Monday, 30 January 2012

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2012

This weekend saw 'A' and I taking part in the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch as we did last year.  This year's attempt was, again, very successful probably due to the colder weather over the last few days.

Arnold was doing his best to get out in the garden to scare away any feathered visitors but we managed to keep him amused for the whole hour so they could chow down in peace.  Typically today, after the event, we had an even great number of birds and different varieties but that's just the way it goes!

For more information on the purpose of the Big Garden Birdwatch visit my post from last year.

Here's our results for 2012:

Blackbird - 3
Blue Tit - 3
Chaffinch - 2
Collared Dove - 1
Dunnock - 1
Goldfinch - 4
House Sparrow - 2
Magpie - 1
Robin - 1
Woodpigeon - 3
Wren - 1

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A cold canal stroll

Last Saturday, as part of our new weekend regime, we headed over to Stourbridge.  Not very exciting you might think but we set off on the canal tow path from the Bonded Warehouse to the Red House Cone Museum at Wordsley.  It was a lovely, cold and frosty January afternoon and once on the tow path we were away from all the hustle and bustle of Stourbridge and could have almost been in countryside.

[caption id="attachment_1193" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Stourbridge Canal"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1194" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="'P' & 'A' on the canal walk"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1198" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Canada Geese on the Stourbridge canal"][/caption]

We stopped off at the Red House Cone Museum and 'A' and I had a quick look round while 'P' waited outside with Arnold.  There were some fab studios inside including a pottery workshop where you could actually 'have a go' but due to the fact 'P' was sitting outside on terrier duty we thought we'd leave it for another day.  We headed on through to the main cone section and watched a glass demonstration where the man made long thin pieces of glass that looked like spaghetti and then a demonstration of how the glass can be twisted with different colours.

[caption id="attachment_1197" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Red House Cone Museum"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1196" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="'A' at the Red House Cone Museum"][/caption]

Arnold was so good on the trip out, passing lots of strange dogs, swans and geese and not getting drawn into a barking contest.  But unfortunately, on the trip back he'd obviously decided, no more Mr polite dog, and barked and growled at every passing canine (especially a poor border collie who jumped out of her skin!).

[caption id="attachment_1192" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="No more Mr Nice Dog!"][/caption]

Monday, 16 January 2012

The mojo is back

I'm what you'd call an irregular runner (plodder).

I see running as a means to an end, the end being a sleeker body and the opportunity to not look like a beached whale whilst on holiday.  But saying this, I do very occasionally actually get what is known as the 'running bug' - that buzz you get from continually improving and an urge to get out there for your next run.  I hasten to emphasize here that this 'buzz', for me, is infrequent and more often than not I require a bad result from the scales or a kick up the arse to actually get me out there.

This is kind of how 2011 panned out.  My best laid running plans went out of the window.  Races I'd intended to do, I didn't and by September I could tell the jelly belly was making a return.  I felt that in order to progress I needed to change the way I trained.  Too often I was plagued with shin splints and achy knees which made me think I was going about it all in the wrong way.  My aim has been for a while now, that I get back to 10K races but the same thing happens every time.  I enter a race to give me 'motivation' then I put far too much pressure on myself to get across the finish line in a good time and by doing so end up knackering myself completely in the run up to the big day.

From October last year I decided to ask my friend Jane to come out with me twice a week. Although we spend far too much time talking, the commitment to get out there each week is there regardless of speed and distance.  In addition to running with Jane I also tried to add in a longer run each weekend which I sometimes do with 'P'.  This time though, rather than increasing my distance I just run for an allotted time and try to keep my pace slow to steady,  I then increase my long run by around 5 minutes each weekend.

Now this was all going well until Christmas and New Year loomed.  Work commitments increased, Jane and I had other engagements (yes, yes, excuses I know!) but basically it all went kind of crappy for a while.  However, 2012 has seen me return with a vengeance.  I've not only been running regularly but also walking much more than I normally would.  My 'time' rather than 'distance' regime seems to be working well and wait for it..........I actually got up this morning aching to go for a run!  Yes, the BUZZ is back.

