Category Archives: Great East Swim
Today as the snow started to fall again I decided to make my marmalade. There is nothing like sitting snipping at peels, whilst squirts of acrid juice pop into your eye to aid contemplation. As I peeled each flabby Seville orange, trying to make one continuous piece, for luck, I thought about the french peau d’orange and my current lack of decision on whether or not to enter any big events this year. The two things are not unrelated, cycling and swimming certainly improve the appearance of the skin on the thighs, but do I want to commit to putting in the miles in preparation for another Great East Swim or Dunwich Dynamo? Basically I’ve calculated that if I don’t kick myself into touch next week there will not be enough weeks to be on form for the events.
There is another name for cellulite, ‘cottage cheese thighs’ and therein lies another part of my dilemma I’ve become distracted by cheese. Back in the summer I had the pleasure of visiting a mozzarella shop in Lecce; part of a great day out with Yle of Yltour, I’ll write more about this another day, now I’ve got my blogging mojo back. Later on returning home to Suffolk I discovered that Fi of Calf at Foot Dairy is selling milk for her lovely grass fed Jersey cows in Framlingham Market. The milk is unpasteurised and unhomogonised making it ideal for artisan cheese making. Armed with rennet and some muslin I made my first batch of mozzarella, took it back to the market for people there to try and on seeing how yellow it turned out rechristened it mozzayella! Since then I’ve tried making, feta, quark, ricotta, halloumi and my one real disaster cottage cheese…. So, I’m off to a cheese course later in the year, looking forward to learning how to make hard cheeses. Then all I’ll need is a house cow, a pig to eat the excess whey, a dairy, a cave to store my maturing wheels in and life will be complete…
Those who have been following my efforts with swimming and cycling will know that this year didn’t quite work out as planned. The Dunwich Dynamo was on a working weekend and I had hoped to do the Suffolk Sunrise Ride instead. In the end I wasn’t able to do the Sunrise on the official date but had a great time doing it a few weeks later. My other main aim for this year was to do the 2 mile Great East Swim. Then the weather happened; specifically huge gales and the swim was moved to the Sunday, a working day for me again. Although I have done a few 2 mile swims at Fritton lake it didn’t feel the same as doing an event swim. So I signed up for the Norwich River Swim with Active Outdoor (who run the Fritton swims). This morning as Suffolk was being racked with massive thunderstorms I set off for Norwich to swim through the city. It was lovely, well done to all the keen swimmers who went off at a heck of a lick with the joy of going with the flow and the fact that everyone will have recorded a personal best [the swim has not been done before], me I did my more leisurely breast stroke, no wetsuit, to the end and enjoyed the leafy city from river level.
Huge thanks to those who have donated to my charities this year. The pages will remain open for a few more weeks, then its time to think of challenges for next year….
Day 7 of the sensory journey; the last, but in my view the best of the taste days. This also marks the time of year where we look back and then forwards in the style of Janus. what have we achieved, what do we hope for next year? I was pleased with my achievements of my personal challenges for last year, the Great East Swim and the Dunwich Dynamo both went well but boy oh boy did I drop off the throttle afterwards. So, yet again I’m approaching 2012 in the officially overweight category. To that end I have signed up for the 2012 Great East Swim at 2 miles, as the Dynamo is earlier I doubt I will do it this time, too close to the swim. Instead I will attempt to learn to run, I’ll use Janathon 2012 as my start point and sign up to a plan possibly with Take to the Streets which has served me well in the past or if anyone can recommend an iPhone app that takes you from not running to a 10K distance that would suit me very well.
Back to the 12 Days – today’s theme is:
Taste – Umami
Today I am in search of savouriness, regular readers will know that I am a proud member of the Marmarati which pre-declares me as a fan of all things savoury from Marmite, to rare meat and strong cheese. Umami has only relatively recently been added to the list of taste senses how did we manage before? I wonder what your favourite savoury things are, any strong memories, things you hope to achieve in a savoury style in 2012?
