Those damn hills

I spent a large part of my weekend in the saddle with my friend Emma as part of our training for the London to Brighton bike ride that we are doing in just over 2 months.

Saturday involved a fairly gentle 15 mile ride along some of the Rea Valley Route and stopped at the half way point for a cup of coffee and some time to warm up by the wood burner in the cafe.

Sunday was a bit more of a challenge as we had decided to cycle from Emma’s house in South Birmingham to Coventry (arriving in time for lunch) According to the app we had, it found a route that was 22 miles long and took us via Solihull/Shirley and then joined up with the same route we had ridden as part of the Starley Sportive that we did in February.

We managed it in 3.5 hours which I was pretty impressed with. Since my last ride, I’ve auired a pair of cycling gloves and they really helped a lot with reducing the pain in the palms of my hands. The next item on my to ppurchase list will be a wind proof jacket because I ended up cycling with a sports bra, wicking t-shirt and standard hoodie on yesterday and by the end of the ride I was really feeling the cold in my chest and it took me a while to warm up.

(Emma has a super fancy fitbit that tracked our ride/time and various other things)

The hills then – we tackled a few on both days with varying degrees of success. I did feel much better about them than I did on the Sportive though – during that, I just felt utterly defeated by them before I even started. I’ve been reading a bit about the London to Brighton route. This blog in particular has been useful and over the weekend I tried out a few of the techniques for hills that they mentioned. The most helpful for me was just to keep setting myself micro goals – like aiming for a spot a few meters ahead, then picking another as soon as I reaching it and just repeating this until I hit the peak and then I would either cruise down the incline on the other side (if there was one) or stop, take in the scenery and have a few big swigs of water. I still feel like I have a lot of work to do in the next few months around fitness, speed and my recovery times when I hit a hard patch but being able to do better on the hills this time did make me feel a bit better.

When we got back to Coventry we headed straight for the Golden Cross to try out their new vegan menu as our post cycle reward. Here are the obligatory “what I ate” pictures

     

I had a vegan southern fried chicken (made from jackfruit) with the most delicious chunky chips and coleslaw, followed by banana, rum and raisin crumble with ice cream.

So what did I learn on these rides?

1. I love cycling on canal tow paths – more of this on my upcoming training please
2. To a certain extent at least – hills are a state of mind.
3. You shouldn’t need to have ALL the fancy kit to be a cyclist but some things really do help such as padded shorts and padded gloves
4. Water has never tasted so good as when it’s been glugged down at the top of a hill climb

My head is all over the place but this song is so beautiful and it’s bringing a kind of stillness to my brain when I need it

You can listen to and buy more of Robin’s music at bandcamp

Brand new

(I had no idea until today that this video was directed by John Cameron Mitchell – who wrote, directed and starred in one of my all time favourite films – Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as well as the fantastic film – Shortbus)

Anyway, hello…
I haven’t written here in ages. I let January and February zip past without even stopping to write down a single goal for the year. I guess this was for a few reasons. A) I found January (and some of February) a bit of a slog in terms of physical and mental health and it was as much as I could do to get up and function in a minimal way, let alone think much about how to thrive B) I was still very much trying to get to grips with my new(ish) job & I think this will continue for a while.

I miss writing though. No-one really reads this blog, but I like the idea of someone stumbling across it one day & relating to something they have read.

So aside from work, what have I been up to?

I took part in my first sportive a few weeks ago which was 28 miles. My official time was 04:37:23 which I am pleased with considering I’d never cycled anywhere near that far in one day (& pretty much in one go) beforehand. I also had a mishap with my chain coming off around 2 miles in and I managed to get the chain back on but I then cycled about 10 miles on the wrong gear set and made things much harder for myself in terms of the energy I was having to expend to go anywhere.

Other things I am up to include obsessing over Schitt’s Creek (particularly David & Patrick), attending my first urban sketching event in Coventry, knitting some socks, reading & slowly getting back into doing some writing for what I hope will become a new zine.

