Archive for January, 2013

5th kyu Grading

Posted: January 27, 2013 in Aikido, Diary
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Today was the 5th kyu grading.  Mainly due route the weather, it has been difficlt to attend class recently.  I has to arrange childcare to attend the grading today, and I arrived a little late.

We had a course for the first couple of hours,  then tea and biscuits before the grading. The course covered some Jo dori and also some of the more complicated techniques to be performed during during the gradings.

The grading began with several novices taking the 6th kyu grading. They performed well with only a couple of blank looks in response to the examiner’s instructions.

There were three of us taking 5th kyu, so a 4th kyu candidate was asked to make up the numbers. When I got up to bow to the grading panel, I could not recall the name of a single technique on the syllabus. Luckally,  the grading panel has a list and calls out the techniques to be performed. I managed to recall all the techniques and to perform them without significant errors.

I was pretty knackered by the end and quite glad to relax and watch the other gradings.

At the end I was awarded the grade of 5th kyu, and and gained insight into the requirements for 4th.


Cheese Sauce

Posted: January 5, 2013 in Culture, Diary
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Found a really simple way to make a cheese sauce. Kids loveded it with vegetables mashes potatoes and Ham.

Today I set out on my mountain bike..Nothing technical, just tracks and bridal ways. The plan was to do a 25 mile circular , high level route. I started in a local park with car parking and toilets not following far from my house. I had just fitted some new shimano clipless pedals and got a new pair of cleated mountain bike shoes.
I left the start point and was soon making a steep ascent up a small lane.

Due to the ascent, I made a conscious effort never to have both feet clipped into the pedals until I had mastered getting them free. I also brought a tool with the right sized Allen key to adjust the clips.

This worked well until I was nearly at the top, where the lane ends at a farm and my planned route follows a bridal path. I had to stop due to an overtaking motor vehicle and lost my balance to the right side. Unfortunately, my left foot was free, not by right and I ended up in a grass verge feeling a right Prat. The good thing was that the car was out of sight!

The bridal path began with a short 200m section which was about a foot deep in mud. I carried the bike for most of the way to keep the gears free of muck. Then it was away to the main ridge on a farm track. I managed to locate a geocache in this area and sat on a nearby rock for a drink and chocolate bar.

I made good progress for the next 10 miles or so including a hairy downhill section and a coupe of sharp uphill climbs. Reaching the end of the ridge, I had planned to go north west, picking up another geocache before heading south along a ridge that forms the other side of the valley I has come up.

This plan which worked on a map the night before didn’t survive contact with reality. The tracks at the valley head had changed due to a new mining operation. I discover this when following what should have been an easy track heading off the the east, but stopped at a barb wire fence. I retraced my tracks and took the next eastern track. This one ended in a fence protecting a drop into a flooded quarry. About this time, a bad weather front moved in from the north west with great sweeping clouds of hill fog.

Again retracing my tracks, I followed the main track until it met a minor road. Given the foggy conditions I switched on the bike lights, head torch and a strobe on my rucksack. I followed the road north east in the hope of picking up the trail that had been cut off by the mine. Soon I saw a promising track carrying the “loops and links” logo. I followed the track checking the compass bearing against that of the map to make sure it was right one. Visibility was very poor due tot the fog and the terrain devoid of much in the way of land marks.

The track soon stopped in a barbed wire fence! Thisvtine the culprit was not the mine itself, but a new railway line used to transport the mines products. With a bit of cursing I retraced my track up hill investigating a couple of side paths that invariably ended in sheep tracks. Back at the road, I decided to follow it all the way back to my start point.

All in all a good ride, I’ll very sending some feedback to the “loops and links” people though!

This year I was pursuaded to enter the famous Nos Galan in Mountain Ash, South Wales. This is a race held every year to commemorate Gitto Neath Bran, a legendary local runner from historic times. There are many websites and blogs with the story so I won’t repeat it all here.

This was the first proper race I had entered. I registered a bit late and only just got the race pack before the post stopped for Christmas. The pack included my race number, instructions and a timing chip.

I pinned the number to a race belt which was also going to hold my android phone running endomondo.

On the night of the race it was quiet cold and there had been rain showers all day. We found a parking place nearby and I brought a rucksack to hold my outer wear during the race. As we all made our way to the start, the fireworks display began. We found an excellent vantage point on the bridge over the railway and my kids loved it. We had aranged to been some friends by the start, one of whom was running and had pursuaded me to get involved. As race time approached more and more people were warming up near the start. We watched the elite race, then made our way to the start.

According to press reports following the event, it was the biggest event to date with night spare capacity. I very much felt this as we were crammed into the barriers at the start line. Several times we has to shuffle back to ensure all runners were behind the start line.

I felt a bit like cattle at market. All I could smell was sweaty running gear, deep heat ointment and fried onions from the hot dog stall. We had both decided to run without our waterproof tops, and true to form the rain started as we were waiting for the off.

Despite the waiting, shuffleing and close proximity and smelly surroundings, the atmosphere was great. Everyone was laughing and joking. Lots of people were running in costumes and proudly displaying affiliations to various running clubs. The Royal Welch regiment were represented too.

The starting signal was an air horn, but nothing happened for several minutes, then we started to slowly shuffle towards the start.

Crossing the line, we began our first circuit of the course which runs up a hill on the south side of the town until a turn around point, send you back down the hill through the town centre and then back over the start line. 5k is about 3 laps.

My running mate and I had planned to stay together but it was impossible Due to the amount of people we were soon separated. I looked for her after the turnaround point on the hill but missed her on the way back down. I also missed my family who were standing near the VIP area next to the finish. I felt quite good after the first lap and overtook a good number of people.

The second lap prooved a bit more of a challenge, especially the hill. I saw my friend on the way back down after the turnaround point and we exchanged encouraging words.

On the last lap, I overtook more runners including Santa and his elves. Batman had over taken me a couple of times and I began to wonder if there was more thanks one!

People lined almost the entire route with a reasonable police presence to control traffic and the many people partaking of the new year spirits. First Aiders were also stationed at various points in case of injury or illness.

I managed to get myself over the finish line in a reasonble, but slower than anticipated time without the need to the St. John Ambulance first aiders or being arrested. I joined the queue to return my timing chip and collect a bottle of water, T-shirt and medal.

I found my running mate and after Watching batman get presented with the winners medal, wishing her and her family a happy new year we made our way home. I thourougly enjoyed it and will probably take part again next year.