Monday, 20 December 2010

Cabin Fever

I do love the snow, but its cramping my style... Christmas decorating is on hold due to kitchen remodelling rendering the rest of the house a temporary storage area, my bum is numb from being marooned on the sofa with my laptop for what seems like days on end, my brain is numb from working all day on said laptop and I can't even remember the last time I went out on my bike. Hubby kindly fixed up his bike on the turbo trainer in the greenhouse for me yesterday evening - my wheels don't seem to fit - and I slogged away a happy half hour or so, but its not quite the same as hitting the road. Went for a brisk walk at tea time along the canal to clear the cobwebs and came back for tea and crumpets which cheered me up. Roll on spring time and the open road!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Well that was the understatement of the year...

Cold? It was positively tropical compared to the -10 glowing on my dashboard while driving to work yesterday. But it is oh so pretty and very festive so I'm not complaining, although over here in Wales we haven't had the fun and games going on in the rest of the UK. Personally I love getting snowed in but I sympathise with those poor souls stranded on motorways for hours and hours through the night, and for anyone who's old cold and lonely. Quick rant here - why oh why is the media falling over itself to relay doom and gloom and to flash up in neon lights the country's inability to cope, when it could be helping us to find our fighting spirit and get to grips with things? Apart from a few tiny tales of heroism (actually only one that I've heard - a farmer ferrying midwives to work on his tractor) its all 'look at other countries coping so well, aren't we rubbish?'. Where are the public information campaigns with tips for safe driving, how to keep warm indoors, alternative ways of working, helping out friends and neighbours, and so on? Where is the inspiration we need to pull ourselves together? Grrrrr. End of rant. And as for cycling - its back in the gym for me, I fall off enough when its not even slightly frosty. But very soon it will be Christmas and not long at all until May and long happy days traversing Nova Scotia on my trusty bike - yippee!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010


It's COLD! And wet and windy and very slippery. The countryside looks amazing, mysterious misty mornings, sparkling frosts and colours galore, but boy is it hard getting out of bed at 6am and pulling on layer after layer to keep the frostbite at bay. Fell off en route to work a couple of weeks ago, darkness and a carpet of leaves hid the edge of the path so off I wobbled and then skidded frantically before hitting the tarmac - those leaves didn't do much to cushion the impact! Which all seems to have dented my confidence a bit, although heaven knows I should be used to falling off by now, I do it often enough. It was my birthday on Sunday and a lovely day so we went for a pootle along the canal, cut short when my lovely husband mentioned that, given the time of day and my slow progress, we would be returning in the dark. With my second rate lights, mud, leaves and a cold dark canal lurking menacingly -no, not brave enough. But a lovely birthday anyway, and very pleased with my new Flip, which will come in dead handy for a video diary of our big bike ride in a few months time!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Wheelie Wonderful Wales

After a fantastic ride at the weekend with my lovely husband I am feeling cautiously optimistic that, if I keep hammering away at those hills, I might just make it from top to tail of Nova Scotia next spring - happy days. I did eventually cave in with very wobbly legs on the last hill (which I mistakenly took to be our local Hill From Hell, but it turned out to be the Hill From Hell's Big Brother), but not before I beat a few of my ancient demons in the very pretty but awfully hilly countryside that we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. Apart from having a few stern words with a farmer who had rigged up some completely invisible string across the road to guide the cows in for milking - cue screech of brakes - it was a totally feelgood day. Getting a bit lost added to the fun, we took a few very scenic detours and with grim determination eventually made it to the Goose & Cuckoo for a well deserved pint. The autumn colours were so very pretty and I just love the little winding lanes that artfully conceal the next ridiculous climb. Come ride in Wales - its wonderful!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Just how uncomfortable can a new saddle be...?

I took my pretty new bike on its first proper outing on Sunday with my good friend CJ and new recruit Sally on a very pretty route from Bridgend to Cardiff - not sure if it was all in my head but the bike definitely felt lighter underneath me although there doesn't seem much of a difference to my Specialized when hoicking it up steps. I did make it all the way up a HUGE hill, albeit with several stops to catch my breath and quiet my pounding heart, without giving in to the temptation to walk and push my bike. Which I was pretty pleased about, especially when sitting at the top in the sun munching blackberries from the hedgerow and admiring the amazing view while waiting for my buddies! The bad news was that I had ignored the memory of the seat being a bit uncomfortable on my previous 15 minute ride - "how uncomfortable can a new saddle be" I thought. Well let me tell you - VERY. Suffice to say I have not just been sore but completely numb for two days! Good exercise for the thighs though as I rode the last 10 miles almost entirely standing on my pedals...

So if anyone has any recommendations on the most comfortable make and model of saddle for us girls, bearing in mind I plan to spend the best part of 3 weeks on it every day next May, I will be forever in your debt.

Monday, 13 September 2010

13 and nearly-a-half miles per hour - catch me!

I love my bike. I had a rubbish day at work today, too many meetings and Very Important Things To Do while running on a brain like porridge left me feeling snappy and generally very grumpy (sorry to my lovely work buddies), counting the minutes until I could literally run down the stairs and belt across the bay on my bike. Even a stiff wind and grey drizzle couldn't dampen my mood and instead of struggling to make 12 mph up the final stretch I topped out at 13.3 mph, quite an achievement for me. Off to Copenhagen tomorrow for a couple of days to work, so I've packed my running gear and might manage a little jog while my bike takes it easy in the shed. I think she'll miss me.

