Monday, 30 April 2007

Aboard The USSS Treadmill

Day off to recover today and boy do I need it, my arms and shoulders ache. Appear to have done my back in doing the Tri. Seems life is getting its own back on me for having the audacity to take being 40 so lightly. My back did seem to be giving me trouble on the run yesterday but now it's worse. Daughter calls us a pair of skivers as she goes off to school.

Lay in. Sex. Time to catch up on the Sunday papers.

Pop down the newsagent to get my first free copy of the Times. I have taken advantage of a subscription offer that allows me to have the Times every day of the week for 24 weeks for only £2 a week. Which is the price of the Sunday Times, which I always buy, so the rest of the week is effectively free.

Despite my dodgy back I cut lawn and do some gardening. All accompanied by the compulsory ball kicking for Doggo.

By the time it gets around to 3pm Doggo is creased, which is a good job because I have a Gym induction booked. L has her own appointment with a physio. Rather bravely she bikes there and she doesn't even ask me to help her warm up.

The induction is quite good fun. There are seven of us to be induced. Four babes, a slightly overweight couple who remind me of a couple of friends of mine and me. The instructor seems to instinctively know that my back is bad, or is it just that he can tell that I'm now 40, and puts me on all the machines that stress it. He naturally selects the girl with the most cleavage to demonstrate the equipment where you have to thrust your chest out and the girl in tight lyrca trousers he puts on the machine where she has to spread her legs wide, hence giving us all a view that leaves very little to the imagination. I can see the instructor is enjoying himself and for an encore he puts the slightly overweight chap on a stretching machine where he has to adjust everything to get his stomach in.

Had my first ever run on a treadmill. Now that was a bizarre experience. All the flashing lights on the control panel make me feel like I'm in an episode of Star Trek piloting the good ship USSS Treadmill. The flipping thing was telling me all sorts of bizarre information. Mind you I did like the heart rate monitor facility, it's quite fun to watch yourself die.

In the evening its dog class and the trainer advises practicing a 'release command' for Doggo. She says a good test is to use a 'release command' when we feed Doggo. Yeah right, she doesn't know Doggo. So we sit Doggo down, give him a bowl of food, then say ok eat. Fine. But he’ll say no thanks, not right now, I’m not hungry and then he’ll wander off and do something more interesting. Like sleep or football. Such is life with our dog.

L does curried Salmon for tea again, wonderful.

At long last the results are out for yesterdays Tri. I came 119th out of 260 in the men's event, so yes this time I was comfortably mid table. 11:14 for my swim, 45:16 for my bike and 21:25 for my run. 1.17.55 in total. Which is an improvement on my first Tri last year but not by a huge amount.

113 wasn't in a team and she did beat me by 52 seconds courtesy of beating me by over a minute in the swim and over two and half minutes on the run. Must try harder. If only she hadn't used devious means to delay me on the bike.

121 was behind me overall but only really because I beat him by two minutes in the swim.

Work to do.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Overcoming Blindness

4am alarm. We both wake up sweaty. Too much pasta L reckons. On the road by 5am. Doggo thinking oh no what’s happening now. In Skipton for 6.50. We are one of the first there; which is a real novelty. We park Doggo right by the course, no overflow car park for us early birds. A bit of a relief because these are usually several miles away.

At the briefing they inform us they are running approximately 20 minutes late. Doggo is with us at the briefing and is quivering away. Excited, for reasons know only to him. It dawns on me that he thinks that this group of people who are listening to the briefing are actually stood on the start line of a race. He probably thinks we're about to embark on one of our ‘cake’ cross-country runs. As the briefing ends and the crowd start to disperse, Doggo is pulling at his lead, ready to go. I let him off thinking this will calm him down. People are walking off in all directions so surely it’ll dawn on him. Not a bit of it. Off he goes, apparently picking a person at random to follow. We have to call him back. When he comes back he looks well hacked off, even more so when we put him in the car.

We have separate start times. L's scheduled start time was 8.52 and mine was 9.21, 29 minutes apart. L is worried that I might catch her. I'm not so sure, 29 minutes is a big ask. When we get our race numbers we find that they’ve moved our numbers up one place and although this leaves L’s start time unchanged mine is now 9.18. So I’ve taken 3 minutes out of her advantage before I’ve even started. Even so 26 minutes is still a lot to make up.

We go to the pool and I watch L commence her swim. Then I need to off load some weight, my second dump of the morning. Nerves don’t normally get me but nothing I’ve eaten should be trying to beat such a hasty exit. I get back in time to see L finish her swim and leave the pool. I strip to my race gear and get in line ready for my start.

The swim goes well, in a way. Although I go off too fast and catch the guy in front of me. I overtake him which may have been a bad thing because now I have to try and stay in front of him. I speed up further but after another length I look back and he is miles behind, so I try and settle into a steady pace but my stroke is ragged and I can’t get any rhythm going. About half way through and the other two guys in my lane get out, the next start doesn’t put anyone else in my lane so I’m on my own which is nice. At the start after that a chap does get in my lane and at the same time disaster strikes me. The left eye of my goggles fill with water. Closing that eye just makes the leak it worse and I have to stop. I empty my goggles but the water has moved my contact lens. I am now effectively blind in one eye. I try blinking it back into place but it’s no good. I complete the final two lengths and squint my way to transition. Transition is 300m away and is mainly tarmac but it isn’t as arduous as I expected.

My transition is slow due to the onset of blindness and I ‘waste’ time desperately trying to manoeuvre the missing lens back into place. In the end I head out on to the bike course still with only half my vision, praying the route is well marked and the traffic light. Less than a mile into the bike, and miraculously before the first roundabout which is a traffic nightmare, I manage to blink my lens back into place. Vision restored, I attempt to get down to some serious biking. I immediately pass some girl who is tottering along on her mountain bike. The bike course isn’t pleasant, too much traffic. I have to stop at a roundabout to let cars go and then again later at a junction. Also the road surface is horrendous, really rough. I also wonder if I’ve gone the wrong way, I’m biking almost alone along a busy road and all the cyclists are coming the opposite way. There are no signs to reassure me that I am on the right road. I resolve that if it turns out I went wrong at the roundabout, I will simply bike the course in reverse. I spy a cyclist in yellow up the road and resolve to chase him down, hoping he’s in the race. I make headway but it is slow. I finally catch him; he does have a number on his back, 121. I notice that he has resorted to riding down the white line, to lessen the roughness of the tarmac. I follow his example. It is slightly better.

I pass him and attempt to lose him. Eventually we come to some marshals which at least shows that we’re in the right race. We turn on to some nice country lane and now I pass loads of people but most of them are on mountain or shopper bikes. I dawdle behind a girl on a mountain bike for a few seconds, she is out of her seat and waggling her arse at me. It’s an very enjoyable diversion from the hill we are both battling up but regrettably she is climbing so slowly that I have to push on past her. I would practically have to pedal backwards to stay behind her and questions would be asked why my bike time was so slow. I smile to her as I pass but the view from the front does not live up to the one from the rear and I have no regrets as I push on. Perhaps if I really put the hammer down I might get the benefit of L’s rear view before the end of the course.

Only one person passes me and he’s on a bloody straight handle bar job, he rubs it in as he passes by asking how it’s going. I sneer, and through gritted teeth, wish him a good ride. I trail him for a while but then lose contact with him when I obey the Highway Code by stopping at a junction and he does not. 121 catches me up at the same junction. I can hear him puffing and panting behind me as we attack the next hill. It encourages me to put spurt on and I soon lose him.

Just as we get on to a flatter part the gears on my front dérailleur go and I can’t shift onto the larger chainset. I power along in my lower gears. Towards the end I pass a few chaps on racers who are wilting on the hilly course.

So back to transition and no sign of L yet. My transition is again poor; it takes an age to pull my gloves off. Perhaps it’s a mistake to wear them. Another mistake is that I’ve barely touched the sports drink on my bike, which means I’ve carried 400ml of liquid over those hills. Off onto the run and my legs don’t feel too bad but I do feel too hot.

