Day 31: Oh the wind!

Last night we went to the first of the two Alarm sets of the weekend – over at the Venue Cymru, a short blustery walk down the promenade.

It was an acoustic set with a lot of obscure early songs (which I didn’t know) and other more popular songs that had been rearranged – thus rendering them impossible to recognise to the untrained ear. If I’m honest, I thought that it was the best acoustic set that he had put on in a long time. Lots of people on the stage, plus a 70-ish strong choir backing the whole thing up. It was good, despite Mike Peter’s very obvious problems with his voice. He doesn’t sound well.

So tonight’s set is bigger, louder and more electric-ier. It should be fun.

We didn’t linger long at the karaoke afterwards. Lorna had been up since very-early-o’clock and I wasn’t in the mood for the fight between locals and visiting Alarm fans that looked likely. Instead, our early night meant that we were up and at ’em in good time this morning.

Tradition states that Saturday should include air hockey, a walk along the promenade, a walk up the Great Orme and a drive in the direction of Betws y Coed. We accomplished all these things.

The Great Orme was blustery. When we arrived I noted how it didn’t look so windy only to open the car door and have it almost blown away. We were battered by the weather on our brief walk around the closed visitors centre to the summit, and I’m amazed we didn’t get blown off over on the way back.

Lorna, trying hard not to be blown away at the Great Orme summit. This doesn't really show how windy it was.
Lorna, trying hard not to be blown away at the Great Orme summit. This doesn’t really show how windy it was.

We then drove on to Betws y Coed for some ice cream sundae and a look around the nik nak shops, for that is tradition.

This picture does not do the chocolatiness any justice.
This picture does not do the chocolatiness any justice.
The sundae was very tasty – a chocobocker glory, if you’re interested.

There was also a bubble shop there, with the world’s most enthusiastic shop attendant working there. He oozed a love of all bubbly things and spent a long time running through tricks, demonstrations and explaining how their bubble mix is awesome.

After many, many demonstrations, I bought some wands and secret formula bubble mix for the children. There will be a lot of bubbles when I get home tomorrow.

Big bubbles using the kit that I bought at Dr Zigs. I'll be very disappointed if I can't get one this size tomorrow.
Big bubbles using the kit that I bought at Dr Zigs. I’ll be very disappointed if I can’t get one this size tomorrow.

When we got back to Llandudno we immediately set out on our walk along the promenade. There was even more wind than before. Goodness knows what it would be like at the top of the Orme by now, but even the sheep might be blown off. We managed to get to the end of the promenade, take a picture and then get back in one piece. Which is a miracle in my book.

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We did 4.26km in 41 minutes. Not our quickest walk, but we were battling the weather on our way back.

There was just enough time to get in some table hockey and then to the pub to work through some wordpress questions that Lorna had for me (work never really ends).

Here is Lorna before the air hockey looking steely and determined.

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I don’t like to think of myself as overly competitive, but I was quite pleased when I was two games to nil up. Sadly, Lorna was less pleased and I got the above look again.

Then on for a bit of wordpress fun and finally back for a bit of a rest before this evening’s entertainment. Tradition dictates that we should eat at the Seahorse tonight, which is always excellent. Fingers crossed for another good evening.

Day 31: 4.26km walk in 41 minutes.

Day 30: Llandudno

I’m in Llandudno this weekend for the annual Gathering – some Alarm gigs and themed events around the town. I think that this is the sixth year that I’ve been, I can’t be certain and I’m writing in a rush to get something written before we head out to gig #1 tonight.

I headed out after dropping the children off at school, picked up Lorna shortly after nine at Chester train station and we arrived at about 10:30. Had some breakfast at the cafe around the corner from the hotel (tasty) and then went for a long walk along the promenade and back – and then past the Grand and through a park and back around so that we passed 5k.

It’s cold and blustery, but when the sun is out it is very lovely too. We’ve been here when it’s been worse weather, so I’m not complaining.

We’ve spent the afternoon in the pub looking at websites, google analytics and some wordpress stuff. How much fun can one have when in a Welsh seaside resort? I don’t know, but I think we’re pushing the boundaries.

Tradition states that on the first night we have a curry, and so that’s where we shall go before heading to the first, probably acoustic, gig. I’ll report back tomorrow.

