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Posts tagged ‘Exercise’

Cranial topiary

Last week – coincidentally, still my birthday – we went for our daily walk. I’ve been a little monochrome recently and – after two months in Oamaru doing little more than taunt bulls – have only just started back into an exercise regime.


“I feel TERRIFIC,” I announced to Husband. “Where are we going? How about we go up the road and around Jeep and Meep’s track and – hey, I know! Let’s do The Hen’s Beak. In fact, let’s RUN it. No holding back: full frontal assault. Hoo-AH!” I threw in a navy seal style lunge for emphasis.

For some reason, Husband didn’t share my enthusiasm. We were engaged in a tense discussion about the exercise benefits of descending and ascending The Hen’s Beak/pointlessness and authenticity of my mental faculties (depending whose side you take), when I pulled a muscle – halfway up our driveway.

In my defence, our drive is steep to the point of sheer; you practically need crampons to get up it. Still, the situation left no doubt as to who won that argument. You could say I didn’t have a leg to stand on. At least, I had one – just not the other.

While Andrew carried on with the dog, I limped home nursing my pulled muscle and bruised ego.

In the end, I was extremely pleased I wasn’t up for the walk, because Jed kicked over a wasps’ nest (we should train him not to do that) and a swarm of irate insects chased Husband and Jed home. They were pretty sullen when they arrived back, having both been stung several times.

In addition to crème brulee, dinner was roast lamb for Andrew, with marinated tofu for me and rosemary roasted vegetables. About ten minutes before the roast was ready, with the unique logic impenetrable to anyone but him, Husband decided timing was optimal for buzz-cutting his head.

I would have suggested postponing the exercise except I’d been absolutely twitching to get stuck into Andrew’s hair; it was so bushy I wouldn’t have been surprised had a woodland creature or two wandered out of it.

Though honestly, I was surprised when he asked me to do it, after the one and only time I buzzed his head years ago. But look, that’s an entirely different story and has no place here. Nor, for that matter, anywhere else during the remainder of my lifetime.

Andrew installed himself on one of our dining chairs in the living room, with a mirror propped against the table. Unfortunately, the razor kept crapping out in the face of the challenge posed by Andrew’s thatched thicket.

Since he was covered with bristly hair – and still sported a ferocious furze with some indefinite landing-strips up the sides – Husband spent the next half an hour trying to fix the razor.

Although the repaired device was incapable of much more than de-furring the dog’s bollocks, the haircut was going quite well, I thought. However, Husband was obviously anxious about his quiff, the pelt-sculpture that proudly crowns his forehead. He issued several complex instructions on reducing it while still retaining its character.

Eventually I demanded scissors to address The Quiff. I’ve always been confident and adept with scissors. I’m terrific at cutting out paper circles. Also, I regularly barber the dog. Andrew went to fetch a pair.

Unfortunately, I lost concentration for just a split-second and, when I re-focussed, Andrew was stalking around the living room ATTACKING his head with the scissors. I attempted to wrestle the scissors off him, but nearly cut off his ear, so I retreated to a respectable distance to watch him basically Doing a Sweeney on himself. It was CARNAGE. He ended up with a menacing furry overhang, much like mange-ridden badger squatting on his head mooning passersby.

When he finally surrendered the scissors, I evened it up as best I could; but he still looks like Tintin. Hey, a craftswoman can only do so much with substandard raw material.

Then we had dinner garnished with hair.


Two days after getting home, I decided to bike into Hakana Bay.

I disregarded the fact that I had done no exercise for the previous month, apart from climbing into bed. It’s a 10km round-trip to Hakana Bay with 800ft straight up or straight down, depending on whether you’re pedalling furiously or frantically braking respectively; I also considered this largely irrelevant.

Apart from a brutal uphill sprint at the start, the rest of the leg to Hakana Bay is more a trade-off between setting your brake pads on fire, or doing a starfish off the top of a cliff. Despite these tense negotiations, arriving at Hakana Bay I felt PUMPED.

Shame I couldn’t say the same about the back tyre.

After a brief stop to inflate and let Jed roll around in mud, we struck out for home. About 200ft up the road, I thought my lungs were going to explode. 400ft on, I understood what dying must feel like.

I dismounted the bike, pumped up the back tyre again, and started pushing. I was averaging a rate of about 2km per day when, at the hairpin bend overlooking the valley, we came across three loggers.

