Thursday, 17 May 2018

Thursday, 3 May 2018

I have hurt my back and suddenly feel very old

Walking down the stairs last week, I slipped on the slightly shiny wood and my legs shot out from under me.  I took the full force of the fall mid way up my back on my right side.  Initially it just seemed like I had badly bruised the area and for two days it was sore but not too bad, and it definitely seemed to be getting better.

But on the third day after the fall, I started to get really bad muscle spasms and my mobility started to really get worse.  A day later and I was in quite a lot of discomfort every day, and now have trouble getting upright when I have been lying down.

Suddenly I feel really old.  I can only walk a few hundred yards before the dull ache starts to become a sharp pain.  I won't be doing any fitness training for a while it would seem, just as I was about to start my push to be super-fit for cycling up the Col du Tourmalet in late June.

So I have acquired a support belt to hopefully speed along recovery.  But backs take a long time to heal properly and I suspect it will be a few more weeks till I am back to normal.

What a pain - literally

Reading Viv Albertine

I have just finished re-reading Viv Albertine's autobiography and am starting on her new book, To Throw away Unopened.  The first book was one of the best of the recent music books I have read, comparable to Kim Gordon's book and better than Brix Smith's though I enjoyed all three.

I remember hearing the two Slits Peel session soon after I had first started to listen to John Peel every night and I remember talking to people at school about them - the amazing amateurishness!  I was 14 when the Peel sessions went out and have to admit to really fancying Viv Albertine when I was that age

Live in 1980 or so - the Allie Pallie gig

and she's very fancy-able now too

The new book is written in a very episodic style which I am rather enjoying - more like a blog than a book perhaps

Monday, 12 February 2018

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Mark E Smith R.I.P


Thursday, 18 January 2018

Clem Leek's "The Burnt House"

Another recent musical find has been Clem Leek's track "The Burnt House".  This appeared on a Youtube "mix" tape of various modern classical composers, where it emerged out of a track by Hildur Gudnadottir to great effect.  I know next to nothing about him though.  He describes himself as a "composer and sound designer" which seem fair enough and much to my surprise, he is actually British. 

I have purchased three CDs of his work and am looking forward to really giving this a good listen through

Simeon Ten Holt's "Canto Ostinato"

Over the last year or two I have listened to a lot of music that might best be described as "modern classical".  This has ranged from performers such as Hildur Gudnadottir and Julia Kent, using cellos, loops and electronics, to more conventional people like Agnes Obel or the stupendously great icelandic group, Amiina.  In each case, it is the combination of classical instrumentation and modern electronics that is the "modern" aspect.  And I guess all this would follow on perhaps from listening to lots of Arvo Part in the past.

Most recent "find" has been Simeon Ten Holt, a dutch minimalist composer.  His most well-known work is probably the "Canto Ostinato" which is a really long piece which can be performed in all sorts of configurations such as two pianos / two marimbas, or four pianos (there is even a version featuring an accordion).  It is in 106 sections, each basically at the same tempo but with significant variation and growing hints of discordance.

My favourite so far is a live recording for four pianos, or the version on Youtube that is accompanied by a strange video of pictures made out of stones.

Fire and Fury


Inside No 9 - The 12 Days of Christine


Derry Girls


Monday, 15 January 2018

Slyvia Patterson's autobiography


Reading about Existentialism (again)


Intense fitness work

8 days in a row of GCN free rides - 171 miles, 7500 calories

The T of S is now 3 weeks away

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Christmas books 2017

This year, my main Christmas present was the Kinetic Fit turbo trainer that I got back in later November and which I am totally delighted with in every way (even if it won't connect by bluetooth to my laptop and I have to use the tablet instead)

But as usual, there were also a number of books.

I have been quite disappointed with Tim Moore's book so far.  The main problem is his apparent total lack of prepardness that he continually boasts about.  Not knowing so much about road bikes is good for the comedy of the book, but I am rather hoped it would be a little more serious.  I also hadn't realised that he was carrying everything in panniers, so it is hardly a serious road bike experience.  My mistake for not realising this, given the other books he has written.