Friday, 3 September 2010

This is my favourite pic from our very British Tea Party - my ma in law serving tea and lemonade from the kitchen window and enjoying a morsel of chocolate cake! She baked Welshcakes and made a million sandwiches, I did the chocolate cake and Bara Brith. More photos on Flickr - thank you to everyone who came along and donated some of their hard earned dollars to Brigadoon, it was a great boost for us to kick off the fundraising and a very enjoyable afternoon all round. I wish I could remember the names of all the people who came - particularly the lady who told us that she grew up in the house next door and spent many happy hours playing in the garden of our house.

Tomorrow I will be swapping my bike for a polo pony as part of my friend's hen weekend. I used to read books about polo ponies when I was a kid so it will be kind of a dream come true! Followed by dinner / hotel / spa on Sunday - how very girlie.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Taff Trail trials

Well I'm back on my nice little cycle to work route along the Taff Trail from Caerphilly to Cardiff, which is jolly good and all but am feeling a bit of a slacker as my cycle buddies Karen and Matt seem to have mysteriously got a lot fitter over the last year while I seem to have plateaued - time to revisit the training plan methinks. On the bright side I did a spot of internet shopping and ordered some bargain cycling shoes one size too big so I can fit woolly socks in them when the weather turns cold (well it works in theory), and some rather lovely pink tyre levers. Oh and now I went and clicked on the link again - Sombrio top for £8 - bargain! Must.... log... off....

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Home from home

Where did that 2 weeks go?! It seems like minutes since we arrived but here we are at Halifax airport munching on Tim's Bits (that's doughnut holes for you unlucky Brits who may not have had the pleasure) and waiting to board the plane and fly through the night to a long bank holiday weekend at our (other) home. Next time we do this trip, bar winning the lottery which would see us back here in about 5 minutes, we will be here for the Big Bike Ride - May 2011 seems a loooooong time to wait to visit again but a worryingly short time to up the fitness to a level that will cope with those hills. But I always did like a challenge :-)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Great (little) British Tea Party

Well there were a few nerve wracking moments when 2.30pm came round and we comtemplated the plates of cucumber sandwiches, Bara Brith and Welsh Cakes beginning to curl in the sun.... and then our nearly-neighbours Sylvaine and Bonnie wandered up the road and got the croquet started (the simple version - get the ball through those hoops in any old fashion). Then a car or two pulled into the drive and off we went, all smiles and friendly chat and a rousing game of rounders. Cake and sandwiches washed down with tea and lemonade, dished up by my lovely ma-in-law, and most importantly a respectable $70 raised in donations and $90 in sponsorship - we are on our way! Thank you to all the lovely people that took time out of their weekend to come along and see us and hand over your hard earned dollars to Brigadoon. Photies to follow when I get home to Wales this weekend.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Middleton Century Ride

Well, not quite a century, just a token 50k through the beautiful Annapolis Valley on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning-hello to anyone we met and who was nice enough to graciously accept one of the cards I handed out. What a nice bunch of people - but then cyclists generally are. Anyways, I slogged along trying not to keep Simon hanging around, he was a very patient and congratulated me on my huffing and puffing red faced 10 miles an hour average. I now have a personal target to push that up to 12 miles an hour before Christmas and 15 miles an hour by spring. Gonna take some doing!

Busy planning for the Tea Party on Sunday, off to the printers today so I can whizz round the neighbourhood on my bike to spread the word. Anyone want to take bets on the final outcome? 100 sandwiches ans no guests? 100 guests and not enough sandwiches? Thunder storms and shivering in the barn? Watch this space :-)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hello Nova Scotia

We fly out tomorrow for two whole fabulous weeks, plenty of time for some nice long bike rides and LOTS of relaxing in the sunshine. I have printed up some flyers and little cards to spread the word while we are out there, so hopefully after our trip we'll have a few more people checking out the blog and Facebook. And of course we have the Great British Tea Party to look forward to (or dread, depending on how enthusiastic and organised I am feeling at any particular point in time).

And - BIG news - I have booked the flights for the big bike ride next year - yay! 19th May to 9th June - after much debate on the route map to see if we could cram it all into 2 weeks, we decided that 3 weeks was more sensible to allow for any hiccups along the way. So the target will be to charge down the route and have a couple of days relaxation at the end... No slacking on the training plan now - we are committed!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Heeeeeere's Scottie!

Meet my beautiful new bike - isn't she pretty? She has lovely slender wheels, an elegant but rather uncomfortable saddle, and (here's the techie bit) disc brakes. Took her for a little spin up the road just to make her feel loved and now she's sat in the kitchen while my poor battered Specialized is sulking in the shed. Who'd have ever thought it - me with not one, but TWO bikes - in fact, I lie, I have another one in Nova Scotia - that's insane. Just shows what one can achieve with a bit of encouragement and dogged determination.

