5 Reasons to Love the Run Up to Christmas … But not Christmas!

It may be cold, the temperature has most certainly taken a turn for the worse, and it may be raining.  But there are reasons to like the period before Christmas  however do not think this post has anything to do with Christmas.  The Christmas adverts have already begun to grace our television screens, the Christmas lights are up in the shopping centres everywhere and the Christmas gift sets (which of course you can only buy at Christmas time) have started making their way into every shop, even the exclusively Christmas shops are making their return to our high streets   Its just too early!  Maybe that’s because I’m not Christmas’ biggest fan, I don’t do my Christmas shopping in April and I prefer to write a standardized group Christmas email rather than personalised, individual cards.  Lets face it, I’ve just summed up who I am – Scrooge.

Scrooge

Despite this lack of Christmas cheer I seem to posses  I do get excited about somethings at this time of year (even if it does sadden me that the sun no longer seems to shine – nor will it until May!)

1.  Back to Education!  Why? For me its not necessarily the education aspect that excites me, more the moving back to my uni house.  I’ve had a taste of independence and I love it.

2. Halloween.  Why?  Halloween is great, I’m not a believer in sexy over scary at Halloween.  Scary or even funny is most certainly my choice.  This year myself and a friend donned the yellow body paint, and went as Despicable Me’s yellow minions.  Definitely got us a few laughs (even if people did think we were odd looking Simpsons characters)

Halloween Pumpkin Carving

3.  Bonfire Night – quite frankly I love the fireworks.  Every year without fail we will sit out dressed in our thermals in a vain attempt to keep warm.  Often our thermals will be accompanied by a large umbrella as the rain lashes down – what us humans will do to see pretty things eh?

4.  Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland – now I have to say the Christmas element I find less exciting but an open air ice rink, a hog roast tent and some kind of exciting fairground ride, what more do I need to say?

5.  Heating comes on! Summer is quite frankly never warm enough here in the UK, huddling next to a warm radiator with a hot chocolate is in all honestly, a heavenly experience (until you get the heating bill of course)

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#cardiffhalf

10am this morning I can hear cheering, the runners from the Cardiff Half Marathon are making their way up my road.  These are the first of 18,000 to make their way round the 13 mile course laid out for them on the streets of Cardiff.   It was like the Olympics had come again – Just this time I had a front seat.

I was tired just watching them, its lucky my house was just there, I was able to cook my breakfast and brew a trusty cup of tea to keep me going!  We tried desperately to cheer on everyone, but people just kept on coming.  After a while we had to make the executive decision to start cheering for those in costumes, I can’t remember how many gorrillas, Batmen, Robins, Spidermen, Bannanas, Kermit the Frogs etc etc I’ve seen this morning. Just so many, but for so many good causes. Well done to  all who ran! Amazing achievement!

#cardiffhalf

Race entries for 2013 have opened http://www.cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk/

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La Fleur Rose Vif!

Just a short post today and first I will explain the title.  We have had a rare glimpse of British summer time today, which I have to say I have greatly enjoyed. It has been increased only by the fact I have moved to a holiday destination (well close enough) – sunny Bournemouth!  It feels somewhat like holidaying in France, the odd french road sign keeps popping up, directing tourists away from the channel ferry ports.  For this reason I’ve found myself ‘frenching it up’ for a large proportion of the day, in my mind I am a Parisienne!  In any event ‘La Fleur Rose Vif’ sounds a lot better than it’s English translation, ‘The Bright Pink Flower’.  If anything I’m adding a touch of elegance to lucybarclay.wordpress.com!

But enough about my french day dream!  The sunshine lured me outside and having cut back the thigh high grass, I came across this beauty.  And I have to say I do like to photograph a good flower!

Hibiscus Flower

Bright Pink/ Rose Vif

Shot taken from below

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#GOLDRUSH!

I will apologise in advance for my innumerable Olympics posts at the moment.  Like I have said previously, me the non-sports fan, in fact I would go so far as to say, as a rule of thumb, the sport hater (arguing non-stop about the immorality of footballers vast pay etc etc),  have become glued to the television, waiting eagerly for the next Team GB event.  I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my nails down to the quick – This is what I have become!

