Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year!!!

I'm having a very mellow New Year's Eve. I've dropped off my laundry, done my ironing, eaten some soup and I'm now plopped in front of the TV with a glass of Mencia. Do I know how to party it up in NYC or what ;-) I'll probably be in bed before the clock strikes midnight, I usually am, although that's typically because I'm dealing with jet lag after spending Christmas in the UK. I have no such excuse this time, but I'm just not one of life's night people. I'm much better at mornings, which is why I shall be up with the larks - and the walk of shamers* - to take the subway out to Far Rockaway for a New Years Day surf lesson. I KNOW....surfing in January, but it's forecast to be 50F tomorrow, it should be a beautiful day to be out on the water. I've finally coerced fair weather surfer, Megan, to come with me. She's always been bothered by the idea of wearing so much as a spring wetsuit having only ever surfed wearing a rash guard and board shorts, so she'll be having quite the initiation tomorrow in her 4/3 suit, hood, gloves and booties. After surfing in all that get up wearing a spring suit in a few months will be no probs.

To be honest you couldn't pay me to go and watch the ball drop in Times Square**. They were speculating on NY1 the other day that it's 90% tourists who go, but in almost 12years in New York I've yet to meet someone who's been. Native New Yorker Melissa was postulating that if you count anyone who lives outside of the 5 NY boroughs*** as tourists then the percentage probably shoots up to 98%. They were interviewing people on the news this morning who'd got to Times Square at 6am and were planning to wait it out for 18hours to keep their spot, because once the crowds arrive there's no moving, once you're there, you stay there. How does one go to the bathroom you might wonder? Well I've heard, although I've no idea if this is true, that people can I put this delicately...go where they are standing.


Spending New Year's Eve watching the ball drop in Times Square doesn't quite sound like the most appealing proposition when you hear that does it?

I wonder if there's a whole adult diaper situation going on? Ugh ugh ugh, WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN, why on earth did I think that? Just forget I said anything okay, it really does not bear thinking about.

Have a happy and safe new year's eve and all the best for 2012!!

*I did enjoy this Harvey Nics ad featuring the walk of shame and the fact that it doesn't deride the women who participate, but just encourages them to dress better when they do it. Ha ha!! Enjoy it ladies.

**I could take or leave going out on NYE in general to be honest. Melissa's father refers to it as 'Amateur Night' because everyone who doesn't typically go out at other times during the year hits the town on New Years Eve and it just turns into a bit of a mess. Not to be all bah humbug about it, but I'm inclined to agree with his philosophy. People seem to put themselves under too much pressure to have a good time on NYE and it usually falls a bit flat in my experience. In fact the only memorable NYE I've spent was when I was in my mid-twenties and rented a cottage in St Ives. St Ives is a small town on the Cornish coast and the whole town dresses in costume up for NYE and none of the pubs and bars charged a cover so we were free to roam from pub to pub, it doesn't cost a fortune and you have a built in opportunity to chat to people by asking them about their costume. Even the police who were on duty the year we were there cheerfully posed for photos with revelers. Happy days!!

***Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Final Day Of Sloth

So it's back to the gym for me tomorrow - 10am Pilates class with Kristen yay - but since I could not be arsed to get up for the 8.15am class with Nina this morning I decided I deserved one last day of being lazy slumped on the sofa, catching up on my DVR with the box of leftover handcrafted Bon Bons chocolates within reach.

Well kind of... reality I've eaten two of the Bon Bons for breakfast and now I'm feeling a bit sickly they are so rich and truth be told I'll probably be a bit more active as the state of my apartment is driving me crazy enough to sort it out. For some reason my parents - who flew back to England last night - feel that it's entirely appropriate, as temporary guests in my home, to rearrange my kitchen cupboards so that after they've left I can NEVER FIND ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!! Not that it aggravates me in the least. Oh no, not in the slightest, grrrrrrr ;-)

Anyway including today I have 5 days left before I am back to work, so I need to use the time wisely. Here's my to do list for the remainder of 2011/early 2012.

* Re-order apartment
* Catch up on DVR
* Take 2 Pilates and 2 Total Body Conditioning classes
* Have brunch with Melissa and Lauren
* See 'Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones' at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery
* See Mission Impossible 4 - if you'd have told me a month ago that this would be on the list I would have laughed you out of the room, but it's getting AMAZING reviews. I need to see it in a theater.
* See "Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art & Design" at the Museum of Art & Design before it closes on January 15th.

Can you tell I am one of life's list makers? I can't help myself, I'm an ISTJ.

Enjoy the rest of 2011!!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

A nice mellow Christmas in New York, we chatted with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew over Skype last night, unwrapped our gifts with sticky buns and coffee this morning and then took off to the cinema to see that festive classic, Girl With A Dragon Tattoo, plus only one minor family skirmish over some eggs*, so not bad going at all really!!

I had Fresh Direct deliver a, more or less, traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and all the trimmings which we are having this evening, so all I have to do is pop the turkey in and microwave some veggies, microwave the Betty's Christmas pudding my mother brought over - served with butter pecan Haagen Dazs instead of brandy whipped cream - and lapse into a food coma in front of the TV.

Merry Christmas!!

*Despite the fact that my parents have been hinting at me to make a round of Pisco Sours, which I said I would make today with my new ice crushing KitchenAid blender - thank you Santa - my mother decided that she really wanted scrambled eggs for lunch and got into a bit of a huff when I said I needed enough egg whites to make the cocktails they wanted. Fortunately when given the choice of using the eggs for cocktail hour or for a light protein rich lunch, she made the sensible decision to have a ham salad sandwich. Parents eh!!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Santa Surfs Rockaway

Very cute Facebook post today from New York Surf School. They are running a 10am lesson tomorrow and it's so nice and mild in New York - what a fantastic autumn we've had in 2011 - I can't say I'm not tempted, although I should probably be a dutiful daughter and spend quality time with my parents on Christmas Eve.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Wow, how did almost 3 weeks go by?