To keep you thinking here is today’s Spotify playlist
One down, one to go [playlist here]. This year’s Great East Swim was excellent. Once again the event was very well organised and the weather was 100% better. In place of gales and squalls there was relatively little wind and at various times the sun shone creating golden bubbles in the crystal clear water, I swear I saw a huge fish at one point too. I was pleased that my time was about 7 minutes better than last year. I was also thrilled to be able to have Paddy and Scotts coffee and a burger prepared by @gthebutcher from Suffolk Food Hall. The challenge now is next year do I try and improve my mile time again or go for the two mile course? Huge thanks to those that have donated to my Justgiving Page. Diabetes UK were on hand on the day dishing out Bananas and other goodies.
After the thrill of the swim on Sunday I cycled with a friend into Ipswich to experience the Skyride. They closed streets, stopped traffic with marshals and generally created a fabulous family atmosphere, samba, steel bands, clowns the works. It is thoroughly reassuring that despite what the tabloids might tell you there are still plenty of families, who given half the chance will get out on their bikes and take exercise. The route encompassed the New College site, Waterfront, ITFC ground and the Town Centre creating a great advert for the town.
All good practice for the Dunwich Dynamo the 127 miles overnight on 16/17th July.
On the route back I was brought to a halt by a lady tractor safari that was taking part in aid of charity. A bunch of bedecked tractors in pink balloons coming down the hill. Certainly made me pedal fast to hit the Framlingham co-op before it shut!
The weather has been amazing in the UK; for Easter Bank Holidays it is unparalleled, not surprising then that I haven’t written anything here for ages. There seem to be pairs of things queuing up; please skip to the bits that interest you most. In the following order we have:
2 Apps; the 360Panorama and the Moleskine
2 Cakes; a giant Jaffa cake and a sweet, tart, redcurrant tart
2 Fungi; A Dryad’s Saddle Paper experiment and St George’s Mushroom
2 Foragy bits; Sea Purslane and an experiment with cleavers and milk in an attempt to make cheese
2 Fabulous cycle rides, mapped from Framlingham, one following the Alde and one Green Bagging in Bow and Arrow Country
2 Local Food Discussions; why does Suffolk have a strong local food culture and a new local food festival?
2 Swims – How is my training going? – first sea swim of the season
Two Apps – 360Panorama and Moleskine
I have recently downloaded two apps for the iPhone that I am enjoying immensely. The first I heard about from @ssilvestori who showed pictures of Lecce using it. Fantastic images; Silvestro is currently cycling around Puglia to generate interest in the small towns of the region. His website is worth a gander, he offers food and wine courses and much more besides. The 360Panorama app allows you to take 360 degree images that can be shown flat, like the one below, or if you have an iPhone, the images can be uploaded and viewed as interactive 360 images.
The second app that I am enjoying is a digital version of the Moleskine note book. I think it is going to be great fun for gardening and foraging notes, especially as it allows you to geotag pictures. Now if it could just capture sounds and smells, and if I could draw a little better….. However I am quite pleased with my cover and a simple gardening note.
Two Cakes – Giant Jaffa Cake and Sweet, Tart, Redcurrant Tart
This being Easter cake baking seems essential. I have been quite pleased with two cakes this holiday so I am recording them here so I don’t lose the recipes. The first is a giant Jaffa Cake. Based on a Guardian recipe designed by Ottolenghi and supplied by the lovely @downatheel, it is a rich almondy, moist cake. I adapted it by adding a jelly layer. Using 300ml of fresh Clementine juice and gelatine at 1.5 times the normal ratio. I set the jelly in a soup plate before scooping it onto the cake. I allowed the chocolate coating to cool as much as I dared before covering.
The second cake is described as a tart but is somewhere between a cheesecake, meringue and a desert sponge. It is sweet-sour and just plain lush. I used frozen currants which worked well but makes the meringue very tricky to apply as it part freezes as you mix them in. The whole cake is gloriously messy to make, but well worth the effort. The recipe can be found on Catalina Bakes.
