Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Random Tag

Blossom has tagged me to share six random things about myself. After a completely cr*p week everything feels pretty random at the moment so, off the top of my head:-

1. I am a tad under 5’4’’ tall.

2. Yesterday my lovely daughters, Lily and Rose, sent me a surprise gift to cheer me up after ‘Fighting the Tide got rejected. A bouquet of roses and lisianthus arrived together with a copy of the latest Louise Rennison’s confessions of Georgia Nicholson, ‘Stop in the Name of Pants’. I may have work to do on the writing front but I am very fortunate to have such wonderful daughters.

In the same post a framed photo arrived that Rose and Si had taken during their stay with us. It shows Tom and me looking like Pooh and Piglet walking down the beach hand in hand, our backs to the camera and says a lot about us. My thanks to Si who thought of the idea and chose the frame – what a nice man!

3. In a couple of hours time I am off to sea again and I’m pretty apprehensive after our boat ‘ La Reve’ (Ha! One of those great misnomers) nearly sank off a rocky Welsh headland last Thursday. La Reve is stranded at Fishguard at the moment. We plan to replace the leaky pump which nearly sent us to a watery grave last week and sail the boat back on the early tide tomorrow morning. There are lots of things that might not add up in this equation so I’m trying not to think about them. The good news is that I think I’ve found something to solve my seasickness. ‘Traveleeze’ seemed to hit the spot – either that or I was just too damn scared to be sick.

4. Three things I have laboured over:
Lily – 23hrs
Rose – 17 hrs
Fighting the Tide - 17 months.

5. The most enjoyable race I’ve ever taken part in was the Epsom Oddball Perch over Epsom Downs. 6.25 miles of pure adrenaline and exhilaration.

6. I have just finished reading this
Sheesh! He’s been a naughty one.

Well, I told you they were random. Anyway it’s time to pass the baton on. The rules, to remind you:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of the post – and let them know with a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Okay, Flowerpot, Mountaineer, Preseli Mags, Bayou, Cowgirl, Lawyerlady – over to you. Me, I’m running away to sea again.

Image is another of Tom Tomos' Sea series prints. Number IV.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Bad, The Good and The Sailors

The Bad
1. Mil has become one of those domestic accidents stats that get trotted out at the end of the year; the ones where slippers rear up to savage their wearers and trousers lay traps for the unwary. The ones that sound funny but end up in a trip to casualty, if not worse. Poor Mil woke up to see a spider on the ceiling, directly above her head and couldn’t go back to sleep knowing it was there. Rather than wake Dil in the next room, she trotted off to fetch a broom to coax it down herself. Now Mil is a fan of the Marshmallow Bed, very high and very squashy, so you know what happened, don’t you? One minute Mil was swatting a spider and the next she was on the floor, slammed up against the wall, wondering if she would ever walk again. Fortunately she doesn’t seem to have sustained any permanent damage, nor even, it seems, any broken bones but she’s terribly shaken and needs a lot of ‘‘phone’ support at the moment. We’ll have to see how she goes and hope her confidence returns soon.

2. Ma has had a nasty bout of cystitis. ‘I thought you only got this if you had too much sex,’ she grumbles. ‘Well, ease off a bit,’ I suggest, to mutual sniggering. But once we’ve got beyond the rude jokes I find she’s actually been quite ropey and hasn’t breathed a word of it to me. She did the sensible thing and went to the doctor’s but with her and Mil both in the wars it raises all the old concerns about living so far away from them both.

3. On Sunday I took my eye off the ball for a moment, panicked and inadvertently downloaded a malicious software programme which, as Purplecooers know, pretty much trashed my ancient laptop. I’m very grateful to Wizzard who offered advice on how to start repairing the damage but the laptop is still poorly. Ok, it was my own stupid fault but whoever started that little wheeze, thanks a fricking bunch – you’ve really made my week and will probably cost me a load of money I haven’t got.

The Good1. We had a visit from my lovely cousin and his wife who are house-hunting up at Caernarfon. They’re a very gentle, level-headed couple and we enjoyed having them to stay. I have to admit that it also alleviates some of the guilt I feel about leaving family in the south east behind when someone else is doing the same.

2. Tom had an OU seminar in Cardiff on Saturday which gave me the chance to catch up with Lily. Yippee! Lily and Russ are settling nicely into their new flat so we took some time out to visit the Food Festival at Cardiff Bay. The sun was shining and the pancakes with strawberries and chocolate sauce were superb. One glass of chilled cabernet sauvignon was so good that I had to have another and nearly lost control of Mrs Hyde who got over-excited with Russ’s mates turned up. Phew! That was a close one!

