Friday, August 18, 2017

Being Kind to Animals


Marcus has always agreed with the sentiment that your behaviour and attitude towards animals / pets show the world something about your true character.

But over the years whilst Agata and Marcus have grown to love, cherish and cuddle Cats, we never developed the same affection for Dogs.


It's the Saliva!
Marcus rationalises his tepid association to Dogs on the basis of growing up with friends whose dogs were intent on slobbering all over him, in a most un-hygienic manner.

Agata says she just never grew up with Dogs.

So this week all that is changing because we are in charge of the wonderful Dax.   She does not slobber but what she does do is show enthusiasm, a great warm character and a lot of energy




Every morning Dax is treated to a long walk.  Upto 5Km.


We say hello to the Sheep


 And to the chickens and bees too


 There is abundant beautiful countryside







And we are reconnecting with this great animal who has redeemed our connection to the canine breed like never before.

Tomorrow we drive to the mountains for a long hike.  Dax is coming too.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mission Improbable: The England Experiment



If Marcus and Agata could believe the responses that we get from people that we meet in England we would probably still be living in Switzerland.

When we explain to people in the UK.

We used to live in Switzerland, but now we have moved to England.  The response is always:

But why on earth would you want to do that!

Coming Clean
So it is now time to divulge the fact that we are indeed in the middle of /The England Experiment/

Our mission, and we have decided to accept it is

- Search for a special property in England
- Buy this Property
- Live in this property for at least 2 years
- Evaluate whether living in England beats living in Switzerland

Swiss Teleport
We jaunted back to Switzerland  (CH) today to meet some friends.

They shrewdly remarked that "we seem to still be driving our LHD Swiss Car".  Seems a little odd if you are not still considering coming back to Switzerland?   So well, exactly.


In England and Switzerland we have charge of some wonderful Animals


 The Swiss forests seems cleaner and better equipped.  I don't find any thistles in Switzerland and boy does Marcus really hate Thistles.




 Ironically we find the best vintage British cars in Switzerland



 Switzerland, well Lausanne has a 50 metre, outdoor heated pool, and the view is well, not too bad eh.



As the preponderance of two wheeled chromed mobiles echoes the August temperature is in the region of 27 degrees or higher.  And usually dry.  We like dry.


In England

So far the major selling point of England has been it's people, especially in the Warwick Area that we have chosen

- Tremendous diversity of the British people
- Helpfulness and friendliness beyond out wildest dreams [of strangers ]
- A flurry of old friends re-making their acquaintances
- A retail system that makes a laughing stock of Switzerland, it's on a totally different level, giving consumers choice and value orders of magnitude above CH
- An affordable healthcare system with caps on charges
- Administratively and Economically living in the UK is just so easy compared to a constant battle / struggle in CH



And Finally



Today we found this Maserati Merak SS calmly parked in the local Migro Supermarket carpark.   Man, this Lausanne is a difficult place to leave.






Stones: Miss You  (Again, already!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

BBC Radio 4 Witness


For the last decade, well in fact, for so many decades Marcus has had a constant and reliable teacher that has probably been the basis for my learning in the Arts, Philosophy, Comedy and even Drama.

I am of course referring to the BBC Radio 4 broadcasting channel

If one grew up in England then this was available to you first in Medium Wave and Long Wave format, and then in Quality FM format.  As time progressed even via DAB Digital Radio.

But today I remind all that it has been a glorious 10 years since in 2007 the BBC iPlayer allowed  Radio 4 to be globally available to all.

Not just to inhabitants of the UK or those listening to the World Service re-broadcasts.  No, to everybody who has an Internet connection.

And free.  Totally without charge.

And today you can go back upto 30 days and listen to anything you might have missed or something that deserves a second or even third listen.

Another example


Today I would like to spotlight BBC Witness

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01kpyx7

A program that allows you to travel back in time and understand some pivotal moments from World History from those people who were actually there.

What is there not to like?

In these days of paid for and often mediocre content,  the BBC Radio 4 channel of pure quality stands out even more than usual.

As Marcus and Agata say.  The 3 Essential R's

    Reading
  wRiting &
BBC Radio 4


THE RAT – Roseland August Trail Run 2017

Marcus and Agata spent most of Sunday driving back from Cornwall in England where we participated in the 100Km Roseland August Trail (RAT) run 2017.

Let's see how we got on.


The Task Ahead



This is to be a non stop trail run of 100Km, starting in the dark at 00.05 on Saturday August 12th 2017.   The Run course starts from Portpean and traverses the



signs of the Coast Path Public Footpath south west until the turn around point 50Km away called St Anthony's Head.  St Anthony is just opposite Falmouth.

The course is timed and there are cut off points so just walking or going too slowly is not an option!

