Saturday, 28 May 2011

Horizontal Buoys

The training continues - last Saturday morning, one circuit of the dock - 400m, 14.5C. This morning, two circuits, 800m, 13.8C. I'm acclimatising but it was very blooming cold - and I didn't wear socks! 
And choppy - at one point the great big buoys that mark the corners of the course were flat on the surface of the water, the wind was so strong. But by then the swimming seemed to get easier, I was bouncing along doing breaststroke, ducking my head under each wave - I got a great rhythm going!
So apart from pool swimming during the week -  2K now in under an hour - I'll be in the dock for three circuits next Saturday morning, then four the week after. Hopefully the temperature might start to rise......  The following Saturday - 18 June - is the real thing in Windermere, but I feel ready for it now. The buzz after Saturday morning swims seems to power me through the rest of the day......
Waiting at traffic lights for a tram to pass on the way home afterwards, I had to snap this lovely little iron grille in the dock wall

Friday, 27 May 2011

Chorlton Arts Festival

I love this exhibit, under the metal bridge across to Chorlton Meadows and the Mersey. Last time - two years ago? - it was just four bricks in the water 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

We Are The Champions!

Blowing my alias...what the hell...blame the adrenalin high!! 
Self with warthog, gazelle and Eve's young man. Strange item between my legs is woolly hat. Too doolally still to put it on head. 
What an afternoon! Traffic diversions (because of Manchester 10K ) so long-winded I thought we wouldn't get there in time. But we did.....
I was third last to come in at the end of the day, so I had a personal escort of kayakers - who were all totally lovely and encouraging - thank you so much guys and gals

Thrilled, but too worn out to say much this evening, so here are some pictures

next time, my goal is to build up the front crawl

from the canal into Ontario Basin and the final section

always time for a chat. This guy will be kayaking again at the Windermere swim in a month's time

Dock 9, Huron Basin, the starting area - just about dismantled

Imperial  War Museum and The Lowry

Media City

view to a bridge

the BBC's new home

What a wonderful day despite grim weather and low temperatures. My time: 01:06:51. One month now to train towards shaving off some minutes at Windermere.

Sporting Heroes

Just dropped Pete, Eddie and Eve (husband, son, daughter) in town as Pete and Eddie are running the Manchester 10K at 12.10 before doing the swim this afternoon. Gluttons for punishment!  Eve is the communication link and support team.
Eddie is a lovely, lanky 16-year-old, so Pete said it would be like watching a warthog and a gazelle.
I think he's being just a bit hard on himself!
And now I'm watching the coverage on BBC2, they keep flashing across to Salford where the first wave has just completed the course.
The commentator is saying the water is absolutely freezing and he'd need two wetsuits to even consider it......
The participants all look quite cheery though.....oh my god, that's me in three hours twenty minutes.....

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Getting in the Zone

Where did all the hot weather go? The blazing sun that should have been warming up the water in Salford Docks this week? 
Tomorrow is the Great Swim and we're in the last wave at 3.20. The cameras will be rolling, and broadcasting live on BBC 2. Ulp! No pressure then.....
This is my cap - you'll be able to spot me bringing up the rear and staggering over the finish line. 
I swam 3/4 mile yesterday, and a mile on Thursday in 45 minutes - a great time for me. I'd be very impressed if I managed a time like that tomorrow. 
Here's the all-important chip that'll keep track of me

