Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Swimming

I truly can't believe that it's been over a week since I posted something here.. I guess I've been busy Project Kitchen has been in full swing, work has been full on, every night this week I've been up 'til midnight and it's 11.30 pm now.

Anyways... enough of all that... I wanted to write about the swim coaching. Well, I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed myself.  All of this applies to front crawl as that is the only stroke we look at during the session. I learned that :

1) Your big toes are supposed to practically touch as you kick your legs.
2) This means your legs are NOT supposed to be all over the place, flailing, with a big gap between them as you swim. Think fairly straight legs bending from the knee.
3)Bilateral breathing is good, patricularly if you are doing a triathlon and the swim leg is in the sea. If there are HUGE waves on the side where you breathe you are going to run into problems... like... not being able to breathe. So, yes, quite important... breathing.
4) You arm should enter the water straight stretched out in front of you, and as said hand hits the water is should stretch further forward through the water, as absolutely as far as you can before you bring you arm back through the body of water.

So overall a good session, and yes I just about kept up with the ten year olds!

Happy Swimming.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer is here

Yes, it seems summer is here at last. Last night we were able to sit in the garden until 10pm and it was warm, and we also ate our first bowl of strawberries picked from the garden. The tayberries are just starting to ripen too so I will look forward to picking and freezing them just as I did last year. I just had a nice surprise and came across a freezer bag of last years tayberries so I will make something scrummy with them tonight. Happy Days ! Cupcake is just back from a school trip and the World Cup (England v Slovenia) is on the TV.

No running for me today, just lots of ironing when I got back from work, no fun in the heat. Tonight I will be swimming with Cupcake at the South London Harriers youth swimming class. It's a coach-led class and the children receive instruction on their stroke. I'm going along because I'm not a particularly good swimmer and I could use some proper instruction. Apparently I wouldn't be able to keep up with the adult group - that's not good is it. I'm feeling a little bit nervous, but I'm going to be brave and will report tomorrow on how it went. Good Luck Me !!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Team Spirit... well, Competitive Spirit

I was writing here recently, saying how you don't need to run as part of a group, or with a friend to run, and I stand by that still, you don't. On Mondays though, I will usually run with Biscuit Boy, we run a 4 mile loop around a London park. We only have an hour to get changed, get there, get running, get back and changed and back to work. So, there's no messing around.

Usually the run takes us around 33-36 mintues, and yes, we do time it that precisely.... two weeks ago it took 36 mintues it was a nicely paced run usually we run relatively slow as usually we will both have done some form of longer exercise the day before.

This Sunday, neither of us got a long run or bike as 'Project Kitchen UK' is in full progress. So I glossed, and Biscuit Boy painted.. So Monday was a good day for a run. Later that morning Biscuit Boy called to say he could not make the run. A colleague that I sometimes run with mentioned that he could run, so we arranged to run together. Great. As luck would have it on the way to the changing rooms I bumped into Biscuit Boy he was back, so we could all run together after all. And what a run it was, right from the off we set a good pace, we all took it in turns to 'lead', just quite naturally, none of it was planned before. It was an excellent spontaneous run, that left my thighs aching and it was great to see that the guys were just as exhausted as I was !

Biscuit Boy checked his stopwatch when we got back - 32 minutes- a whole 4 minutes quicker than previous weeks, and that is the great thing about running in a team like that - the competitive spirit takes over and you draw each other into it, that urge to win, that urge to go faster, that urge to not show yourself up !! And yes it works, and when you run like that you end up getting an overall better workout.

Of course you can't run like that every day. Today, I was back on my own in the woods and whilst the weather and the views were glorious, I saw not a single soul the whole time I was out, and that really is part of the beauty of running, it's essentially the same thing, runnning, but there you have two totally different experiences. Joy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Runing Mishaps and Injuries

I'll never forget the race where we were given race number thirteen and we had a whole range of problems that day including a smashed car, a broken bike and a strain injury.. It is for this reason that I forget one of the incidents of that day. Biscuit Boy and I were on the third and final loop I think of the bike course, and whilst I was getting quite into it by this point, I can be a bit 'jittery' on the bike. I think this is because on this type of off-road biking event I am accustomed to falling off the bike many times. I do not like falling off the bike so I will try and avoid it by slamming on the brakes... and this is exactly what I did on this day. However, and this is the 'biggy', I forgot that Biscuit Boy was directly behind me. He didn't brake, well not til later anyway. I distinctly remember him literally flying past me, over his handlebars, as he slammed his brakes on, but his body kept on travelling and landing in an untidy heap in front of me, with me saying 'Oh my gosh, sorry ...'. He could have been seriously injured, fortunately he wasn't but whilst we laughed about it afterwards, it has taught me to always look and think before I just brake without thinking.

