Sunday

Swim

It was going to be another hot day so we went to the beach a lot earlier than normal for our Sunday swim. The water seemed a lot clearer this morning. This allowed me a better view of the sea life below. I saw a couple of rays and a lot of aggressive crabs.

Ray

As I stood at the end of the swim a ray swam right passed me. It was quite thrilling to be that close to a sea creature.

Café

We went to the café up the road, the one that serves the most fantastic hot chocolate. Love One and I shared a turmeric poached egg. I was a bit dubious about this as it sounded strange but Loved One reassured me that she had had it before. It tasted alright, I won’t be rushing back for a second serving but I won’t actively avoid it either.

Sleep

I was incredibly tired when I got home. I sat on the sofa and fell into a fitful sleep. Loved One suggested that I might benefit from lying down in a darkened room containing a bed. I agreed.

Dream

I wheeled my bike onto a boat, along a narrow gang plank. There was water everywhere. There were people everywhere. I looked for somewhere to store my bike and found a spot under a metal shelter. All the metal was painted blue. I hung my bike on the railings and too cover. The boat started. Water washed over the shelter and started to come in from both sides. The water level got higher. Another wave came over. The water level carried on getting higher. Then I was trapped under the shelter staring at the blue roof of the shelter, watching the air bubble get smaller and smaller. I felt a rising panic. Just as all hope was lost Loved One woke me up with a cup of tea.

Cooking

Whilst I’d been asleep Loved One had been preparing plums. We made yet more plum paste and plum sauce, we are going to have plenty of home made gifts for friends. We also had a go at making some plum jam. As always with making jam the hardest part of the whole thing is washing and sterilising the jars. The second point of tension is trying to work out if the jam has been boiled enough so that it will set. After a lot of dropping jam on a cold plate and trying to work out whether it was setting. Eventually we decided it was ready and put it into jars.

Squid

We had squid for tea. Squid with salad. It was very nice

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Saturday

Ride

It was predicted to be hot today so we started an hour earlier than usual. No one in the group was too keen on a strenuous ride today. Most had been doing a triathlon yesterday and wanted an easy ride today. I wasn’t feeling over enthusiastic about a fast ride either. We went down to the coast and turned right. We went as far as the surf club before tuning.

Course

We had a reconnaissance of the bike course for a triathlon that is running next week. Parts of the course have been described as “technical” and this usually translates into “dangerous”. The course started on the road but then turned onto a bike path. This was a lot narrower. Then we got to the 90-degree bend onto the path across the weir. I could see the potential for some spectacular accidents at this point

Shopping

We needed food. The fridge was empty and the cupboards were echoing. We needed to go shopping and there is no pleasure in shopping when it has to be done. We came home with food so we could eat again. We celebrated this achievement with a ham sandwich.

Cooking

It was too hot to go outside so we started making things out of plums. We started with plum paste and then attempted plum sauce. The entire house smelt of plums.

Spring Rolls

We cooked some spring rolls so that we could test the plum sauce. It passed the test, this is good as we have quite a lot of it.

Friday

Beach

We had entered a swim today. It was a linear swim for a change. I like that but it does give a bit of a dilemma over where to park the car. We decided to park near the end of the swim and walk to the start. Others had done it the other way round. It was a nice stroll along the beach, looking into the front windows of the beach front properties. I wouldn’t like to live there as there are too many people staring in through the front windows.

Start

There was a seal playing under the jetty at the start of the swim. It looked very happy and graceful. I’m glad it wasn’t wearing a swim cap as it would have beaten all of us by a long way.

Buoy

The sea was a bit choppy and that suited me. I like a bit of a fight to prove that I’m in the sea. I’d tried to stay out in line with the buoys as I have a nasty tendency to veer to the left. That would have taken me into the shore and not round the other jetty. I’d just passed the woman in pink when I looked up to find a big yellow buoy in front of me. I’d not noticed it before and it was quite a surprise to see it there.

End

There was a lot of milling around at the finish. I joined in with the milling and waited for the presentation. I waited until I knew that there was no danger of me troubling the podium before leaving.

Plums

Loved One was on patrol so I had the afternoon to myself. I had a long list of things to do and I spectacularly failed to do any of them. Instead I laid on the couch for a while and then stoned many plums.

Dinner

Loved One and I had dinner at the surf club this evening. We sat on the balcony and watched the sun set over the sea. It was a lovely way to spend an evening

News

I checked the start time of tomorrows ride before going to bed. I found that they were starting an hour earlier than normal to avoid the heat. Avoiding the heat is good but getting up earlier is not so good. I went to be conflicted.