Day 30: 5.42km in 54:39 minutes.

Day 29. Jude’s back!

I had made a bit of a mistake a couple of weeks ago when I bought a ticket to see World Party play the Cavern in Liverpool. The mistake was that it clashed with Jude arriving back in the UK and reaching Liverpool at roughly the same time.

Tonight, therefore, I managed to get three things done in town: I got my walk done around the city centre, I caught a quick bit of World Party and I got to Lime Street with moments to spare to meet Jude. What more could you want?

It had been a busy day, Lily had spent the day at home after feeling poorly at school this morning. Well, she felt poorly at 9am, slept for a few hours and woke up refreshed and full of beans. It was a lunchtime miracle, and meant that I had a bouncy 11 year old distracting me for half the day (which is cool, really)

My parents came to look after the children while I was due to go into Liverpool. They came around armed with food and DIY assistance. Dad and I put up a pullymaid clothes airer over the Aga – which I wanted to be done before J got back.

The "classic" pulley maid. Ideal for hanging various meat products over the oven.
The “classic” pulley maid. Ideal for hanging various meat products over the oven.

I’m rarely happier than when filling the tumble dryer with wet clothes, and marvelling an hour later when they’re dry… Yet, Jude sees this as taking a chainsaw to an iceberg or polar bear and prefers to dry clothes next to the toasty warm oven. Given that this had been in the back room for about three months, I thought it would be a good job done – which it was.

Food scoffed and I was off into Liverpool. First task, walk around the city for half an hour with the intention of ending at the Cavern Club on Matthew Street. It worked pretty well, although runkeeper’s GPS was all over the place and has calculated that I walked at a pace of 7:55 minutes per km – which is basically a run. To be fair, I wasn’t dawdling, but neither was I running. The track looks like I was wobbling from one side of the road to the other, walking through buildings and overshooting my destination. Something was seriously wrong.

My wobble around Liverpool
My wobble around Liverpool

When I arrived back at Matthew Street, Karl Wallinger (basically World Party) was ducking into the club wearing a hoodie. I should have grabbed him to explain that I had to go and pick up Jude and therefore I didn’t have long for any tunes that he wanted to play. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing and I’m sure that Karl (we’re on first name terms) would have come out on time had he known that I needed to leave early.

As it was, I received a text from Jude saying that her train was running 20 minutes late. Welcome back to England! She may have got used to goat-powered buses while she was away, but by god, those goats ran on time.

So… Twenty minutes! That’s a whole side of an LP, I thought. We’ll get a boatload of songs in those 20 minutes, I thought. So I drank my diet coke and watched the support. Which was fun.

As time creeped on, it became apparent that although I had arrived on time for our 9pm appointment, Karl didn’t really understand the urgency. At 9:15 he was on stage tuning his guitar and obviously couldn’t see me tapping my watch and giving him my “really, you’re tuning your guitar now?” look.

They burst into “Waiting such a long long time”. A good song, not their best, but appropriate under the circumstances – but as it came to an end, I had to leave. Oh well, if this clash ever happens again, I’ll book a later train for Jude.

I scampered up to Lime Street Station with three minutes to spare, enough time to find the platform and be there when Jude arrived. And before I knew it, she was back — full of tales of children, schools, porridge, slums, dust, heat and flights. Next thing we were home, the children got up, there were hugs and more tales, some supper and then finally Jude retired to bed.

It’s felt like a full day, but it’s been fine. Everyone’s back under the same roof and that’s comforting. Tomorrow it’s my turn to be away for a couple of days and then we’re properly back together on Monday.

For now, I got my walk done – although I have no idea how far it actually was. It took 30 minutes and was certainly no more than 3.8km.

Day 28. It would all be over if this was Febathon

My happy plan of getting through the month with a mountain of runs, walks and visits to the gym was stopped by the doctor sternly telling me not to do anything more than a light walk until I’ve had some tests. These will be next week. Fingers crossed I’ll be back on running and I’ll pick up where I left off – I suppose that means trying to run and gym through February (from the 3rd) instead.

Fingers crossed.

