Monday, 24 September 2007

busy weeks

Emma finally left for London last week (although it feels like she only just came back from Japan). She was meant to be there when we were over there and was missed in Paris when Patti, Jeremy and Anna were there with us. She's leaving Shin behind to cycle around NZ. We went along to her leaving dinner/Shin's birthday last week. Here they are:

Minnow is just sooo cute that she needs to be shown off:

This weekend was pretty chaotic. There was a freediving comp here in Wellington, which I hadn't done enough training for (not quite sure why I bothered), considering we've only been home for three weeks. Everyone else did particularly well. Dave broke the Dynamics world record twice (I unfortunately didn't manage to see either). Kerian pulled out a 201m, which is pretty huge. Phil did 131m without fins. Guys did over 7 mins in statics. Ant got to 223, but shook a but much and unfortuneatly just lost it at the end. I did a 93m no fins and 111m with. I'm vaguely happy with the later as it was pretty easy, and I've only worn my fin about 4 times this year. For me it can only get better from here on in... The competition was held over three days, but after ten weeks away I decided not to bother asking for additional time off. I had a go at DNF on Friday night (never a good time for me) and DYN on Saturday morning. Kerian, Guy and Phil modelled their sexy suits for the camera.

We left the comp after my swim on Saturday morning and drove up to Palmerston North to see Elizabeth Quinn get married to Gareth Gibson, boyfriend of 8 years. Elizabeth and I attended all the same schools in PN so have known each other since we were 5. She's the one that the teachers used to get me mixed up with... It was great to catch up. I got home without as amny photos as usual. But I'm sure they'll put some of the good ones up on their wedding website soon. It was great to catch up with some other old friends from high school too (top photo is Elizabeth, Gareth and Dennis and Bev Quinn, lower one is bridesmaid Nadine Fletcher, from high school).

We went back to Wellington to catch the final Sunday afternoon session of the competition and the prizegiving. I didn't compete due to lack of training and a good evening out the night before. Jude made some beautiful medals for us (Thanks Jude!). Guy lost his clothes (stolen) so spent the rest of the evening in his rubber suit, drinking champagne. Is Dave really tall or is Kerian just really short - perhaps a little of both... What do you think of my blonde look? I'm just waiting for summer to catch up...

Friday, 14 September 2007

week ending 10 Sept

Yes, I'm running a little late. I don't really remember what I did last week. It's all been down hill since my first fabulous training session. At least I proved that I've still got it, just have to subtract the stress loads and I'd be great! I think my first swim once I got back in the water was a nice easy 85m no fins, which I'm not complaining about. I've even had my mono out for some sessions! I was just testing that I really don't like it in the pool and justifying my decision to spend heaps of money on a new one (it's working). Just have to figure out how floaty I want it (being a very floaty person I won't need it to be anywhere near as floaty as the boys' ones - would end up with my feet over my head all the time).

I had quite bad jet lag last week. Every second night I couldn't sleep. I assume it was every second as the next night I was shattered and had to go to bed early. Work is manic and I managed a whole day of overtime this week. I'm really tired already and have to try to get lots of sleep prior to next weekend's competition. I'm hoping the tiredness is just a carry over from the jet lag, but might be part of having to use my brain again after having such a good break.

I really don't want to fall over again. I think I need to reconsider some of my breathe up, etc, as I'm getting huge head rushes lately, even if I come up fairly early I generally feel a bit wobbly. It's a bit concerning. We'll see I suppose. The comp is too early for me really - I need about 3 more weeks to get back into shape. :( If I'm still feeling like this next week I might not compete... :(

Saturday, 8 September 2007

People on our travels

I just wanted to mention a bit about the people who we caught up with on our travels. This is Mariko who lives in Shanghai and very kindly showed us around. Can't explain the big golden pig: We caught up with Sandra and Sven in Vienna for dinner and a bit of sightseeing the next morning:
Patti (my old flatmate) came to join my support team for the World Champs - Go NZ! This was an excursion organised by the WC organisers, to Lake Bled. Eva (Denmark), Penny (Oz), someone else on the boat, wierd over-enthusiastic tour guide guy, Maria (Denmark) and Barbara (Germany).
We put some faces to names at the World Champs. This is Ben(ny Boy) Noble from the land of Oz (living in London). This is after the WC but before the after party, taken in our fab high school hostel room.
The pre-party drinks grew... From left to right we have Penny (Ben's wife) from Australia, Eva from Denmark (the Danes brought some very strong liquor which help them to forget the entire evening from about the prizegiving onwards), Liv from London, Ben & Braedon:
The Danish liquor went around the room. Martin from Germany, Maria from Denmark, and Patti from NZ:

I can't remeber this guy's name so if someone could prompt me that'd be great. THe shocked girl is Elizabeth from Norway, with Britt from Denmark behind and you can just see a bit of Rhys' forehead (Ozzy living in London).

Not sure who these two guys are (think they're Americans), but this is Junko from Japan (she trains in Hawaii) and Annabelle from Hawaii:In London we caught up with Debbie and Anna from NZ.

