Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Town bumps 2017: day 1

Twas a grayish evening and we met at the boathouse, many of us from having watched earlier divisions. I was getting more nervous, forgetting how bad it has felt before; well, it felt just as bad again. There was a late change to the start order: Tabs 2, our old friends, were replaced by Tabs 3 (the Hills Road Returners) who I suppose we'd effectively bumped last year in some guise. Anyway.

We boated in good time and rowed down to Stourbridge to watch W1. As expected, Tabs got City in that neither came past; and City 2 turned up in their shiny red uniforms as Sharks. Looking, it has to be said, good. To the start, a fair enough row down. Wait. Nerves settling somewhat; at least I no longer want to throw up.

And off; there's a fair breeze blowing us into the bank but we get a good push-off anyway. It isn't our best start, though not poor; just not quite up to what it could be. Past the motorway bridge City are getting closer, and the water around me is rough, but no whistles. We don't really settle, not I think because of pressure from behind but just because. And around First Post City close in, and get us early in the Gut. This is disappointing.

The riggercam is not exciting,  alas.

Just to make it even more thrilling, in the distance behind us we can see Tabs 4 catching Tabs 3... roll on tomorrow.

GPS trace.

[Day 0]

Monday, 17 July 2017

Town bumps, 2017: Day 0

I don't normally do a pre-bumps post; it is impious to risk the wrath of the gods. And I will make no predictions this year. But I'll write down a vignette from many years ago, in my early Oxford years. Sitting waiting on the river for our next piece, not long before bumps, I heard a coach for another crew say "look at yourselves now. Think how you're rowing. Judge yourselves. Because next week you'll only judge yourself by how well you've done; whether you go up or down. This is your last chance to judge your actual rowing". And so I will.

We've had an odd year, and not just because we made the perverse decision to stroke rig the boat rather than bow rig it as god intended. The winter league went well, but then we stalled for a couple of months, and found it hard to pick things up. In the last month things came together and, perhaps perversely, I think we've "peaked" well; sometimes it can be harder to sustain a run of good rowing; you get stale.

So, all to play for: bring on tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The management apologise for more inconvenience

Over at my real blog there seem to be problems of this sort of nature:

Your access to this site has been limited

Your access to this service has been temporarily limited. Please try again in a few minutes. (HTTP response code 503)
Reason: Exceeded the maximum global requests per minute for crawlers or humans.
Important note for site admins: If you are the administrator of this website note that your access has been limited because you broke one of the Wordfence blocking rules. The reason your access was limited is: "Exceeded the maximum global requests per minute for crawlers or humans."

And so on. I don't know what is going on. Others have contacted Da Mgt without success so far. Updates will be posted here, or perhaps there, or on my facebook page, on written in the clouds, who knows.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Book review: The Great Gatsby

TGG needs no introduction. I read it at O-level and now read it again, since Miranda is reading it for GCSE. Why is it good? It is well written, worldy-wise, and tells an interesting story of interesting times. Perhaps it helps to know the story; it makes early promises like there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life easier to read in context.

It helps that a lot of it is about rich people. It's kinda nice to read about lovely women lying gracefully on chaise longue looking elegant. There's a certain connection to Proust about it all; the young narrator moving up into a stratum of wealth and privilege, and naturally this is a pleasant world to be drawn into reading about.

Is it a great novel? How could you rank it against, say, Heart of Darkness? Lower, I think. There something slight and fluffy about it, coming perhaps from the subject matter; it is just rather hard to take it all seriously, no matter how seriously it is all clearly intended. Gatsby's great obsession, Daisy, isn't really worth his attention. The book attempts to finesse this at the end, and turn it into Gatsby chasing his own past - a-la "a la Recherche" - but I don't think it will quite do. Somewhat less important: the book hints rather strongly that Gatsby's money is dishonestly arrived at. By implication, it suggests this isn't important: the whole society was rotten, Gatsby's hard-to-define fine qualities more than outweigh this; but it sin't clear we should agree.

But it is a very well written book. I say that as a reader of sci-fi, of course, much of it of rather low literary quality, so I'm hardly a good judge. I made a brief attempt to find something to prove how well written it is, but it would be pointless.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Life during Maytime: bees, coxing, gardening, Moff