In the meantime I’m restricted to my routine of walking. I had started the day looking to see where I might slot in a pleasant 30 minute walk – and there was no chance it was happening. I’ve got things to do, children to keep alive. Instead, I was looking at the possibility of walking on the treadmill at 9:30pm.

Happily, this didn’t come to pass. Most of the things I had to do were sorted in good time before I went to pick the kids up at 3pm. I had some errands to sort out before getting the children, so I was out in the car – boo. No walk to the school. However, I did find what I was after and I’m very happy about that.

Today’s experiment with the children’s packed lunches seemed to go down well.

I had bought some new lunchboxes at Asda earlier in the month which are awesome and are working great, but I wanted to see if I could add some other healthy stuff over and above the usual. At the moment, I’m cooking a ham on Sunday evening and then making wraps with the ham and some cucumber, peppers, or other salad / veggie stuff I can find. That, along with staples such as kit kats, a bit of fruit, yoghurt, etc. That seems reasonable, but I was wondering if I could get a tub of spicy rice, or tub of something sweet in there as well.

The problem with the lunchboxes is that they are very shallow and every container that we have wouldn’t fit in the space. I did some shopping around and all the tubs I could find were way too tall.

Then I came across this place, Ampulla. This is a goldmine of tubs, bottles, cans and containers of every description. It feels slightly industrial, but that’s ok – they had what I’d been looking for… The 160ml clear food tub and and lid. It’s a thing of beauty. They say that it’s “the perfect container for an accompanied dish”, and it IS!

So I ordered 25 of them! God knows what Jude’s going to say, but I think Ampulla probably think I’m running a curry house or something.

2015-01-28 23.38.49Anyway, today was their first outing. I’m kicking myself for not having got a photo when they were full, but here is a picture of the two empty tubs (post jelly). It turns out that these are so shallow that I can stack one on top of the other in their lunchboxes and still have space for a sandwich next to them and for the lid to close with space for biscuits and other loveliness in the top. This makes me very happy.

When I first bought them, Joel was quite concerned that he might look a bit weird or unusual eating from them, but after today it’s no longer a problem. I made some jelly in the tubs and they were fine – they could have done with a bit more refrigeration, but that’s just some tweaking, I think. The second tub had blueberries in. Apparently I can do no wrong if their lunch includes blueberries. I just need to get a second job to pay for their blueberry habit.

Tomorrow it’s blueberries and grapes in one, and strawberry yoghurt in the other. Along with the sandwiches and everything else. I think that it just about counts as a balanced lunch!

On the exercise front… In the end I didn’t have to go on the treadmill for my walk. Instead, I strode out after dinner – taking an extreme zig-zagged route into town and back again. This was because of the weather. The wind was lashing down County Road and I wanted to avoid being battered by the rain and sleet, so I tucked down Green Lane. I then had to make up time by taking detours which also had to try and shelter me from the full force of the weather. I think that this route worked pretty well.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 23.37.25I did 3.68km in 34min 28sec. I would have been home slightly sooner, but I got it in my head that I wanted a bit of symmetry to the route, and so I took a detour to make a triangle at both ends.

Only three more days to go, and then I have to think about whether I continue this into Feb. At the moment, I’m thinking that I should try and keep up the blogging and any thoughts would always be welcome. And the exercising? That’s out of my hands at the moment.

Lift, guitar, cardboard and jellies.

I’ve been so preoccupied, pottering around the living room sorting some bits and pieces out, that I totally lost track of the time. I’m supposed to get this blog done by midnight otherwise I can’t click the button in Lift.

Which makes it sound like I’m a character in Lost. The list of tasks that I try to do each day — with which I measure if I’ve inched forward just a tiny bit. They’re a rag bag of habits at the moment. Review tasks, do some exercise, inbox zero, walk 30 minutes, take medicine, write blog, meditate. None of which relate to the day job, but they force me to build some regularity around the day.

Inbox zero slips from time to time, but I usually get to tick it off… whereas meditate hasn’t had a look in for a while. It might be time to retire meditate to the great archive of unembraced proto-habits. But I like the idea of it, and so it stays there — reminding me that I should give it another go sometime. Oh well…

The day has been fine. Nothing much to report, but I’ll try: the kids are well, school seems ok, work was dull and email related, messaged Jude who seems fine, piano and guitar lessons ok and Lily even practiced her trumpet. All good.

