Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Post running

I did it! I'm so happy. It went actually quite well actually.
The weather wasn't the best. The last few days it's been cold and wet in the UK and Sunday morning was no exception. That meant that at the start I felt a bit cold and miserable till the run warmed me up. But I was fine after that. During the run we got some sun spells between the clouds which was a nice break. Thankfully, the path we were using wasn't that muddy. Generally, the organisation of the race was really good and the route we followed amazing. I loved the fact that there were not many road crossings and we kept close to the river and the nice area of Richmond. Also, the fact that there were no laps to the route is always a bonus.

I managed to finish the run in 2 hours and 29 minutes! That time wasn't that bad and I'm happy that I didn't stop at all to walk during that time. I just kept going, even on a slow pace close to the end of the race. I know that there is room for improvement on my performance and I'll get there...

The route 

My performance

The before picture! 

Running by the river Thames 

That dog was simply watching people pass by like a tennis ball in a tennis match

I was running with this guy

 The banana guy was really quick.

Approaching the finish line 

Happy with a medal

So, true...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Pre Running

In about 24 hours I'll be warming up before my half marathon in Richmond among the other runners. Hopefully,  I managed to spend Saturday eating relatively light and healthy. I've also managed a decent amount of sleep and nerves didn't get the worst of me. Wish me luck! Even better, can you please show up with one of these signs? You'll make my day. Especially if you stand after mile 8. Thanks


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Gay Politics

I work in a relatively big company. Our IT department is more than 100 people and if you add the Business Analysts, Project Managers and other related personnel, my immediate work colleagues are quite a few.  Of course, in this group there’s a number of homosexuals in various degrees of ‘closet-ness’. At first, of course I thought I was the only one. Then I met a couple of more gay people that told me about some other employees of the company. Yes, gossip is a favourite pastime for us as well.

In general, I‘m not overly open about my personal life. There’s an increasing number of colleagues that know about JJ and my life. However, these colleagues are the ones that I’m starting to develop a more friendly relationship with. In a way, I’m trying to keep my personal and professional life apart. I’m not sure why I do that. Especially in large groups, when other people talk about their husbands, wives or children I remain quiet. Would I still do that if I was in a heterosexual relationship? Maybe. And I say maybe because in my previous job I was openly gay. The company was tiny. We were 14 people all of us and I was generally more at ease there, but still didn’t talk about my personal life much. Some of my old colleagues had met JJ, but I still didn't talk much about him.

There are some other factors to consider about my current employment arrangements and secretive attitude. The very first manager I had was a weird character. I know him much better now and I can see his weird (?) sense of humour, but back then, he was intimidating. On my very first day he talked about the gayphone (iPhone to you and me) and about some dykes he used to know. These statements unsettled me and during that first week of employment I remained quiet about my personal life and it’s been like that ever since. I've also seen some backstabbing happening and I refuse to give to anyone any more ammunition.

As I mentioned before, I've now met some gay people in the office. And a couple of them want, in a way, to create a ‘brotherhood’. They want us to start meeting regularly for lunch or after work outings. Just us, the gays. I don’t generally object to that, but to be honest I’m not that eager to do it either. Just because they’re gay, it doesn’t really mean I like all of them. Also, I don’t think that marginalising ourselves like that is a very good thing. I wouldn't like to associate only with Caucasians, or only with males, or only with Greeks, or only with people that like comic books. Yes, it’s nice to have things in common with people you spend time with, but forming a clique is not something I’ll easily encourage.

I've decided to keep an open mind. My concern is the fact that one of the guys eager to create the brotherhood seems a bit sleazy. Maybe it’s just me being paranoid. I might go out with them for a drink or two and see how it goes. Every day lunch break might be a no no though… 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Weekend update and DIY

The weather in the UK during the last weekend was amazing! Yes, the temperature was in high teens and the sun was bright and beautiful! After the crappy and wet last months, that was such a nice break! And we managed to make the most of it. We spent both days Saturday and Sunday in the back garden. As expected, the previous tenants of our house didn't really pay attention to the garden which was overgrown and ugly. They hadn't paid much attention to the inside of the house, it would be really surprising if they maintained a proper outside!

That's the 'before' picture. JJ had done some work on it already

We decided to start by taking out lots of things that made the garden look small and untidy. We've cleared out some old overgrown bushes, trunks and roots that were just occupying space and cleared out the shed at the back from an ivy (I think). We’re planning a small vegetables area where I plan on growing some food and planting some rose bushes, jasmine and cherry trees.