I’ve also been trying to ease myself back into cooking more from scratch (rather than just eating stuff out of the freezer that I shove in the oven). I brought the Green Roasting Tin cookbook by Rukmini Iyer after seeing many people recommend it on twitter. So far I’ve only made the orzo and tomato pasta but I really like it. I brought sweet potato and a butternut squash yesterday so I can hopefully try something else this week.

Right, I think that’s it for now before I forget to post this.

1secondeveryday – 2018

I really loved making this video last year. I think in total there are about 30 days from the year missing which feels pretty good going. It was hard in October and November when everything felt very grey to find something I wanted to capture.

Among other things, the video documents lots of food I ate, cups of coffee, books I was reading and games I played, trips to London, Manchester, Copenhagen, Cambridge and Malmo, getting the keys and moving in to the house brought, getting a new job and various other snippets of my year.

2018 goals – end of the year

I missed my 9 month check in and now here we are almost at the end of the year.

One of the reasons that I haven’t managed to update here is that this has turned into one of the most productive and fulfilling years of my life. A lot of things that I’ve been working towards in the background for years have come to fruition. The most recent one of these (that has yet to be mentioned on here) is that I applied for and was offered a new job which I started at the beginning of October.

If I look back on my goals from January, I didn’t actually expect to get a new job this year but I was hoping to put some stuff in place to get me some of the way there. I actually found my plan in my passion planner where I had listed getting a job at the level I have as a goal for 3 years time (so January 2021), so it feels very good to have got there over 2 years ahead of schedule.

Since my last update I’ve had a holiday in Copenhagen with J and also had a few nights away in Liverpool with my Mum. Both of which were really fun trips and gave me a chance to soak up a new city and feel inspired.

I took part in Inktober for the first time and although I didn’t draw every day, I did manage to do most of them and really enjoyed sharing some of my sketches with friends on twitter.

I’ve also started accessing therapy for a long term issue that has been impacting on my life. It’s been a long time coming and it isn’t going to easy but I’m so grateful I have been given the opportunity.

Here’s my full list for this year, with notes on how I got on…

Creative
 Make at least 1 zine  – I didn’t manage this.
 Complete my sashiko placemats (2) – oops! also didn’t do this.
 Record 1 second everyday video – everyday! It will be fun to look back at 365 seconds of video at the end of the year – yup! I have pretty much stuck to this. There are a few days that I missed but overall this is done (I’ll post in another entry)
 Carry on with my drum lessons and organised at least 1 jam session with friends – I didn’t have a jam session but I have carried on with my lessons and I got to play with my teacher while he played guitar
 Do at least 1 workshop where I learn a new skill (creative or practical or both) – yup! I went on an embroidery workshop with my Mum

Home
 Move house to our own place – done! so happy about this one. We ended up with a place far beyond what I was hoping for in terms of how it looks and the location.
 Create my ideal study with space for all my things as well as to work and create in – this is in progress but I am mostly there. I have all the furniture I need, I just need to declutter some stuff and frame some more art work.
 Host some gatherings with friends – done! really enjoyed having various people over to hang out at the new house.

Travel
 Go abroad somewhere (Copenhagen or Japan?) – went to Copenhagen with J and really enjoyed it. We also managed to have a day trip to Malmo as well.
 Alpaca walking trip with my Mum – didn’t manage this one but I did go on a short holiday with her which meant we still had some quality time together.
 Make plans to visit friends in the UK at least 3 times – I don’t think I managed this one.  I saw friends in London twice I think and also visited Manchester but it was usually for gigs or other events.

Work
 Sign up for the mentoring scheme at work – I did this! I have a mentor as part of my new role
 Keep a record of small and large achievements I have had so I can record these on my annual review when it is time to do so – I’ve also been doing this

Miscellaneous
 Read 100 books (including at least 10 from the library and 10 I owned prior to 2018) I read over 100 books and I know at least 10 were from the library but I’m not 100% about 10 being from my list prior to this year.

