Monday, 31 May 2010

Once upon a time...

I used to draw. Lots. All sorts of things: still life, cartoons, 3D architectural floorplans (I went to a marginally sadistic school and this was part of the curriculum, believe it or not), and so on.

In a further effort to raise sponsorship for Cancer Research, the idea arose the other day about filming a mockumentary about the triathlon training I am (supposedly) abiding by. Other Half - he of the ever-ready video camera and superb Mac editing capabilities - told me sternly that I had to put a storyboard together before he would even consider lending his talents to the occasion.

So guess what? I did. Here's the first, and only, unedited cut. Scanned for your personal entertainment.
Live version to follow in due course.

If you would like to donate a few pounds, and ensure the video actually (eventually) gets posted, this is the link.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

So how's the triathlon training going? Part three

Two weeks to go. I am now asked this question on a daily hourly basis.
Since the last update, I can report the following:
  • I have gone swimming twice and not been rescued/yelled at/asked to leave the pool
  • I have done 'the bridges' run a couple of times a week (I think, my mind is also playing games with me so I could well be imagining this)
  • I have managed to complete two full laps of Richmond Park on two separate occasions (next outing will be tomorrow, weather permitting) but I am yet to master, let alone try, my new cleat-on cycle shoes... although OH has just changed the pedals so effectively I have no choice now
Which leads to another high point: my former rowing crew girlfriend has also enrolled in the triathlon. She has the advantage of having done this event already last year, and hence has set a precedent in terms of time and effort expected for each 'leg'.

Cue text exchange yesterday.

LCM - Did I see right? You have entered Henley triathlon? If so hooray!

FRCG - Oh yes, doing my best to fit the training in. You? Have new bike! How is wrist?

LCM - Trying to fit training in like you, wrist better. Also have new bike but my training partner BB whips my arse as she is so fit. Makes me weep! Was two mins faster than me this morning when we did double lap of Richmond Park. And that was after she came back for me. Twice.

FRCG - no answer, but is probably now saying "Oh f*ck" knowing her.

At this point I think it fair to say that makes two of us wondering whether we will beat her overall time last year of around 1hr 33mins.

Personally I am just hoping to finish in one piece. After all it's for a good cause and I am not in the least competitive (cough cough).

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Pulling as one - friendship (The Gallery week 13)

Difficult this one as so many lovely photos to choose from but none of them quite appropriate for the blog as either too personal or too revealing of the participants. And I do try to keep this blog relatively impersonal, sarcasm aside.

So here is my contribution to week 13 of Tara's gallery. The topic is friendship.

I would probably expect people to say "how typical" when they see this photo, but it is emblematic to me of how friendships work: you pull together, you support each other, and you go through thick and thin, pain and glory, the good, the bad and the ugly to make things happen.
True friendship is always being there for each other in times of need.

(And if you cannot pull your weight in an eight, then you had better jump boat!)

P.S. And before you ask, LCM is at no.7 seat in the cream cap. Both myself and the stroke of the women's eight (in the navy cap) were nick-named the 'mamas in the back' as we had our first-born within 37 minutes of each other earlier that same year, after going through pregnancy together and being due on the same date. Now that's teamwork - and friendship!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The personal ads - just a quickie (post)

Again, a 'cheat sheet' version of a blog post, but I have been meaning to put this up for ages. You may have already seen it circulating - it has hit my inbox twice recently - but nothing like a laugh to lighten up your day.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Foot(wear) fetish

Now this is a more unusual tag. The very lovely Metropolitan Mum has asked that I show her my " shoes and pass on the love." Had we actually managed to connect at a recent film screening she would have seen the lower half of my outfit and deduced then and there that I was probably not worthy of this tag in the first place. But there you go, the price of anonymity.

My first question to her was whether clip-on cycling shoes qualified, in light of my triathlon training. Yes, she said, of course. Provided they had sequins and kitten heels. No, she didn't say that last piece, I just made it up. But judging by my selection, you can see that I am not a 'girly-girl', unlike Blossom (no idea where she gets it from actually).