Just before I ran Hastings Half Marathon I was really getting into my training.  It was just a couple of weeks before the race when I noticed what felt like shin splints. I pretty much ignored the pain (stupid me !), until the point when my daily 30min walk to work was agony and with every footfall I could feel a pain up my shin. Not nice ! That night I said to Biscuit Boy, "Please could you take a look at my leg and give it a massage it's agony !"  I put my leg up and he massaged along the sore part and said "Did you know this is swollen?". Of course I hadn't realised. Unlike shin splints, which I would usually get in both legs, this was only in one leg. I took the decision, although my half marathon was only a couple of weeks away, to take a whole week off training. Going back to training after a week off my leg felt good and the swelling was down. I went on to have a good half marathon and the swelling and pain has not returned. I guess the moral of the story here is that as soon as you feel pain... Stop Running until you figure out what is going on!

3. I guess the worst injury I had I sustained when I was running whilst I was tired. I can't remember why I was tired whether I had been training hard, or run too many days in a row, but I definitely know I was tired. Biscuit Boy and I were running together, it was a Sunday morning and nice weather. It was a relatively new route and about five miles long. We were near the end, running down a gravel lane with fields both sides. I ran down a pot hole, but didn't pick my foot up on the way out of it, so my foot clipped the top of the pothole and down I went. I remember sliding across the ground thinking 'This is like Superman, I guess I'll stop sliding in a minute' , and yes I did stop and that is when the pain set in. AfterwardsI had horrible lacerations on my hands, elbows and knees. I carried on running though. In the days that followed I got them checked  for possible infection, but luckily I was given the all clear. Next time I see a pothole-I'll be running round it !

Friday, June 18, 2010

New to Running ?

This post has been written for anyone new to running or thinking of taking up running. Here are some things to do before you start :

1) Think about what sort of physical shape you are currently in and start accordingly. If you have an underlying serious medical condition like diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, recent surgery or childbirth etc go along and have a chat with your GP just to make sure you will not be doing yourself any harm.#

2) Go and buy a pair of trainers. These don't have to be the just released, top of the range Nike pair, they can be last year's model. Personally, I favour the Mizuno Wave Rider ( Over time you will find a style that works for you. You might be thinking why do I need an expensive pair of trainers ?? Well, firstly they don't need to be expensive, but there are quite a few worthy reasons for getting good shoes. When you go along to a reputable sports store they will ask you to run for just a few moments on a treadmill so that they can carry out a gait analysis and foot strike analysis. This will show whether you an overpronator, a neutral runner or supinator. Which basically means whether you foot leans excesively to the left or right when your foot hits the floor whilst running. The great thing is that the shoes can fix these problems and therefore reduce the risk of injury and provide a well cushioned stable foot whilst you run.

Trainers also offer cushioning. When you run there is a massive amount of pressure going through your joints, your ankles, knees and hips.with every single footfall, therefore you need trainers with good cushioning to absorb some of the shock and take the pressure off your joints. It is for this reason that you should also try and keep a log of the number of miles run in your trainers so you know when to replace them. A rule of thumb is to replace your trainers every 300 to 400 miles depnding on your build and the surface you run on. If you run off-road trainers will need replacing more often.

3. So, you've got the trainers. What about the rest of the kit ? Well, the truth is that until you really start to get going you can make do with a t-shirt and a pair of shorts.

4. Start off slowly and steady. Find a route and measure it, let's say a mile near your home or work. First you need to warm up. If you are not a runner then just walk for a few minutes, until you feel warmer and you heart is beating faster. If this is enough for now and you feel breathless then try this every other day and gradually build up to a brisk walk. If you are fitter then slow jog or walk/jog the one mile route. Try this every other day, gradually building up the amount that you run and reducing the amount that you walk, until you can run the route comfortably. Then either expand to two laps of the route or find a longer route.

