Blog Archives

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


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!

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!

Seventh Day – Going Swimmingly

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

Training for the 2011 Grethathalon – and blogging for Janathon

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.

Illustration Friday ‘Burning’ – Aspire Cross Channel Swim – Finished!

Illustration Friday - Burning - illustration of I saw a peacock

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.

Great East Swim – Thank You!

A huge thank you to everyone for their support over the last six months.  I did it; completed the Great East Swim and raised well over my £300.00 target for Water Aid.

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.

There again I might like to try something new.  I am tempted by surfing the Severn Bore or riding Sustrans route 1.

What would you suggest?

Slither – Illustration Friday – What Lurks Beneath the Surface?

Slither for Illustration Friday

Try this Spotify Playlist to go with the theme.

Swimming in open water is an acquired taste. Some people are fearful of not being able to see or touch the bottom. Others are afraid of what might be lurking beneath and within the water. Fritton lake is not crystal clear it has a peaty, sandy quality to it, everything is tinted a murky yellow; when you come out from the water your skin may sparkle in the sunlight from the particles trapped in the hair on your arms. There will always be a doubt in your mind about anything that touches your skin, was that an eel, a pike, or bit of weed or just a ‘fig box of your homogination’?

Only two weeks now to the Great East Swim – my charity page is HERE – raising funds for Water Aid.  Huge thanks to those who have already contributed.

Great East Swim – W is for Water Aid – Help!

W for something completely different challenge - please support me raising funds for wateraid

The theme is W on ‘Something Completely Different;’ any shape or size but must be based on a ‘W’ [Spotify playlist here].  I have chosen to create a bookmark,  I seem to have a dozen books on the go at any time.  The idea behind this image is the bottom of the pool when I am swimming.  Last night the sun was bright and low in the sky, there were fantastic golden patterns from the ripples on the surface.  I swim in goggles, as I look ahead the lines of the tiles are clean and clear, but lower in my field of vision, the lines are distorted; the aim is to create a stream of bubbles so that as I turn my head to breathe my body takes in air almost without thinking.

In January when I started my preparation for the Great East Swim, I could not do crawl and had to count to three to remind myself when to breathe.  I also didn’t have my face in the water much.  Now I swim with my face in the water most of the time, and as I learn to relax can take in the patterns, random tile distributions and sounds.  Finally, I can stop counting to three, but have become obsessed with counting the number of strokes to a length.  Still far to many, I am hitting about 18 in a 20 metre pool; I can get down to 11 or less in breast stroke.

I am working my way through the training schedule on the website Take to The Streets.  Today, I completed session 26 a total of 940 metres.  Since starting and logging my walking, cycling and swimming miles I have done 200 miles under my own steam.  I have kept off the weight I lost earlier in the year despite now eating what I was eating before, drinking wine, eating cheese and other lovely things.  I suspect I do self moderate my diet more than I did before though.  I still haven’t launched my self like a great cargo ship into the sea, but I will have to soon.  If you live near Framlingham and know anywhere where I can swim in open fresh water I would be delighted to hear from you.

So now for the plea for help.  I have decided that my charity will be Water Aid; if you are not already familiar with their work take a look.  So many people in the world do not have access to safe, clean, water and sanitation; this is my attempt to show my gratitude for what we have and to put a little back.

I have created a Just Giving Page please visit and donate, it is a very worthwhile cause.

Thank you

Dip – Stradbroke ~ Pop Pickers

Illustration Friday - Dip

Dippy Egg in an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

The topic for Illustration Friday this week is ‘Dip’ – the playlist is here.  I am spending many hours in the pool taking a dip, in preparation for the Great East Swim.  Today my treat on my return was ‘dippy’ egg with marmite and marmite XO soldiers; a sofa to hide behind and Dr Who.

Tomorrow Stradbroke pool shuts for Easter Sunday, but never mind; all is not lost.  The stars of Radio Stradbroke will be playing songs from 12.00 noon onwards.  This is the spot where the crackle of vinyl meets the digital age.  The team is raising money for the air ambulance and the local cricket club.  You can tweet them or enter a request on-line.  Requests cost £1.00 for two songs, they will even read out your dedication.  If you are very lucky you will hear the clunk of a pint glass being placed on the decks as the whole thing takes place in the local pub.  Catch it now; it will all be over by the end of Monday.

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