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Archive for the ‘Exercise’ Category

Shredding the pow

I’ve recently had to take up snowboarding.

No, no, it’s TERRIBLE. The Irish aren’t genetically optimised for skimming over snow at high speeds. No. We’re built more for kicking soggy peat while extremely drunk. When I was growing up, skiing was an activity exclusively pursued by posh people or wankers. Or posh wankers. And of course, snowboards hadn’t been invented in those days.

Then I fell for a Kiwi and, in addition to making bacon and egg pie, another requirement was learning to negotiate snow.

I chose snowboarding because it was sooo obviously waaay cooler than skiing. (Note: had I been 10 years younger this might well have been quantifiably accurate.)

At the time we were living in Dubai, so I learned to snowboard at the indoor ski slope freshly erected in the middle of the desert. The place was always packed with Arab teenagers who combined a maximum of – let’s call it – enthusiasm, and a minimum of any discernible skill. Every time we visited, there’d be someone staggering off the slope with a gash across the forehead and their brains flopping out; or you’d see the blood splattered across the snow. It was like the aftermath of an Orc battle . . . or, you know, the living room after I’ve got the kids to bed. Anyway, it wasn’t what you might call a nurturing learning environment; and when I broke my right wrist I was just thankful it wasn’t my head.

For more than a decade, I have successfully avoided snapping on a pair of bindings. But then we moved to Wanaka and Finn’s primary school runs a five-week ski program during Term 3. We enrolled Finn for a cost of approximately $200 which included his lift pass and lessons. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and I reluctantly put my name down as Finn’s secondary (in this instance) parent in case Husband was unable to go due to breaking all his limbs in a chairlift incident.

The last time I was at Cardrona, I ended up in the resort’s Medical Centre with a busted knee. In fairness, I was nursing a supermarket injury at the time so it wasn’t fully attributable to snowboarding . . . anyway: more context. The second week, when Husband asked if I wanted to come along, I thought I should so I could conclusively say, “Look, it’s obvs not my jam, but you can’t say I didn’t try.”

I was gratified that my snowboard boots still fit 15 years on, and I dug out my late ‘90s ski jacket and the pair of ski pants from the Oamaru Opshop featuring an absolutely snorting camel-toe effect. When we got to the ski field, I was gutted to find that lift passes and lessons for accompanying adults on the School Ski Programme were half price, since that removed any remaining excuse at my disposal.

“What you need a lesson for?” scoffed Husband with his own unique brand of crazed confidence. “It’ll come back to you. Like riding a bike.”

I reminded him how riding a bike after a 15 year hiatus went for me, and signed up for a lesson. Our instructor Carlo had a deep-rooted antipathy towards skiiers. “Dey strappa ona a paira skiis and da brain it stopsa,” he announced happily to the ski field at large.

The lesson was simple stuff: how to do up your bindings; how to skate; go uphill with one boot strapped; use the heel edge; brake. Y’all know how I hate giving any quarter to Husband’s credibility, but it WAS coming back to me (although not like riding a fucking bike, at all).

Then Carlo moved onto boarding on toe edge, which has always been my particular downfall whether literally or figuratively (take your pick). “To mova onto your toe edge you just poka out your tummy simple,” he declared. When he demonstrated it did indeed look well easy – and in any case, I need no encouragement to stick out my stomach.

However, it had little to no effect on anything apart from intensifying cameltoe.

Undaunted, when the lesson finished I took myself off up the learner slope to practise my falling leaf and PEEPS I totally crushed it, embodying a world-class aerodynamic fucking leaf, floating gracefully yet purposefully through the air before settling on level ground with immutable precision.

When I got home that night, after buying a second-hand pair of wrist-guards, I searched YouTube for ‘beginner snowboarding’, ‘how to toe slide’ and ‘how to turn’. Well, I was a fucking genius before I even hit the slope thanks to my man Kevin from snowboardprocamp. The following week, over and over, I tramped up the learner slope (there was usually a 20 minute wait for the conveyor) and practiced basic exercises.

I started saying things like, “I was totally shredding it yo but stacked it in a yard sale blatting over some gnarly mougs dude,” and “Woah dude see how much air I caught? Sick!”

(Sorry- can I just- take a moment to discuss how the word ‘sick’ appears to have entered parlance as a positive description. I mean, what?! Have you seen the stuff? It’s horrid – and also highly corrosive. I’m waiting for the word ‘deadly’ to make a comeback. It was a great word: implying something was so awesome it could POTENTIALLY BE FATAL. Bring back deadly!)

Husband is particularly unimpressed that I now address him as ‘dude’. Also that I’ve acquired about five ski jackets off Trademe. And I’m all: “But look! It’s a limited edition embossed Roxy jacket with diamante detailing!” and he’s all: “Yeah, shame it’s about three sizes too big.”

I scored a second-hand snowboard, and replaced most of my ski kit the same way. Any time I venture online my browser is besieged with adverts for ski pants on sale – although so far I haven’t found anything superior to the camel-toe pants. Guess I’ll have to keep looking.