NOTE: A good rule of thumb is to never increase your distance by more than 10% per week.

Don't forget to warm down and have a little stretch after your run and don't forget to drink water to replace any fluids you have lost. Unless you are exercising for more than 45 minutes you shouldn't need any more than water. Any more than this and you might want to eat  a banana or drink an energy drink to replace electrolyes lost as well as water.

Happy Running !

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Rules of Running 2

I said I would pick this up again at some point so here goes:

Don't tread on anything that is not supposed to be trod on. In France once just after playing mini golf in the searing heat with no hat, sunscreen and a (small) bottle of water between three of us we were making our way back to the car and there was a huge, long log on the path, so thinking the log was rooted to the spot .. what did I do ? Yes, I trod on it. Was the log rooted ? No ! The log rolled, as did I, smacking the small of my back onto the log. Shock and agony all at once. Owch ! So, when running if it's not meant to be trod on, don't tread on it ! Run or walk round it, jump over it but do not tread on it. Enough said,

Toilet, toilet, toilet - well this could be a post all by itself and probably will be at some point. If you are running a race be very careful what you eat and drink in the days beforehand. Preferably practise what you plan to eat or drink and then quite literally do a test run. Many books and magazines recommend carb loading in the days running up to a race. That said, there is a famous running chef (No, not Ramsey..) who does not eat too many carbs the day before the race because it does not agree with him.

To be continued .....

Do not try ANYTHING new on race day. No new trainers, running tops/shorts, anti-chafe rubs, drinks or gels. Use your oldest most comfortable clothes and trainers and stick to what you know works for you.

Exercise: Cycle to cupcake's school: 3 miles. Very enjoyable even with a little light rain.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why am I Blogging ?

I love writing, and the blog gives me an outlet for my creative flow. I am looking forward to this blog evolving into a fully fledged site with lists and links and recipes and recommendations, and all other kinds of things - What fun ! I am also looking forward to marketing and promoting this blog. Looking at other blogs helps, I only really follow The Cottage Smallholder, which I love, but I look at many others.

Happy reading !

Monday, June 7, 2010

Design and Me

I have always wondered how to define my design tastes, just what is 'my style' ? In truth, I still haven't figured it out completely. When looking at designs for home interiors, I happened upon a design site where you could select several room 'mock-ups' and the result of your combined choices would define your style. My result was, 'eclectic' which means I like a mish-mash jumble of styles, preferably all at the same time. This was, and still is, an accurate reflection.

At the moment, I am quite patriotic and like things that are red, white and blue. I therefore have a lovely Union Jack cushion which says 'God Save the Queen' on it which I love, it sits regally on the sofa in the lounge. I also have a lovely Emma Bridgewater tin (see it here  which incidentally houses my design ideas.

Since we bought Labour of Love a couple of years ago I have taken to looking at web sites and magazines and leaflets and anywhere really, and if I see a design I like I will make a note and file it in my EB tin. It's going to be a LONG time before I get to really furnish Labour of Love but I like to think that when the time comes I will be prepared.

When I come across something I love even if it isn't going to match with my current decor or I won't use it for a while, I have to buy it. This might sound a little foolish and I suppose it is. I currently have two lovely toile de jouy cushion covers. These have never matched with any decor I have had but I am hoping that one day they will go and live in Labour of Love either in the Master bedroom or on a sofa in the den. I must have had those covers for more than ten years, and the funny thing is that it has never crossed my mind to throw them away. Then there is the wall hanging that I bought on my very first trip abroad in Vienna when I was 14. I  love this tapestry. I am hoping to frame this and put it in the smaller bedroom in Labour of Love. I have had this beautiful tapestry for more than twenty years andn it has never been displayed. A real tragedy to me, and one I must rectify - soon ! 

