Monday, 30 May 2011

Mrs @Shellsinclair has a blog

Mrs @shellsinclair has a blog. It's at:

London Marathon 2011

I've been meaning for a while to write about the London Marathon.

Not a lot to say really. Looking at my splits (details below) I was pretty consistent (at a pace I was happy with) up until the last 10k when I slowed down by about 30 seconds or so per km.

I beat my time from 2 years ago but only by a couple of minutes.

Up until that last 10km I was really enjoying it. But Am not sure I'd do another one (at least until after I've retired!)

A few other things:
  • Toilets (lack of) was an issue and added probably 10 or 15 minutes.
  • The atmosphere at the start was great. Although I wasn't at that stage convinced I'd finish it (shin splints were playing up and I'd had 3 weeks of no running before the race)
  • Despite a race plan in terms of hydration, I accepted a couple of horrid tasting energy shots along the way. And had a lukozade gelling despite knowing it would make me feal sick (it did)
  • There was a wonderful atmosphere around east London.
  • Some great efforts from fundraisers. A lady pulling a huge tyre (why?); the man doing keepy-uppy; the blind policeman
  • For some foolish reason I decided to run wide on corners and roundabouts. really don't know why as it must have added a bit of distance.
  • Doing the long way round the roundabout at Tower Bridge meant I wad pretty much by myself. Lots of screaming of my name.
  • It was hot.
  • Saw someone having a seizure just a few hundred metres from the end. And saw quite a few people dropping out/ having massages. saw some bloody nipples.
  • Met the family at mile 11, canary wharf,and st james. Saw Maureen & Bruce on the last corner
  • Lots of sweets on offer around the course.
  • At a couple of points the shouting/screaming was very loud
  • Up to mile 16 I wanted to do it again. But the last 10km were very hard.

Some bands I've seen live

Sure there are lots of others.. I'll add to this As I remember.

Adam Ant (According to parents anyway. A long time ago. Early 1980s)
Aerosmith (Donnington, 1994)
Bluetones (london uni of london 1995 with James Elliot)
Beautiful south
Bleu (October 2010. Fantastic. Borderline London)
Brian May (day of geography a level. Met him after; Albert hall with brendon; Brixton academy)
Deus (London north? Ica for album Launch)
Elton john (hammersmith apollo 2006?; fm tribute concert)
Extreme (birmingham NEC 1990?; donnington 1994; London astoria, 2009?)
Flaming lips (winter 2006. M was pregnant with George - hammersmith apollo; camp bestival?; Glastonbury 2010)
Fm (Tivoli nore than once; Newcastle; London 2010?)
Kingmaker (hull club- played Leyroy brown during intro)
Lightening seeds (Astoria)
Little angels (missed them
In school but saw them at Tivoli I think)
Love/hate (Buckley Tivoli - more than once!)
Alanis Morissette (Shepherds Bush. Collecting for Oxfam and got to see soundcheck too)
Paul McCartney (Glastonbury, Earls Court)
Metallica (Manchester gmex 1992?;
Oasis (hull?; Buckley Tivoli; earls court; Glastonbury)
Queen + 2005 wembley, 02, wembley tent! Barcelona, nec,
Sas band
Taylor Hawkins (2010, feat b may and r taylor)
Teenage fanclub (hull uni; Astoria; ben and jerry)
Terrorvision (hull? Buckley Tivoli)
Therapy (donnington ? - bottles of wee!; Kentish town forum 2010. - poor sound and left early)
Ugly kid Joe (one of the best nights at buckley Tivoli, punched when grabbed bear from drumkit & sand mr recordman to them after with Nigel ashcroft)
Wildhearts (London 2009/8? Buckley Tivoli)

Monday, 23 May 2011

Ban everyone wearing yellow trousers.

When I was younger I occasionally went camping with friends. I remember us going to places like Shell Island for the weekend. It was fun. I don't think we caused trouble and it got us out looking after ourselves.

I don't know what I would do now. Over the last few weeks I've spent time in 8 different camp sites. All of them now ban unaccompanied young people and/or groups of single sex individuals.

Surely kids can be trusted to look after themselves? I suspect groups of young people can be noisy. And some are disruptive. But most are no more so than some of the families I've seen at the sites.

The sort of kids who want to go camping are probably not in the main, troublemakers. And the ban on young people at Shell Island hadn't stopped people taking things from tents (big signs around the site pointing out that there had been a spate of thefts). Why not ban everyone who turns up in yellow trousers as some people wearing yellow trousers caused trouble once?

The Equality Act means that those over 18 can't be discriminated against in access to goods and services. But as the Bill went through Parliament, why didn't the children's rights lobby advocate for greater protection of rights?

And why aren't the kids complaining?