Upand to the river by 8 to cox M2. Who managed a creditable two locks at steady state with a few bursts, stern-paired by Chris and Simon E. I steered well if I say so myself so we hardly had to stop despite traffic. I drove in because it was raining when I woke but it was sunny by the time we finished. At home, in time to say good bye to M who is off to the states for a week of fun work. Last night we all (including D, who came over for the occasion) went to the Plough for a (good) dinner to celebrate M's promotion: she is now Manager, Staff rather than a mere Manager, Senior. I'm still Engineer, Senior Staff I think. In the garden I did some extensive cutting back, today and yesterday, of the halfway hedge which had grown to absurd proportions almost without me noticing it. With that, and the silver birch chopped a bit, and the quince also, things have opened up a little. Then I took off the netting and poles around the trampoline, since they really aren't needed any more. After that the bees needed some attention. Nikola had mentioned that hers had gone solid with rape, which is unfair, because it is still in flower. When I opened mine the "peaked" now "B" hive, that had I think a new swarm this spring, was doing OK with only uncapped liquid honey in a couple of frames, so I left it alone. The "flat" now "A" hive was full of bees. I didn't venture past the top super, but took out three frames width of grown-in-place comb - see video below - on the left side. Now it is 5 om. I still need to plant out some plants.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A trip to Seville: day 4: Seville

Up just before 8 - the sun rises through my window around then, very quiet and peaceful on clear blue days - and go for a 7 km run through the nearby Parc, back along the railway line, along the river, and back. It's not an "obvious" running route though; I suspect that the far side of our local bit of "river" is the correct route.

B'fast, moderately quickly - only one coffee - to get to the Rowing by 10, but I needn't have rushed: there was some faffing around and we didn't get off till 10:30. The ladies had done their VIII as an early - 8 am - outing; we borrowed Sarah and Rachel so Simon E and Steve O could go off in the quad. It went well; better sat and more enjoyable; we got up to 30 whilst keeping our form fairly well.

After that I skipped lunch in favour of a shower and a walk into town; this lead to me walking in about 1 pm and it was quite hot any time when I wasn't in the shade, which was moderately often to start. I had intended to stop in a bar or somewhere for lunch, but as so often with me none of them looked quite right so I didn't stop till I got to the cathedral. Which is really very big. Bigger than you think in fact. It also had a big queue so I sat in the shade and waited for it to go down somewhat. Inside, as I'd half suspected from the outside, it is a touch disappointing; it is more big than anything else, but not more interesting. Doubtless my ignorance and lack of perception. But the stained glass, for example, might have been quite nice but with the walls being so big the windows are far away. The orange courtyard in the back is nice. The elliptical chapel makes a good pic.

After that I really should have found somewhere quiet to sit down but I didn't. I also managed to find a somewhat unsatisfactory path back along the riverside that probably wasn't intended to be walked. But, it was all fine really. Back not much before I'm due to row again in the 18:15 outing, which is Men Only this time. Me at 7 again, Conor for some reason hiding at 2. Also good; not quite as well sat as this morning, but faster. Towards the end we managed to snag an underwater wire not properly buoyed on the fin, resulting in amusing bending and a distinct steering problem. Fortunately the centre's Mr Fixit had only just left the site so we got him back and he replaced it, with some hammering and grinding and the second fin fitted to his satisfaction.

Dinner at the centre, then out on the town for those who wanted to; I stayed in.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A trip to Seville: day 2: Madrid to Seville

Day two starts with me going down to the lobby for breakfast, which doesn't work well, as breakfast is at the top on the sixth floor. But with that little error corrected I have the usual sort of buffet you expect in a 4* hotel, including lots of coffee and orange juice and. this being Spain, little bits of dried ham. After, after some internetting, it is time for a run: I go West, down the hill I didn't know was there, over the river, and into the Casa de Campo; see GPS trace. Despite that being a 12 km run I didn't get all that far into the Campo. A quick shower and pack and check out: time for the Prado.

Happily all is walkable so I trundle off; my bag isn't heavy and I hang my coat off it and keep to the shade and it's pleasant. At the Prado, there's a queue for tickets which I stand in for a bit before a functionary says go to the far end so we do and there's no queue. What am I to look at? First up is Goya's "black paintings" which are pretty weird but well worth seeing; "Saturn eating his son" is dead famous. There's a lot of other stuff there of course: the 2nd and 3rd of May for example. After more than an hour I break for the cafe which is a glassed-in courtyard at the back. Then another hour of pix, disappointingly I don't find the Bosch which I was expecting.

To the train station. I have an hour free so get coffee, juice and a goats-cheese sandwich on decent bread. The train goes from the first floor, it turns out that the whole "old station" has been turned into a jungle / boutiques, and the new station built off the back. And they have stupid security - why on Earth would you scan baggages for internal travel? Sigh.


Train is swish and new; Eurostar-like. And not at all full. Countryside between Madrid and Cordoba is quite empty: few signs of habitation, mostly olives or oaks spaced with pasture, gentle hills. From Cordoba to Seville more habited and farmed. Cruise into Seville a little early; I walk from station to hotel Barcello and am just getting confused by reception when Dan turns up; it turns out I'm Angela, so to speak. Anyway I have a room and we wander off to the rowing centre which is very close, roughly as the VIII that is out, comes in. Thence dinner in the residence by the rowing centre: basic-but-plentiful rather like last year. After dinner to the Barcello for drinks and then, for me at least, bed; for the young folk, a walk into town for the nearest bar.