Tag Archives: sport

40 Before 40: Part II

9 Sep

Here is the second part of my #40Before40 challenge. This is a short explanation of why items 21 to 40 are on my list.

21. Watch a series of 24 in 24 hours – the idea for this is simple. Watch a complete series of 24 in 24 hours. For those of you who don’t know, Kiefer Sutherland is Jack Bauer, a maverick working for the FBI. Each season elapses over 24 hours. So the season are 24 episode long. I will watch them back to back, as if watching them in real time. I need to get friends to help me with this or I will not stay awake.

22. Learn how to wolf whistle – my mum can do this no problem but I have never been able to no matter how hard I have tried. I think it would be fun to be able to do this spontaneously

23. Try snowboarding – I am not very good at skiing so let’s try snowboarding. I believe it is a lot harder to snowboard in the beginning, but it has to be more pleasurable than skiing.

24. Take an overnight sleeper train – I have taken an overnight bus from Latvia to Lithuania before and got about 10 minutes sleep. I have a romantic idea that it would be very comfortable and luxurious. I am sure that the reality is anything but.

25. Cook every single recipe from one cookbook – about a year ago, I watched a film called Julie and Julia which is a true story based on a woman’s quest to cook everything from the book of the famous chef, Julia Child. Julia Powell cooked 564 recipes from the book in 364 days. And this was classical French cooking. An unbelieveable achievement! I haven’t yet decided on which cookbook to cook from. I may have underestimated the challenge of this. I was looking at cookbooks in a book shop yesterday and cookbooks are really long. By long, I mean easily more than 100 receipes. If anyone has a good suggestion, please let me know.

26. Learn how to fold 40 origami designs – this could be another underestimation. I thought this would take me an afternoon to complete. I watch a Youtube video of a simple folding design and my mind was blown. I thought it would be like thought paper game from the school playground where you choose a colour and then you chose a number and then your friend reads out what is underneath the flap and it’s something like “You stink”. I have no idea what they are called but you know what I mean, right? Anyway, not as easy to make as those.

27. Read 40 novels in German – this is linked to Number 1. Reading is a great way to passively learn a language and I love reading anyway, although it is not always easy in German when I have to look up words to understand the text completely.

28. Take a wine degustation course – as one get older, one should appreciate wines more. I think that is what people say. I have no idea about wines apart from the colours are different and some are sweeter than others.

29. Read The 40 Books Every Woman Should Read – I am a big reader. I realised that I don’t read as many books from female authors as I do male authors. Then I found this list of 40 books that women should read. It seemed like Fate.

30. Solve a Rubik cube – I remember my brother and I peeling off the stickers of a Rubik cube in an attempt to solve it. Of course, then it became completely impossible to solve. I will try this challenge without the wonders of the internet and Youtube. I’m going off grid!

31. Take up a new sport – I like sport. I like trying new things. I haven’t yet worked out what new sport I would like to try but I am sure that I will find the right one to have a go at.

32. Catch, cook and eat a fish – it might surprise you that I love watching the show River Monster, where the presenter goes off to all sorts of destination looking to catch a powerful fresh water fish. Of course, he puts it back afterwards. I would like to catch something that it enough for dinner. Incidentally, I won’t be doing this challenge at the same time that I am going vegan for 3 months.

33. Make an item of clothing to wear – again I am not sure what exactly but I would like to make something to wear. I have already ruled out knitting a scarf because that is a bit too easy.

34. Stop biting my nails – I mainly bite my nails when I am nervous, bored or excited. I hate the way they look but at the same time I can also go for long periods of time for them to grow. I just need to break the habit effectively. Easier said than done.

35. Read 40 non-fiction books – I mainly read crime/thriller fiction books but I have so many non-fiction books that I bought with the good intention of reading.

36. Fly long haul business class – I have never flown business class but I am always so jealous of when I get on or off a long haul flight and you see the seat in business class. I want people to be jealous of me for a change and see if it does make a difference if you sit in economy or business class. I think it could be a marketing con.

37. Have a haircut at least 4 times a year – strange as it sounds, I hate having my haircut. I don’t like very much about the experience at all. I really don’t like that they try to talk to you and be friends with you. As a result, I only go about twice a year. Women should go to the hairdresser every 6 weeks. After I go after 6 months, my hair is not in great condition. Once a quarter seems to me to be a good compromise for the sake of my hair.

38. Be able to touch my toes – I have never been able to do this. I have heard that it is just a question of flexibility and if you regularly stretch it should be able to do it. I remain skeptical. I will post a photo as evidence.

39. Downsize, get rid of anything I don’t need or want by selling, giving away or donating – I say and try to do this all the time but I never end up fully managing it. This means that a lot of books that I have in the basement will have to go as well as toiletries and cosmetics that I have bought and used once and clothes.