I haven't started the Kepler book yet, and actually have another book on the same theme as this one.  But I more or less always buy anything Kepler related and am looking forward to reading this in the spring perhaps

Wife had selected two Very Short Introduction books while we were in Blackwell's in Oxford and they were on a 3 for 2 offer, so I selected this one on numbers, which Wife then decided I should have on Christmas day, instead of straight away.  I am always keen on books about numbers - primes, irrationals, transcendentals, reals, complex, etc.  The sort of book I will carry in the car as emergency reading should I need something for whatever reason.

I have just finished re-reading Beevor's book on Stalingrad and thought I might like to read something else on the history of the Nazis.  We also saw the movie Denial the other week about the David Irving holocaust-denial libel trial and Richard Evans featured in this.  I read his book In Defence of History when I did my MSc also, so a big fan of his already.

I keep coming back to French Philosophy and have recently been reading Bakewell's Existential Cafe so this book was another in that sort of reading - to follow up quite a few similar other books I have read over the last few years.

Nice cover design I thought!

Another recent read was Ott's Heidegger: A Political Life, and this last Christmas book was prompted by that, especially as Ott hadn't had access to the Black Notebooks when he wrote his book in the early 1990s. 

And this is what a page or two of the black notebooks actually look like - looks indecipherable to me, but then it is in German.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Tour de Sufferlandria 2018 - the route is out

The route for the Tour of Sufferlandria has been published and I have been studying it in detail.  It runs for 9 days that span two full weekends.  The first weekend sees two hours riding on both the Saturday and Sunday, when two Sufferfest rides are done back-to-back, but this is then followed by five days where just one ride is done each day and these are all around the 1 hour mark.

But the last two days are really tough.  Stage 8 is another two hour combination while the last stage is "kitchen sink", a mammoth 3 hour stage, which I expect to find really tough as the final stage of 9.  None the less, I am psyched up for the event and am working out the details of the 9 days.  In particular, Wife and I are currently doing a dry January which finishes just before the Tour starts, so I will have to avoid overdoing it on the days before!

Inside No 9

Inside No 9 has returned for a fourth series and the first episode features one of our favourite comic actresses - Tanya Franks, who we previous saw in the excellent Pulling, where she played the drunk, sex-mad infant teacher.

We have decided that our 2018 TV viewing is going to be a mix of some more offbeat shows and so will be watching old episodes of this series and also quite a lot of Black Mirror.

I would really like to see the episode 12 Days of Christine from series 2 - with Sheridan Smith - one of the saddest, most powerful 30 minutes of TV I have ever seen.

The brilliant Tanya Franks, as "Red", about to provide some "executive relief"

Blake's 7

It is apparently the 40th anniversary of the start of Blake's 7.  I certainly remember it first being shown.  Star Trek was our main outer space series and Blake's 7 appeared as something very similar.  All the boys I was at school with had a firm view on who the most attractive female crew member was - most favouring the blonde one, while I tended to prefer the brunette.  I remember thinking that Blake himself was rather a twat though, and I was very happy when he departed and Avon became the male lead.

I don't remember any of my friends ever saying that they liked the female villain, Servalan, more than the crew members but I was surprised many years later to discovery that my wife had had rather a crush on Servalan at one time.  Indeed, Wife once had her hair cut in a style not far off Servalan's.

 And what a cool spaceship - the Liberator!

Amusing Sufferfest-inspired new names - WWLLTWLAGS

Inspired by Sufferfest's ISLAGIATT ("It seemed like a good idea at the time"), or its moto IKMATTKYT ("I kick my ass today to kick yours tomorrow"), I am planning to invent a few new phrases of my own.

I suppose you do have to try and make them pronounceable, but my first one isn't.  And I sharn't be saying what the word stands for either.  Instead, here are a few pictures that illustrate what I mean by my new acronym, "WWLLTWLAGS".