I've been meaning to post for a couple of weeks now, but there's been so much going on I haven't had a chance and now my parents are visiting for the festive season there is even less time. It's quite weird, although not in a bad way, but this will be the first Christmas that I haven't spent in England. It feels like a turning point. The reason they are here is that my sister, brother-in-law and nephew are in Australia reactivating their visas.

Beyond seeing my parents one of the things I am happiest about is that I get to more or less maintain my gym regime and that the season doesn't feel as gluttonous as it would normally be. Usually when I am in England I'm all "Ooooh I haven't eaten one of these since the last time I was here, I should eat 10 of them right now," and I come back to New York feeling like a total lard-arse, but there's none of that going on if I stay here and keep up with the gym and that's great, because Megan and I are researching trips to surf camp - we're thinking either Nicaragua (my first choice) or Costa Rica - in March so it will be good not to have extra weight to work off.

Anyway in lieu of an update - which I hope to get around to in a few days - here's are the amazing Black Keys for your enjoyment!!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

I am such a cool aunt

So as an elderly 40 year old I was completely thrilled to receive this email from my way too cool 15 year old nephew today.

"How's the surfing going? I saw a picture the other day of you in your wet suit looking like you know what you're doing. But the water looked cold"
I looked like I know what I am doing?????? I so don't, but I am glad I fake it well ;-)

Sadly despite 60F+ temperatures being forecast for Sunday I am not able to make it out to Rockaway for a surf lesson this weekend. Let me just say the words "woman's week" and leave it at that. Harumph!!

Instead of getting out there in the surf I took a Surf Set Fitness class at Chelsea studios with Megan this afternoon and I have to say it exceeded all expectations, it was amazing and much more cardio intensive than I expected, I loved it and I'm definitely planning to check out classes when they return to New York in January. I noted I had issues with my left arm when it came to the exercises that mimic paddling. I'm not sure if it's as a result of overly tight muscles or something more serious, but I plan to see a medical professional. Now that I have discovered surfing I don't want to have to give it up due to injury.

In NYC $78 worth of groceries...

...comes in one tiny box

I was quite flabbergasted to receive this after spending so much. Admittedly it supplements two weeks worth of food, but box????

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Perhaps I Need My Head Seeing To

Because I went surfing in Far Rockaway this morning. These are the kind of idiotic decisions you risk making when coming off the high of a great surf lesson like the one I took in Santa Monica on Monday with GoSurfLa. Megan is out in California this week for Thanksgiving with her family and had contacted Pete Pirus, the instructor I thought was so great, so hopefully she'll have as good a time as I had.

Today's lesson was also great, albeit in very different conditions to the lesson I had on Monday.
It was such a lovely day in New York today - although I still feel totally hardcore for going surfing in NY in late November ha ha, I'm so bad-ass. Not!! - and, while it was a bit windy by the beach, I was very toasty out there in all the kit I had on. Only two of us showed up to the lesson, but I had a great time surfing with fellow novice Sharon under the careful guidance of our very nice - and very easy on the eyes - instructor, Joel, who really helped me out a lot today when I was struggling to paddle against a current that kept sending us back towards a rocky jetty. Joel made it look easy, but the current was strong enough that you really had to paddle just to stay in place and despite all the weight training I do my shoulders were feeling the burn, however every once in a while Joel - realizing I was tiring - would help me out by giving my board a push.

I look like the creature from the deep in my 4/3 full suit. Wet suit thickness is measured in millimeters, the first number represents the thickness in the torso, and the second is the thickness in the extremities which are always slightly thinner because of the need for mobility. We also had hoods, plus thick gloves and booties on - size 5 booties for my own reference - but the extra kit wasn't the hindrance to surfing that I thought they would be.

Admittedly the photo could be of anyone, so you'll have to take my word for it, but it's definitely me.

My stance is so weird in this photo, I never knew that I held my arms that way when I surfed and I'm leaning further forward than I should, I am so not making surfing look cool and good God woman, BEND YOUR KNEES!!!! Although I'm thinking that the photo may have been taken on one occasion where I had a great ride in, but initially struggled to stay balanced on the surf board as I look like I'm further back that I need to be, so I think I may have been adjusting my position when the photo was taken. Fortunately I held on and surfed all the way into the beach. Yay!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

If Disney Did Surf Lessons...

...they would probably be a lot like the one I squeezed in at the last minute on Monday morning. Ah, it was the BEST!!!

I have to say that after Friday's lesson - brought to me Jaws* - in challenging conditions it was with a significant level of trepidation that I walked up to lifeguard tower 20 for my 8am surf lesson with Pete Pirus of GoSurfLa, but I'm so so so glad I scheduled the session, I had the most amazing time and could have stayed out for hours. The conditions were great for a beginner and Pete was a fantastic instructor, who disconcertingly bore more than a mere passing resemblance to my former love interest, 'Catweazle'. You could just tell he enjoyed teaching, my only regret was not scheduling lessons with him sooner.
We - another beginner, Cathy, was my companion for the lesson - even had a baby seal join us for the last 30minutes. Too too cute!! My only concern was that a shark might come and eat him as a tasty hors d'oeuvre and then consider me as a main course.**

I've already recommended Peter to Megan for when she is out in LA for Thanksgiving next week.

I also loved the O'Neill Epic 3/2 wetsuit I wore (size 4 for my own future reference). It fit me like a glove and kept me nice and toasty. Definitely a brand to keep in mind for when I'm ready to buy my own, although I'm not sure it had a key pocket.

*Although my experience in no way reflects my instructor Aidan, more the conditions that were too challenging for a novice, however I don't regret going out in those conditions in the least, because it helped me not to take the ocean for granted.

**Always the pessimist ;-)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Not much of an achievement I know...

...but today marks 7 days of not imbibing alcoholic drinks.


I'm hoping to make it through 26 days of not drinking - an idea that came to me after a particularly boozy day supporting the marathon last weekend with Megan, Debs and Layla in a 'i'll do my own marathon sort of thing - but we'll see how that goes when I'm back to work on Wednesday and of course there is the added obstacle of a former colleague, who went to work for a wine distributor, coming in on Friday at 4pm to give the department a tasting.

