Monthly Archives: January 2013

Jan is Long

And it’s still not over. Traditionally January is the most depressing month for me and many other people. The fact that I haven’t had to stand at a freezing bus stop in the dark twice a day this January has improved it immeasurably, I have to say. Also, even when we have “bad” weather over here, it’s still pretty good; with the icy cold winds and snow we still get blindingly bright sunshine. Strange weather this week, actually. On Monday we went for a lovely bike ride and then had lunch on the beach in shorts and T shirts. On Friday it snowed. This week it’s expected to reach 21c again. How is that even possible in the space of a week?

We had Cornish snow on Friday. What I mean is, it snowed like crazy on Friday afternoon for a couple of hours, enough to ruin everybody’s commute home and plans for a night out, then it had all melted by Saturday morning. Exactly how I remember the snow every year in Cornwall. Only they are even less prepared for the bad weather here in this part of America. They didn’t bother doing any kind of gritting on the roads even though they have the shiny Doppler radar thing that predicts the weather pretty accurately. However they do ensure that all pavements are cleared of snow and ice. For a nation that favours driving over walking, this seems a little lopsided to me.

This month does seem to have dragged like a seal’s posterior. I can’t believe we’re still only in January, and yet another part of me is amazed that it will be February on Friday. Hmmm. I decided at the start of the month that I would make plans to go to the gym every day unless something else came up that I wanted to do instead. Like going out for coffee and cake. Usually my gym classes are on pretty early in the day so there are few clashes with other events. Or perhaps I just have a sad life and don’t get invited out much. Anyway, what this means is that out of 27 days I have been to the gym (or out for a bike ride) on 20. I have never really been a major gym bunny so this is pretty impressive, even if I do say so myself. I’ve just had three days off, going back to the gym today. Partly this was due to the weather but largely because I just felt like having a break. And why not? The thing is, by the third day I realised I felt really grumpy, slightly headachey and a little bit down. I actually wanted to go back to the gym. So today I did, and I felt so much happier for it. What is happening to me??? Please don’t tell me I’ve actually caught this terrible gym bug thing????! Oh my days. Is there a cure?

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Categories: Leisure | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Twinkle Twinkle

The weather here is usually dry and rarely cloudy. We’re also fortunate enough that even in January the temperature doesn’t often dip that low. I know, I know, I go on about it a lot. Sorry. The point, however, is that these favourable meteorological conditions afford us many brilliant opportunities for stargazing. When I was dogsitting in December I made the excuse to take the dog out late every night so I could have myself a bit of nightly astronomy. The dog just appreciated the chance for a late night toilet stop. The skies are so clear here that you can see millions of stars (and for once I am probably not exaggerating). The only snag is that there are lots of streetlights and neon signs around where we live, which of course means that one’s night vision is severely compromised.

So last night, the hubby took me on one of the best dates of my life. He was working until just before midnight, so I went to meet him and then we went to our local beach. Just the two of us, two deckchairs, a thermos and a map of the stars. Gazing up at the heavens for half an hour, the view was so good that we actually felt we could see too much, as so many of the less bright stars were clogging our view of the “major” ones that make up the well-known constellations. This was without the help of any telescope or other device. Best highlight was seeing Jupiter, which is really simple as it’s one of the brightest things you can see, but there’s a real sense of achievement in being able to confidently point out a whole other planet to someone else.

I can safely say that my favourite time to be on the beach is now midnight – give me a deserted stretch of midnight sand and some stars over a scorched July midday one full of snotty kids any day.

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You’re so fine, you blow my mind, ice hockey

It seems that everyone is taking up some kind of activity to keep fit or get in shape for the New Year. So I decided to take up sport 🙂 . This weekend I attended my first proper American sporting event. I went to an ice hockey game once about 15 years ago, to see Manchester Storm. I’ve just looked them up and apparently they went out of business due to lack of income over ten years ago. Shame. Not the sort of scenario I can see happening to an ice hockey team on this side of the Atlantic.

Anyway, this time around I had the pleasure of seeing Norfolk Admirals against Syracuse Crunch (a rather appetising name for a chocolate bar if you ask me. Certainly more appealing than the Hershey Bears anyway).
I know pretty much nothing about ice hockey. Actually, that’s probably a bit of an understatement. So it was fun trying to guess the rules as the game went along. I have since looked at a basic guide to the rules and it pretty much confirms my understanding, i.e. that there aren’t really that many rules and the objective is pretty much just to zip around the ice as fast as possible and attempt to score as many goals as possible. There are three periods of play, each lasting twenty minutes. What?? Seriously, who came up with that? Two or four, fine, but three? That’s just a teensy bit lopsided if you ask me, seeing as each team gets two goes at one end and only one at the other. So why not just stay at the same end for each period then? Also in the event of a tie they have one five minute period of extra time, however instead of playing the whole five minutes (because it’s such a long time) they stop as soon as one team scores a goal. To be fair, by that point it has been such a long night that everyone is desperate to get home. No really. I mean, there may only be sixty minutes of play, not the eighty or ninety we are used to in British sports, but the play periods are punctuated by other events – various competitions designed to relieve the spectators of as much money as possible, mainly – not just in between the three periods but also in the middle of them at seemingly random times. If there is a nanosecond of stoppage time then an advert will be shown on the big screen or read out by the announcer. Which all goes to reinforce my view that this nation has the collective attention span of a gnat. I don’t know how they would manage to sit through a whole half of football or rugby. The upshot of all these advertising/moneymaking episodes in amongst the play is that an hour’s worth of sport takes three hours to complete. Phew.

It seemed to me that players were substituted in an entirely random manner and whenever they felt like it. In fact I have just checked the official rules and this does seem to be the case. What this meant was that the game would be in mid-play and suddenly one entire team would skate off and be completely replaced by their team mates with no warning. Slightly strange.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty high speed game and I had little time to discern many other rules as I was too busy just trying to follow the puck around the rink. The velocity of the game makes it extra exciting as there are frequent face-plants on the glass / general ungainly crashes onto the ice as the players fight for control of the puck. The goals are really small (technically four by six feet, apparently) so I wondered why the goalies didn’t simply kneel down in front of them, as their shinpads would cover the entire goal area. Oh well.

By far the most exciting part of the game, however, are the fights. Every so often a couple of opposing players will get fed up and rip off their gloves and have a little bit of a punch up. The referees stand back and let them get on with it until there is bloodshed. The crowd loves it – the fights get even bigger cheers than the goalscoring does. Also the word FIGHT!! flashes up on the big screen in much the same manner as the word TRY might do during a British rugby match. Fabulous. More sports should encourage this type of violence.

I’m going to try baseball next. As a spectator, obviously. We’ll have to see if it can live up to the high octane thrills of this weekend’s ice hockey.

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