With the guitar I’m trying to get my head around a piece called Mohair Mountain which I’ve never heard before. It’s all 4/4 then 7/8 timing with lots of twiddling and nothing where you can learn a quick riff and then repeat ad nauseum. It’s challenging, but I wish it had more of a melody. The only videos of it are people practicing (which is understandable). Here’s one:

I took a load of old cardboard to the tip today. We’d collected so much of it that I thought that it might be a fire hazard soon. So I picked the kids up from school in the car and whisked them off to the tip. Double bonus for the children – no walking and they get to lob bottles and cardboard into the recycling. Apparently this is the next best thing to playing on the xbox.

The walking had to be done at 8pm, once we’d eaten and everything was sorted. I pottered down High Lane towards the new development in Burscough, back again and down to Netto to grab a couple of jellies (for the lunch boxes!) The three minute walk to the shops took a nice round 32 minutes. So that was 3.53km at a pace of 9:04 min/km. If I hadn’t been dawdling on the way out to Burscough I reckon I could have cracked 9 min/km. Next time perhaps.

Day 26: Getting better all the time

I’m still wading through the day with a cough and a smile, but things seem to be taking a long long time. I’m certainly not 100% yet, but much better than I was at the end of last week. This is good, I think.

We also had the all clear with Joel. He had his GP appointment this morning with the new awesome doctor at the surgery. This is the bloke I spoke to in December when it was looking like I had a nut allergy, and he was brilliant with Joel. He spent the first few minutes just talking to Joel and completely ignoring me – which, to be honest, I thought was cool. Joel really seemed to appreciate being asked what was up, rather than having me say. I filled in the few remaining blanks and the doctor came to the very sensible “probably due to a winter bug” conclusion. Which is almost certainly the case. I stopped giving him calpol and he’s not fainted or coughed or anything. This too, is all good, I think.

I also got my appointment to see the lovely heart people in Southport. At least, I think that’s their official title. Off to see them next Tuesday, so no exercising until at least next Wednesday. I’ve no idea what they’ll say, but I suppose the possible conclusions range from laughing me out of the clinic for wasting their time to… well… them not. Or one of about a billion things in between. Regardless, it’s probably good to have these things checked at my “dodgy” age (my Doctor’s description, believe it or not!)

Other than that, I’ve been trying to get through the day and knock things off the todo list that grew massively last week. I think that list will grow forever unless I do some serious pruning soon.

Monday nights are Cubs and Scouts for Joel and Lily. So I sneaked my walk in for the exchange between the two. I walked Lily to Scouts, picked up Joel from Cubs, turned around and headed back – 4km in total. The walk out with Lily was slightly brisker than the walk back, but then Joel had been enjoying an evening of exercising, and so perhaps was already a bit tired.

So we’re all a bit better, and hopefully will be bright-eyed and bushy tailed for when Jude gets back on Thursday. Happy days.

Oh, and apropos nothing at all, I came across a clip of The Stone Roses playing “Fools Gold” from the Made of Stone film. It’s such a brilliant live track I made the children sit through it! Poor things… If you do watch it, make sure you at least watch the first minute or so, and then from about 10 minutes in as it hurtles towards a crescendo. Both the concert and the film premier were unforgettable.

Day 25: Home straight

I’ve spent much of the day feeling alternately like someone has clobbered me in the head with something blunt and heavy, or like I haven’t slept in days. Neither case is true – I slept like a baby last night, but a baby fighting off man-flu.

The day was mostly set out ahead of us already. Pick up Joel from the party / sleep-over this morning, followed by some “religious instruction” at the parish centre (which I’ll talk about more when I have the time!) Some car maintenance, shopping and some planning then dinner out at 6pm. There wasn’t a clear slot for a walk, and so I informed the children to brace themselves for 5:15 when we would march into town for some food.

As I was looking through the week, it dawned on me that Jude would be back on Thursday and that was only a few days away. Previously it’s always been some time in the distant future, but now we’re close to J being back, it feels like she hasn’t been away that long. I need to make sure that I’ve tidied up and done some more washing before Thursday – just to look like I’m totally on top of things!