Must. Be. Strong!!!

Actually I think the office wine tasting will be really tough because work is definitely my trigger for craving a glass of wine - or three - at the end of a tough day, but the two weeks before the marathon last Sunday were particularly bad for both being stressful and having a lot of social events on the calendar, so I'm trying to take a break before all the Christmas/Holiday parties kick into high gear, although I almost succumbed to temptation at lunch today when I thought about how nice a glass of organic Chardonnay would be to accompany my fish tacos at True Food Kitchen* but my Catholic guilt kicked in and I ordered the Medicine Man fruit punch instead with Olivello juice** (um...what), pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, black tea, soda water and pomegranate seeds. Apparently it's an antioxidant blast!!

So it's bye bye beach and back to NYC for me tomorrow on a 2pm flight from LAX. I was pondering what I was going to do tomorrow morning and decided I would walk the 2 miles up to the Huckleberry Cafe and sample one of their maple bacon biscuit and coffee for breakfast, but today was such a beautiful day, that walking back to the hotel after lunch, along the beach, I felt a pang of regret that I'd only managed to squeeze in one surf lesson, so when I got back I Googled a few surf schools and quickly managed to set myself up with an 8am lesson with Go Surf LA.


Despite the battering I took on Friday I'm keen to get out there for another go. Wish me luck!!

*Love love love this place, wish they would open one in New York

**Apparently it's an extract of sea buckthorn berries. But of course, why didn't you say so!!! Smacks head!! Actually I am still completely clueless, but according to Dr. Andrew Weill, it's v v healthy. It was delicious I can tell you that much.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Looks like another rain shower is on the way

So it looks like squeezing in another surf lesson before I head back to New York is a bust judging by the dark clouds gathering over Santa Monica beach as I walked back to the hotel around 5pm this evening. Actually this photo makes the sky look much brighter than it really is. Those clouds could only be described as 'foreboding' and there were very few surfers out today on the numerous occasions I walked alongside the beach. I just can't get enough of that salty air regardless of how overcast it is.

Despite yesterday's battering I was really hoping to get out again and get some more practice in before I can pick up my lessons again in New York in the spring, but it looks like it's not meant to be. Ironically I saw on Facebook that Rockaway Surf School in New York has a group lesson scheduled for tomorrow as the temperature is supposed to reach a high of NY, in mid November!!! Who'd have thought it? I can't imagine there'll be many more lessons on the calendar in New York in 2011, but Megan did email me about an offer she received through Gilt Group to try a new surf inspired workout through SurfSet Fitness using their Ripsurfer X machine. This short video gives you a taste of the workout.

SurfSET Fitness: RipSurferX from SurfSET Fitness on Vimeo.

Very intriguing albeit a bit gimmicky!!! I'm not sure how much it will help my surfing ability given the biggest obstacle to my surf career is gaining a better understanding of the ocean, but it looks like fun, so Megan and I have signed up for one of the discounted workouts they are offering in New York in November and December.

So much for the storm being a non-event

I was woken up by the wind howling on the roof of the motel last night - although the guy in the next room snoring like a freight train didn't help - and rain lashing the windows, so it seemed the storm finally arrived.

Today is supposed to be a bit of a wash out so a good day to head up the Huckleberry Cafe on Wilshire, per a recommendation from Megan who is from LA, for a hearty breakfast followed by a few hours in the movies. Unfortunately there isn't much out there that appeals to me, but I'm considering seeing the Ides of March. It's either the movies or shopping and my credit card has taken a battering of late, so I'm trying to steer well clear other than for Christmas gifts. The upside to only having one surf lesson while I'm here is that I've saved myself $250.

Walking alongside Santa Monica beach at 7.30am on Saturday 12th November. I was surprisingly far from alone, lots of joggers and walkers out and about already.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Surfing In Santa Monica

So here I am, back in California. I took a private surf lesson through Santa Monica Surf School this morning - the same school I used when I had my lessons with Aussie Dane here back in July, although today I had a different instructor, Aidan, since Dane returned to Australia, ostensibly to renew his visa, and was never to be heard from again. Aidan's assumption is that Dane had trouble getting back into the US. I'm not sure what the deal is, but he was on some sort of visa that he had to renew every 3-months, so it does sound like the situation was a bit suspect. Anyway Aidan was a very nice guy - I've yet to meet a surf instructor in California who hasn't been nice - and gave me some good feedback, so it was all good, although I did end up having to cut my 2-hour lesson short by 30-minutes owing to challenging conditions and being so cold that I lost all feeling in my feet and was unable to tell whether I was in the right spot on the board. I had slightly more feeling in my fingers, but only just, they were cold enough that after a 90minutes I couldn't hold my fingers together to paddle effectively.

"That happens," said Aidan "it used to happen to me all the time, but I think I've got used to the cold now."

Hmmm, I'm much too vain to be in the water so often that I'll get used to the cold. Much as I find surfer guys attractive they frequently have a weathered look that makes them look a lot older than they really are, but men wear weathered much better than women - a double standard I know - and at 40 - even though I'm already apparently "sexually invisible" to men my own age* - even if most people do assume I'm in my early to mid-30s owing to years of steering clear of the sun - I don't intend to start adding lines quite yet.

I think if I'd been taking a lesson with Megan I'd have made it through the whole 2-hours as we would have laughed about how tough it was out there for a beginner, but on my own it was too easy just to feel exhausted and frustrated. The surf was really challenging today, breaking steeply close to the shore and it was really tough for me to even get out beyond where the waves broke as there would be a series of really large waves and then it would be flat for a while - which is when I would paddle my hardest to get out - and then the pattern would repeat. Aidan had to help me get out there initially by giving me a good push over the waves. I don't know what it is, whether it's technique or upper body strength I lack, but I just couldn't get out under my own steam. I'm thinking technique must be partially to blame, because I work out 3 times a week and do chest flies and presses with 15lb weights - almost double the weight used by most of the women in my body conditioning classes - and have a good amount of visible muscle tone in my arms, so I'm no weed, but sometimes surfing makes me feel horribly fragile and girly.