Anyway, here we go.

1) Let's start with the serious business of being a full-time working mum. Currently these are my favourite, very pretty LK Bennetts. (N.B. Notes from Lapland, this is for you vis-a-vis a recent twitter exchange):

2) Now these are something else altogether and about 15 years old. I did once wear these to a work conference. And let slip that in my days as captain of the university rowing club I was nicknamed 'Captain MacJackboots' - something to do with being very bossy - and henceforth was hailed by my peers as 'Captain My Captain' after that line in the Dead Poets' Society film. You live and learn.

3) Of course, I do occasionally get tempted by something special. These were purchased for my brother's wedding and worn with a rather formal dark trouser suit. I love them because they add that little bit of 'wow' factor to any outfit. Word of caution: the heels are vertiginous, for me at least.

4) But on any given day this is what goes on my feet - to and from work (gave up trashing shoes and toes a long time ago, that's what 20 years in the City teaches you), and of course when clocking up the miles whilst running.

5) And of course, I now have these to add to my sporty collection (still to learn how to use them though without falling off and breaking another wrist). They are clip-on bike shoes, just in case you were confused. Supposedly work similar to ski boots with bindings.... we shall see about that.

6) Of course no trip to Brazil is complete without an authentic pair of Havaianas either

7) But ultimately, when all is done and dusted, this is what you are most likely to find on my (not so dainty) feet whilst at home.

And yes, they are authentic sheepskin from Australia, but no they are NOT Ugg boots.

Whose turn is it next? Now if my brother had a blog, I would tag him as he is the bloke with the largest collection of shoes I think I know of. But he doesn't so I won't.

Instead I will pass on the love to Bloomin' Marvellous who must know the address of every Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo shop this side of Eden. (Am also sure she is pretty tired of me tagging her every which way but Sunday too.)

Why? Because I am curious.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

For the love of all things Australian (thanks to my mum)

Apologies in advance - this is a blatant 'cut and paste' from a recent email my mother sent me.
And yes, I have seen it before, and yes, it has done the rounds, and yes, it still makes me laugh.

Taking a cue from Frog in the Field who recently also posted a similarly hilarious item - albeit with a British slant - on her blog.


These questions were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and the answers are the actual responses by the website officials (who obviously have a great sense of humour, not to mention a low tolerance threshold for cretins).

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles: take lots of water.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)
A: A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not …
Oh, forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do ...

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is …
Oh, forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?

Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter / gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled, and make good pets.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Self-portrait - oh yes, this is me

She said this would be tough, and she was right.

Week 12 of the Gallery and the theme is 'self-portrait'.

I have little to add except that the chosen photo was Other Half's suggestion.
And no, I am not the gorgeous child on the left - that is a ten-month-old Mr Man.

Other Half's words were something to the effect of it being a good resemblance.
I hate to think what he says about me behind my back.

p.s. late addendum: the gorgeous boxer - who looks decidedly fierce in the photo and was anything but - was called Honey and she very sadly died suddenly four years ago this week, aged only eight. Missed but never forgotten, like the best things in our lives!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

So how's the triathlon training going? Part two

Once more this question came up yesterday, whilst the LCM tribe were guests at Innocent HQ quaffing smoothies and loading up on fabulous - and healthy - freebies. Thank you all btw, we had a fabulous time - including meeting Hannah, Paula and Josie - and are (and have been for a number of years now) great fans.

So I thought, as you do, that an update on my state of training was in order, especially as it is four weeks today to the actual event. And bearing in mind that training should 'ease up' in the week leading to the triathlon itself, that means I have three weeks to get ready.

Okaaaaaaay, no problem.

Let's see where I am.

Swimming. Does walking fast in the rain with no umbrella count? No, I thought not. Fine, so that's about a +1 then, as in one half decent swim to date in a proper pool, cut short after fifteen minutes because the school kids were arriving en masse and I was asked to "get out please madam". Not sure who was more put off, me or the pool attendant.