For the first bit of the work at hand, we got some help. A guy called Abraham arrived Saturday morning to clear out some stuff and get rid of massive chopped roots and trunks. The whole experience was a bit weird because he unexpectedly arrived with his two sons, one aged around 10 and the other around 4! The old one provided some help to him father, but the young one was just walking around looking at things. Two words came first to my mind: ‘child labour’! But then I dismissed them and tried to get along with it! In a sense it’s a nice way to spend time with your father. The old one would want to prove himself to his dad and the young one would like to go along not feeling left out. In any case, Abraham was really nice to his sons.

The family at work

The 'after' picture

We believe however that the young one was eating some chocolate candy from a bowl I had left on the table and was then punished by spending the rest of the day in their van. We found that later when JJ discovered the empty bowl and lots of chocolate papers hidden around the garden. Bless him… And I was curious at some point about where he had disappeared after a while. In any case, Abraham’s help was good and put us on the right track.

Do you remember me saying a couple of posts ago how bad I am bad in labour work? Well, that’s still true, but I've proved to be quite good in gardening. On Sunday, JJ started working on the vegetable corner on the right of the garden, the pile of junk at the end and painting the fence, while I started clearing out the ivy from the shed! As you can see I managed to successfully get most of it out. And not only that, I managed to do it without cutting any fingers off or falling from the ladder! I’m quite pleased with myself!

How it looks now, still a work in progress

I can’t wait to see how the garden will end up, even if I know it will take some years before it actually looks properly grown.  

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A week of overindulgence

Last week an old friend of mine came for a visit to London. She stayed till today. With her as an excuse we went out a lot, had dinner here and there and allowed ourselves to go a bit wilder than normal. For example Friday night we went to a bar in the Shoreditch area that organised a swing party. I’m talking about Swing and Charleston dancing, not the other type. My friend is part of a dancing group in Greece and organised to meet some dancers in London for a night out.

Unfortunately that specific party wasn't that well organised. It took place in a popular bar. The music changed from mainstream pop to the oldies around 9pm. By that time, the people already in the bar had more than a couple of drinks and didn't leave. The place remained really busy and there was no place for actual dancing. Also, the floor was the wrong type and spilled with sticky beer to allow the quick steps that some of the dances required.  However, there was a number of people dressed in 40s and 50s retro clothes and haircuts that with the music gave a nice feeling to the event. The dancing remained at a minimum but was still nice.

I love the rockabilly style 

Also, last Monday was my birthday! I happily turned 33! Yay! Since it was on a Monday, I decided to celebrate it on Sunday. So I invited some friends over for brunch, tea and coffee on Sunday afternoon since we would all be having an early morning the next day. I baked a traditional spinach and feta pie and some cheese bites. Our guest made a lovely quiche Lorraine and JJ made a milk tart, an apple tart and a chocolate cake where I blew some candles! Considering the fact that there were around 8 of us in total, I can say we ate a lot! The day was really nice and sunny. After weeks and weeks of raining, London was actually enjoying a sunny weekend. I hope my guests had a nice time! I know I did and I thank them all for coming.

Our table is never empty (yes, that's my pie at the front)

On my actual birthday I brought lots of treats to the office for the guys in my department. I've just moved to that building, so I don’t know everybody that well. But I found all their emails and told them to help themselves. I got a couple of replies from some people I closely work with but other than that nothing! I even came face to face with a couple of people over the coffee machine or the corridor but they didn't mention a thing! I wasn't expecting to start a huge conversation, but a simple happy birthday would be nice! The vast majority of developers are really antisocial! The ‘Big Bang Theory’ is based on actual people! So, I’m still eating chokies at work from Monday. J Afterwards, JJ, our guests and me went to a nice Thai restaurant for dinner. Yummy…

So, as I was saying, the last week was a week of overindulgence. I’m not complaining though, I had such a nice time. At the moment I’m thinking of a small detox that might help my preparation for my half marathon next week!

Oh, look. Another cookie…  

Friday, 7 March 2014

The countryside

Last weekend, I took JJ and we went to the Peak District. OK, I admit he was doing all the driving (I can't handle driving on the wrong side of the road), but the area was my idea! We had rented a small car and a house in the middle of a tiny village called Hartington. The village was so cute. It had a pub, a hotel and a couple of tiny shops. We got to meet some of the locals and I can say they're really nice. The goal of the trip was to go hiking, which we managed to do successfully. The first day we walked for about 4 hours going up the Lose hill and the Mam Tor. The second day we walked around Bakewell and the area around Chatsworth Estate. It was such an amazing weekend!

I want to say that's an oak tree, but I can't be sure. I'm more of a city person. I don't know my trees

I love these old brick bridges

Walking around Bakewell

Following the trails was 'interesting'. I only fell once in the mud! That's a good score for me.

Do I look like I belong there?

That's early in our ascent. I still look fresh

The view from the top - breathtaking

Leaving our house the first day of our hike.