Thursday, 31 January 2008

note to self

I want to have a bit of a record of my experiences of marathon training so that when I look back in 20 years time and think, 'how on earth did I ever run that far and that often? It must have been because I was so young and fit', I will know that actually it did not - it does not - come easily. Pretty much every time I run I face a mental battle, from the time I drag myself out of bed to when I get home and stretch out my aching muscles.

Maybe I am young and fit, but I am pretty sure that your mental attitude has a whole lot to do with how much you can endure and persevere. Sometimes I think this makes more of a difference than your physical ability - especially at the stage of life I'm at now. I don't have any ongoing health problems at all, I'm not overweight, I have a pretty good diet, and unless I have pushed myself incredibly hard on a run, it takes me less than five minutes to get back to my resting heartrate. Today was not a fun run. It was just so windy. Before I got up I could hear the wind howling around the rooftops, which is always a sure sign that when you're out running, unless you're running with the direction of the wind, it will feel like an uphill struggle, even when you're not going up a hill (which is not very often in Bristol).

After 5 minutes I wanted to stop and go home. I felt like this for the whole of the 45 minutes I ran for. But I didn't. I just kept going. And I have to tell myself each time that I run and feel like this, that when I get home I will feel absolutely fine and will be glad that I did it.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

quiet night in

I was meant to be going out for dinner with an old friend this evening, but he ended up having to change his plans last minute. This means I have the house to myself this evening, which I am quite enjoying. Part of me fully intends to be in bed before 10pm, but the other part of me wants to be super productive and get all the little jobs that have been racking up a long list in my brain for a long time, done and out of the way. Of course, I won't get all the things done that I would like to, because there simply isn't enough time in one evening to do it all. And rather than trying my hardest to, I'm just going to do a few things (chores, mainly) then get a good night's sleep, because I am oh so tired.

So, what have I done so far during my quiet night in? I've eaten dinner, done some laundry, made a batch of 64 biscuits and cleaned the kitchen. The biscuits are for a BIGgroup meeting tomorrow night, which is when the small groups all get together for teaching and worship. I'm in charge of refreshments, and while I know that I don't need to bake and could just buy enough biscuits, I don't want to buy cheap normal biscuits because they are just boring and there's always ones that people don't like. I cannot warrant spending a small fortune on good quality biscuits, so I've settled for a compromise. I've bought 5 packets of good quality ones (half fair trade) and made the rest. Making 64 biscuits has cost roughly £1.20 - the price you pay for a posh pack of 9 biscuits. I would far rather bake and save huge amounts of money, than save myself time and buy them all.

I've spent the vast majority of my afternoon playing with duplo fire stations and police stations, lots and lots of playmobil people and a playmobil zoo. In some ways I am slightly horrified at just how appalling my logical mind is. I cannot for the life of me work out how to construct the plastic sections of the zoo together - it's kind of like playing tessalations and working with angles - in its simplest form. I just can't do it. How sad is that - that my play is inhibited by lack of a logical mind. (By the way, I haven't just invested in a whole load of children's toys, I was looking after the youngest of the children I childmind, and the playmobil zoo is his favourite at the moment.)

Here are a few photos from my mammoth baking session on Saturday...


I like the way baking can look pretty in the process as well as in the finished product

Divine Cookies - a fairtrade recipe

Monday, 28 January 2008

i love laughter

I have had a lovely lovely weekend. Saturday was spent baking for church - I took some photos on my housemates digital camera but don't know where here cables are so can't upload them just yet. All in good time. Then after church on Sunday, I spent the afternoon with my wonderful friends from university, as it was Katie's birthday (my old housemate). I can honestly say I came near to wetting myself, or rupturing something as a result of raucous laughter. I was actually rolling around on the floor, crying and screaming at the pain in my stomach muscles. I cannot remember the last time I laughed that much. I love good friends. There's nothing like them.

