Preparing for my BIG GAY 10K

I used to hate long distance running. I would watch runners go past and envy the fact that they could do it – and wondered why they liked it.

Strangely enough that all changed earlier this year. I had heard about an App for my phone which could help you get from ‘couch potato’ to a runner (possibly good enough for the Olympics… okay, I can dream).

I have stuck to the challenges and kept running a few times a week (once every two days when I’m being really good).

A friend of mine in London posted information about the first Big Gay 10K in London on Facebook and I was hooked…

A real challenge for me. Will you support me? Here’s my page.

What have I got myself into? The next thing I knew I was signing up for my very first ‘proper’ run. I am currently running distances of 3-4K. The 10K might just finish me off…

Here I am – Looking my most sporty….

I have set up a Just Giving page so that you can track my progress and see if I am still alive. Of course, I’ll be blogging more about it here too.

In short – this is what it’s all about.

  • It’s the FIRST ever Big Gay 10k run in London.
  • The run takes place on 30th September 2012.
  • The 10k has been put together to raise money for some of the UK’s leading Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender health and well-being charities.
  • The charities organising the event are London Friend and PACE.
  • The route will go along the River Thames – It means I get to run past icons like the London Eye, Tate Modern, Big Ben and Westminster! Fab!
  • You’re allowed to RUN it, WALK it, MINCE it…
  • It’s a great excuse to get my legs out.
  • I may not make it to October…

I would love it if you took the time to check out my Just Giving page – You may even like to make a small donation for the wonderful charity. (That’s the easy bit – I’ll be the one running around London in September).

Our Tandem Ride

On our recent holiday in France we decided to try something new as part of our ‘outdoors’ experience. Living in The Netherlands, we love cycling. It’s a national hobby for the Dutch and possibly the most-used form of transport.


We didn’t want to hire ordinary bikes while we were staying near Lake Annecy in the south east of France – so we chose a tandem.

Big mistake.

Looking confident? We were anything but…

Riding a tandem is so difficult! My co-ordination and balance is pretty good, but this was so tricky. The fact that there were cars and other cyclists nearby didn’t help either. Cycling along we looked like something reminiscent of a Laurel and Hardy film.

After hiring the tandem for about 4 hours we decided that we wanted to live a little longer. Time to take the tandem back and reluctantly take two normal bikes.

I wish I could do this…

If any of you have tried cycling on a tandem then I would LOVE to hear about how you got on.

20 things that make me happy

Life can be so simple if you allow it to be. There are so many things which make me happy, but these are the best ones.

In no particular order…..

  1. Waking up on Saturday morning (there’s nothing quiet like it)
  2. Bas. Spending my life with him makes me happier than I’ve ever been
  3. Arriving home when it’s been pouring down. Putting on the heating and curling up on the sofa
  4. Cadbury’s chocolate (the English cadbury’s)
  5. Opening birthday and Christmas cards from my mum
  6. Buying new clothes
  7. Packing for a holiday
  8. Visiting new countries
  9. Watching favourite films on the sofa with Bas (The Holiday, Love Actually, 27 Dresses, Devil Wears Prada)
  10. Getting emails/messages from old friends
  11. Organising trips away (especially the ones to the UK)
  12. Christmas with the family
  13. Walks in forests (I LOVE that smell)
  14. Snow, especially when the sky is blue and the sun is shining on the fresh snow
  15. My cats, Fudge and Cooper
  16. The first day of the summer holiday (every year I am amazed at how good it feels) – the joys of teaching
  17. Finally being able to speak Dutch with confidence
  18. The Eurovision Song Contest and counting down to it (this starts 6 months before the actual show)
  19. Listening to music on iTunes
  20. Bike rides

Looking back at my list there aren’t many which need a lot of money. Just to show that you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy life.

Great Guidebooks: Don’t travel without one.

The start of my collection…

I’m not a fan of bulky travel guides. They may be suitable for travelling by car, but when there are flights involved then it’s far better to have something light and easy that pops in your pocket.

I’m also not a big fan of large fold-out maps – who thought that they would be a great idea. Once unfolded they become a wind trap, they rip easily and are practically impossible to fold back together. I’m no origami expert!

That said, I was chuffed pleased thilled to discover the Everyman May Guides. A guidebook and a map all rolled into one perfect, pocket-sized friend. I love them! I’ve used them on a couple of trips and they pass the tourist test of mine.

Happy traveller here! (Recent trips to Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, Barcelona and Munich).

One of the fold out district maps (Amsterdam).