2015-01-25 18.23.54To make the most of our last Sunday evening before Mum is back we paid a visit to the Rustiki Grill on Church Street. We’ve never been before despite it having been around for a couple of years. I think that it was a cocktail bar before that also served food, now it seems to be a restaurant that also serves cocktails. That aside, Lily and I couldn’t get a table yesterday and so it seemed like a good location for the three of us tonight.

The walk was a bit of a trauma. Joel had started out quite cheerful, but quickly got very grumpy and would frequently stop and complain. Very unlike him, and probably meant that he was tired – and possibly still not 100% after his faintiness last week. It seemed to take forever to reach Church Street.

Joel, waiting patiently for the starters.
Joel, waiting patiently for the starters.
He wasn’t much better in the restaurant. Certainly not through the starters, but then neither was I after I’d tasted the “hummus”. Oh well, the rest of it was tasty.

Lily showing off her "girl plate" (Joel and I had blue plates!)
Lily showing off her “girl plate” (Joel and I had blue plates!)
Things got much brighter with mains. Joel had some chicken teriyaki which disappeared quickly. I had some pork belly with scallops, which was very tasty indeed. Lily seemed perfectly happy with her choice from the very small, very uninspired children’s menu – chicken strips, chips and beans. The whole thing was worth the walk and everyone was in a good mood by the end of the evening.

So nothing much of note to report. A not-so-brisk 2.75km walk to the restaurant with the children being the sum total of the day’s activities. Hopefully I’ll hear if I’ve got an appointment somewhere tomorrow.

Day 24. Definitely coming down with something

Short one today and an early bed. I definitely seem to have come down with a cold or something. I’m coughing quite a lot and feel like I have a head cold.

Apart from that, I had a day without the children (mostly) and consequently got lots done around the house. I even took the box I found in the Audi that had Debbie and Bryon’s name and address onto post. Only to find that the post office was closed. I forgot that it was the 19th century.

That was my walk too. 3.3km in 30 minutes, nearly breaking 9min/km.

This evening, Joel has been away at a sleepover and so I took Lily out for a meal. Very pleasant and she showed off her increasing Japanese vocabulary, which I was very impressed with.

But since then I’ve been drifting in and out of snooziness. So it’s an early night for me.

Day 23. Walk around town, dash to the Lymm, crawl to Liverpool

Joel was much better today – that Calpol is a life saver. He was packed up and off to school at the usual time this morning, leaving me with a good most-of-day to try and catch up with stuff.

I got my walk in at lunchtime – 30+ minutes around town and back home, with another hour and a half before picking up the children. Nothing too exciting to report, and I’m still waiting on something from the doctors that might give a clue to when I can start exercising properly again.

The plan was to pick up the children at 3:30, get them to their grandparents for 4:30ish – have a leisurely cuppa and then drive to Liverpool for 6:30 to catch a couple of films in the evening.

Three hours to get all that done seemed more than enough time. Cue hollow laugh.

Firstly, as I was driving over to the school I could hear something odd from the back of the car. Turned out the back tyre of the car was flat. I’d checked them yesterday and they were fine, but now it wasn’t. Nor would it be inflated – so I took a quick detour via a garage to get it replaced. I was on the road again by 4:30.

The drive to Lymm was pretty clear and I thought there would be plenty of time for a brew and a quick look at the ipad – a bit of tech support in exchange for the children being looked after seemed a fair deal to me! Back on the road with less time than I’d planned, but I hadn’t factored in adverts, trailers and suchlike.

Without thinking I swung onto the M6 and ground to a halt.

It turns out that 5:30pm on a Friday is not the best time to be crossing the Thelwall viaduct, especially when there has been an accident and two lanes have been closed. I very quickly resigned myself to missing the first of the two films I was going to watch – Birdman would have to wait.

On top of the super slow crawling, my iphone had decided that today it would gobble up as much power as possible. What had been a nearly full battery at lunchtime had chimed to say it was at 20% on the way to Lymm and had now hit 10%. This would normally be fine, I know my way to Hanover Street in Liverpool, but I had used the swanky Passbook thing on the iphone and my cinema tickets were on there. I turned off anything that might drain power (i.e. almost everything) and kept my fingers crossed that the traffic would start to move at some point.

