August 2011 Archives

in in the news |

cwall193padice

ARGH!! It’s the end of August already. It’s been the coolest summer for 18 years. There were only a few days when I missed air-conditioning. Today I starting contemplating turning the heating on at night. Not fair, not fair.

in habitat |

essen020living essen022living

I’ve had my eye out for new living room furniture for a while, just been procrastinating on trying to find a suitable delivery time. So finally they arrived. My cds and decorations were still in the shipment boxes so it was a relatively easy task to get them out. There’s one box of cds to sort, that’s it. Nice.

in being healthy |

running20110829

25.76km 3:15:16hr 7.35min/km #running

I willingly and happily missed a whole week of training. Last weekend’s long run should have been 18 miles, and this week 13 miles. So I did 16 miles. The carnival was still on, so I avoided that whole area and ran down to Hyde Park via the canal. Three loops, walk breaks at Hype Park Corner, and a short break to refill the water bottle. Pretty sore. Sometimes I wonder why I put myself up to this. I was explaining to mm that long runs carve out 4-5 hours at weekends, but she said she can practice the piano for that long, if she wanted to get to diploma level. We like it that we have our own hobbies.


in on the relationship front |

bbmmldn061feast

The day that neither of us want has forced its way in. We wanted to go to Whole Foods to get ingredients for another feast, and then realised it doesn’t open till noon so there isn’t enough time. Luckily, the organic butcher at Warwick Ave opens early. Even better, we took a walk there and back. I made this impossibly huge meat feast — veal t-bone, sirloin, lamb shop, veal filet. And mm ate it all, I could fold her into my arms and never let go. She even finished the mint choc cornettos.

The afternoon slipped by far too quickly. She packed her suitcase efficiently and we tidied up the flat. Then it was time to pick up the zipcar. I’d forgotten it’s the notting hill carnival and that part of elgin ave was blocked. Had to call zipcar to find out where the car had been moved to. Uneventful drive to Heathrow, she checked in quickly and we shared a baked potato at the terminal.

Last time when we said good-bye physically hurt. This time was no easier but there wasn’t any actual pain. It doesn’t mean I miss her less, I think last time was missing her and being scared stiff about having to navigate London on my own. I’m more settled now. We keep reminding ourselves of the blessings we encountered this week — wonderful trip to cornwall, good food, full of nostalgia, seeing the sisters at her school, playing piano at steinway, and 2 rainbows — the one yesterday at covent garden when she was down, and today when we were on the A40 when I was sad.


in arts and media , on the relationship front |

bbmmldn040rainbow

I wanted to take mm to the southbank real food stalls to try the roast hog but there were no pigs there today and we didn’t feel like anything else. Walked back towards Piccadilly Circus and ended up at another old favourite, Stockpot. Had the lunch special — grilled halloumi, mm had fish and I had roast beef, then we both had apple crumble with extra custard. Can’t beat Stockpot for value although I think it’s now less of a poor student’s haunt and has been taken over by the tourist guide crowds in search of a cheap meal. We were surrounded by out-of-towners, the French family next to us ordered steak and kidney pie.

The afternoon was spent ambling around town. I showed her the new M&M store, and we had an absolute blast there. Onto Foyles to look at music books for mm (I escaped to the basement to read finance exposés). Tea at what I now realise is a gay café bar but at the time it was the first one we came across. Early dinner of roast duck noodles in Chinatown. She continued her piano playing stint at a digital piano store and there is such a huge difference between a digital piano and a Steinway (duh). She was a tad unhappy at herself for not playing very well, but we were cheered by the sight of a rainbow at Covent Garden. More blessings.