Thursday

Weight

I’ve not be weighing myself every morning as the scales in the main bathroom have broken. They have been consigned to the place of damaged consumer goods. The other working scales are in the en-suite and that is not on my morning route to the kettle. I stood on them this morning and was pleasantly surprised. I was the lightest I’ve been for a while and that was after my morning half a pint of tea. I briefly entertained the idea that it was due to dehydration from yesterday’s activities but then decided it was due to my careful control of my food intake. I may have been deluded.

Run

My ankles were aching this morning. I took heart in the fact that it was both ankles but that didn’t make it any less painful. It wasn’t painful enough to stop me from running but painful enough to make starting off uncomfortable. The pain died down the further I went but I knew that this was normal and not a miracle cure. I completed my sixteen-minute run wondering if I’ll ever be able to run any distance ever again.

Letter

I spend the day trying to write suitable covering letters for various jobs that I am applying for. This involved dusting off my business speak to make myself look impressive in that language. I really detest writing covering letters as I’m not one to sell myself. I know there is one job I will not be considered for because when I reviewed the letter after I had sent it (I know a schoolboy error) I noticed a massive typo right in the middle that had resulted from an edit of a previous version. I would like to say that I didn’t want the job anyway but that would have been a lie.

Plums

We waited until it had cooled down to pick plums, unfortunately it was also dark and that made picking plums a lot harder than it should be. Plums are the exact colour of night. That doesn’t make them easy to find.

Wednesday

Early

Silly o’clock this morning seemed even earlier than normal. This was probably because the sun hadn’t risen. It is amazing how much the sun affects my mood and tiredness.

Ride

I met the club at the usual place and headed off down the highway to the coast. Yet again, half way down the passenger in the van lent out of the window to give us the full force of his opinion about a group of cyclists riding legally. He seemed under the impression that cyclists should ride in single file in the cycle lane. It really wasn’t worth arguing as he didn’t look like the type of person whose opinion would be swayed but such things as facts and the law.

Speed

Today’s ride was fairly quick. I was quite surprised that I was still up with the main pack by the time we got to the roundabout. I briefly toyed with hanging on the back for a few more kilometres but in the end sense prevailed and I turned for the café.

Plums

I picked a few more bucket loads of plums this morning although the tree still looks loaded with fruit. I spent the next hour or so taking the stones out of them before putting them in the drier. I haven’t dehydrated plumbs before so I’m not to sure how they are going to turn out.

Swim

The day had warmed up considerably so I felt that a swim would help to cool things down. I had planned doing a threshold set for the last few days so I had something to do when I got to the pool. The pool was reasonably empty so I managed to get a lane to myself. This was a good thing for me. I started with a gentle few laps before launching into the medium paced two-hundred-meter repeats. I’d set my watch to tell me when I was on the last length but that didn’t stop me getting it wrong and doing a three-hundred-meter repeat in the middle of the set. I got to the end of the repeats feeling pretty happy in holding the times. I finished off with a few laps of slow swimming, noticing that the pool wall was rapidly getting filled with fit looking teenagers. A tap on the shoulder and a polite request to move lanes told me that a squad session was about to start. I’d finished by routine so I got out. My arms were feeling a little used, it had been a good session.

Jam

The next part of my adventures with plums was to make jam. I quite enjoy making jam but I’m getting a little tired of stoning plums. There must be a bit of domestic machinery that can relieve me of this drudgery. I probably wouldn’t buy it but it would be nice to know that it existed. The jam turned out to be a little runny, I think I put in too much water to reduce the fruit or that I didn’t boil it enough. There will be more jam so I can experiment

Fridge

Owning to my minimalist fridge policy and that we haven’t done a food shop for quite a while the fridge is looking a little bare. There was very little green stuff, it was mainly dairy. Loved One put together a lovely omelette and we had it with tomatoes from the garden. It was a really nice, simple dinner. We followed it with some stone fruit (not plums) with ice cream.

Tired

The day’s cycling and running caught up with me. I came over very tired. I needed to go to bed and I needed to do it almost immediately. Sleep came quickly.

Tuesday

Run

My ankles have ached all weekend despite me trying to will it to be different. I have also been a bit lax with the stretching. Stretching isn’t the most exciting or fulfilling activity so I find it hard to get motivated to do it when there are other distractions. All this gave me a feeling of dread about my run this morning. I’m now on a 16-minute run walk regime which is a little longer and I have a feeling that the aches and pains are my body adapting to this new demand. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, I actually went slightly further this time. My ankles were still a bit sore at the end.

Plums

I celebrated the end of my run by picking a bucketful of plums. I can see a lot of plum based produce in my future.

Photography

My career of a professional photographer has taken another small leap. Another one of my photos has been sold for an infinitesimal amount bringing my professional earnings to nearly a whole US dollar. I console myself by the fact that I put a lot more time into blogging and that has had a nil return.