This morning we had our Mum's group - we FPers get to look after the babies while the mum's get some quality time praying, worshipping and learning together. Pretty good deal, I say. I have recently made a little friend with a two year old called Caleb, who is one of the children we look after.. He is perhaps one of the most loveable children I have ever met, and he has this wonderful way of saying my name which I guess I can't quite put into words! Well, we had a great time today, playing with a toy drill, which he thought was hilarious to drill me with. It tickled a lot, so I couldn't help but make a lot of noise, which of course was delightful to Caleb. When it was time for him to go, he said Bye to me, and left the room. Then he came back again,with no prompting from his mum, and gave me a big hug and said, 'fank-ooo annahh'. What an amazing child.

This morning I went for a run, and went on a route that I have not been on for a while - along Watercress Rd (hence the photo) and through City Farm. I said hello to the pigs, and found out that you can do animal husbandry work experience with them, so Sarah, if you fancy a trip to Bristol, and want to learn more about livestock, etc, I've found the perfect thing for you to do in your holidays!!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Making, Muller & Machiato

Yesterday it was my day off, and I decided that I would make use of the time to do something I actually wanted to do. I have a habit of storing up things I want to do until my day off, then end up spending too much time cleaning and tidying to do fun things. So, I spent the morning with my newly acquired stanley knife making these...



In the afternoon I went to Starbucks and started to read a book about George Muller - a man with incredible faith in God's provision. I am particularly excited about learning more about him as he made Bristol his home for a large period of his life and established a number of children's homes, which are all quite near where I live. There is something quite amazing about learning about the things God has done in the city you live in.

At Starbucks I had ordered my favourite drink - a caramel machiato - in Grande size. Not for the extreme caffeine hit, but because I knew I was going to be there a while and didn't want my drink to run out too quickly. The lady serving me asked, as she had with every other customer that day, if I'd like an extra shot of espresso for free. I declined, fully aware that I get a sufficient buzz from a normally caffeinated drink, and definitely did not need my brain to be working any faster. But I don't think she listened. So by the time I arrived at small group I was talking ten to the dozen and had the shakes when I tried to write. An interesting experience that I've had only once before when I was dissertation writing. Needless to say, I had a bit of trouble getting to sleep last night and found myself wondering what it is about caffeine that stops you sleeping. Is it simply the way it increases adrenaline or does it affect your arexin levels? That's as far as my thoughts got on that one.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Rain, rain go away, come again another day

Since getting back to Bristol I am well aware that I have not been back in full blogging swing. This has partly been because this week has been one of those weeks where I have really struggled to motivate myself, so not a whole lot has happened in the life of Hannah!

However, I have had a lovely weekend. Yesterday was spent with my old house mates, celebrating Rachel's birthday. Shopping for her presents was interesting, as it was pouring with rain, and although I had my super cool ladybird umbrella (pictured left), the rain seemed to be coming at such an angle that it made very little difference having an umbrella. Also, all of the shops that I went in only have brown paper bags, which is something I would usually delight in as they are far less damaging on the environment. You do not need me to tell you that paper doesn't love the rain. So I ended up with a lot of wilted paper bags. Fortunately none of the presents were damaged.

Today has been a good, pretty productive day. I went for a 65 minute run this morning in the rain. It was meant to be 80 minutes, but I have been on hour long runs for the past two days, so figured that kind of made up for it. Also I knew I would be cycling to church, which is 2 miles of uphill-ness, so wanted to save a little bit of muscle power for that. I ran along the A4 towards Bath. Maybe one day I'll run all the way. On my travels I came across I park I did not know about, so decided to run through it. I picked up some bottles that were on the ground and soon realised that the only bin in the park was in the playground area. There was a man walking his dog, and for some reason I didn't want to run past him carrying these bottles. So I went the long way round to the bin in the hope that the man would have moved further away from the bin by the time I got there. He hadn't. I wondered if he was watching me, wondering why I had gone the most unobvious route to the bin, or if he was wondering whether I had planted a bomb in there.

For the last stretch of my run, the rain was getting harder, and just as I didn't think I could possibly be any wetter, a coach drove past me at high speeds, and there just so happened to be a massive puddle between me and the coach, so I got a resounding slap on the back from this puddle - it actually made a 'slap' sound.