bbmmldn054love

So, onto yet another highlight of our week, the final performance of love never dies. Reviews haven’t been kind, but we really enjoyed it! I couldn’t afford stall seats so we were up at the upper circle, right in the middle though. We were riveted throughout the performance; the music was good, most of the performances were impressive (some hamming up by Ramin Karimloo notwithstanding), and, well, the audience was overly rambunctious. I even got 2 for the price of 1 for my interval drink — I’d only paid for 1 beer, but they had 2 bottles laid out when I went to collect, ah well. Andrew Lloyd Weber said a few short words at the end and I think they deserved every minute of the standing ovation. We even had a good laugh at the plot holes on the way home.


in on the relationship front |

steinway

Had lunch at home, then met CC for mid-afternoon drinks and snacks, she took us to a hip bar hidden at the back of Bond Street and we had a pleasant hour or so. We also met RM for dinner at haz where we had a great meal and tried red wine from Lebanon.

But the main memory today was how we spent the time in between the 2 appointments. Not much involvement for me, aside from sitting quietly and listening to mm play her heart out at Steinway Hall. First she tried the uprights, then the baby grands. The nice sales associate then took us inside to where the concert grands are and she played Chopin’s Nocturne Op 9 No 1. Beautiful sound. I have it on video, but it’s something only between the two of us.

in eating and drinking , on the relationship front |

bbmmldn011wine

London shopping day. Bus to Harrods, but none of the food hall eating places appealed so we went outside to Brompton Road and found a nice Italian place. Beef carpaccio and Irish oysters to start and spaghetti vongole as mains. Had a couple of glasses of chianti too. The restaurant wasn’t that crowded, although there was a steady stream of takeout orders from regulars so it must be popular with office workers nearby. Spent most of the afternoon wandering around Harrods, including when mm played extensively on their bechstein pianos. Some people stopped to listen and some even applauded. So proud!

There was enough time to go to whole foods. We bought salmon for sashimi, cranberry bread, veal chop and a dry-aged sirloin steak. It’s always good to shop there, although the bill did come to £50+. The veal and steak came to £20, which is a fraction of how much they’d cost in a restaurant. I grilled them, cooked some of the fresh corn from yesterday, and opened my last bottle of snafu wine from Chicago. Too full for dessert even though we know we have to try the mint choc cornettos that are mm’s favourite.

in going places , on the relationship front |

pyo007tabletop pyo035strawberries

Our destination today was parkside farm in Enfield, which used to be our default strawberry picking venue. It has expanded and now has a variety of fruits and vegetables available for picking. It has been raining so we were worried, the info recording says that it’s muddy in the vegetable fields.

Their strawberries are table-top, and I wasn’t sure what it meant until we got there. Instead of planting at ground level, the crops are grown in troughs at shoulder level. I’m thinking it means the fruits are less prone to damage and pests. It also makes picking easier — no bending down. Even at late August there is plenty available, and according to their calendar they continue all the way through September. There were 3 varieties, and we discovered the best tasting one, Sonata, further back in the fields. The Sonatas are also smaller and, presumably since they are sweeter, attracted more wasps. We ended up with about 3/4 of a basket.

Other fruits included plums and raspberries. There was also brambles although I think they are wild. The vegetable fields were muddy. We got a couple of small squashes and a bunch of sweetcorn. Had to spend a good 20mins cleaning our shoes at their outside tap afterwards.

At the end, we were a bit rushed for time. I dropped mm off at St John’s Wood station so she can go to Bond Street to meet CC for coffee while I returned the car and went home. Met her for dinner and took her to Le Relais. She thought the place was called steak frites, but actually it’s what they serve. We shared a half bottle of their house red and skipped dessert. Nice meal, I think she liked it. We walked around a little afterwards before taking the bus home.

in going places , on the relationship front |

kent001wheelers kent011wheelers

We used to be crazy kids and drove all the way to Margate to play in the arcades. It was only very much later that we discovered Whistable and its famous seafood and oyster restaurants. I found Wheelers online and had it on my to-visit list. Driving through London was the pits, it took forever to get from Aldgate to the Blackwall tunnel. After that, the A2 was fine albeit foggy.