40. Start and maintain my own travel website – I had an idea for a travel website/blog a while back but I have yet to do anything about it. One of the issues is the amount of posts and articles that need to be written in order to generate interest. At the moment this remains an idea but soon I am hoping that this will become a reality.

To read the items 1 to 20, click here.

So, it’s time to stop explain and start doing! Wish me luck.

#40Before40

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Sporting Misfortunes

29 Aug

Over the weekend I have had not one but two sporting misfortunes.

On Saturday I dragged myself out of bed early and decided to go for a long run in preparation for the half marathon that I am running in Cardiff at the start of October. I was completely mentally and physically prepared. What I didn’t take into account was that my bra strap would break after 2km!

I thought about turning back, going home and changing but I thought if I do that the likelihood that I will just stay at the apartment and not bothered doing the rest of the run would be about 100%. I hid in a bush and tried to rectify it in some way but it was no use. I did the British thing and kept calm and carried on.

Of course, I couldn’t run as fast as I normally would do but I kept going and did the distance that I wanted to. These “longer” runs that I do in the build up for the training are important in terms of distance, and not really in terms of time. Good job in this case!

It is entirely possible that I have a wardrobe malfunction on the day of the half marathon. Then I would only have the option of carrying on or stopping. It’s good training for an unexpected event on the day.

The second hiccup also involved clothing in a round-about way. I was in Luzern on Sunday to play a friendly hockey match. Push-back wasn’t until 5.30pm so I was already expecting to be home late.

After the game we discovered that we were locked out of the changing rooms. The door to the building automatically locks as soon as it is shut. The opposition hadn’t told us that we needed to bring the key with us or we wouldn’t be able to get back in. So we were outside and cold while our clothes were inside with the showers!

No one seemed to have a spare key, not even the President of the club had a key. After phoning round we called a locksmith and got a pizza delivered to the pitch. By now it was getting cold and I’m sure that I was really smelly as well.

Just before the locksmith arrived, it was discovered that a teacher who lived nearby had a key. So we avoided a hefty invoice to get in for a shower. Note to self: don’t leave anything in a changing room again.

When we finally got back inside the key was lying there on a table in the changing room. It was gone 11 by the time I got home. So much for an early Sunday night!

A Grand (National) Day Out

10 Apr

For the weekend, I popped home for the weekend to watch The Grand National. The most famous steeplechase in the world is possibly the only event that I have placed a bet on in my life. I am discounting the times when we have gone to the races or even the greyhound races as a family and have done our own “in-house” betting; in which we each put a pound in and the winner gets to keep the money in the pot.

Going to the races live was not a opportunity that I was going to miss. I sorted out an outfit with a dress and hat that I already had. I decided to buy a new pair of shoes (without a heel) so that I would be able to comfortably walk around and enjoy the day without the agony and worry about staying in hills all day. More on this later…

thumbnail_IMG_5123On the day of the race, the weather was glorious and that is not an understatement. There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was out in style. The metaphorical cloud on the horizon was the fact that several rail companies in the north west were striking on the final day of the National – the day that we had tickets for. Luckily, there were still trains from Liverpool Central to Aintree at the time of the day when we needed it. No other trains were running at all. It was quite funny to see the train schedules on the screens in the train station and all of the trains going to Aintree and nowhere else.

We arrived in good spirits and soaked up the atmosphere while we waited for the racing to begin. There is a walking tour of the actual race course that you can do before the races start but my new shoes were already being to rub and hurt me like crazy so I gave that one a miss. It was also possible to see where Red Rum, the most famous horse to ever run in the National, was buried near the Finishing Post.

I didn’t bet on the first race because I was a bit indecisive and I realised that the races aren’t as exciting when you know that you will not benefit financially from one of the horses crossing the line first. For the second race, I put a fiver on Finian’s Oscar to win. I chose the horse because it reminded me of Finigan’s Wake, the novel by James Joyce. The luck of the Irish was on my side because I won 18 pound, 75 pence when the horse crossed the line first. And it was much more exciting to watch as the race enfolded.

I won another 6 pound on the next race and then I guess my luck ran out because I didn’t win a penny after that. It was still exciting though. The atmosphere when The Grand National finally got underway was thrilling. After two false starts and a lot of groaning and disgruntled spectators, the crowd erupted in excitement. It is always difficult to work out which horses have fallen, who is still in the race and if there is still some chance of financial gain at the end of it. But without the benefit of the TV and the list of the horses who have fallen popping up on the screen, it is virtually impossible. No surprise that there was no final win for me.