Meanwhile, in my spare room I have recently framed a poster that I bought. The poster shows a New York yellow cab, but the fantastic thing about the poster is that it is 3D and if you move around the poster the car really stands out. I think it is COOL. Anyone else would probably think it belongs in a teenage boy's bedroom and they're probably right. I have been desperately trying to rack my brain to come up with somewhere that I could put this picture either here or in Labour of Love and I can't, but you know what I love that poster and I just can't get rid of it either  - I haven't even hung it yet !  - and I guess that in itself sums up my 'eclectic' taste.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kitchen Gadgetry

We are currently 'doing up' the kitchen. I say 'doing up' as this is renovations on a budget. A few weeks ago a major DIY store was having a 15% off sale, with an extra 10% off over the bank holiday. So, off we went and piled the trolley high with cream gloss doors, fascia, panels etc. The handles we got later from another High Street DIY store. The last of the handles went on this evening, and this past weekend Biscuit Boy has worked so hard fitting it all. He also treated me to a new oven, I am truly spoilt ! There was nothing wrong with the old one, but it looked worn, the glass was irretrievably stained and the metal paint had started to come off the oven door handle. We bought the most basic of ovens for a bargain £150. See, I wasn't lying I told you I love a bargain ! So far, so good the oven just cooked lovely salmon, potato wedges and rhubarb crumble so I am happy. Next on the list is the laying of the Karn Dean floor (which we've actually had for 2 years just never go round to laying it- tsk!) the ultra lovely folding, sliding doors which we actually need as we still have original (rotten) wooden frames, and then of course my lovely Monsoon wallpaper on the chimney breast and the metal shelves to house my cook book collection, not to mention a new lick of paint for the whole room. The table that seats 10 comfortably and dominates the room stays, if only because Biscuit Boy made it for me and I've yet to see anything else that I like more...

But this post was supposed to be about Kitchen Gadgetry, here are some items I have and some items I would like:

Kitchen Aid - I would not be without my Kitchen Aid. It makes light work of all mixing tasks, I could never make another Christmas cake by hand.. not when I usually make about six ! This makes light work of all mixing, whisking and kneading tasks. You can also buy extra 'attachments' like a grinder and I think a pasta maker, I haven't tried these so I can't vouch for their efficiency... but this leads me on to...

Kitchen Aid Blender - These can now be purchased in many funky colours. I am wondering if they are as efficient as my Kitchen Aid Mixer and for this reason I would like to try one... As a keen cook I do already have 2 blenders, well one is a smoothie maker but each is as good as the other, except the
Kenwood Smoothie Maker  does have a tap at the front for easy dispensing. Since I already have a Juicer, the smoothie maker  does not get used often as I tend to use the other blender for soups.

Ice Cream Maker  - I would love an icecream maker, not because I particularly want to eat buckets of icecream but because I have seen them used on TV so many times that I would love to have a go myself.. although I know that this would be one of those 'use once' items.

Pasta Machine - I would love to try this too, although I know you can make pasta without one - but could you get it that thin by hand I wonder ??? I will probably get one of these at some point - I like the idea of making pasta 'fusion' sundried tomato pasta, spinach pasta, squid ink pasta. Cool.

Bread Maker - I LOVE the idea that you just tip all your ingredients in, turn it on and let it go.. and there you have your daily bread. Having only used the dough hook on the Kitchen Aid a hand full of times I can't see much longevity of this one... Nice idea tho..

Pineapple/apple corer/Cherry pitter - Ew yes, I love the sound of all of these ! I've seen then demo'd, yes they do all look like a bit of a waste of space and money. Can't I just do the same with a knife ??? But you know what damn it ! I just want to be able to whip them out when I need them and have perfect apples/cherries/pineapples!

Toaster A Toaster ? Back to basics, right ? Wrong. We have never, as a couple owned a toaster. Strange, but true. We always just used the grill on the oven. BUT I would LOVE to be able to make toast/pancakes/waffles without a ) breaking my back and b) trying to find something to remove the grill pan from under the grill before either the item being grilled gets burned or I do ! Out of this list I think this is the one that has to be purchased, especially as I have now streamlined the kitchen so I should be able to find the space for one.Yippee!!!

Coffee Maker - Biscuit Boy and I love coffee. I would really like a bean grinder and one of those funky machines, I could then make my own mocha instead of paying a fortune for it in coffee shops.

What else ?? Well, I know of someone who once bought a jam maker but part of the fun in making jam for me is the stirring.. Will it or won't it set  ??? If I just added fruit and sugar and flicked a switch I think I would feel a little deprived.

What would we do without our gadgets eh ?? Personally, I love 'em !