Some of my favourites were –

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Elefant by Martinn Suter
I capture the castle by Dodie Smith
The rules of seeing by Joe Heap
The Lido by Libby Page
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
The summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding
Things are what you make of them – Adam J Kurtz
I was born for this by Alice Oseman
Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Woman by Chloe Caldwell
The exact opposite of okay by Laura Steven
Juliet takes a breathe by Gabby Rivera
The travelling cat chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
The raw shark texts by Steve Hall
Radio silence by Alice Oseman

 Watch 12 (new to me) films – done!

My favouurites were –
Dumplin’
Nannette (does this count as a film?)
Shirkers
Alex Strangelove
Sierra Burgess is a loser
Love Simon
Big Hero 6
Your Name
The Big Sick

My 2019 goals will be to follow over the next few days

2018 goals – the halfway point

Oh wow. This year is getting away from me! I can’t believe I’m here at the halfway point already. So what have I been up to? I’m going to look at how I am getting on with the goals I sent myself back in January.

I’ve been playing around with some new crafts over the last few months – embroidery, shuttle tatting and zentangle. I went to an embroidery workshop at the Herbert Art Gallery so I’m checking that one off of my list.

  

I’m still having drum lessons and I’m really enjoying that. I’m working on learning to play Chekkov’s Hangnail by Martha. I also got my very own snare drum for my birthday so I’m one part closer to getting a kit to practice on!

So far I’ve read 67 books and watched 8 films. I was going to recap what my favorites are but I think I’ll leave that till the end of the year. Reading wise, I’ve already hit my goal of reading at least 10 books from the library so my next focus is on reading some of the books I’ve had unread on my physical or virtual bookshelves before this year started.

In all honesty, not much decluttering has happened over the last 3 months and we’ve brought some things for the new place but I’m ok with that. I think once it gets less hot, I’ll be ready to dig back into the decluttering again. My Mum visited at the end of May and planted some flowers and herbs for us and also gave us 3 tomato plants

We still need to buy garden furniture and some astroturf for the bare patch where the previous owner had putting practice putting hole but it’s looking pretty nice out there. I’ve been really enjoying having people to visit and being able to cook and entertain without feeling stressed out like I did in the old place.

Work-wise I haven’t yet signed up for the mentoring scheme but I have been reaching out to a lot of different people on a more casual basis to ask for their advice on different aspects of my career and progression. It’s out of my comfort zone in a lot of way but I’ve also been really touched by how willing people seem to be to help. I am aiming to finish my Microsoft certification by the end of the month so I can then decide what to focus on next.

I’m being fairly social over the next few weeks – off to London to see Fun Home at the Young Vic which I am very much looking forward to. It was over a year ago I booked the tickets so it feels like it has been a long time coming. I’m off on holiday to Copenhagen in September but I’ve also booked some other time off of work and can hopefully fit some UK adventures in too.

As for my word of the year – Resilience – that’s a work in progress. I just went through a fairly hard few months emotionally and I felt like my moods were all over the place. I don’t think I always managed to be the most resilient person in facing some of those issues either which is frustrating. That said, I’m starting to realise that I always need to start from the ground up and make sure my very basics are being met such as getting enough sleep, taking my meds and drinking water. Since moving house, I feel like I am in much better routines with all of these type of things so hopefully I’m building myself a stronger foundation and now I just need to look at what needs work next.

and on that note…

be strong, be resilient, be young, be fucking brilliant
– Grace Petrie

2018 goals – 3 months in

I can’t believe March is over – which means it’s time for me to reflect on how my goals for 2018 are going.

The big news is – WE BROUGHT A HOUSE! It finally happened. We moved at the end of February (yes, in that week with all of the snow) I love our new place – it has a few teething issues but overall I couldn’t be happier. It’s a little closer to town than where we lived before and in a much quieter area. We’ve been living here for just over a month now and it just feels right.