 

Checking out the Snow Farm

 

I’d love to end this post carving down the slope on a high note, but Husband is rethwarting my ambition to Dominate on a snowboard. He has a history of twiddling around on skiis smack bang in the middle of my line; or asking me open questions while I’m negotiating tricky turns. Here’s some videographic evidence, from- wait a moment and I’ll tell you exactly- April 2006:-

 

 

Last Thursday that blasted man – you might know him better as Husband – persuaded me to come down what, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to describe as an expert run, in a whiteout. I couldn’t even see the trail flags. When I nearly flew off a steep bank near the top, I suspected I was on an express route to Destination Fucked – although I guess it wasn’t that express since it took me an hour and a half to descend. I skidded down most of the mountain at an extreme degree of lop-sidedness; several splats later, when I face-planted and slid several metres on my chin, I actually fucking CRIED.

I thought I’d pulled a muscle in my leg but it turned out to be just bruising, as per my arse – and the rest of me.

So it’s back to the learner slope for me – and the doghouse for DUDE

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Invincible canine spirit

Mm, pikelets with jam.

Sorry, got distracted there for a moment.

So recently it’s been all about The Rise of the Asset: gestation, eating, food, mealtimes, and how about some cream with that? WHY, DON’T MIND IF I DO.

I’m sure many of you have wondered what’s happened to The Jedster, that invincible canine spirit who once dominated this blog, striding across the posts like a colossus.

I’ve been literarily neglecting my dog, and I feel bad. After all, Jed has been a part of this family for nearly three years – and we have no idea whether we’ll even LIKE The Asset. After all, how do we know The Asset will be able to lick his own arse or retrieve tennis balls from dense undergrowth? And I can’t imagine The Asset lying under my desk contentedly nibbling my toes.

We’ll see.

This post is an attempt to redress the oversight.

One of our preferred walks used to be a forest track circling Jeep and Meep’s property. It’s a short walk, but afforded something of a workout if we negotiated The Hen’s Beak: a savage one-way 2:1 incline descending almost completely to the Hauraki Valley.

We haven’t walked the track for some time mainly because, at five months pregnant, there’s no way I could negotiate The Hen’s Beak. At least, I could probably make my way down it in the same happy manner as a beach ball; but Andrew would need a system of ropes and pulleys – or a rescue helicopter – to get me back up. The track has also suffered some erosion over the winter.

“How agile are you feeling?” asked Husband eyeing a tree fallen across the path.

The correct response would be: demonstrating all the lithe grace and elegance of a constipated rhino charging across wet sand, but,

“Like a gazelle. Watch!” I said, stepping ponderously over a knee-high twig with some dangerous-looking leaves. “Huh? Huh?”

“Impressive.”

I’d forgotten the track features little in the way of water for Jed. Charging after his tennis ball he covers at least ten times more ground than us, at about twenty times the speed, so he falls into any available creek for a big slurp and wallow. During the winter months, there’s a large puddle at the end of Jeep and Meep’s forest track, but we’ve had over a week of sunshine and presumed it would be dry.

It wasn’t:-

Jed after executing a triple-roll pike turn.

If you’re wondering whether that mud smelled much, OH MY POOR SWOLLEN THROBBING NOSTRILS IT STANK.

Where did you think that sentence was going?

Shame on you.

The horse’s mouth: more than just a mantelpiece ornament

The inspiration for the following conversation came from a ball I’d thrown for the dog, which hit a tree about four feet away and rebounded back onto the path. 

Husband: Well, you’ve got more strength in your throwing, but your accuracy hasn’t improved much.

Me: It has too! My accuracy HAS improved.

Husband: Ok.

Me: Don’t say, ‘Ok’, as in: ‘Ok, I’ll magnanimously let her cling onto her pathetic little dreams’.

Me: I will not be patronised!

Husband: Ok: that’s shit! You sling the ball all over the place; most of the time you have NO idea where it’s going to go-

Me: Have I hit you in the head recently?

Husband: Well. No.

Thus Husband grudgingly agreed my throwing might have improved.

However, I’m now wondering how many times I aimed for his head and missed.

Cold blooded

Ever since Helen’s visit, I have aspired to take up alfresco swimming again. Last July, our mutual friend Chantal’s English Channel crossing further inspired me.

This inspiration generally takes the form of occasionally looking wistfully out the window and imagining myself cresting the ocean like a colossus (a little one).

“You get used to the temperature,” Chantal advised. “You build up resistance.”

Now, I would never call one of my best friends a cold-blooded liar*. However, when Chantal said this, she broke out in a light sweat and stuttered slightly, while simultaneously looking up and slightly to the left instead of making healthy eye contact. She also scratched her nose repeatedly and got unnaturally defensive when I said, “Really?” (Admittedly I was pointing in a manner that could have been construed as aggressive at the time.)

So anyway, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

As the weather has grown increasingly clement, I have been inspired to revivify** my threats to get snappy with a swimming cap.