Each city is divided into districts. Each double page inside looks at one district and lists restaurants, pubs, bars, music venues and shops that are worth a visit. The page then folds out to reveal a small map with that section of the city. Perfect! It folds out – It folds away. The next double page had more of the same. Handy information for the part of the city that you’re actually in.

The guide also contains an overview map (showing the districts – all colour coded) and transport information. It’s all in the book! Everything you need it one little book.

Surely travel is meant to be simple. Sometimes it is better to spend time on trips and holidays enjoying the sights rather than reading through a bulky 700 page guide.

Happy travels everyone!

 You may also like to read some of my travel posts:

My travel map so far (as of Nov ’10)

Booking disaster!

A flight to remember.

Preparation and organisation tips.

Prague: Czech it out and check the John Lennon Wall out too.

The hills are alive with the sound of…..mincing.

Move over Julie Andrews. Anything you can do I am sure I can do better.

I was browsing through some old photos and found one of mine with a remarkable similarity to the infamous image of Julie Andrews spinning around in the mountains.

Look at those dance moves. It was impromptu…. However, I wasn’t expecting to look quite so camp in the shot, but hey… such is life.

I think I might challenge myself (and all you readers) to find or take a picture to match a famous image. Have a go!

French Adventures: The little paddle down the river that went wrong.

Dordogne River in Périgord

Dordogne River in Périgord

I don’t regard myself as a ‘outdoorsy person’, but from time to time I like to explore nature, go camping, trek and play ‘try’  different sports. That said I am a very good skier. That will be a story for another day.

When I first met Bas (my far-more-outdoorsy-partner) we went on holiday to France. OK, I must point out that we’d been together for less than 3 months and so I was agreeing to all wonderful ideas of adventures and exploration of the outdoor world. France was lovely.  So, here we were in France in the Dordogne. A stunning region that I’d never heard of before.

We stayed with some of Bas’ friends in a their converted farm. The house and outbuildings were amazing – There was even an outdoor swimming  pool. Holiday heaven! In the surrounding areas there were lots of quaint little towns and villages. We’d hired a car and went out daily exploring castles, ruins and French country roads. The weather was perfect! It really was fab!

Prior to our “canoe adventure” I thought:

  • It would be simple,
  • Paddling would be easy,
  • The river would be calm,
  • The French would be understanding.

We were proved very wrong!

We rented a canoe and specifically explained that we didn’t want to do a whole afternoon trip – but just some paddling about to ‘have-a-go’ and see if we liked it. Our French wasn’t good. Her English was not great either and Dutch and German wasn’t going to get us anywhere (Bas spoke both). After lots of hand gestures and swapping of money we had a canoe and life jackets. Good one!

Whilst happily paddling along the river, chatting away and taking in the scenery, we  were having a lovely time! It was very relaxing. My first canoe trip – I felt like an expert. OK, the initial paddling had taken some getting used to. Synchronisation is more tricky than you’d first think. After about 50 minutes we saw a guy in a canoe anchored in the middle of the river. He was taking photographs of canoeists passing by. We smiled – looking like professionals (of course) and then we moored? docked? (I really don’t know the canoeing words) to a shallow bank where we discovered a little wooden hut. Inside the hut, fitted with internet, a computer and a friendly lady, we purchased the photo that had just been taken. The wonders of modern technology. It was great to have a photo of us both in the canoe.

Here we are. Canoe experts!

Next came the big shock. We got into the canoe and planned on returning the way we had come. The water seemed calm. We’d given ourselves more than enough time to get back to our starting point. The current however was not gentle at all. While paddling against the current at full speed we kept our eyes on a tree on the river bank. It stayed put. We were paddling as hard as we could and going nowhere.

No matter how hard or how fast we tried to paddle there was absolutely no way we could make it back upstream. Ooops!

We had no choice but to go further down the river and find a place to stop. We found a road, some shops and civilisation. We got out of the canoe, pulled it ashore and thought of a plan. Bas called the friends that we were staying with. We had no way of contacting the canoe company (we didn’t have their number and we didn’t speak French). Our friends arranged with the canoe company to have someone come and pick us up. The whole story had been relayed. Oh the shame!

At this point I was laughing hysterically. I thought it was just the funniest thing. Bas however, had not given up smoking by this stage and was currently having sense-of-humour-failure!

A Frenchman arrived in a minibus. He didn’t look impressed. He was even less impressed when he realised that he was to take us and the canoe back. His mood just fuelled my giggled. So, here we sat – Bas and I on the front seat of the minibus. One angry French driver. One giggling Jamie (me) and one Bas poking me in the rips trying to get me to stop.

I love that day!

It’s one of my best memories ever!