Bristol to Bodmin

It all started going wrong last Monday. Just three days into my ride. Leaving Dulverton for a 4 mile hill up to Winsford in Exmore I started feeling pain in my right shin and left foot. by the time I arrived at a site near Winsford I could barely walk. I managed to walk down into Winsford and had a nice pub dinner. But walking back in the pitch dark was a bit scary.

Tuesday was wet, foggy and dreary. A day of rain and hills as I made my way over Exmoor. I arrived At Bartleycott Barton? before heading into Barnstable and watching a film in the cinema.

In theory, Wednesday was an easy day. As such I decided to leave late (just before 11 am) and headed along the Tarka trail to Bideford. I decided to add 5 miles to my journey by popping into Westward Ho!. Which was when disaster hit. A puncture which should have been easy to deal with made impossible by a pump which didn't work. And yes, @shellsinclair had advised me to check the pump before I left.

So I had to walk back to Bideford, via a hardware shop in Westward Ho! which had just run out of pumps. But could get me one by next Thursday. I found a cycle hire shop in Bideford which overcharged me and saw me as a pain. I think I interrupted the manager's PS3 playing. But by the time I'd got to the cycle shop the brake had broken too (I have disk brakes which are built into the wheel).

It was 5pm and I headed off to try and get to Highampton before dark (with no front brake and plenty of hills). I managed it by 8.30.

Had I been able to find a station, I would have come home on Thursday morning (I was over 30 miles from the closest one). Giant hills and no front brake were made worse when the back break went too. I managed to get into Bude and a very helpful cycle shop managed to fix both brakes. And at least the pain in my shin/foot had gone.

That afternoon, against the advice of the cycle shop manager, I cycled along the coast from Bude. Probably the steepest hills I've ever been up/down (steeper than 1 in 3). But beautiful views of the coast so certainly worth it.

Friday morning and breaks and gears were playing up. I managed to get to Bodmin by early morning, and, fearing for my bike and missing my family, I decided to head back to London. I bought a new ticket but was told I couldn't reserve a place for my bike. For some reason you need to reserve a bike space 24 hours in advance. Clearly a bonkers rule in a world of real time information systems. As indeed is the fact that you can only book a bicycle reservation at a station or by phone. But, despite a couple of officious staff on the trains, I made it back to London by 5pm.

So I didn't make the final 10 miles to Padstow. But I got to spend the weekend with the family. Which was much more fun.

Would I do it again? Probably not alone/ without support. And I would be careful to choose a flatter route.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Animals I've been chased by.

Today I was chased by a horse as I cycled across Exmoor.

Yes, moments after I took this snap, the horse started chasing me. It soon gave up when I stormed away on my bike though.

It made me think about all the animals I've been chased by.

1) Evil dog by Stephen Fairhurst's house. It bit me.
2) A wild boar in the Danube Delta. Actually very scary.
3) A cute dog, no more than 8 inches tall, recently born, who followed me for the best part of a mile in Constanta, hoping I'd take him in.

Anyway, today I cycled from Winsford to Barnstable. It rained. The whole way (5 hours). It was foggy. And I cant decide if Exmore is beautiful or dreary. Judge for yourself.

Picturesque Dulverton

One of the maps I'm using to get me from Bristol to Padstow described the village of Dulverton as "picturesque village".

Now, I'm not taking issue with whether or not it is indeed a picturesque village. In fact, it probably is.

But the point is that there are hundreds of picturesque villages. How did Dulverton attract the attention of cartographers when there are so many other picturesque villages? I suspect some Fifa esque dodgy dealing.

Whilst pondering this I had afternoon tea. In picturesque Dulverton.

I don't want to choose.

Another of *the few* things which annoys @shellsinclair is my inability to choose from a menu. Actually, it annoys Grandad Michael more.

But it is tough. How for example can you choose between the sometimes hundreds of choices.

So my tactic, which does not seem unreasonable to me, is to ask the waiter/ess to recomnend something.

So far this week when I've tried this I've had in response

"it depends what you like"
"I know what I would have but I dont think you would like it" (bear in mind this was from a waiter Id never met before"
"Well, the chocolate cake is good, so is the lemon cake and the scones... etc"

So, my challenge to restaurant owners. Have a single special which is the best thing on the menu. I dont want to choose.

As a result of forcing waiters to choose for me I've had great food which I would never have chosen myself. Take a look. Even the homemade faggots were good.

It will only take ten minutes.

It's one *of the few* things which I do which annoys @shellsinclair.

I'm not alone in doing it though. According to a couple of behavoural science books I've read, it's pretty common.

That is, significantly underestimating how long it will take me to do something. Whether it be mopping the floor or doing the washing up, I think it will take me ten minutes. It never does.