Since the course starts at about Midnight the first 6 hours will be running in the dark, and as it turns out fog/mist/rain.  It is a non trivial run because

- Well the distance obviously
- The cutoff times
- The race guide that failed to mention about course marking!  (we had to assume none)
- The possible bad weather
- The long equipment list  (so you have to carry minimum amounts of water and clothing that could in fact slow us down)
- The vest:  100Km race competitors need to wear a green vest, as top layer, apparently for safety reasons.   This is going to make us melt if the weather is anything except cold  (spoiler alert, it did get bloody hot)



Preparation
In the 2 weeks before the race we had made some preparation runs, trying to exactly duplicate the clothes and kit we would be wearing.  We even ran with a second outer layer to replicate the special 'green safety vest' that we would be obliged to wear.  Significant, because Marcus needs to wear a base layer of long sleeved clothing to combat his sun allergy, so this second later would make running pretty flippin awkward if the ambient temp was above 15 degrees.  (Hint it was to be .)



In training runs we often ran with equivalent ballast to simulate a fully loaded rucksack.  Here with a 1Kg bag of Lentils and 3, 05Kg bags of porridge.

Race weight including rucksack, water and all mandatory items was about 3.5Kg


Getting There

We had planned on driving from our new home south of Birmingham to Cornwall starting Friday afternoon.  However at 07.00 on Friday our friend Heather who was also racing called to say that she was on the train to Geneva Airport (in Switzerland) and she had forgotten her Driving License.  Yikes


The only solution was to cancel her hire car and make a detour to pick her up from Bristol International Airport and then drive onward together to Cornwall.  So we set off early and later on arrival to Portpean we helped setup the tent.   


The Hours Before

In the supporting Facebook page to the race much discussion, humour and angst was made of the requirement for a waterproof jacket with taped seams as mandatory equipment.  Actually this meant that Agata and Marcus had to buy new jackets to meet this requirement.  In fact the full mandated list of equipment was

Waterproof jacket with taped seams
Long sleeve warm top
Mobile phone
Rucksack
Hydration system min capacity 1 litre
Emergency Blanket foil type
Head wear  or similar headwear
Gloves
Head torch with minimum brightness level of 100 lumens
Spare battery set for Head torch
Nutrition (gels, bars, energy food etc.)
Green supplied Visibility vest  – must be worn as top  layer
Glow Stick  must be worn at all times on backpack



For a few years we are meat eaters by exception only so no thanks to the venison and hello to Heather who came around to our Motorhome with some Pizza later.





The race briefing was supposed to start at 23.45 but when we arrived at 23.40 it was almost finishing!  Still a lot of happy looking competitors all wearing those Green vests. Looking good.






Marcus blurred race info

CP0 00KM Porthpean

And so we bravely set off at 00.05. We quickly lost our friend Helen who was running too fast for us and so instead Marcus and Agata set out together: team Marcus and Agata!


The first leg is only 8Km but boy was it hilly. But the enthusiasm of other runners around us made light work of the terrain, and numerous shouts of hole and mud by people up ahead alerted us to possible dangers, as we equally echoed these and other alerts to others behind us.

(CP == check point)
CP1 08KM Pentewan, Ship Inn




In a previous year somebody had Action Cam'd the whole race  (I know, incredible) and we saw an electronic check in process.  For 2017 there was nothing, not even a roll call.  Just turn up to the Checkpoint, get any drinks or provisions that you want, and then continue onward.


We had only covered 8Km so of course we were feeling just great.







Trail Marking
Shocking news.  Contrary to the silence of the written race brief that we had worried about constantly; there were Yellow arrow markings on the way out and Red arrows on the way back.

For the most part complete, but in 2 critical places incorrect: leading to us losing our way and running a whole extra Kilometer.  That does not sound like much but believe us, when you are tired this really hurts!


CP2 16.95KM Gorran Haven

CP2 Checkpoint 2 was an example of what was to come.   Lots of food to eat, refreshments of coke, water or lemon juice and many volunteers to cater to any need.  Tremendous stuff.  And for us, we would meet them again on the way back.




CP2 02.45 Gorran Haven





Marcus Falls, Agata Falls
Along the thin coastal path especially in the pitch black of night are many obstacles to trip you over.

Marcus tumbled over a tree root and fell into a bed of barbed plants. Ironically 5 minutes earlier I had said to Agata that I should put on my gloves. Instead my hand went out and got embedded in barbs. I pulled most out but multiple pain points remained. A job for race end.

Meanwhile later Agata fell into a large badger hole. A bad fall but luckily only scrapes and no damage to the ankle that folded over.


No Water
Along the trail it is common practise to stop to assist others who had become disorientated.   We first stopped to help Shaun (not as I said in video below John!) who had totally run out of water on this 13Km stage.  We had excess water, and in fact this made Marcus' pack lighter.  Thanks Shaun!    We helped others along the way too and it is no more than others would have done for us we are sure.

CP3 32KM Portloe 05.22
Even though I am almost a Vegetarian I managed to have  exceptionally a Sausage Roll or two.




Eating at Portloe



Sunset arrived a tad before 5.40am and this meant our light strategy of using a Petzl Nao torch with a 4.5 hour battery and then a change worked out very well.   The Nao has an extraordinary range and Marcus' Nao was about twice as bright as Agata's regular less powerful Petzl.



One of the benefits of running in a team of at least 2 is that you can look out for team members,  we were glad that for a distance of this magnitude we had each other, oh and of course our music


Music

For much of the run we both listened to music.  Marcus had some excellent BBC Radio 1 Essential Mixes downloaded.  It was heavenly.  Agata had also curated her ideal ultramarathon playlist.    The plan was to keep our Smartphones off (well in Airplane mode) and switch on for photographs, video recording and emergency calls only.   This worked for the most part.



