Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Getting Fit - after four weeks

It is four weeks since I decided to start a more focused fitness plan and it is time to assess progress.

On the positive side, I have managed to do a very large number of separate exercise routines. 

In the last four weeks, I have done 14 indoor cycling routines of typically 75 to 90 minutes each.  Most of these are attempts to cycle continuously for the entire time at a cadence of about 65-75 at the highest resistance I can manage.  I have usually been watching a training video of a 90 minute ascent of Alpe d'Huez so I can really get to grips with the entire ascent.  Gradually I have been able to increase the resistance and I'm pretty happy with how this has gone.  But I am now about to change from this to a different indoor cycle plan using some spin class videos that I have downloaded off youtube.

I have also done 11 outdoor runs, typically around 4-5km around the local woods and fields.  I still find the first 10 minutes of this very hard but I am noticing an improvement and I am now able to properly run long sections rather than do a slow jog.  But I am not a natural runner and need to lose a lot of weight to really improve I feel.

So far I have done just 4 outdoor bike rides and have clocked up around 110 miles.  My longest distance has been 37 miles which is ok at this point.  My next target is to do the entire 28 mile hilly D150 route from home to the local town of St Jean, then all the way to Saintes and back home, and I am also targeting a 40+ mile ride in one go.  I might try for both of these targets this weekend.

I have cut my consumption of coca cola by about 40% and am eating more yogurts and no biscuit snacks - all of which is good

On the negative side, I was appalled to discover how much I weigh.  I didn't weigh myself four weeks ago, and I have lost some weight over the last four weeks, but I currently weigh 96kgs.  I had thought I was about 90kgs! 

My target weight for this time next year was 75-80 kgs so I have a huge way to go to get anywhere near this. 


Monday, 9 October 2017

Kelly Brook - then and now

I haven't seen or heard anything about Kelly Brook for several years.  I always quite liked her as she was a very curvy young lady, rather than ultra slim which I am not so keen on.

A few weeks back there was a feature on her in the gardening section of The Sunday Times, which seems a somewhat incongruous idea, but there you go.  Apparently she has become quite the gardener!


A week or so later, I came across an old copy of (the very bizarre) Bizarre magazine.  I wonder if this is still published?  This featured the lovely Kelly in some very different outfits to the one she is wearing while gardening.

Do I prefer sexy sailor, sexy cop or sexy gardener?  Who knows






Pixies - "Gouge away"

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Monday, 25 September 2017

The Cassini space mission

Current Fitness Regime

Current reading - The $12m shark

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Mark Rothko full-sized Reproductions

I read somewhere that it is possible to buy reproduction artwork that can be pretty close to exact copies and I have found a website that says it can do Mark Rothko reproductions in pretty much any size up to the original size.  They are painted in oils by highly skilled artists in Thailand as far as I can tell.

So I have in mind to purchase a huge reproduction of a Rothko, possibly this one.


I would like it to be about 80 inches high and it will go in the hallway near my office.  In fact, I think I can fit two or three in along this corridor.  That would look great I reckon.

Recent reading - The legacy of Mark Rothko

When I bought this book, I actually thought it was a book about Rothko's art but it turned out to be about a huge legal case arising after his death concerning the sale of most of the paintings in his estate to a single gallery at knock down prices.

It really is quite an incredible story and you can only come out of it feeling amazed at what Kate Rothko, his daughter, went through in her pursuit of justice.  If only the pictures had been better quality! 

The World Cycling Championships - Rochelle Gilmore

I haven't done much riding on my bike in the last couple of years but I am fired up and set to do loads from now on.  I went for a 20 mile ride on Saturday morning - my first for a couple of months - and felt a lot better than I had done back then.  All those turbo sessions are making a difference.

Then this morning I went out again and did just over 35 miles in 2 hrs 45.  For the first time in ages I actually felt really good on the bike - hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Back home and I was settled in for an afternoon watching the men's road race on BBC when a person I haven't heard about for perhaps 8 to 10 years appeared as part of the commentary team - Rochelle Gilmore.

When I cycled a lot back then, I used to buy cycling magazines regularly and she had rather stood out when they were covering women's cycling!  She is now the manager of a women's team and seems very active in the sport still.  Did a very good job of commentating on the cycle race too I thought.  Very knowledgeable.






Rochelle, marking that thin dividing line between admiring her for her sporting achievements and admiring her for other reasons

I also enjoyed her short youtube clip of her going up the Col du Tourmalet as well.

I have to say though, I did always admire Nicole Cooke too back then - especially her win in the Beijing Olympics which I can remember vividly today - in the wet uphill to the finish.


Tentative plans to cycle up Alpe d'Huez again

A couple of weeks ago, various family members gathered in Grenoble from where we drove down to Alpe d'Huez to mark the third anniversary of the cycle ride up the Alpe by Andrew and myself, and to scatter some of Andrew's ashes on the route. 

As a result of this, there are very tentative plans to return next year and for me and some other friends and family to go up it again.

I have decided that this is the impetus that I need to start getting myself into shape.  I have downloaded several films of people ascending Alpe d'Huez and various other famous climbs and have been watching these as I toil away on my turbo trainer in the garage.  I have also started running again round the fields near our house.

As at September 25, I am 14 days into my new regime and have run 5k on five occasions, have done 8 90-minute turbo sessions and have been out on my road bike twice, clocking up 55 miles in total.