Meanwhile my feet were painful and blistered. I had managed to cope in the knowledge that I would just need to get the train, then the bus and I would be able to the shoes off and put my trainers on. Luckily I didn’t have to wait that long as there were people handing out flip-flops to ladies, like me who had worn unsuitable shoes for the day. The best thing was they were free! I would have paid a lot of money for those flip-flops if they had made me. The relief was instant and I was a lot more comfortable on the way home.

On the Sunday, I caught the train and headed timage1o Manchester, where I met my brother and his kids and we drove to my mum’s house. I was treated to a lovely, and unexpected Sunday Roast, and we went for a walk to feed the ducks. On the way back, we managed to see some lambs who had been born only a few hours before.
All to soon, as it always seems to be, it was Monday morning and I was back at the airport again, queuing to have my bag scanned and waiting for the plane to be ready to head back to Switzerland and back to work…

Curling into the weekend

19 Mar

On Friday evening I went to try curling for the first time. I am not sure if this make me sound really middle class or really Swiss. Possibly it is a subtle mixture of both.

During the Sochi Olympics in 2014, I created an unhealthy obsession for curling. At every opportunity I was sitting down to watch the progress of the GB team, even though I was not sure of the rules. Even now, after playing the game for the evening, I am still not sure of all of the rules. I became so addicted to the Olympics because the GB team did so well and, not being a nation known for winter sports, that I worked from home for a few days so that I could watch the matches, especially as it got nearer to the medal matches.

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Like every sport on TV, the professionals make it look a lot easier than it actually is. I was also surprised with how small the playing pitch is. On the TV it looks like the playing strip goes on and on forever. In reality it is not that long at all.

We were given what I can only describe as a flip-flop to put over our left shoe. The flip-flop was flat on the bottom so this was the foot that you have to use to glide over the ice. Already this evening was turning out to be a lot less glamourous than watching the GB team win medals.

The instructions were given in Swiss German, just to make things even more difficult for me. I always think that I manage to pick up the main information in Swiss German. This evening taught me the hard way that this was not necessarily true. Apparently when you step on the ice, you should always step onto the ice first with the foot without the flip-flop because if you do it the other way round you have no grip on the ice and it is more likely that you will do a Bambi and fall on your backside. This was something that I was very keen to avoid.

We practiced “throwing” the stones for a while which I found difficult. I am a bit unsure on ice anyway and it wasn’t always easy to keep your balance when balancing on one foot that is completely on the floor and other is scrapping along the floor as you slide or at least try to.

You would think that the stone would easily glide across the surface of the ice but the stones are 20kg and if you try to move them without some sort of kinetic energy behind them (getting technical here) then you have no chance to move them. It almost seems as if the stone is stuck to the ice with glue.

The main problem was that it is hard to gauge just how much force is the right amount of force. Most people had the problem that they applied too much speed and the stone just flew off the end. I had the opposite problem – I never seemed to get enough speed on the bloody thing, which meant my teammates had to do a lot of ice-brushing to try to get the stone into play. Nevertheless it was good fun, even though I was on the losing team.

After a hard game, I was ready for dinner. A nice healthy salad, fondue and a not-so-healthy creme schnitte was waiting for us. Overall a great evening and I am already looking forward to the Winter Olympics to watch how the professionals do it.

Fitness goal update 

22 Feb

8 weeks into the New Year and 8 weeks into the new fitness regime already. In my earlier post, I talked about the advice given to me by an online BMI calculator to lose 30 kilos to be the average weight for my height.

Luckily for me, I believe in striving to be above average in everything that I do. I downgraded the goal of 30 kilos to something more modest. My initial aim was to lose 6 kilos before my holiday in mid-April and then make another weight loss goal after my return.

The good news is I am well on track to achieve this. Despite a week in Munich when I didn’t exercise so much and a week of being ill when I had no energy to exercise nor to prepare healthy food, I have already lost almost 4 kilos and I still have 6 weeks until I jet off on holiday.

Each week I have prepared by lunchtime meals in advance, not bought anything from the vending machines at work (helped by leaving my credit card, the form of payment, at home), eaten a filling but health evening meal and exercised at least 4 times a week. I weigh myself each Monday at the gym to track my progress.

It no longer feels like a chore. Every Sunday I make my lunches, pack my gym bag and get ready for my weigh in. I have been constantly amazed each week when I have jumped on the scales, thinking if I have just maintained the weight I was last week that would not be so bad, only to see I have lost more weight. Not that I am complaining!

