Category Archives: swimming

Curious – Me?

What would you add?

Suffolk is in the news for the most curious of reasons. [For the ITV news item take a look here] The gist of the story is that Condiment working with Visit Suffolk have come up with the title The Curious County as part of a campaign to attract visitors to the county.  When I first heard about it over the weekend I liked the idea, Suffolk is so much more than Beach Huts, Tractor boys, bucolic scenery and Newmarket racing (not that there is anything wrong with any of those) ~ but you do have to lift up the rug to find what’s under there.  As the battle between the reported views of the MPs ‘Dangerous – got to go – negative, idiotic’ and a significant chunk of the twitter community who are #proudtobecurious I was getting ready to pen a letter to the EADT, the MPs or some other body. Then I decided don’t shout, show.  So if you click the picture above or below it will take you to my particular take on Suffolk The Curious County, an ever growing Pinterest board of the things I find make me curious in Suffolk.

What would you add?

Wensum – Swum

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….

Immersed, submerged, profoundly drenched

Thank You and Kiss Me Cards from Goodshoeday on Etsy

This weekend I’ve been at Snape Maltings aka Aldeburgh Music for ‘Place‘, described as an enquiry into the cultural meanings of water. It appealed to me due to my love of open water swimming, inland waterways and generally getting wet. I wasn’t entirely sure what the nature of this enquiry would be but it was a mix of art, performance, films and readings. The highlights for me were:

Robert MacFarlane: On Roger Deakin; Robert knew Roger in the last few years of his life. It was good to hear a little more about Roger’s life and their shared experiences. I am re-reading Waterlog and looking forward to reading his other books and will hunt out Robert’s The Wild Places – readers of my twitter account will be proud of me for not buying a further mountain of books, but my wish list has grown considerably!

David Rothernburgh: Whale Music & Writing on Water; David was a replacement when other performers had to pull out and when he bounced to the podium like Tigger crossed with Paddington Bear I was not sure what to expect. He plays his clarinet to whales and they sing back. It was stunning, I was totally enthralled,  he had also created a pair of films; underlying the film was the story of a man who has lost everything, his wife, children, possessions and sled through the ice (I wish I’d written down the reference).

Jay Griffiths: Telling the Sea; this really was narrative writing performed in a way which was lyrical and engaging. I took very few notes as I was wrapped up in listening to her use of language, it was beautiful and of all the pieces in the weekend probably the one that gave you the greatest feeling of being in water. Her book Wild is definitely on my wish list.

Olivia Chaney: Water Songs; the second replacement act, beautiful singing, haunting and plenty of drowning.

I would love to explain the evening performance of Swandown to you, but you really have to experience and decide that for yourself! [If you are an arts sceptic who wants to know ‘can people really get funding for this stuff?’ it could be a place to start, the audience were distinctly divided]

Today started with a showing of Derek Jarman’s ‘The Garden’, sadly the DVD playing was a bit mucked up and there were frequent restarts. The whole film is distinctly disturbing anyway, I’m glad I’ve finally seen it but will be happy to leave it there.

Manu Luksch: Kayak Libre; this was a delight. Manu carried out a project where she provided a Kayak taxi, with the fare being a conversation, which she captured. A great use of technology combined with the calm induced by travelling at low speed in water below the hight of the normal carriageway.

Simon Read: Seamarks; huge maps, hand drawn that interpret the rising of the waters and their potential impacts on the land. This work is both beautiful and informative, the detail aids understanding and creating the pieces helps Simon to question the landscape and imagine what will happened if various defences are breached.

So thank you to Aldeburgh Music and to Gareth Evans who curated the weekend. Also huge thanks to Linda @goodshoeday for light relief in the interval and the lovely cards, hot from her Letterpress Lab.

7th Day of Janathon, 3rd Walk/Run, 2nd swim for China

Spotify Playlist of the Day– Janus Blowing in the Wind

The 12 Days of Christmas Party is over and whilst my good friends are rushing around trying to fill their comments in for the draw I am reflecting whilst looking forwards, starting a New Year with challenges. The first is the weather, after the raw cold of last year it is unseasonally mild and very windy, the catkins are fully out.  I’ve just checked back to last year’s photos and it was 25th January last year when I was taking similar pictures. Whilst it’s great not to have the ice underfoot for learning to run, the very stiff winds have put me off cycling. Hopefully I will do much more on the bike next week.

Yesterday I failed to do a Janathon activity so have made up for it today with two.  This morning I did my final walk/run in my couch to 5K with the Get Running App on the iPhone. Then this evening I went to Framlingham College Pool for a swim and did an 800m swim to help team China on their way to Olympic gold (we are currently ahead!).

Tomorrow I will announce who has won the mystery prize in the #12DCP, which then gives me a week to try and write my Ghost story. The lovely @Jaydubblah has alread written hers and you can read it here.

Today I attended my second local writing group, I’m really enjoying these sessions, the current focus is on dialogue and dialect. We have been discussing the extent to which the text should accurately reflect dialects or just indicate them. We had been set homework, which was to write a piece where the dialogue tells what is going on. I decided to take this both literally and figuratively with a bit of an Argentine Tango, see what you think: –

The Professional 

The tablecloth was tied around her waist to indicate a skirt and his shirt was open to the bottom button.“Lean in to me, your hip should make contact yust here on my pocket,” he said.  “Our noses should be touching – and look at me.”  She looked.  Garlic sweat poured from his forehead.

“What next? I’ve got bloody cramp from these heels.”

“Retht your left leg on the back of your right leg; now as my legs cross I will drag you to the side.  Good, now we rise; your weight transfers back and your right leg is free.  Whip your knee up into my hand and when you drop it back plathe your foot between my feet like a thandwidge. Now giro; turn.”