The sea has looked gorgeous recently, decked out in a dazzling array of shades from kingfisher blue to aquamarine to a shade of green closely reminiscent of nuclear snot – which might not sound that inviting but looks AMAZING. Then, a few days ago, the sun emerged to evaporate any lingering excuses against relaunching my bid to master the sea in a bikini.

My first effort fell short of resounding success – and it’s not as if I was over-extending.

“Just a dip,” I briefed my towel-handler, “to acclimatize myself.”

Although I strode buoyantly into the sea, my confidence faltered when the water reached the crotchline. I spent a good five minutes standing around screaming, while Husband shouted encouragement from the shore (“It can’t be THAT cold!” “What do you need to feel your feet for?” “JED, FETCH NIAMHIE! FETCH IT HERE! GOOD BOY!”).

At least the experience can’t be described as a complete wash-out – if only because that would imply some level of immersion.

The following day, I was determined to make progress. The plan was as follows: get straight in, short and sharp, no splashing about, execute minimum five strokes.

“Face in water?” asked Husband, anxious to establish the project parameters.

“Yep,” I said grimly.

This time there was still screaming, but less of it and more muted; and I swam twenty four strokes (face in water).

The biggest problem – ignoring actually getting into the water in the first place – is a pretty much spontaneous headache when I submerge my face.

Evidently, I don’t have a fat enough head.

I’m not sure how to address that.

However, this morning, I managed sixty strokes AND kicked a crab in the pleopod. At this rate, I’ll be swimming across to Wellington for a light lunch within two months.

* Although the cold-blooded bit potentially explains how Chantal spent six months leading up to her Channel bid training in the North Sea and greater London lidos without succumbing to hypothermia. OR, she may be part-penguin.

** Can you believe ‘revivify’ is a valid word? I KNOW! I can hardly handle such extremes of excitement in one day; it might have to be spread out over the week.

This is what happens when you just press it

I’ve been meaning to post these videos of The Barfster for a while. I’m not sure when they were taken. The first could have been any time beyond six months ago. My father’s unwitting debut as home video director would either have been last December, or January of this year.

When we lived up Opanuku Road, we often walked the Ferndown Track due to its accessibility.

This first video is of Jed in one of his watering holes: a big puddle in the first creek along the track. There was always water in various states ranging from flowing to stinking viscosity, depending on the time of year.

Jed’s ritual has remained the same since he was a puppy:-

1/ Engage all fours for maximum impact with water
2/ Plunge around in order to identify ideal flop spot
3/ Sideways roll
4/ Stretch out back legs
5/ Carefully spit out ball & secure under front paws
6/ Blow bubbles

My father’s video shows Jed in his all-time-favourite mud-hole (rated according to various criteria, including but not limited to: mud quantity, depth, grunge, olfactory persistence, long term stinkeability) further up the track, and demonstrates the denouement:-

7/ Retrieve ball from under front paws
8/ Make like swamp monster
9/ Shake mud all over everything within the vicinity ≤10m

Late breaking pics

Sitting here in Port Underwood on a sullen day, with mist shrouding the peninsula and the sea a chilly slate-grey, it is hard to believe that these photos were taken just over a month ago, in Ireland coming into summer.

All pictures are courtesy of the Wednesday Walking Group’s photographer, El Bruno.

I would like to point out that I did not buy the t-shirt, and only wear it for its sentimental value because a dear friend gave it to me. Also because I don't have any more. MarkJ, can you get me another? Preferably one that doesn't inspire strangers to approach me in the street and whisper, "I'm totally with you, that Angerlina Jolly is a slut." In fact, a t-shirt that would compel strangers to buy me coffee would be ideal. Thanks.

In addition to being a photographer, El Bruno is also a Frustrated Rock God - but then aren't we all?

 

Waterfall off the Old Kenmare Road: This is me contemplating the beauty of nature, whether my t-shirt covers my arse, and whether it matters since I'm sitting down.

  

The Wednesday Walkers (subset) L-R: Ann, Claudia, Niamh, Eileen.

I'm not sure I was on this walk, but I like this picture because you see the dude on the rock? The one with the ski-pole and two false hips? That's my dad; and I love the way he's perched up there, because that is so completely HIM.

 

L-R: Eileen, Claudia and Dad

I carried the bag

We’ve had a couple of spectacular crispy days here, so I gradually reintroduced Andrew to exercise by hauling him up Mt Robertson on his second day home. Mt Robertson is about 1030m high, and a four and a half hour round trip from Port Underwood Road at perspiring pace. That includes a half-hour stop for a packed lunch.

Andrew: <mumble, mumble> the bag?

Me: Well, it’s a bit late since I’ve already carried it all the way up-

Andrew: No, I said, will I DO UP the bag?

Me: Oh. I thought you said, will I TAKE the bag?

Andrew: No.

Me: Right.

Jed takes a bath. Note the ice on the right.

 

Sometimes being brown is a bonus - for instance, it camouflages the mud. If you can't make it out, Jed is absolutely filthy here.

 

At the top I distracted Andrew by asking him what altitude it was. Then I ran around naked.

 

When I say, 'Smile', this is what happens - which is why it doesn't happen a lot.

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