About a quarter of the way into the first lap I see L coming in the opposite direction. The run is an out and back course of three laps. I have no idea whether she is completing lap one, two or three and daren’t ask. I offer her a high five and she accepts, so hopefully she’s not too pissed off at me for being close to catching her.

The second quarter of lap one is hard and it takes us up hill but after the turn the resulting downhill is good and nice recovery time. At the start of lap two a girl rockets past me, 113 she is. That's her number, not her age (thankfully). Her rear end looks vaguely familiar. Surely she’s gone off too fast. I let her go, her number tells me she started 12 minutes before me and is therefore not going to beat me.

121 passes me. The bastard. Although I can see he’s struggling but he just had to pass me as revenge for taking him on the bike, didn’t he. You wouldn't see me getting that hung up on such a thing. I could bust a gut passing him but again his start number tells me I have time in hand on him. I just need to keep him in sight.

On the third lap I realise that L is still running and I am after all going to catch her. I pass her just after the turn. I offer her a friendly pat on the shoulder as I pass and pray this doesn’t mean I’m sleeping on the settee tonight. She seems fairly upbeat but then shouts after me, that’s there’s no sex unless I’m top 10. Now that IS a big ask. If only she’d have told me that at the start, I could have got the nandrolone off the internet.

I finish a minute or two ahead of L, which means that the 3 minute shift in my start time proved decisive.

The girl with 113 on her back is telling all her supporters that she started late, as 130. Bugger that means she was on the same start time as me. I am inconsolable until L points out that she could have been in a team, which would explain she she didn’t look like she’d done a 20km bike ride. I cheer up a touch.

We decide to stop off for Sunday Lunch on the way home and stumble upon a pub owned by the Copper Dragon Brewery. The brewery is a new one founded in Skipton as recently as 2002. The brewery re-creates beers similar to those from the last brewery to exist in Skipton which was the Scott's Brewery which closed in 1904. I have a pint of Scotts 1816 4.1% and L has half a Golden Pippin 3.9%. Both are good. The Sunday lunch is excellent and includes a trio of meats:- beef, pork and ham. They even under charge us but we were honest enough to own up. I don't mind ripping off the big breweries but a small concern like this deserves our support.

Predictably Derby are dreadful again as they lose 2-0 to Palace. Hello play-offs. Again.

We get back home too late to spend the afternoon in bed, as is the tradition after an event. Not wishing to be totally untraditional, I coerce L into the quickest of quickies. Then we take Doggo across the park and end up at the Rodney to celebrate our successes (in the Tri).

For once the beer at the Rodney is excellent and dark! Wentworth Oatmeal Stout 4.8%. Two pints of. Then we move into another Wentworth beer Brimstone 5.0%. Two pints again.

Stagger home and feast on the meatloaf that Daughter cooked up during the day.

38 units this week. Tut tut.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

It's Time To Wave Bye Bye To Leeds

Lazy-ish day. Lie in. Sex.

Do a bit of prep for the Tri by servicing my bike. I try to adjust the gears, which keep catching on the front derailleur but end up making it worse.

Then I settle down to the excitement at the bottom of the Championship. It's a kind of sweet irony that former Leeds United chairman and notorious reckless spender Peter Ridsdale puts the lid on Leeds' relegation coffin when his Cardiff team deem to lose at home to Hull, who were the only team still within Leeds' reach. However it is Leeds themselves who hammer the nails in when they concede an 89th minute equaliser at home to Ipswich.

All that remains now is for Derby to administer the last rites next Sunday. Leeds only means of escape is to win at Derby, Hull to lose at home to Plymouth and in the process overturn a nine goal goal-difference deficit. Mind you with Derby involved, you can never rule these things out.

Derby are as good as in the play-offs as their automatic promotion hopes are dented by Birmingham overcoming having a man sent off to win 2-0 against Sheffield Wednesday. Derby now need an unlikely win at Crystal Palace on Sunday to prevent both Sunderland and Birmingham going up to the Premier League.

Talking of the 'mighty' Premier League, West Ham are found guilty of illegally signing their two Argentinian players and are fined £5.5M but are not docked any points. The FA thought that that would be unfair as any points deduction would almost certainly relegate them. So apparently, playing the two players, which they had no right to even have, for the last six months was not unfair to their relegation rivals. The fact that one of the players, Carlos Tevez, has been instrumental in their current run of good form doesn't seem to be unfair to any one? To rub it in Tevez had a tremendous game in today's 3-0 win at Wigan which drew the Hammers level on points with their opponents. Wigan are understandably not impressed.

I had intended an alcohol free night but L tempts me with a pint at one of our locals, the Willoughby. It's a pub we’ve not frequented for many a year, instead preferring the better ale at the Hardy’s and Hanson’s owned Wheelhouse. They used to do a reasonable but not spectacular, if such a thing is possible, pint of Directors. Of course we are now boycotting the Wheelhouse since H&H sold out to Greene King. The choice at the Willoughby is kind of better than expected but still uninspiring. Tetley (at least it’s Cask), Bombardier and the dreaded Greene King IPA. We try the Bombardier and amazingly, for a beer that I have never rated, it is pretty good. Perhaps though, my taste buds are deceiving me, so I have another to make sure. Is this good race prep or not?

Home for more race prep, this time - pasta, mince, and stilton. Preparing for a race can be really good fun.

An early-ish night but I’m not terribly tired. Despite that I'm told no sex, I have to save my energy. Damn, there seems to be a down side to race prep after all.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Food Overload


The big FOUR-O screeches to a halt at my door and I have a day off to celebrate (or commiserate). The day starts off pretty well with some terrific sex. L on top. So good we had to do it again.

We both take Doggo on park. Very romantic, if we didn't have a dog. Then we go into town. L to the hairdressers, me to the opticians.

Tonight we are going to a Thai restaurant with my parents, my brother and his wife. Both the kids have managed to squeeze my birthday into their busy schedules. Son's stopped his game so that he can come. Daughter's taping the TV she'll miss. So I'm feeling very honoured.

L has mega trying on session trying to find something to wear. I try and help but apparently I'm not very good at that sort of thing.

We meet in Cast but unfortunately everybody is early, so L and I don't get chance to get sloshed first. I only fit in one Landlord. Then we have to wait for the kids, who are coming down on the bus.

We move to the Thai and have red wine and Singa beer. We also have a meal for eight, that they confuse with a meal for sixteen and we have far too much food. We bring home a doggie bog, literally and Doggo gets treated to a Thai fish takeaway, which he loves.

We get home, practically sober and attempt to try the bottle of port my brother bought me but unfortunately the cork's bone dry, so it's effectively ruined. Will try and sieve it but I'm not hopeful.

More bad news for Derby, Sunderland impressively come from behind to beat Burnley 3-2.

Thursday, 26 April 2007


Took the bus, which bus was incredibly quick today.

I have been presented with a birthday card by work; it’s got ‘Over The Hill’ on the front. They obviously know something about Sunday’s bike course that I don’t.

L consoles me and says that I'm as old as I feel. Hmmm. Hope not. Mind you spending last night out at Maximo Park with my young girl perked me up. Incidentally L was wrong last night, it only takes four Leffe's for her to be safe from me but I made up for it this morning.

L's on edge today because her boss has offered to give her an injection in her troublesome thigh injury. Problem is the injury is rather high up on her thigh. She also reckons that she's still sloshed from all the Leffe last night. Perhaps that's a good thing, as she's got to bare some flesh to her boss.

Daughter's been in London for the last two days but she wasn't too thrilled with it all. I think the quality of the meals (they got burgers); the theatre and the accommodation were not quite up to the standard she’s used to. Not that she seems to appreciate these things when we take her.

Makes you wonder what the point of the Government and the schools allegedly trying to educate the kids in healthy eating and supposedly introducing healthy menus in the schools is, if they’re going to take the kids away and undermine that by feeing them cheeseburgers. It defies belief.