... and Penny, Jeremy (my old flatmate) and Ben (again after WC):In London we slept on the floor of Mike and Jane's little row house flat. They're Kiwis too.Amber and Todd came and stayed with us in Paris while charging around the world. They're Kiwis too...Patti stayed with us in Paris for about a week. Jeremy and Anna came over from London for a weekend. This photo was in one of the many queues at the Eiffle tower...In Aix-en-Provence Heidi and Shaun gave us a bed and were wonderful hosts showing us the local sights.

This is their daughter Maia. She's got such a great place to grow up among the vines in the sunny South of France - and they have a pool!

In Rostock, Germany, we stayed with Andrea and Emilliano. I met Andrea in NZ when she was here on a student exchange in 1997! She was heavily pregnant (due about now), but they managed to show us around the town pretty well.In Berlin we stayed in Sandra's apartment while she stayed with her boyfriend Sven (remember we met up with them in Vienna earlier), not too far away. We met Sandra in 2003 when she was in NZ doing her masters and we were her Kiwi Connections VUW alumni hosts.We caught up with Braedon's cousin Amber and met her German hubby Heiko in Berlin, and they showed us some local sights:We also caught up with my old Wellington scuba diving buddy Stefan and his partner Miriam in Berlin. They cooked us a very nice meal. We also got to meet their daughter Helena. Unfortunately she had gone to bed when I took this photo, but never fear...

Stefan took us to the airport the next day and brought Helena along:In Singapore we stayed with Tom and Chris, who were fantastic hosts - they looked after us very well.

So, thanks to everyone who gave us a bed to sleep in during our travels. And it was great to catch up with some friends we haven't seen for a while and put some faces to names in the freediving world.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Week ending 3 Sept

This is a bit funny. I haven't held my breath since my DNF at the WC, 8 July. Anyway, I thought since I'm home I'd better start up my routine asap, especially since there's a comp in three weeks and the boys all seem to be improving at such rapid rates, I'd better do some work to try to catch up a little...

Tonight, my first breath holds in a good eight weeks consisted of 3:30s dry CO2 tables. Much more than I expected. It was bloody hard, but about the same as I was doing before I went to Slovenia - makes me happy. We'll see what dynamics brings tomorrow evening. Maybe the altitude training helped me with this or perhaps just being pretty fit after the trip was good (despite excessive eating and drinking almost every day). Anyway, I guess we have to see if it lasts or fades off.

I have a few new training strategies:

  • Don't give up drinking (it makes me tense), but reduce to max one drink in a sitting for the fortnight before a comp.
  • If my resting pulse increases I need to reduce my training load
  • I need to keep up my short intense lunchtime swim sessions to keep my resting pulse low (maybe not in the week before a comp).
  • Sleep should take priority, which means I have to sacrifice longer pool sessions for shorter dry sessions at home and get an early night if I need it. Speaking of which, I should be in bed - jet lag kept me up until 3am last night, I was tired all afternoon, and now I'm not again.
  • The dog needs more walks.

I also need to start using fins again. Now is probably a great time as my legs and back are pretty strong from the excessive walking we did in Europe.

Europe has left us :(

Last time we spoke we were in Florence (with free internet). Italy was amazing, although the towns seemed smaller as we got through everything we wanted to see much faster than previously (possibly because we'd had enough of museums, art galleries and chateaux).

We finished in Florence with a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, which was quite fantastic, the Ponte Vecchio, more pizza, visits to a few closed churches that I've studied over the years and a walk in the heat of the day up the hill to Piazza Michaelangelo where there was yet another copy of the David, this time in bronze. I enjoyed Florence, and was a little disappointed that we didn't get time to climb to the top of the Duomo.

We took a day trip since we'd pretty well covered Florence. We took the bus down to a crazy little place called San Gimignano. It was an old walled town that used to have lots of towers (they've fallen down with time). It was a sign of wealth to build a tower so they tried to build them as tall as possible. There are only about 14 left from about 100 (it's a really small place, would have been absolutely nuts in the 14th century with all those towers). There wasn't really much to do there so we went to the cathedral and the Museum of Torture, which really just made me even more sceptical of religion (most instruments of torture in the museum were designed and utilised by Christians in the middle ages up until today). We had pizza (again) for lunch in the square with a caraffe of Chiante (as you do in summer in Tuscany). Very nice.

Once we'd finished in San G...o we took the bus down to Siena. Unfortunately we missed the horses by a couple of days, but the clean up was mostly done (they have a huge bare back horse race around the square twice a year - pretty huge festival, but really dangerous - mainly for the riders). We waited in a short line for an hour to climb the Torre del Mangia (you had to wait for the groups of 25 people to both climb and descend the tower before the next group could access it - about 20 mins per group, excruciating with lots of over-excited, yelling, running children around). We just wandered around for a bit, had a local dinner at an Osteria, with another caraffe of wine from a traditional cask (the wooden kind), then took the train back to Florence.

