Monday, 27 August 2012

Bring on the Superhumans...

"Are you excited?" My friend asks me. We're standing in the stands of Old Trafford watching Team GB play Senegal in the Olympic Games.
"Excited?" I query. "What, about?"
"The Olympics!" She replies in a manner which I can only describe as excited.
This seems a strange question; why would I be excited?
"The Olympics?" I offer back, trying to hide any form of incredulity in my voice and failing miserably.
"Yes!" she replies, in a manner which, I decide now, is undoubtedly one of excitement. "I can't wait... why, aren't you excited...?"

But, despite my friend's evident enthusiasm on that day, I just couldn't conjure any kind of similar emotion. Was there something wrong with me? Should I be more excited? It's not that I didn't want the games to be in London and I certainly wasn't one of those nay-sayers that were so prolific in the British media pre-Olympic Games. No, I was simply apathetic. I neither cared, nor didn't care. I imagined I would catch a few events on 'the box'; that The Games would affect me rather in the same way that football does each season: I enjoy watching it live and when it's showing 'live' in the corner of my lounge, I'll glance up occasionally to see what's caused Mik to swear profusely and leap up and down with excessive arm gestures.

How wrong was I.

The game at Old Trafford was pre-Olympic Opening Ceremony. It turns out that, for me, the Opening Ceremony was a turning point. I was entertained. I was moved. I was proud. And I can use those three words to summarise the whole two weeks. The Games continually entertained me, surprised me even. I felt tears well in my eyes when the National Anthem accompanied our athletes standing atop of the podium.
A whole new world of exciting sports had been revealed to me; who'd have thought I'd enjoy watching weight-lifting, would be engaged by equestrian or would find myself leaping up and down and screaming at swimmers? Certainly not me. But I there I was, fully affected by these people and their sports. Their effort. Their achievements. And, frequently, over the two weeks, as we worked our way further and further up the medal table, Mik would look over at me, shake his head and ask "You having another cry?".
"No." I'd assert, looking away and surreptitiously sweeping a tiny tear from the corner of my eye.

But, the Olympic Games have ruined me. I want more... I expect more.  No longer am I satisfied with the weekend offerings of our television companies. X-Factor? Red or Black? Celebrity Big Brother? Boring. I'm spoilt; I want more. After two weeks of watching people with real talent, doing something that takes real hard work and real dedication, they just appear anaemic and inadequate. I need more.

So, I can't wait for the Paralympic Games to start this week, and I know I'm not the only one, am I?...

Bring on the Superhumans!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

How Very British

The tube is rattling along at a pace of knots and I'm doing my best 'stare at my feet and pretend I have no idea that I'm snuggled as close as is humanly possibly beneath the closest stranger's armpit' look. I'm on my way to Notting Hill. That's the posh, swanky, sloaney bit of London with cute painted houses and vintage shops selling second hand clothes for extortionate prices - for those of you who aren't posh, swanky or sloaney enough to know this already.

I'm here to meet up with my friends Ellen and Louisa for a day of very British, middle class fun. We're having a very British, middle class picnic, bought from apt British middle class stores such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer's, - other apt and British middle class stores are available - and we're going to drink British, (though possibly French, but we'll make sure we drink it in a very British manner) middle class champagne whilst sat in the beautiful (British) surroundings of Royal Kensington Gardens, - how very British and middle class.

I mistakenly look up momentarily and accidentally catch the eye of the armpit bearer; we both shift uncomfortably and resume our respective staring at nothing, relieved to re-assume our very British, middle class tube roles.

Later, we're going to drink fruity Swedish cider that contains elderflower, of all things, in a British bar on the Portobello Road, after which we will complete the day supping wine in the theatrical surroundings of Regent's Park where we will be entertained by a group of 'players' performing A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Seriously, I think to myself, can you GET any more British and middle class than that?

The motion of the tube begins to slow as we approach the station. The strangers around me begin preparing themselves, picking up bags and shuffling closer to the doors. naturally, I politely disengage myself from the gentleman's elbow as he prepares to alight from the train, moving a small boy - eight? Nine maybe? Yes, nine, definitely, - moving a nine year old boy in front of him as he does so. I wonder briefly what plans they have for the day, Madam Tussaud's perhaps, The London Dungeon's or just shopping on Oxford Street; certainly nothing as British and middle class as my friends and I have planned for the day. The doors open. I shift aside.