kent023skate kent024johndory

The restaurant is a tiny oyster bar with just 4 tables inside. They’re always fully booked — I tried booking a few weeks ago but could never get anyone on the phone. We are truly blessed, we scored the last 2 seats at the seafood bar. It’s a BYO place so I got a bottle of gewurz from the off licence opposite. And then the feast started. Oysters were okay, the lady said they didn’t have a lot of stock which meant the quality wasn’t top notch. We also had fried calamari and enjoyed their homemade bread. For mains mm had skate and I had john dory. They were so yummy!! Better than Rick Stein’s, and cheaper. One of the freshest, best quality fish I’d ever eaten in Britain. The triple chocolate mousse was just icing on the cake.

There was a film crew and they interviewed us a little bit. Apparently the program will air in October, but it’s a daytime program so I’m not sure if I’ll remember to catch it. We had to sign releases and such.

kent032sweets kent030school

From Whitstable we headed to Westgate, where mm went to school. There used to be a traditional sweet shop there but it’s gone now. The convenient store has some, and we meticulously counted a big stack of flying saucers at 2p each.

Her school has changed, it’s now a college and seems to specialise in sports. Looked a bit more run down than before too. But there was a blessing — while walking around the grounds she bumped into her ex-headmistress and a couple of other sisters who taught her. She was very moved at the perfect timing. A sweet reunion. They say it was okay for us to walk around the school, it wasn’t very interesting for me but I could see how it affected her.

in going places , on the relationship front |

cwall238chedgorge

I’d originally planned to overnight at Cheddar, and was glad we didn’t as it would have been a longer drive yesterday. We did make an effort to visit though, a quick stopover to walk around to the gorge, buy cider and an ice cream.

This is becoming our nostalgia trip, we ended up at Clarks Village. It has changed, much bigger and a layout we’re not familiar with. Not much in terms of shopping though, we finished the circuit in record time. Since we had the car, we decided on something adventurous — hit Bicester Village on the way back. It’s a detour but not by much. I called to extend the rental by a day and there was no extra charge cos my rate was a weekly one.

Bicester was much nicer, we could have spent more money. In particular we had our eyes on Burberry jackets that we tried on for a long time. Finally though, spending £300-400 just wasn’t our style. I did buy 4 tall cocktail spoons for £10 at the cutlery shop. Hit Tesco on the way out and it was an easy 1.5hr drive home. Tonight we get to sleep in my bed. Happy again.

in going places , on the relationship front |

cwall172padstow cwall192padstow

We worked very hard not to eat too much of the delicious breakfast, opting for the minimum and taking as much of it away with us when we checked out. If ever we return to Cornwall, we’ll probably want to stay at this b&b again. But the main focus of today, and what we have been looking forward to, is our lunch reservation at The Seafood Restaurant at Padstow. I remember when Rick Stein first appeared on TV, promoting fresh simple seafood, a great complement to the flamboyance of Floyd, the practicalities (before the days of Norwich FC and Sainsburys) of Delia or the fussiness of Gary Rhodes.

But first, Padstow. If at all possible, it was even more crowded than St Ives. We scored a good spot in the car park, which became full shortly after we parked. The town (the term village seems too quiet for it) is pretty, interesting, full of shops and of course overrun with Rick Stein enterprises — 4 restaurants (with accommodation), one pub, a gift shop, a patisserie and a deli. I guess Padstow is a victim of his success, although the tourism income can’t hurt. Anyway, we bought some fudge, took in the harbour sights and window shopped.

cwall216friedprawn cwall218seabass

Our reservation was at 12pm, and the restaurant didn’t completely fill up throughout lunch service. Although we could have ordered à la carte, we decided on the set lunch menu at £37 instead. We did supplement with half a dozen oysters to start though. They were great, a mixed plate of Carlingford and Porthilly oysters. For starters, mm had mackerel salad and I had deep fried prawns, which were so crispy they could be eaten whole, skin, head and all. Very nice, very crunchy.

