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Ultra blog 5

27 Mar

Motivation

I am 9 weeks into a 24 week training schedule.  Without seeming too smug I haven’t missed a run in my schedule and am still enjoying the training.  I am embracing that because I know there will come a time when I am de-motivated and crying out for a rest.  Until then I will keep on running.  I am constantly hungry, constantly tired and constantly aching.  I am becoming a little obsessive – obsessive about runs, obsessive about my kit, obsessive about illness and injury avoidance.  I breathe a sigh of relief on completion of every run; I am one step closer to my goal.  Having a goal gives purpose to my obsession.

Key motivators

Friends and family: However, my social life is taking a big hit.  I have had to turn down a number of holidays, birthday events and nights out this year because they are in the middle of my schedule and I simply cannot fit them in.  I did warn all my friends and family that this would happen but I don’t think they quite realised I would be turning down invitations outright, just to run.  To them it seems nonsensical, selfish even.  Perhaps.  But equally, they are in awe of my challenge and despite my neglect they are very supportive.  Like you would be when faced with a self-obsessed hypochondriac eating machine.

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Schedule: Here is my schedule if you’re interested.  It’s a hybrid of one I found in Runners’ World and one from the sponsors of Race to the Stones, plus my own intuition and experience.  But here’s the thing – I tweak it every week.  It’s a remarkably moveable feast as I judge how I feel against what I have to do and those unavoidable commitments.  Nothing in this game is set in stone.  Keep it flexible to stay motivated and to keep your friends (and your job).

WEEK MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY SATURDAY SUNDAY
               
1 5K REST 5K REST 6K REST 8K
2 REST 7K SWIM 5K REST PARKRUN 10K
3 REST 7K 4 HILLS 7K 11K REST REST
4 REST 6K 7K REST 8K 13K REST
5 REST 8K (Mitch) REST 6K SWIM 15K 6K
6 REST 5K REST 5K REST REST 17K
7 REST 6K REST 7K SWIM 17K 7k
8 REST 6K 7K 8K REST 18K REST
9 REST 6K SWIM 7K REST 19k 10K
10 REST 5K Mitch 5K REST 10K REST
11 REST 9K REST 10K REST 20K 6K
12 REST 10K Mitch 10K REST 22K 8K
13 REST 6K SWIM 16K REST 24K 6K
14 REST 7K Mitch 10K REST 10K REST
15 REST 8K 6 HILLS 9K SWIM 25K 7K
16 REST 9K 6 HILLS (Mitch) 12K 5K Rest 28K
17 Rest 10K 5K 10K SWIM 30K 10K
18 REST 8K Mitch 16K REST 16K REST
19 REST 7K 7K 8K Mitch 32K 16K
20 REST 8K 10K (hills) 10K REST 12K 35K
21 REST 10K 6K 10K Mitch 42K 12K
22 SWIM 8K REST 10K REST 21K 10K
23 REST 5K Mitch 8K SWIM PARKRUN REST
24 REST 10K REST REST 5K 50K RACE 50K RACE

Nature: The reason I enjoy running anyway is because it is an excuse to go outside on my own and be amongst the natural world.  I love nature anyway, but, call me paranoid, there is something slightly weird about a person wandering around on their own unless they are doing something purposeful like walking a dog, running or cycling.  Being outside in the open, breathing fresh air, looking at the birds, the plants, the wildlife calms me, makes me smile and is liberating.  Even routes I have driven round seem different when I see them on two feet.  I connect with and appreciate my patch so much more having witnessed it during all the seasons.  Running brings me solitude in nature which is my ultimate motivation.

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Headspace: I know this will sound pretentious, but I practice mindfulness.  Or meditation, call it what you will and the reason is because it works.  I use the Headspace app which includes episodes on sport including motivation, focus and competition, as well as other principles.  Somehow, and I would love to know how, it has stopped me reacting to pain like I used to.  I no longer get post-run neck pain and headaches which is a marvellous result.  It may also be helping me get out the front door every day to run.  I have no idea, but I am happy with the results.  Other apps are available.

Podcasts: I love listening to interesting podcasts while I run.  I usually pick comedians or other social commentators or just subjects that I like and so it provides a light-hearted and entertaining means of escapism to drown out the pain and tediousness of long distance running, after having listened to all my music playlists a hundred times.  Yawn.  I might even learn something along the way.