"Here we are," the gentleman says to the nine year old boy as he nudges him gently towards the doors, "this is our stop, off you get Moriarty."!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I'm lying on the beach, In Ibiza - not the clubby bit, the other bit; the non-clubby bit ...there's an 18-30's only rule in the other bit and I think you might evaporate or burst or turn into a pumpkin if you're tempted to dip your little toe into the place past 31 years old... We're taking in the sights and sounds of the 'real' Espania.

I've recently become distracted by two groups of people in front of me. I've labelled them: Posh English Girls and Chavvy Spanish Family. But this has disturbed me. Why have I labelled them in this way? Have I become a labeller? When did I become so judgmental about people to a point where I give them perky little labels... Full on titled names? I think that this is something I've always tried to avoid, labelling people, it's something I often tell Mik off for. In fact, I can see his smug grin now when he realises that I too, have become a labeller. I decide not to tell him. But, as I lay here, with the sea lapping at my feet and the sounds of sweet childish laughter lilting on the air, I become more preoccupied as to why I have labeled each group in the way I have. I try to look for the obvious distinctive features. Ponder whether everyone on the beach, no matter their nationality, would perceive them in this way. Or whether it's just me.

Posh English Girls are sweet. There are five of them in the group. Three are left here at the moment as the two Chanel glasses-wearing ones have apologised for being boring before leaving to enjoy their balcony away from the 'awful sand'. They've just been given a couple of inflatables by some Dutch holiday makers who are going home - they didn't say they were Dutch, that's just an accurate guess, but they did say they were going home - they are now planning on how to surprise the other two girls in their group with the inflatables (Posh English Girls not the Dutch) which seems to involve the inflatable turning up on the balcony doorstep all of its own accord, whilst they hide, in fits of hysterical hilarity around the corner. Perhaps this is how I know they're posh; in my world, inflatables do not posses the capacity to do this. Listening in to their conversation, it is relaxed, soft, quiet. They discuss what 'Daddy' does for a living in between their reading of 'Fifty Shades...' and 'Grazia' magazine.

Beyond them, in the sea, Chavvy Spanish Family are loud and brash. Not speaking much Spanish past the essentials of 'hola', 'gracias' and 'mi casa est blanca', I'm unable to ascertain if they are shouting to each other a critique of the protagonist in 'Fifty Shades' or, if they are musing over their fathers' successes in life. I assume they are. They are certainly enjoying life. Splashing about - a lot - dunking each other, demonstrating the sort of overt affection that I, as a typically reserved English lady, find a little too excessive for the public arena. Their zealous and exuberant behaviour calls to mind that poster from back in the 80's... You know, the one that used to don the walls of every public swimming pool: 'no bombing, no diving, no heavy petting'.
'They'd be thrown out of an English swimming pool if this was the 80's' I think to myself as I glance at the beach lifeguard... He's watching them closely.

I look from them, to the Posh English Girls quietly quaffing their Evian, and back again... No, I just can't pinpoint what is is about them that has caused me to label them in such a way. Perhaps it's just intuition. Perhaps it's just me. Internally, I chastise myself. Who am I to pass judgement on these groups of strangers? To label them like some prejudiced, judgmental labeller? Suddenly I feel ashamed. The Posh English Girls are just quiet, lovely girls with well-pronounced words and dads they're proud of; and the Chavvy Spanish Family are just fun-loving, ostentatious, beach-goers, enjoying themselves in a loud and overly boisterous manner.

As I look back from them fooling about in the sea, I vow to myself to never again enter into such flippant, flimsy labelling and, most definitely, never mention my foray into this sordid world to Mik, who would surely mock me for these foolish ways.
I catch Mik's eye. He raises his eyebrows at me and smirks.

Friday, 3 August 2012


Past experiences have taught me that alcohol is not the best fuel for exercise; it does not make for a pleasant work-out experience the following day. Needless to say, having consumed a fair amount of birthday alcohol yesterday, I was not looking forward to my Curves session today; so imagine my surprise when I superseded all previous workouts, smashed my target and burnt 430 calories! Gold medal for Maggie!

Having achieved my planned early(ish) morning work out I spent the rest of the day with my lovely friend, Anj, and her even lovelier 2 1/2 year old son whirlwind of energy, Zain. We lunched at Wetherspoons (where they now do a very tasty and super-healthy 'Superfood salad), we played in the park (Zain testing my newly developed arm muscles with persistent swing pushing), and... we changed my name. Why? Because it was easier...