Went for a lovely ride on Sunday from Chepstow to Abergavenny with my buddy CJ - no she wasn't really looking at a house for sale sign like it was a roadsign ;-) she was just crossing the road to dutifully check the GPS her other half had kindly lent us for the occasion. Not that it did us much good, we were apparently in Iceland at one point... But it was a great ride, good company, a nice warm dry day and lots of pretty country lanes, luscious greenery and sun baked cornfields. Oh, and hills. Lots. But we made it up all of them bar one and, as CJ pointed out, we recovered pretty quickly after each one, so we must be getting fitter.

That's me done with cycling for this week, Thursday I'm off to Standon Calling, yay!

New bike!!

I am at this very moment sitting outside the bike shop waiting for my lovely husband to arrive and then we are picking up my new bike, which is, I believe going to be as light as a feather and whisk me effortlessly up those nasty hills. Or at least be a bit less of a killer weight than my trusty mountain bike, which is all good. And I will also be the proud owner of panniers, rack, bar bag and new waterproof trousers-weh hey! Pictures to follow...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Great British Tea Party

Bad Blogger - not written anything for ages! Have of course been very busy, I can't quite remember doing what exactly... But I am very excited because a) 2 weeks today we will have just landed in Nova Scotia and b) I am planning our first proper fundraising event! Being Brits in a foreign land 'n'all I thought a Great British Tea Party would be just the ticket. I'm not sure if my lovely husband is entirely convinced, but hey - what's the worse that can happen? Left standing in the barn in the rain with 100 sandwiches and too many cakes to eat? A guest trips over in the egg and spoon race and sues us? I can live with the risk. A lot of planning to do in a rather short time but I think it will be a giggle. Haven't invited many people yet, just waiting to hear from Brigadoon if my plans are in order. Oh, and we are whizzing off to the Heart of the Valley Century Ride on the 15th August - my first ever proper long bike ride (although not sure we'll do the full whack) in the Annapolis Valley. I hope I like it, otherwise the entire length of Nova Scotia might seem a wee bit daunting...

Monday, 5 July 2010

Mmmmm, shopping...

I have at last, in spite of the best efforts of Tredz bike shop in Cardiff to studiously ignore me, almost managed to spend a cool £600 of bike-to-work vouchers on a spanking new light as a feather Scott bike with a lovely slender wheels to speed me along those endless Nova Scotian roads. I say almost, because they told me 3 times they couldn't order anything unless I had my vouchers with me, in spite of me waving them under their noses, (what-don't I look like a cyclist? Too old? Too glamorous..? Ha!) and after being deserted a couple of times by a lad who apparently had better things to do, managed to get them to place the order for bike, panniers, rack, bar bag and waterproof trousers - weh hey!

And the other good news is, today I managed a bike-to-work time of 49 minutes (down from 1 hour 5 minutes) and bike-back-home time of 59 minutes (down from 1 hour 15 minutes) - not bad eh?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

I'm back! Didya miss me?

I have been horribly busy/lazy (being busy is an excuse for avoiding all forms of exercise don't you know) but I'm finally back on my bike this week - Monday was HARD work, my biking buddies streaked off up the hill and I puffed and panted and collapsed in a sorry sweaty heap, but yesterday was a tad easier, slightly less painful and getting a bit of a buzz from the effort. I have, at last, sketched out a 12 month training plan, starting off gently with a 30 mile ride next weekend.

And, most exciting, Canadian Affair have tickets available for May 2011, so now I just have to make a Very Important Decision - do I whine and flutter my eyelids and persuade my lovely husband to treat me gently and take 3 weeks for the trip, or do I man up and commit to a herculean 2 weeks? I can't resist the challenge - 2 weeks it is. Which means the final route map can be firmed up and little details like how the hell to get a) from Halifax airport to Cape Breton and b) from Cape Sable Island back to fly home.

So, (another) fresh start, celebrated with a nice new design for my blog. Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

If that young slip of a thing can climb Everest..

Went to an amazingly inspirational lunchtime thing at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre today - Tori James telling a small but rapt audience (well I was pretty rapt I can tell you) about her incredible achievements: she did the North Pole race with 2 other girls and then climbed Everest. And then cycled North to South New Zealand. And next she's planning on cracking the South Pole. I mean seriously, she looks about 16, is petite, pretty and absolutely charming - never in a million years would I have pegged her as an extreme adventurer. The photos where completely breathtaking but what lit up my little world was her frank admission that she never thought she was the type of person who could do these things. I scribbled down a few tips and left feeling inspired all over again and at least willing to nibble some elephant toenails - top tip of the year, thanks Tori!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Back home from home

A divine week of relaxation in Nova Scotia but shamefully no cycling whatsoever - my best friend was starting up her training plan for a run so we did lots of brisk walking and a bit of gentle jogging, the rest of the time I was making the most of my gorgeous godson's company - he's the best. Then reluctantly back home and a post-holiday dip during which I convinced myself that this whole north to south ride idea is totally beyond me. I'm kind of over it but my progression back up the enthusiasm ladder was rudely interrupted by a run in with an unfortunate jogger when cycling in to work last week. She was kindly forgave me for running her down but my punishment for not anticipating her sudden change in course was a black and blue wrist and elbow and a week of feeling fragile. Mind you, what better time to be a one armed invalid than the weekend just gone - glorious sunshine and the perfect excuse to flop into a deckchair with a book. So now its back to planning and training - oh and shopping! Vouchers from Bike To Work have arrived - yay!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Coming home to Nova Scotia