Two Fungi – Dryad’s Saddle and St George’s Mushroom
Spring is a joyous time for mushrooming, mostly because the spring ones are a bit easier to identify. A friend brought me a Dryad’s saddle. Not many commentators declare this to be edible, but it is supposed to be able to be used to make paper. I cooked it for hours, smushed it, strained it and ended up with some thing crispy stuff – nothing to write home about or on…. but it had an interesting transulcence so it might be useful added to other materials.
Much more exciting was the early appearance of the St George’s mushroom. One thing I have learnt is the earlier it arrives the less likelihood of worm damage. This year there were far fewer, so I only picked two, but they were in tip-top condition. For the record, this year’s photograph April 18th whereas last year they didn’t appear until May 8th – what a difference a year makes. This year I sliced them and placed them with trout and Jack by the hedge, wrapped in foil and cooked on the barbecue.
Two Foragy bits – Sea Purslane and using cleavers to make cheese
Spring is a great time for foraging on salads, two of my favourites at the coast are samphire and sea purslane. The samphire was not much in evidence this week but there were some lovely snacks of crisp, salty, purslane to be had.
Another favourite of mine is cleavers, a fresh pea-pod taste that makes weeding a pleasure. I had read that it was used in the past as a rennet for cheese making. I found a recipe for feta cheese and bought some goats milk. I heated the milk, added the yogurt and then decided to squeeze a massive handful of cleavers into the milk mixture. I left it and left it for days at room temperature. After two days I had remarkably fresh smelling yoghurt, no goaty smell, no cheese though. I think that cleavers other title of ‘milk sweet’ might be interesting to explore further.
Two fabulous cycle rides – Orford/Iken/Alde and ‘Green Bagging’
This spectacular weather has been a great excuse for some serious cycling. Regular readers will know I am hoping to take part in the Dunwich Dynamo so I am steadily increasing my distances. I don’t seem to be able to increase my average speeds though so I think I will be on the bike for in excess of 10 hours. Several chums have asked me how I manage, especially now I have a bike with a more racing style seat. The seat is quite comfortable, I am naturally ‘well upholstered’ and I have recently invested in silicone knickers, with thick padding they are supposed to be good for up to three hours – so do I need to wear four pairs?
Two great rides though. I have remapped these from Framlingham for you, parking in Framlingham is good at the Elms car park. Both rides are mostly on very low traffic routes. The first takes you to Orford, where there are plenty of pubs and the wonderful Pump Street Bakery, I also include a slight side track to High House Fruit Farm where they have fresh apple juice and Asparagus. Points to watch out for on this route too Adders! on the Iken lanes, basking on the tarmac. It is worth stopping and strolling down to the river for a spot of foraging (see above), you may also see Alpacas between Blaxhall and Farnham. Click on the image below to go to the full map at MapMyRide.
The second ride was my Suffolk version of Munroe bagging. I recently downloaded an app called Hill Lists, needless to say Suffolk doesn’t feature. However, if someone would like to create the antidote I think it could be used for bagging greens, bottoms or castles all of which abound round here. In this ride I count nine Greens, it goes over two commons, the one at Wingfield complete with tethered cattle. It is worth checking the Wingfield website before you leave, if you have time to stop they have magnificent arts exhibitions and can offer tea and coffee. There are plenty of pub stop-offs, if your timings suit; The De la Pole at Wingfield, the Low House at Laxfield (actually named the Kings Head, but called the Low House) and the Queen at Dennington (actually named the Queens Head but known as Dennington Queen) all have solid reputations for food and ale. If you just want quick supermarket fayre there is a shop in Laxfield and Framlingham has a full range of shops, coffee houses, pubs and a cycle repair shop. This journey is largely traffic free and you will find miles of Bow and Arrow country – remember too the #bowandarrowtweetup if you are interested in joining a few of us for drinks or to watch The Social Network on 25th May 2011 at Wingfield Barns. As before click on the map below to go to the MapMyRide site.