Treats: After all this challenge and achievement, I have to treat myself.  After a very long weekend run I find a nice gin and tonic does the trick.  Quite simply, it’s a miracle cure and no excuses.  Sports massage is also something I look forward to, so it’s a treat as well as being physically beneficial.  Clocking up all those kilometres means constant hunger and so I generally eat whatever I want whenever I want.  I try to keep a good balance of protein, carbs and good fats just like they tell me but I eat a lot of chocolate too and I don’t care.  I’ve booked a dream holiday next year and somewhere hot for Christmas.  That’s always a good motivator.  I look forward to and enjoy my rest days and recovery weeks, and I love an afternoon nap.  These tiny things in the overall scheme of madness really help me carry on.

Besides, now that spring is here it’s simply much easier to get out there and run….

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The long road ahead

Ultra blog 4

25 Mar

The next instalment – some more basics

Injury

Every runner, indeed every human, suffers from wear and tear. Touch wood I have never been so injured that I have missed races, but I inevitably get sprains, strains and niggles caused by over-training.  Usually, rest and recovery over a few days makes it all right again.  During ultra training there is no room for too much rest and recovery and that is why it helps to build in a contingency plan by preparing as long a training schedule as possible in the build up to a race just in case you do have to take a week off to recover and still be on track.

However, if you can’t do that, you can get help. I see a fantastic sports massage specialist called Mitchell Phillips at Studio 57 in Hove.  He and his wife, Elle and brother, Matt are directors of this great practice that offers all kinds of treatment and advice for sportspeople.  Good sports therapy does hurt!  But it’s a good hurt because an hour in a room with Mitch and my legs feel lighter than air.  It is well worth finding professional support like this and worth the cost.

They also give good on-going advice such as a sequence of stretches you can do at home, advice on self-medication like ice or heat. I always get confused as to which is best.  Plus they are great motivators as most of them are sportsmen and women themselves and are knowledgeable about their subject.

So keep on running folks.

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Ultra blog 3

24 Mar

Kit bag

The other reason for this challenge is the excuse to buy more stuff. My new obsession is browsing and shopping for running kit.  It’s my porn.  There are so many items you can persuade yourself you need to sustain you during an endurance event and all the training beforehand.  My current favourite new item is the race pack.  It is basically a backpack or glorified vest with  tonnes of pockets  and places to store litres of water in bladders with tubes that have “blister valves” (the geek in me loves all the terminology) maps, a whistle (for real!), gels, phone, whatever you many want while you’re out there running.

I have also discovered the difference between a trail shoe, as opposed to a road shoe, gaiters, buffs, compression clothing, Garmin. It’s all so exciting.  I want it all but it costs a bomb so just like the training, I have to pace myself.  Luckily, Race to the Stones is well-organised and I don’t have to lug around a sleeping bag and overnight kit, but one day I probably will and it will just mean more shopping!

Shoes, shoes, shoes

By far the most important item has to be your running shoes. Duh! I have gone through a manic buying spree of trainers after my faithful old Ravenna 7s had to be put out to grass at the beginning of this year.

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They were essentially a road shoe as I do a lot of road running.  Mainly because in winter when I’m running in the morning or evening around work hours it’s dark and wet so I have to stick to well-lit tarmac.  Also, roads are even and not pitted with ankle-busting divots and holes so I find I can run a lot easier and lighter.

Now that spring is here and my race is off-road in summer and I will be able to train over the fields and on the Downs, I decided to invest in some trail shoes (that can also transition to road use if needed).

Cue feminist rant – Women’s shoes have been designed by manufacturers who assume we all have tiny, narrow feet and don’t run more than a mile or so.  In reality, women’s feet come in all shapes and sizes (amazingly) and we can run vast distances so our feet swell and we need wider bigger shoes.  But none of the manufacturers, in the UK at least, will supply a wider fitting women’s shoe.  The answer for me is to buy from the men’s range, that starts at size 7, width D.  I am a 6.  At least it means my feet get more room overall.  The next trick is to tie the laces to secure the shoe but allow the toes plenty of freedom, and there is a whole world of lace-tying technique out there.  Thank you internet.

