Monday, 30 June 2008

I wish that the wish I wished would come true!

Because the weather is so nice and my hayfever so bad, I’ve had to stay inside a lot more than I would like to. It is terribly frustrating to look out the window into a sunny, warm day that I can’t enjoy but at least it’s given me a chance to catch up on my reading.

I just finished a great book called Walt Disney and the Quest for Community and I really enjoyed it. It is a quasi-academic look at the various influences that Walt Disney had when he came up with his concept for EPCOT (the city, not the park). Because Walt died before the ideas were fully developed, the book also speculates the direction those plans were headed and the possible issues that would arise. It really was a fascinating book – and as a special bonus, it even mentions my town of Milton Keynes. Not many other Disney books specifically mention the place where I live!

As soon as I finished that I picked up another fascinating Disney read, this one’s called Realityland and it’s a behind the scenes look at how Walt Disney World was planned and built. It proved to be a great follow-on read as it gives the story of how things actually went in building WDW and of course Epcot (the park this time, not the town!). Realityland has lots of stories and facts that I had never heard of, even though I have actually read a lot of similar books. I haven’t finished it yet and I am really enjoying the read.

Whenever I read books that tell me all about the story of planning and construction of a place I know as well as WDW I love the fact that I am learning even more about this potentially useless subject… call me weird but I just like to know how it came about, how it works and even where it’s all going. I like knowing useless things like how Bay Lake was drained, cleaned up and re-filled. I like knowing how the Contemporary hotel got its name and how the Venetian hotel never really happened.

But mainly it makes me wish I could travel back in time and see all these amazing things as they happened. I love looking through old park photos (and even have a good collection of old souvenir books from the 70s and 80s) and seeing how they have evolved or stayed the same. I just really, really wish I had been there and had a chance to be a part of opening day cast, of the team that organized the marketing before the parks even opened or even just be a visitor on the first day.

Perhaps this is why I like these sorts of books so much – they are the next best thing to a time machine. They give me an idea of what it would have been like to have been there when State Road 535 was a dangerous small road and not the wide road that I rode every day to work in Epcot. Or what it must have been like to have this enormous construction project where thousands of people all worked at once. I feel like I missed out on something because I was born too late.

Why Disney I hear you ask? I don’t know actually, I’ve liked the company as far back as I can remember and was a huge factor in applying for work there. But to be honest I’ve read other equally fascinating business books from other big companies and there are also stories there that I love. Somehow though there seem to be an awful lot of books about Disney and I actually worked there so the fascination seems natural to me. Weird to others, I know, but bear with me – a girl’s got to be into something!

So until time travel is invented and then available to normal people, books will have to do. I will fill my head with all this useless knowledge and then bore my family until they beg for mercy!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A statement of public accountability

A year ago I was logging 50k a week, running between 4 and 5 times a week. I was doing tempo runs, long runs and even some speed training. I was roughly at the halfway mark for my marathon training so the distance hadn’t increased a lot yet, I was just doing a lot of running, a lot of the time.

This year? I haven’t been out in nearly 3 weeks. Not even for a 1k walk down the street, let alone an 8k tempo run as I was doing. Why? Well, mainly because I am not training for any big races any more, so the motivation to train is not as strong as it was. Also, other things have taken priority so the time isn’t always there and also, I’ve changed my routine.

I actually think that this last factor is the most important one. When I was training, my routine was to get out there and run either at lunchtime or after work when possible – no questions asked. I missed a few days here and there but for the most part I didn’t have to think, I just changed and went. That routine has now been lost and there were a few days last week that I could have gone for a run but for whatever reason other things interfered and it didn’t happen.

They say when someone does something three times it then becomes a habit. I need to get back out there and run some more and I promise to do it next week, to get a fresh start!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Haven't done one of these in a while...

I've been tagged! I thought this was a pretty interesting one so I've had a go...

Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following. They have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up! Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial You CAN NOT use your name for the boy/girl name question. Send it on to 3 other people for them to put it in their blogs. Tag you're it!


Four- (4)-LETTER words: cars, coal, cane, city

VEHICLE: Canyonero! (from The Simpsons)


CITY: Coventry, Cairo,

BOY Name: Carl

GIRL Name: Cecilia

OCCUPATION: Car salesman, city planner, congressman


FOOD: corn chowder


SONG TITLE: Could it be magic?

SPORTS TEAM: Chicago Cubs!

If you read this, consider yourself tagged and have a go!

Monday, 16 June 2008

Oh the irony!

I was one of the lucky ones – I grew up in a place where it was warm and sunny most of the time, sometimes very hot and rarely uncomfortably cold. During the summer the sun would actually be out all the time, we could count on dry days and the weather was basically never an issue.

As you know I moved to the UK a few years ago and basically this is a country that has never really embraced me. From the dismal weather to the uninspired food to the cultural shock, it hasn’t been very easy to love the place. The biggest issue for me is the weather – as I see it it’s 11 months of waiting for summer and one month of huge disappointment, with a few rare sunny days overall. It’s very frustrating.

What’s the worst part? When the sun DOES come out and the weather is pleasant I just want to run outside and spend as much time as possible enjoying the sun, the warmth, the lovely feeling of not being cold… but I can’t. The final insult in this sorry saga is that in the UK I have also developed hay fever. It is the ultimate torture – to have to sit inside on the few precious days of sunshine because, if I don’t, I feel like my eyes are on fire, my throat incredibly itchy and my nose so stuffed that I can not take a deep breath.