For mains, mm had baked hake and I had sea bass. Here came the problem, both dish was oversalted. Frankly, the hake from Ben’s was better. For dessert we both opted for the chocolate fondant, which wasn’t goo-ey or ooze-y enough. That was a bit disappointing. Everything about the restaurant — the décor, the service, the hype — was just as we thought, but we expected something extraordinary and got only “pretty good”.

Walked around the town afterwards, had an ice cream. Watched many people and families sitting on the quayside crabbing. The funniest thing is, they were all using bacon as bait. From the haul we saw, it seemed to be working. Most of the crabs will end up tossed back to the sea anyway.

The afternoon plan was to go to Lanhydrock House but nostalgia and sadness took over and we decided to drive back to St Ives to look for Eggbert decorations that we bought with mm’s sis. Unfortunately the shop that sold them is no more and the remainder of the stock hidden in a concealed old cabinet of the gallery that the owners now operated.

I guess we may get to go to Lanhydrock one of these days. Tonight we’re staying at the Apple Tree hotel in Bridgwater, halfway up the M5 and in Somerset already. Compared with Denham House, it’s like day and night, this £95 is not value for money — tiny end-corridor room that reminds us of a travelodge. At least it’s only one night. Slowly making our way home tomorrow.

in going places , on the relationship front |

cwall026bfast cwall030bfast

Breakfast came in a quaint wicker picnic basket left outside our door. The night before, we’d fill in a room-service like menu order of bread, yogurt, eggs, cereal and grapefruit. What a delightful idea to be able to have breakfast in our own room. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a full english, the bread was fresh, the eggs we boiled ourselves in the electric egg boiler, everything was perfect.

cwall104minack cwall110minack

If we didn’t have so much to do today, we would have stayed in our room. The weather wasn’t as good and I was almost tempted to detour to somewhere indoors. Then the showers stopped and we made our first destination, the Minack theatre, an open air theatre with seats carved from/into the cliff facing the sea. Very imposing view. Our visit coincided with the company of what looks like amateur actors arriving and forming a human chain to pass props, costumes and whatnots down from the top to the bottom. Very interesting place. We sat at the seats for a while just enjoying the view and each other’s company.

cwall132landsend cwall133landsend

Next stop was Land’s End. It’s like some sort of ritual, no one can visit western cornwall without going there. We ignored the tacky “attractions” and headed to the tip. Not a lot to see, just absorbing the view and the fresh air.

cwall162creamtea cwall165creamtea

We were full from breakfast, and decided not to have lunch. Instead we waited till we got to St Ives to have cream tea. Oh yummy!! I put so much clotted cream on, the scone had to be on its side. I’m more of a clotted cream person, I think I finished 3/4 of the pot. Don’t even want to think about the calories and how I will miss a whole week of running.

cwall143stives cwall147stives

St Ives is pretty, if a little touristy. Crowded too, and too much of a “we’re oh so artistic” feel. We have fond memories of the place, last time was with mm’s sis so many year ago. It’s changed a lot since then. We supplemented the cream tea with traditional english seafood — mm had whelks and I had jellied eels. We took a drive to the Lizard but didn’t stay — didn’t want to pay for parking for just a short visit. Dinner was at the pub back at Marazion, an entirely forgettable meal of some fish or other.

I don’t think I want to check out of this hotel, but we must tomorrow. Sigh.

in going places , on the relationship front |

cwall001denham cwall002denham

We set off early, first stop was to go to hertz to add mm’s name, we started on our way at around 9.30am. Traffic to the M4 was okay, it was so great to be driving together again through familiar roads. Stopped at around Reading for coffee and so mm can take over. She drives better on motorways anyway. We didn’t stop for lunch, instead ate bagels and chicken wings while in the car. She drove all the way to the end of the M5, and I took over for the drive on the A30.