Pub lunch. Tollgate beer. Giant Yorkshire and spicy mince, no chips. They were offering faggots today; I was tempted.

I get the bus back and get chatting to an oldish, tubby, foreign chap, East European I think, while we’re waiting for the bus to bother to turn up. Naturally we end up discussing the unreliability of the Red Arrow, then lo and behold, as usual, two turn up at once. Just as we're getting on the bus he ropes a young female student into the conversation.

Once on the bus, I think he's going to sit next to me but I would rather he didn't, I wanted to plug into my music. In the end he doesn't, he sits at one of the tables, then he shouts down the bus to the student, asking her what course she is studying. She gets up, as if on elastic and moves down the bus to sit opposite him at his table. They laugh and chat all the way to Nottingham. Guys, apparently it really is that easy to pick up girls, even when you're old, foreign and over weight.

Squash. Win only one game and it is an epic 20-18 but I lose the other 5 games, although all but one of them narrowly.

I have Doggo in car with me and I take him with us to the pub. The Full Mash Séance that was off next week is on this but it isn’t really worth the wait. I try and pick a beer for my opponent that isn't golden in colour and fail miserably. I have a second pint, a Stout instead, which is better.

L texts to ask if I fancy kedgeree tonight. Sounds great, I wonder what page of the karma sutra that one's on? She reassures me that I’ll love it. ‘Trust me’ she says. Don’t you just hate it when people say that.

Home to L and kedgeree. She has a Pelforth, L that is not the kedgeree. I abstain. Kedgeree turns out to be food and it's not bad.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Maximum Velocity

Tempted by L but I am strong. I am already later than I intended and I really do need to bike today. I ride in through Sandiacre weaving through all the traffic.

L is struggling with her injury again and says she hobbled in to work. In order to get her through Sunday’s event she resorting to drugs, her GP's receptionist thinks she can her some more of the drugs she had before, without her having to be seen. Shouldn’t be a problem, GP’s don’t really like seeing patients anyway.

Ride home through Ilkeston and feel it gives my legs a good work out. Then I kick the dog around the garden for half an hour with his ball. Then I make my excuses to him and head into town to meet L. I do a Son and call in at the chip shop. I have a healthy tea of two portions of veg. - chips and baked beans.

I beat L to Cast and text her to tell her that I’ve arrived and to ask her what she wants to drink. She says she’ll have a Leffe if I am. And if I’m not having one? Then she’ll have a Leffe.

L turns up and I have two pints, a Black Sheep and a Landlord. L has two Leffes. Then we go off to Rock City. It’s Maximo Park tonight but I don’t want to be too late for the gig because I want to see some of the support band. It’s Art Brut.

Art Brut are a very odd band on record and seemingly even odder live. They make songs poking fun at people who form bands just to be cool or to get famous or simply take rock n roll too seriously. For some reason they particularly dislike the Velvet Underground. Art Brut, of course, claim they are only in it to enjoy themselves and make music.

On their album ‘Bang Bang Rock n Roll’ their front-man, a chap called Eddie Argos, sings but usually rants about other things as well, mainly his lack of success with women and when he finally does have some success, his impotence problems.

They are a band where you really need to hear what the lead singer is singing and tonight because of our position, to one side of the stage; we could only make out portions of the lyrics. It was a good spot to watch from but not so good for listening.

Tonight he seems to dispense with the singing completely and instead berates his audience like a man stoned on something. Most of the songs ended in a lot of chanting and adlibbing. Is he on something or is that just him? Argos was constantly at play with the crowd and with the songs, constantly messing with the lyrics. Which is fine if you know the songs but not so good if you don't. On "Emily Kane" he even offered an update on a meeting with Ms. Kane. Then he appended "Leaving on a Jet Plane" to "Moving to L.A."

An interesting performance but slightly disappointing too. One of their best songs was wasted when he merged "We Formed a Band" into "Bad Weekend" at the end. Then he tells the audience that they must go home and form a band. He threatens to check that they all do, he says he will come back to Nottingham and track them all down to check.

The crowd love it all. Argos has everybody in the room chanting "Art Brut, Top of the Pops", which eventually becomes "Maximo Park, Top of the Pops".

And so to Maximo Park and the all action figure that is Paul Smith.

Tonight he somersaults his way around the stage dressed as Alex from Clockwork Orange while the rest of the band seem happy to leave him to it. His actions contrast with the rock solid stance of the bass player, who looks decidedly lost. The Keyboard player is the most animated of the rest; he staggers around, seemingly having shared the shame spliff as the Mr Argos.

The guitarist turns out to be from Derby, which causes a chorus of boos.

I must admit that I have been a little disappointed with the new album. The record seems to be essentially more of the same but perhaps with a little less of the punch of their debut. It’s an album that’s perhaps more notable for its lyrical content (and possibly the oddness of them) than its tunes. So really I should love it. As Paul would say “When it comes to girls I'm mostly hypothetical, When it comes to girls I'm truly theoretical”. Whatever that means. Tonight however the new stuff really wins me over.

Opener Graffiti gets somehow lost in the commotion and the sound system but the next three tracks ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’, 'All Over The Shop' and 'Our Velocity' all sound great.

The band kick out each song the same with urgency and exuberance. Most of which are sung back with gusto by the packed and equally exuberant crowd. Every track is preceded by a long heavily accented introduction, which I rarely manage to catch much of.

‘Apply Some Pressure’ goes down an absolute storm, although it’s a bit muffled from where we are. They get a five minute long ovation for it and the band applaud the crowd back. The music seems to matter to the band and they seem surprised and extremely grateful for the way they are adored by their public.

'Gone Missing' closes an excellent set in storming style. They return to play 'Kiss You Better', 'Unshockable' and something that may have been ‘Limassol’.

No 'Acrobat', although I wasn't sure how effective that would have been live and no 'Just A Glimpse' which is a great shame.

Top band. Top gig. Even L says it was her favourite gig.

We move up to the Ropewalk where we have another Leffe with some friends who also went to the gig. This includes the friend of a friend who lost his (gig) virginity at Fratellis. It’s good to that his flirtation with the live scene wasn’t just a one-night stand and also that he’s moved on to better quality liaisons.

I talk L into another Leffe, her fourth of the night. Although it wasn’t terribly difficult. Life's a bitch for women you know. Four Leffe’s makes the night a 'binge' for L. A binge being more than seven units in a night (e.g. four Leffes). A man needs eleven units to binge (or six Leffes).

L always say that if she has more than three Leffes then she's on her back anyway. Wa-Hey. But if I have more than five she reckons she's safe from my advances. So I keep it to just the four.

To just recap, Art Brut style: We went to the show. We had a few Leffe’s. We came home from the show. We went through the front door, through the bedroom door, I had my Horlicks but I didn’t tick my box and we didn't form a band. Sorry.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Damn the survey

The plan was to bike and swim today but it’s raining, so I decide to skip the bike. Tomorrow will do. I only want to do one bike this week in any case. Tapering I believe it’s called.

L’s already been for a swim before work. She emails me, gloating, as she tucks into her glowingly healthy fruit salad for breakfast.

After work I drive straight to the pool, L says because it’s a general session, the later I arrive the better it will be. All the riff-raff leave early. It’s a good job she says be late because the traffic getting into Nottingham is awful.

Despite some extreme intimidation from several people in my lane I do bricks (if you can call them that) of 16, 16 and 4 lengths. I think, I'm not good at counting lengths. So that’s 36 in total. Not bad. L does 30. Na na na na na as they say.

As I’ve skipped the bike; Doggo gets a run. Although he gives me that ‘do I have to’ look. I don’t think he likes running with me, he doesn’t get the sniffs and wees in that he’s used to and it does him in.

Despite Doggo’s reluctance and his constant lagging behind, it is a good run and I even enjoy it. It's so much more enjoyable when you don’t bike first. So not so enjoyable on Sunday then. L does her own route. We try and catch her but don’t manage it. She is home before us.

