Saturday, 30 May 2009

Congratulations to a wonderful duo

Right now on the other side of the world, one of the most special people in my life is celebrating a wonderful partnership.

Kate has been in my life for 15 years now, and we have just about seen it all. We've spent three days learning to cook curry in Thailand; spent six days riding down French slopes; and many a late night feasting on a frozen stash of bagels laden with honey in our ancient living room at Wallace Street.

We have shared three front doors, more tears than I care to count, and more laughter than you can ever hope to imagine. She has been my counsellor in the bad times, my side-kick in the good times, and my accomplice when we stole that road sign at the age of 17.

A few years ago, a new character stepped onto the stage of Kate's life and her journey took a different path.
I will accept only the best for Kate and Brent is it.

They make a fabulous team; a dynamic duo riding the ups and downs of life together.

Congratulations guys. I was there with you in spirit.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Random Act of Kindness No. 1

I've really been struggling with trying to think of acts of kindness which are random enough to not come across very contrived.

So I was sitting in King's Hospital on Monday afternoon (long story) leafing through the standard waiting room brochures when I came upon one for the Donor Register.

I am, and have always been a donor in New Zealand, but as I don't yet have a UK Driver Licence, my organs are going nowhere special should something untoward happen on this side of the world.

So I filled in the form right there and then, and posted it off.

I'm not sure about the state of my liver, but I have a pretty strong heart that might help someone, and would probably enjoy a second outing given the opportunity.

Anyone in the UK wanting to sign up, check out:

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

52 Shots - #20

The second bank holiday in May truly signals the beginning of BBQ season with temperatures breaking into the mid to high 20s on all three days.

On Saturday, all over London people dusted off their sunscreen and their Frisbees and take to the parks en masse. And so the BBQ police also came out of hibernation. As a gang of fluorescent vest-wearing law enforcement officers they traipse about the parks and commons, attempting to both figuratively and literally dampen the fun. But despite the health and safety legislation, a very good time is had by all.

On Sunday I find myself at a gourmet backyard BBQ, where one after the other, tasty dishes are rolled out in front of me. With a mushroom and blue cheese burger in hand, Corona next to my fold-out chair, surrounded by charming people and a newly pruned spring garden, I quietly think to myself there is nowhere else I would rather be now than right here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

52 Shots - #19 'Changing of the Guard'

They have stood me in good stead over hundreds and hundreds of miles. We've run together around Central Park, Richmond Park, and Queen Victoria Park. I've sent them through rivers, across grasslands and down endless streets. As much as I am very attached to them, it is time to put my old Brooks into retirement.
My new Brooks have a big year ahead of them. But after a couple of test drives, I think they are up to the challenge.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

52 Shots - #18

A power station blots the otherwise pretty Yorkshire landscape on a moody Friday afternoon.

Friday, 15 May 2009

The art of getting there

I know of no better form of public transport than these sleek, snaking, strings of carriages that take us from one place to the next.

Whether it is the five baht train that I took from Bangkok City out to the airport that day to pick up my sister, where I sat on a wooden bench seat amongst bags of grain, monks and cheerful people going about their daily routine; to my present journey where the window is a stream of green pastures as I speed my way to York for the day.

Even when you are surrounded by rather unglamorous folk, sitting at a plastic table on slightly stained seats, there is still a vaguely romantic air to this way of travel. If I close my eyes I can be somewhere in Central Asia, skating through flat ancient lands, with the scent of strange food at the back of my nose, and sand in my teeth.

That is of course until the National Express refreshments lady bangs my elbow with her trolley and I'm straight back to the reality of my Caffe Nero coffee and a damp, grey day ahead.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

A list of 9 things to do whilst still 29

After significant qualitative research, I have finally prepared a list of nine things to do over the next nine months whilst I'm still 29.

Thanks to all those who contributed suggestions. I got everything from 'slide down the biggest bannister you can find'(tempting), 'have a baby'(not tempting) to 'jump out of a plane' (I said no alright!).

My 9 tasks come in no particular order and will be completed at varying times over the next nine months.

1. Run a marathon

I've always wanted to do this, and after watching the London Marathon I knew I had to do it. However London comes but once a year, so I have to wait until next April, by which time I will already be into my 4th decade. Fortunately Berlin puts on what is supposed to be a great marathon in September. Before reason had time to come up and slap me on the forehead, I registered for the event.

2. Climb a mountain

I'm going to define a mountain as a pile of land over 1000m. They are a little hard to come by on this island, but I've got my eye on one in particular.

3. Cook a nine course dinner for nine people

Pretty self-explanatory really. But at this dinner, those nine people will help me with task number 4.

4. Read the nine 'best books ever written' as recommended by my nine guests

I'm forever trying to make people read 'A Suitable Boy' by Vikram Seth, like some kind of crazed book pusher. Now I want these people to make me read their version of 'the best book ever written'.

5. Do my RYA Coastal Skipper qualification

The ocean and I have the sort of connection that chokes me up just a little when I think about it.

Whenever we stayed on the boat in a marina somewhere, Dad and I would ritually take an evening walk. Up and down each arm of the marina we would go, playing the game where if you could have one boat, which would you choose. I remember thinking 'one day I'll have one of these'. I want to fall asleep listening to the waves tapping at the sides of my very own boat. This course is the first step.

6. Make a patchwork quilt by hand

I'd like to be craftier than I am. I think I have it in me. My mum is a craft genius. I want to be just a little bit more like her. I plan to make a quilt made up of fabric I have collected from family and friends. Important little scraps of their lives all brought together by my hands, a needle, and some thread.

7. Write something

I have vague ideas of what form this will take but I'm going to stay quiet about it for the moment. It may never get published, but it will be a step along that road I have been staring down for quite some time now.

8. Do nine things that scare me just a little

Or even just take me out of my comfort zone. My housemate is going to make me sing karaoke. Ergh.

9. Perform nine random acts of kindness

Surely living in a massive city like London makes this relatively easy?

So there it is. The complete list. I will keep you up to date on progress of course. Best get to it.

My new hero

I generally go through life thinking I've done alright so far until I watch another 18 year old win Wimbledon or discover people like Naomi James, my new hero.

Not only was she the first woman to sail single-handedly around the world via Cape Horn (completing it in 272 days, two days faster than Sir Francis Chichester did it) but she had only been sailing for six weeks before she set off. Originally from a sheep farm in New Zealand, she couldn't even swim until she was 23, and was only 29 when she finished her voyage in 1978.

In a month where women's magazine Marie Claire published a list of the top women to admire today which included: Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, and Oprah Winfrey but no sportspeople, politicians, or academics.. We need to keep remembering the incredible feats of women like Naomi James.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A 'credit crunch' weekend away

I'm not really one for throwing holiday pics out there, but I thought I would share some nice shots from my May bank holiday to the country.
No early morning flights; no struggling with foreign train timetables to places you can't pronounce; no need to remember power adaptors, passport, hotel directions; and no being left with loads of strange coins at the bottom of your bag at the end of the trip...

A neat row of pastel houses in Seaford

I'm shocked when I realise this is the first time I have stood on the English seafront

The Seven Sisters made a pretty scenic Sunday afternoon run, up and over them there hills.

Monday, 4 May 2009

52 Shots - #17

It's a tough life being a tree in the South Downs