Saturday, 25 July 2009

Wheezing For Coins

Finally, as you can see by that slightly cumbersome little widget to the top-right of this page, I've sorted out my Great North Run '09 sponsorship. By clicking on the 'donate' button you can access my JustGiving page and allocate funds directly to my charity of choice, The Stroke Association.

It was, if you excuse the phrase, a no-brainer to go for The Stroke Association. Late last year, my beloved Nan died after suffering two strokes, the last of my grandparents to go. Her first such episode was seemingly surmounted very successfully with no obvious lasting damage, but by the time the second more debilitating stroke occurred she was sadly too frail to recover. I feel bad about only visiting her the once after the second stroke, but to be honest I was too upset by seeing her on that occasion to want to go again. And anyway, the Nan I knew, to whom I owe the joys of many childhood summer holidays via late night rummy, sherbet lemons, tinned peaches and visits to Kew Gardens had pretty much gone.

The sheer frustration she must have experienced in her final months and the accompanying deterioration in quality of life I can only imagine. If you'd like to aid research into strokes, how they can be prevented and their sufferers rehabilitated, then please give generously. And have you seen that F.A.S.T. (Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Speech problems, Time to call 999) TV ad campaign, with the Sue Johnston voice-over? Pretty hard-hitting, as close to the 1970's PIF style as I've seen for years.

So while it seems a bit flippant to talk of struggle in light of what my Nan withstood in her last months, not to mention her entire lifetime, training has been bloody hard. March was blighted by knee injury, then extraneous work-related strife impeded on motivation, and now it's got really warm. No-one told me it'd get this hard when it got warm.

But after the refreshing camping pod escapade of last week (and after re-assessing my withering drive on seeing a peloton of middle-aged fell runners scaling the Cumbrian crags), training vigour has been stepped up. Clear the way.

Here's to you Nan. You may not want to raise a glass of sweet Budgens sherry in tribute (understandable), but do click on the link.

Pod Life

After a few wind whipped & rain lashed nights in a tent in the Derbyshire peaks last week, my girlfriend and I shifted our hols onwards and upwards into the Lake District, and a camping pod wedged between the Langdale Pikes. These lovely little Tolkien-esque huts, which resemble a cross between an upturned boat hull and a hollowed tree stump, offer the camper the same rudimentary back-to-nature experience as the tent, only from within a carpeted, insulated, locked & bolted (and safely moored) interior. The tent was fine, but did at times feel a touch like a placcy Tesco bag in comparison with the pod.

I'm sure we could sense the sneers from the weather-beaten real campers inhabiting the rest of the site, but we were still 'roughing it' enough to be woken at 5am by sheep chewing on the tiled outer shell. It was their manor after all. Keep in mind also that pods don't constitute the very top-end of no-frills camping: you can hire yurts which in truth are more like hotel suites - king-sized beds, Cath Kidston furnishings and everything.

Anyway, we had a smashing time, despite the sadly too late arrival of my Carry On Camping tea tray, bought specially for the trip.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sell Me A Lung

It's possible to find some superb stuff when thumbing through old '60's/'70's issues of the Architectural Design journal. Fine design & illustration, excellent articles, and loads of period advertising. This however is a little chilling. Wonder just how 'detailed' that information service was.