We nip to Maplin and buy an adapter for Sons PC to convert the sockets on his power supply unit. £3. It works like a dream.

Daughter's in London and now Son’s PC is repaired so we effectively have the evening and the house to ourselves but L won't let me misbehave. Says I won't be able to tick my box because it's not bedtime yet. Damn the survey.

Instead L cooks an excellent colourful stir-fry. I also have mango, banana and yoghurt. All healthy stuff.

Then we go to bed early. Ticks all round.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Six Days To Armageddon And Counting...

L's bit concerned that I wasn't able to tick my box last night and offers a quickie. It's very welcome, although we are a bit pushed for time and she bemoans the fact that we have to skip the Violetta (ask Ian McEwan). There’s always tonight. I'll tick her box if she ticks mine. She can provide the Violetta; I’ll supply the Horlicks.

Take the car today and I risk the A52. The journey was a breeze. Don’t you just love road works.

We have been invited to a wedding in a few weeks and we've been asked to nominate two songs for the DJ to play. This has caused some major debate. I've been tempted to put some old punk favourites but also think we should be more modern than that. We'd already thought about Bloc Party's Banquet and I suggest Sunshine Underground's Commercial Breakdown.

L asks rather than something to bop to, how about a track for us to have a smooch to?

Ah now there are so many romantic moments from our past that have records associated with them. There's Radiohead's High and Dry, the DJ played it at the first gig I took L to, it was Catatonia at Loughborough University, and we slow danced to it before the band came on.

Talking of Catatonia, there's their debut album Way Beyond Blue, which was the soundtrack to the most romantic blowjob I've ever had in my kitchen, possibly the finest every administered. Track 8, This Boy Can’t Swim, was the pivotal moment.

Or there's anything from REM's Monster, which serenaded a particularly affectionate encounter in the shower.

L's old injury is playing up again. Fantastic timing. It's only six days to Armageddon and counting. So she's having a day off training today. She worried she'll look a bit of a berk with an ice pack or a hot water bottle strapped to her leg when she's on her bike. Must admit I’ve never seen anyone do that before but who’s to say it won’t catch on.

When I get home I have to do a double take as I say hello to Daughter, who's sitting in front of the TV, because it isn't Daughter who's sat there. Far too much hair. It's Son. Oh no, the internet must be down. Daughter must be in her room, sulking, apparently her muffins were a disaster, all L's fault of course.

Turns out that the internet isn't down, it's worse than that, his computer is totally dead. Go upstairs with Son and it appears that the power supply unit on his PC has died. We try and fit an old unit from another PC but it doesn't fit. Cyberspace free night for him, how will he cope?

Go off to dog class. Not good. Every time I say left doggo goes right and every time I say right doggo goes left. I'm sure he's doing it on purpose.

Get home and L has an early night. I come to bed at midnight with my Horlicks. Seems that even at this post-watershed hour L is up for some box ticking. Luckily the Horlicks doesn't seem to make me sleepy, in fact it seems to give me a much needed energy boost.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Mucky Books

Alarm goes off at 6am. Another early start. Mum and Dad come over and together with L we head up to Harewood House for Otley Dog Show.

Bizarrely we have the first rain for months and seemingly only Yorkshire gets it. We get there for 8.30 so that I can check out my first course, but we don't compete until two hours later, such is the pace of these events. Dog Shows are always a long drawn out thing.

After all the anticipation Doggo back jumps a hurdle and we are eliminated. 12.30 and it's the lunch break. We have competed for approximately 40 seconds since we arrived at 8.30. L and I do a pleasant run around the grounds.

Dog shows are that dull that L has resulted to reading mucky books to keep herself amused. Today she's brought Ian McEwan's latest novel, On Chesil Beach. Its a thin book and she reads it all the way through.

L tells me that it tells the story of a wedding night in 1962 and the courtship leading up to it. It is when they are on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon, where their anxieties about the consummation of the marriage appear. L picks out some quite racy, but funny sex scenes for me. Just home my mum hasn't been peering over her shoulder.

We do much better in our second event, the snappily titled Large Dog Agility Grades 1-5 Combined, despite Doggo falling out with a German Shepherd in the queue and getting called 'Breedist'. We come 7th. I think we put in an even better run in our third and final event but the competition is stiffer and we are unplaced.

So at 5pm we leave. We've been here eight and half-hours and we've had two and half minutes of competing. It's all go at dog shows.

In the football, I never expected Birmingham to win at Wolves but of course they do. They go top; we slip to third.

Oddly the kids father's, who is always whinging he wants to spend more time with them, brings Daughter home early.

We go to the Fox and Crown for a few beers. I have one of my favourite dark beers - Nottingham Nog and I'm distressed to find that it is no longer dark. The Fox and Crown beers are always very odd, although in a nice way, everytime I have one, they're different. I move on from the Nog and have a Brush instead. Units for the week - 24. Not bad.

We get home and check the start list for the Skipton Tri on the internet; it confirms that our entries have been accepted. Bugger.

I talk L into a take-away curry, it's been ages since we've had one. Although L makes me promise to be good for the rest of the week. food wise that is. At least I think that's what she meant. I have Chicken Jalfrezi, L has Chicken Pathia.

The sleep survey is back for the next four nights, so I have my Horlicks. Which looks and tastes a bit like wallpaper paste. It makes me feel even fuller than my curry did. Although it doesn't seem to keep me awake. It's worked on L though, and she didn't even have any. So box unticked tonight. Mind you after curry and Horlicks perhaps that's no bad thing.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Slipping The Noose Over My Head

L gets up early and does son’s papers, then she has to go into work. So it’s a shag free Saturday morning. Doggo and I, somehow get our respective legs moving, get up and go to Bradgate Park to Orienteer.

On the drive down the motorway signs confirm to me that they have finally totally lost it. ‘A3 closed after A31 Junction’ they proudly proclaim. Isn’t the A3 in Hampshire. At least they’re no longer saying ‘Gritting In Progress’ or telling me ‘to not drive when I’m asleep’.

The orienteering goes well. 20th out of 46.

Drop in on my Dad to check on his broadband which seems to be running slow. While I’m there L texts to say she’s got posh pate and Blue Vinney for lunch. I head home, where there’s also spiced up Mulligatawny soup on offer. L is also slow cooking stewing beef with a view to doing a cottage pie for later. She's been a busy girl.

L suggests we go to bed, have sex, have a cup of tea and then enter Skipton. Most of that sounds like a good deal. It's a bit like the hangman offering the condemned man a bit of nooky before he slips the noose over his head. Its good job I can still perform under such stress.

In the end we have double round of sex and chocolate (although it’s a dark chocolate flake which isn’t the best) but this just delays the inevitable. Seconds later I'm slipping the noose over my head as we enter the triathlon. Now I’m going to have to change the focus of my training because I’ll need to fit in a couple of swims next week. I also need to figure out how I’m going to count my lengths.

In the football, Sunderland surprisingly lose at Colchester. Having previously thought the Mackems were home and dry I now realise they are actually only a point ahead of us. Birmingham will go top tomorrow if they win at Wolves.

We head out for a beer, leaving Doggo at home, as he looks knackered and he’s competing tomorrow. We go to the Grove, where the Directors is off and the Speckled Hen is dull. So we move onto the Borlase and sit in their roof garden drinking Landlord and Pitch Black.

Back at home L’s stewing beef has kind of been forgotten and doesn’t have its potato topping, so we splash it all over a couple of jacket potatoes instead. Very nice.

Friday, 20 April 2007

What's That Coming Over The Hill ?

Cycled in again because L needs the car tonight but my legs really didn't want to. I was that stiff I could barely get out of bed. Not sure the ageing limbs are up to all this biking. A shower loosened them up a little. I put the roof rack on car so that L can pick me up after the match tonight.

Survive the ride, although I think my legs are still out there somewhere, pedalling on their own.