This afternoon I have made Divine (fair trade) chocolate mousse for 25 people, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned and tidied my room (why do we say it that way round? You always do it the other way round), and stuck some photos in a sketch book. Now I'm going to make some cards then go and do some praying at the prayer meeting.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Blah

AAAAAARRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I cannot believe it. In fact, I am in such disbelief that I don't know how to write this. Running is costly.

I was meant to go for a run this morning but when my alarm went off I really couldn't be bothered to get up. So I battled mentally for as while with my lack of motivation, and resolved that I could actually go later in the day, rather than be a complete slacker.

So I went after childminding and having been running for five minutes I got attacked by a tree branch. Fine - not too unpleasant, but when the tree has the cheek to swipe my contact lens from my eye I am thoroughly displeased. I cannot believe how unfortunate I have been with my contact lenses. I know of people who've had hard contact lenses for ten plus years and never lost one. I'm already starting to lose count of the accidents I've had in the last year and a half. What makes it even more frustrating is that I didn't go swimming or on the rapids once at Center Parcs last week because I just didn't want to risk losing my contacts, as the last time I lost them was when I was swimming. Blahhhhh.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Don't ever come in a car with me if you want to get somewhere fast

I'm back! Having got back to Bristol in the New Year after spending some time with the Barnes Clan, I only had a day and a half before going away again. Whilst I do not mind travelling in the least, I am glad to be back in my own bed and not living out of a bag anymore.

The week away at both Elvedon and Longleat Center Parcs was brilliant. I feel like I need another week off just to absorb all of the quality, inspiring teaching I've had!

My half-marathon training is now in full swing, and is definitely more intensive than last time. I am proud to say that I managed to keep up with it while I was at Center Parcs. On one of my runs, I came across the tennis courts, which immediately triggered my memory of us as a family at Elvedon about 6 or 7 years ago. I remember us spotting a rabbit by the tennis courts and Dad putting into practice his rabbit-catching skills. I remember being thoroughly impressed at how close he got to the rabbit before deciding to leave it be - either that or it scarpered!

Hazel, who is also doing FP, has kindly put me on the insurance of her car for the rest of the year (which cost neither of us anything). This meant that I was able to borrow the car from her to drive Adam and I to Longleat Center Parcs. This involved us driving Sarah and Hazel back to Windsor to pick up Sarah's car, as S & H were both heading back to Bristol. Upon arrival at Sarah's, I printed out the directions from Windsor to Longleat, and asked her Mum as I was doing so, how to get to the M3 from where we were. What ensued was a conversation not dissimilar from that described in Bill Bryson's 'Notes from a Small Island', where Hazel and Sarah's Mum discussed the benefits and downfalls of the M4 as opposed to the M3 as the preferred route, what traffic would be like, how long it would take, etc etc, when all I wanted to know was how to get from Sarah's house onto the M3. Ahh, the archetypal Brit who can talk about how to get from A to B for 2 hours and name every landmark on the way.

Feeling slightly dazed and confused as a result of this discussion about the best route (of which I had no part), coupled with the motion sickness provoked by the images of multiple routes, maps and motorways swirling round my head, I repeated my question, 'How do I get to the M3?' The response: 'Oh it's easy, really really simply.' Right, wonderful, but that still did not tell me how to do it! During this onslaught, I'd tried to read the directions so I could at least have some idea of the signposts I needed to look out for, but due to all the other information bombarding my brain, I failed to take in anything from the directions. So I just handed them to Adam in the hope that he would be able to read the directions to me and I would just drive.

Not hard, one would think. Well, it turns out that when your navigator is on the phone (to his credit, he was called, he didn't make the call), and it's dark, it's pretty hard to read directions and talk to me at the same time to tell me where I needed to go. I managed to stay relatively calm, and realized that the best approach was to just follow the signs to the M3. Oh yes, forgot to mention, we got lost within two minutes of leaving the house and trying to find the petrol station. This was probably due to the fact that I was given the directions to the petrol station after being told where I needed to go at each of the multiple roundabouts in order to get to the M3. Needless to say, seeing as I couldn't hold one set of directions in my head, there was no hope of remembering two!!