How incredibly unfair is that??

I never had hay fever prior to living in the UK and, in fact, only seem to have developed it in the last 5 years or so (it’s hard to tell because I may have thought I had a never-ending cold before that, seeing as I didn’t know what hay fever was like). It is akin to that proverbial straw that so annoyed that camel – I just can’t stand it. I have of course tried all the drugs and treatments and some work better than others but I still get days when I want to rip my eyes out of my sockets and rinse them under the tap to get some relief.

I freeze for 10 months hoping for nice warm days and when they come, I’m allergic to them. I can’t even run outside as I will pay for it dearly with bright red eyes and feeling like crap. In an evil, ironic twist I sometimes find myself wishing for rain – I hate rain - just because this is the one thing that can settle the pollen down and make me feel better!

All of last weekend the weather was so-so but the few moments of warm sunshine I had to retreat inside: my nose hasn’t stopped running and my head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton. I have to stay inside and watch others have fun or brave the outside and then feel miserable. Needless to say I am in a very grumpy mood and am planning ways to move to a warm country I’m not allergic to.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

I could have scrapped all night...

I came back from Scrap-a-ganza Holland with around 10kg worth of new stash – and I consider myself a restrained scrapper. The bulk of the new stuff came from class kits. They were pretty generous (some more than others) but honestly, I can’t complain.

In most kits not only did I get enough to complete the project but also enough to do a few more layouts or at least enough to embellish a fair few extra layouts. Everything in the photo below either came from a kit or was part of my welcome present (including that lovely tote in the back!)

The hotel was a different one than the one SAG used previously and it was very, very nice. My room was simply enormous, the bed very comfortable and the bathroom very spacious. No complaints there.

The hotel facilities were very nice too and I even had the chance to use the pool. The hotel itself is pretty huge and I kept exploring it to find new nooks and crannies. It was all very modern and posh. The corridors were full of light:

It was located a bit in the middle of nowhere though and I missed having the sea right on our doorstep. But it did get a chance to get out for a couple of runs on those nice, flat, straight Dutch cycle ways!

The event itself suffered from a few issues which I won’t go into here (but I have done so here and here) but in general the classes were great, the teachers awesome and the kits very, very yummy. I have so far completed a few of the projects and will no doubt complete a few more in the next couple of weeks.

Here are a few, starting with an unusual double layout from Doodling for Dummies - unusual because the pages are stuck to each other instead of side-by-side as is most common for doubles).

Here are another two layouts, this time from the Bazzill Basics workshop. I always like these workshops because they remind me that cardstock is more than just a base for layouts but a design element in its own right:

In the Making Memories workshop we put together 3 layouts very quickly, using the noteworthy line. Although these feature far too much stuff and far too few photos for my taste, I quite enjoyed the techniques because I can never make this type of 'bohemian' layout look very good!

(Blogger was acting up and wouldn't let me upload the other two layouts so I'll have to owe you those...)

The best part of the weekend for me is meeting new friends as well as seeing old ones. I have always attended SAG on my own so while it can be a little scary sometimes it also gives me complete freedom to do whatever I like (and means I don’t have a roommate to annoy when I wake up early to get out and run) and it also means I get to meet more people than I probably would if I was there with a friend or two. Every year I meet lovely scrappers from all over Europe (and a few from further afield) and it is lovely to chat and catch up and share in their incredible talents.

All in all I had a great weekend, a generally relaxing weekend and came back with tons of new stash and the happy memories of both old and new friends. So it was a worthwhile investment and will probably be enough to get me to go back next year.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Hilly and very warm - my Croatian runs

When we went to Croatia I made sure I took my running shoes as I've grown to really like my runs in other places. Not only does it make me feel virtuous and healthy, it is also a great way to enjoy a few quiet moments enjoying the new surroundings. So I made time to fit in a short and scenic run while I was over there.
The run started a little boringly by just running along a road but it was downhill and you could see the ocean in the distance!

The road soon turned and I ran alongside this luxurious private villa. It didn't appear to have any guests, which is a shame as it has some gorgeous views on a beautiful day like today.

This is the main path I was running on - on the left I had a lot of mountain and on the right a sheer drop into the clear blue sea below. Can you tell that it's a little hilly?

Another view of the scenic path, with the Lapad in the distance. Although it was warm this section of the run was quite shady and with a cool breeze so very pleasant. It wasn't so pleasant on the way back though, as this gentle slope seems to become an enormous hill!

Another view of the path and the blue sea... I ran all the way to the end of the path, to where you can see the beach in the distance, and then back. The hill was hard work!

Once I was back from the scenic path, I took this one which is one of a series of gravel paths surrounding our hotel and the area. This one was my favorite because it was generally flat and very scenic. Running on the gravel was hard work though, as the path was very uneven.

Near the end of the run I came to this section which isn't far at all from our hotel. I loved the view and, on other days, you could see huge cruise ships anchored in the water below. After this section I had a very sharp uphill section and then I would be back at the hotel.

The whole run was around 5k and it was pretty tough in sections because of the hills and the gravel underfoot. But the views and cooling breeze more than helped to make these runs really memorable. They also gave me an excellent excuse to have one more slice of pizza at the evening buffets!


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