We reached our destination of Marazion, east of Penzance and opposite St Michael’s Mount, just after 3pm so almost a 6hr drive. I’d booked 2 nights at the Denham House b&b, which had fabulous online reviews. £125 per night isn’t cheap but oh so worth it. At the top of a small hill, views of the sea, newly renovated huge room with superking bed, sofa, dining table, deck, jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower.

cwall051mount cwall064mount

There was enough time to walk down to the beach. It was low tide so we could walk over the causeway to St Michael’s Mount. We didn’t go into the castle, it was enough to explore the grounds for about an hour. By the time we made our return journey, the tide was coming in and parts of the causeway was beginning to be submerged. We always have great timing.

cwall084bensquid cwall087benhake

Walked around the village, had a quick drink at the pub by the beach before dinner at Ben’s Cornish Kitchen. We didn’t have a reservation so we got there early at just after 6pm. The place filled up quickly so it was a wise choice. For starters we had the most exquisite fresh squid; for mains we both had the hake with fennel and romesco sauce; for dessert we shared (or rather, I ate most of it) a panna cotta knickerbocker glory. I ordered a whole bottle of pinot noir so I’m a little drunk at the end of the evening.

The day ended with a soak in the jacuzzin tub. A little stuffy and I needed lots of fresh air. Lots more to come tomorrow, I’m in a very happy place with mm right now.

in on the relationship front |

Managed to leave work a little earlier and picked up the rental car. Was going to relax for about an hour at home but when I checked mm’s flight it was half an hour early so I had to hightail it to the airport. The traffic was bad, I got there at 8pm, but in the end there was plenty of time. She came out quickly, we picked up some chicken wings at m&s and got home. Early day tomorrow so we’ll go to bed soon.

in eating and drinking |

peapesto03

I made pea pesto again. This time with 2 large bags of fresh peas. I gave some to my friend SM, and have been enjoying it not only with pasta, but with cold roasted chicken. I’m thinking may be I’ll try it as a topping with grilled pork chop. Yep yep, I think it’ll work.

in eating and drinking |

kpmglunch02chicken kpmglunch01pork

Our tax consultant invited our whole team to their in-house fine dining restaurant at the top floor of their building down at Canary Wharf. It’s very fine indeed, with professional wait staff and a nice menu:

  • pork rillettes, apple jelly, sourdough & scottish girolles
  • roast breast of cobb chicken, sweetcorn purée, sautéed spaetzle
  • moist coconut sponge on chocolate mousse & cherry purée
  • selection of english & french cheeses
  • coffee or tea with petit fours

Well cooked, beautiful presentation, as good as any good central london restaurant. The whole meal accompanied by a nice white wine. Only in Europe do you get wine with a working lunch. It was a long lunch, finished at 3.30pm and almost 5pm by the time we got back to the office.

in on the relationship front |

sisuk181mm

Reminding myself of the places to take mm.

  • m&m store
  • parkside farm strawberry picking
  • southbank street food stalls on saturday
  • love never dies already booked
  • whitstable, margate, brighton
  • whole foods
  • sheekey’s, livebait, belgo
  • le relais
  • indian food (chutney mary’s?)
  • haz, bagel


in on the relationship front |

nz1373rotorua

Making the preparations for mm arriving on thursday. Laundry, cleaning, vacuuming. Bought shampoo, snacks, ice cream. Rental car and first 2 nights’ hotel booked, need to buy a map. We need some way to fast forward time.

in being healthy |

running20110813

28.00km (17.4miles) 3:35:48hr 7:42min/km

It’s one days like this that I miss the lake so much. Running like an idiot 3 times around Hyde Park absolutely cannot compare with running along the lake. Last year’s 18-miler was a nice run down the lake to the boat and back. Today I had to battle narrow streets just to get to hyde park, and there was zero view and not a lot of breeze. Crowded as usual, and I had a couple of close calls, but in general I was able to dodge people. I had wished for showers but I got sun, at least most of the route was under tree cover.