Today was definitely one of those occasions where I felt like a delicate little flower. I really got battered by the ocean.
I didn't eat or drink before my lesson - owing to my psychological aversion to peeing in the ocean, but also hating to feel the discomfort of a full bladder - but I felt as if I had a belly full of sea water I swallowed so much of it and several times the leash caught around both my legs immobilizing me and I freaked slightly and had to force myself to remain calm and use my upper body to swim for my board so that I could hold on and untangle myself. It was a good lesson to learn while in the company of an instructor who could help me out if I got into real trouble, but despite being a fairly strong swimmer I realized today how vulnerable I am in the ocean, especially if I were to panic. Had today been my first lesson I may have been put off by the conditions and I realized I have a LOT to learn. I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to consider getting a jump on that learning by booking myself into surf camp for a week in the spring, somewhere warmer like Costa Rica or Nicaragua, so that I can focus more on perfecting my technique and less on my own discomfort.

Oh and another thing I learned today...Aidan told me I am 'goofy' ha ha!! Make up your friggin' mind surf instructors. Back in July Dane initially told me I was goofy - which means I surf with my left foot at the back of the board - then in San Diego Eli doubted Dane's assessment and had me switch to regular which turned out to be much better, however today Aidan gave me a test where he had me stand on the beach with my feet together and then he unexpectedly pushed me between my shoulder blades and I automatically put my right food forward.

"You naturally put your right foot forward, you're goofy," he claimed.

"But I've tried surfing goofy and I was crap, I was much more successful surfing regular, I prefer to stick with that."

So I surfed regularly with the leash on my right foot, although halfway through the lesson Aidan asked if I wanted to switch. I don't think it would have helped. Seriously I was terrible today, you'd never know that just 6 weeks ago I was surfing all the way into Rockaway Beach on 80-90% of the waves I took. It was immensely frustrating!!

On an enjoyable note I was the only woman out there among about 20 hot surfer bod men. Not to blatantly objectify them, but...well okay I will, because seriously their arses look amazing in wetsuits when they are all laying down on their boards. It's quite a pleasurable sight given how awful mens' arses usually look in their jeans - why do they insist on buying styles that make their bums look saggy? - so that helped a lot in making the tough conditions bearable ;-)

When I booked this trip I originally planned to take lessons Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but today may end up being my only lesson. A storm was forecast for later today and the surf was expected to be really strong tomorrow. Aidan mentioned that after a storm the the flood systems fail and...well 'things' get overflowed into the ocean and there's likely to too much bacteria for it to be safe to surf for a few days. I asked him to give me a call if it's ends up being okay to go out, but he looked doubtful this morning, however the storm seems to have been a bit of a non-event. We experienced heavy rain for about 15minutes this afternoon, but nothing like the 3-5inches of rain the forecasters anticipated, so you never know. Fingers crossed. Tough as it was out there today I wouldn't mind squeezing in one more lesson, although the surf was crashing very loudly on the beach when I walked back to the hotel this evening, so perhaps tomorrow is out for me, but maybe conditions will be more favourable for beginners on Sunday.

*There was a very interesting post on Jezebel this week that talked about why older men chase younger women. Apparently it's all to do with them being so insecure about their looks in their old age that they need validation from younger women to make them feel attractive, which explains why so many 60-plus men - older than my FATHER for God's sake - message me online despite the fact that I clearly indicate an upper age limit of 50. Combining the nuggets from the Jezebel article with The Atlantic's 'All The Single Ladies' cover story this month and well...much as I would like to meet a nice bloke, I wonder if there's really any point in even bothering to try anymore?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

It's Snowing!!

I thought the weather people were mental when I saw snow in the forecast, but it looks like they were right for once!!

Chores be damned, it feels like a good day to whip up some soup, toast some granola and catch up with what's cluttering up my DVR before an early dinner with Melissa at St Anselm in Williamsburg this evening.

One Of My Recent Matches. Hmmm!!!


To be honest as someone with a stats background I am more offended by the poor quality of their matching algorithm than anything else. Sigh!!

Perhaps the universe is telling me I should just give up on dating. I think the last prospect I mentioned was Will of the West Village. We exchanged a few emails, discussed meeting up and then....never heard from him again. The men of New York who date online seem to be a thoroughly flaky bunch.

It's a miserable Saturday morning in New York anyway - absolutely pouring with rain, with predictions for a snow storm. It's hard to believe that in the first week of October we were enjoying temperatures in the 70s. The month started off unseasonably warm and is ending unseasonably cold. I hope this is not the last of the beautiful autumn weather we've enjoyed for the two weeks in between.

Between the rain and a poor night's sleep - I was awake between 2am-5am, my mind whirling about all sorts of crap - I've decided to skip the gym for once, maybe I'll do a double class tomorrow, in favour of laundry and other chores. I feel I deserve it after my second Project Fit check in last week went better than expected. I didn't lose any weight to speak of - just 0.2lbs - which is probably a daily fluctuation, but I did lose 1.3lbs of fat. Yay!!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Ok so Megan is Alive

Call off the sniffer dogs, just received an email from the dirty stop out Megan with just 3 words...


I'm guessing it was a large night at the karaoke bar and that someone is going to need a lot of Gatorade today ;-)

I'm just happy she's not dead in a ditch somewhere.

All The Fun Of A Blocked Toilet!!

1am on a Friday morning and I get up to use the loo and what do I see...water pouring out of the toilet and across the bathroom floor!!


