Saturday, December 31, 2011

I have a huge list of books to read/look through and I think I'll start with this one.

Anyway, it's almost the end of 2011 .... only about 7hrs left. No huge plans for me this year but I will be going over to friends for a few drinks and food before bringing in the New Year.

Do I have any resolutions .... not a huge one for starting the year with some big changes but there are a few things I'll try and put more effort into:
  1. Be braver with the sports I do - wakeboarding, surfing, mountainbiking etc...I want to take more air!
  2. Take longer runs - running only up to 5 miles in training and then wondering why miles 8-9 and beyond always feel like hard work shouldn't be a surprise.
  3. Read more.
  4. Take more pictures - both digital and film.
Think that's about it. All things I already do but I just want to get more out of it. Oh yeh, I should be getting a couple more tattoos for 2012 and if possible upgrade my motorbike for something bigger.

Have a cracking night and see you next year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Darkside Of The Lens

With the weather on the turn and the feel of winter starting to bite, it's important not to hibernate (as my body usually wants to do). Get out there, in what ever form and make the most of our amazing environment.

Also, appreciate what you have, rather than simply want what you don't ....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quite a week for history ...

... now that Muammar Gaddafi is dead, does that mean Robert Mugabe could be next?

A week off work ahead of me (thank f&*k for that). Don't think I'll be able to get any surfing in but I am going to try out a cable-park for the first time and see if that can help me with my ground work (wakeboarding).
Winter is starting to hit and I don't think I'll be getting my summer shortie out again for a while .... might take it to the cable-park with me but I fear that it'll stay in the car!

Oktoberfest was a great crack last week and out team of 4 finished mid-table. Not too shabby. I was still full of a cold, had a sore side (lasted for 4 day but no idea why) and a cough but was up with Steve and Dave time-wise. My 3rd lap didn't go particularly smoothly (although it was my fastest time?????) after on the last hill climb my chain snapped and I had to run the rest of the way....not sure I appreciated the guy with the tannoy advising me to get on my bike and pedal as I might find it easier :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