Well at last it's here - the night before we fly to our beautiful Nova Scotian home for a blissful week of total relaxation. Two friends and my gorgeous godson Eddie are coming with us, always a pleasure to watch first timers fall in love with the place like we did three years ago. Today I was showing someone at work where we are on the map and realised how little of the country we have yet seen, or rather (cup half full and all that) how much we still have to look forward to visiting! That said, there's a long list of places in the UK I haven't been to yet - never done Derbyshire, the Lake District only once and just a taste of Scotland and Ireland. Plenty of time for all that though - what I am really looking forward to is seeing Cape Breton to Cape Sable Island on my bike this time next year. Must start seriously thinking about some fund raising - must not forget the real purpose of this trip - must get organised - must go get some sleep now so I make the plane in the morning!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ooooo I ache...

Well I got out and got on it, fabulous to be back on my bike, but after 2 ride-to-work days this week in the sunshine along the Taff Trail and a little fall from a bouncy horse I ACHE. Whizzed along on the first morning, helped by the journey into Cardiff from Caerphilly being mostly downhill, which of course means uphill on the way home. Shamefaced as my legs turned to jelly on the very short steep bit so had to get off and gather my wits about me, but pleased we did it in reasonable time overall. Last night my lovely friend Karen let me ride her very lovely horse Willow, who is an ex-trotter and consequently has a fascinating gait with back legs completely out of sync with front, which makes for an interesting ride (that's Karen in the pic, I didn't look quite that elegant). I was undone by forgetting to concentrate over a tiny little jump, Willow went one way and I went the other. That's the thing about horse versus bike - horse has a mind and a spirit all of its own. I still fell in love with her and would gladly trade my bike in, if only I could afford it. Meanwhile, I'm loving my bike instead.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Get out and get on it

Despite spring having most definitely sprung, I am deeply ashamed to say that my poor old bike is still sitting in the shed with last autumn's mud stuck resolutely to her pretty frame. Shame on me. Well, its going to be all change next week as my cycle to work buddy has put 3 days in my diary - I was kind of planning to warm up slowly with one day a week but what the hell, in for a penny and all that. Exciting news - I have contact lenses, which means I would be able to read a GPS without first having to fish my reading glasses out of my backpack - yay! Other exciting news - I have signed up to the cycle to work scheme (did I mention that already?), so I feel a shopping spree coming on - the only challenge will be how cheap I can get a relatively decent bike for so I have plenty for accessorising. On another note, I was impressed but a bit downhearted by the news that our friendly local policeman Mr Granville is doing a 450 mile ride for charity - in 48 hours! And here is me planning roughly the same over 3 weeks. Slow and steady, that's me.

Monday, 5 April 2010


I came across an excellent website today: The Adventure Cycling Guide. Tim Barnes, many thanks for the very useful and refreshingly simple tips / info / links. After checking out some tent / sleeping bag / pannier options and mentally packing my bike to the hilt, any worries were put into perspective when I saw this :-)

More inspiration from Family on Bikes, the gobsmackingly impressive tale of a couple and their 11 year old twins cycling from Alaska to Argentina - I love the videos, not least because they take the hills nice and slow, which is encouraging. And if those 11 year olds can get up mountains in Peru, I promise to stop being a wuss and grit my teeth and get on up my lovely Welsh hills.

Speaking of which, we took a drive and a stroll up the Blorenge at the weekend: on driving down t'other side my personal trainer informed me that this is going to be our practice hill. Didn't seem toooo bad at first, then it got considerably steeper and went on for an awful long way and we passed a cyclist on the ascent wobbling and grimacing horribly. I sympathised, my husband said 'give that bloke a knife and fork. He's making a meal of it'. Bring on the main course. And desert. And cheese and biscuits.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Its Easter and its snowing...

So much for my plans to get back on my bike this week - yes, I am a fairweather cyclist and a wimp to boot. Today I rescued battered daffodils from the garden and nearly got blown over by vicious icy winds battering Cardiff Bay, and my plans for some vigorous gardening at the weekend have been replaced by visions of sofa, DVDs and a spot of low impact housework. However I did climb on the exercise bike in the gym and slogged a happy half hour away, visions of Cape Breton unrolling in my head as I thumped away to Fat Boy Slim and Deep Dish.

Yesterday I started searching for campsites on the Nova Scotia route - starting in Cape Breton, it all seems a bit vague - for example the only one near Pleasant Bay, my intended 2nd night stop, has 10 pitches and no reservations, but I'm sure it will all work out on the day. Probably.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Friday, 26 March 2010

oooo I got a comment!

Thank you Ken Trenholm for my first blog comment! How delightful - I mean I know how this blogging thing is supposed to work and all that, but its jolly nice to know someone out there is reading along.

Two new developments re the big bike ride - firstly, I have decided to invest in a new bike, thanks to the 'cycle-to-work' scheme I can get a bit of a discount and my personal cycling experts (husband and son) have convinced me it might make the difference between scraping success and dismal failure. More on that when my vouchers come through. It did make me realise that I seem to have inadvertently become rather fond of my mountain bike - it would be sensible to sell it seeing as me and downhilling were not made for each other, but I felt quite sad at the thought - odd.