Ugh, clearly my father's help was not an option what with him being 3000 miles away and all and Megan wasn't around to advise being out at a karaoke* with some colleagues so I set to work with my trusty funnel cup plunger. I suspect I only have myself to blame for the incident as earlier I'd snuffed out a large spider with the aid of two large pieces of kitchen roll and flushed the lot away and well...isn't kitchen roll bad for the loo being highly absorbent and all? I wasn't taken any chances with the spider though, I didn't want to put it in the rubbish bin and have it creep back out to seek revenge Death Wish style - shudder!! - so I like to make doubly sure they are dead by sending them to a watery grave and the system just couldn't cope with my super absorbent high quality Brawny kitchen paper!!

Anyway after about 50 plunges and...nope, still not clearing and oh great....the bowl is still filling the water.

I consulted a bunch of videos online - YouTube is the best eh, you can find out how to practically anything!!! - I set about attacking the loo with an unfurled wire coat hanger.

No joy!!


Since the bowl kept filling at a fairly rapid rate and I couldn't locate the 'flapper' to close it and stop it I had visions of having to stay up all night and periodically remove water from the bowl until such time it was appropriate to call the landlord and request the presence of a plumber.

More online research later and I discovered a handy tip from The Art Of Manliness - the art of modern womanliness more like - which is to pour a few cups of hot water in the bowl along with a squirt of dish soap and let it sit for a few minutes and then use a funnel cup plunger -
apparently when I purchased a plunger from the hardware store this is the very variety I bought and supposedly it's a good one. A complete fluke!! - and...

...plunge away

What do you know, it did the trick. Success!! And this with the added hindrance of a massive zit on my face**.

Who knew dish soap would be so effective????


The thrill of successfully averting disaster is flowing through my veins, although would I have preferred to have a boyfriend help me out on this occasion? You bet your arse I would. I'm old fashioned that way.

Anyway after all that excitement I'm off back to bed.

*Karaoke!!! What's that about? I just don't get the appeal.

**Seriously it's like a boil or something, it's hideous. I attacked it with a coating of Borghese mud mask which usually does the trick, but it's stubbornly resisting. For once I am hoping like hell not to run into either the contractor or creative hottie while going about my daily business at the office.

Update: Woke up this morning and no sign of Megan. Uh-oh!! Do I need to be worried that she didn't come home last night. Fingers crossed she'll show up at the office, if not I'll freak and I really don't need any more excitement after last night.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I just love love love this band

Another great tune from the Bombay Bicycle Club, along with a sweet video of people salsa dancing. The woman in the floral dress has some moves. I take no responsibility for the god awful advertising that proceeds it.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I am surrounded by love and everything is fine!!

Actually that's a lie, everything is not fine, but I need to practice my affirmations, although I don't think they are working so well!!

Not much doing here, same old, same old mostly work and working out, although I did buy a beautiful - and somewhat expensive at $298 - silk lace dress online, the 'Veiled Alder Dress' in Black from Anthropologie last week which arrived yesterday and is absolutely gorgeous.

Admittedly I did feel quite guilty about the splurge which occurred during a bout of self pity regarding my terminal single status last week and about 10 seconds after hitting the 'place order' button I'd already resolved to return it. That is until I tried it on, and oh good Lord, it's like it was made for me and the neckline isn't as high as it appears online, so it has more sex appeal than the photo above would suggest. I love it and cannot wait to wear it. Naturally all guilt about spending a chunk of change on a frock I shall probably wear only a handful of times has dissolved in light of how flattering it is ha ha!! Actually it's not going to break the bank since I've fully paid off all my credit cards but I have a saving goal for the end of the year so I've been Mrs Frugal of late, although my parents did give me $600 to buy myself something for my 40th, so I've decided that the dress is my birthday gift from them.

Megan had her own spendy day on Monday buying not one, but TWO dresses from Diane Von Furstenberg. Seriously it's very uncharacteristic behavior for her, she is shocked at how much I'll spend on my AG jeans - $160ish. Um, hello, no judgements, I wear each pair two-three times a week to work so on a cost per wear basis they are a bargain - as she never spends more than $50 on jeans from American Eagle, but since she moved in with me - she's between apartments having moved out of the place she was still sharing with her ex-fiance - she's been shopping at DVF and, after dropping close to $700 on two dresses, went and tried on a ton of pairs of jeans in AG, so I think I'm having an influence, albeit a bad one.

As for her influence on me...well after a rocky Friday - I had a wonderful start to my day when I spotted the hottie contractor who is overseeing the refurbishment of the conference room on our floor. Phew, he's VERY attractive and in fact looks a LOT like my crush, Mr. Art Director Creative Cutie who works on the floor above, so similar in fact that they could be brothers. Never let it be said I don't have a type. They both have high cheekbones, are of medium height - like 5' 8" to 5' 10"ish, I'm not a fan of overly tall men being only 5ft 1 myself - with lean toned bodies...could someone fan me please, I'm suddenly feeling quite warm. It was a good start to the day anyway and I was in an energetic mood as a result, but then mere hours later I was upstairs visiting one of my account teams and encountered the real deal, Creative Cutie himself, and well my mood just plummeted. I think I'm just reminded of a missed opportunity when I see him and I can't help but wonder what all the staring was all about last year*. I mean why stare if you have no interest in doing anything about it?

"Perhaps he stared because you remind him of his dead ex-girlfriend," mused Deesha.

Um, thanks for that cheery thought Deesha. Do you think maybe you've read one too many Gothic romance novels?

Anyway after my sighting a black cloud settled over me for the afternoon and I couldn't seem to shake it with happy tunes, not even Swedish House Mafia could lift me from the doldrums, and throwing myself into work wasn't sufficiently distracting, so as a consequence I went home and Googled 'affirmations' in an effort to think more positively.

Affirmations!!! Me, reading affirmations!!! Seriously that hippie clap trap is sooooo not me.

"That's like something I'd do" said Megan when she got home.

I KNOW!!!!!!

Admittedly the affirmations helped, but honestly it's like there's some Freaky Friday shenanigans is going down in my apartment right now with the usually mellow Southern Californian Megan displaying all the traits of a retail obsessed Brit whereas I'm turning into a bloody hippie. If I ever buy a Caftan and prayer beads please shoot me!!