La Réunion Surfers are an Embarrassment to the International Surfing Community

Commentary by Lamya Essemlali, President Sea Shepherd France

As a French woman, I am deeply ashamed of my select countrymen of La Réunion island. It appears that a group of surfers of la Réunion are a vengeful, frightened pack of sissified wimps.
On September 19, 2011, a shark fatally attacked a 32-year-old body surfer named Mathieu Schiller. It was a tragedy and it is very regrettable, but it was not an act of malice on behalf of the shark. Fatal shark attacks do occur from time to time because a surfer on a surfboard looks just like a seal to a shark from underwater.
Seals and sharks belong in these waters and sharks eat seals in the natural habitat. Surfers are not part of the natural eco-system and therefore accept this risk when they enter the water. However, contrary to popular misconception, sharks are not out to get surfers, or anyone else in the water for that matter. On average, only five people are killed by sharks in the entire world each year. Compare this figure to the average number of people killed by ostriches, which is 100, and the ostrich is 20 times more dangerous than the shark. Yet, most people are clueless of these actual statistics and fear sharks much more than they fear the massive land birds. We don’t see people running in fear from ostriches, but we do see this reaction to sharks.
In fact, your average golfer appears to be more brave and manly than your average la Réunion surfer when you consider that more golfers are killed each year from lightning strikes than surfers killed by sharks.
Many surfers worldwide support sea Shepherd Conservation Society and our efforts to defend and protect all marine wildlife including sharks. Kelly Slater and Dave Rastovich, two of the greatest surfers alive today, are also members of Sea Shepherd’s Advisory Board. We also have three female divers who swim with great whites and tiger sharks. Our crew and I swim, dive, and surf in the company of sharks on a regular basis.
That’s because we’re not a bunch of whiny surfers from la Réunion where apparently everyone is so out of touch with reality and nature that they have gone on a rampage to kill sharks in revenge of the attack on one surfer. In a display of cowardly, hysterical overreaction, approximately ten sharks have been slain in the waters of la Réunion as so-called punishment for the loss of the surfer.
Compare what’s happened in la Réunion to the shark attack on 15-year-old Hannah Mighall who was bitten in Tasmania two years ago. The first thing she said after she was attacked was not to kill the shark, as the attack was not its fault. Sea Shepherd awarded this young surfer with a medal for her bravery, and Kelly Slater thanked her personally for understanding that surfers exercise respect and not contempt for nature.
Another such example is a former Sea Shepherd supporter who recently died in Australia from a shark attack. Prior to the attack, he told his parents that if a shark were ever to attack him, that they not seek revenge on the species and instead donate to Sea Shepherd’s shark defense campaign.
Each year, humanity exterminates about 90 million sharks, many of which have only their fins cut off before their finless bodies are tossed back into the sea to die a slow and agonizing death.
The shark is a vital part of the health of our oceans and only a fool would see them as a species to be taken for granted and destroyed. If we destroy the sharks, we destroy the ecological integrity of the seas, and if the oceans die, we die – it’s as simple as that! And guess what that mean? No more surfing!
So what else am I to think of this select group of misinformed French surfers lashing out in utter revenge at innocent sharks in the waters of la Réunion when a real surfer like Hannah has the courage and wisdom to accept the risk she took surfing in the shark’s natural habitat disguised as natural shark food.
The actions of these select people must be an insult to the memory of Mathieu Shiller – how could he condone such careless destruction of these beautiful creatures carried out in his name?
Mathieu was a remarkable champion surfer, and I would assume that he had respect for the sea and for all the wonderful creatures that live within it – including the shark. I can’t imagine that all surfers in la Réunion believe they are honoring this great man, this talented surfer, with this insane campaign of petty revenge against an important and beautiful creature that did nothing but behave the way a shark naturally does.
After all, sharks aren’t the ones that ruthlessly hunt us down and slaughter us by the millions to make soup – humans do! They are not nearly as destructive nor as ruthless as we have been to them and every other creature in the sea for that matter. They are the victims, not us.
I hope the group associated with the recent shark killings change their behavior and really think of what they’re doing to the species and the seas. They should honor Mathieu’s life instead of dishonoring his good name with hysterical and cowardly pogrom of hate and slaughter against creatures entirely undeserving of such viciousness.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Where the hell has the summer gone? Only been back at work for a week and the surf, scuba-diving, mountainbiking and sunshine has gone, only to be replaced by a very grey autumn. OK, a lot of my sunshine came from Lanzarote but even back in the UK we had a few days of sunshine and fun. Now back to the real world and even the sunshine seems to have been sucked out of things.

Want to sneak 3 more wakeboarding sessions in before the end of the season but work and the crappy weather seems to be conspiring against me. I'll be in the water on Saturday but my plan of getting a couple of after work sessions in is slowly fading. Even this weekend is going to be a challenge as Saturday is looking wet and windy. Wet is a little off-putting but the wind creates far too much chop and takes a lot of the fun out of it ... still, any lake time is a good time!

Surf-wise...another couple of weeks until I get any beach time in Woolly. Still, it should be a most excellent weekend as it's going to be a good old gathering to celebrate Andy's birthday .... good times! However, before that I have the small matter of the Highworth Sprint triathlon to complete. Shouldn't be a problem but it's been a while since I did any proper swimming ... or running for that matter.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back from the sunshine ....

Our two weeks in Lanzarote were brilliant. The diving was a lot of fun, and the guys and girls at the dive club were very entertaining (thank you Jo for you patience ... especially with my weight belt issues). The surf wasn't anything different (reminded me of Woolly but with a lot of wind and a bloody strong x-shore current) but it was great to get wet in warm water and a great big lump of sunshine. Lisa was a bit jealous of my trips to the north side of the island and so in the second week jump on-board the minibus and had a days surf lessons. She might even now be a convert ... although I don't think she'll be letting go of her bodyboard just yet. The big surprise was finding some very worthy and technical downhill mountain-biking. Only got on a bike for one day but the big downhill we were taken to (down the side of a volcano) was fab; I just wish I had taken my own bike. The only downside to biking on the island would be when you hit the ground, you'd definitely know about it as the entire island is made from sharp volcanic rock.

