Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Catch-up

Well, it’s safe to say that this year has pretty much flown by…… it never feels like that when it’s actually happening, but then when you look back you realise how quickly it went by. In August my friends Adam and Anna had their first baby, and I went round to see her when she was only 5 days old, and take some photos for them. So adorable. Hard to believe she’s already 4 months old now! 

B&W baby bliss

I did my first adventure race, with the old girls I used to row in a crew with – it was so much fun, and obviously, our competitive spirit took over, and we managed to win our category – Whoop!!!

The Oarsome Foursome ride again

I did my first half marathon in London (Run to the Beat), and clocked a time of 1 hour 56, which I was pretty pleased with, considering I was planning on running it as a slow training run, rather than trying to get under 2 hours……. Next target I guess is sub 1:50…… probably have to do some real training for that and learn how to run properly lol.

Had a couple of fun weekends away at the end of October – the first was away climbing with the Southampton University Mountaineering Club in the Peak District, and the second was with some friends of mine to Pembrokeshire. Climbing, bbq-ing, drinking and coasteering….. fun fun :)

Yorkshire grit

Porth Clais

I finally moved back home at the end of October, in order to get more work done, and I will be there until I finish writing my PhD thesis up and submit it. It’s proving pretty lonely, but I’m actually getting work done (although not so much in the last 2 weeks, I’ve mainly been baking Christmassy things instead!!!), and doing lots of training. Not much of a social life, but I guess I’m partly to blame for that in terms of not really making an effort.

The end of November saw yet another attendance for Hellrunner Down South, which was (as usual) thoroughly enjoyable with the exception of having to run it half blind. I accidentally wiped out one of my contact lenses after about 20 minutes of running, and had to run the rest of the race half blind. Deceptively difficult as it meant I had no depth perception – difficult when running cross country and through woods! Went straight from hellrunner (after a quick water-bottle-wash in a field) down to Bath to see the old rowing girls again, went out for yummy Thai dinner and then cocktails, and a trip to the baths the next day.

The Royal Crescent

Bath Abbey

Christmas spirit came early this year – a trip to see the Nutcracker on the 1 Dec J Performed by the Royal Birmingham Ballet, it was lovely. Then back to Southampton for a meeting and Christmas party mid Dec, and then really that brings us to now! Lots of baking when I’ve had time off (or made a deadline!), and lots of training. I’ve discovered I LOVE spinning classes, which is pretty fortunate really considering the number of mince pies and gingerbread men I’ve been eating!!

Curtains Open

Christmas is coming.......

Christmas tree meeee

Christmassy love

Happy Christmas!

Friday, 2 December 2011

They call me mellow yellow

Am trying to work out how to blog pictures from Flickr straight to my blog. I don't like uploading the photos from my computer, as you can then download them I think, so I prefer having them linked to Flickr. As you can probably tell, I'm not very technologically minded!

It's been a while..... (again)

I finally finished my 365 self portrait project on the 3rd of June…… I think in total I only missed something like 2 days. I confused myself immensely due to the time-zone changes I’d done, particularly around the Hawaii and Puerto-Rico time. Looking back on it, I’m really glad I did it; it taught me a lot more about how to use my camera, and made me a lot more comfortable about taking photos in public. I’m contemplating doing another project of some sort, probably starting in the New Year. Maybe not a 365, but maybe a 52-week project or something like that.

Aside from finishing the 365, June ended up being quite a fun month. I moved house (AGAIN), and had 3 out of 4 weekends away racing with the rowing club. The last of these races, Henley Women’s Regatta, is the ladies’ version of Henley Royal Regatta (daaaaahhhling). We did pretty well this year actually, considering we were racing in the senior category, and we made it to the semi-finals. We lost to the eventual winners though which always makes losing a little more acceptable, even if they were juniors (from the GB squad I would like to add!).

Got a day’s sport climbing in with a good friend as well which was nice – very chilled out and fun. So much so that I was even convinced to do my first couple of lead climbs outside :D Then two days later I did the Wessex coast cycle challenge – 66miles, 6 ferries. It was great fun, and the weather was perfect for it, although I would have enjoyed it more if more people had been on road bikes, and I didn’t have to keep stopping and waiting for people.

The next day I flew out to Nice, to join the old rowing girls on holiday. I’d gone out late so I could do the Wessex cycle, and so I didn’t have to take too many days off work. I didn’t realise, but the day we arrived was actually the day Ironman France was being run in Nice. Gave us an awesome opportunity to cheer for my friend Alex who was racing her second Ironman race. I knew she was racing, but she didn’t know I’d be there, and I got a lovely message from her afterwards saying how much it had helped her when the big group of us had all been shouting for her and cheering her on during the marathon section. The 4 days of holiday were absolutely blissful. Blazing hot sunshine, lots of friends, sailing, bikinis, gin, and come-dine-with-me-esque dinners. Exactly what I needed!