That problem solved, I have far fewer blisters and have not lost any toenails. During the last marathon training I lost three, but that was because I had my actual size 6 – always go larger.  It has also meant fewer leg niggles and therefore fewer visits to the expensive physio, which just goes to show.

I’m in men’s Brooks Pure Grit 5 and they now provide the perfect running machine.  I tried Brooks ASR 12 GTX (good support) and New Balance v610 (wonderfully waterproof) and they would have been fine if the assistant at Run and Become hadn’t suggested a neutral shoe would do, and recommended the ones she uses.  So remember, get advice from those in the industry.  They know their stuff.  And good shops allow you to return trainers even after a little use if they are not quite perfect.

Enough about shoes.

By the way, about five years ago I trained myself to fore-foot run and have since had no knee pain whatsoever. I do get calf strain and tight hamstrings and quads but they just need some good stretches, ice, foam rolling, intermittent sports massage and/or Rocktape to put them right.  No blinding pain or long term cartilage damage to deal with.

See you for the next one…

Ultra blog 2

23 Mar

The next instalment

What is an ultra-marathon?

That is the first question every non-runner asks when I tell them my plans for this year. It is any distance above traditional marathon distance.  So yes, you could run, say, 27 miles or 43 km and call yourself an ultra-runner.

After hearing my explanation with a look of horror, the next comment is, “You’re mad.”

I didn’t think so when I signed up but now I definitely do. That realisation dawned on me after the fifth run in a week where I had run a three-day run streak, had a rest day, then done a long run and a shorter one back-to-back.  That killed.  Now I am building on that pattern but with longer runs each week.

Why an ultra-marathon?

Good question. My first ultra will be Race to the Stones on 15 and 16 July 2017 – 100km (62 miles) over two days. That’s the distance from the surface of the earth to the edge of space!  It will be an adventure.  I enjoy running.  Eight weeks in and I am still enjoying the training although it is relentless.  It is very different to training for the marathon distance.  First, you do a lot more running on consecutive days and find I run naturally slower because I’m running on tired legs.  Secondly, marathon running is a competition to beat a specific time.  Ultra-running, for us amateurs, is just about eventually finishing.  And eating cakes at regular pit-stops.  And walking up the hills.  And camaraderie with fellow runners.  And getting a medal.  And the kudos.  What’s not to like?

Ultra blog

22 Mar

Constantly running, constantly hungry, constantly tired and constantly aching. Welcome to the world of ultra running.  I love it.

By way of introduction, I like running and it seems to like me, so this is one relationship I can sustain! I ran Brighton Marathon in 2015 and before that London in 2007 after starting out as a bit of a gym-bunny back in 2000. I hope to do New York in November.  In between all that I have run many shorter races, I Parkrun and now I have hopped on the latest bandwagon, the ultra-marathon.

To ultra-run one has to ultra train. Spending so much time on your feet with no distractions means a lot of thinking and a lot to get off your chest so I may be blogging profusely over the next few months.

Caveat: I really am not one of those people who “discovers” something as old as time itself, then builds a whole business and brand around their journey to enlightenment. I wish I was, I might be very rich, but to me it seems trite and a little bit boring.  I am just an ordinary woman, holding down a full-time job, who found out that she loves running in her spare time and it has become a passion.  But this is not my whole life and I am under no illusion that to many this is a well-trodden path (pun intended) and I am not expecting worldwide recognition.  I just feel the need to jot down my experiences, for myself, to remind myself where I came from and where I will go next.  I took inspiration from others like me. If someone gets encouragement from that, good, but it is not my objective.

Keep on running

During marathon training you go through a thorough process of finding out what your body is capable of and also learning to listen to it. During ultra training I can hear it pleading with me – to stop, rest, eat, drink, sleep.  So far I have found, if I can keep my body relatively happy with good nutrition, a constant supply of water, a good night’s sleep and perhaps driving to work instead of walking, it rewards me by sustaining the level of training needed and even belting up a hill on the last run of the week and that amazes me.  Another strange thing is that whilst I am in the actual physical act of running none of these niggles are apparent. It’s only when I stop that they manifest themselves.  The answer therefore must be – keep on running!