Two Food Discussions – Why does Suffolk have a strong local food culture and a new local food festival?
One of the features of Twitter is that it is not a forum or a place for lengthy discussions; until one breaks out. A few comments and before long a group of us were involved in a discussion about why Suffolk and Norfolk have a strong local food culture, as opposed to other areas which seem to feel a bit adrift. You can read and add to the full conversation synopsis here. It ranges from great products and producers, through sympathetic media and a relative absence of the ‘big stores’, but covers much more besides.
Pride in local food is important in so many ways. There has been a food, craft and music festival at Framlingham College over the last three days. The pre-publicity did not give many clues about who the exhibitors and demonstrators would be and I knew that a couple of local food related people were not involved so I wondered what the outcome would be. Framlingham has a bit of a reputation for events being called off due to appalling weather, with the Gala rained off, fireworks not even making it to the stage of damp squibs etc. However, the setting could not have looked better in glorious sunshine, looking at the castle across from the college green was a rural scene befitting of Midsommer Murders. There were a few local food suppliers, notably the Chilli Company, Jimmy’s Farm, Suffolk Cup Cakes and local chef Emma Crowhurst was providing demonstrations. There were also suppliers from further afield so it had the air of the food stalls at a county show. It will be interesting to see if the event is run again and grows to include more local suppliers, they certainly had the best possible of weathers and things looked reasonably busy, with plenty of cars in the car parks and people wandering the grounds and at the demonstration. I bought chilli sauces, curry sauces, sausages and enjoyed Emma’s demonstration, not least because real time demos are so much better than edited TV for things like sugar work.
Two Swims – How’s my training going?
I think I’m on track for the Grethathalon two swims; one the Great East Open Water Mile and the other a dip at Dunwich Beach preceded by the 120 mile overnight Dunwich Dynamo bike ride. I am gradually increasing my miles on the bike. I have been doing more reading around the subject and beginning to understand why the training plans also focus on shorter, faster rides. I hope this will make me try and ride faster, to build up the relevant muscles, mitochondria etc to improve my overall performance. It has to be said I am a bit sedentary at the moment.
Yesterday I did my first sea swim of the season, at Dunwich Beach; no way was I going to attempt crawl or put my face in the water though, so back to the old chestnut of controlling the drowning reflex.
If you would like to make a donation, I am supporting Diabetes UK this year. My Just Giving page is here.
This morning I did my 800m test swim session – Session 9 of my taketothestreets plan. All good, a beautiful full moon shining into the pool as I ploughed up and down. Once home and out dog walking, I tried to capture the moon setting on camera but missed the moment. When I turned around though, the sky was full of orange vapour trails.
Can you believe it is day 20 of Janathon already? It has certainly encouraged me to get up and go when I would otherwise have stayed snug in bed.
Ohh on the detox front – you’ll be pleased to hear the headache has arrived!
Sorry for the late posting, but I really had to get on with some overdue real work.
Today my true love has sent swans, swimming. As many of you will already know swimming has become my great love. A twitter message from Stradbroke pool about this time last year led me to enter the Great East Swim and go from being someone who enjoyed swimming in all weathers but head out of the water to a regular open water swimmer and now able to swim crawl face down. You will have seen on the fifth day that I have committed to do the Great East Swim in 2011 and 2012 as my Olympic pledge. I am also hoping to do the Dunwich Dynamo for the first time this year. Somehow I need to integrate long distance cycle training with training for an open mile swim.
Time for me to talk a little more about Janathon. The idea behind Janathon is that people take exercise every day and blog about it, throughout January. One of the things I have learned about myself is that having a target certainly encourages me to take part. I enjoyed the Aspire swim which kept me going through the autumn and early winter. I am hoping that Janathon will help me get into a training pattern for the Great east and the Dynamo, huge thanks to Cathy for coming up with the idea, organising the site and generally enthusing and corralling everybody. When I last checked there were 170+ participants, which is amazing. I fully expect the blogs to be brief but hopefully they will help me to keep track of my diary and progress too.
