February 2007

The Amazing Shrinking Squonky

It has been a while since I said anything here about my walking commute, so time for a quick update.

I still haven’t weighed myself. I know that at some point I’m probably going to have to, if only to look at things like Body Mass Index. But despite not having weighed myself I know that the weight is dropping off - well, the size certainly is, so the weight must be.

I had been watching my belt gradually going further on, notch by notch. By measuring the space between the notch I was on when I started the walking commute and the notch I’m on now I made a rough guess that I’d lost 4 inches from my waist.

Over all this time my clothes had all been getting steadily baggier and more sack like. Finally it had got to the point where I really had to go get a few new clothes. On Monday evening I headed out to pick up some new stuff for work and some new stuff to kick around at home in.

My rough guess of having lost 4 inches was spot on. I was chuffed, to say the least. Okay, I still have a lot more to lose, but it really is bloody well working! If ever I needed a motivating moment then Monday evening’s clothes shopping certainly gave me a boost. I know that if I can keep this up then by around June I’ll probably be about the same size as I was when I was around 18 years old. That kinda blows my mind. It was an odd feeling buying clothes and wondering how much smaller I was rather than wondering if I’d got yet bigger.

And how much more simple could it be? Just walking to and from work around 3 days a week is seeing me lose around an inch a month from my waist. I still have the goal of wanting to walk on 4 days of the week. The plan would be to walk Monday, Tuesday then give myself a rest on Wednesday and walk on Thursday and Friday. Sometimes work commitments are going to get in the way of that, and sometime I guess I just have to accept that I will not feel like walking. I think that so far I’ve only managed to walk 4 days of the week on one occasion. So yes, my target is to make that ‘the norm’.

And yes, it is simple - just as long as I can get myself out of bed in time to do it. It takes an hour to walk into work, and then I need a bit of time to get a shower and get changed at the other end so if I oversleep I just can’t do it. That has been the biggest problem of recent weeks. As long as I’m out of bed in time then I’m fine. No problems with energy, no problems with my legs or my feet. Maybe I just need to get some earlier nights!

The last few weeks have presented some problems. Yes, we had a tiny little fall of snow. I managed to walk in to work through the snow okay, but walking home was bad. The snow had got compacted into ice and it was as slippery as hell. I walked the first half mile or so of the route home and then decided it just wasn’t worth the risk of slipping over and breaking something, so I swallowed my pride and caught the bus the rest of the way.

And then I came down with the ‘flu - a pretty nasty dose and that kept me down to just two days walking that week. I’m pretty well over that now thank goodness.

A quick update on kit. I’m still using the same Merrell shoes and those fantastic Thousand Mile Socks. There are some signs of wear on the soles of the shoes, only to be expected from all that trudging over tarmac and concrete. However, I’m sure there’s months of wear left in them yet, so they will have been a very good investment. I could easily have got through a couple of pairs of trainers with the punishment I’m putting these through.

So, feeling pretty positive about the walking commute right now. It is having the desired effect, I feel ‘better’, stronger and fitter. I feel more alert on days that I walk. Oh and on Tuesday morning I had another reminder of just how bad the traffic can be. I drove in to work that day and it took me no less than 1 hour 5 minutes. The night before I’d walked home in just 58 minutes. Crazy!


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El Laberinto del Fauno

Last night I finally got to see ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. I’d been keen to see it ever since release, but no cinema around here showed it at the time. It did get an airing at Leicester’s Phoenix Arts, but I only found out about it at the very same time they were having their last screening, just before Christmas.

So, I was delighted to find out that the local Vue had it on, one night only, and I went down to see it with a colleague from work. I’m guessing that it didn’t get a wider release at the time due to it being a Spanish movie with subtitles - the major cinema chains just want to get bums on seats at the end of the day. With it picking up five Oscar nominations (3 of which it won) maybe somebody thought it might be worth showing.

I had been attracted to the movie in the first place by seeing some stills and the trailer (during one of those rare occasions I bother to go and see what trailers are awaiting me in Apple’s Front Row). The design and artistry had really pulled me in and I think the movie thoroughly deserved its Oscar for Best Art Direction.

But I’m jumping the gun a little. The movie, set in Spain 1944, tells the grim story of Ofelia, a young girl who’s head is filled with fairy stories and who gets uprooted from her familiar surroundings when her mother marries Captain Vidal, an officer in Franco’s army. It very quickly becomes clear that Vidal is a totally brutal and ruthless man who has no interest in being a stepfather to Ofelia and who’s only concern is for his own child, being carried by Ofelia’s mother at the start of the film.

Ofelia’s refuge from the brutality that surrounds her is her interest in fairy stories, and the old ruins which sit alongside the mill that Captain Vidal is using as his headquarters whilst hunting out Maquis guerrillas in the surrounding hills and forests.

As the ‘real world’ atrocities unfold, Ofelia enters the ruins and encounters a faun who gives her a series of tasks she must complete before the next full moon. These tasks plunge Ofelia into the Underworld, encountering strange and dangerous creatures and the viewer is kept wondering about the true motives of the faun right up to the very closing scenes of the film.

I don’t want to reveal anything more about the plot as to do so would be to spoil your enjoyment of the movie. I can say that it richly deserves its ‘15′ rating, there are scenes of torture and murder which make the film quite disturbing at times. As ever with scenes of this kind, it’s what you don’t see that really chills you to the pit of your stomach. Well, that and the knowledge that there were, are and alas always will be those in the world who will treat people in this way.

If you get the chance to see this movie then DO, but don’t go along expecting a cheery fairy tale, it is anything but. I found it a very refreshing change from the usual, run of the mill rubbish that the major studios seem to churn out ad infinitum.


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Back to Kew

palm house curves
Yesterday I was delighted to attend the 5th Tips From The Top Floor London GTG (’Get ToGether’). I’d been to the first two GTGs in 2006 and it was great to meet up with friends old and new once again. We returned to Kew Gardens for the event, a place brimming with interest for the photographer.

There is the obvious attraction of all the exotic and colourful flora of course, but on top of this there is some wonderful architecture and that tends to inspire my photography more.

The photo at the top of this entry is an abstract shot of The Palm House at Kew. Walking inside there on a cold, wet February day was something of a shock to the system - and the camera’s lens. We were all waiting around for ages for our glass to de-mist.

Once again, I really enjoyed the day and I came home with some photos that I’m pretty pleased with.

palm house guardian

pagoda


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