Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Action Man

No blog entries for a while, but have certainly been up to things.

Two years ago, weighing around 100kg and taking very little exercise, I finally got fed up of continually growing out of my clothes.

So I got an old bike out of the garage, took it up to London, and started to ride the two miles each way to my main client's site.

I caught the cycling bug once again, first experienced as a teenager and gradually lost as work committments grew more and free time grew less. In fact, going back to riding cost me nothing since it was at least as quick as taking the tube, plus it saved me eighty quid a month in fares.

Fast forward a year, when I'd got so into cycling that a 10-minute ride just wasn't enough. I took the plunge and bought myself a decent road bike, which I'm on here. Living right by the New Forest there are innumerable places to ride, and as an average, 40-something cyclist, I know roads where I can cruise at 40km/h, and there is no better feeling. My definition of heaven...

My latest landmark was the completion of my very first sportive event just a couple of weeks ago. I kept on being passed by young, fit buggers (yes, women too, oh how I wish I could have kept up!) but ultimately when the timings were published I was very proud of myself. So I'm sure this won't be the last one...

On a related note, I have also been canoeing and kayaking, something I've wanted to do since I got the opportunity to try as a 10-year-old on a school trip. Whilst it is obvious to me that I'm far more suited to pedal-power than paddle-power, I can report that I am now the proud owner of the British Canoeing Union's One Star badge.

Oh, at the last weigh-in, I'm now just over 80kg. Still room to lose some more weight - on the bike I'm still crap at climbing and the only way I'll get better is if I'm carrying less - but a wonderful feeling to be able to buy clothes in size Medium, rather than all those sizes beginning with X!

Friday, 25 February 2011


Was just flicking through the channels last night, and found one re-running the programme Cold Feet. I used to love this programme (might have been something to do with Helen Baxendale!)

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hillary's Paradox

Just read an excellent article from yesterday's Guardian, which highlights the public comments made by Hillary Clinton regarding the positive role of the internet, and social networking sites in particular, in the recent events (democratisation?) in the middle east, compared to the secret grand jury which has been convened in the wake of Wikileaks and which has instructed Twitter to turn over private details of its users to the authorities.

Good luck to Twitter, who are fighting this.

As we should all be aware, its only the truth if its "our" truth.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Seven Years

Today is the anniversary of the death of Marco Pantani.

I've pretty much had a bike as long as I can remember, but it was Pantani who got me interested in professional cycling. Also in the last few years I've read quite a few biographies of some of the most successful cyclists of all time - have just finished a book about Fausto Coppi, in fact - and in fact when you look just at the Palmar├Ęs there are many cyclists who ultimately were more successful. But for sheer charisma there is nobody to touch him in my book.

And I was lucky enough to see him race in real life, winning the Tour de France on the Champs Elysees in 1998.

Ciao Marco

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Been out cycling again, I hadn't really anticipated it but my mate Chris had been getting his car serviced in Dorchester, and decided to cycle down there to pick it up. Slightly mad.

Slightly madder was that I kept him company for about the first thirty miles (just under halfway for him), before I turned off to complete a circuit back to home. The route is here, and at just over fifty miles is my longest single ride. Must admit I always quite like the idea of going out for long, solid day's riding out on the bike, but somehow I always imagined it would be in June rather than January! Chris has tentatively mentioned doing a ride from Land's End to Salisbury (about 200 miles I think) over the royal wedding weekend, although I must first solve the problem of how to carry luggage on my bike. Hmmmmm.......

My knee was really painful the day after the ride, and I must keep an eye on that, although its ok now. That could put the kybosh on multi-day rides, but we'll see.

Have tentatively booked a summer holiday in Luxembourg, of all places. Near a town called Echternach, which I have visited a few times and found totally charming. Right in the south-east of the country, within easy striking distance of both France and Germany, so I suspect it will be a multi-country holiday. We may even come back to the UK via Amsterdam - if not there then Brussels/Brugge at the very least. So there's lots of places in there, many of them new.

Went for a job interview yesterday. Really livid, since it turned out the role failed one of my fundamental tests, but this had been obfuscated by the agent who set up the interview. Tosser. I know they stand to make a lot of money out of placing someone, but do they really think that people are so desparate that they will go for a job they don't want just to keep an agent happy? Well, maybe some people would. But all I see is that the guy wasted a couple of hours of my time, and that pisses me off. Anyway, I shan't dwell on it, its not particularly important in the grand scheme of things so I shall just write it down to experience. Much better to think happy thoughts about my bike!!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Proud of myself

We've had a Wii for something like three or four years, until we noticed a few months ago that it would no longer read DVDs.

I was a bit fed up at first - I hardly ever use it and it just smacks of Alice not taking care of it, for example it is not unusual to find disks scattered around on the floor when she's been using it. So anyway, at the time I resolved to do......nothing.

I relented over christmas and from eBay ordered a new dvd drive from Hong Kong. This arrived Friday, and so yesterday I went through the complicated procedure of taking the Wii apart and fitting the new part. Very fiddly, there must have been a good dozen or so screws that I needed to undo, but I was guided by an excellent video on Youtube.

Never normally into sites like youtube, but this time it came up trumps. And the Wii - looks to be as good as new again, and all for less than £25. Great stuff!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Best Feeling....

Happy New Year, if anyone catches this post.

I've just had an active couple of hours, I haven't been able to get out on my bike through all the time I was off because of the weather, but despite today being very grey I was desperate to get out. So I've just had a lovely 30km/90 min ride out into the New Forest.

I get up the hills into the forest, and it really is the best feeling in the world. Okay, today it is very bleak, but you go up there at 7 o'clock on a summer's morning......wonderful. I'm so glad that I found cycling once again.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Back to Work

hey, ho, back to work today. Thought it might be a struggle to get up but surprisingly not the case. Even had quite a productive morning.