Paste

I’ve never made plum paste before and as we have a surfeit of plums at the moment I felt it was time to try making some. I checked the recipe and it seemed fairly straight forward. In fact, it looked very similar to making jam. In essence it’s very, very thick jam. I made the mistake of following the recipe faithfully, it insisted that the stones can be removed once the plums have been stewed. This was a mistake. I should have taken the stones out before stewing as it was tricky finding all the stones. After a lot of fiddling about I ended up with something that resembled plum paste. It was too late to try it. I felt I should leave that for another day and possibly another person.

Monday

Check out

We had to leave the B&B by 10 so we couldn’t have another indulgent morning. We planned to join a swim group at Horseshow bay. Our late-night plan was to get up, make breakfast, pack up and go. The reality of the situation meant that the make breakfast part of the plan was completely ignored

Swim

We met up with the 10 o’clock swimmers at Horseshoe bay, got changed and leapt into the warm sea. The plan was to swim across to close to the point and from there return to the beach via the back of the small island. There was a decent swell today that made the swim a lot more interesting. The journey round the back was much more fun. Out in the deeper water the swell was a lot bigger so it was imperative to give the rocks a wide birth. I had no intention of being dashed against the rocks. I loved this part of the swim, the swell and vague hint of danger all made it a lot more exciting. Once I’d passed the island it was just a case of following the waves into the beach. I left the water with a big grin on my face.

Cheese

We stopped at a cheese factory on the way home to indulge in our love of cheese. There were many samples all of which needed to be sampled, twice. Having eaten our body weight in samples we felt it was only fair that we should buy a small block of mature cheddar.

Brewery

Our route took us close to a brewery that makes one of my favourite wheat beers so we decided to drop in to buy a case. I was intending to get just wheat beer but in the end, I went for a mixed case so that I could try all of their beers. They did do a sampling platter but it was a warm day and I was thirsty, that would have been a recipe for disaster.

Train

There was a café in a train carriage in the town. It looked like a good place to have a very late breakfast. We may have been influenced by the sign outside advertising and all-day breakfast. We sat in a refurbished old train carriage, with leather seats and wooden shutters, and ate our very late breakfast.

Home

We knew that it had been a lot hotter in the city so we imagined all kinds of wilting disasters in the garden. Luckily most things had survived, a few of the tomatoes had been baked on the vine and the spinach was still in a bit of a state. Apart from that the garden had survived. We revived it with a lot of water.

Tired

I felt we had both come down to earth with a bit of a bump after such a lovely short break. Neither of us really wanted to re-enter the real wold. We went to bed early.

Sunday

Reading

It’s very rare that we have a lie in on a Sunday as we are usually doing something that requires getting out of bed. We had a lot of nothing in particular to do this morning so we stayed in bed, drank tea and read books whilst the wildlife outside provided the background music.

Jet Ski

There was a jet ski area by the barrage were grown up boys could play with their grown-up toys. This area did not extend to the nature reserve but that point was lost on a couple of them. They quite ruined the ambiance of the morning. Had I known how to report then to the authorities I would have done, I was that angry.

Walk

After breakfast we headed out into the world for a drive along the coast to have a look around. We took a little stroll along a beach and discussed whether the tide was coming in or out. It was very difficult to tell so the discussion went on for a while.

Lunch

We knew we were having fish and chips for tea so we were determined not to have that for dinner. We sat in the café and pored over the menu. We went for whitebait and a bowl of sweet potato chips. We tried to convince ourselves that this was not fish and chips, we weren’t convinced.

Road

We had a stroll to the view point and looked over the access road to the beach. It was a thing strip of soft sand through the dunes. There was a line of four by fours at each end preparing to go along the short road. The technique seemed to be to but the car in a low gear and then power on through, snaking in the soft sand. Every now and again someone would get it wrong and then provide endless entertainment as they tried to get out. We were far enough away to laugh out loud.

Net

There were massive carp swimming around our boat and Loved One wanted to catch on. We stopped by a fishing shop to buy a net. The man there suggested that if we were not fast enough on the net we could always use a hammer.

Fishing

The carp were a bit more intelligent than we gave them credit for. The instantly recognised that the net was not put into the water with good intentions toward them. They disappeared rapidly only emerging from the depths top quickly grab the bits of bread we were using as bait.

Sleep

I was fully intending to go for a swim, I got changed and then made the mistake of laying on the bed. An hour later loved one found me on the bed “mentally preparing”

Swim

The ladder from the side of the boat didn’t quite reach the water and I have a real problem getting into water quickly. I toyed with different methods of getting into the water but eventually gave up and got changed. I really must get over this mild phobia.

Chips

We had a fish and chip supper with four friends on the prow of the boat this evening. It was a lovely evening. The sun slowly set and the wildlife put on a show. The sunset this evening was spectacular with orange clouds and strange high-level rainbows.