So it was a 3 day weekend for some of us in the US this weekend, being Columbus day and all, so on Sunday Megan and I rented a car and drove up to Beacon, NY - we considered taking some surf lessons in Montauk, but the surf forecast was 0 feet, so not very good and Megan wasn't overly thrilled at the idea of getting up at 6am to drive out there, nor at the idea of surfing in cooler - 60-something degrees - waters since the poor lamb has only ever really surfed in the more tropical climes of Bali, Costa Rica and Hawaii. How awful for her ;-) It was a nice drive upstate anyway, we enjoyed the foliage and visited the Dia: Beacon - although I was less impressed by the art than I was by the building - and enjoyed some scoff at Homespun...

...and some ice cream at the creamery a little later. It was nice to get out, although I was extremely tired having woken up at 4am and was unable to get back to sleep. I dozed in the car on the way back to Manhattan and as the radio was playing songs that are familiar to me from my gym classes I dreamed I was doing star jumps and woke up with a start when my arms and legs flinched to the side as if I was going to do a star jump in my sleep. Do I work out too much do you think? It was very bizarre anyway as I'm rarely asked to do star jumps in class. On Monday I just got out and about and enjoyed the amazing weather - as well as a killer Pilates class taught by a substitute instructor called Iona at the NYSC on Varick Street and then met Megan for an early dinner at Buvette on Grove St in the village, which was excellent, a new favourite.

Yesterday I got a message from an OKCer who wants to "get to know me better." I clicked through to look at his profile and he's 23!! 23!! Also he dresses a bit like Dappy from N-Dubz if his photo is anything to go by, so um, no!!

Dappy himself!! Actually I have a hat like that, but I don't wear mine in public. Mine was handmade by my Quechuan Mommy during my Peruvian home stay.

I don't know, perhaps it's overly judgmental of me, but I don't see myself throwing on my fancy Anthropologie frock to go for dinner at Buvette with Dappy's 23 year old doppelganger. To be honest it's been a bit tumbleweeds of late although I also got an email on Sunday from Will of the West Village - another medical professional like my dog walking date of a couple of Saturdays ago - who sounds altogether more promising, although good on paper tends to be rubbish in real life, but hey ho!!

*He used to come down to the floor I work on to play ping pong with his buddy and when I would pass to run to the loo - I drink a ton of water, so I'm in the ladies every 30-45 minutes - he would stop playing and just stare which made me completely paranoid. I'm not one of those women that thinks 'that guy is staring at me he clearly thinks I'm hot" no siree I'm more the "that guy is staring at me, what's wrong, is my blouse undone am I exposing myself, do I have something on my face, did a bird do a turd on me" and so on. It's paranoia run wild. It wouldn't have been so bad had he smiled, but no, he just stared and said nothing, but goddamn it he is soooooo cute.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Taxidermy Labrador??

So I had a Match date on Saturday, the first one in a while. In fact I can't remember the last one, I think it may have been with the bloke who made my stomach churn by dipping the fork he was eating from into the wide neck of the ketchup bottle repeatedly!! Ugh!! Yup I think he was the last one. I did get a few winks and a couple of messages, but I was in San Diego for a week and then my parents were in town and I was just too busy to pay too much attention to it. I find I have fits and starts where the online dating thing is concerned, although I'm trying to be more consistent with it.

Anyway Saturday's date sounded a bit more promising based on the emails we'd exchanged. He's a doctor - the girls were all "ooooh a doctor," but I don't think dating doctors is all it's cracked up to be since they are usually up to their eyeballs in debt and if I am going to date a poor man I tend to favour the artistic type - who used to lead tours to remote bits of Acacia National Park. He sounded promisingly outdoorsy on paper and I was quite looking forward to meeting him.

I'd suggested grabbing a coffee and taking a walk in the park, casual-like for a first meeting, and he responded that that would be nice and asked if I was interested in taking his dog for a walk. Now I love a dog, and this one was particularly nice; a very well behaved Border Collie mix, I was more than happy to take him for a walk, but it turned out to be a bad move on my part because my date was very distracted as a result, continually throwing his dog - which he had off the leash in Central Park at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon - a Frisbee and talking back to the people maintaining the park, when a couple of them told him his dog should be on a leash. If I am honest I found him to be a bit on the disrespectful side to the park workers - "It's not like they can do anything about it," he complained, "they just like to throw their weight around, but they have no power to give me a ticket." - and wondered about being on the receiving end of his attitude.


I'm also a law abiding sort and could completely see the park workers' point about the dog being on the leash, even though the dog was incredibly sweet and very obedient.
We cut the date short anyway as it started to pour with rain almost as soon as we met and after 45 minutes my jeans were drenched to my knees. "I'm going to literally have to take a rain-check," I told him.

"Yeah, it's not great, sorry about that."

"Oh no problem, it's not your fault, you don't control the weather. Anyway it was nice to meet you," I told him shaking his hand.

That was Saturday and it's now Thursday and I haven't sent him an email and he hasn't reached out to me and so I don't think a longer date is in our future, which I'm more than okay about. Not to jump to a quick judgment, but my gut just says we're not compatible and I'm pretty sure he was about as interested in me as I was in him. I also felt as if I got a glimpse into an aspect of his personality in his defiant response to the park workers regarding his unleashed dog that did not sit so well with me. He also had a fairly disinterested vibe. I'd made an effort to ask him about his work and interests outside of his job, I always do, which is probably why I often get asked out on second dates when I had an awful time, but the effort wasn't really reciprocated. "I really enjoyed our date" they often say, "shall we go out again?" and I always think "Of course you enjoyed the date, you spent two hours talking about YOURSELF." Give me strength, a bit of give and take please!! Of course if a guy was hot I'd totally go on a second date, self absorbed or not, I'm shallow that way.