I had originally hoped to go for a New Year dip tomorrow, but the lass I was hoping to go with is poorly – get well soon Mrs Meramid. Never the less I may go and throw some pebbles in the sea anyway.
A nice safe challenge for you all today (after all if you want to make an exercise commitment go back to Day 5) – take out your crinkle free new 2011 diary and set aside a date to spend time by some water, the sea, a lake, river or waterfall. It is good for the soul. Come back here when you’ve been on your date out and let us know how you feel.
The clip below was my first effort at swimming in a wet suit, on Dartmoor in May. The best bit was sitting in the water afterwards whilst the tadpoles nibbled at my toes.
Before your Russian roulette question here is a little game to warm up with – I quite like this one
Your Russian Roulette Question for today: How did Peder Lykkeberg go about things the wrong way in the 1900 Paris Olympics leaving him with the bronze?
The Playlist for today is here
If you are new to this, a brief explanation. The #12DCP is a virtual Christmas party. A post a day will appear on the Grethica. You respond by way of comments. Each comment creates an entry into my prize draw, for a money can’t buy prize (because it’s mostly stuff that’s been given away by others). The Russian Roulette questions are quiz style questions, the comments you leave to those will be posted at the end of the 12 DCP. However the danger with a Russian roulette quiz is that if you answer a question wrong – all of your answers become null and void. The good news is though you have time to go back and post answers to previous days, right up to the end of the 12th day.
Enjoy – thanks to those that have taken part so far… keep up the good work
Janathon is challenge to post daily in January, primarily aimed at runners (I don’t run) but any exercise will do. I have decided that in my Several World, where I have my own language, I will coin a new form of exercise. I have invented the Grethathalon. In 2011 the Grethathalon will consist of completing the Dunwich Dynamo and the Great East Swim. Note: completing, nothing about times, just getting round is fine. Feel free to join in, there is no prize and I am fully expecting a field of one – me. My training officially started today. Having used the Take to the Streets training in 2010 for the Great East I am going to try and weave together their swim training and their cycle training over the coming months to reach a point where I am fit for the roads and open water. You are warned, expect much exercise related blogging in January, but otherwise it will still be a Several World here.
p.s. If you’ve followed me since my #f450 campaign last January, you will realise that the exercise bug has well and truly entered my blood stream.
The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘Burning’, I could not make up my mind what to illustrate, perhaps ‘burning a candle at both ends’, Tyger, Tyger burning bright, Matilda, Ladybird, ladybird or London’s Burning.
In the end I thought of the works of the great poet Anon. I like to think of him sitting staring at the fire, watching the sparks make pictures on the chimney breast, as he sups ale or cider and creates his poems. I decided to Illustrate this one:
I saw a Peacock, with a fiery tail,
I saw a Blazing Comet, drop down hail,
I saw a Cloud, with Ivy circled round,
I saw a sturdy Oak, creep on the ground,
I saw a Pismire, swallow up a Whale,
I saw a raging Sea, brim full of Ale,
I saw a Venice Glass, Sixteen foot deep,
I saw a well, full of mens tears that weep,
I saw their eyes, all in a flame of fire,
I saw a House, as big as the Moon and higher,
I saw the Sun, even in the midst of night,
I saw the man, that saw this wondrous sight.
In the meantime, for some reason the soundtrack to my drawing is this:
It’s been an interesting week. Yesterday I finished the Aspire challenge of swimming the distance of the English Channel between the 13th September and 5th December. Taking part in the challenge has certainly kept me going to the pool, on days when I might otherwise have backed out. I am pleased to report that the swim was done in crawl! If you were following me back in January when I first started this swimming malarkey you will remember at that stage I could not swim crawl at all and could not put my face in the water for breast-stroke. When it came to doing the Alton Water, Great East Swim I had to complete it in breast stroke as I couldn’t manage it in crawl. We’ll see if I can manage open water crawl next year. If you are interested the Channel 4 programme on the Great East Swim is available for the next 28 days HERE. You can sign up for next year’s Great East Swim on their site they now offer half mile, one mile and two mile swims.