In terms of Ironman….. I made a fairly big decision after we watched that race….. I’ve entered Ironman UK for 2012. Terrifying. For those of you who don’t know what an Ironman triathlon consists of… it’s a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle ride, and a 26.2 mile run. There’s normally a cut-off time of around 16 hours. I am terrified about this event already. I’ve swum that far before (or nearly that far I think), so I’m not overly worried about that, as the least weighting is on the swim. However….. that’s a bloody long way to cycle and run! I’ve only ever run a half marathon before (and I only did that in September this year!), and never cycled that far before. I’ve entered the Cheshire Cat cyclo-sportive in March, a 100miler to try and give myself a bit of encouragement that I can do the distance. Eeeeeep!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

in times gone by.............

Wow. I knew I hadn’t updated the blog in a while, but didn’t realise that I’d gone this long without posting anything. I think I tried to post something a while back but the internet connection was so bad that I just gave up. Well, where to start……

After the trip to London it was my birthday (hoorah!), and mum came down to Southampton to visit me (and bring me presents!), and the sister took me out for lunch the following day as she happened to be passing Southampton on business which was a lovely surprise. That weekend two of my girlfriends from home came to stay (along with Steff’s dog, Tess), and we had a lovely walk in the New Forest, followed by a pub dinner, then back to mine for wine, popcorn and a film :)

Training camp was over the Easter Sunday weekend, for a whole week, but I went home on Easter Sunday for chocolate times :D (oh and I made hot-cross buns as well...... yummy yummy!!)

Easter was particularly late this year, which meant that our May bank holiday racing was only the week after, hence the training camp being over Easter itself. BUCS (the University sports championships) was a bit of a disaster this year – conditions at Holme Pierrpoint were pretty bad, and by the time we raced in the evening, there was a very definite disadvantage to the furthest two lanes because of the wind. We led up until about halfway (1000m), at which point we hit a wall of wind. The other side of the lake was more sheltered, so they happily ploughed on, and rowed ahead of us. All I can say is that it’s a good thing we spend so long on the river Itchen with waves and wind. We held our own for a little way (the crew next to us gave up and moved into the emergency recovery lane), but even we had to admit defeat when waves started coming over our coxswain’s head, and we started sinking. We didn’t actually sink, but I have never in 11 years of racing there competed in such bad conditions. It didn’t help that the organiser of BUCS (James Lee), was extremely rude to me when I went to talk to him about it later. I wasn’t being rude at all, just pointing out to him that things could have been done differently, especially seeing as the race after ours they’d made the decision to shorten the course (i.e. they knew there were problems, they were just very slow to react to them!). Maybe he was just a bit stressed, but I still maintain there was absolutely no need to be so aggressive and argumentative when all he needed to say was “yes, it’s not very nice out there. Thanks for your comments; I’ll take that on board”. I wasn’t even after an apology, just some acknowledgment that my comments were being taken on board, not just going in one ear and out of the other! grrrrrrrr.

May was fairly quiet really, I spent almost every day in the lab, trying my best to get my labwork finished by my deadline of the end of August (despite my supervisor telling me I wouldn’t get it done!), and training hard. One of my friends from work got married in a beautiful, beautiful ceremony in the Orangery at Port Eliot House in St Germans, Cornwall.

We went down for the weekend, and it was just lovely. They had the reception at Sconner Down campsite, in these big canvas globey tents, with an amazing view out over the area. Lots of intricate and stunning finishing touches made it a stunning day. Things like the place settings - they'd taken a polaroid photo for every single place setting, with the two of them doing a different pose - normally something relevant to the person (ie. they'd have musical instruments for musicians etc) ........ such a lovely idea!

I finally finished my 365 project on the 3 June! I’d missed two days in total which is a bit annoying, but I think it’s a pretty good effort really…… already since I stopped I’ve noticed I’m not using my camera nearly as much though :( I think it’s because it sits tucked away in my cupboard when I’m not using it and I forget it’s there…..

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Spring is sprung

Well first of all, apologies again that it’s been such a long time since I wrote this! I just had to re-read my last couple of posts to remember what I’d been up to last time. Time seems to have flown by since the conference trip to Puerto Rico, and have found myself up to my eyeballs in labwork, moving house, and rowing. Even sleep seems to have gone out of the window a little which is quite upsetting. I love my sleep.