See you for the next installment…

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Everyday sexism

16 Feb

I work in a traditionally male-dominated industry, the law, but in the twenty-odd years I have been a part of it, I would say I have not suffered or witnessed any overt sexism. Although I have in my time probably not been offered the same salary as a male counterpart, which is always hard to tell because there is no set wage structure, I have obviously heard stories over the years.

But recently I have been subject to outwardly sexist comments from male clients. Perhaps those who work within the industry are more covert than those we serve.

The first example was an older man who was disputing my costs (yawn) and during our conversation he implied that the women who had worked in my team surely did not have as high a charge out rate as the man. In his opinion, the women’s work was not as worthy as the man’s and so surely cost less.  

But by the same token he disliked having a man working on the team because he considered that they cost more and he didn’t want to pay so much. Go figure!

Then today I was explaining the set-up of my team to another male client and it happened to consist of three women. So he asked if there was a partner in charge, and it dawned on me that he meant a man in charge, because in his words,  “with all these young women…” implying that a man had to be in charge of us all or surely we would all run riot. In actual fact ‘us women’ are all in our 40s and, young or old, we are all qualified solicitors perfectly equipped and sensible enough to conduct the business we do without male supervision.

Perhaps it is because I am much more educated on sexism and feminism, having taken much more of an interest over the years with the changing mood of the world post-Brexit and now Trump, that I have noticed these recent incidents. The world is becoming more fascist and the new normal is to be sexist and racist with impunity. It makes me very, very sad but also more alert. Sometimes though, ignorance can be bliss. 

New Year on the Garden Isle

8 Jan

In that no man’s land between Christmas and New Year the best thing to do is go on holiday. The weather in the UK is invariably rubbish, everyone is comatose and intending to stay that way until forced back to work the following week.

To avoid a coma this year, my two travel companions and I chose to visit the small Atlantic island of Madeira, owned by Portugal and part of the archipelago that includes the Canaries, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and several other small islands I never knew existed, off the west coast of Africa. Without any preconceptions I went with an open mind and was really pleasantly surprised.

It is larger than I expected (about the size of east and west Sussex together) and green. Mostly hilly, a touch mountainous, the inhabitants cling to the edges wherever there is a bit of flat land, or indeed just build a house precariously into the rock face.  It is pleasantly warm even in winter, although there is a persistent strong wind. Huge surging waves crash dramatically against craggy cliffs. I suppose it is quite exposed sitting there off the African coast. Because of this location it is classed as sub-tropical.

Bananas and sugar cane grow in abundance; the sugar once providing the island’s main source of income, and was considered the finest and sweetest in the world back in the 18th and  19th centuries, its real hey day.

Booze

Also back then the island’s Madeira wine was considered a prize product, shipped all over the world it was used to toast the signing of America’s Declaration of Independence. What an impressive provenance. The wine is still revered.  Sipped at any given opportunity during the day, we found it goes well with their honey cake and avocado, but then again what doesn’t these days! Then there’s the 50% proof rum – or rather, their traditional rum-based drink – Poncha. It is a lethal mix of rum, sugar, honey and orange and/or lemon. Made to order by the specialist little roadside bar (?!) in Sao Vicente it is delicious, sweet and punchy.

Funchal

This is the capital which means “fennel” in Portuguese, a throw back to its past. It’s a pretty city to spend a day.  Starting at the harbour side, check out Madeira’s most famous son, Christiano Ronaldo’s museum, nightclub and hotel. And pose next to his statue with all the enthralled kids, big and small. The cruise ships flock to this island and there is always a behemoth moored in port. The cable car starts here and will whisk you sedately to Monte, where you can spend a very pleasurable hour or so wandering through the Tropical Gardens where there are thousand year old olive trees planted by the Romans and examples of garden design and plants from all over the world. Then check out the impressive church up here before jumping into a wicker basket and careering down the super-steep hills, guided by two old drunk men who ply you for an extra tip after you have parted with 45 euros for the 5 minute pleasure. It’s a thrilling experience that, like the gondolas in Venice, just has to be given a go. Then if you don’t want to get a taxi from the touts at the toboggan stop be intrepid (or foolish) and give your quads a workout back down to the city centre.  Time for more Poncha to aid recovery.