I did a lot of de-cluttering both in the run up to the move and while packing but I still have a lot more to go. In total, I’ve got rid of over 1,500 things since the start of this year which is a huge improvement on last year. The more I get rid of, the easier I find it to let go and the easier it is to see what I actually want to keep and why.

My Mum came to visit last weekend and we did a workshop on embroidery at the Herbert Art Gallery. You can see a little glimpse of what I did in my March 1 second everyday video. I’ve been working on setting out my new office and it’s really helping me to feel more inclined to create.

I’ve watched 4 films so far and read 32 books. I haven’t been so good at not buying more books tbh but that’s something for me to work on.

I’ve signed up for a new Microsoft course at work so that will be my focus over the next few months as it’s mainly self study (and we are about to enter another busy exam season)

I want to try and add more pictures to my blog posts so future ones wont just be big walls of text like this. Sorry!

1 second everyday – February & March

February was a VERY busy month for me in the end and although I did keep on recording my 1 seconds, I didn’t get around to posting them till now

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February turned out to be a really great month as we finally got the keys to the house we brought and moved in. There was snow, hail, some good sunsets, pancakes and re-watching Friends while I was packing (or procrastinating)

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March was about properly settling in to the new place, setting up new shelves and finding homes for all my stuff. My Mum came to visit for a few days, where I got to show her some places I like in the city and also did a feminist embroidery workshop at the Herbert. I started playing with zentangles as a form of relaxation and creativity. The Easter bunny visited me at work and left a bag of goodies plus I saw Martha in Birmingham which was amazing.

2018 Goals

Hello 2018. It’s a few weeks in and I’ve been taking my time getting comfortable in this new year and trying to work out what my goals should be for it.

Creative
Make at least 1 zine
Complete my sashiko placemats (2)
Record 1 second everyday video – everyday! It will be fun to look back at 365 seconds of video at the end of the year
Carry on with my drum lessons and organised at least 1 jam session with friends
Do at least 1 workshop where I learn a new skill (creative or practical or both)

Home
Move house to our own place
Create my ideal study with space for all my things as well as to work and create in
Host some gatherings with friends

Travel
Go abroad somewhere (Copenhagen or Japan?)
Alpaca walking trip with my Mum
Make plans to visit friends in the UK at least 3 times

Work
Sign up for the mentoring scheme at work
Keep a record of small and large achievements I have had so I can record these on my annual review when it is time to do so

Miscellaneous
Read 100 books (including at least 10 from the library and 10 I owned prior to 2018)
Watch 12 (new to me) films

I’ve also thought of a word that I want to try and embody in 2018 and that word is Resilience. I mean this in the sense of feeling more able to find what I need by looking into myself and by trusting in my own skills, knowledge and abilities.

2017 goals – the end of the year

My yearly goals can be found here and I reflected on them after 3 months here, at the half way point here and three quarters of the way through here.

I would say that my goals were on average half successful this year. I read a lot more books than I planned and did some creative stuff like my embroidery but it wasn’t necessarily the creative stuff that I planned to do. I enjoyed doing the lino printing 1 day workshop and hope I can do more in 2018 at home.

I didn’t travel as much as I had hoped but I did enjoy my trip to Bristol and my Indietracks mini break.

My favourite thing that I did for myself this year was starting drum lessons. I’ve gone from not being able to play at all, to being able to read basic drum tab and play along with some songs which is a pretty big achievement for someone who has struggled to stick to anything musical.

Some things I would like to carry forward with me to 2018;

1 second everyday videos were a lot of fun to watch back at the end of each month where I did them so I would like to carry on with those
Less social media – especially FB. I deleted the app off of my phone around June and it has remained deleted. I don’t really miss it.
More decluttering especially as it looks like we may be moving in the early part of next year.