I stopped whimpering and paused for a chat because, you know, I’m friendly. Also because I wasn’t sure whether walking another step was biologically feasible. Also the back tyre was flat again.

Jed tried to intimidate the loggers by barking; the strategy had limited success because they thought he was a giant poodle. He should stick to farting. In a bid to win him over, one of the loggers threw Jed a biscuit.

Watching my dog pounce on the biscuit, I realized I was starving. Ravenous enough to claw that biscuit out of my dog’s jaws and wolf it down myself, except that Jed swallowed too fast.

“Can I have one too?” I asked with barely contained drool.

The Irish amongst you will appreciate how hungry I must have been. In Ireland, asking for a biscuit is a cultural taboo on the same level as pointing at strangers, or necrophilia.

Obviously taken aback, the logger said, “Aw yeh.” He proffered the pack. “Take a handful.”

I momentarily considered snatching the entire packet and making a run for it except that I could barely walk, never mind RUN. Also, there were three of them, and just me and a giant poodle.

In the end, I thought taking any more than two would be rude.

How to distinguish sun from lightning

We woke to rain again this morning. When I say ‘rain’, it fails to convey the force of nature that it is here. It patters on the leaves, it dreeps from the gutters, the wind hurls it against the windows in pellet form, and the trees release water bombs that explode on the balcony.

It was around 11:30 when – “Hey!” I said. “Sun’s out!”

“That’s not sun, it’s lightning,” said Husband.

“Let’s do something. We’ve had no exercise for over a week.”

(Australian food still prowls my digestive tract on a round trip to my hips.)

“We could walk up to Scenic Drive,” suggested Husband.

“Ah now come on, that’s barely beyond the postbox. Wouldn’t raise a pant, never mind a sweat. Let’s go to the top of the hill.”


“For the view.”

“But it’s raining!”

“Be hardy.”

We set off fully equipped for the weather. In other words, I had a waterproof jacket and Husband an umbrella.

The creek by the drive is in full flow. A stream has taken out the corner of the road by the neighbour’s drive. About half a kilometre from the house, the rain picked up again.

We got wet.

Note the shrinking hips, cause: exercise or damp (undetermined)

Mr Poppins

Kauri leaves, illuminated by sunshine. Or it could be lightning

Gym bunny

For a long time, I hadn’t the energy to heave myself off to the gym: the effort of programming the running machine was enough to wipe me out for the rest of the day. About three weeks ago, a persuasive layer of lard in the posterior region talked me into paying a visit.

Since I hadn’t been for a while, I took it easy. In other words, I worked out at 99.9% maximum heart rate instead of 100%.

Staggering into the car park after enough reps to make up for the previous three months, I was not in the mood for cycling home. What form of rogue pre-gym energy had induced me to take the bike in this heat? I considered calling Husband to ask him to collect me – but then I realised how much more guilty I could make him feel if I cycled home myself.

Now, as I wobbled out of the car park, a jogger passed me in the same direction. It was obviously a challenge. I considered it a rather feeble challenge since he was only jogging, while I was equipped with a top of the range mountain bike and reflector jacket with go faster stripes. I was confident of triumphing in a battle of wills – or speed, for that matter.

However, I had been cycling a good minute when I realised Running Man was pulling away. I speeded up, but the bastard must have been operating on a different gravity system. Pretty soon I was pedalling flat out, top speed, sweat exploding off me. I was gaining on Running Man inch by painful, sweaty inch. Finally, legs going like pistons, I nudged past him.

We came to a roundabout and Running Man totally cheated, weaving in and out between cars. My bicycle is not that manoeuvrable – or maybe I haven’t totally figured out how to operate it yet (I’m a while off cycling across ceilings and balancing it on artichoke hearts and doing somersaults over railings and suchlike).

By the time I got off the roundabout, Running Man was at least six cacti and a desert rose ahead of me. He thought he had me; I could sense it like a fresh dog turd on his mouldy trainer.

Well, I wasn’t having that at all. I got up on the pedals and kicked them into a blur. My legs were on fire, thighs screaming. Metaphorically, please. Again, I gained on him, we drew level; we were neck and neck, charging down the pavement, the foliage flattened in our wake.