I moved house about a month after I came back from PR, into a shared house with young professionals. Turns out that it wasn’t such a great move, and it’s definitely been a stop-gap! Am moving into a house with work friends in a week’s time (HOORAH!), as one of them is off to the States for 3 months for an internship.

Training hasn’t slacked off much either, have kept super busy with that. Still not back to the same strength and fitness I had when I was an undergrad, but I think the main reason for that is time. I used to go to the gym for a few hours most days when I was an undergrad, often because I simply didn’t have anything else to do! Now, it’s a case of stay at work until I’ve done everything I need, then once I leave, head to the gym and try and get my set session in, then go home and collapse into bed! Having said that, I think it’s kept me sane whilst moving house and having so much labwork to do. If I’m physically exhausted at least I tend to sleep better.

Our big winter race (Women’s Head of the River Race) in London went really well, and we finished in a very respectable placing of 45th (out of 299 crews), 3rd in our category. For “fun” the next day we raced a banter 8 in our local Southampton Head race, with a load of the ex-rowers. It may not have been full of people at full fitness, but it was “bang tidy” to quote the others! It’s a nice way to finish the relentless winter slog of outings in the rain, wind and general gross weather. Bring on the regatta season!!!

I went home for mothering Sunday weekend (a few rare weekends off from rowing as the undergraduates were all off for Easter holidays!), and visited the sis in her new flat in Leamington Spa, and had a bit of a baking session. I love baking, but sadly the kitchen in the new house is not somewhere where I want to spend a lot of time, plus the seal on the oven is crap, so totally useless for baking. Probably good for me not to eat so much cake though :)

Following weekend I went up to London for the first time in ages, and for the first time ever, the boy came with me!!! Had a fab weekend, the weather was absolutely baking, especially for only the beginning of April. We went to the Tate modern, then walked to the Natural History museum, dipped our feet in the Diana Princess of Wales memorial fountain, and then eventually made it over to Oli and Beth’s house, and out for a yummy curry in Herne Hill. Unfortunately I’d forgotten to charge my camera so have no photos at all from the day :( fortunately, O and B have the same camera as me, so I stuck it on charge at theirs. London Zoo the next day, for the WHOLE day, and then wandered back through Camden, grabbed Chinese food from a street vendor, and sat in the sunshine to eat. Beautiful weather again, really nice weekend all round!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Puerto Rico

So this entry will be all about my little trip to Puerto Rico, apologies if you don’t want to know how lovely and warm and sunny and great it was :)

Very early start – got collected from my house at 4.15am by the taxi for us to get to Heathrow. Flight to New York (JFK) with British Airways (sadly at this time in the morning even I couldn’t stomach the idea of free alcohol!), then a connecting flight to San Juan with American Airlines (obviously no food as it’s an “internal” flight...). taxi driver got lost trying to find our apartment in PR (7 of us were renting an apartment for the conference week as it was so much cheaper than staying in hotels like other people were doing), but fortunately there was a 24hour supermarket pretty close, so we were happily stocked up with beers and food before too long.

Sunday was a day off, with registration and social ‘mixer’ for the conference in the evening, so we went to the beach in the morning (yeay!) and got ourselves reacquainted with the delights of sweat, suncream and sand mixes. The social mixer in the evening was sponsored by Rum de Puerto Rico, a government initiative to promote the image of Puerto Rican Rum. Fine by me – free rum all night!! The convention centre is a pretty cool building too. Conference was mostly pretty full-on during the days, and then evenings we either ate out, or just cooked in the apartment. Had a big BBQ on our lovely little roof terrace one evening with all of the other Southampton people who were staying in and around the same area. Went on an estuary field trip too on the second day and saw tonnes of iguanas.

Went to a Puerto Rican local cafe for dinner one night, and had an amazing dish called trifongo. As far as I can understand, this is a combination of green plantain, yellow plantain and cassava. With a sort of curried chicken sauce it was AMAZING. I want to find a recipe but all I can find is in Spanish, so may have to employ the help of some Spanish-speaking people! Mmmm amazing. Lots of local Medalla beer drunk as well throughout the week :)

I presented a poster on the Thursday afternoon/evening, which went quite well, and got some good feedback for it which was nice. On the Friday lunchtime we discovered we could use the Sheraton hotel pool (literally across the street from the conference centre), which was amazing for a bit of Friday afternoon relaxing by the pool (an infinity pool no less), and a raspberry mojito. Yes.

Saturday was then a super busy day – went to the airport really early to collect a rental car (got a massively pimping jeep for the 2 days), which unfortunately I wasn’t able to drive as I was too young to be cheap on the insurance :(. Drove out of San Juan into the rainforest, and did some walking. It rained on us. Unsurprising really when you think about it. It was rather like doing a 5km walk in a steam room though, so probably pretty good exercise for us.

