Monday, 30 September 2013

Of Times They Are A Changin

The training is going well. Today I swam 30 lengths in 16 minutes 27 seconds. Now, the aim is to get the time down to 16 minutes or less. Once I manage this the goal is to do 30 lengths in 16 minutes or less + 10 laps. Yes you're exhausted. You ache all day but you feel good too - even a tad self-righteous and that has to be worth all the pain..

Friday, 27 September 2013

Of One Cheeky Chappy

About a week ago I was in the car park of the local leisure centre. It was about 6.30a.m..I was too early for the pool  so I decided to sit in the car and listen to a Russian language CD. As I did so, I looked out and saw an animal nonchalantly making its way across the top of the car park towards the river. Not believing what I was seeing I hopped out to take a look but by the time I had fumbled for my camera it was gone. For a good few days I wondered whether I'd seen a badger, a large fox or a badly deformed cat. There were moments too when I doubted whether I had in fact seen anything at all. Russian lessons at dawn can do funny things to the head.
And then this morning this cheeky chappy made an appearance. At first he hid under a car but I managed to flush him out with a few animal like noises and capture him on camera.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Of Triathlons and Times

I'm in a race at the moment. Not against anyone else but myself. You see I'm in training for my next triathlon. The training plan is as follows. First I swim a timed 30 lengths. Then I aim to shave a decent time off this. Then I swim 30 lengths quickly plus another 10 at my own pace. Then I swim 40 timed. Then I keeping swimming 40 with the aim to do it quicker each time as I approach the next triathlon. Today I swam my first timed 30 lengths in 16 minutes 27 seconds. By  the end of next week the aim is to do it in 16 minutes or less. Then I go for the 30 + 10.
Stages two and three on the bike and in the jogging suit come later. For now it's all about the water and the stop watch.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Of Not Rushing the Russian

I'm learning Russian at the moment and it's tough going. But I'm refusing to give in and am throwing everything I have at it right now. I'm currently using the Idiots Guide to Russian, Michelle Tomas's Russian Language Course and Pimsleur's Russian Language Programme. The trick, I've decided, is not to rush to where I want to get to but to maintain a keen steady pace of learning.
The wife laughs at the prices in the audio examples which clearly belong to the old Soviet times and laments that she can no longer stay in a good Moscow hotel for 40 kopecks or buy a train ticket Moscow to SPB for 30 kopeks.
I was never very good at languages at school. In fact, if the truth were told I was rubbish. But I always had discipline and if I decided I wanted to do something I'd do it. That's why now I'm doing an hour of Russian every day and if I run short I have to make it up the next. Вынесите эй?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Of a Diesel of a Dilemma

We were having a great weekend. We had been to see the fabulous Red Arrows in Portrush, Argory House in Moy and the Bluegrass Music Festival in Omagh. And then between us (for the exact culprit shall not be revealed) we threw 6 litres of diesel into our car, which of course runs on petrol.

So what would you do if this happened to you? In fact I'd like you to tell me either by adding a comment below or by emailing me on and then I'll tell you what we did and whether or not it got us out of a major hole or just dropped us straight into a deeper one.

So here's what I did next. I phoned a family member and retired mechanic. He advised me to drain the fuel tank and under no circumstances start the engine. I called the AA because we're members. They advised that we weren't covered because we had caused the incident ourselves (they clearly took a dim view of those who "self harm"). They could assist but it would cost £240 plus extras including proper disposal of contaminated fuel.

I went into the petrol station to see if they knew a local company that specialised in misfueling. She didn't but very helpfully directed me to her dad who was working in the bar attached to the station. Clearly a family descended from the Good Samaritan himself dad left the bar to go inspect the situation with me. Noting that I'd only put in 6 litres he asked me if the tank was almost empty before pulling into the station and I confirmed it was. He said that it should be ok if I simply filled the tank with petrol and carried on driving. he said he would phone his mate who is a mechanic to check. He did and his advice didn't change.
I then got on the Net to see what the great font of knowledge Google himself was advising. Most of the relevant online chat talked about emptying the fuel tank although one guy did advise it would be alright to drive away after filling up with petrol as long as there was no more than 5% of diesel in the tank compared to petrol.

So there was my dilemma. Do I pay the AA £240+ and not risk it or take a chance and gamble on saving a wad of cash but ruining an engine which might cost £4,000+ to replace? The tank it transpired holds 40 litres. Your suggestions on the modern day equivalent of a postcard please...