Secondly, my logic of not wanting to weigh the bike down by carrying a tent has been undone by getting a lighter bike, and having totted up the cost of a comfy bed every night for nearly 3 weeks I would probably need to sell my car to afford it. My son came up with a compromise I think I can live with: the 50ish mile a day route sections up quite nicely into 4 days riding, 1 day off, times 3 to do the whole stretch, so the proposal is camp 3 nights, comfy bed 4th night. Now all I have to do is find a campsite conveniently located just where I need it - although I know my son will laugh and tell me he has slept in a tent in a car park before. In fact I'm pretty sure he did that without bothering to put the tent up...

Monday, 22 March 2010

I ran 10k!!!

Can't quite believe it - there was me struggling to manage 30 minutes on the treadmill - get out in the sunshine with hundreds of people around and I trot along for an hour and ten! Everyone told me it would be easier on the day but I was really dreading it and thought up all sorts of excuses to chicken out, but I jogged gently round the first 3 miles and then kept going to keep my friend company as she had signed up for 6 and was dreading it even more than me.

Saw a Sports Relief appeal last week with the guys of Dragon's Den where they sat with a woman as she waited for her AIDS test results, which turned out to be positive. It was very moving so I ran for her and the team who provide her with medication and support thanks to Sport Relief. A drop in the ocean but a drop nonetheless.

Today EVERYTHING hurts but boy was it worth it!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

3 miles in 30 minutes - yay!!

Yes I did it, I broke the 20 minute mental barrier and pounded out a full 30 sweaty red faced minutes to crack the 3 miles. Spurred myself on with mental images of nasty little mosquitoes failing to breach the defences of a mosquito net protecting a sleeping child, paid for by the lovely people who have sponsored my feeble efforts and spurred me to hitherto undiscovered levels of personal fitness - thank youuuuu!

Now all I have to do is repeat this feat of endurance but on the road rather than my comfy treadmill, gulp, on Sunday. Am VERY much looking forward to a few pints of cider afterwards.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Big Bike Ride Route - take 2

Due to terminal optimism and my lovely husband's faith in me I have re-written our 2011 Nova Scotia bike ride route to take in around 50 miles a day rather than 30. Its a dead cert that I will spend most days of the ride cursing this decision, particularly when any king of upward slope is involved, but oddly I feel quite motivated now that the target is more ambitious. No doubt most cyclists will fall off their bikes laughing at the notion of 50 miles being ambitious, but trust me, I'm in a very different (lower) league. My better half says I need to map the inclines to better judge a sensible daily distance to aim for, but I struggle with the basics of google maps (damn that thing is temperamental - or is it just me?) so I'll leave this as a rough draft and get him to do the clever stuff.

Looking forward to our summer break when I plan to take off on a mini adventure and drive the route, woo hoo!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Rest, Elevation, Compression, Heat

Have I missed an 'A' for something - should that spell 'reach'? No, nothing as impressive as a cycling or running injury, I managed to trip up the kitchen step and twist my ankle. No biggie but probably not the best thing to happen mid training to run 3 miles. Damn good excuse to walk /gentle trot the 3 miles on the day though :o) So - hello sofa, hottie bottle, icepack. Just finished a brilliant book - an excellent read in its own right, and if you are a girl and have any interest in Nova Scotia / Scots Bay / Canning, I can't recommend it highly enough - The Birth House by Ami McKay. Heard about it on my fave Nova Scotia gardening blog, thank you Jodi de Long.

Anyway, a good excuse to do a bit more of the Nova Scotia Bike Ride route, although am now thinking of completely re-doing it to add a few more miles per day - am finding it a challenge to match my planned mileage with convenient overnight stops, so when we are out there in the summer I'm planning to drive the route and research where to stay / how many hills are on which bit. Roll on summer!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

How much do I love weekends?

LOTS. Saturday morning, cuppa in bed, not a single thing I have to do all weekend long. Delicious. So I'm going for a run along the canal then its Bramble Wars in the garden - trying to get a jump on them before spring kicks in properly and everything goes bananas. I might get all domesticated and bake a cake this afternoon, I have to try out my new recipe book which tells me that cake, if baked with lots of lovely fresh ingredients, including an interesting array of vegetables, is actually very good for not only the soul but the body as well. Sounds perfectly logical to me, and as I ran 2.6 miles yesterday morning I think I deserve it.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Laid up and bored

Training plan rudely interrupted this week - working from home on the sofa, suffice to say I have drunk enough water and cranberry juice in the last 2 days to irrigate the sahara. And just as I was steeling myself to push the limits to 30 mins on the treadmill - hopefully I'll make it before the end of the week. The internet is my bestest friend when I'm feeling poorly, any other time I get bored pretty fast after a scan through Facebook / emails / BBC. So yesterday evening I daydreamed on line, looking at stuff in the 'things I really really want' category. In no particular order (I want them ALL), they are:
  1. VW campervan - for exploring Wales and beyond.
  2. Soulpad - pitched by a river in long grass and meadow flowers next to the VW.
  3. Airstream caravan to trek across Canada in. Mad gypsy woman at heart.
  4. Beautiful rugs for our Nova Scotian home.
  5. Beach hut. On a beach. Somewhere.
  6. Odd's Old Rocker. Two - one for Wales, one for Nova Scotia.
That'll do me for now.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The long and winding (and usually uphill) road