Took a packet of pocari powder, which meant I only needed 1 water bottle. Was able to refill and make the drink using the water fountain. Brought 3 cereal bars, which I took at the hourly mark.

Time is slow, still. I wonder if I’ll ever get faster. All this talk about running more —> getting faster is…well, I should be happy, I can run sub-30 5k on a good day. Next week is supposed to be 18-miles but I’ll miss it cos I’ll be on holiday with mm.

in eating and drinking |

peapestopasta06

peapesto02 peapesto04

700g (about 1.5lbs) peas, shelled — use frozen if fresh not available
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
30g (1/3 cup) parmesan
1 clove garlic

This is a great recipe from smitten kitchen that I’ve wanted to make for a few weeks. Just happened that fresh peas were on discount, so I got a big bag. I’d never bought fresh peas before, and even the shelling process was fun.

Cook peas in boiling water for about 3mins until just done, drain and cool. Meanwhile dry roast the pine nuts if not already roasted. Put peas, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic and s&p in food processor and blitz until smooth. Slowly add olive oil. Blitz some more.

Cook pasta and drain, saving the cooking water. Return pasta to pan and add pesto, using pasta water to dilute to a loose paste consistency. Season and serve.

in challenges |

running20110811

12.02km 1:28:48hr 7:23min/km

Hal Higdon sez it’s week 10 and I need to do 8 miles mid-week, and who dares question Coach Higdon? Okay, I’m running it on Thursday and not Wednesday, so I’m already a deviant.

Even if I left work on time at 5pm, by the time I get home and start running it’d be almost 6.30pm. Knowing that it’ll take 1.5hrs, I didn’t want to finish at 8pm. The obvious solution is to run home from work, saving the tube commuting time.

Good in theory, but the implementation needs refining. I roughly mapped out the route, knowing that I need to get to Barbican and then cut through to Russell Square and then to Regent’s Park. Surprisingly there weren’t as many impeding pedestrians as I thought and actually I met quite a few other runners. The biggest problem was my backpack which was too large, too heavy and was swinging about too uncomfortably. I have to do the same mid-week 8-miler next week, so I think I’ll just leave the backpack in the office and bring a smaller bag just to take my wallet, phones and keys.

in in the news |

KEEP CALM AND DRINK TEA

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that anything bad can be cured by a cup of tea. It is something so uniquely British, and now through the operationcupoftea movement — hashtag on twitter and facebook page, ordinary people are making a cuppa to show that the rioters won’t win.

Nothing brings out the community spirit than a crisis. The other top trending topic has been riotcleanup. Looking at the picture of broom-wielding volunteers who turned out to help clean up affected areas, how can anyone lament the decline of society? It’s not society that has declined, but rather the standard of behaviour of certain sections of the populace.

I’m also glad that there are so many CCTVs around. Yes, there have been complaints but without CCTV there won’t be so many pictures of looters for the Met to post in public for identification. I say post these pics, as large and as widespread as possible. Let them be identified, arrested and made to pay. 700+ arrested, 100+ charged. Already I’m reading that they are using the “I was just going along with everyone else, I wasn’t thinking” defence. What crock.


in in the news |

riotmap

I’ll be honest, when I heard news of the riots on Saturday, I was appalled but didn’t feel personally affected. No one would have expected what happened last night, when it seemed the whole of London was under attack. I was about to go to bed at 11pm when I caught the initial reports of trouble at Croydon, Clapham and Ealing. Areas completely unrelated to Tottenham, and pretty normal residential areas that one won’t associate with this type of violence.

And then it started. I followed on bbc but it was twitter that had the most up to date and scary updates. I watched and listened in horror as flashpoint after flashpoint erupted, buildings were set on fire and people and journalists started telling the night’s story. There was trouble at Notting Hill, and hoodies were reported to be moving north from Camden through Kentish Town towards Hampstead. Too close to home. Logically they shouldn’t come through this area, they seem to be intent on stealing and causing damage to shops that had TVs, mobile phones, sports equipment and money. There was a bad joke going round that a bookstore or jobcentre were the safest hiding places. But barbarians do not follow logic.