Yesterday I didn't manage a ride, except on the turbo at home. It was very, very tempting to get out for the first time in a few weeks, but it was misty and rainy all day and I just ended up thinking "this would be dumb". So, I stayed home and instead watched a French movie while I cycled.

I was, however, the dutiful dad and took Alice and her friend Fraya up to Sandy Balls to do a bit of ice skating. Its obviously a long time since Alice went skating, and she seemed to have forgotten anything she ever knew. But Fraya was even worse! Still, they both seemed to have fun and by the end of the session Alice, at least, ventured away from the side wall. Scary to see them both dressed up to the nines in Jack Wills clobber - a right pair of budding scallies.

Interesting to see Fraya, she's obviously a bit more mature than Alice and is very much into "boys", even scoped some at the skating rink. So in many respects this could be the shape of things to come!

Yesterday evening went out for a curry - the Shere Khan at Redlynch - absolutely delicious, they always do us proud.

This morning I was greeted by both of the packages that didn't arrive in time for christmas. At least the razor, which was a christmas/birthday present from Jac, arrived in time for my birthday......which is today!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.....

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Cheer

Today is my last day off over christmas, so I am double-determined to be chilled. We had snowfall a week before christmas, and since then the temperatures haven't been high enough for the snow to melt - one night just before christmas the weather station registered -6°C, although we were safely tucked up indoors so didn't notice it! But it has gotten warmer over the last day or so and culminated last night in heavy rain which has washed away all the ice.

I've been itching to get on my bike - didn't go near it when the snow/ice was on the ground - and thought that today might be the day.....except that even as I write it is really wet and misty outside. So it looks like if I do go for a ride, it'll be on the turbo trainer in the lounge.

Christmas was quiet - I took the 23rd and 24th off so was able to ease gently into it. We did a big Sainsbury's shop when it was relatively quiet, which has sorted us for the duration. The only thing we ran out of, really, was bread, although we have some part-baked stuff in the cupboard still.

Keeping up her tradition, Alice has been ill over christmas, although this year it is nothing more than a cold (although she's making the most of it). I got her some Jack Wills vouchers for christmas and it is a gauge of her illness that she was desparate to go out to Winchester on Boxing Day to spend them.

Jacqueline, bless her, has been working every day since Boxing Day, mostly seeing people with flu-like symptoms. They come and see her in the hope that she'll wave a macic wand and prescribe some antibiotics - except that most of the time she can't (there are specific criteria, apparently). So these people wait an hour to see her then leave empty-handed.

A bit fed up with couriers. My main present from Jacqueline (from Amazon) did not arrive, neither did Jacqueline's present from Alice (which I have tracked and which arrived at my client's office the day after I left there). I know there have been issues with the weather, but when I bought the item Amazon were quite happily saying that it should be with me the week before christmas - and I still chose the "expedited delivery" option. And Jacqueline's present - which came all the way from Denmark - arrived in the UK on the 16th but was not delivered until 23rd. And this to central London. Total crap. Anyway.....

I just subscribed to the satellite channel Cinemoi, so have watched a bunch of French movies over christmas. Very hit and miss as regards quality. However Sky did show Avatar over christmas, and that was really good. But it was surprising how much of what was on tv was repeats - we've seen stuff like Dad's Army and Only Fools and Horses over the last few days.

Just seen some guy cycling in front of the house, maybe I should get out later?

Ho hum, back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Normal Service Resumed

After the last couple of days during which they ran an emergency servive due to the snow, South West Trains announced that they were resuming a normal service today.

Arrived into London 20 minutes late. Normal Service Resumed.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Dedication.....or madness??

From my mainline station, I cycle to clients' sites in central London. This is what I wore on the way to the today's clients:

  • Assos winterPlus Socks. These are the warmest socks produced by the best cycling clothing manufacturer. TWO PAIRS!
  • Shimano cycling shoes (not thermal)
  • Decathlon running tights (not thermal)
  • Campagnolo winter bibtights (very much thermal)
  • Helly Hansen woollen base layer (thermal)
  • Endura winter/thermal jacket
  • lightweight rain jacket
  • Milano winter/thermal gloves
  • Polartec Buff, for my neck and the back of my head
  • plus the obligatory safety glasses and helmet.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Power of Technology

It has happened again.

The death of Ian Tomlinson at last April's G20 protest would surely have been covered up by the police, were it not for the bravery of the person who filmed the incident and posted the footage both to the media and onto the web in general.

Now we hear that footage exists on YouTube from last week's student demo, of a guy being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road by a policeman.

It is very sad that these things happen, but it is wonderful that mobile phones have evolved to such an extent that it is easily possible for people to record such evidence at the drop of the hat, meaning that it is far harder for the police to cover up the criminal actions of individual officers (although I note that the guy whose blow killed Tomlinson was never charged).

The politicians talk about "consensual policing" but exactly how much respect do they think the public will have when they log onto the web and see what some of the thugs dressed up in uniform get up to?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Tomorrow Never Knows

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon's death.

I woke up to the news, and the world stopped. As I lived in Liverpool, people seemed particularly crushed, like losing a member of the family.

Lennon was an important figure because he held fairly open political views, and was not afraid to speak out. And because he was a Beatle, anything he said attracted publicity.

A great shame Lennon was not around to speak out about the terrible injustices that have been waged by the US and the UK in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the way he spoke out about the rape of Vietnam.

Just imagine...

Monday, 6 December 2010

Blogger Droid

must just add that these last few posts have been written and published using the Android app Blogger Droid. Marvellous!!