Monday, 30 September 2013

Revenge on my walk of shame

Revenge on my walk of shame

Back in the beginning of the year, in early January, I published my walk of shame (here). That was a post regarding my lack of running and general decline on my fitness level that occurred during 2012. I wanted to put more cardio exercise on my daily routine. I wanted to change the disappointing graph regarding mileage during that year! And since yesterday was ‘World Heart Day’, I’m very happy and proud to say that I’m successfully progressing towards achieving that goal. 2013 rocks, it beats the crap out of 2012!

2012 running mileage

2013 YTD running mileage

During the month of September, I went outdoors and run 88.82 km (55.20 miles)! That’s a personal best for me. That number of miles might not be that impressive to some people, but it is for me. In the last 4 years since I started running outdoors, I've never achieved something like that. And the great part is that I want to keep going. I want to see how far I can go. Overall this year I've run outdoors 227.07 miles!

Running is like my personal therapy session. I love the feeling of achievement I get at the end of each run, at realising a goal I've set myself. I love being outdoors, exploring new neighbourhoods, getting a different perspective of things and leaving trivial troubles and nerves behind. Of course it’s not every time all fun and games. Running can be tough at times, painful and disappointing. However, every single one of these sessions, even the bad ones, has a meaning and is an accomplishment.

So, I think I’m all prepared for my ‘British Heart Foundation’ charity 10k run next Saturday. I admit I could have done more. I wanted to incorporate interval or hill training to my schedule and improve my overall pace / speed, but that’s fine. Unless something unexpected happens till then, I believe I’ll be able to finish the race.

And to challenge myself a bit more, I registered for a half marathon next March!!! The last half marathon I did was in Edinburgh in April 2011 (here). That race didn't go that well. It was hot and humid and even with JJ’s help, I walked a lot that day instead of running and struggled to finish. This time I plan to train more and finish the distance in style. I have some time to prepare. It might be a bit of a challenge training during the cold and wet months of the winter, but I hope I’ll be fine. My plan is to never stop. Like winter sea swimmers that keep on swimming through autumn to winter, I’ll keep on going to see what happens.

I only now have to find a proper training plan to follow during these months.  

Sunday, 22 September 2013


One of my guilty pleasures is watching on the television ‘Come dine with me’. The British version of the program can be really fun. The commentator has a really caustic sense of humour and the contestants can be quite colourful. On one of the episodes I was watching, there was an interesting conversation on the table regarding doing spontaneous things. So the question was asked, that I want to ask myself and you: ‘what’s the most spontaneous thing you've done?’

Spontaneity: noun – the condition of being spontaneous; spontaneous behaviour or action
Spontaneous: adjective - happening or done in a natural, often sudden way, without any planning or without being forced.

So, what was the most spontaneous thing I've ever done? Hmmmm. That will need lots of thinking. For me what’s when the problem starts. You see, words like ‘sudden’ and ‘without any planning’ don’t really agree with me. I like being in control of situations. I’m not the type of person that will leave on sudden holidays without having a specific destination, or on impulse decide to go bungee jumping just because I saw it while driving by a bridge. I can never see myself waking up with a hangover in a motel in Scotland for example, just because... Even, to move in with ‘JJ’ took months of persuasion and thinking, planning.

OK, I’m not a total freak. I don’t have to plan every little thing in my life. I can still get up in the morning and take the train for a nice day trip somewhere, or simply change my plans the last minute and do something completely different! But these are not really the things expected as an answer to a question like that. The answer should be something more profound and surprising. Instead of ‘I decided the last minute to go to the British Museum instead of the National Portrait Gallery’, a better answer would be ‘I followed the man of my dreams and moved to Australia’ or ‘just this morning I decided to quit my job and become an artist’!