It was surreal and horrific. When it seemed to quiet down at 2am, I finally went to bed but not before calling my parents and mm to report that I was okay.

Perhaps the initial disturbance was about the man who was shot, but the subsequent events were simply that of criminals who stole, robbed and had no regard for the law, people or property. Hundreds arrested, and I hope the police get them all. Cameron said rightly,

if you are old enough to commit these crimes, you are old enough to face the punishment

This is the guardian’s map of affected area as of lunchtime today. I’m precariously near to a couple of those spots. 16,000 police officers will be deployed tonight. It will be tense night here in central London.

in being healthy |

chimarathon037finish

Ms M, one of my fb commenters:

Tell us about this running. Why, when did it start? I mean, did you just wake up one morning and say to yourself, “I think i’ll run a hundred miles a month.”

So I think I’ll try to tell my running story. [Warning: possibly long-winded, definitely self-indulgent.]

I was a fairly active child. Despite being short, I played netball and basketball at school; basketball, tennis and squash at university. Then, as it happens to millions of people, I stopped when I started working. My fitness quickly declined and my weight steadily grew.

From 2003 onwards, I was travelling a lot. I was on a plane, in a hotel something like once every 1-2 months. It got to the point when I did 113,000 miles in 2008. With travelling came unhealthy eating and all of a sudden I looked at my shadow (not even a mirror reflection, it was a shadow on my bedroom wall cast from my bedside table) and I saw 2 disgusting lumps in my mid-section. It was HORRIBLE.

I entered a 10k race in March 2007. With zero training and my shoes falling apart after halfway through, I hobbled home in 1:39. Did the same race a year later, shoes kept the shape but I still struggled to finish in 1:36.

I never thought of myself as a runner, it seemed so boring. But I had to do something about that dreadful gut. So I ran around my neighbourhood. I remember those first runs, I could barely make half a mile without walking. A couple of weeks in, and knowing how I’m a goal and gadget oriented type, I got a nano and a nike+. My first run logged on nike+ was 27-Oct-2008: 10.59km 1:15:22hr 7:07min/km. I probably went out too fast, or it wasn’t calibrated properly. Still, big difference from that first 10k race.

And that was it. The goal initially was 80% weight-loss and 20% fitness. Between running, counting calories and moving I lost 25 pounds between Oct 2008 and Feb 2009.

I moved to Chicago Jan 2009 and lived in a corporate apartment for 5 months. The best thing about that apartment was the free gym, so I got to know the treadmills very well. When it got warmer, in April, I ventured out to the small track. I kept up the running when I moved to my own place, thankful that I was so near the lake. I also started entering into a few races. Mostly 5k, and I was doing pretty well.

Beginning of 2010, I was reading about the Chicago marathon 10-10-10. With such an auspicious date I had to participate. Marathon training plans are tough, so I picked one that was pretty low mileage and seemed doable.

Then I got injured.

Too much, too soon, and I ended up with ITBS. It slowed me down, even to this date. But I got a foam roller, trained more, gritted my teeth and managed to finish the marathon in a disappointing time of 5:38. Should I have done it? Probably too ambitious, given that I didn’t have enough of a base. Not sorry I did it though. Thing about running and marathons and races is that they are like addictions. Once bitten, it’s very hard to shake the bug. I try to run in races regularly, and have on schedule:

  • Chicago marathon Oct-2011
  • Brighton marathon Apr-2012
  • Virgin London marathon (applied for) Apr-2012
  • BUPA 10k May-2012
  • British 10k Jul-2012
  • Really Big Free marathon Las Vegas Nov-2012

Running is easy, just put on some shoes and go. Running consistently and towards goal races takes a lot more time, energy and dedication. I run initially because I looked terrible — that stubborn mid-section pouch is smaller but still there. Now I run because it took me this much effort to get to the shape I’m in now and I owe it to myself to maintain it. I try to build my weekly and monthly mileage because I’m determined to train better and smarter so I have better race experiences. Somedays I feel utter lazy and think why do I have to set aside 4 hours on a weekend. Then I watch the chicago 10-10-10 highlight video and I whisper to myself “I was there.”