Cycling. Having taken delivery of a gorgeous new bright red Specialized road bike last weekend, I have now had two outings to Richmond Park and completed a full lap each time. Without falling off. Or stopping. And today I even overtook someone! Okay, he had stopped on the hill and was pushing his bike, so maybe that does not count, but most importantly it was fun and I love it.
Not so much the boys racers in their cars who still seem to think doing 40mph at 7.45am is acceptable on the park roads (note the speed limit is 20mph) and overtaking a bit too close for comfort is not their a problem. Will need to take this up with my new best friend Zac.

Which brings us to running. I'll be honest here, this is probably the least of my worries as I have been running regularly for years now, and with easy access to a perfect training lap on my doorstep (aka 'the bridges').
However, the realisation that I will have to do this after completing 25km on a bike when my legs will feel like jelly is just starting to dawn on me. I am wondering if they would let me opt for 'green' alternatives, you know, like an electric golf buggy, or (even better) a sedgeway.

Somehow I think not.

So back to the hard slog I guess. I will just have to rely on my training partner BB's incredible stamina, and your own messages of support. And my alarm clock of course.

And on that note, here's the link again if you would like to help out!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

How men see themselves - the truth in a photo (aka The Gallery week 11)

So this week's theme is men. Interesting. Tara's prompt says to post pictures "... of the men in your life - dads, sons, uncles, teachers, partners, brothers. Let's hear it for the men!"

Which got me thinking. How do they see themselves? Cue a sift through the LCM archives.

Am digging out an oldie here. In fact, I really had to rack my brain about the date. It is a photo from 1994. That's sixteen years to you and me. Zac bloody Goldsmith was still wet behind the ears then. Sorry, digression, more on that here.
As always, I seem to take a totally different tack to most of the other brilliant contributors (and if you have not seen or visited their sites then do so now, some truly fabulous stuff out there).

Here you go, suitably doctored as always to preserve anonimity (not quite sure why I am bothering since the J-Lo film screening event where I was video'd in all my forgot-to-check-in-a-mirror glory).

Rowing club ball, 1994 - yes, I already metioned that.
Character is the middle impersonating James Bond with dark glasses and a water pistol is the strapping younger brother of one of my best friends.
Glamour puss Bond girl wannabes (and rowing crew members*) are the aforementioned best friend, another good friend (gloriously blonde) and LCM.
Think the brother believed he was 'living the dream', of sorts.

Oh, and that is Other Half biting my bottom. And yes, we were already married.

* If you have come across female rowers, you will probably know that 'glamour' and 'boat' do not usually sit well in the same phrase. Far less during an outing or a training session, let alone a race. But I have known a member of the women's first eight to ask "does anyone have a nail file?" from somewhere up in the bows. On the starting line. That was her last race.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

A grumpy me(me)

I've been tagged challenged by Frog in the Field. She of the lovely party bags and fabulous pottery (Frog please remember I am first in line when you decide to sell one of your gorgeous creations).

I am to post my top seven list of things that make me grumpy. That takes quite some whittling down, I can tell you, but I will do my very best. And try to put the sarcasm aside for a moment. Just a moment of course, you know, blink-and-you-miss-it type of moment.

I will not ask Other Half to assist as the list would be too predictable: crumbs on the floor, loud music in the kitchen, damp towels on the bed, unloaded dishwashers... boring.

But first, I had to clarify in my own mind what grumpy truly means.

grump·y   /ˈgrʌmpi/
–adjective, grump·i·er, grump·i·est.
surly or ill-tempered; discontentedly or sullenly irritable; grouchy.