The closest I can get to being spontaneous (I think) is the fact that I began jogging/running and went on scuba diving lessons! Both of these activities were suggested by friends unexpectedly and my positive answer came similarly without too much thinking. An old work colleague who’s also my gym buddy asked me one day to follow him on his afternoon run that same day! I remember it went awfully bad. I was out of breath, fighting for my dear life, I think around 250 meters into the run. But I was hooked and wanted to try again. The same thing more or less happened with scuba diving. A female friend of mine said she’s booked her lessons and whether I’d like to join her that same weekend. I said yes and never looked back. I could even say that I started this blog on a bit of an impulse these years ago. I didn't know what I was doing then and I still don’t know to this day.

I've made many life changing choices in my life. I've decided to permanently leave my home country and make London my new home. I've decided to move in with my boyfriend and now buy with him a house. I might not be the most spontaneous person I know, but I am very happy and grateful being me.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Geeky Update (Nokia, Saga, TR, Malazan Empire)

I've mentioned in one of my previous posts that I've been following what’s been happening to Nokia. I used to be a fan of the company. They are were the biggest multinational technology corporation based in Europe. Their products were ground breaking. Nokia released phones with front cameras, QWERTY keyboard, smartphones and touch screen phones way before Blackberry, Apple or Samsung even dreamed about them. They used to have a very good understanding of future technologies and dominated the market for many years. I used to proudly own their products.

That was up to the point when their new CEO took charge, Stephen Elop. I’m not going to go through Nokia’s downfall. I went through most of it here. However, not completely unexpected, the news arrived that Nokia was sold to Microsoft! Elop who used to work as the head of Microsoft’s Business Division before jumping to Nokia in September 2010 probably helped MS buy Nokia phone division cheap. Just check Nokia’s share prices for these last years. It’s a shame though.  I feel for the all the people who lost their jobs recently and for those who will lose it in the future. The evil Empire Strikes back.

On another different tone, I’d like to introduce to you the world of Saga! That’s a graphic novel for adults created by Vaughan and Staples. Vaughan is the writer of things like ‘Y: The Last Man’, the ‘Runaways’ and co-writer of the TV series ‘Lost’. The plot of the story can be described as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in space with aliens, warlocks, robots, ghosts, mercenaries and all the rest. It’s about a young couple from two different worlds in war (tech vs magic) trying to escape with their new-born child. It might sound a bit unoriginal, but believe me the art, characters and storytelling is exceptional. Saga is now an award winning series and I would recommend it to anyone with a desire to read something different than what mainstream Marvel or DC have to offer at the moment.

What’s next? Oh, yes. PC games! I’m in the process of finishing ‘Tomb Raider’. Yes, the remake of the old platform/shooter. The development company did wonders at bringing Lara Croft to the new era. Keeping the same approach of having a female heroine trying to solve simple puzzles by climbing here and there and moving stuff around while shooting baddies and evil fauna works perfectly well. Unlike other disappointing remakes like SimCity (oh, what a waste of money), the publisher Square Enix manages to create a likeable character that evolves through the game trying to escape the island of Yamatai. The island itself of course holds many secrets waiting to be solved and sets a visually stunning setting for Lara’s adventures. If you liked the old Tomb Raiders, I guarantee you you’ll like this one too.

Finally, I couldn't finish this geek update without a book reference. So, I'd like to introduce to you the world of the ‘Malazan Book ofthe Fallen’. That’s an epic fantasy series written by Steven Erikson. OK, so it’s not a single book. It’s many. Ten books to be precise that consist this series. For the time being I’m going through number 7 (Reaper’s Gale) but I have to say it’s really good. For those who don’t know about epic fantasy, try to think ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ and empires, witchcraft, demons, various peoples, gods and all that.  

I’m trying not to read all books one after the other. I read other stuff in-between. I finished beforehand ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman! That was also a good, interesting, read but I shouldn't divert from my main topic. The Malazan Empire holds many dark stories, twists in the plot and of course many different characters and point of views that make the books not that easy to read. Lots of people criticise the author for the number of characters with tongue-twisting names, the variety of locations and the deities involved.