L and I debate the great birthday disaster on email and things appear to be taking a turn for the even worse. I've offered a 16-mile cake run as a replacement but L feels that anything other than a Tri or Duathlon would be a waste of training, so emerging as clear favourite is the Skipton Triathlon, swim and all. Oh dear. Nice place Skipton, not that I'll be in any fit state to notice. L's even been and timed her 400m swim this morning. The juggernaut is starting to move.

Oh God, what would I put for my predicted time? 9.00? 9.30?

I try and put her off by mentioning that it's a four-lap run course. She hates doing laps. It’s also 100 miles to Skipton but I suppose it would only take us an hour and three quarters at that time of day and it would have taken us an hour to get to Coventry. Oh God I seem to be gradually talking myself into it! The juggernaut gathers momentum.

L says that she's game if I am. Think she means for the tri. Although we're not even sure there's a T-shirt. The possible lack of a T-shirt causes L to pause momentarily (although it's hard to tell on email) but then she says wouldn't wimp out of an event on that sort of technicality.

We even know a place in Idle near Bradford where they do a nice Sunday lunch.

For some reason that track by The Automatic starts running through my head. "What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster?" No it's a juggernaut with Skipton Triathlon written in big letters down both sides.

Over lunch L gets us tickets to go see OMD. Daughter as well, although not sure she knows who they are but she's just desperate to do a gig. Any gig. It's been a long time since she saw 'Blue' apart from some Guides 'music' fest at the NEC. At least there shouldn’t be any beer throwing at the concert hall.

I bike to my parent's house and then we are treated to another magnificently dull Derby performance. It should have been to our advantage that Luton had to come and try and attack, as they had to win the game. Which must have been be an odd situation for another Mr Negative, their manager Kevin Blackwell.

Derby play with no midfield. Too many long balls. Wingers that don’t wing. Nyatanga returns from loan at Barnsley and goes straight into the defence; he bundles in a goal from a corner. Derby hang on for the 1-0 win against a dire Luton team, who as a result are relegated. So depressing is feels like a defeat.

L meets us in the pub afterwards; she's had a stressful evening getting the kids over to their Dads. She chills out with a couple of large glasses of red; I have two pints of Bass. Once I get her home, I profit from her drunken state by taking advantage of her against the wall. I daren't tell her that the sleep survey only runs Sunday-Wednesday and there's no box to tick tonight. We have another glass of wine before bed.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Birthday Treat Cancelled!

Two alarms, L’s and Daughter’s shatter the peace and wake us all up at 6am. Well not all obviously, no life from Son’s room and as it happens no life from Daughter’s either, the gravitation pull of her bed is too strong but L is up. Blimey, she’s taking her training seriously at the moment.

I decide to take the bus today and go for an early bus because I wasn't sure how bad the A52 traffic would be, not having (as yet) sampled it in the Derby direction. It was fine. Bus was very quick. Good job there’s not much worth reading in the Metro newspaper otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get through it all. I was at work of 8.20. Could have had more of a lie in.

My order from the excellent Wiggle arrives this morning, I had only ordered it on Tuesday. Among the order, which consists of mainly sports drinks and energy bars is a pink running shirt and two pairs of running socks that L wanted. She says she wants to look more girlie when she’s out and about. Although by wearing pink she reckons she'll clash with the dog's running outfit which is red. Well she’ll only clash if he happens to be by her side, which won’t be very often. As for looking girlie, it’s not the pink shirt but the socks, sexy white ankle length ones, that do it for me.

L loves the Maximo Park album, I’m not so sure. They don’t seem to have progressed from the first album. L says she likes it because it's so very jolly. Ah. That must be the reason why I don’t like it. Much rather have deep, dark and depressing than jolly.

No pub today.

Get home and find that four sachets of Horlicks have arrive in the post, seemingly something to do with my sleep survey.

Squash. We are booked in at Chilwell rather than Clifton, for a change. Less speed bumps involved. Rather oddly the courts are in 30 min blocks but as a none member I have to book for a minimum of an hour, and we have ended up with half an hour on court 2 and half an hour on court 3. It could only happen with the council. So we will have a half-time changeover.

It's a close game, I was slightly better than usual, he wasn't up to form, a cold he claims. Poor excuse. As I always tell L, no athlete is ever 100%, you're always carrying an injury or a ailment of some sort. I win a close first game and then lose a close second, although I should really have been two up. Then half way through being annihilated in game three, half time was called. We change courts and after completing the loss of that game I narrowly lose the fourth as well but then I stormed back to win the last two games. So 3-3 although I lost the best of 5 by 3-1.

In the end my fussy opponent decides he doesn't like the courts at Chilwell, so we're back at good old Clifton next week.

L texts to say next weeks birthday treat is off because they have cancelled the Heart Of England Duathlon. I am furious. To make it worse the Full Mash beer I wanted is off too.

Daughter does bolognaise for tea, L spices it up and we have it as chilli, very nice. Although it's very very spicy, L's hand must have slipped, she must be as furious as I am about the Duathlon.

I trawl the internet for replacement events. There are only three where the closing date hasn't passed. The British championships at Ashbourne would be a bit too mad even for me, so it's the Hereford Duathlon or the Skipton Triathlon. A triathlon would of course mean I'd have to do a bloody swim, not something I'd planned on until Derby on 13th May.

Have a couple of glasses of red wine to mull it over and dilute my fury.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Sleep Survey

L is up early and out running, Daughter goes with her on her bike. A combination which totally does in the dog.

I'm doing back to back biking. Legs ache. I thought they were going to seize up before I’d even left Wollaton but they loosened up as I went along. My Achilles feels dodgy though, think it’s all that clipping and unclipping of my shoes in the heavy traffic. I can't face the hill through Ilkeston so go through Sandiacre again. Very enjoyable, apart from the traffic that is, which is even worse than Tuesday.

Surprisingly, once at work my legs don't seem too bad but of course I’ve not cycled home on them yet. When it comes to riding home, I go the Ilkeston way again but first I have another attempt at finding the Spondon cycle path. It's no good; I still can't see where the signs go. I end up going miles out of my way. Will give this one up as a bad job. Eventually I make it to Spondon and would you believe it there are road works there now. So all routes to Nottingham have now been blocked at the same time. Planning of the greatest order.

I bike straight to John Carroll pool to meet L for a swim but neither of us has remembered a bike lock, so I bike back home and then come back in the car. I was going to bring Doggo back with me, as he seems to love sitting in car parks but he is in the garden annoying Daughter with his ball as she gets her bike out of the shed. So I leave him be. Apparently she's going to Guides on her bike. Blimey that's the third bike this week after it had sat gathering dust for the last year. Could this be a fitness campaign?

Get to the pool and I'm not sure I'm capable of much more than just a float around. The only way that anyone will be able to tell the iceberg and me apart is that I won’t be doing backstroke. If I'm unfortunate enough to be in her lane, it could get embarrassing because I’d get in her way, she’d have to try and overtake me.

Get home and Daughter is out so really we should be taking advantage of the free time, e.g. having sex on the stairs, that sort of thing. Yes Son is in, but that doesn't count, he wouldn't notice. Unfortunately we need to eat, Doggo has been missing us and in any case we only have 45 minutes or so before she'll need fetching from Guides.

Might be on for later though because L seems worried about the sleep survey that I am undertaking. I have to comment on my quality of sleep and what affects it for two weeks, in exchange for £15. Once of the questions is what I did in the hour before bed, as one of the options is sex, L seems concerned that the survey people may not think I'm getting enough if I don't tick it regularly. Is it possible to have 'enough' sex? So perhaps an early night tonight then, to get that box ticked.

So to dog training and the previous class runs over so we start ten minutes late, then we finish ten minutes early. Feel a bit ripped off but then again it was hard, there were only five of us, we were all knackered afterwards.

Back home for oysters. Box ticked.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Oyster Fishing

Biked in but it was a bloody awful ride. Immediately regretted going Sandiacre way. The roads were so busy, I presume because people are avoiding the A52. I might have to reassess my route. Suppose Ilkeston might be better but then again it might not, spent more time on the pavement this morning than on the road.