I guess you could say we had a few drinks but oddly enough the hang-overs were minimal .... apart from the cocktail session that ended at 5.30am!
Now back at home and I've been back to the lake just the once for a spot of wakeboarding. The guys gave me a different board to try out. It felt so much better than the usual board I ride but as it was the first session I've had since f*&king-up my knee and so I was too much of a pussy to go for any real jumps ... I'll try and push it next week when I hit the lake again.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


We head off for a couple of weeks of surfing and scuba-diving next week and so I've decided to avoid the wakeboarding lake until we get back. My knee is only now feeling 99% better since landing a jump badly back in June and ending up on crutches. A bit of a pain but I'm just a tad worried that if I was to squeeze a couple of sessions in before heading for the plane, I'll f&*k my knee up again and be screwed for my 2-weeks in the sun.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Why I went on strike .....
Man, I have had some serious internal moral conflicts (and still do) about this entire strike malarkey!
It's no secret that I can't stand anything that this government stand for. In particular I have issues with the majority of their 'welfare reforms'. I don't trust their strategies (if in fact they have any strategies beyond the length of a term) and detest the fact that much of their policy remains highly sort-term and narrow-sighted.
So ...... I joined ATL Union when I started teaching; the reason being that I wanted the protection (legal) and have a long term belief in the collective bargaining powers of Union membership. But I opted for the ATL for the reason that they have a history of refraining from any strike action.
Over the last 12-month or so, working folk have faced an unprecedented attack - wages, working conditions and pensions. This has been combined with an attack on the vast majority of public services in what seems to be an attempt to roll back the progress made to the post WWII era. With these measures starting to bite, local services are being closed and people are finding themselves alone, on the edge of an economic precipice and with no one to turn to. This is having a significant impact on a number of specific groups - young people, people with disabilities and the elderly. With young people losing their youth centres and the elderly and disabled losing access to care facilities, people are being forgotten!
On a personal level, I believe it is demonstrably unfair that I am being asked to pay more into my pension, work longer and receive less when I eventually retire. This will have a huge impact on the standard of education, with teachers remaining in position until their 68th birthday..... talking to my students, they really don't want to be taught by a teacher close to becoming a septuagenarian. This change will also have an impact on the private sector. As the public sector reforms continue, the knock-on effect will mean private employers will (if they haven't done so already) change their employee working conditions and pension rights.
Furthermore, the not-so-obvious economic impact is that with an ageing working population (as we are all forced to work close to our 70's), there can only be an increase in unemployment and thus an even greater burden on the welfare state.
With specific reference to my pension (Teachers Pension Scheme - TPS). The governments argument is that public sector pensions are simply unaffordable and 'costing the tax payer'. This is simply not true! I pay my pension contributions into the TPS ( a separate 'pot') and like other public and private sector schemes, it is funded through a combination of employer and employee contributions. It is therefore a deferred pay, and is not 'taxpayers money'. Plus, over time the TPS has actually been in surplus more frequently than it has been in deficit (I ask you to look at what Robert Maxwell did with his employee pension scheme and make parallels to what the government want to do with the TPS). In 2006/7 changes were made to the TPS scheme to make it more affordable but for some reason since these changes were introduced the government has not (and continues to refuse to) carry out a valuation of the scheme. Even though this is required by law - why will they not simply carry out this valuation if only to prove their case for reform? As such, there is NO basis for judging the affordability of the TPS.
Looking at the bigger picture within education, I also feel the need to stand up and be counted about the way the government are destroying the education system. Academies  - turning all schools into competing private companies, with the bottom line firmly focusing on 'price' and students will simply be referred to as  revenue streams. Choice - telling school that they are being given more freedom to provide a diverse portfolio of qualifications to suit ALL students but in the same breath creating a league table that only accounts for maths, english, science, humanities and a foreign language. This means that those more 'applied' schools (with less traditionally-able students students - BTEC's etc) will fall further and further down the league table, attract fewer students, less funds and become the inevitable 'sink' school - check out the educational system in America! Pay & Conditions - linked to academy status. As more schools turn to Academy (private limited company) status this means that the wealthier schools, with the larger incomes will be able to pay better wages to attract better staff. This will only make the situation even worst for those school (applied focus) struggling to attract the better students to get the better teachers - access to (an equally valuable) education is a right and these actions go against any moral obligation the government has.

