queried everything ("Is this tatami mat plastic? Where do I get one? What way up does the nori sheet go? How much salmon on my roll? Is this enough rice? Should I add wasabi to everything? How much rice? What about my chef's hat, do I wear it? And the apron? Is this too much rice? What way does the nori sheet go again? Can I cut it? Will it rip? What if it rips? Where is my lawyer?...)

No matters. Suffice to say that the sushi chef from L'atelier des Chefs was very patient and very good.
I learnt how to make sushi rolls.
I got very sticky fingers.
I did not get told off for using the bowl of water for washing my hands.
I resisted licking the rice off my extremities.
I refrained from scratching my nose.

I did, however, manage some photos.



voilà - eat!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to clean my phone which still smells a tad fishy.

* yes, they paid me to attend this event, best decision I have made all week btw - PR numpties, take note and LEARN from the lovely Elly how to do it properly


Yadda yadda yadda...