Winter is truly here

This week we have been in the grip of an Arctic freeze coming down from the north. Temperatures for the last week have rarely gone above freezing in Bristol. Up in Scotland they recorded -22 somewhere.

We really only had an overnight dump of snow but it was fantastic. However once the snow stops, the slush starts and when this becomes frozen, the problems start. The sidewalks are slick with ice. The street where we park our car is a sloping ice rink. Yesterday we went to check the car to see if it would start for Friday going to work. During the 5 minutes we were there two cars slid right past us and into the intersection. One hit another vehicle. It was a very bizarre sight, almost as if in slow motion. Thankfully no one was hurt. I called the council to get the road gritted but to no avail. I think only 2 accidents on a street is a low priority to them at the moment?

The up side to snow days are working from home (although as it is freezing at home during the day I am not quite convinced this was a real up side) and frolicking in the snow. Ok, that’s the best up side.

So, here are some photos of us frolicking with our flatmate, snowman building and of course snowball fights.

2009 in summary – Happy New Year

With 5 hours to go until the Noughties are gone (can I just say, thank goodness!) and the next decade is upon us. (08/01 well technically we haven’t finished the decade until the end of 2010) Seriously, what did the Noughties do for us in regards to yet more X Factor music trash, Big Brother crud and a revisit to 80’s fashion (please it was tragic the first time around). What it did bring however was a far more interesting (in a good way) US president to watch and ????

Anyway, here is a summary of what we have been up to for 2009 at least. From Steve finishing his 7x7x7 Endurance Life half marathons, trips to France and Italy, catching up with mates, slacklining, indoor skiing, bouldering, a wedding, Christmas parties and me starting to enjoy running, it has been a strange year. It wasn’t until I looked back at our photos that I realised, actually we have been up to a bit but for some reason the year has felt so slow. Oh how quickly we forget.

Merry Christmas to all

Can you believe after all the waiting and looking forward to it, Christmas is now over and the madness begins. Sale season. I went into Cabot Circus today to do a few bits and pieces before heading back to work and by the time I left there were mile long queues of traffic waiting to park. Madness.

Over Christmas we managed to get away for two days before Steve had to get back to work. During our two days away we also caught up with some friends. One currently living in Wales and the other, Kerryn, our Australian mate who came with us to England at the very start of it all. She has now moved to the UK for a couple of years to work/travel. We head to Finland with Kerryn soon. Woo hoo!

Other than this it has been a rather non-eventful week. Work Christmas parties came and went. The snow has long since melted but the icy mornings linger. I think I have come down with a cold as well which is not that delightful seeing as I am back to work tomorrow.

We hope you all had a great Christmas and wish you all the best for 2010.

Sunday arvo ponderings

December is here already. How did that creep up on me??? Proudly I can say that the nephews gifts are on their way to Oz, overseas Christmas cards have been written by yours truly and posted thanks to my lovely husband. Next comes the preparation for the work Christmas party. I am a bit of a Grinch when it comes to these things. I really find it stressful having to get all “girlified” and if I going to have to do it I would rather channel the elegance and class of Hepburn or Kelly. I think elegance is so much more appealing than bare boobs and legs. At least pick one to put on show, both is just plain scary. Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly were stunning, captivating women that, for me, exude both femininity and strength. Where did we lose that as women upon our journey? Have we lost it? We seem to spend so much time trying to physically equal ourselves with men and not celebrating and promoting the skills we bring to the table (no, I don’t literally mean the dining table, get over it!) We seem to be keen to push aside our own unique qualities and replace them with masculine traits. Then, we have the gall to expect our men to understand what we want when we continue to demean them and wear away at the qualities that make them complimentary to us.

So, for the sake of glamming it up, let it be to channel the awesomeness that was Hepburn and Kelly.

Audrey Hepburn
Grace Kelly

Artistic, I am not

I enjoy art, but often don’t understand the new stuff.
I love art supply stores, but prefer to leave the supplies in more capable hands.
I admire arty folk and their ability to produce something from very little.
Alas, artistic talents have not been blessed to me. I’m fine with this (grumble, grumble, gripe, gripe)

I remember my grandmother taking my cousin and I to see a Monet exhibition. This is where I came to appreciate art. Years later my first date with Steve was to see the Rembrandt to Renoir exhibition in Auckland. Then even years later, wandering the Louvre in Paris.

What fascinates we most I think is often not the subject of the piece but the tiny details. The hairs from the paintbrush still stuck in the paint, the fingerprint where the artist has touched the canvas, the detail given to a face carved from marble. The little stories that go with the piece intrigue me.

Here’s a piece that I thought was incredible. My photos don’t do it justice, however I found some photos on another website which I will provide a link to. They have taken some stunning photos of him. The Boy with Frog by Charles Ray is made of aluminium and just glows white like marble. His whole body is incredibly smooth looking and his face is captivating. I just stood and stared at him as I couldn’t pull my eyes away from him. Standing at 8ft he is of a size that doesn’t feel daunting standing next to him nor too small to be lost in amongst the tourists. He stands, staring at the frog he holds, from his vantage point at the tip of the Punta della Dogana.

Boy with frog
is the link to more photos that do the piece much better justice than mine.

Advice from a base jumper

Last night Steve and I went to see Tim Emmett talk. He is a rock climber, base jumper, wing suit man and also does the speaker circuit from inspiring kids to get outside and be active to corporate speaking about his experiences. Tim was recently pitted against Jeremy Clarkson driving an Audi while Tim and Leo Houlding went straight up the face of the Verdon Gorge. It doesn’t often happen but this time around Jeremy lost the race to the climbers.