In no way am I militant but I fear that if we all remain quiet and allow the government to dismantle the British economy and continue to negatively impact normal peoples way of life, we will wake up one morning with only the rich being able to make choices in life (we're already half way there). I just hope that along the way, we don't don't all lose sight of the big picture and start a battle to hit the bottom first (or last).

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

F*%ked my knee-up ...

What a crappy weekend! My mum came for a visit (not the reason for the crappy weekend) and to watch me do the Blenheim Triathlon. She arrived on the Friday and so I thought it would be cool to take her to the lake and watch me doing a spot of wakeboarding. The sun was out, the lake was calm and I was feeling pretty confident! Strapped on a board and jumped into the lake ..... on my first jump, I took air and landed very badly ( my own fault). My knee twisted in one direction and I twisted in the other - the result now is a quality limp and the inability to walk without a crutch! So, not only did I need to go to A&E (minor injury unit) on a sunny Saturday but I couldn't do the Blenheim Tri on the Sunday .... Grrrrrr!

Oh yeh ... we're not getting one of Scooby's pups. Probably for the best but that plan was also scupper'd!

AND .... got a speeding ticket (or rather 'intention to prosecute' letter) though the post from my brief surfing adventures into Wales the other weekend. Spotted the sneaky little bugger (speed unit van hiding being a bush on a bridge) but obviously a wee bit late!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Another dog ....

Lisa and me are trying to work out whether to add dog #2 to our lives. Tilly has been with us now for over 6yrs and like anyone else out there, she has become a center-point to our lives. My little sisters dog (Scooby) has just given birth (she had a very hard time and lost one pup) to three healthy puppies - 2 girls and 1 boy (brown head and brown spots on back). Sis has offered us the boy.
The pair of us have shot wildly between 'yes' and 'no' over the last few weeks and to start with I was against the idea but now I almost get the feeling that I'm more pro-pup than Lisa is.

Mmmmm, what to do? They're only 5-days old at the moment, so we have a few weeks to decide.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

20yrs without getting on a racer!
It was the Cotsworld Sprint-Triathlon this morning. As I'm truly crap as being organised I camped-it-up over night at the even and was up bright and early in plenty of time to get to the start line (unlike Paul who literally arrived while all the competitors were in their wetties and at the start line).

Not a bad time (1hr 16mins) but I can see easily where I can make up 5mins or more. Get stuck into the swim (don't wait until almost everyone has started in the belief that they're all faster than you - they weren't & so I ended up fighting my way though all the guys I'd get steam ahead), don't faff in the transitions and if I have the energy to chat as I'm running along then I'm clearly not trying hard enough! Also, the fact that today was the first time in over 20yrs that I've been on a racer bike (in the past I have just used my mountain bikes) I wasn't too much of an embarrassment  - especially as it was wet on the roads. Plus, I didn't take a tumble (like Paul) in the bike dismount area :).