"Hello Julie!" Zain beamed as I entered his house;
"Maggie... this is Maggie". His mum gently corrected.
"Julie push me." Zain insisted as he sat poised on the swing;
"Maggie." His mum and I gently corrected.
"Thank you Julie" Zain politely thanked me on receiving his ice cream;
"Maggie." His mum and I gently corrected.
"There's Julie's car" Zain excitedly exclaimed as we left the park;
"Maggie." His mum and I chuckled, in gentle correction.
"Bye, bye Julie." Zain smiled as he waved me off;
"Bye, bye Zain" I smiled back.

2 1/2 year olds are particularly stubborn... it's easier to change my name!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Tipsy turvey!

Well... tomorrow is gonna hurt... that's for sure!

Right now, admittedly, I'm a little tipsy. I have spent a fantastic night out with a great group of girls, where I spent the entire night eating pizza and drinking wine... actually that's not strictly true, I also treated myself to an Eaton Mess! Mmmmm...

Anyway, in my new leaf promise (that I made only yesterday), I am due at Curves tomorrow morning where I will inevitably die!

So, this is goodbye. Farewell friends. It's been good and we've had a (relatively) long life together. I never thought the turn of my 34th year would also signal my penultimate day in this world but at least it's been a good one! Tomorrow, I will endeavour to fulfil the fitness promise I have made myself and, let's face it, it's not gonna be pretty. If - and that's very unlikely - I live through this experience, I'll see you on the other side; if not, it's been fun...

Au revoir world...


PS... on the plus side: I painted my kitchen this morning and it looks muchos nice! :-)

Ooooh... pretty!!!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Back in the game


We all have to stay as quiet as possible, so I'd appreciate it if you'd read this in a whispered voice; which is due to this little man:

Who is in my care tonight... I know... poor him!... whilst his parents have some well-earned quality time together. Of course, this leaves me with very little to do, so what better time could there be to catch up with all of you whilst my nephew is snoring away (and he really is snoring quite loudly!)?

Needless to say, however, that 'catching up' could take quite a long time as it's been several months since I have posted on this blog. So, to avoid a mass-exodus of readers at this moment in time (all 3 of you are very important to me), I shall now provide a brief, yet comprehensive, account of my past 3 months:

- moved house - family visited from USA - family caught virus and threw up all over new house - unpacked into new house - ran SOTOS 10k, in Fleetwood, after a whole day out drinking alcohol and nearly died - recovered (almost) - Went to Stone Roses concert (in the park opposite my house...woop!).

- end of school term - ate - drank - ate - drank - got fat - joined Curves gym - started diet - started running on my own so I didn't die when I returned to running club having not been for a ridiculous amount of time! - ran - Curves - ran - Curves - ran to Curves - still too scared to go back to running club - watched the Olympics - went to lovely friends' wedding - got less fat (woop!).

- watched more Olympics - Curves - painted kitchen - babysitting nephew (in present tense because it's actually happening now!).

Ta daaaa! ... Ooooh, a bit loud... sorry... whispering again...

And now that you're up to date, let's move on to more important things... what happens next. Well I intend to start blogging more again. Let's face it, I've been pretty poor recently and I still owe the lovely people at UnderArmour a proper review of their T-shirt they sent me... watch this space! In conversation with a friend last week, I realised the close connection that exists between lack of blog posts and lack of exercise:

Friend:  I seem to have missed your blog posts recently, are you still posting on facebook when you write one?
Me: Oh, that's because I haven't written any blog posts recently... actually, for quite a while if I'm honest... Oh my word, for like, a quarter of a year or something mad like that...
Brain: Yes, you Orca, that's why you got fat and unfit... you can't blog if you haven't done anything to blog about! Oops!

Well, today is new leaf day. Tightening the belt and intensifying the exercise a few weeks back has meant that I am already successfully on my way to being able to actually tighten my belt! And who can fail to be inspired at the moment with all the excitement and hype of the Olympics?! But it's not just the 'elite' athletes who are inspiring me to get out there are run; if you haven't read about Team Fools Rushing's amazing achievement at TR24 last weekend, then hop over to Fortnightflo's blog to read her account... absolutely crazy fab!

Anyway... best go... the little man is waking... who shouted??!!!

Catch up again tomorrow, when my (birth)day begins with a run in the park with a couple of friends who have just taken up running. :-)