Monday, 31 December 2012

Twelve of 2012: Part II

Well howdy folks. I hope you've been enjoying the festive period.  This little bit between Christmas and New Year is a little odd, isn't it?  I don't usually take the time off work, but this year I did and have very much enjoyed an extended break.  I've tidied up my living room and it looks so much nicer.  Now I just need to do the same in my bedroom and it'll all be marvellous.

Tidy and lovely
In other exciting domestic news, I ordered a new washing machine earlier today and I just finished a bag of clementines that didn't have a single duff one (unless you count the obligatory one that goes white and fluffy three days before the rest), so I'm feeling very much like I'm on top of things. Whoop. 

Anyway, enough of my domestic nonsense, I know that what you're all really waiting for is.... the next instalment of my exciting Twelve in 2012 series!  Unfortunately, as predicted, I'm bored with this thing already. It appears that I have the attention span of a gnat.  So I'm going to zip through the second half of my list in double time, before I fall asleep from the effort of it all.  So here goes.

7.  Friends.  I'm lucky to have some brilliant people in my life.  This year I've spent time with friends old and new, running, eating, walking, drinking wine, wedding attending.  Some of the people who have brought me the most joy and amusement have been those I've met on Twitter.  Some of them I have since met in real life (such as @claz0r, @leestuartevans & @gutnahofski) and some I haven't (such as @msmac, @lilbeeloo67, @trevb1 & @lellymo) but all of them have enriched my life, if only with a little bit of banter now and then. I was also really happy to meet up with some old friends, particularly Pam & Chris all the way from Calgary and Sarah, who was visiting the UK from Japan.  We watched the Paralympic marathons together and had a great time.

Thanks friends, you are all brilliant. 

8.  Family.  See above re brilliant people in my life.  My family are the best of those.  This year we went on our first family holiday for years and it was a blast.  But I think the best family thing this year has been spending time with my niece.  She'll be two in March and throughout this year she has grown into a real person, with such a wonderful personality.  And she's as cute as a kitten to boot.

9.  Murdoch.  Always Murdoch.  He's going to be in my annual highlights every single year that we spend together.  I love that little guy.  If anyone doesn't know why he's so important to me and why I love him so, then please feel free to read this.

10. Good stuff on TV.  This may seem a little inane, but there's been some great stuff on TV this year.  Obviously the 'lympics, but other stuff too.  This year, I've really enjoyed watching Fringe.  It's the final season and one of few shows that I'll really miss when it's gone.  Not only does it star Joshua Jackson (OMG, it's Pacey from Dawson's Creek, investigating weird and creepy shit!) but it has by far the best character that I've seen on TV for a long time.  Walter Bishop (played beautifully by John Noble) is complex, layered, tragic and wonderful.  I love him.  If you haven't seen this show, go watch it, from the start.  If Pacey from Dawson's Creek does X Files is not enough of a draw, then you should know that it was created by JJ Abrams.  Go watch it.  Other stuff that I've enjoyed are Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (James Van Der Beek properly taking the piss out of himself - VERY funny.  Am I going back to a Dawson's Creek obsession? Maybe.  But JVBD has really grown into his forehead since the Creek and clearly has a good sense of humour).  I was also really surprised to enjoy Elementary which I thought was going to be a giant heap of crap.  Keep reminding yourself that it's not Sherlock and then let yourself enjoy Jonny Lee Miller making a pretty good job of it. 

11 & 12. Learning Pilates, starting to run again and losing a bit of weight.  These last couple of things go hand in hand.  It was at the end of December last year that I was allowed to start running again after five months on the injury bench.  I started to build up very slowly and carefully - possibly a bit over cautious, but there it is. I was able to complete the Great South Run at the end of October, only two seconds slower than my PB.  While I was building up my running strength, I did a Pilates course in February and haven't looked back.  I love Pilates and feel immeasurably stronger in my core muscles than I did before.  Over the course of 2012, I've lost 21lb in weight and I think it looks like more, thanks to the Pilates, I'm holding myself better.  I still have plenty of weight to lose and will continue to work on that throughout 2013, but my first goal for next year is to train for and complete the Brighton marathon, something that did not seem likely this time last year.