Try to visit the Madeira Story Centre, one of the best museums I have visited, it gives an interesting and well presented insight into the history of the island from its violent volcanic start millions of years ago, up to the present day tourist industry. Winston Churchill and other world leaders and celebrities of their time stayed at Reid’s Palace Hotel and you can see their signatures in the guest book.  It’s all very ‘Raffles’.

If you get seriously peckish, head away from the main harbour area into the winding narrow alleyways  behind it, paved with marble and basalt, and try a local taverna. And try out their famed fish dishes. Black Scabbard and Amberjack, preferably on a barbecue, they are delicious, as are tuna and lobster. Seafood pasta or seafood rice are served in huge casseroles and resemble a tasty stew stuffed with fresh tender sea life of all kinds. Mop it up with Bolo da caco, the local garlic bread and some crisp white wine. Food in Madeira is always delicious and well made. There seem to be a great many talented chefs on the island. They must be being held hostage or something. They could easily win prizes in London or New York if they ventured outside their island but thankfully for us tourists they don’t and so we eat extremely well!

Dizzy

Another detour can be made to Cabo Girao, a 580m high skywalk over the edge of a sheer cliff it is the second highest in the world and my sweaty palms and increased heart rate attested to that. Fantastic views.

But do make sure to get away from the coast and head inland. It is truly spectacular in there, with the mountains rising jagged and imposing all around you as your vehicle roars up those steep hills, over rocky, bumpy off-road tracks higher and higher, 1,500m into the clouds. The views are amazing. The villagers appear unfazed by the steepness and narrowness of every road. The island is volcanic in origin and so is very fertile, and they grow every vegetable and fruit you can imagine, here and there having built terraces to create every opportunity to make some flat land on which to grow stuff.

Natural

Funchal is on the south side of the island, which is hot and dry. The north is completely different, cold and wet. Very dense and green with indigenous laurel trees, and with an enviable bio-diversity, it is truly beautiful, a bit reminiscent of England in fact. The Romans wanted to harness the natural rainfall and cloud cover in the north and direct it to the habitations in the south and so they built the “lavada” system. It is really just a network of irrigation channels that one can now use to walk along beside in order to enjoy the countryside of the island, they provide a natural pathway to follow that can last a few minutes to over 19km if you’re fit and adventurous. They are still maintained by an army of workers and are a real benefit to the island. They still work perfectly well and are constantly full of clean, fresh water, a testament to their ancient inventors’ harnessing of the island’s natural resources.

2017

Back to Funchal for the new year’s celebrations. The town puts on a huge firework display in the harbour and from the hills surrounding it, that it is a true 360 degree spectacular. The nine cruise ships that stopped to enjoy the show all blasted their horns on the stroke of midnight and we happily toasted in 2017 with a convivial and the good natured crowd including families all around us. It was gentle and colourful and for that, one of the most pleasant ways to say good bye to the old and to welcome the new.

HAPPY NEW YEAR – and obrigado Madeira!

Don’t date a surgeon…

29 Sep

…who is also a divorced dad, unless you  have infinite patience of saintly proportions.  Unless you are as flexible as a Russian gymnast. And unless you have a fulfilling life of your own to get on with for 98% of the time that you won’t see him.

It’s no great secret that surgeons, doctors (and the ones who are parents) are insanely busy.  I don’t think anyone who works in any other profession can ever truly understand just how hard these dudes work.  80 or 100 hours a week and only 2 days off a month is normal. Without getting too political, their dedication is massively exploited.  So your disappointment at not getting to spend a date with him or not even receiving a reply text pales into insignificance and you just have to accept that.  But if he does choose to spend his precious spare time with you, instead of, erm, sleeping, you also learn to appreciate that.

Because time is so scarce for him, you will end up doing a lot of the preparation work for your dates, be it you travelling to his, having all the ideas to carrying out all the organisation to perhaps even travelling home alone afterwards.  That doesn’t mean he won’t ever do those things, but don’t hold it against him when he simply can’t.

A surgeon’s work is fascinating.  I would go far as to say it turns me on. So listen, be a sounding board, a crutch.  If that is what he asks for.  Sometimes it’s good for him to switch off from work or even his anxieties over the kids and talk about something, anything, else.  After all, you are both multi-faceted human beings. That’s what drew you to one another, so keep that spark alive. Talk about your ambitions, dreams, politics, sport, TV. Discuss the differences between Superman and Batman. Yes, debate anything and everything that is going on in the world outside your bubble.