Just when I think I'm getting a tiny bit ahead, I come down to earth with a bump and realise I have a long loooong way to go. Tried out the Sport Relief 3 mile training plan 'Week 1' this morning. Hard, but not impossible. Until I got to the end, exhausted, and it said ' 2 minutes high knee jogging on the spot'. Are you kidding? 30 seconds and I was done. And talking of coming down to earth with a bump, I managed to slip in the snow and fall down the steps to our house today, adding a few bruises to my gym battered body. Hot bath and hot chocolate on the sofa has restored some of my dignity but I can't imagine a planet on which I could up the ante and run for 25 minutes in the morning. Beam me up Scottie.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Beating the 20 minute barrier

Not sure that my 22 minutes from last week really counts - had a bash this evening on the treadmill and felt decidedly sick! I did find it helped last week to hide the timer on the treadmill and focus on my playlist instead, so I'll be back on it tomorrow and having a crack at the Sport Relief training plan, not that I have exactly outgrown my current plan but a change is as good as a rest (I wish).

On the bright side, I am now the proud owner of 1 pair of clingy short shorts, 1 red vest and 1 long sleeve red top so at least I'll look the part. Tempted to wear something comical but can't think what - well, nothing that will make me look glam - also thought I must get my photo taken post-run while holding up a sign to thank Mr Maheson, hip surgeon extraordinaire and saviour of the crumbling hip brigade. Not bad really that I can (try to) run 3 miles when I couldn't last a decent day's shopping 3 short years ago - not only am I superwoman, I'm bionic too. Off to rest my bionic bones now, its 10pm and past my bedtime!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

And then I bounced right back

Day of rest on Sunday, massive roast dinner, pork pies and chocolate orange cake for tea, fixed me right up. Back on it Monday with a 20 minute run, wasn't even fazed (well not tooooo much) by the Sport Relief 4 week training plan which landed in my inbox today, in brief its about 4 times the effort of my current training plan, gulp.

Watching the winter Olympics this week, that combined with the lovely husbands tales of derring doo on the slopes of Lake Louise mean I have been snowboarding in my head, so had to buy a jolly nice new jacket which I don't exactly need but since when did that ever matter to a girl with a credit card... Bargain buy anyway, even if I couldn't afford it - one must have rewards for all this getting fit effort, don't you think?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Over the Hill

Well I did the full 20 minutes yesterday so was feeling quite chuffed with myself but today I'm feeling over the hill, and not in the I-just-conquered-a-mountain-and-now-I'm-freewheeling kind of way. Exercise this morning: fighting vicious brambles in a sorry looking corner of the garden which has gone to pot. Exercise this afternoon - swimming in Abergavenny pool, which is kind of ok but why oh why cant they keep the changing room floors clean? Eeuw. Yep, I've definately got the grumps today.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Ups and Downs

16 and a half minutes on the treadmill! I was aiming for 20 when one of the old(ish, with bald spot and straggly ponytail) maintenance chaps comes into the gym in his usual uniform, screwdriver and mobile phone in hand - so I assumed he had come in to fix something. He gets on the cross trainer so I thought maybe its broke and he's going to fix it. Several minutes later he was still going strong - a sneaky workout in his Mr Fixit rounds? Whatever - I had totally lost concentration so gave up. But still, I was pretty chuffed that I could do a whole quarter of an hour twice in one week. Until a bloke on our team showed me his 6 mile lunchtime run route map...

This evening I have been working on a rough draft of the Nova Scotia bike ride route map which is about half way done, and showed my trainer / mentor /chief mechanic /much better half - he thinks I am underestimating my abilities and could do a fair bit further each day. Really? Day after day? For 850k? I'm not sure. But am delighted by his faith in me :o) So this will be the 'worst case' / 'better safe than sorry' version, to keep up my confidence while I work on my stamina. Then I might reconsider.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

What to wear...?

In my mind I look like this. I feel more like this.................

I was having a 'what to wear' dilemma earlier, on account of the Sport Relief Mile. I want to wear stretchy shorts and a vest top but thought perhaps a baggy tshirt and sweat pants would be more appropriate. Then I thought oh what the hell, no-one cares what I look like except me, so guess what I bought on e-bay :o)

Monday, 8 February 2010

Weeeell... maybe just a little bit

FIFTEEN MINUTES NON-STOP ON THE TREADMILL! For me, that's 50% longer than I ever ran before on a treadmill, and I was tired but not completely beat, so decided to quit while I was ahead. AND it was after work rather than my usual early morning, on account of the car headlamps conking out this morning. Thank the lord my lovely husband is back from his snowboarding escapade (did I mention I am green with envy..?) and fixed them up for me, so avoiding garage stress and expense. He's a star. Sunrise 7.30something this morning so soon it will be light enough to get back on the bike to work routine - spring and daffodils just around the corner, happy days.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Most definately NOT born to run

Cardiff Bay - freezing cold, foggy, raining - 7.15am. Me and my (younger, fitter, tougher) friend, jogging 2.2 miles over the barrage and back. By the time I limped into the changing rooms back at our office, I felt sick, my face looked like a tomato and all I wanted in the world was to lie down right there on the floor and pass out. My face was still an attactive shade of puce half an hour later when I sank gratefully into a dishevelled heap at my desk and pretended to do something that looked vaguely like work. Is running really as good as everyone makes out..? I keep thinking if I stick at it I will eventually hit some kind of zone and get a kick out of it - the idea appeals greatly, but so far it just ain't living up to my expectations.