And that's your lot.  Sorry that it's a bit hurried and slapdash, but at least it's done.

Wishing you all a very happy new year - I hope that you achieve everything that you hope for in 2013.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


I'm back home after a wonderful Christmas spent with my family.  Brilliant company, great presents and more lovely food than one human being should feasibly eat in a couple of days.  I may never be hungry again.  

So, here are a couple more of my Twelve in 2012, things that I have enjoyed this year.  It occurred to me that I've already blogged a few of the great things from this year, so I'm going to be super lazy and just link to those posts.  Here you go, four, five and six on the list....

4.  Black Coffee
5.  Swimming with Ian Thorpe
6.  Running with Paula Radcliffe

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

So good they named it twice.

20.12.2012.  I love these magic dates, it makes me feel like there might be a reason for the world.  I therefore find the notion that it might end tomorrow highly suspect. Let's hope I'm right, not least because you'd miss out on the remainder of my twelve in 2012 blog posts!

Today I'm going to give you two things (huzzah!), because what else could I write about on 20.12.2012?

The Olympics.

I still don't have enough good words to describe how much I loved the Olympics.  I tried a bit here, but really I didn't do it justice.  From start to end, I just loved it.  I recently reviewed the tweets that I sent during the opening ceremony and they get increasingly excited and shouty with extensive overuse of the exclamation mark  
OMG, IT'S THE BLOODY QUEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and so forth. Until Macca came on, then I gave up and went to bed. 

Generally, I remember doing an awful lot of crying and feeling very proud to be British.  I mean what could be better?  We had Super Saturday - Rutherford, Jess, MO! 
We had Andy Murray finally winning, WINNING! on the courts at Wimbledon, we had people breaking records, personal, Olympic.  We saw the magnificent Michael Phelps showing that he still had what it takes to be a superstar, both in the water and out, triumphant in victory, extraordinarily gracious in defeat.  We had the wonderful Clare Balding, the delicious Ian Thorpe and the magnificent Bert Le Clos.  I don't think I have ever felt so amazingly proud of my country, something that we don't seem to feel massively comfortable with expressing, we reserved Brits.  We welcomed the world to our small, tiny little island and we outdid ourselves.  What could be better than that?  I'll tell you......

The Paralympics

In 2012, the Paralympics came home.  First hosted in Stoke Mandeville to rehabilitate disabled veterans, this year the Paralympic Games hit the big time.  Usually seen as secondary to the Olympics, London 2012 smashed all previous records for ticket sales, as London got behind disabled athletes like never before.  This year, the Paralympics were never going to be the little brother.
I LOVE this.
Clearly the high profile of athletes such as Oscar Pistorius (SWOOOOOOON) helped to generate interest, but I think it would also be fair to say that none of us wanted to admit that the summer was over and we were ready to get behind our Greatest Team to see a second round of sporting excellence.  Some of the best performances for me were Oscar Pistorius (I LOVE YOUUUUUU OSSCAAAAAAAAAR!), Jonnie Peacock, David Weir, Hannah Cockcroft, Richard Whitehead and of course, Ellie Simmonds.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to a couple of sessions at the Olympic Park, one for the athletics and another for the swimming.  The athletics session was in the morning, so heats rather than finals.  But I got to see a great variety of classifications, so it was fantastic.  I saw David Weir win his 800m heat and that was an enormous thrill as I've enjoyed watching him compete in the London Marathon for quite a while now.  But funnily enough, that is not the memory that remains the most vivid.  That honour falls to the T11-13 men's 4 x 100m relay heats.  A T11-13 classification is for visually impaired athletes who may run with a sighted guide.

Before the first heat started there was an announcement.  We were asked to be silent throughout these races, as each athlete needed to be able to hear his guide, especially at the point where they needed to pass the baton to the next runner.  We were then told that we could start cheering once the last handover had been completed and all runners were on the final straight.

The gun went on the first heat.  The atmosphere in that packed out stadium was incredible.  Try to imagine the swell of energy generated by 80,000 people, on the edge of their seats, urging on these athletes, silently, but with every fibre of their being.  Try to imagine the explosion of noise that erupted when the last baton handover was complete and we were finally able to vocalise the emotion and excitement that we were feeling.  It was absolutely incredible and best of all, we got to do it all over again a couple of times as the heats played out.  I don't think that I have ever experienced such an intense, highly charged event as that, and I'm so glad that I got to feel a part of it.