My right leg was a tad dodgy after last weeks half marathon, so I'm glad to see that I now have 3 weekends free of events. The Blenheim Tri is next on the list (start of June) and then the Henley Tri follows after that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is this summer ..... it's becoming quite the norm to get bloody lovely weather in April, only to find that the summer ends up on the wet side of shiny!
Lisa, me and Tilly are heading off to Exmoor (well, the edge of Exmoor) for 4-days later this afternoon. The plan is to get some proper outside time, with a spot of surfing mixed in!
My tattoo has settled in well and it's ace having some ink that was specifically sketched for me, with bits about me, Lisa and even Tilly in it!
Really looking forward to the summer hol. Doing our PADI, a spot of 'nice' mountain biking, a Spa (Lisa's idea for me to do it as well); Lisa is planning on doing morning yoga and I'm going to be surfing in-between it all.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Yay, a spot of sunshine!

After last nights mid-week drinks I think hitting the gym this evening is going to be a struggle. I'm even struggling to get changed and take Tilly out for a walk in the lovely sunshine. I think it could be the fact that I just need to survive 'til the end of the week and then we're off to Exmoor for a few days (staying in a cottage & not camping) for some fresh air and a couple of dashes to the beach if the surf and sun make a decent appearance.

The  re-launch was a cracking weekend. Lisa and me didn't arrive 'til late in the evening (M4 was jammed) but we still managed to pack the drink in, meet with friends and have a lot of fun - Lisa was a tad confused when the bar was found to be closed at about 12.30am. Trev looked seriously chuffed that so many guys & girls had turned up to help get the party started.

Also, after catching up with Jojo at the weekend I think we're going to give NASS a go this year. Lisa and me went to Wakestock last year but it's a bloody long way to go for a Saturday & Sunday - I loved the wakeboarding though!

Bring on  the summer ...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hate being ill!

Thank f*%k it's the end of the week. It' actuually been a pretty short 'working' one but flipping heck it's been a hard one. Should have run the Reading Half on Sunday but was in no condition to be leaving the apartment, never mind running 13 miles. A tad gutted, as I was planning on using the run as a training session to help with the GWR atthe beginning on May. I'll have to put the effort into running 13 miles another weekend, with out the motivation of being surrounded by hundreds of other runners.

No real plans for this weekend apart from taking it easy! Next weekend I'm in Woolly (need to get down pretty dam fast on Friday night) for something special happening with Trev and Eyeball ... as usual trev has been a wee bit secretive about what his re-launch actually include - although the new graphics on his van give a few big hints.

Must also throw an email in the direction of the lake guys, to find out when wakeboarding starts up again. It's usually around Easter that things start up again but when with the Royal wedding etc, I don't really know what's going on with holidays and weekends. Still, I'm really looking forward to strapping on the old impact vest again.

A bottle of wine will help me feel better ...... I just know it will!

Monday, February 21, 2011

With a week off work ahead, I'm looking forward to a spot of sofa-time. Have work to do and a bit of DIY but I should be able to find the time to get my brain working closer to 100% again. The motorbike needs checking out before I start using it again happy and I want to do a bit of fiddling with my mountainbike before hitting the welsh hills with Barney on Friday monkey 
In slightly bigger news, I'm also planning on getting my new tattoo started. It's going to take a few hours and possibly a couple of sessions chef

Monday, January 10, 2011

Man, it's been a hard few months. I'll not go into any detail but I feel as though a huge weight has been removed from my shoulders.
Hit Woolly for the weekend and as sad as the reason was, it was great to see everyone. The surf club all made the effort to attend this weekend to say goodbye to Indian, who sadly passed over Christmas. It was a lovely memorial paddle-out. the sun made an appearance and we even managed to find a slightly more sheltered spot to gather and join in a circle. Both Indian's parents and children attended the day and it was very strong of Indian's dad to thank us all for coming together to say goodbye.
We all had a few drinks to celebrate Indian and his life on Saturday night, and after a couple of months off the beer, I felt a little hung-over the following morning.
It was a beautiful weekend and no better way to say bye to a friend.