I turned my head to see the whites of his eyes and tried to work up the energy for a victory cackle, but I didn’t have the puff. We shared a slo-mo moment of psychic understanding. I tried to knobble him with a lethal sweat slick – hey, he cheated at the roundabout – and then Running Man speeded up AGAIN.

Up ahead, the entrance to Springs 2 loomed; all I had to do was maintain my advantage until I reached it. I could feel Running Man’s breath blistering the back of my neck. As I swept around the bend to Springs 2, left knee scraping off the ground, I nearly wept with relief.

I would have given a victory salute, but I still need at least two hands on the bike or I end up in a pot plant. I turned around to stick my tongue out at him, and saw that Running Man had turned into Springs 2 as well!

I was getting to the point where I was going to have to run the bugger over, when I managed to shake him off with a feint left. Then I really did weep with relief.

It was at least another week before I could feel my legs again

Fitness plan – or more accurately fitness anarchy

Two weeks ago – when we were still relatively healthy – Husband and I drew up a fitness schedule. Actually, it was more a loose agreement to attend the gym three times a week: on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday.

We only made it to the gym once and the energy required to get Hsuband there was a workout in itself. It was as if the very mention of going exhausted him beyond measure:

“Husband. Husband! You still alive? Good. Ready to go to the gym?”

“The gym.”

“Yes. You going to get changed?”

“I’ll just take a little nap first.” (Falling asleep on the sofa.)

Later: “Come on, stop procrastinating. Go and get ready.”


He disappeared upstairs and five minutes later, upon hearing no movement or sound from above, I went up to find Husband prostrate across the bed:

“What are you doing?”

“Thought I’d rest a moment.”

“Well, STOPPIT! Come ON!”

I prod him into – well, action is too strong a noun. Or it could be a verb; I’m never quite sure.

When we got to the gym, Husband spent ten minutes give or take – more give, to be honest – half-heartedly trying to touch his toes, which was undoubtedly comical although I am still unconvinced of its efficacy. Then he mounted the treadmill and strolled nowhere for ten minutes; then managed a five minute spurt of jogging.

I was so engrossed in my workout that I ripped the handle off the cross trainer. Husband’s treadmill was never in danger of unwitting vandalism.

Then Husband materialised beside me like a hungry Undead and stood around kicking the cross trainer.

“So, how much longer d’you think you’ll be?”

“About fifteen to – huff! – twenty minutes?”

“That long?”


“Fifteen minutes, you said?”

He sat on the cycling machine next to me and fiddled around with the settings and his phone and his HRM. When he finally located the pedals, he found they were good foot rests.

Then he was back at the cross trainer.

“You done yet?”

“Oh for heaven’s sake, yes! Come on, let’s go.”

I tell you, I was in agony the day after.

Husband wasn’t

Accessorised with my own personal rainbow

My regular attendance at the gym has more to do with getting my hit of Melody TV than keeping fit. Over the last two months I realized that the same collection of music vids were on constant replay and I was starting to wonder whether Arabic stars ever released any new songs. I’d thought the glorious charm of Haifaa Wahby’s squirming bosoms would never wear off, but I have to admit even they were getting a bit droopy.

I am delighted to report that a fresh crop of Arabic songs is now doing the rounds. My current favourite has our heroine skipping through the forest, dressed for the elements in a red cape, girlie dress with flounces, pig tails, bobby socks and t-bar shoes. Here she comes swinging her basket, the veritable essence of innocence were it not for the vast chasm of cleavage exploding out her bodice. That, and the positively filthy way the girl has of looking at a camera.

All of a sudden she skips behind a tree and – argh! – it’s Mr Wolf or, more specifically, a man in a gorilla suit. And Mr Wolf is WEARING A CODPIECE. This immodest defense of Mr Wolf’s modesty is bright red and looks suspiciously like PVC. It is absolutely precious. The first time I saw it, I fell off the treadmill laughing.

There is something fundamentally and deeply disturbing about these videos. Are they more or less disturbing than Western music videos featuring malnourished prepubescent American girls waving their malnourished ribs around and straddling greased up dancers? Well, I’m not sure . . . but at least with Western videos the sexuality is out there quivering at the camera, rather than dressed up as innocent teenage entertainment. Mr Wolf in a shiny red codpiece – I ask you.