“Did you have to pinch my knee then?” she winced at her own reflection in the full height mirror, flushed skin and a frizz of hair.  The village hall smelt of damp, there were lumps of soil scattered by the football team’s boots earlier in the day.  She wondered why she had agreed to this ‘treat’ from her boyfriend, who would now be propping up the bar at the Parrot and Punchbowl.

“Lean back, your hair should nearly sweep the floor.”

“It’s covered in crap,” she sighed.

“Just do it, trust me; I’ll support your weight.  As you swing come up and look at me again; fix my eyes.”

“Less of the weight, cheeky. Christ that hurts,” she pulled herself up to her full height and attempted to stretch out her spine.

“Then we walk, figure of eight ocho, at the end, rest, lean and quick flick or your leg around mine, gancho.  Perfetto, then I push you back upright, I stroke your face then lock my eyes on yours.  Now back away.  Thrusting your hands down to the floor like I shewed you. OK, I put the music on now.”  He pressed the iPod in the huge boombox and started the track.

“Ready?” he breathed.

“So; lean on my pocket, look at my eyes.”  She looked, they were deep and dark, with a glint where the light reflected on his contact lens.  He fixed on her eyes, their noses almost touched.

“Oh. My. God. You’re strong.”

“Good, you should trust me, fix my eyes.  Ok rethst your left leg, I drag, rise; Knee up, I grip.  Thandwich feet, giro, lean back, I pull you up towards me.  Ocho, then rest, lean and now – gancho, flick your leg around mine.”

“Like this?” she asked.

“Si, yes, but firmer, then away quickly like it was too hot not slow like a dodman. Now, upright, I stroke your face, lock your eyes, you back away thrusting your hands towards the floor.”

The damp of the hall was melting away, the music suffused her sinews, the air was slowly being exchanged with the atmosphere of  Plazzo Dorrego, Buenos Aires.

She took a swig from her water bottle and looked across the room at him.  The music restarted and he put out his hand, as she moved towards him, she murmored.

“I lean on your pocket; just here, our noses touch, your eyes are dark, deep chocolate.  I retsht my left leg, you drag me, I rise; knee up, you grip. Giro, I lean back, you pull me up, you are strong, I trust you.  I love your eyes.  Ocho, then rest, lean and gancho, I flick my leg round yours, it’s hot, too hot. You push me upright, you stoke my face, I like it when you stroke my face, your hands are cool.  I lock your eyes, you lock my eyes.  I’m supposed to back away, I can’t back away, I am locked.”  She choked briefly on her words, her voice drying.  He flashed a mischievous grin.

The hall door swung open, Clive staggered in.

“You all right then?  How’s it going Fred me old fox?”

“Pretty good bah, she’s probably in love with me by now!”

“Fred?  What ‘appened to Alfredo?” she asked colouring as she did so.

“Ah, that’s my professional name.  Same time next week?”

12th Day of Christmas – 5th of Janathon #12DCP

Tree with Christmas decorations

It’s over for another year. This is the last of the 12 days of Christmas. Thank you for joining in. I know it’s been a low-key affair this year, no fabulous dresses or extravagant food, no quiz questions and importantly no legs! Talking of legs, where are yours right now? If you close your eyes could you touch your knee cap without missing? The last stage on our sensory journey is:

Kinesthesia

The sense of knowing where one body part is in relation to another – without looking, can you type at your keyboard for example – if not try this little bit of fun Dance Mat.

So for now the most complicated bit of leaving the party, a social kiss goodbye, it’s all to do with positioning of those zygomatic bones but one, two, three pecks on the cheek, right or left first or just kiss the palm and blow – which to do?

I’ll give everyone until the end of Saturday to complete their comments and then run the draw – if you are not sure what this is about go back to day one.

Hugs and Happy New Year to you all

Janathon

Today is a non run day, so I decided to go for a swim.  800m mix of breast, crawl and back stroke; a gentle re-entry before swimfit classes restart next week. I have signed up to do the latest Framlingham Sports and Fitness Centre challenge and am swimming for China in the Olympic challenge. Launched today they already have 16 people signed up in the first hour but just me and the team leader swimming for China so far. The aim is for the team to hit 15,000m by the end of the month.

The Spotify playlist for today is a collaborative list, please add your songs to go with the kinesthesia theme, body parts, positioning, songs to test your body position awareness.  the list is HERE

7th Day of Christmas – #12DCP

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

Flinging it to Scotland – overnight by train sleeper

A marvellous trip to Scotland earlier in the Summer, overnight by sleeper from King’s Cross to Inverness. The great thing about Scotland in the summer is the length of daylight. Plenty of time for a walk up the Ness and back before sitting outside Macnab’s bar and listening to music with the sun still setting in the background.

A day trip out took us via the Old Station at Strathpeffer, now the Highland Museum of Childhood, past the Wistlestop Cafe, which is still the least prepossessing but best café in Scotland.

Then onwards to Ullapool where the lovely folks at the Seaforth dished up their beautiful big prawns even though they weren’t on the menu.

Ullapool could make a great hub for a holiday, including trips to the Summer Isles on the Summer Queen.

After all that eating, time for a swim at Admair, now added to the new Wildswim map, which is a great resource for open water swimmers.

It was a great break, other trips included Gairloch and Urquart; then the long ride home on the train.

Great East Swim 2011, Skyride Ipswich and Little Tractors

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!

Cakes, Rides, Local Food and Silicone Knickers


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.

Sky blue pink shot with a carrot – #Janathon update 20

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!

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