Anyway I'm trying to hang on in there with the online dating/dating in general, but it's by the skin of my teeth at the moment. It's a good thing I re-subscribed to Match in September and still have 5-months to go otherwise I would be cancelling. I'm really questioning whether I am bothered about being in a relationship at all? Yesterday on OKCupid I was listed as a favorite of a man in South Dakota with a No Country For Old Men haircut who looks like he is sat holding a taxidermy Labrador. "That dog's legs are awfully straight," said Megan when I showed her the photo. I was too perturbed by it to click through to the site see the larger image and check whether the Labrador was indeed stuffed and also...South Dakota....1500 MILES AWAY!!! 1500 MILES!!! This is only the latest in a relatively long list of men from far and away who have approached me online. Off the top of my head I can remember hearing from a man in Idaho, two men from North Carolina, two from Canada and one from Switzerland who, despite my lack of response, sent me a note trying to meet up with me - and no doubt many other women - when he was in New York for a week long vacation.!!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Isn't it still September???

Just had my weekly call with my mother and halfway through, very matter of factly as though it was the most normal thing in the world, she asked...

"So what do you want for Christmas?"

I kid you not, she asked me what I want for CHRISTMAS!!!! That's December 25th the last time I looked.

"What? It's only September, I haven't given it any thought."

"Well you MUST have some idea."

"Um, no, not really, it's 3-months away."

"Well it will soon be upon us so have a think and let me know next week."

Good Lord!!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Admittedly I'm just showing off...

In the week since my parents returned home to England I've been making a big effort to get back into being healthy. Not that I was THAT unhealthy while they were here, I did go to the gym a few times and took a few surfing lessons, but I've been feeling like all the eating out and drinking - so much drinking - had taken it's toll and I was feeling a bit disgusted by myself. Long story short I was ripe for being coerced into participating in Project Fit, a corporate team weight loss challenge, as motivation to stick with healthier habits for a few months in the run up to the festive season and this week we had to go our initial weigh in.

I stopped by the gym this morning to have my measurements taken by some fancy pants machine, the 'InBody 230', a 'body composition analyzer' that spits out a bunch of measurements like Total Body Water - 66.5lbs in my case. Apparently this is good relative to my total weight of 121lbs and not a sign that I am retaining water or anything. "It's good to be hydrated," said my cute toned hottie of a 20-something trainer - your skeletal muscle mass - 49.6lbs in my case of which 24.3lbs is dry lean mass, whatever that means. I'm guessing it's my poundage excluding all the bones and organs and other icky stuff, but I could well be wrong - and finally your Body Fat Mass - 30.2lbs in my case, well within the normal weight range.

"These are the best results I've seen all day," said my trainer. I beamed until I realized that they hadn't even been open an hour and so he couldn't have seen that many people.

"And well...considering THIS," he exclaimed pointing to my age at the top of the page.

It's okay, you can say it, I'm 40, it's not catching if you say it out loud. I'm by no means embarrassed about it - even if it does make me a pariah in the online dating world, but I refuse to lie - in fact people are always so surprised by my age that I'm considering having "I'm 40 you know" t-shirts made so that I can reap the benefits of astounding strangers too, because everyone assumes I'm 35 tops!! Moisturize and stay out of the sun people!!

"," said Trainer Bloke "you're doing really well!! I see people in their 20s who are not as fit as you."

Check me and my body of a twenty-something, ha ha!! I was thrilled, although admittedly I am not the best participant for my team given the goal is to lose body fat and I don't have much wiggle room to decrease by much*. According to my print out I could stand to lose 2.9lbs, but "why bother," said Trainer Bloke, "everything is normal, just keep it up!!"

Being a big data nerd the results were all very interesting to me, especially being so positive. I felt fabulous after learning I was fit and healthy and exactly where I should be and bounced down to Starbucks after my appointment and indulged in a turkey bacon breakfast sandwich - apparently I need 1,261 calories just to stay ALIVE!! Lucky 5ft 7 Megan gets a good 300 calories more than me. The healthy eating starts tomorrow ;-)

*Surely these challenges should also reward people who start out healthy and stay healthy. It always feels like they are promoting weight loss a bit more strongly than they are promoting health.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Surf Lesson #9: swimsuit wedgies and a shell encrusted bum

So despite my concerns about being too exhausted for a 2-hour surfing lesson on Friday I managed to do pretty well and picked up where my last 2 lessons left off in San Diego. I'm pretty much at the point where I can balance well on the board with the smaller waves and usually manage to ride all the way into the beach, collisions with other beginners permitting; learning how to identify the right waves to go for, paddling into my own waves and collision avoidance are next on my list of priorities as far as lessons are concerned and I am hoping to take a few more private lessons with an instructor when I am back in Santa Monica in November, but until then I need to practice, practice, practice. Megan and I are planning to go out on the weekends - along with new found surf buddy Felicia who was also at Friday's lesson and is looking for people to surf with - over the next couple of months, weather and waves permitting.

I'm also learning a lot more about my preferences in terms of the equipment I am using, or should that be wearing!! Megan is quite gung-ho to buy herself a surf board just now, but to be honest I'm happy to rent boards for the time being until I get more experience, however I'm seriously considering investing in a decent wetsuit, because the thing I wore on Friday was just awful.

Now admittedly I'm quite particular about what I like to wear when surfing and my rule of thumb is generally the more coverage the better. I am not one of those women that you will EVER see surfing in just a bikini, because quite honestly parts of my anatomy have a tendency to make a bid for escape when I'm in the ocean and I have enough things to worry about when I'm surfing without the added anxiety that one, or both, of my boobs has popped out. Things just don't stay where they are supposed to, so at the very least I prefer a one piece swimsuit under a rash guard and board shorts, or better still, a full wetsuit.

Anyway the suits the women were given to wear on Friday were not my favourite. They were super short in the leg, exactly the same style as this Roxy suit designed by Cynthia Rowley which some of the women were wearing, although I'm not certain if the one I had on was the same brand...