You won’t be a priority.  Not all the time anyway.  Deal with it.  Easier said than done, I can tell you.  In a world of well-meaning advice and comparison by your peers and their 9-5 partners, it is very hard to come to terms with the fact that you and your surgeon will never have a conventional relationship.  He cares for you of course, but his work  and kids come first and foremost.  If he’s on call or gets a call about his kids, he has to take that call or he will get into severe trouble.  His job involves saving lives, and that must come above all else. Can you see now just how important you are?  Yep, not very.  But it’s not by choice.  He’s often suffering too.

He has off days and bad moods, but it’s not about me. This is the hardest to come to terms with.  It’s perfectly natural to take a person’s mood as a reflection of what they feel about you.  That’s if you’re dealing with any other person.  But when you’re talking about a surgeon you notice the bad days repeating themselves time and time again.  But I had to realise that he can’t show his emotions at work so he will naturally share his problems with me in private.  Again, it’s not about me.

Another hard one – is constantly making excuses for his absence.  But proudly making the excuses because I am proud of his work.  Besides, I am good in my own company even in social gatherings. Everyone tells me I’m wasting my time or they think I’ve gone mad and have made him up, simply because of his invisibility.  This is partly what drove me to write this article.  To try to explain the unique nature of our ‘situationship’.  I am sure my friends still think I am a pathetic, delusional doormat. God knows,  I have had a hard time explaining it to myself let alone them!

Of course on top of all this, because my surgeon has two young children and an ex-wife I have to multiply what I have said by ten.  Naturally, when he is not working he wants to spend time with his family and so our window of opportunity becomes narrower still.  They will vie for the top spot of his attention just as much as his work.

However, don’t lose sight of what you want. It is absurdly easy for your whole relationship to revolve around his incredibly noble and stressful job, but there are two of you in this mix so don’t be afraid to tell him what you want and call him out on any behaviour you don’t like. Don’t whine or be indirect. Just say it. You’ll be surprised at the result. And respected all the more.

After all the soul-searching, research, empathy and advice, I will never truly understand his struggle, but I’ll know better than most.  There are aspects of his life I don’t get, situations and frustrations that I angrily fail to grasp.  Emotions that run away with me.  I can’t compare this relationship to any others. But I try to listen and I try to learn every day to keep a sense of perspective.

But the positives far outnumber the negatives and are the reasons I enjoy my ‘sort of’ life with my surgeon.  He is absurdly clever.  Not just book smarts – the guy has two degrees and has been described in professional circles as the best senior registrar in the country.  He has street smarts too because he deals every day with people from all walks of life – those with a huge sense of entitlement, criminals, in his words, “nut jobs”, violent drunks, truly sick people as well as those who are genuinely grateful for his care and attention they receive for free.

He is great company, extremely witty, sometimes silly, funny with a dark, dry sense of humour.  He is mature, sympathetic and compassionate.  He is a good man and a great dad. All this makes him sexy as hell and well worth the effort.  Long live life with my gorgeous, quirky, fantastic, elusive surgeon.

Bugsy – an odyssey

1 Sep

The start of a beautiful friendship

On 5 November 1989, before I had even passed my driving test, I bought myself a pristine white 1971 VW Beetle.  After resolutely deciding that would be my ideal dream car and hankering after one for years, I searched the local papers (because there were no online auction sites or even internet back then) desperately searching for my Beetle.

Dad found the listing in the Friday Ad and on his way back from work one cold wet day all those years ago, he phoned the owner and went to view the car.  In his words, when the garage door was opened, he gasped in amazement at this thing of beauty and he knew right away his daughter had to have it.  He immediately paid the £100 deposit and promised I would be back that weekend to pick her up.  Deal done. ’80s style!

So with my best friend in tow, and mum the designated driver, I went to Crawley to collect my Beetle.  It was dark, raining again and I was beside myself with excitement.  I handed over my hard-earned pounds from the summer job I had relentlessly undertaken a few months before, and mum drove us all home.

My life in Bugsy

Since that day Bugsy and I have been inseparable.