CP4 45KM Porthscatho Carpark



07.32 CP4 Portscatho Car Park

Between Checkpoint 2 and 3, then 3 and 4 we had by far the most challenging terrain.  Some people call the course technical, Marcus just calls it b****y murder.  And of course we had it to look forward to in reverse on the way back.



CP5 51.5KM St. Anthony Head

We made it. Well the half way point.  In retrospect, a terrible logistical error was committed. This was: Marcus dithering.  Marcus decided to take it easy and we spent at least 20 minutes here, thereby missing the start of the 50Km runners going back at 08.30.   Marcus thought 'surely we will catch them up'.  But it turned out this was deeply delusional.   They were fresh and we had just run 50Km mostly in the dark!


Anyway, after some nice chats with the helpers, some snacks, a toilet stop, a sock change, we set off back towards the start.  Only 50Km to go now






CP5 Stop Dithering!


CP6 58KM Porthscatho Carpark
Agata had some shoe re-arranging to do, her socks were soaking wet and it has a crinkling effect on the soles of your feet.

Meanwhile Marcus had zero fluids so I filled up with over 1 litre of water because the next stage was 13Km and running out of fluids on this step and resulting dehydration would be a little tragic this far into our effort.

CP7 71KM Portloe
Agata performs some major foot surgery with some scissors.  The aid station volunteers were very impressed.  I explained that my wife is tough and much tougher than me.




CP8 85.5KM Gorran Haven

With the rise in ambient temperature to over 20 degrees C Marcus was totally overheating.  At the checkpoint I jokingly asked for Ice Cream.  A small rustling later they had checked their fridge and emerged with an Ice Lolly.  Now that is service above and beyond.




Garmin Superwatch dies!
Both Marcus and Agata now have identical top of the line Garmin 935 watches.  But at KM about 92 my battery was exhausted and it switched off!  Meanwhile Agata has plenty of battery and so we just can't understand what technical settings we had set differently.  I thought I had switched off Bluetooth and Wifi, and set GPS recording to Smart (not 1 second).   The only different was that I had a persistent ANT+ connection to my Tempe external temperature sensor.  Maybe this took the juice?

Anyway, we remembered the outbound course so navigating back did not need the GPS Watch track log that we had from the outbound leg.  But it did mean that Marcus does not have a fully valid track log including Heart Rate, Temperature for the full course.  A shame.  To be investigated  (although I don't fancy running another 16 hours+ to test it!)


CP9 95KM Pentewan, Ship Inn



Disaster strikes:   About only 8Km from the finish line Marcus developed very painful shin splints in his left leg.   We were not about to give up now, but what had been a relatively easy 'walk in the park'  until now took on a more troubling dimension.

Marcus kept running, but the winge and moaning factor went up exponentially.  Agata tried to keep listening to her Apply music player but I rudely asked her to pause it so my moans could be acknowledged.  Like the perfect wife she obliged.


CP10 103KM Portpean - The Finish!





The finish was notable for the fact that on entry back to Portpean marshalls on several occasions said the finish was 'just around the corner'.  More accurately they meant up some more last minute hills and round quite a few corners.  But we finished with big smiles,  Marcus and Agata holding hands and running with each other over the finish line.



And the Damage
Marcus left foot, the one in agony, minutes after race. Some swelling


Marcus feet, after a long shower.  Left foot in agony, but now looking clean.  Luckily neither of us had blisters or any other foot issue.   Though we expect the Quads might be a tad sore for about 2 days.





The Bling
We each got this nice little medal.  It is coming home to join our UK collection.




The Rest

Late Saturday night we went to bed, after a nice dinner in our Motorhome.


Even our camper view was decent.  What a great day!



Recovery
We recently invested  (it is Swi$$) in a Compex 8.0.   We are taking turns in using it to aid recovery.  Because we have a busy schedule this week.  Including more exercise.


Monday Surgery
Armed with a sharp needle, a head-torch, a watchmakers eyeglass and some determination Agata removed all 7 barbs from inside my right hand.  Without extraction they would have gone septic. I rated Agata's surgery as necessarily  painful, my hands are 'softer than veal' 


Statistics
Distance 99.76 Km
Moving Time 16:00
Total Race Time 17:59
Elevation Gain 3929 metres

So the moral is, if only we had not spent about 2 hours sitting around talking and eating, but something a little less we could have improved our timing.   I think might have reduced the fun factor just a little, so all in all we were happy with our results.  Especially in view of the slow down at the end due to Marcus' unexpected injury.



Agata's run track



Marcus heart rate.   As planned it was basically kept to about 125 BPM with a few occasional peaks over




Temperature was 20 degrees at night start down to about 16 degrees the rising to 25 degrees at finish.  Marcus was bloody hot with that second layer on.  Not good.



Elevation plot of the course. Literally up and down and up and down!


Final Thanks
Thanks to the organisers who laid on such a well planned and executed event.  We have a brilliant time.