That'll do for now.  But watch out for the next exciting instalment of twelve in 2012!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Year in Review

It's nearly the end of the year.  Can you believe that?  So I had this idea that I'd write about twelve great things that happened in 2012.  I even made a list.  But I'm really busy at the moment and I'm really struggling to find the time, energy or even mental space to write the damn things. Sigh.  But you know what?  It's been a really good year and although I can't be arsed to summon the energy to go for a run these days (it's cold outside. And dark.  Cold AND dark) I should be able to muster up enough to write a little blog post here and there before the end of the year.  I had always planned to do these in no particular order, rather than as a countdown, so I'm starting with something simple and easy to write about.  So here we go.  The first instalment of twelve little bits of good stuff that happened this year....

Becoming a minor twitter celebrity, for a very short amount of time (as is the nature of it)

Back in September, I saw a couple of tweets that really made me chuckle.  So I screen grabbed them and tweeted about it.  All of a sudden, the internetz machine whirred into life and before I knew it, this tweet had been retweeted a couple of thousand times, favourited a thousand or so and I gained a few followers.  What captured the attention of the fickle twitter mob?  

Someone call Sparks McGee

Gotta love them Trekkies, we own this place. 

Coming soon... another exciting instalment!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

My Reason

It's Murdoch's birthday today! Happy birthday little guy. He's 8 today and we've lived together since he was so small that I could hold him in both hands. The little tinker.
The cutest thing I'd ever seen
Because it's Murdoch's birthday, I'm going to try and explain why he's so important to me, something that I find difficult to put into words, but here goes nothing. Murdoch, although you'll never read it, or need to understand, this is for you.

I don't presume to know what living with depression is like for everyone, but here's what it's like for me.  Mainly there are three kinds of days:

1. Days where things are pretty good.
2. Days where I can pretend that things are pretty good.
3. Days where I can't pretend that things are even close to good.

Most of my days fall into category one, although there are parts of those days where things go south and I need to take some time out to regroup.  It's not that bad things happen to make me react by needing to hide.  It's just that sometimes simply being in the world is overwhelming and I reach a point where it's too much to deal with, which brings me neatly to category two.  

Some days fall into category two, and while there are moments in those days where things are actually pretty good, those days are mostly just about fronting it out and making it through without bursting into tears for what most people would see as no discernible reason, or showing how much I feel mildly panicked and out of place.

Category three doesn't happen too often (thankfully!), but those are the days when I can't face being in the world.  Not in a scary suicidal sort of way, never anything close to that. But in a way that means I can't cope with even the most basic of interactions.  This is not limited to strangers, even those that I love beyond words are too much to deal with on those days and I tend to spend most of them hiding in my flat by myself.  There is no rhyme nor reason to when these days happen, sometimes I just wake up and cannot imagine how I'm going to go and face the world.

Regardless of which sort of day it is, every day starts the exact same way, with the noise of Murdoch's paws pattering across the floor as he comes into my room to see what's going on.  His face is the first thing that I see every morning.  It reminds me that even though sometimes it all seems too difficult to face, there are good things in my life.

He needs me.  He needs me to get out of bed, because he needs to go for a walk and to be in the world, running around and being vibrantly, almost obnoxiously alive.  And because he needs me, I go. When I can't think of a single reason why it could be good to go outside my front door and face the world, I don't need to. Because he is my reason.

It's a powerful thing and he doesn't even know it.  He's spent nearly eight years being the glue that has held me together through good days and bad.  For eight years he has given me simple, unconditional love that never asks anything in return.  His generosity of spirit, which all dogs are blessed with, has allowed me to be selfish and to cry stupid, pointless tears into his fur.  Even when neither of us know what I am crying about, just having him there calms my soul.

So there it is.  As I wrote this (having a quiet little cry in places while I did so), Murdoch was curled up in his bed by my feet.  We'd been out for a lovely walk. It was a good day.

My Reason