First up, former Blue Peter presenter, Anthea Turner

Then mathematician, Carol Vorderman

Cyclist, Laura Trott

and my favourite feminist, Naomi Wolf

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

New year's Day - Sufferfest's "It seemed like a good idea at the time"

I have been psyching myself up for this indoor workout for the past few weeks - 1 hr 55 mins of turbo bike workout.

It sounds ridiculous, but I have discovered that there is a even more ridiculous one lurking within the Sufferfest videos - a 3 hour workout called "Kitchen sink" as in "everything but the kitchen sink"

I took it fairly easy, not necessarily hitting every power target as I wanted to ensure I finished it, and it turned out to not be that bad.  I have a target calorie burn for January of 25,000 and this first workout provided 1332 according to my turbo app, but this became 1195 when uploaded on Strava - don't know why there is the discrepancy.

I am pretty sure that the full target is too high as if I have 3 or 4 rest days in the month, then the 25,000 target has to be done over 27 rides which is over 900 calories per workout or about 90 minutes every time I do a ride, which might be more than I can do.

This workout is commonly known at "ISLAGIATT"  I am quite taken with the idea of long names condensed down and have thought of a few good ones of my own that I may try out soon

Monday, 1 January 2018

New Year's Eve 2017

So what did I do on New Year's Eve 2017?

It was another rainy and windy day down in France.  The first part of my day's routine is to reset the fire.  We are low on dry logs at the moment and I am having to keep replenishing a pile in the garage to dry out.

Today's exercise was Sufferfest's "The Power Station" - less than one hour as my New Year's Day target is the two hour "It seemed like a good idea at the time" workout.  Later in the morning I officially joined Sufferfest and am busy downloading all the workouts to the laptop.

The Tour de Sufferlandria has been set for February 3rd to 11th 2018 - 9 Sufferfest workouts in 9 days.  I shall be signing up soon, once the route is set on January 3rd. Cool poster from last year's event

While the family girls work on a jigsaw puzzle for much of the afternoon, I read Bakewell's Existential Cafe and listened to the sport on the radio.

Our meal tonight is something special.

Starter of smoked salmon, prawns, sliced mango and creme fraiche.  Main is filet de bouef, with a mushroom, cream and whiskey sauce, sauteed potatoes and green beans.  Dessert is chocolate brownie.  Served with champagne and a bottle of Haut Medoc

We managed to stay up till midnight to toast the new year, but, as daughter pointed out, all our friends and family are one hour behind us, back in the UK.  No one decides to stay up till 1:00 our time though.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Discovering "The Sufferfest"

A few weeks ago, I acquired a Kinetic Fit Smart Turbo Trainer which came with an App for our tablet which contains about 80 indoor cycling workouts.  It has taken me a little while to set everything up and learn how to calibrate the power readings on the app (such as getting an initial estimate for FTP).

And while working my way through the list of workouts, I discovered about 20 workouts described as being "The Sufferfest".  I hadn't heard of this before, but it is a series of interval training indoor bike workouts to which you can view real cycling footage.  It is described as being a full "immersive" experience in which you can get into the story line of the workout.

So far I have not subscribed to The Sufferfest but am intending to do so when we are back from the UK after Christmas.  In the meantime, I have started doing the workouts accompanied by videos I have downloaded off Youtube.

Three Sufferfest targets:

1.  To ride the longest workout "ISLAGIATT" once before we go back to the UK

2.  Ride three consecutive Sufferfests in one training session - ideally on January 1st 2018

(there is a 9 workout sequence that can be done in one day apparently but is far too tough for me - but maybe 3 would be possible)

3.  Do "The Tour de Sufferlandia" in 2018 - 9 workouts in 9 days, probably in January

And another January 2018 target - to complete 20,000 calories in the month on my turbo trainer.

And I'd like a Sufferfest cycling top - $80

Monday, 27 November 2017

Queen Adreena (again)

Yet again, I have found myself back listening to Queen Adreena.  This seems to happen every year or so at the moment.  The trigger this time - being directed to "Pull me under" on Youtube.  I am totally captivated by Katie Jane Garside as a performer. 

I wonder what she is up to now - nothing on the internet when I last looked