3. Not long now until the Ace Gang arrive for their annual visit! Hurray! We met up, ooh, more years than I care to remember now, at ante-natal classes and we’re still together. Can’t wait to catch up with them.

The Sailors
The boat went back in the water last Wednesday. Tomorrow we’re off, we hope, for a mini-cruise. Not quite the extended tour of the Irish Sea that Tom was hoping for but it’s a start. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And finally
I’ve just finished Sadie Jones’ ‘The Outcast’. It’s teeth-gnashingly good and deserves all the hype. Well done her.

The image is a print by Tom Tomos, ‘The Sea’

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Cancer 2020 Campaign

This is a photo of my lovely daughter, known to you as Lily, in her role as Ambassador for Cancer Research UK, meeting Constituency Assembly Member for Cardiff Central, Jenny Randerson.

Lily is one of 40 volunteer campaigners who have been recruited across Wales by the charity to seek improvements in cancer services and policy for Wales. Cancer Research UK’s Cancer 2020 Campaign calls for a Cancer Plan for Wales which would focus on prioritising cancer prevention, improving early presentation, detection and screening and the uniform provision of cancer treatment across the country.

Many of the charity’s ambassadors are themselves cancer patients and survivors but Lily volunteered because of what had happened in our family. In her words:

‘When my grandfather developed pancreatic cancer in 2004 one of the few positives was that he was treated at a nearby hospital, the Royal Marsden, the first hospital in the world dedicated purely to treatment and research of cancer. Although there was no cure for this form of cancer and, sadly, he died 18 months later, he was able to take part in a trial of new treatment in the hope that information gathered from this would help future sufferers. The way in which his cancer was managed demonstrated to me the importance of a well-planned, well-run system and the difference that this could make not only to the patient and their family but also to the prevention and treatment of the disease in the future.’

I think that just about sums up why a Welsh cancer plan is so important.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Beat Goes On

I never do it outside but love it in the gym.
The Libertines do it for me but Dirty Pretty Things don’t.
There’s a certain frisson that comes from Dave Gahan roaring ‘You can’t tell me that you don’t want it,’ as I tackle a 6% incline but it’s Razorlight and the lovely Johnny Borrell singing ‘Somewhere Else’ that really sets my pulse racing. I refer, of course, to my running playlist.

I’m a recent convert to running to music. Until now I’ve always run outside where I’m keenly aware of potential danger. Back in the days when I lived between a busy town and the Downs there was too much of a risk from commuters reversing out their drives without looking at one end and race horses and weirdos in the bushes at the other to contemplate wearing headphones. These days my route takes me through narrow winding country lanes where lone runners aren’t the first thing on drivers’ minds so it’s essential to keep a sharp ear open for traffic. Besides, the purist in me just likes to stay in touch with the rhythm of my breathing and monitor how I’m doing.

The purist side of me has also sniffed at treadmill work – well, it’s not ‘proper’ running, is it? But, hey, I was wrong about that too. Whereas my outdoor runs are great for long, slow sessions in beautiful scenery, using a treadmill is proving to be perfect for building up speed and music makes it exhilarating rather than a slog.

After a bit of trial and error I’ve found that tracks with a tempo of around160 bpm work best at the moment but what’s strange is that many of the songs that motivate me aren’t what I’d normally listen to at all. My most successful tracks from a workout point of view so far include:
Moby, ‘Feeling So Real’
Fatboy Slim, ‘Wonderful Night’(and, at a pinch, ‘Rockafeller Skank’)
Outkast, ‘Hey Ya!’
The Libertines, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’.

How bizarre is that? Other tracks, such as The Stranglers, ‘No More Heroes’, ought to work but are just too drearily reminiscent of times gone by. In this case standing in St Andrew’s Hall in Norwich with some idiot trying to pogo off my back wondering why the girl standing on stage next to Jean-Jacques Burnel, and who I recognised as a fellow student, wasn’t me. (Clue: I was wearing skinny jeans, a leather jacket and a stripy T-shirt. She was wearing black lingerie and a pink transparent mac. Some people are so obvious.).

So, no nostalgia for me, thanks, but I am curious about what works for you and would especially welcome any suggestions for fast tempo music to help me pick up my pace. Thanks for your time.