Monday, January 17, 2011

The future Picabo and Lindsey

I spent much of the last week organizing my first family ski trip. Now, we've gone on plenty of family ski trips, but they've all been organized by someone else, usually my parents. This time around I've gotten the "joy" of choosing the resort, sorting out housing, finding equipment, organizing travel (still working on that one...). And the whole process has gotten me really excited about getting out on the snow. Even more, I'm excited about getting the girls out on the snow - I learned to ski at a very early age (3? 4? Something like that), and I have now-fond memories of freezing my butt off and hauling extraordinarily heavy skis and poles up a hill and falling in the snow on my face. And whining, oh the whining!

Since it was so much fun when I did it, I've decided to share the joy with my own children. 'Cause I don't hear enough whining already of course. Since Devil is quite reluctant about new experiences where she might not be perfect at the alloted task, I took the girls to their first ski lesson last weekend. The rationale being that it would be a good idea for Dev to try skiing before we take her to a house in the French Alpes for nine days.

You may be wondering where on earth you can go skiing in London in January. The short answer is: nowhere (in London). The closest ski resorts are in the Cairngorms in Scotland, but there is a surprising (to me) number of indoor ski venues relatively close by. Some of them even have "real" snow! So the girls and I hopped in the car and drove to the northwest side of London to go to the Snow Centre.

I will skip over the negotiations that were required to get Dev into her gear and onto the snow. Just know that it was a struggle, but once she went out the door, she was fine. They didn't get a whole much done in their 30 minute lesson, but I think the seed has been planted...

Putting on one ski

Walking with one ski

This is a snowplow. It looks like a piece of pizza.

Devil's snowplow

Boo's snowplow (or lack thereof)

One good student paying attention, one hellion wandering off up the slope and sliding down on her bum.
See? Serious hellion.

I'll leave it to Grandpa's tender imagination to predict the skiing future for these two, but for one of them, I suspect it will involve traction. And the skiing equivalent of road rash. Perhaps a broken bone or two. Lovely...

Monday, January 10, 2011


Now that it's January, I'm starting to get a bit more concerned about this upcoming ride-across-a-big-island thing that I'm doing. And since I've recovered from my self-induced ankle injury, it's time to get back on the bike in a real way. In the last 30 hours, I've ridden about 80 miles (ouch!). And I've learned some very interesting things.

1. For a town with a fair bit of cash floating around, Esher is really not good at road repair. As I stood on the side of the road last night changing my flat tire (30 min, valve stem broke on my spare tube so I had to find/patch the hole in the original tube in the dark at 40 degrees. Fun times!), a lovely little sports car came down the road with it's hazards on and a rear tire most of the way off the wheel. Oops. Today, on my second trip through Esher I saw another hazard-flashing car with a flat. Ick! Thankfully, today's ride was flat-free on my end, probably because I brought two spare tubes.

2. A bacon and fried egg bap, while delicious and unhealthy, is probably not the best pre-50 mile-with-hills meal.

3. I will be using the equivalent of a year's supply of Bag Balm for a 500 head dairy farm over the next few months.

4. Any bike handling skills that I may have once had in my halcyon Tucson days are long, long gone. I now descend hills like a Tourettes-afflicted squirrel. Audible soundtrack: squeek! Squeek! Squeeeeeeeek! (that one was my brakes). Internal soundtrack: Shit! Fuck! Shit! Fuck! (Rinse, repeat ad nauseum). Here's hoping that improves. A lot.

5. After a fair bit of time off, I can actually go out into the Surrey Hills and not give myself a hernia (although I rode perhaps the least-hilly route possible - thanks honey!).

As a bonus, it was relatively warm and the long-lost sun actually peered out from behind the clouds for the last hour or so. I got home just in time to stretch, change my clothes and grab Boo from school and head to the pool. She splashed around in her new swim cap and goggles while I lazed about glassy eyed. This was the first time in a long time I've been able to bask in the lovely post-workout glow of endorphins when I can feel in every muscle that I've worked hard, and I know I'm going to sleep like a rock. When we were in Tucson, that was the story of our Saturdays: go ride with the Shootout in the morning, beating ourselves into oblivion, come home, shower, nap and eat everything in sight before going to the movies. I got to do some of that today, adn it's been waaaaaaay too long.

Next week's goal: actually get my long ride in on the weekend instead of having to play hooky from work. Windsor is the plan - 60 miles of much flatter stuff, which should take about the same amount of time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Random musings

Last weekend I had the opportunity to experience, for the first time, the particular English institution of pantomime. These are theatrical performances that pop up like mushrooms after a rainstorm around Christmas time. I don't know what their form was orignally, but they now are theoretically targeted as family entertainment, with a big name (read: D-list American celebrity) to draw in the crowds.

We went to a production of Peter Pan. Sadly, our lack of planning meant that we did not get to enjoy the spectacle of Hoff the Hook, but the second stringer Springer was a good understudy. Listening to a group of pirates chanting "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" was only slightly more surreal then the gay pirate cabaret later in the show. No joke. It was my impression that it was one of Mr. Springer's first performances as Captain Hook, given that he seemed a bit taken aback by the audience participation factor (not to mention somewhat wooden delivery), but it was brilliant. Now I'm crushed that last year's Christmas flu meant that I had to miss Aladdin last year (with Pamela Anderson as the genie). (What is it with ex-Baywatch stars and panto?) I can't wait to see who is on the docket for next year.


Girls are back at school, and I'm back to work, just in time for rain, rain, rain. I made the mistake of riding to work yesterday without checking the weather forecast, and was very, very sorry. Pouring down rain and 45 degrees on the way in, enough time there to get my riding clothes mostly dried out, and then torrential rain, flooded gutters and somewhere in the region of 35-40 degrees on the way home. Lovely. My poor bike hates me, and I'm buying a single speed this weekend so I don't have to deal with replacing my drive train every six months.


Speaking of weather, yesterday Himself and I check the Met Weather office website (as we do on a regular basis), and discovered a somewhat contradictory weather icon for today: can it be pissing down rain and sunny at the same time? 

Well, now I can tell you: the walk to school and my run back home = pissing down rain. Picking up Boo from school and a later walk to the pool = sunny! Walking from pool to Wagamama with two worn out children in the dark = pissing down rain. Lovely.


While waiting for Himself to finish a physio appointment before dinner, the girls and I stopped at the local coffee shop to dry off a bit and fortify ourselves with chocolate. There I was, innocently shooting my eagle eyes at the door every time it opened in the hopes that it was my husband coming to rescue me from my lovely children, and lo and behold, Chrissie Wellington comes bounding through the store. All 5 foot 6 inches 120 lbs of hat trick Ironman World Champion. Dude. I wish I could say I got faster just through proximity, but I'm not sure even she has that superpower.


And just to round out my run-ins with famous people for the day, I think I've finally figured out why there have been Metro Police stationed at the end of a small road near the girls' school for the last eight months or so - could that be where our illustrious Deputy PM lives? Enquiring minds don't really care but feel sorry for the poor guys that are stuck sitting there all freakin' day.