L emails to say that unbeknown to all of us, except presumably Son, he had his first GCSE this morning. We thought all his exams started on 21st May. I heard him say this morning that he was doing some last minute French revision but assumed he had a test to revise for, not an exam but no he had a French oral this morning. Straight away my thoughts turn Madame Bovary and apple trees.

L points out that my blog entry on the aforementioned Madame Bovary made no mention of oysters. She is referring to the fact that in the film one of Madame Bovary's lovers made a suggestive remark about spreading the oyster to bring out the pearl or something like that.

Opt for the Ilkeston route on the way home, although I get lost trying to follow a cycle route to Spondon. The signs just suddenly stopped. Don't know why I was surprised really. All in all, though a good ride home.

Son says his French oral went well. Cue more thoughts of Madame Bovary.
I had intended to go straight out for a ‘brick’ run but none of the stuff I’m wearing for cycling is suitable for running. Therefore I strip everything off. Once I'm standing there naked, with L in the room, who is looking rather overdressed; it seems silly to rush straight out for a run. We end up on the bed, oyster fishing.

Very satisfying. L even proves that her ribs on the mend by going on top. I won't however be winning any prizes for the speed of my transition.

Some aches dealt with, others now intensified, I go out on my run. Doggo tags along and falls out with one of his enemies, the wiry thing near the pond. Then upsets an Asian family. We cut the pond short and head to the park. We run down to the lake, we know L is somewhere ahead but we don’t see her. Doggo is rubbish, lagging behind, sniffing this, peeing on that. Two girls are running round the lake, for once he’s in front, running between them. They think it’s hilarious. Once we’ve passed them he’s back to lagging behind again. He's everywhere, except where he should be, with me.
We add in the V to Derby road, to make up for cutting the pond short. Then Doggo veers off towards a little white dog but never gets there. Something is very interesting by a tree. In the end I have to fetch him. He is lunching on a discarded kebab. I pull him away, he is not happy. He takes it out on a couple of rough collies. Then he’s dragging his paws again. We are not speaking.

Get home. L is already there and turbo training. Bricking again.

Ocado deliver. I do paneer curry. England are comprehensively dumped out of the World Cup by South Africa.

Birmingham surprisingly win at Leicester. Think it's time to dust off the blindfold ready for the play offs. Suppose a day out at the new Wembley would be nice. Although I'm not optimistic. The way I see it is if we’re good enough to win through the play offs then we’re good enough to win two of the next three games, which should be enough for second place.

Leicester are in a real mess now, I can’t decide what would be more amusing, Leeds or Leicester going down.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Brushing Up On Our French

L has lost some forms she filled in for Daughter's school jolly to London. Daughter naturally is spitting fire. I get out of the house quick before it really flares up. I drive to work through Ilkeston, still avoiding the A52. At work, what do I find in my bag but the forms, oops, how did that happen.

At lunch I nip into town to get the new Maximo Park album. I’ve heard that it isn’t very good but we’re off to see them next week and I need to gen up. Then I watch the highlights of the Ipswich debacle on the internet. I have to concede that L was right after all, Chelsea Dagger is a football chant, for some unknown reason the Ipswich fans keep singing it.

L’s been trawling around town for weeks trying to get a nub for Son’s PSP but no one knows what she’s talking about. Decide to assist and soon find it on the internet. Its real name is an ‘analogue stick thumb control’. It’s a shame our computer games wiz of a Son isn’t internet savvy.

Drive home and decide to risk the road works. No hold-ups at all. Reason being they’ve taken the roundabout out; the road now goes straight through, you can still turn left but not right at Bardill’s. Makes a hell of a difference. They don’t have to do any work on it; just leave the cones there, it works as it is.

Pick up Doggo and back over to Derby for dog class. There’s a new surface on the horse arena that looks as if someone has emptied dozens of hoover bags across the floor. Training goes well. Could it be a good season? I’m sure Doggo will prove my optimism is unfounded.

Get home and we indulge in Madame Bovary part two. The story goes like this; Emma Bovary marries a staid and conventional country doctor. Although he adores her, she is unwilling to accept the dull confines of her marriage. She quickly gets bored and longs for a more passionate life. First, she flirts with a law student in town. Next she takes a lover. When he refuses to run away with her, the selfishly unprincipled Emma gets her kit off for the law clerk instead. Through all this she is spending money like it's going out of fashion; the debts mount and this, together with her self-deluding love affairs lead her to tragedy.

Her motivation for all this is sometimes unfathomable. She has it made at home really and at the start she didn’t even appear to enjoy sex at all. She certainly didn’t like the rough variety churned out originally by her husband but then demanded it from her two lovers.

All in all though it was very enjoyable but for a story based in France it was very English with an Australian lead actress.

In one scene, Madame Bovary's lover strips her naked against a tree, which is a prelude to her getting a good al-fresco stuffing. Not sure the original book was so racy but it's a nice, if slightly odd, touch that makes we want to pause the DVD and jump on top of L there and then. Except that her broken rib might object!

L confides that she liked the tree scene too. We briefly consider the apple tree in the garden but in the end retire to the bedroom to brush up on our French.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Building A Small Wall?

Lie-in. Coffee. Juice. The Sunday Times. Sex. Dog Licking My Feet.

Get up and take doggo on park with his ball. He deserves a ball game after his exertions yesterday and my legs need a rest from running. As we are walking back, Doggo stops and sniffs the air. I know this routine, that’s what happens seconds before he bolts away from me on the orienteering courses. He has L’s scent in his nostrils. I try sniffing the air too, but it doesn’t work for me. Despite that I do see L running across the bottom of the field, Doggo with his appalling eyesight does not.

We get back home and collapse. L gets back home and then does another turbo session and then another run. She’s done that many bricks in the last few days she’ll soon be able to build a small wall.

It seems that Nottingham's already legendary water feature has broken again or to give it it's correct name the 'water terrace'. They obviously underestimated the number of paddlers. Its reflecting pool has a problem with water building up behind its granite cladding. In other words, it's not waterproof.

Picture pinched from Factory Girl's blog. Sorry.

In the evening we go for a swim, at Clifton, not one of our favourite place. Despite it being an 'adults only' session; there are several children there, only problem is that they are over eighteen so I suppose they have to let them in. We manage to do thirty lengths and get out quick.

L has been reading Gustave Flaubert's book about the adulterous Madame Bovary. Tonight we watch part one of the BBC's adaptation of it on DVD.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Team Sports

Up at 5.15 and in the car by 6.00. Doggo and I are at a club agility competition in Preston. Our club are the defending champions and hosts for this latest event. Yes we are based in Derby and Preston is 110 miles away but apparently this is a home match. The competition is for teams in the North West of which we are allegedly part and the venue is central to the area, allegedly. The next one is in October and is in Carlisle, a mere 190 miles away, very central. Somebody, somewhere, needs to learn some geography.

The format of the event is that the best four dogs from each club with the best-combined score from the Agility and Jumping events count for the team. The trick to winning it is to get four dogs to go clear in both events, known in the trade as double-clears. There are also two ‘fun’ events (obviously taken deadly seriously) as well.

Because my club is organising and I’m helping out this means I can basically do my four runs whenever and in what order I like whereas normally you have to follow a running order.

A big hairy thing (canine) craps on the A-Frame and gets a big round of applause. Doggo would have been livid, had he seen it, he hates big hairy things. Another dog jumps the four-foot high wire netting surrounding the ring and continues onto the course in the next ring.

Back at home, L says she is already up; it is only 9am and she about to go out bricking it again. Good job I'm not at home, I'd have interfered with her training. I've chucked up the chance of a sex-filled lie-in until noon to be in Preston surrounded by dogs! Hmmm.

I opt to lob Doggo in at the deep end and do the Jumping event first rather than warm him up by doing a ‘fun’ event. It works we go clear. We then do the ‘fun’ Jump and Go and cock it up. He brings a pole down but it’s partly my fault for trying an ambitious move. We then go clear in the second ‘fun’ event Helter Skelter. I decide to give Doggo a rest and run the Agility after lunch.

