Monday, 25 February 2008

Progress on lots of things . . . . .

Monday February 25th 2008


We are now about 2 months away from the first week of the 2008 season. Bookings are beginning to come in every few days and we are working on the fine detail of our plans for the weeks. Our "to-do" list is about ten pages long and covers everything from kitchen items we think we need to take with us to the slightly ambitious plans we have to shoot a short "holiday movie" onto DVD as part of next year's marketing. We ask ourselves every day whether we have missed off something really important from the list. The pressure to get everything perfect is pretty high, but several weeks of watching old Gordon Ramsey series have focused us on the attention to detail that is required to do things well. We hope we are doing just that!

The main business matters relate to current advertising and whether to add more into the late April to June period (it probably doesn't make much sense to advertise after that date as there are so few weeks left of the summer season). Most days we get a phone call from someone who has seen one of our adverts and wants to sell us advertising in some other publication.

I haven't often commented in this blog about my current reading material but I have been recently preparing a "resources" page for the website including all sorts of books that I thought might be of interest to people who might be interested in out breaks. My current reading is Richard Sennett's "The Craftsman", a really fascinating look at why people take pride in their work. It is a deeply philosophical look at practical activity of all kinds, ranging from obvious crafts like carpentry, to activities like cooking and child care. The basic defining feature is that little of the learning required to become skilled can be written down. Instead, craft is something that must be learned by doing. In its widest context, the book suggests that many of our working practices strip us of our self-esteem, but that everyone can be a craftsman. Highly recommended.

And current listening, which I also haven't mentioned for a while, is mainly the newest cd by Valet, "Naked Acid", which I read about in the current issue of The Wire and is available from, and a live recording from last week of Sonic Youth playing the wonderful "Pink Stream" (a track from the recent album "Rather Ripped")

Friday, 22 February 2008

Yoga Teacher Training Course

Sunday February 17th 2008

Yoga Teacher Training Course, Victoria, London


Loaded down this morning with lots of posture notes for today's course sessions. This is our last Posture Lab weekend and we should know pretty much all the postures we cover on the course by the end of it. I had turned in my "Preparation for Practicum" homework just in time but do have a few gaps in my schedules which I will need to fix as soon as possible.

Turnout is up on last time - six today versus the four last time. But no Rhea, who had been in touch by email in the few days before and who I though was coming. Some people who had been regulars haven't been seen for many months - Brigitte, Zev, Claudia, and so on. But Sarah is back after her wedding in South Africa (bearing some pictures for us all to see).

The morning is with Camille doing the Posture Labs for backbends (and a couple of twists left over from last time) As always, I really enjoyed her teaching. After our meeting a couple of weeks ago, we decided that it would be a good idea for Camille to have her own website as I could get Darren to do one based on Linda's site. So Camille has sent me loads of text for the site which I will be editing next week. But today we needed to take one or two additional pictures for the site - some portrait shots and some photogenic postures.

Over lunch I had a chat with Victoria who, it turns out, is a philosophy graduate from King's College Cambridge and is trying to raise funding to do a further degree in Anthropology and Philosophy at UCL. I was telling her about my own MSc application and was a bit alarmed by how much work she had put into her applications compared to how much I did. I have had acknowledgement emails from LSE about my application but I think I need to be proactive in respect of getting my references to them and so on. I am worried that I didn't put in enough effort on this.

The afternoon is entirely set aside for Swami who is taking us through the Bhagavad Gita, chapter by chapter. It is at least 20 years since I read this all the way through, though I did read a bit last year. Though it is a three hour session, it rattles along pretty well and is one of the best lessons we have had I thought. Tomorrow we are having a similar lecture on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras which I would have really liked to have seen but have to leave early as Emma was coming home for the weekend and I didn't want to not see much of her.

My hotel tonight is at somewhere called the "Hyde Park Apartments" near Queensway tube. These are hotel rooms with small cooking areas in them - 4* and among the best places I have stayed during the course, though I have yet to find somewhere with a bath which would be nice for a change


Breakfast at a small cafe by Queensway tube and then rather a pleasant walk across Hyde Park and down to Victoria, which took me longer than expected and resulted in me not having time to buy food for lunch, etc.