I opted in the end for a brisk dog walk rather than push myself on a rest day but at least I know the urge is there and hopefully will stay.

January 2012

Runs to date: 5
Walks to date: 8
Hikes to date: 1
Calories burnt to date: 2449

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Welcome back weekends

We decided that 2012 would see us making a little more of our weekends.  It's all too easy to fall into the trap of housework, DIY and general 'vegging' as the weekend passes by. Running our own business we also seem to spend a lot of time planning our workload for the coming week and before we know it, Sunday evening has arrived along with the ironing of school uniform and work shirts.

Arnold, for one, has been rather pleased by the new approach to our weekends as the last two have seen us taking him on a countryside ramble and a walk by the canal.  Last Saturday we headed to Abberley nr Great Witley in Worcestershire armed with a circular walk we'd downloaded from the web and our O&S map.  I will be the first to admit here, that our map reading skills aren't the best and 'P' out and out refuses to look at the map at all due to his 'inability' in this area.  Now, you've probably guessed where I'm going with this, we did get kind of lost due to turning left instead of right at a very strategic point.  Never the less we had a lovely walk finding our way across country fields, past farms, animals and many, many (many) stiles.  The stiles themselves gave us a new challenge as most didn't have Border Terrier sized access therefore leaving us to pass Arnold back and forth between 'P' and myself.  I think he was starting to get a little narked towards the end of our 90 minute walk, God knows how St Bernard owners get on?

[caption id="attachment_1173" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="One of the few stiles with Arnold access"][/caption]

At the end of our walk we stopped at the Manor Arms in Abberley village for a quick half.  Although it was January 7th and 5pm, we sat outside with our muddy boots and muddy dog and didn't once feel the cold.  The landlord was extremely welcoming and we can't wait to pop in again.

Try visiting Walking Britain to download details of the same walk.  Maybe you'll have more luck at map reading :).


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Goodbye 2011 - A quick catch up

After an unintentional and rather long break from blogging, 2012 sees my return!

The end of 2011 was tied up with family life, choirs and A LOT of reorganising on the business front.  December saw us take the school choir to the huge Young Voices event at the LG Arena in Birmingham (see here for last year's Young Voices post) along with a trip to the local Merry Hill Centre for their annual Choir Competition.  Although, we weren't successful with the latter, the kids did themselves proud and we couldn't have asked them to do more.  I was pretty choked up after their performance I can tell you.

Things have been extremely busy with work, this being the main reason for my absence from blogland (and cardmaking and crafting and basically anything fun!).  We have been evaluating our business by means of several review workshops with a local company.  This has seen us assessing our client base, finances and the services we offer in order to re-evaluate and push things forward from 2012 onwards.  Doing the business review has helped us immensely.  We now feel that rather than drifting from one contract to the next, we have an aim and a plan that will see our business grow, year on year.  In fact I'm quite excited about the potential things we have lined up for this year.

Ladies choir kicks off again tonight and we're making great progress with our rehearsals for the upcoming concert in April.  Three more harmonised songs to get through and then we're all done with the 'learning' part.  Only staging and a bit of choreography to master then and we're good to go.  School choir starts up again next week and I have a hell of a lot of work to do before then, preparing, recording and editing music. (Had most of the music since Sept and still only just got around to doing anything with it!).

'A' performed in 'Hairspray' with Youth Onstage at the beginning on December.  A fabulous show with some super performances.  Although, part of the chorus, 'A's confidence has grown no-end since she joined the group.  She struggled with the late nights this time and looked a little washed out by the end of it all.  She's decided to take a break from the next performance to give herself opportunity to try some of the drama available at school.

Christmas 2011 has been a far more relaxed one than of late.  Due to our busy work schedule during the lead up to the festive season, we were more than happy to simply chill and spend time as a family.  It was our turn to invite the family on Christmas Eve and this saw us offering our usual quiz to keep everyone entertained.  It's been nice having the children at home but I feel ready now to get organised and take on whatever the new year has to throw at me.