As a helper I get a free lunch and it's a world first, a healthy meal is served up at a dog show. Well not all healthy but I saved the pork pie for Doggo and even then I didn’t give the pastry.

L texts to say that she is now lying in the garden and nobody is shagging her towel or lobbing a ball at her. She’s referring to Doggo not me. I promise that we'll be home as soon as we can to put that right. Doggo can have the towel, I'll take care of L.

In the afternoon with the pressure on we do the Agility and go clear. Well I’ve done my bit for the cause.

In the football, Derby are at Ipswich. Oakley scores a cracker (again). 1-0 to Derby.

I am informed by mission control that I am our third double-clear but we only have one more dog that could make up the fourth. It appears that some our more illustrious partnerships, some with Crufts appearances under their belt, have cocked it up big time.

Everyone is trying not to let the poor chap know that the title depends on his last run. He’s busy working and takes an age to get around to doing his run. When he finally does run he puts in a very ragged run but its clear, so jubilation, err no, wrong dog. He’s has two dogs and this one had faults in the Jumping. Well at least he's had a useful practice run. He runs the second dog and it’s going to be a very generous judge who lets him get away with alighting from the seesaw when it's that far off the ground. I’ve seen plenty of judges let that go but not this one. Bugger, time to hand over the trophy.

In the football, Derby too are having problems with the judge (aka the referee). Goalkeeper Bywater is dismissed along with an Ipswich player. Luckily we have a substitute goalie on the bench. As the two traipse off, a mass melee explodes at the edge of the pitch. Any right of appeal disappears down the proverbial tunnel.

Billy Davies is on the pitch making a request to the ref to use his common sense. It is the same ref, a Mr Williamson, who refused to use common sense in the game at Southend three months ago and that day he sent Billy Davies to the stands. The result is predictable, bye bye Billy.

Mr Williamson averages a red card every four games. Today he sends off three and books ten. A table topping performance from the ref, at least.

Up in Preston we finish a credible but trophy-less 5th (out of 12). Doggo and I come home with rosettes for individual finishes of 5th (Jumping) and 6th (Agility). A very pleasing start to the season.

Back at Ipswich things are getting even worse. In the game against Coventry, Mears lost the ball, caught ball watching, seconds later its in the back of our net. Against Ipswich, ditto. 1-1. McEverly gifts a late penalty 2-1. Null points. Birmingham and Sunderland both win. A depressing drive down the M6.

In the evening we been invited to the evening function of the wedding of a work colleague of mine but it's getting late, I'm tired and after four hours in the car, all I want to do is have a few pints of beers. Decent beer that is, life's too short to drink crap beer at a wedding reception. Also before that I've got some lustful urges that I'd like L to help me deal with.

Lust taken care of, we head into town, Pitch Black and Landlord at the Borlase, then across the road, where for once they have a guest beer on at the Ropewalk. As is tradition we finish at Scruffys with a couple of Leffe’s. Then home for a Keema, that L had prepared earlier.

Friday, 13 April 2007


On the bike again today. Although my legs do their best to say no but the training schedule says yes. Mistakenly brought my shoes home last night so have to carry them back to work. Opt for a backpack.

L and Doggo go for a run. Although she didn’t look terribly keen. Nor did the dog for that matter.

At work and our internet is down. Apparently the hamster that drives the generator has pulled a muscle. Our support department is working all out to try and find another rodent and will tell us when it's back and running.

By mid morning our internet is back up. That was quick. Rodents everywhere seem to be once more happy in their work.

Take a detour on my way home and bike through the back of Chaddesden then into Oakwood and onto Smalley and back onto my usual route into Ilkeston. Some woman in a Ford Ka who has clearly never read the Highway Code attempts to wipe me out at a mini roundabout. Then I extend it a bit round the back of Bramcote Baths too. Seems a long way round but it only extends it by a massive 4km. That'll have them quaking in their boots at the Duathlon start line.

Daughter has cooked the perfect post bike snack, ciabatta pizza loaded with sausage and cheese.

L’s out bricking again with Doggo.

I need a beer after all this activity and I talk L and Doggo into a trip to the pub; it wasn't difficult. Two pints of Legend and one of Supreme. Being sensible because the alarm has been set for 5.15am in morning.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Out Bricked

Take the car and avoid the A52 road works by going through Ilkeston. The radio confirms that the road works are in place and say that there are even diversions preventing people going onto the A52 from the M1 junction to ease the load on Bardill’s roundabout. The radio people drove all the routes and through the road works at 7am this morning (during the Easter holidays) and announced it is all working well! If they try the same test at 8am on Monday they might get a different result.

L’s been for a swim which she describes as ok but her rib injury makes getting in and out of the pool, and in and out of her costume, painful. Well I’m always willing to help a girl in or out of her costume; she only have to ask.

Pub today and I was very healthy. Braised steak, mash, peas, carrots and broccoli. Local brew for refreshment from Deventio.

Odd situation at Luton. Mike Newell accuses people of making payments to agents. Newell sacked. His Chairman resigns. Chairman admits to giving making payments to agents!

Even odder, Mr Chairman is to appoint Kevin Blackwell as your parting gift. Hello relegation.

Get home and I’m not sure whether to redo my Tuesday night run with the dog tonight or not. He looks up at me in trepidation. I think perhaps he’d rather go with L. In the end the pair of us do a loop of the pond and then meet L by Wollaton Park lake. Only one of my legs appears to be working, which isn't a good sign. The three of us then loop the lake and return home. L, typically, has to out 'brick' us and does a turbo training session and then another run. We are not worthy. We are asleep.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007


Biking today and consequently I get a bonus sex session. Wasn't actually expecting that, L must be getting more superstitious than me.

The traffic was awful even though I took the back way through Sandiacre. On the day the A52 road works are scheduled to start they seem to have intensified the existing road works in Sandiacre and turned it into a contra flow. The result, naturally, is gridlock. Another piece of great planning by the powers that be.

The contra flow is so narrow that you can't get a bike down the side of the cars, so I have to hop on to the pavement.

After what Doggo put me through on our run last night my legs are too tired to go fast so I do genuinely take it slow but my bike computer malfunctions so I can’t confirm it. Of course my trusting partner doesn't believe me.

My mate, the Leeds fan, emails to say he's accidentally got tickets for THE game. He's referring to the Derby v Leeds promotion / relegation decider on the last day of the season. He was determined to give it a miss but his mate's girlfriend (a Derby supporter) has got them all tickets without telling anyone. What a nice surprise and how nice of her. He’s livid. Particularly as he's in the Derby end, which he says will be full of celebrating, salivating fans. The game’s a total sell out; so they'll be 30,000 of those celebrating Derby fans. Of course when Leeds were a decent team he was a salivating Leeds fan but he’s conveniently forgotten that now. Of course there won't be much celebrating if Leeds win and Birmingham pip us for 2nd place.

After work I cycle to the pool to meet L for a quick splash. L tells me to take it slow, as usual, so that I'm not so tired that I simply drown. She says she might do a gym session first, hope she doesn't workout too hard, I might need her to pull me out.

We’re not sure whether the pool will be heaving or quiet, seeing as half the country seem to be still off work. Of course, according to the city council nobody actually uses the centres during the holidays, which is their excuse for shutting them as often as possible. So it should just be L and me, if it’s open at all that is. Either that or they'll have some 'holiday' session on and there will be a bouncy castle floating in the water.

Get to the pool and it is busy but thankfully there’s nothing bouncy floating in the pool other than the Iceberg which is afloat in lane four. L bravely shares the lane with her. I go in lane one with the big boys.

It’s very painful swimming, both my arms and my legs protest loudly. I estimate a rough 30 lengths and crawl out. Both showers are occupied and there's a queue so yet again I don't get a shower, can't be bothered to wait. In the foyer they have a computer running a satisfaction survey, I fill in it, but there's no option to object about the lack of shower facilities.