Elena was teaching us for most of today. We started with a lecture on adjusting and assisting which was very interesting and has left me with loads of stuff to think about. Then we we split into pairs to prepare a short body awakening sequence followed by some preparatory postures leading up to a particular pose - in our case, Marichyasana C. I was paired with Tracy and I thought we did a pretty good job overall. A reasonably nice warm up sequence, so good prep poses. Not bad I thought. But Elena did raise lots of points for us which was a bit disappointing. We were the first group to present and that may have had something to do with the long discussion we had about our sequence. That did leave a little less time for the other groups.

Departure at 2:30 so I could get home in good time to see Emma and cook a meal with her tonight. We now only have two more practice weekends left before our final assessment weekend. So we do all need to be working hard now on our planned assessment classes, etc. Next time we have practical tests all day on the Saturday - that will be a very tough day i would think.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Village Wine Tasting

Saturday February 9th 2008

Longworth Village Hall

Most of the day was spent in Cambridge visiting Emma at college. All seems to be going well and it was nice to see her. Remarkably, Linda hadn't seen her for 5 weeks - possibly the longest time they have ever had apart.

Back home and we just have time to make it to the "Call my Wine Bluff" event at the village hall, hosted by the local Oxford Wine Company. This is a wine tasting in a somewhat unusual format. We are on a table with 8 others and there are three wine experts on the stage. We are given a bottle in a black sack so the name is obscured and have a sample each. Then the three wine experts get up and give their descriptions of what the wine might be, two of which are, of course, entirely untrue. Then each table has to guess who is telling the truth about the wine and also what we think it should retail at. There is a complex points scheme and an overall winning table.

Neither Linda nor I are particular expert at wine tasting and do not have an extensive list of wines we have tried (particularly all the New World wines that are about these days). But we are very keen wine tasters (drinkers) and as we plan to include a (friendly) wine tasting in each Well Being Break, then we thought we ought to try and raise our knowledge (at least about the way in which wine can be talked about)

Oddly enough, Linda is really good at picking the wines and gets 7 out of 9 correct (when I did about as well as chance and got 3 right). Unfortunately, Linda's view was drowned out by the few people on the table who considered themselves very knowledgeable about wine, but who didn't score as well as Linda. We would have won easily if we'd followed Linda. As it was we came third overall, just a couple of points behind the winners.

But a very enjoyable evening and one that gives us a few things to think about for the Breaks.

Yoga Teaching - sort of . . . .

Sunday February 3rd 2008

Yoga Teacher Training Course, Oxford Circus, London

A trip up to London to give a talk to the newest of Elena's Yoga Teacher Training Courses. After a phone call earlier in the week, we switched the order of the sessions so Elena would now be leading off with her first Body Awakening session and I would be following immediately before lunch.

The main gain for me from this is that I got to see a session from a different viewpoint than being a participant. This is the first time I have really been able to focus on a class in this way and it was pretty odd to see the wide variety of "bodies in action" - in other words, the wide variety of ways that people sought to do what Elena was asking them to. I did a little bit of adjusting to a couple of people, but not a lot.

My session was called "An introduction to the course" and was focused on picking out relevant points from the syllabus and explaining what the various things meant. So hopefully, unlike my own course, participants will know exactly what they are doing as the course develops.

For the first part of the lecture Elena sat in, which did throw my timing off a little as she expanded on what I was saying. And then when she did leave me to it later on, I got a whole raft of questions from virtually everyone on the course. Maybe another illustration of the way that feedback is hard to get. My lecture also featured a short anatomical lesson which I did with Christina (who has switched off my course onto this one). That was rather fun I thought.

So I was a little late finishing but not too bad. And the initial feedback was quite good from people. I have now taught on a YTTC course - I wonder when that will happen again.

Then off to the Angel to meet up with Camille (and baby Ina) for a chat about Well Being. This was a wide ranging discussion with lots of interesting points arising from both sides. For instance, we are going to try and make a good standard DVD when we are in Italy at the end of the summer. Camille reckons we could do a really good job on this - afterall, she is a dance and theatre director and so is bound to be better at this than Linda or myself. We are also thinking about sorting Camille out with a website of her own (if I can sort out an appropriate way for it to be done really cheaply)

So an interesting day overall - with much to think about.

Later on I got a really nice email from one of the course participants, Caitlin, who had seen our website and had spotted where she was briefly mentioned (in the post about the Yoga show). And she thought the Well Being Breaks idea was very nice. Nice to get some feedback so quickly.