At first, they story looks a bit problematic and lost without a true purpose. There are way too many characters with their agendas. Especially if you’re reading the first book and you’re unfamiliar with the author’s ways, it seems pointless. What I have to say is hold on. In every book that I remember there is a closure of some shorts, even if there are some cliff hangers for the future issues. It all makes sense in the end. To give you an idea the book I’m reading now has more than 1,200 pages and a list of points of view that’s very difficult to count. I’m loving it though and I can’t easily put it down.   

That's what my geek little bizarre world is all about these dates. Not sure how interested you are, but I'll keep you posted nevertheless...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

And we might have found it...

I don’t want to jinx it, so I’m not going to say much about it. But we put an offer on a property which was accepted. We’re now on the process of sorting out the bank(s), solicitors, surveyors etc. It’s a bit tricky. It might even last for a month or two, for everything to get sorted out and us finally moving. Hopefully, we’ll be having Christmas on our new place. And we’ll be landlords!!!!

Overall, we saw more than a dozen properties in various areas. We saw terraced houses, detached houses and flats in big buildings. We even arranged second viewings for one or two of them. What we finally decided on is a terraced house in a very nice and quiet residential area next to a conservation area and even closer to public transport. It has two and a half bedrooms. The half a bedroom can be easier called a study. I can’t see anything other than a dog finding that space sufficient. I don’t even think a bed will fit. However, there’s the prospect of a loft conversion and doing the place up in general, which is exactly what we wanted.

Hopefully it will all go well.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Beard Facts

that made me smile today... Saw it somewhere in tumblr...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Various News Update

We’re still in the process of viewing houses. It didn't start too well. We saw for example a property that was already falling apart and the cost of renovation would be great (if possible), but still in the high end of our budget. We saw properties that looked like small matchboxes but advertised and priced like mansions.
It’s not easy to check beforehand. Photographs online can be deceiving and floor plans with no dimensions deceptive. The best policy it to visit as many places as possible. However that’s not always easy, trying to arrange something between our working hours and the demands of the estate agents.
Property 6 we saw, was quite interesting. It ticks most of the boxes. The only issue is the area, mostly (I think) because we don’t know it. Also, I think we’re spoiled by the place we’re renting at the moment, which is quite nice located. That property is the one that we might visit for a second time soon. We saw it last weekend and I’d like to get a feel of it during the week as well. It would also be nice to revisit it and try to pay more attention to the details that we might have missed.

On the 5th of October I’m taking part in a charity event organised by the ‘British Heart Foundation’. It’s a 10 kilometers run in Hyde Park, London. Since heart disease runs in my family, it’s a matter very close to me. I fear that it will be something that I will have to deal with at some point in my life. You can find a link to my fundraising website on the right, if you’re interested… Please be interested.
I've started training for the event. I’m not following a specific running plan. With everything that’s been happening recently, I simply can’t. I've been all over the place. But, I've been running outdoors more frequently than before. Even today, for the first time I went for a small run at 6:45 am on the way to the gym. It was so nice watching the city wake up. So, I’m hoping to achieve a personal best in the charity run and finish the 10km faster than I had in the past. We’ll see…

These days, JJ has been exhibiting a couple of his paintings in ‘La Galleria Pall Mall’, in the centre of London. The exhibition’s theme is ‘lust’! Yesterday night was the opening! Unfortunately JJ couldn't attend because he was working, so I took our lodger and headed there for an hour or so. As always, there was lots of wine, interesting characters (eccentric artists), old money (sugar daddies), new aspiring money (big boobs, blonde hair), burlesque figures, etc.
Events like that have a character. Having a very different background myself, being an engineer and looking at the world in straight lines, I was shocked when I first met the type of people that hang around art events. There is a romantic element to them (especially if you exclude some snobbism that might appear here and there). There’re not for too long though…