Not a bad start I think.




The photo I bought from the shop in Bourg d'Oisen of my last ascent - 89 minutes.  My target for next time is 70 minutes!


Andrew and me at the top of Alpe d'Huez on Sept 10th 2014 - the inflatable man is still there doing excellent work

Another long gap between posts

Another long gap between posts - I may as well just start from current things and maybe backtrack into some more stuff from the past few months when I feel like it.

In the meantime, here are pictures of a burger I had in La Rochelle at some point over the summer, a moules-frites lunch in La Continiere on the Isle d'Oleron from May, and a Pluma Iberique dish that I had on my birthday at Le Scorlion restaurant in St Jean d'Angely in June, 




Monday, 29 May 2017

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Monday, 10 April 2017

Swish Magazine

A recent interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti to link in with her new autobiography has mentioned some of her "work" in the sex industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  One mention was of the magazine Swish.  I bought an issue of this once when I first came down to London and was investigating the things for sale in Soho.

It was a corporal punishment magazine feature young ladies dressed as school girls or maids and being chastised for various indiscretions.  A quick search on google actually revealed the actual magazine I bought - I remember being much impressed with the shortness of the girl's maid outfit!

Wasn't that bothered about the rest of the magazine though




Batgirl versus Catwoman

And speaking of bats (see last post), there has been some discussion in the paper about who is the best bat girl / cat women.

It seems obvious to me that it is the sixties version of each that is the best.



Batgirl in peril - oh no


A bat flies into the house

It was sweltering hot in France today with the peak afternoon temperature reaching into the 30s for the first time this year.  So when we were watching a movie this evening, the main door was still open and much to our surprise, we were joined by a bat that flew in.

It settled on one of the roof beams, hanging downwards, while I went and found my fishing net from the garage.  Rather surprisingly. it was happy to drop into the net and was carried to the bottom of the garden before it flew off again.

Bats are really tiny when you see that face-to-face as it were, but are odd looking creatures.

Not sure if they can give you rabies, as Daughter maintains, but I was very heroic as I rescued the bat and saved the day.

In my view, the bit when the bat flew in was the best part of the film.


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Andy Goldsworthy in the Times - a new Documentary

Rivers and Tides

Leaning into the wind



Thursday, 6 April 2017

J G Farrell's A Girl in the Head

While waiting for the Cosey Fanni Tutti autobiography to arrive, I have been reading JG Farrell's A Girl in the Head for the first time in 20 years plus.

This was actually published in 1967 I was amazed to discover, while my edition is from the early 1980s and bears a rather unusual cover and not the sort of thing you would see now at all.

I remember being rather sympathetic to the main character, Boris, when I first read the book, but find myself less so on this re-read.  And I am surprised that 80 pages in and Inez, the Swedish girl in question, has not yet appeared.



The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

An obituary in The Times reports that the art restorer who restored The Execution of Lady Jane Grey has died recently.

This is one of my favourite paintings and the shimmering dress she is wearing looks extraordinary when seen for real.  It is at the National Portrait Gallery in London and I last saw it a few years ago, so maybe it is time to see it again


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Cosey Fanni Tutti's new book

The autobiography of Cosey Fanni Tutti is released in the next week or so and I am very keen to read this.  I was amazed to find that she is 65 now.

When I was a teenager in the late 1970s, most guys fancied Kate Bush, Debbie Harry or one of the girls from ABBA.  The more extreme among us fancied Viv Albertine of The Slits and the really way out fancied Cosey.

Not that we had ever heard any Throbbing Gristle at that time - for some reason, John Peel wasn't keen on them and never played anything by them.  But when I came to London in the early 1980s, I soon bought copies of 20 Jazz Funk Greats and Second Annual Report.

TG broke up in 1981 and I never saw them live.  but I did once go to a screening of a live concert film of them which was held in a warehouse near Shoreditch one Saturday night, and what an odd audience it was - I was by far the most normal person there

Can't wait for the book to arrive - what with Viv Albertine and Kim Gordon's autobiographies, it has been a great period for such books.



Reading "K2 - Triumph and Tragedy" and Youtube K2 videos

Re-reading Jim Curran's book about K2 for about the fourth time.  I have also discovered that people have started making films of mountaineering trips using more basic camcorders and gopro cameras, and watching some of these on Youtube, I was amazed by how steep K2 is when you see it up close - maybe 50 degrees for most of the ascent?

I am also left wondering how you navigate on such a huge expanse.


Friday, 17 March 2017

More Weird Music - Ksiezyc Rabbit Eclipse

From a recent edition of The Wire's Adventures in Music and Sound comes the Polish weird band, Ksiezyc, about whom I know nothing other than that Rabbit Eclipse, their new album, is their first for about 20 years.

The stand-out track is the last on the album and translate into English as Sirens - it is 15 minutes plus of droning hurdy gurdy with a single oboe tune occasionally put over the top and the two girl vocalists occasionally adding a few lines

As beautiful a piece as I've heard in a long time, and a track that also features on a live clip of them to be found on Youtube which is also excellent


More weird music - Aine O'Dwyer

From the current issue of The Wire magazine comes Aine O'Dwyer and a new favourite "weird" record - Music for Church Cleaners - a series of fairly impromptu church organ recordings that feature the sound of church cleaners in the background.

I don't know her other work, but will be finding out more very soon