Good thing is, by comparison, riding my bike seems like a piece of cake, so as soon as this 3 mile thing in March is out of the way I'm back on two wheels - even those hills are surely easier with a bit of pedal power. In the meantime - nice warm gym tomorrow morning - lovely.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Who knew Tenerife was so pretty?

Forget the shameful horror of Brits on tour in Playa - what a delight to discover El Medano, the wind/kite surfing capital of Tenerife, flanked by beautiful mountains and dramatic rocky hillsides hiding perfect little beach coves... gorgeous. And I didnt feel too guilty for the platefuls of Tapas, mojo sauce and Canarian potatoes we put away (never mind bottles of red wine and Dorada beer) as we were pretty energetic on bikes and on foot. No running, but I kept up a reasonable pace behind my nimble friend as we scrambled over rocks, followed the local goatherd up his mountain, swam in the sea and cycled down the coast.

Back to the grind now - trying not to succumb to post holiday blues, all the harder as its my lovley husband's turn now, snowboarding in Banff, the lucky dog. Early morning run tomorrow before work, then back on the training programme and only a few weeks until the Sport Relief 3 mile run - gulp.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Getting about a bit

Wowser where did this week go? 3 days working in Amsterdam - tried doing a workout in hotel room, but my bodyclock told me it was 5am even though the clock said 6, I had only been awake for 10 minutes so was decidedly un-bendy and to top it off it was before breakfast - my personal army only marches on a full belly! So pretty much a dead loss, but I suppose better for me than an extra 20 minutes in bed. Managed one joggle around the country lanes at home, which are deceptively sloped in the uphill direction so worked my legs until they were about to fall off - coming home was better - all downhill!

Day off today to go and visit my lovely friend Holly and her beautiful baby boy, blissful afternoon sitting on the sofa snuggling him, very good for the soul. Looking forward very much Tuesday when I take off to Tenerife for a cheap and cheerful spot of sunshine, lots of lolling around by the pool and maybe a gentle trot along the beach - debating whether or not to tell my girlie-friend about the training plan, she is horribly fit, has early morning enthusiasm of Tigger proportions and will not, I think, have sympathy for a wimpy 50+ year old. Maybe a slave driver is just what I need. We shall see.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Spotted on the Bicycle Plus website: "An awesome mountain bike race held every year in Gore, NS". A bit late for the 2009 event but I'll be keeping an eye out for 2010 dates. I think my lovely husband would rather enjoy it.
Meanwhile: shopping. I have invested in some thermal overshoes to save my toes from frostbite when I start the early morning rides to work in the spring, and a high viz jacket I've had my eye on for a while. The nice people at Wiggle get a gold star for responding pronto to the email I had to send immediately after I had placed the order - I picked the black one by mistake, not very high viz at all. Thank you Wiggly people.

Swimming today at Cardiff International Pool - fooled around in the nice warm family bit and then did a slow but steady 12 lengths in the big bit, better than sitting on the sofa I guess. I rather fancy swimming lessons to turn my schoolgirl breaststroke into a slick crawl, but they're jolly pricey. Also realised I need to work on my upper body strength a tad - couldnt get myself out without crawling over the side like an injured frog! Hey ho.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

There's a beast in my kitchen

Turbo trainer - HARD work but strangely addicitve. Week 1 of proper training plan progressing well, eased along by some nice evening walks in glorious snow along the canal, oh and an updated playlist on my ipod featuring some good bop de bop bang bang classics such as TRex, Lady GaGa, Muse, House of Pain (how appropriate), Salt'n'Pepa, Raconteurs, Faithless, the Strokes, Deadmau5, Wink, Maccabees, Ting Tings, Justin Timberlake, Kasabian, Hi Fidelity Allstars - I rock. Interspersed with Mumford and Sons who got onto the playlist by accident but I adore them and it works quite well - nicely melodic with some good old shouty bits.

The snow is melting away enough for a run/jiggle/walk along the canal on Saturday and by Sunday I will definately deserve a HUGE roast dinner. And that, I feel, is what its really all about.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Spare a penny guvnor?

Very excited, just set up my fundraising page! Which is a bit nerve wracking as it means I actually have to convince people to part with their hard earned cash, which also means I have to overcome my inate dislike of ASKING for anything, especially money - but hey, get over yourself Nicola, its for the kids who are going to get a little bit of sunshine at Camp Brigadoon.

I have also been inspired by Rocketgirl to dream up some fundraising events during 2010 to get the ball rolling, and a brilliant sponsorship request by the irrepressible JBWilliams has set the standard for the approach to corporate sponsorship.

2011 seems a long way off - until I realise how much there is to get done before the event!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Work it

I am delighted to say that after a couple of days feeling I had aged 5o years (so technically I would be pretty much dead), my muscles rallied, managed a vigorous(ish) 20 minutes CV yesterday and got me thorugh Workout Number 2 today, leaving left me feeling mysteriously energised - I have a training plan for the next 4 weeks - yay!