Then we drove down onto the south coast and stopped off at a beach to have our first dip in the Caribbean Sea (it’s technically still the Atlantic on the north coast of the island), and have a look at the lighthouse there (I like lighthouses – is that wrong?). Spectacular sunset, and the most hilariously bumpy road in the world to get in and out of the parking area. Also stopped at an amazing smoothie place – literally a wooden shed-type building by the side of the road doing fresh fruit smoothies. I had banana, strawberry and coconut. So good.

Then Sunday we played on the beach in the morning (the sea was so, so, so nice and warm and lovely), before driving back to San Juan via the Arecibo telescope (the radio satellite that was in James Bond Goldeneye). It’s pretty damm cool and absolutely massive! Got stuck in a massive traffic jam trying to get into old San Juan to drop Geordie off at his hostel before we took the car back – we ended up staying at the Cardiovascular centre in the hospital complex – weirdly they have one floor that acts as a hotel, only about 10 rooms or so. They were the comfiest beds in the world so I can’t complain too much! Flew back on the Monday, and to our delight managed to get 4 seats to ourselves each (there were 3 of us on that flight together) at the back of a reasonably full flight. I would have hated me if I was one of the other passengers. Oh well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Busy busy with work for the next few months now, as I’m trying to get all my lab work done by early-mid summer, so that I can start data processing and starting the mammoth task of writing up :s scary. Saw a lot of friends this weekend which was lovely, from all over the place, including two of my friends from Bermuda who were over as they’d been on one of the Antarctic science cruises, and were flying back through the UK. Now the usual task of Sunday afternoon room tidying, cleaning, and getting ready for the week ahead :(


So, what to update on. Well, not a lot has happened to be honest. Training has been pretty brutal since the new year, both in terms of recovering from flu (takes bloody aaaaages to get strength back!), and hitting the training sessions hard. If I include the weights sessions, at the moment I have it so that I don’t have a single day off during the week. Mostly it’s ok, as I’m starting to manage my time around it a bit better. Mondays I tend to just leave work early to go to the gym, and then go back to work and stay at work until 9 or 9.30pm. It keeps me out of the house too, as I’m getting a bit stressed about wanting to move house. I’ve had a look at a few one-bedroom flats and studio flats this week, and they are vile. Really pretty skanky. Or, they’re potentially ok, but in a really grim area or scabby building. Urgh. Never mind. I’m sure I’ll find somewhere eventually!

Went up to Oxford for the evening to watch the Princeton University Orchestra perform a concert at the Sheldonian theatre. I met one of the oboeists whilst I was working out in Bermuda this year, so I went up to support her. My parents came down from home as well, so had a nice dinner with them, and then caught the train back to soton. I haven’t been to Oxford since I was about 6, and it’s absolutely lovely! Such a pretty city, and I don’t know why I haven’t been there since. Definitely somewhere to go once it gets to summer.

Went to a house party at my friends house (feel like I’m getting a bit too old for ‘house parties’ now, but it’s a house of 7 girls I used to row with, and really, it’s cheaper than going out, and just as much fun. And it wasn’t hugely busy, and I knew the majority of people there anyway! Had an early morning outing the next morning though, so rewarded myself with fry-up the next morning once I was back :)

On another food front – Burns night. I (upsettingly) had to buy a vegetarian haggis as there were no meat haggis’ (what’s the plural of haggis?) left, apart from monster ones that would have fed about ten people. It was a McSween’s haggis though, and was lovely. Had mashed turnips and carrots, and potato cakes made with leftover mash. I only managed half my plate of food, so had it for lunch the next day instead :) nom nom.

Went to Playzone for a friend’s 21st birthday (seems so young!) on Friday night. AMAZING! It’s basically a kid’s play area, with swing ropes, death slides, padded rollers and walls, netting, ball pits, the lot. And we went wearing lycra so it was even slidier. But we were all exhausted after about an hour and a half! I can see why parents take their children to places like that – tire them out well and truly, then they’ll sleep all night. We didn’t sleep all night. We went out. Not for long, but long enough for one of the girls to get herself in such a tiz that she had tantrums all the way home, and it took us about 90 minutes to get her to walk half a mile home. We then had to guard the door to try and stop her leaving the house again. It’s a good job we all know and love her when she’s sober, that’s all I can say! (and I made an amazing cake even if I do say so myself)

Off to Puerto Rico on Saturday for the ASLO Aquatic Sciences conference. Got my poster printed out for my poster presentation, flights and accommodation booked, located my passport, got some dollars, and found the bikinis and suncream :)