We got there early and were fortunate to be able to get a book signed by Tim. His talk was for me personally really insightful. During his talk Tim touched on the fact that he has techniques for calming himself, you know – when you are just about to base jump off a bridge (as you do) or most likely for us every day folk, if you are about to deliver a presentation. During Q&A I was able to ask him what these techniques were. I was stoked firstly to be able to get a chance to ask him and secondly that he seemed genuinely surprised and pleased to have been asked this question.

What he revealed in his answer seemed so straight forward but I guess as it is often with things in life until someone points out the obvious it doesn’t occur to you. But mostly it is probably because you just have to be ready to really hear the answer.

So, what was his answer?
First – relax. Well that’s obvious you say. No, RELAX. Drop those hunched shoulders, unclench those fists, loosen those muscles that you didn’t realise were so taunt.
Second, breathe. Focus on it, be aware of your breathing (or lack of!). Control it.
Finally, SMILE. I like that one. A smile always makes things feel that less scary.

Later that evening I thought back over a lot of things he talked about. Often at these kind of events I remember snippets but mostly I just enjoy the photography and videos. Tim’s talk really stuck with me. I think what struck me was that this guy who has done incredible trips all over the world, base jumped off the Old Man of Hoy, climbed El Capitan etc etc, still gets scared. Strangely that was a revelation to me. He is in way scarier situations that I have ever been so surely I can get it together.

I had a chance today to put this in to practice. We had a scheduled day off work and went to The Snow Centre again for a ski. As much as I enjoy the snow I have often found it quite stressful as I ALWAYS over think things too much. I want to go but I’m scared of getting injured, looking like a knob etc.

Usually my 2 hours of skiing consists of 1 hour of me tentatively approaching the slope. A few goes with my poles on the baby slope. Then a break. Get up the courage to go onto the large slope. Stand at the top of the large slope, contemplating all the ways I could fall over, what I might hit, who else is going, are they going to take me out. Then it is a snow plough start, followed by a tentative wobbly left turn, then a right, woooooo watch out for that pole, wobble, wobble, heart palpitations, flail the arms…get to the bottom and now I have to rest before doing it all over again. I NEVER fall over. This is a key objective. Too much effort getting up, what if I hurt myself etc.

Today was so incredibly different. Everything seemed to fall into place. I took Tim’s advice and went into action. Straight up the main slope today. Straight to the edge, shook away the stress off my shoulders, shook out my arms, breathed in, out, smiled and went for it. I don’t know how many times I did that slope but 1 hour 30 minutes later I was exhausted. I had been all over the slope, even headed straight down it to work on some tighter turns, poles had been ditched and I even improved the skating technique (needed when you want to get around on the flat areas without poles). Today I truly had fun! I even canned it 4 times. Huge wipeouts! It was great. This meant I had really, truly been pushing myself. As mentioned during Tim’s talk – “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying”. Well I fell a heap today and it was great!

Writers block, cure needed

Well to be honest it is not so much writers block because there is always something that can be dribbled about. What I am really after is a proper name for this blog and some decent writing! OK so the decent writing comes down to me but I am keen for some ideas on a name change. Carleen’s blog is rather uninspiring so any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

I recently discovered a blog of a gorgeous friend of ours in Sydney. You know who you are. I found it really inspiring and it got me excited again about blogging. For many months now I haven’t paid much attention to it and this probably comes more from my state of mind than a lack of interest. So here’s to a change of name, state of mind and hopefully something interesting to share.

Side note: just went into the kitchen and saw the largest RAT I have ever seen. I need to get the washing out of the machine and would really like some lunch but I’m too scared to go in there now. Everyone’s out so no one to send in ahead of me. Boo hoo.

OK…so I’ve been lazy

I really have been up to stuff but to be honest I had forgotten to blog about it. The main reason I suppose is that when you have gotten used to living somewhere the everyday things become mundane.
If you really want me to share…we have been to the usual Friday night movie. Actually this week it was Tuesday and Friday. I will be blogging about these later. I have also been trying for the last 3 weekends to find a dress for a wedding reception we are off to on Friday. It must be said that they do weddings on a rather grander scale that at home. You are expected to dress up rather posh so this has put the pressure on to find a glam frock. Finally found one although I still have to find shoes. Can I just say how much I dislike shopping for clothes let alone shoes!
Also this morning I discovered one of the speakers at this years Kendal Mountain Film Festival will be Alain Robert (one of Steve’s rock climbing heroes) so I promptly bought tickets for that. It is not until November but it will sell out fast I would imagine.
To top off the weekend I just watched Dirty Dancing. I can’t tell you how many times I watched this as a teen (and at the Mission Bay movie theatre at considerable cost I am sure as I went a number of times). They were having a Swayze movie weekend on telly….sigh, he was bliss.
Anyway, it is now nearing 11.30pm and I have work tomorrow. Night all.

Bristol half marathon

Today was the half marathon around the streets of Bristol. You will notice that I have been rather quiet as of late regarding my running progress. Not that I was intending to do the half by any means! Maybe the 10k, but that is not until next year now.

Since the pulled muscle incident (squash game related), our trip to France and terrible weather, I have been rather slack on the running side. It was rather inspiring to see the runners today doing the half so I shall make an effort this week to get back into it (weather permitting).

Today I also had a really good long talk to my dad via Skype. Fathers Day in NZ and although I didn’t actually call until Sunday evening NZ time…I did remember! Great talking to you dad! Love you.

I spent the rest of the day wandering around taking photos of the Bristol half and then in the library. Man, there are some very odd people that hang out at libraries these days (I wasn’t including myself in that comment thank you very much). Tonight I’m cooking up the rest of the beef casserole and rice that I made. I still can’t seem to get a casserole right. Most likely because I am impatient and end up pulling the casserole out far too early. I have however cracked the rice making aspect. Yee ha, no more gluggy rice.