During my college years before I got my full driving licence, as long as someone was in the car who had passed their test I could drive her.  My friend Jenny was a year older and had passed so four of us usually crammed in and bombed up and down the A23.  I also held down two part-time jobs and Bugsy was my lifeline. Then at University Bugsy became my symbol.  My friends knew I was around when they saw Bugsy parked up.  I adored her and my friends have happy memories of her too. Nev, you know who you are.

Naturally, we joined a posse of various like-minded young things in their VDubs and vans to enjoy Bug Jam and Run to the Sun from 1991 to 1995.  Those were my formative years and Bugsy was my entry ticket to the cool crowd.  She was always reliable; she never ever broke down.  Sometimes I had to park her on top of a hill in order to bump start her on cold mornings when the battery was getting old but that was part of being a penniless, but fearless student.  She was a magnet for interested, cool young dudes who wanted to impress me with their knowledge of Beetle working parts, and I let them! Why not enjoy the attention?  Bugsy certainly did.

My poor, tireless dad also spent many hours tinkering with her in the garage, when I wasn’t meticulously washing, T-Cutting and polishing her.  I spent many hours at various VW shows and drooling over Volks World magazine at what Bugsy could become if or when I had a bit of money to spend.  Mum pleaded with me not to lower her or mess with her as she was perfectly unique in every way.  I secretly agreed, whilst protesting that she could look “so cool” with EMPIs and a massive sound system.  Thankfully lack of funds put paid to my project dreams and she remains just the same as she did when she rolled off the production line all those years ago. Although all her wings, the bumpers and doors have been changed over the years due to various scrapes we have been involved in.

The worst was in 1996 whilst I was at law school.  Some dickhead, distracted whilst putting out his cigarette, rammed into the back of her at a roundabout.  I got severe whiplash whilst Bugsy was almost written off by the insurers.  I pleaded with them to repair her and they eventually agreed.  It’s amazing what a mother will do to protect her child!   Before that, in Coventry, a bus clipped her wing at a junction, but that was easily repaired in no time.  Bugsy is indestructible.

The saga continues

Whilst I lived in London I didn’t often take Bugsy up there. There was no point since I travelled everywhere by bus and tube.  Plus she got broken into in the ghetto of Balham, so I garaged her at mum and dad’s and kept her cosy whilst I lived out my dreams in the capital.  On occasion I would take a road trip with the BF and we enjoyed a lot of happy times together, struggling up steep hills, having picnics in fields, changing flat tyres and holding up traffic on busy motorways.

Inevitably I moved back to Sussex and Bugsy was waiting for me, good to go.  I bought a house with a garage specifically for her.  I continued to use her as my daily runaround for a couple of years, until my age and sensitivities persuaded me to get a more modern car.  Yes, I discovered power steering and air conditioning!  But my love for Bugsy never died.  I carefully wrapped her up in a specialized blanket and stowed her away in the garage.  Always with a thought at the back of my mind that her time would come again. Someday.

That day came in late Summer 2016.  Don’t ask me why but I decided to contact someone a friend recommended to me years before who knew how to repair old VWs.  Fully expecting such expertise to come at a price I just held my breath and hoped for the best.  To my utter amazement she didn’t need a lot of work to get her fully street legal.  A couple of hundred quid and she had a new battery, something with her clutch, probably some other mechanical jiggery-pokery, an MOT and she was back on the road again!  With hardly any rust and tyres still in working order, I was back to bombling around my neighbourhood. Hearing that familiar engine ring, and the oh so familiar smell of the interior, a heady mixture of petrol,greaseand well worn metal, immediately brought the years of happy memories flooding back.  I am so profoundly happy when I drive her again now.  Other people turn at the roar of that engine and smile.  She is a happy car. She brings joy to everyone.  Well, maybe not the boy racers, who just want to zoom past in a hail of dust and pumping music, but everyone else.

Long live Bugsy

You can follow her now on Twitter @BugsyAdventures. She has entered the 21st century!

Bugsy

 

 

Everyone needs good hair

9 Nov

I should know! I have BIG HAIR and most of my nicknames are a reference to my mane.

The lovely Jonathan at Shine in Brighton has the unenviable task of keeping it sweet and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude!

So check out their blog, website and the salon if you can. If you know me you know they can work miracles. (Love you Jon!)

http://shinehairblog.com/

Soso
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