When I’m not high on Melody TV, I pass the time by people-watching between press ups. According to Shaw’s Theory #9, you can tell an awful lot about someone from the way they work out.

For example, the man giving it loads on the cross trainer such that smoke is coming out the back: he has an official Porsche bomber jacket; a pedigree Labrador called ‘Hercules’; organizes his socks by colour code; and spends more time blow drying his hair than his girlfriend(s). He uses multiple exclamation points in his emails!!!!! He is a terrible lover. Deep down he knows he has no imagination or longevity (NB unable to conclusively verify this fact) and tries to make up for his carnal deficiencies by flashing the cash and doing enough lunges to enable him to store small change between his buttocks.

The woman in baggy t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms displaying lackluster performance on the bicycle? She was aghast to find three grey hairs this morning and a liver spot which on closer inspection turned out to be a freckle; she is considering breast enhancement surgery; she cries when watching Oprah; she has a guilty secret (romance novels); her husband only ever does the dishes in order to flirt with the maid. She eats dark chocolate in 500g portions and once tried yoga but was self conscious about her lycra clad thighs. She takes charge of her life dammit! by going to the gym every morning and spending 20 minutes cycling nowhere (25 on a good day).

The well toned young man on the bench: it is clear from the way he points his toes when doing cross-overs that he is gay and contemplating a fabulous life from the darkest recesses of the closet. The brisk way he exercises indicates that he is fond of his mum and cats; he dates beautiful women and treats them like a queen; he once posted a personal add describing himself as having ‘great s.o.h.’; he is not aware that he points his toes when doing cross-overs but would vehemently deny it. His favourite film of all time is ‘Dirty Dancing’ – he always thought Baby had a certain indefinable quality (most people would call it Patrick Swayze).

I have heard that in America many people treat the gym as a potential pick-up joint. Well, I have no idea how that works, being only marginally less attractive ten minutes into a workout than I am when twisted drunk. I tend to do things more by multiples than halves, so it’s never long before my face is a furnace and my top ringed with damp. I positively EXPLODE sweat to the extent that I am accessorized with my own personal rainbow. And sometimes I grunt when I do bicep curls. I try not to: I know how unladylike it is. [When we lived in Karama, there was a guy who used to come down to the gym and do sit-ups, each one accompanied by a fart. I think he used gas as a form of propulsion. He thought I couldn’t hear him due to being plugged into my mp3 player. I could. The trauma.]

Of course, there has to be an upside to all this gym attendance, apart from the obvious (Melody TV, fellow exercisers, rainbows) (although in themselves, those are compelling incentives). Well, there is another advantage. If you look at my left upper arm, just above the elbow and below the third freckle, there is A Muscle.

I tried to photograph it as evidence, but I think the light conditions were sub-optimal

Pull my head

Having guests has highlighted just how disgracefully – well, pedantic is possibly the kindest word – I am. You might describe me otherwise (freakishly obsessive/compulsive). I know that this is more a reflection on me than on our houseguests, and have trained myself never to utter the following:-


“You missed a crumb.”


“Please can you line up the toaster in parallel with the sink?”


“Does that look like the cupboard for peanuts? I thought not.”


However, I did make an exception when I caught Raff wiping his gob on the tea towel, when I shrieked: “Are you KIDDING me?” I was unable to say any more, because I suffered a weak spell and had to sit down.


Now Raff makes sure I’m not around before snogging the tea towels.


Raff and Carol are both enthusiastic gym attendees – or semi-enthusiastic at least. Me, I’m still exercising every second day.  For a period of a week I had to skip the gym due to a dishwasher unloading incident; I was worried I’d slipped my disk again so took myself off to the osteo who put me on Brufen for a couple of days. I love going to the osteo; he likes to pull on my head – actually, both of us like it, him more because I pay US$ 70 for the experience. I’m worried that I am developing a head pulling fetish – I could quite happily have him tug on my ears for the entire hour. AND I can get BUPA to pay for the thrill, which is even more exciting.


In retrospect, the break from the gym was necessary to cure me of an unhealthy Melody TV addiction. But now I’m back bigger and better than before

Arse-shaped imprint

The writing is going well, as evidenced by the arse-shaped imprint in our extremely expensive leather sofa. Even though I expect the imprint to shrink with more cross training at Level 12, I’m considering a rotating seating plan

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