So anyway, it was all fine until it came to getting onto the right side of the M3. I had been throwing questions at Adam left right and centre while he was on the phone, so this time, I thought I'd use my common sense (HA!!! Sorry, what is that again?!!!) and make the decision without asking him. Bad bad move. The options were M3 -London or M3-Basingstoke, Southampton. Well, why on earth would we want to do the latter? That'd be taking us all the way down south, and we wanted to go South West. So we went towards London. Back the way we had come, essentially.

We came off at the next available exit. It will come as absolutely no surprise to those of you who know me, that getting lost when I am driving is something that happens a lot. Especially when I am on my own. So rather than look at a map and get all confused by the different coloured lines, (which might as well be a big pile of spaghetti, because that is exactly hat it feels like in my head when I look at maps) I just turn around at the roundabout and go back the other way. Not this time.

Obviously if the roundabout had been there immediately as we came off the motorway, I would have done that. But instead, I trusted that Adam would have more of a clue than I did, and so trusted him when he saw a sign that said A309 (or something of the sorts) he said, 'ah, we've come from there, that's vaguely where we should be...' so we headed for Staines, then realized that neither of us really knew, so turned off the main road into a residential area to look at a map. Maps don't lie, which is wonderful, but they don't speak so you have to be able to understand them. As I'm not great at this at the best of times, and by this point was feeling a little tense, I let Adam look at the map and try and work it out. After five minutes of him not really reaching any conclusions he said, 'Hmmm...this is when we need Hazel.' (who has an inbuilt compass that is never wrong) 'thing is, I'm not very good at understanding maps.' Great. Between us, we have the navigational skills of a gnat. Although that is probably being a bit unfair to gnats. Would have been good to know this when we set out so I was a little more trusting of my own awful navigational judgment.

I was just about to get out the car and knock on someone's door to ask for help as there were very few pedestrians around, and half-heartedly prayed, 'Lord, please send us someone helpful.' Seconds later I spotted a man walking in our direction so jumped out the car and accosted him, telling him I had no idea where I was but needed to get to the M3. The nice nice man said, 'Well I'm a driving instructor so I know the roads well', and proceeded to give me the simplest instructions I had heard all evening. Thanks Mr . Driving Instructor.

So on we went. By this point it had started pouring with rain in a gross way. This made driving too scary for my liking, especially when we passed lorries and they sprayed us with huge mists of water, resulting in almost continuous serious visual impairment. I was very hungry as I had not had any tea and it was now well past tea time. My tummy was also hurting from the complete lack of vegetables for the entire week. All we had were some Extra Strong Mints, which reminded me of car journeys with Dad when he used to have a supply of them. A fond memory in a stressful situation is always good but it wasn't quite sufficient to reduce the rising stress levels. It was perhaps the least fun bit of driving I have ever done.

After getting lost just one more time, we finally arrived at Longleat, having taken four and a half hours to get there from Windsor. Eughh. I went to bed unfed but greatful to be there.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

la la la la laaa

Sorry for the lack of entries over the last few days - I've been busy busy busy since getting back to Bristol. Yesterday was spent writing my assignment which I have to hand in tomorrow morning. The evening was taken up by my servant duties. My good friend Ros was having a Murder Mystery party for her birthday, and asked Helen and me to help her with the food. We had to come dressed as eighteenth century ships maids. I have to say, I think we pulled it off pretty well. I whipped up a couple of aprons for us both, with some lovely lovely lace trim, which also adorned our wrists and our necks. Oh if only I had a digital camera to provide you with evidence.

I had a whole lot of fun making the aprons, stitching away on my sewing machine, which I finally got to work. It was incredibly satisfying seeing it all come together in a matter of a few short hours. I'm very excited about the prospect of all the lovely things I am going to attempt to make over this next year on the sewing machine that chug-chugs along and has a flashing bulb (not a feature but a fault), giving a strobe-like effect as I sew. Anyone would think the machine was trying to distract me.