Earlier in the week, on a thoroughly wet and miserable morning, I had a flat tyre outside the pool and wasted my swim time trying to sort it, giving up and then waiting for Green Flag. But every cloud has a silver lining. Green Flag were great, turned up promptly and sorted things out. Whilst I was waiting I was tweeting my minor trauma and ended with ‘send coffee’. A sachet of Paddy and Scott’s arrived the next day. By the time I was home from work I also had an offer of a half day at Ufford Park Spa; so by now I was feeling really spoilt. So in my personal bubble, even the bad things were turning out well.
Out in the real world we have had the annual act of Remembrance, the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and Paul & Rachel Chandler, and student riots to remind us of the values and risks associated with freedom, rights and what people believe in.
It’s a crazy world eh Arthur Brown.
In January, a tweet came through via the Stradbroke Web site, saying that the swimming pool had updated their page. If people wanted to sign up for the Great East Swim, they could do so and train at Stradbroke pool. With an impending 50th birthday, it being winter and feeling like there was plenty of time ahead, I signed up. At this stage I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Although I knew I could swim like a girl; head out of the water and was not afraid of swimming in the sea, lakes or streams; I had no concept of how far a mile is when swimming. I walk and cycle, but at my own leisurely pace and have learnt that a mile is a very different thing depending on how you are propelling yourself.
A few days later I turned up at Stradbroke pool, bought an everyone active card and went into my first training session. Then the penny dropped. These people were very good swimmers, take part in competitions, do triathlons and there was me; never done crawl, never mastered face in the water breast stroke either. However, they were friendly, Len the coach was great at trying to turn my uncoördinated mass of wheeling limbs into some sort of stroke and steadily I started to make progress. Without the lovely James Zarro at Gilmour Piper, sorting my neck out, I may not have passed first base. Learning to breathe and turn my head, was testing parts that hadn’t been tested before.
A few weeks later, I signed up to use the pool at Framlingham College and started using the Take to The Streets website to provide training plans; which I followed religiously. From then on, I have swum three or four times a week, most weeks. Gradually building up my distance and stroke technique.
Then in early May, I swam at Spitchwick on Dartmoor and later in the month started swimming at Fritton Lake. I really wanted to swim crawl, having learnt how to; but despite changing to an Orca wetsuit from Wiggle I still struggled.
Along the way I have tweeted, facebooked, blogged and foursquared my activities.
Yesterday was the big day. Walking towards the lake it was clear that the day was squally, lumbering clouds, gusts of wind, patches of blue sky that whisked away as soon as they appeared.
Watching the Yellow wave leave, gave a fair idea of the conditions and I was lucky enough to meet another newbie who happened to work for British Gas, the event sponsors. We teamed up to get changed and generally support each other going into the holding pen and acclimatization zone.
Once the hooter went it was each to their own. I had taken the advice of others, held back and to one side to enter the water so as not to be swum over by faster swimmers. The route out to the first three buoys (about 600m) was hard work, into the wind, very choppy and a couple of stern chats to myself about ‘not finishing is not an option’ were required before finally making it round the bend.
Once being chased by the wind, a different problem occurred, a feeling of overtaking myself as my legs were lifted by the following waves. Around about 800m, I was convinced someone was splashing me, it was a torrential downpour.
At the 1200m point, I was expecting us all to turn for the orange buoys at the shore as instructed when we left, due to the weather; but we were told to keep going to the next yellow buoy and actually by then I was feeling in my flow. This was the point when the best of the white wave started passing me and by the time I went through the timing arch there were a few whites coming through too.
My time was 53:17, I don’t think the elites who do it in 14 minutes need worry. The light purples below are the sub 30 minute crowd.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me with chats and sponsored me along the way – you are great.
Would I do it again? Well, in a moment of madness I made an Olympic 2012 pledge to do it next year and the one after.
What would you suggest?