Thunder

The storm started after our guests left. The lightening was a long way in the north and every now and again lit up the sky. We sat on the upper deck with a few drinks and watched the light show.

Saturday

Radio

I looked at my clock and thought I had plenty of time. I closed my eyes and suddenly the radio came on and told me I had very little time. I toyed with closing my eyes again but decided against it and made a cup of tea instead. It was then that I realized I’d not had a single cup of tea yesterday. That may have accounted for the tiredness and headache.

Bike

I met the others at the usual place and we headed to the coast. The plan was to head south for an hour and then turn round to get back to the cafe before the world heated to blast furnace temperatures. We rode out a a steady pace stopping only to fix another groups stuck chain. Two of us turned after about an hour and headed back. The others decided to press on a little further. After a while my cycling partner told me to carry on as he was flagging due to a mild cold so I pushed on alone along the coast

Wheel-sucker

I saw him as I turned inland. He was just ahead of me and behind another group. The group was moving quite slowly. A faster cyclist clad in green passed me and he latched onto him. They didn’t get too far ahead as I kept catching them at the lights. The green on turned off and I passed him at the lights, he was just sitting there. I carried on happily against the headwind not giving him another thought until a few miles up the road I noticed he had latched on to me. He was a serial wheel-sucker not willing to do any of the work. Eventually I deployed underhand tactics and forced him in front of me. That made me happy, I could now slip stream him. He tuned of shortly after that.

Travel

After watering and packing we got in the car and headed south. We had booked a few nights in a unique bed and breakfast. It was made up of the top half of a paddle steamer on top of pontoon in the river.

Boat

We arrived at the B&B and had a good look round. It was better than we imagined. Everything was clean, polished and at strange angles. It was heaven. I took the opportunity to test the bed whilst loved one sat on the deck and rare a book.

Barrage

We took a trip down to the barrage to look at the wildlife. There was plenty of it, most of it had wings but we did spot a seal playing in the water.

Boardwalk

We carried on down the coast and found a boardwalk over the dunes that lead to the sea. It was too tempting not to follow it to the rolling ocean

Dinner

We found a little cafe restaurant of the quay side. Despite the empty tables they only had one free so we sat outside and watched the world go by whilst they prepared out meal. The cockatoos provided more than enough entertainment. The food was excellent.

Fish

We retired to the boat to watch the day slowly end in a blaze of red. Massive carp swam by the side of the boat and appeared to demand feeding. They didn’t have the same appeal as ducks.

Sunset

The sun went down, the insects came out and we drank a few drinks to the sound of the river and the sea.

Friday

Early

I didn’t feel like getting out of bed this morning. My stomach was feeling far too large after last night’s meal and it was dark outside. Eventually I manged to lever myself out of bed and into my cycling clothes.

Abuse

I met the others at the usual place and we headed out on the familiar Friday route. Half way down the road to the sea a man got out of his van and hurled abuse at cyclists in general. Our group ignored him but the group behind us gave as good as they got.

Toilets

I wandered over to the start of today’s stage as it wasn’t far from home. I have never seen so many bikes and Lycra clad people in the same place. I wandered down the road past all the teams and right to the end of the start area where the portable toilets were. I don’t know why I was surprised at seeing the loos, the professionals are human too.

Start

I found a suitable place in the shade to watch the riders start the race. I’ve never seen that start of a bike race and it was fascinating. There were all kinds of cars leading the procession and a massive contingent of motor bikes carrying commissionaires, traffic police, photographers and other personal. Then there were the cars for the race officials and media. Once they had gone past the race started. The riders came past slowly as a big group with a few stragglers at the end. I thought it was all over but I was wrong. The team cars then raced past followed by the team support busses. There was an awfully large amount of petrol being burnt for a cycle race.

Television

I made my way home, turned on the air conditioner, turned on the television and sat on the sofa. I had no intention of moving until the race was over. This was the stage that I cycled a while back. I was personally invested in this stage.

Hot

The tour ended in frantic fashion and I tried to go outside. It was far too hot. I retreated to the sofa, fizzy water and lying down. This was not a day to attempt anything serious.

Watering

Once the temperature had reduced from intolerable to unbearable I ventured outside to see how the garden was fairing. Some of the tomatoes had been cooked, the spinach had been fried, the courgette had wilted and everything needed water. There was a lot of watering to do to revive my little green babies

Plums

The hot weather had ripened the plums, I pulled a few to check them, they were ripe and warm all the way through. I had to test quite a few more just to make sure

Sleep

The early start and heat of the day had sapped my will go stay away. I felt totally fatigued and needed sleep. I slumped on the bed closed my eyes and welcomed the sweet oblivion of sleep.