Jess Ennis Gold Medal

But apology over, back to the Olympics …

The defining moment for me in Britain’s gold rush was seeing  Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in ruins having come second in the men’s lightweight double skulls.  What?! If that were me I would be jumping for joy, I’d be second best in the world at something  – especially when you consider Zac’s seat broke and the race had to be restarted.  I certainly wouldn’t have gone for it in fear of some horrific injury.  But nonetheless they were in pieces apologising for letting people down, which was certainly not the case.  These men showed their passion and desire and not least showed themselves to be true members of team GB.

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter inconsolable having come second

If only I had that kind of passion for my history degree, it would make me the next David Starkey (or any other discreetly famous historian)!

These people are incredible; they have a passion for something and go for it.  It’s that single focus that makes them an inspiration.  Watching the reactions really sums it all up.  Jessica Ennis in tears receiving her gold medal, the mens heavy weight fours smiling uncontrollably, the ladies cycling team euphoric, Greg Rutherford flag clad, the rowing girls unable to speak and Mo Farrah doing the ‘Mo’.  That’s what it is all about for me; these are people achieving their life aim, what they have worked so hard for.

On the other hand, to see Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in pieces having come second and Rebbecca Adlington so disappointed with her 3rd place medal was nothing less than human.  This is a reality we are all going to have to face at some point during our lives; it’s just seems more extreme in sport.

Go Mo!

We are all going have gold moments.  But with gold inevitably comes silver or bronze or less.  That doesn’t mean stop trying, if anything those bronze, silver and medal-less moments are those from which you learn the most.  It is those instants that create the gold moments, which of course are the building blocks for success.   I will certainly be taking inspiration from these athletes.  I am no sports woman, I can assure you my passion in life is not going to become the 10,000m or rowing anytime soon!  However I am going to keep trying in what I am good at, find my passion and win my gold!

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“You Heard Me Bike, It’s Game On!”

A cold rainy day in London, not ideal for a three and a half hour cycle ride; nonetheless the ladies powered, or rather power-cycled through.  And Lizzie Armitstead came away with Britain’s first Olympic medal of London 2012 – and I have to say it may have inspired me to get on my bike (perhaps when its not pouring with rain though).

Lizzie Armitstead wins silver for Team GB

Watching it, it’s scary how close the cyclists get to each other.  And when you think it could all be over if they touch, you realise the amount of concentration and fearlessness of these cyclists.  Impressive stuff!  Now  I am most certainly not usually a sports fan, but even I can appreciate the amount of drive required to win (in case you couldn’t tell I think I’m getting excited).   Especially when you consider how absolutely exhausted you would be, having cycled tens of kilometres.

Now I’m not very sporty, so while in my mind having been inspired by today’s cycling, I am the next Olympic cycling champion, I know that that is probably not going to be the reality.  Especially when you consider that these athletes train practically every day, all day.  So don’t expect to see me competing internationally in the velodrome or as the front runner at the Tour de France anytime soon!

Just in the post because I love these little vintage shopper bikes – makes me think I’ve stepped back in time

Regardless, I remain inspired.  The bike is being wheeled out again (excuse the pun)fFor regular riding (which would of course tone the thighs – my biggest nemesis).  I have also been toying with the idea of a charity fundraising cycle ride.  I read about it months ago and thought to myself ‘that sounds cool’, never did anything about it, but after today I’m finding myself increasingly drawn to the idea.  The genesis Research Trust organises cycling trips all around the world and you can now register for Cycle Sri Lanka 2013.  I am definitely keen! It’ll be my very own Tour de France – An adventure and for a good cause. It’s being added to my bucket list!

Cycling for a good cause

http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/events/cycle-srilanka

http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/events

Right – game on! I’m now off to wipe the cobwebs off the bike …

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Olympics Hype, You’ve Got Me (Unconventionally)

Me, a non-sports fan, have suddenly found myself swept up in the London 2012 hype.  Why?  Well my feelings towards it prior to yesterday were fairly nonchalant: I didn’t really see why people were excited but equally didn’t understand the people moaning.  But yesterday I travelled to London for the launch party of the online TV channel I’ve been working on, it just so happened that the launch was at Marble Arch.  As I approached said location the torch was apparently going to be ‘travelling’ through there.  And for me it was not so much the seeing of the torch that got me thinking.  In fact I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse!  It was more the atmosphere, everyone around me was excited and talking about the games.  You couldn’t move for the people around you and I realised that this was something bringing everyone together.