Okay, that sounded way too serious. How many people read this far? How many of you are so moved/inspired/motivated that you’ll start running? [beat] Exactly. How about this: why run? Running burns around 300 calories per 5k. An average pint of beer is 250 calories. Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is 200 calories. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BEER.

in arts and media |

Harry Potter 7

Did my weekend run, laundry and grocery shopping yesterday so I had time today. Finally go round to seeing HP7b. It was very, very moving. I wish I watched part 1 beforehand to remind myself, but it didn’t matter, I was gripped from the start. The flashback to when Harry first went to Hogwarts, when he was under the sorting hat, wow. Everyone’s grown up, and the grown-ups held their own. Special mention to Neville! Awfully sad to see it end, I stayed all the way to the end of the credits.

in eating and drinking |

roastcauliflower01

I made roasted cauliflower from a recipe from summer tomato.

Cut cauliflower into small florets, season with olive oil, s&p and a little paprika, cover with foil and roast in a very hot oven (250°C) for 10-15mins to steam cook. Remove foil, return to oven and toss every 5mins until caramelised.

I’m not a big cauliflower fan. I’ll eat it, but aside from trying to make cauliflower cheese that one time, I can’t remember buying it very often. I think that will change. This is fabulous. So sweet, so delicious, so simple. I went running for 2hrs+ today, so I’m allowed a big dinner. I had 3 pork & apple sausages (yum) and about 1/4 of the cauliflower. Very tempted to chomp more of this.

in eating and drinking |

beerfest005porter

Friday after work, I went with RM to the great british beer festival at earl’s court. It’s sponsored by the campaign for real ale, and offers 500+ beers and ales and ciders from regional breweries. Entrance is £10, and glasses are £3. We wisely opted for the small glass and only bought 1/3 pint portions so we can try more. Most were around £1 for 1/3 pint.

It was hot and crowded, getting through to the bar was a bit of a scrum. Altogether we managed to try the equivalent of 2 pints of all sorts — ale, porter, german pilsner, perry. It’s RM’s first outing as a UK resident and I think he had a good time. We also tried kangaroo burger, boar burger, scampi and I couldn’t resist a cup of whelk and a huge bag of pork scratchings.

in techtalk , workstuff |

autvscmt

An interesting, and true, graphic at smarterware that shows the difference between design by a visionary (Steve Jobs) vs by committee (google). Substitute “design” with “work” and google with every other company and the picture is still correct.

More and more I’m seeing the lack of vision and ownership at work, even for the simplest thing. Very frustrating.

in eating and drinking |

cherryrainier04

I fell in love with rainier cherries the first time I tried them, and managed to get some for my parents when they visited. I’d given up on ever finding them and enjoying their sweet, sweet taste again. That is until I saw my colleague with a punnet. She told me where to get them — good old M&S — so I immediately went and got 3 punnets, half price at £3.67 (yes, that’s almost US$6) for 400g (14oz). Price was not a concern.

I’m not sure how long the season is, i know it’s short. I want to somehow make sure mm gets to try them, so I froze a bunch. They don’t look very good when defrosted, and are less firm, but the sweetness is there. I hope she likes them.

in eating and drinking |

frenchlaundry

Thomas Keller will be opening a pop-up of the French Laundry at Harrods in October for just 10 days. Nine course tasting menu for £250. Even if I could afford it, I doubt I can get through to reservations when it opens on 1 Sept.

in in the news |

It’s August and finally the hot weather is here. Apparently london is hotter than malibu this week, topping 30°C, plus thunderstorms. Luckily, not too humid. Unluckily, it’s damn hot at home because of no air-conditioning.


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