The bad news is that I might have ruined my weight loss goals by taking a trip on the Fondue ship! Every Tuesday in winter/spring a ship leaves centrally from Zurich to make a round-trip on the lake and serve the guests onboard Fondue. Combined with a second portion, beer, wine and a cold platter of smoked meats as a starter, the calories start to add up. I did go to the gym during the day but I’m not even sure that will counteract the calories consumed. Nevertheless, it was a great evening and having one night off every so often does not mean that the diet is a complete failure…


And I still have time to meet my weight-before-going-on-holiday target. I am confident that I can lose a little bit more than I intended to before setting off. Fingers crossed. This would mean I get to eat and drink a bit more while on holiday and not feel so bad about it!

In some ways I am nervous about going away and getting out of the routine I have at the moment. It will be a little painful to get back into the swing of things but that is one thing I will not be worrying about on holiday!

White Turf, 2017

15 Feb

On the weekend I headed to St Moritz for the first race day of White Turf. White Turf is an international annual horse race that takes place over three weekends in February. The event has been taking place since 1907.

This is no normal horse race like the Grand National and Ascot. The race takes place on the frozen St Moritz Lake. The horses are actually racing on snow and ice. In some of the races the jockeys are actually pulled along behind the horse on skis. It is one of those things that you need to see before you believe it. I have no idea who came up with this as an idea for these races but somehow it works.

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It really is mind-blowing that the races are being run on a lake. I have never been to St Moritz in the summer so I can’t imagine how it will look like in the summer. It is hard to visualise the whole area green rather than white – I have made a promise to myself that I will re-visit in the summer to compare the two seasons in the same place. Of course, there have been occasions when the races have been cancelled because the weather has been too warm and the snow and ice has begun to melt.

The races are always a spectacle, as are the spectators. For as far as the eye can see: botox, moon boots and fur. There are the occasional dogs in handbags as well if you look hard enough. So even between the races, there is entertainment on hand. You just have to look around.

This year in St Moritz the World Ski Championships are also taking place and in the stand behind us was some of the US Ski team who weren’t competing on that day. I can’t say that I recognised any of them. But it was possible to see the piste where the races took place from where we were in the valley.

This year I even had a flutter. I img_4702don’t understand the betting odds and I am pretty sure that they don’t work the same way as they do in the UK. Someone once told me that you should never bet more than you can afford to lose. I bet 5 CHF, the cost of a coffee. The race is infinitely more exciting when you have something at stake, even if the amount you stand to win is not all that high. I didn’t win though.

In April, I will be going to the Grand National in Liverpool. Although there is a chance that this race will also take place on ice and snow (you never know with the British weather), I will definitely be swotting up on my racing odds. Whether studying the racing form is better than just choosing a horse with a good sounding name remains to be seen….

 

To ski or not to ski: that is the question

4 Feb

Apologies to William Shakespeare but my question is a little less philosophical. Now that the snow has fallen this is the question that has been starting to bug me. I realise that there are a lot of people who would give their right arm to come and ski in the Swiss Alps. But for one reason or another, they never end up doing it.

Let’s not put too fine a point on it but the main reason is money. It is fair more expensive to come skiing in Switzerland than it is in the nearby Austria, France, Italy or Germany. For example, a ski pass for a day in Austria will cost you around 35 Euros and this could possibly be valid for several neighbouring ski resorts. In Switzerland, you are talking more around an average of 70 SFr. which equates to about 65 Euros or 55 GBP. This is before you even think about money for hiring equipment as well as money for food, refreshments and hotels.

Because of this reason, I always seem to find myself being guilt tripped in going. For me, although a weekend skiing is expensive, it is comparatively cheaper than it would be if I lived in the UK. So far, I have avoided this guilt trip.

One thing that is nagging at me is that I invested in ski boots at the end of last year. Invested is a grandiose word. I bought them second hand from someone who advertised them on Facebook. They  had been used less than a handful of times and I paid a fraction of the price that they would have been new. Everytime I go down to the basement, it’s like the boots are looking at me and telling me that they want to go outside and up the mountains to feel the fresh air and the powdery snow.

The thing is that I am just not into it like other people are. I have friends who go skiing every weekend once the snow has arrived and they can’t get enough of it. I am not like that. Not with skiing. I am very much a fair weather skier – I am not afraid to admit it. I love the feeling of coming down the mountain and seeing the blue sky and feeling the sun on my face. It can’t possibly not put you in a good mood. The snow blizzards, the poor visibility, the freezing cold: No, thanks! You can find me in a ski chalet nursing a Kaffee Schnapps instead.

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Another issue is most of my friends are better than me. I end up not enjoying myself because I put pressure on myself to ski faster and to take risks that I don’t want to take. I’m more than happy to potter around on my own doing my own thing but I always seem to get persuaded into doing runs that are too hard for my liking and that’s when I end up frustrated, tired and wishing I was back at home with my feet up.

Having said all this, I do have a date penciled in to go skiing in March. Whether I go or not depends on the weather, visibility and where I can get a good Kaffee Schnapps!