Rome was slightly disappointing after the beautiful cities we'd already visited (Paris, Vienna, Venice...). There were heaps of cool ruins to see and cathedrals on every corner (built with stone pilaged from the non-Christain Roman ruins). The colosseum was awesome. It came complete with an Eros exhibition full of very explicit pottery. You've got to see a photo of this (click on the photo to see the full size):

We managed to go to an ehibition of Santiago Calatrava's work in Rome. It was pretty fantastic. His sculptures were just exquisite. Little architectural and structural masterpieces.

We had accomodation woes in Rome. Firstly our guesthouse double booked us, so they organised an apartment for us at no extra cost. The apartment was in the roof space of a building right by the Pantheon (very central, but 104 stairs, no lift). Firstly we had issues with the pop up waste in the shower that wouldn't pop up, which meant I had the joyous job of bucketing the water out and pouring it down the toilet. Then we had a wee issue with power. I plugged in the cell phone to charge it which just happened to blow out the fuses for all the power outlets and most of the lights in the apartment (while cooking dinner), so no stove, no hot water, no air con... We tried to fix them but the switches in the fuse box wouldn't work. I then tried to call the apartment owner, but the phone went dead (of course), so we spent ages finding a pay phone, then a phone card, then waiting for her to arrive. However we were kind of lucky as the Indian family that was booked for the adjacent apartment had decided not to stay there (due to the number of stairs and small children) so we were once again up graded to a larger apartment with a balcony for no extra cost than the room in the guest house with a shared bathroom.

We did most of the major touristly things in Rome. We spent a couple of hours in the line for the Cistine Chapel, saw the Vatican and St Peters, the Pantheon (of course), Spanish Steps, Roman Forum and Palatine...

So, we decided to head off down to Pompeii for a day. The day we went was the 1928th anniversary of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. We went on a bus tour, which was probably a mistake. I just couldn't be bothered working out all the public transport to get there and back. We spent 16 hours on this tour for 3 hours at Pompeii and a three hour drive each way, but of course you have to go to the jewellery shop (selling cameos made from Conches shells and coral jewellery - neither of which I would buy out of principle - though I think it's illegal to bring coral into NZ anyway), the lunch thing, the "tour" of Naples, which involved dropping the other (Capri) tour off at the port and driving along the water's edge for 20 mins, and last but not least being the first to be picked up and the ast to be dropped off at the hotel at the end... Anyway, after all that Pompeii was pretty fantastic. They're still digging up new bits. The frescoes are still on the walls and the tiles on the floors. They make plaster moulds of the gaps left by bodies in the ash, so we saw the impressions (including bones) of some of those who lost their lives in the eruption. It's a weird place, but well worth a visit. It was at least 35 degrees and felt particularly hot in the ruins. There were some very burnt people (you don't tend to burn further north). After the tour but still in Pompeii, Braedon purchased an orange from the guys making fresh orange juice. He broke it open and gave me half. I split a piece off and inside were a few happy maggots. He took it back and after some persuasion they accepted that it wasn't good to eat and gave the money back. I got put off both oranges and juice for the rest of the trip... The bus on the way back must have taken a bit of a short cut getting into Rome as we did about a 30 point turn around this tight corner, denting at least one car, the bus itself and bending a bollard. All the car owners seemed to be at the adjacent restaurant, first they were laughing, but soon they started moving their cars...

We hired a car from Rome and Braedon drove us down to Puglia. We stayed in Alberobello, this tine little place south of Bari near the east coast (top of the "heel"). There were very cute houses called Trulli all around. We did some scenic Sunday driving around the area, taking in Cisternino and the beach at Torre Santa Sabina (but it was pretty windy).

We drove over to the West coast via Matera, which is a cute little place. The house are a mixture of caves and buildings and it's a world heritage site. I could have spent much longer exploring there. It was really cute. But we had to head off to Ascea, which is right on the coast south of Salerno. There were a lot of fires burning everywhere. At one point we stopped by a lake for a drink and it was the lake that the helicopters where filling up there water, then flying off to dump it all on local fires. We took the scenic route around the coast (I think it took twice as long (about 6 hours) and made it much harder to find our hotel). We didn't get in until quite late, but managed to have dinner at the hotel and then went for a quick dip in the sea under the moon light.

Unfortunately we had to head back to Rome early the next day to catch our flight home. :(

We stopped for a couple of days in Singapore where we stayed with Tom (from Freyberg spa pool) and his partner Chris. They were great hosts, they showed us around a bit and fed us well. They had a huge apartment and a beautiful 50m x 25m swimming pool in their complex, which we made good use of in the evenings. We didn't really get up to a lot. A bit more shopping, Mt Faber views, Little India, drinks at Boat Quay and a few more malls.

Now we're home and I'm a bit jet lagged. :(

The exciting news that I got when I arrived was that Ang already gave birth to her son Connor with the greatest of ease, 5 weeks premature.

I promise I'll sort out some trip photos soon (they just take soooo long to upload that I need to have my patient hat on...).