Today has been spent running, church-ing, baking (polish cake, fudgy chocolate bars and chocolate brownies) and article writing. The baking is for my friends to consume over the next week at training, which is at Center Parcs. The leader of my church was ever so slightly indignant at the fact that when he did FP, they had their training at Herne Bay Court, and I get to go to Center Parcs! Everyone I've spoken to about going to Center Parcs has said that I must spend plenty of time in the pool and on the rapids. However, the last time I went swimming I lost both of my contact lenses, costing me an arm and a leg, and I don't feel I can spare the other two limbs, so don't plan on spending too much time in the pool. Goggles might seem like a sensible suggestion, but I know myself too well, and think that I would still manage to have some kind of disaster, even with goggles, so don't think about suggesting it.

In view of the fact that I have training for the next week, there is going to be a week-long blogging absence, but I am sure I will be able to make up for it upon my return.

Ciao amigos.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

oopla

Well, it is my last night in the Bay before going back to good ole Brizzle, and I think I have succeeded in leaving my 'mark' here again. In the duration of my short stay I have managed to knock over so many glasses of water that I cannot actually remember just how many glasses have fallen prey to the wrath of my foot. I managed to chip one of mum and dad's mugs by dropping a jar of marmite and it collided with the mug on its way down. Then the finale came today when I was with Katy in a certain homestore.

Having been in the shop for less than 3 minutes, I was walking between a shelf display (oh yes, you know what's coming) and a stack of cushions or something of that nature. It was rather a small gap and I slightly misjudged the width of me and my big fat bag. (I am pretty sure that I haven't put on so much weight over Christmas that I have added so many inches to my size that I am that unaware of how big I am - maybe just poor spacial awareness.

So anyway, as I walked through this little gap I heard the sound of tumbling objects. Not just any old objects, like a little bit of tupperware, or some cushions or duvets (ironically, because I was in the bedlinen section, so I should have been pretty safe - if I fell I'd most likely fall onto a ready-made bed - definite bonus to find a bed prepared for sleep in a shop of all places, if any linen fell, it would have been fine because it's unbreakable) but vases. I stopped dead still in the hope of preventing any wobbling vase from tumbling to its demise. The lovely Katy, meanwhile, was 'oop-ing' and 'argh-ing' behind me, trying desperately to rescue my latest victim. But her efforts were in vain and the vase ended up on the floor in quite a lot of pieces. What was slightly scary was the speed at which a shop assisstant was at the scene of the accident picking up the pieces - quite literally.

Oh dear. I suppose the only positive thing about the victims of my clumsiness is that they are not human so while I don't want to seem like I don't care, at the end of the day these things don't actually matter if they break. Let's just hope no children in my care are ever hurt by my clumsiness.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

face strain

You know when you have done so much laughing and smiling, your face - particularly your cheek bones - really ache? Well, I've had that feeling in my face now for the last few days. Sadly it is not because I have spent so many hours of the day laughing and smiling that the feeling has become perpetual. Rather, it is because I have spent far too many hours sitting in front of this laptop, and my poor little eyes have ended up squinting to focus clearly on the screen. Because my little mind has had to expend so many neurons concentrating on keeping my face screwed up, there tends to be a huge delay in realizing that my face is in some odd contortion, before I relax it. Hence the 'face strain'.

While it has been wonderful to have had so much time to relax, I really do need to find some other inexpensive hobbies to do which do not involve sitting in front of a computer screen. And when I say inexpensive, I really do mean that. There are many things that I would love to be spending my time doing - making hundreds of cards, taking hundreds of photos, baking hundreds of cakes - but all of these require either a significant sum of money, or an obscure inheritance / treasure chest filled with all of the resources I need. Both of these are non existent in my life at this point in time. Maybe one day.

I have been marginally productive in the time that I have spent on the computer in that I have finally started to write the article I was asked to write months ago for the Hospital Play Specialist's journal. I have six days left in which to submit the article. I'm not usually a leave-it-til-the-last-minute kind of person, but because the article is completely unrelated to what I have been doing this last term, it has had to be put at the back of my mind in the things-to-do-which-I-have-not-forgotten-about-and-really-will-do-stack until now. It's not anywhere near finished yet, and is going to require a huge amount of cutting and culling if it's ever going to fit into this journal without filling its entirety.

I dreamed last night that it snowed. It is far from snowing here. Global warming??