London 2012 Tower Bridge

As I said I’m not in it for the sport. I’m not particularly riveted by the fact that Usain Bolt may run the 100 metres in 9 seconds (if I blink I might miss it), nor am excited by the thought of watching people on bikes cycle round really fast in circular dome.  But that aside while I don’t enjoy the sport itself, I do enjoy watching an athlete’s reaction upon winning and achieving their goal.  It’s not the physical feat that I get excited about, I’m not interested in the world records or medals themselves, but watching someone achieving what they have worked so hard for.  (And I don’t like to admit it) That is one of the things I do find inspiring about sport.

Some things will be unmissable.  I’m excited to see Oscar Pistorius run for the South African team.  He of course has been nicknamed the fastest man on no legs.  This is a man that has overcome massive adversity to fulfil his dreams.  I for one hope he wins!

And of course the other thing I’m excited about is the opening ceremony.  I felt the atmosphere in London yesterday and know that it will continue to be incredible.  I just want to see what London can do!

Oscar Pistorious aka Fastest Man on No Legs

Maybe this time Boris Johnson will succeed in waving the British flag properly: well we can always hope …

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Oh Hello Again British Summer …

I have returned from a week in Cyprus, the weather back home is, shall we say, chilly.  Of course I made the fools error of thinking because it’s sunny and baking hot in Cyprus, it will be the same come home time at Gatwick.  In fact if truth be told I didn’t even consider the weather back home in ye olde England.  I got off the plane, clad in teeny tiny denim shorts and a strappy top.  The result –  I shiver my way through Gatwick and out to the car park to complete the journey home, nursing a minor case of hypothermia.

But to be honest it’s to be expected, this is the UK after all.  If we didn’t have the weather to complain about life just would NOT be fun!  In fact bad weather and nice queue is enough to set any Brit off on a tyrannical rant about the injustice of it all, myself included.    But if we consider just for a second the possibility of the UK being 35 degrees centigrade every day with blazing sunshine, nothing would ever get done.  We would all switch our complaining to the heat rather than the rain, hail, sleet and whatever else we’ve been subjected to this July.  So while a bit more sunshine would be nice, I’m kind of glad as sunshine for us brits is a treat not a right, it makes the whole experience feel much more like a true holiday!

Cooling down in a tomb

My reasoning is based on last weeks trip to Cyprus.  Every day was scorching, at least 35 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  I am not one for just sitting on the beach or by the pool, mainly for the reason that I am pasty white with freckles – the perfect recipe for a beetroot red sunburn after a mere half an hour outside.  I am one more for exploring the local area, seeing the sights etc etc.  And I have to say a week in Paphos  delivered.  The Tombs of the Kings, the medieval fort and the mosaics – all of which were a thrill for (and I don’t like to admit it) a history geek such as myself!

The Tombs of the kings are in fact not ‘tombs of the kings’ rather ‘tombs of government officials’.  Set on a piece of coastal desert and carved into the rock, you can imagine the heat.  It comes to something when you would rather sit in a tomb, a place of death, than in the sun to escape the heat.  Of course my snow white skin was absorbing the heat (even though I’m not sure that is scientifically correct), my thighs were chaffing (because unfortunately I was not gifted with airbrushed supermodel legs) and my hair was making my neck hot.  And I could feel that complaining energy coming.  Having done nothing but moan that it was cold back home and ‘why didn’t we have any sun?’ I was about to fulfil my British stereotype and begin complaining about what I could, the heat.  But I thought to myself right there and then, ‘I’m enjoying this’, ‘these tombs are interesting’, ‘why complain?’  And the same goes for the mosaics, the fort and the various other sights of Paphos.

Tombs carved into the rock

The sun and the heat was all part of the experience, it made it a true holiday.  But back home, our weather is all part of the British experience.  Maybe it’s not sipping cocktails on the beach or by the pool, but that’s no ones reality, well not a regular person at least!  I couldn’t imagine my normal job behind the bar and waiting on tables being particularly enjoyable in 35 degrees of heat.  And of course it’s given me something to complain about, now I’m sat in a cardigan shivering, having returned home from a scorching Cypriot paradise.  I joke of course …

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