and here's that great poem from Sharon Olds, that seems to sum it all up

The Swimming Race

Noon, Orinda Park Pool, three girls
in rubber caps sculpted with rubber
roses, and they had put our fathers
at the far end of our lanes. We curled
our toes over the edge, the gun went off -
they dove cleanly, as I jumped. By the time 
I had surfaced, and started to dog-paddle, they had
finished the race, their fathers had drawn them up
dripping and were handing them sateen ribbons with
rosettes, a red and a cobalt blue,
I held up my head as he'd taught me, and swam
like a dog toward his end of the pool. The day
was temperate and cloudless, live-oaks
in a large cluster full of yellow-jackets to my left,
the lawn to my right, and there before me, 
at the end of my lane - black lines
on the bottom of the pool, where the drowned would lie -
was my father. I paddled, I felt myself approach him,
I was grinning because of the prize I would win
for coming in third, a Big Hunk bar -
the milk and honey on the other side -
and because my father was getting bigger,
leaning toward me, his arms open.
He pulled me out, and held my hand
up by the wrist. My sister sneered, she said
Why did you lift Shary's fist
when she was last? and he smiled, a smile almost
without meanness, one of the last
times we saw him smile, he said
I thought she was winner of the next race, and his
face flushed with pleasure and the shade of the yardarm.

Sharon Olds
from The Wellspring, 1995

Oh bring on that yardarm!!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

May The Eighth

I'd forgotten that on my birthday last year we went to the City Art Gallery to look at the Emmeline Pankhurst picture, before going on to Wagamama for a birthday celebration meal. So it was nice to have a memory prompt on last year's blog post.
This year my birthday started as usual with presents in bed :@) Then a swim for Dash at 11am - he's getting very good at it! Coffee and chocolate brownie in the garden with my sister and family - Malachy and Aoife aged 2 and 1 are the darlingest little dotes and turn any visit into a party!
Then yesterday's Doctor Who on catch up, followed by a meal at Croma - Chorlton's finest! A glass of bubbly on our return. What more could a girl want?! Thanks everyone! 
garden clogs

writing prompts kit

solar powered garden lamp

lemon bath stuff

tartan dressing gown

celebration tipple

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Fantastic Mr Fox

Yesterday, when I went in the garden the hens were out of their enclosure, digging holes, throwing soil everywhere, generally wrecking all the new planting, as they do. 
I chased them back in and spotted how they'd escaped - a hole under the wire fence, and the unmistakable stink of fox. 
Foxes are lovely animals but we'll have to be vigilant now. The menfolk are saving their urine to sprinkle round the perimeter of the hen run. Old wives' tale or reliable deterrent? 
Who knows? We haven't seen a fox in the garden for a couple of years, but now we need to be on the lookout.

The Thought Fox
I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

Ted Hughes, 1957

    Monday, 2 May 2011

    Fairweather Friend

    Great Salford Swim is on Sunday 15 May and Great North Swim is on Saturday 18 June, so time is of the essence and we need as much training as possible in the next two weeks. 
    Now that Salford is open for training 6.30 - 8.30 on Monday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday mornings 8 - 11 there is plenty of opportunity. 
    After two outdoor swims last week, I thought I was into the swing of it. However, after a weekend of brilliant sunshine but bitter winds I couldn't face getting into the cold water this evening. I went down to offer moral support to my husband and son but I had no regrets about my decision not to take the plunge. 
    There was a very strong wind so the water was extremely choppy, and I reckon at least couple of degrees colder than the advertised temperature of 13.2C. 
    They managed one uncomfortable circuit with the wind against them all the way round. I was completely nithered watching them (as my mum used to say) so they were chilled through when they hauled themselves out. Top marks for bravery, boys!
    Now I'm praying that the wind will drop and the sun shine continually till Saturday to get the temp up before my next decision about whether to opt for the docks or the pool.....

    Sunday, 1 May 2011

    Beltane 2011

    Welcome once again to May - my birthday month!
    For all you Taureans out there here's our horoscope - courtesy of Shelley von Strunckel in Good Housekeeping:

    May is all about conducting a clear-out of your old views, habits and even dreams. The resulting insights explain situations in which you've little control, enforced changes or what is blocking new ventures. Don't brood over these. Rather, examine with others both unfamiliar ideas and any setbacks, since they're likely to spot what you miss. All of this is clearing the way for a period of thrilling growth - both personal and in terms of your life and dreams - that begins when the expansive Jupiter moves into Taurus in early June for a year's stay.

    Welcome to you Jupiter - bringer of Joy!!

    The picture is of the Chillingham Cattle.