My mornings are going to go like this:

Mon: Workout A
Tues: Interval training on bike / stepper / treadmill
Wed: Workout B
Thu: Interval training on cross trainer / rowing machine / treadmill
Fri: Workout A (followed by Fatboy cooked breakfast at work)
Sat: Interval walking / running along the canal
Sun: Long lie in with a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie

Then swap Workouts A and B days around so I get the same number of each over a 2 week period. Thanks lovely husband / personal trainer! Did I mention he does a very good massage? Saved my legs from complete anihalation after the first workout - he's GOOD.

When the ice and snow clears I'll be doing the interval training out on Cardiff Bay with my buddies who have signed up for the Sport Relief Cardiff Mile, which I am led to believe is a whole different ball game to a treadmill. And come April we'll be back on the Taff Trail to and from work from my friend's house in Caerphilly.

Ye gods, I am going to be Superwoman by the summer!!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Are jellylegs a good sign...?

Well I thought I was reasonably fit but I just discovered I have muscles in hitherto undiscovered places. But it hurts in a kind of good way I think. As long as I can still actually walk tomorrow I think I'm on to a winner!

I'm a bit scared....

I worked at home today, so missed the gym. My lovely husband offered to run me through a workout instead. He's been scribbling down notes for rather a long time and I think there may be a gaping chasm between his expectations and my ability. I'll let you know later. If I survive...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Get fit or die trying!

Where to start – thankfully not completely from scratch as I am moderately fit and eat pretty well unless it’s the weekend or I’m in the pub, but I’m pretty flaky when it comes to any kind of endurance, particularly the uphill variety.

I’m a regular at the gym but don’t exactly push myself to any kind of limit and get bored pretty fast. I did manage a few 12 mile stints back and forth to work in the summer, and even managed a 55 miler back in the autumn but have slacked off dreadfully since the weather got frosty and the mornings dark; so without a plan (I do like a good plan) I can see the Big Ride ending in a sorry mess after a couple of days.

While browsing for training tips I came across some nice simple beginners cycling tips to help with technique, which I read carefully, but promptly lost interest when I got to the highly technical comments added by helpful souls who are clearly not beginners at all. The cycling world must be terribly modest by nature – I’ve yet to find a ‘beginner’ who is as useless as me – they SAY they are, and then sprint up hills and bounce skilfully down them while I puff and pant and fall off. Reference to ‘zones calculated from a magic number’, ‘functional, lactate and anaerobic thresholds’ just make me feel stupid, so I am going to do a makey-uppey training plan and get my jolly clever husband to vet it (did I mention that he’s a qualified personal trainer?)

On the positive side, I have signed up for a 3 mile charity run in March, which is a bit of a joke as I never actually run anywhere, even in the gym, so I feel a 3 point plan coming on – running, cycling up hills and cycling long distance.

Oops, I’m doing it again – writing about it instead of doing it. Next post will be my outline training plan. Must faff less and do more!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Beauty and the Beast

Naturally I chose the most flattering pic I could find for my blog profile, but to give you an idea of my finesse on a bike, here I am looking ever so glamorous after a day’s tuition up a muddy hill in Wales where I fell off several times and ultimately decided that extreme downhill antics are not for me.

For our Nova Scotia bike ride I will be relying heavily on the technical expertise and moral support of my long suffering husband, who has admirable stamina, style and patience - imagine the gentle handling required with a snivelling wife sat in the mud half way up a never ending hill wailing “I can’t DO this!”

So I think the biggest challenge for him is going to be waiting for me to catch up while I grit my teeth and try my best to last the distance. No excuses – I have enough time to train and more than enough hills on my lovely Welsh doorstep to get myself in some kind of reasonable shape. Strangely I seem to be much more motivated to write about it from the comfort of my sofa than to actually get on my bike…

Research time – training plan required!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Why Nova Scotia?

For everyone I haven’t already bored to death with my good fortune….. we fell in love with the place a few years ago and are now the proud owners of a little corner of heaven in the Annapolis Valley, so we’d like to give something back to our adopted countrymen and future neighbours. Why north to south for this particular jaunt? No idea – a loop from Halifax airport would be much more practical, but it doesn’t feel right somehow; my brain equates south to north as uphill, which it probably would be anyway as north is where the big mountains and hence my biggest challenge lie.

So I had a look at a map of Cape Breton, poked it with a pin and set about some serious research – a spot of googling found all sorts of useful tips from like minded souls who are kind enough to share their experiences on From this I cobbled together a rough outline and some approximate mileages: I have no idea how we’re going to get to the start point, but I’m sure I’ll think of something. Impressed with my planning so far…? Worry not, all this will be scrutinised by my wise and worldly husband, whose attention to detail is inversely proportional to my eternal optimism.

It all kicks off in my mind at Cape North in (that sounds so wildly adventurous..)

Pretty, isn’t it? But there are hills… I wasn’t designed for them, being brought up in Suffolk where a molehill in the garden is the biggest deviation from flat you will ever see. But now I live in Wales, so there’s no excuse, I just have to get off my butt, climb out on my bike and work those legs.

My next bit of research is overnight stops. I briefly considered camping but that means loading up the bike and nowhere to dry rain soaked clothes overnight, so I think bed and breakfast is a worthy investment, and might tempt committed anti-campers to sign up: watch this space!