Related Words for: grumpy
bad-tempered, crabbed, crabby, cross, fussy

Okay - so that clears up the definition, now on to the list of seven.
  1. Cloth ears, also better known as selective hearing. Applicable to husbands, children (especially in the process of putting shoes on or leaving party premises), and sales assistants in shops where you do not look posh or wealthy enough to afford their goods. Maybe if I were related to Zac they would treat me differently. Or maybe I should just refrain from entering such shops in the first place.
  2. Whinging. Especially when emanating from Blossom. Enough said. Amazing how it never seems to surface during school hours... must be a switch somewhere that I am yet to locate.
  3. Dog owners who do not/will not clean up after their dogs shit on the pavement. Being a dog lover and dog owner myself this makes me more than grumpy, it pisses me off so much I am thinking of campaigning for Mayor of London under the "No (Dog) Shit" banner. It would make my policies so much easier as well as every answer to the journos' questions - where do you stand on gay rights, how will you resolve congestion in London, have you ever done drugs, etc - will entail the same answer: "No shit". Now, where's my campaign manager....
  4. Seat barging on the tube. Are you familiar with this phenomena? There are two particularly bad culprits here who frequently catch the same tube as me in the morning. A husband and wife, I think. She is short, dark, always dressed in black and positions herself at the very place where the door to the carriage will open on the platform. He is slightly taller, has a bad case of advanced baldness, breathes through his mouth and carries a lethal briefcase which he uses as an battering weapon. When the tube stops, they engage in a two-pronged tactical advance and push everyone out of their way in their mad scramble for any remaining seat (we are one stop down from the end of the line). Woe betide lesser-abled passengers. These two are an entity to themselves and the mere sight of them in the morning is enough to send LCM in to grump-land for the entire commute.
  5. Excessive - and unnecessary - packaging. The biggest culprit here used to be M&S, and although they have improved, I am still amazed at how much foodstuff is bound and wrapped and laid in a plastic tray. The other culprit is the beauty industry. Why do I have to recycle half of the weight of the face cream I have just bought which serves no purpose and cannot even be turned into a cellulose wrinkle-reducing facemask? Hang on, that's got me thinking...
  6. Company politics. Oh please! If there is anything guaranteed to put me in a foul mood on the work front, this is it. Paranoid Former Employer was a master at non-communication and the smoke-and-mirrors approach to management and ethical treatment of employees. Main reason why I (and many, many others) got fed up and left, one way or the other. Just do the job and take responsibility, I say. I don't care if you work 20 hours a day or 2 hours a day, as long as the work gets done properly and professionally, on time, within budget. If that gets your goat, well there's the door and one of us will use it soon (usually me). There's more to life than just licking backsides in your attempt to climb the corporate ladder, trust me.
  7. Poor customer services. I posted about this here and here which probably covers most of my views on this. Suffice to add here that in light of the industry I work in and the relationships I have with corporate accounts, if I took a leaf out of either of these company's books about how not to treat your clients, well, I would not have a business. 
And now to tagging:
Metropolitan Mum, Julie at Sardine Tin, Bloomin' Marvellous and North West Girl in the Country.
And a late addition: Eggs Cream and Honey (because she says she is lacking inspiration).

You're 'it'.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

What the future holds (The Gallery - week 10)

A break from training to focus on Tara's Gallery - week 10 already.
The theme this time round is to 'paint a picture of the world we live in'.

Now, this one appeals to my sarcastic streak. Funny that, I can already hear some of you saying. 

I could post endless photos about the overweight young people I see around me who seem oblivious to a) the threat to their own health and b) the ever-increasing burden on the NHS.
I could post a photo of the chaotic commuter scenes I am faced with (nearly) every working day.
I could post photos of the Big Issue sellers that adorn London street corners, and contrast these with ones of the young children selling Globo biscuits in the middle of the motorway in Rio whilst the traffic is moving at speed.
I could also - at a stretch - post one of the volcanic haze we flew through recently upon our descent into Heathrow, vaguely reminiscent of the smog-imbued days of old.

Or I could post any photo of the cherubs as I look back at how much they have grown and wonder what the future holds for them.

Which brought me to this as my contribution for the theme:

Because despite everything, you never quite know what's around the corner.

(This photo is of Blossom and her uncle in Richmond Park taken three and a half years ago btw - and so much has happened since then)

Yadda yadda yadda...