Yesterday I cycled between Wooky and Taunton. Today I cycled between Taunton and Winsford. On both days I've convinced myself that I would be at my location by lunchtime and struggling to find something to do. Even during the ride when it was becoming obvious that I wouldnt make it by lunchtime, I slightly changed my estimation to another equally unrealistic target. Despite leaving at 8am ish both days, I didnt arrive at my destination until after 5pm.

I am however, absolutely convinced that I will be at tomorrow's destination (Barnstable) by lunchtime. Or at least by 2pm. Or possibly 3.

Anyway, off now to put up
my tent. It will only take ten minutes.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Wells? Call that a city?

After offending the people of Frenchay yesterday, its time to move on to Wells.

Now, dont get me wrong, it is a very beautiful town. But it's not a bloody city. For a start, I couldnt find either a Weatherspoons, a Greggs or a Burger King.

Golly, however, the people of the town do like to dress up. I've never before seen such a beautifully dressed group of people. The restaurants look nice, the place is very pretty. But it isnt a city.

For a start, where are the kids having fun on a Saturday night? Where are the nightclubs or loud pubs?

I have to say though (and perhaps it's me getting old), I liked the place and would gladly move there.

Anyway, today I cycled from Bristol to Wooky. A total of 66.67km according to my garmin. This was the first day of my trip along the national cycle network route 3 from Bristol to Padstow.

It took me about 30 minutes to get to the start of the route. The disused Bristol to Bath train path. It was a very nice start to my ride. A flat 25km on a route I couldnt go wrong on.

I saw a steam train, Thomas, a disused platform turned into a cafe and a big group doing a charity walk.

Annoyingly the signage (lack of) meant I missed my junction and ended up doing 4km or so more than I should.

The next 20 or so kilometers went through some nice little villages.

But... Why did no-one tell me the route went over the Mendips. Let's just say the last 20km were very hilly.

Anyway, got to Wooky, tent up, then popped into Wells where I managed to buy 3 meals from the coop for £8.

Am staying at Homestead Park. The showers are hot. And the lady at reception was very nice.

When I offered to pay by cheque they wanted my cheque guarantee card. Who knew people still did that?

So this is my tent below. I'm planning to get in there now. The last time I went camping my tent blew down with our 4 year old still sleeping in it (and oblivious). I'm slightly scarred. Wish me well.

And this is where I cycled on Saturday 14th. Bristol to Wooky

Why would anyone live in Frenchay

I am a very lucky man. For the next week I've been given a hall pass and will be spending it travelling on my bike between Bristol and Padstow.

I arrived in Bristol yesterday and after a few (very enjoyable) meetings chatting about travel and older people at UWE I checked in for my first night.

I am cheating a little in that I stayed in a Holiday Inn near the University rather than in my tent for the first night.

Within about 5 mins of checking in I was slightly bored. Not a good sign before 8 days by myself. But one of the reasons I wanted to cycle was to have a bit of time (and quiet). As well as a desire to get a bit of exercise and see a new bit of the world.

After faffing for an hour or so (flicking through channels) I went for a stroll to what has to be one of the most tedious towns in the country.

Frenchay makes Buckley look interesting. Other than a Harvester (and a very good Indian) I saw absolutely nothing of interest. And yet the town has a museum (only open for about four hours a week).

There is a huge hospital and I popped in. At one stage things were getting so desparate that I even considered eating there. I could have gone back to the hotel to eat but it would have cost
me almost as much as my room.

Anyway, back to Frenchey, a town pretty much under the motorway. How did it get like this?

It's bloody cars.

I suspect that when people go out, they get in a car and go to Bristol or their nearest out of towmn supermarket. As a result there is no business in town any more.

Its not even an attractive village with far too many cars speeding past. Just dull, dull, dull. Could I find an interesting counrtry pub? Nope, just the Harvester.

So, after food in Raj Mahal, which incidentally was very good, I strolled back to the hotel, watched 10 mins of Cardiff vs Reading before retiring to HIGNFY (v funny) and Later with Jules (Loved Randy Newman - he should have done the theme to Monk).

In celebrating the trivial little things I spotted, the phrase 'more money than sense' seems apt. I saw a couple buy a bottle of wine in the Indian to take home (£12 plus an extra tip) even though they could have bought 3 bottles of the same wine in the conveniene stoor literally next door. Even the waiter questioned them asking them if they realised how much the wine was.

Getting back to the hotel I saw a lady pay in cash for a room. Paying the rack rate of £160. I had paid £39. All she needed to do was go online and she could have got it for £70*. Perhaps she was having an affair or running away from the law? Who knows?

So in the absense of anything big happening in Somerset this week I'm expecting to fill my time with the trivial side of people watching. I am very much looking forward to it.

PS, anyone know what this place is?

*I looked!.