As it was, I got to FACT about 10 minutes after the start of Birdman. There was just enough juice to change turn my passbook tickets into real ones – so I quickly found a seat and picked up the plot. It’s really not that complicated a story. That finished at 8:30, just as the ads were starting for Whiplash. Finally everything was slipping into place.

Whiplash was on “The Box” screen, which is a wonderful room with 25 two-person sofas, a cinema screen and little else. It was a very comfy and a very pleasant way to finally get to relax. If you could call Whiplash a relaxing film, which frankly it isn’t.

Back home for about 11:30. Bed before midnight and a lie-in in the morning. No children until 5ish tomorrow. This all sounds too good to be true!

Janathon day 22. Accident and Emergency.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, but at 8am I found myself at the children’s A&E with Joel after another dizzy spell, headache and nausea. He’d got up fine, but pretty soon he was upset about feeling unwell and he was obviously Not Right.

When at the walk in centre the other day, they had told me to bring him to A&E if he had another spell, and so off we had to go. First dropping Lily off at school at way-too-early o’clock. The idea of leaving your child at school at 7:45am seems insane to me, but I was surprised to find parents bustling their children into school just after 7:40. There I was, thinking I was pushing it a bit by bringing him in five minutes early, but this seems to be de-rigour for quite a few families it seems. I can understand why. When presented with an opportunity to squeeze a couple more minutes out of the morning, it seems silly not to take it.

So we got to the A&E. Joel was checked by the nurse who asked if he had eaten (yes), was he still dizzy (yes), how sore were his eyes out of 10 (3). I explained about the cough and the previous dizzy spells. They gave him some Calpol and told us to wait.

Calpol is like magic. Really it is. Within about half an hour he looked right as rain. The doctor had been examining him – more of the same questions, and more of the tests that he’d had the other day. I’m not complaining, btw, it’s good to see consistency. They then wired him up to the ECG to see if there was any problem with his heart. This is the thing that had freaked us out the other day – the possibility that it might be heart related.

Two student nurses were guided through the process for the first time. Again, that’s fine, we’ve all got to start somewhere – and by this point Joel was starting to look a bit more chipper. We explained what was happening and then out came the lines, which looked perfectly normal to someone who has no idea of what he’s looking at. Turns out that they were absolutely normal. No heart problems, no scares – he’s probably got a virus and is just feeling under the weather.

I was advised to keep the GP appointment on Monday, but other than that, take him home and look after him. I got a “you wouldn’t do that, would you?” look when I asked if he was ok to go to school, so I thought better of it. The two of us went home and pottered through the rest of the day. I dragged Joel to a pre-arranged chat at Source later in the morning, which must have been as dull as anything for him, but then we went home and ate stew. This made me happy. Joel’s appetite had deserted him at this point.

It’s not been a terribly productive day. I’ve got a few things checked off the list, but frankly this doesn’t happen very often and I’ll just have to catch up later.

It being a Thursday, we were due around at my parent’s house where we would eat and then my Dad would look after the children while Mum and I head off to Lindy Hop classes. We were a bit late as I had to buy some magical Calpol, but dinner was tasty.

I then had two hours of swing dancing. First up, beginner’s class where we did some lindy circles – which felt quite advanced for lesson three. It was good fun and felt like everyone was properly dancing at the end of the lesson. The second lesson was the slightly more advanced group. We did a “tandem charleston” which felt like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy. I’m afraid that I kicked every follower in that room tonight – and there were a lot of followers!

I got there in the end and the dancing was still in full swing as I made my excuses and left at 9:15 to get back to the house and to make sure that the children were getting to bed – which they were.

So by the time my folks had left, it was about 9:45 and I still hadn’t had a chance to get my walk in. My plan had been to walk into town this morning before my meeting at Source, but this didn’t happen because I was with Joel – it seemed a little insensitive to drag him on a walk minutes after being released from A&E!

So I turned back to the treadmill, stuck it on three miles per hour and plodded through the next half hour. That’s as good as the exercise gets at the moment – until the doctor tells me otherwise. 1.5 miles in 30 minutes. At least I got something done and is another tick in the Lift app.

Happy days!