Final activity of the night is to take Doggo to training. His first for two weeks. We need a good session as we have our first event on Saturday and it's a club match. We make a few mistakes but generally we're not bad, it'll be all right on the night, as they say.

L and Daughter 'treat' themselves to Mr Bean's Comic Relief film at the cinema. L has some solemn news when they get back. The former Busted member, Matt Willis, has covered The Primitives 1988 classic "Crash". No doubt his celebrity status, gained more on "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here" rather than with Busted, will see that it is a big hit. In fairness it's not a bad record, but that's thanks to the material rather than any contribution Mr Willis has made to it. Mr Willis, who allegedly sees himself as a music writer, has obviously given up on his own material and has instead decided to drive home the point that that cover versions are never as good as the originals, this he achieves in spades.

This record will send a shudder down the spine of Primitives fans everywhere.

Go to bed quite early for some painful sex. Neither of us is capable of going on top, L because of her fractured rib and me because of my overused ageing limbs.

Cooking Oil

I realised I could not bike today like I usually do on a Tuesday because, what with being on holiday, I hadn’t left any clothes at work. Then I ended up being too late to catch the bus so I had to take the ski racks off the car and go the un-environmental way instead. L was still out time running with Doggo by the time I eventually left, they were clearly having a long one this morning.

Despite being late, it took me only twenty minutes to drive to work, no traffic at all. This will all change of course when the eighteen weeks of A52 road works start tomorrow.

Emailed L to find out if she'd got lost on her run. It took her ages to respond to my email. Says she’s been catching up, e.g. gossiping. Spooky goings on at her place though. Someone emptied a bottle of cooking oil over their front door and through the letterbox.

Cooking Oil? Why would anyone pour cooking oil over a door? Very odd. Disgruntled patient perhaps or just weirdoes? If they were trying to set fire to the place, they weren’t very clever. You have to get cooking oil very hot to ignite it. They’d need to use something like a blowtorch! Any respectable arsonist would have used petrol.

Then, in a separate incident, someone came back and pinched the letterbox. Was this the reason for the cooking oil?

I find out why they’d been on a long run. They got locked IN the park. She wasn’t the only one, there were several of them trying to get out of the side entrance - one of them legged it over the fence but she didn't think Doggo would go for that. I assume they were late opening the park rather than early closing it. Perhaps they just forgot.

Renewed my Derby County season ticket today. The scintillating football this season (not!) has obviously swayed me.

Get home and Doggo gets his second long run of the day. Full on Duathlon training now. We were out about 45 minutes at quite a good pace. Both of us knackered after that.

Unfortunately, because last night I felt so ill that I went straight to bed, some of my internet chess games timed out. So now, I’m knocked out of the tournament. Looking at the league table the winner has recorded 5 wins out of 5, all through time outs. Jammy git. I have one more to play against him; I’ll make sure I thrash him in that one.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Fat Overload

Got up at a reasonable time for saying it’s a bank holiday and went for a run round the pond with Doggo and L. Now that the holiday is over it’s time to start putting in some training for my birthday treat, The Heart Of England Duathlon. Therefore, with that in mind but also for the convenience of leaving L the car, I bike to my parents for the match. Took a roundabout route, to avoid going the way that I would normally bike to work. I tried to follow a cycle path through Beeston, which took me the wrong way down a one-way street, then ran out, and told me to dismount. Eventually I got back on it and it took me a nice route but then brought me back to the main road. What was worse was that I was now on the wrong side and with no crossing in sight, so I had to wait ages to cross the busy road. Overall though, a nice and relaxing ride.

Derby were they usual uninspiring selves and were lucky to get a 1-1 draw against Coventry 1. Matt Oakley scores an acrobatic equaliser that afterwards Billy Davies puts down to the yoga sessions the players have been having.

Birmingham lose again, to Barnsley of all people but Sunderland win again and replace Derby at the top. Four games to go.

L drives over and we take my folks out for a meal to thank them for looking after Doggo. Not a terribly impressive meal but then it was just a Marston’s chain pub. I totally overloaded on the fat. The steak and stilton sounded good but it was a very fatty steak and it was served with very fatty chips. Felt ill after that. I know a cyclist should carbo load but there are limits. Two pints of Pedigree, which is about as average as you can get.

Got home and felt so ill that I went straight to bed

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

Getting back into the swing of things with a long lie-in until lunch time. Doggo easily slips back into this well tested routine. When we finally get up I take him out to reacquaint him with the park and his football.

L then cooks up a late English breakfast, healthy style.

In the afternoon I catch up with the rest of last weeks Cycling World Championships where Vicky Pendleton and Chris Hoy both won three medals.

Hoy took gold in the kilometre time trial after already winning keirin gold and a silver in the team sprint. Pendleton however topped that with three golds.

Adding the women's keirin to earlier wins in the individual and team sprints (with Shanaze Reade). Team GB easily topped the medals table with eleven in all, seven of them gold.

In the evening we took Doggo out for a long walk which meant we ended up at the Victoria Beer Festival where Funfair's 6.0% Cakewalk was in terribly good form.

Eventually headed home for chilli. Good to be back to decent food. The worst thing about Austrian food is the lack of any spice in anything. Their shops don't even seem to sell chilli.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Skiing And My Hit List

Here's a quick resume of my week which started with a 2.45am drive down to Heathrow. L, who's a nervous driver, offered to drive down so that I’d be fresher for the drive at the other end. It probably wasn't the best of ideas, she even admitted to be terrified as tried to find Purple Parking. Not a bad service from them but don’t tangle with one of their drivers. The one we had was a right obstreperous sod.

If he was first on my hit list, he was quickly followed by Lufthansa. Who charged us 20 Euros per set of skis. We had four sets of skis and two sets of snowblades between us. So you can work out how expensive that was. Wouldn’t mind if they’d told us in advance. It would almost have been cheaper to have hired the gear in the resort. We’d also cut back on other luggage so that the snowblades wouldn’t put us over the weight limit. So that was a waste a time.

A first was to get paged on the airport public address system. Well it wasn’t me personally but Son. Who had left his bag unattended!

Third onto the hit list was Alamo car rental at Munich who gave us a ‘toy car’ for the second year running. Last year a Renault Scenic, this year a Opel Meriva. Totally impractical for a skiing holiday.

We got a nice apartment though.

Skiing was good, skied first three days in Ischgl and I thought we were all skiing very well and keeping together quite well as a group. L however, as always, thought she was holding us up. In fact the one who was having a horrendous skiing time so far was me, I kept falling over. This is normally unheard of. Blamed my skis. I should have sharpened the edges before we left. I had practically no grip on the morning ice.

L fell on day three, which was her only fall, unlike me but at least she made it a good one. She managed to fall on a tube of sun block which seemed to bruise her ribs. So much so that after a while she had trouble bending over.

After that we skied in Galtur and in Kappl before ending up back in Ischgl. I would recommend all three for differing reasons.

There were even penguins in Ischgl.

The village we stayed in was nice despite the fact that the local shops didn't stock decent ingredients to cook with, such as fresh meet and veg. We survived on sausages. Doggo would have been so jealous. Loo roll also seemed to be bit of a rarity in the resort. We survived on tissues.

L even managed to get a run in on some mornings. I didn’t want to push my legs that much, ageing rapidly as they are.

L, who was ill on our Scottish trip in February, managed to top that by coming out in a rash one day and we couldn’t work out why. She must have been allergic to something but we couldn’t work out what. Sausages perhaps?

The Jagertee’s went down very well all week. It was also a good sex week considering my girl was covered in red spots and couldn't bend at the waist!

It was all over too quickly and we headed home, hoping that our collie had missed us and wasn't having as good a time as his text messages said he was. We nearly didn't make it though. The pilot tried to kill us on the way back and had a go at landing the plane on one wheel before thinking better of it, aborting the landing and doing better second time around.