...and, to add insult to injury, the suit had a tendency to ride up. I think the bottom of the suit I was wearing had ambitions to be a Brazilian style knicker, so I'd be lying on the board worrying about my bum cheeks hanging out, because it would ride up every single time I wiped out and more often than not it would take my swimsuit with it, so there I'd be smiling and waving back at whichever instructor was calling my to paddle back whilst trying my best to hold my board still with one hand, lift it over any waves that came my way and nonchalantly attempt to un-wedgie my swimsuit without anyone noticing what I was up to. Ugh, it was incredibly annoying. Who knew surfing would be so fraught with sartorial difficulties??

Anyway as a result of the challenges of the aforementioned wetsuit I now have some lovely cuts on my left bum cheek from coming off my board at the edge of the beach which was littered with thousands of broken pieces of shell. I'd successfully rode a wave all the way to the beach - yay me - when I spotted the shells and knew I was going to have to either step off the board onto the broken shells and risk cuts to my feet or fall into the water and land on my butt. In the seconds I had to make a decision I chose the latter - more padding, although in general I am not a woman with ample proportions in that area and frequent falls off my board onto my behind in shallower waters makes me hanker for padding of Kardasian extremes - however after I'd fallen my board carried on going - obviously, I am such an eejit for not thinking of that, lesson learned - and my, now exposed, butt cheek, thank you wetsuit, got dragged through broken shell pieces. I can tell you first hand that those little buggers are sharp!! I was still picking pieces of shell out of my left arse cheek 2 hours later when I popped into the loo after stopping at Blue Bottle Coffee on the boardwalk at Beach 106th St for a skim latte to warm me through. It's full suits only for me from now on!!

Just hanging on my board. My father took this photo about 10minutes before the end of my 2 hour lesson and I was completely exhausted and freezing cold in the short, thin 2mm summer suit after the weather in New York had taken an autumnal turn.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ah Management!!

So all good with the parents now after the breadroll debacle. We made up the British way the next evening by not acknowledging anything had happened and making a cup of tea, however my friend Deesha had the following take on the situation...

"About the parents thing, I've started thinking about them a bit like they are kids. Makes it easier to deal. I totally get the freezer thing, but its also galling for them to be criticized on their own mistakes by someone who's bottom they wiped.

Its like a junior member of your team calling you out on some minor (according to you) error at work. The first instinct might be to deflect and offend instead of being defensive and apologetic. Hows my armchair psychology! :)"

I think her armchair psychology is pretty spot on, although this 40 year old thinks it would be nice if my parents could recognise I am no longer a child. I suppose in an ideal world we would all meet in the middle, which I suppose we are by ignoring the situation and moving on.

I am soooooo very sore today after getting back into my usual routine at the gym over the last 5days. I really wasn't expecting it to hurt this much as it's not as if I was totally inactive while in San Diego, I had 4x 90minute surfing lessons for goodness sake and surfing is quite a workout and uses similar muscle groups to the classes I take - chest and biceps for lifting the board over waves, core and legs for stabilization - but after 3 days at the gym I am seriously sore and if I forget and accidentally take a deep breath or sneeze....ouch!!!

I'm taking a day off from exercise today, but given how tired and achy I feel I am having second thoughts about the surfing lesson I have booked for Friday morning. Two days ago two hours of surfing seemed like a great idea, but this morning I was up at 5.15am to be in the office for a 7am call with a high level client from China, a meeting I was quite relaxed about since my team member had done all the heavy lifting on the analysis and would be walking through the presentation along with our media agency partners; I was just there to participate and hear the client feedback, no big deal, or so I thought.

Unusually for an agency call everyone was gathered on the conference call by 7.03am and making noises about getting the meeting started and..., where is the guy from my team?

I wasn't too worried at that point, since as I mentioned it's rare for a meeting to begin on time but nevertheless I sent him an "are you on the call?" email as the media agency kicked off the introductions.

5 minutes passed, the presentation was underway and no response from my guy....

At this point we're 3 slides away from having to make a contribution. I mute the call and phoned him from my Blackberry and....

....GOT HIM OUT OF BED!!!!!!

"Oh...shit," was how he answered the phone

"Damn right oh shit. Dial in to the meeting!!"

Jesus Christ, if I can get my arse out of bed at 5.15am, get showered, do my hair and take a 20minute cab ride to the office then surely he should be able to manage to fall out of bed at 6.45am and dial in from home.
I was soooooo not happy to find myself having to jump in and present something I oversaw, but did not work on directly, to a senior level client in China who had a lot of detailed questions, in fact I think it would be fair to say I was fuming!!

He was very apologetic when he arrived at the office around 9.30am and I imagine waking up to a phone call from your manager is not the preferred way to start the day, so I'm letting it slide this one time, but he did receive a stern "don't let it happen again." Given I'm a usually quite a relaxed manager and not prone to having to be stern I think he got the message that I was not in the least bit happy.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Ah Parents!!

So I've already had a big fight with my parents two days into the NY portion of their visit, lots of raised voices and doors being slammed. The neighbors must wonder what on earth is afoot*.

So what caused such a ruckus you may wonder...

...bread rolls!! Seriously people, bread rolls!!

Namely the fact that after I got home from a pleasant day of brunch at the unbelievably popular Penelope's Cafe on Lexington and 30th people - I was astonished to find there was a 40minute wait for brunch at 9.30am!! 9.30am!! - and then a stroll around South Street Seaport, which was freakishly devoid of tourists, although a few of the bars were pretty populated with firemen who'd clearly been observing the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero - such an odd day, I couldn't watch the coverage because it made me feel as if I was reliving what it was like to be in New York in what was such a heartbreaking time. It really doesn't feel like it was 10years ago - and a walk through Central Park, I found the freezer door had been open about an inch and all the food inside had defrosted.

A bit annoying, but these things happen, no biggie and I told myself I wouldn't get irritated by it as I threw out a bunch of frozen fruit, fish, edamame, then whipped up some soup with a defrosted bag of frozen mixed vegetables and baked the 24 par-baked bread rolls from Fresh Direct that I'd just had delivered in an attempt to salvage a few things. All good, no big deal. They got back a few hours later and I mentioned what had happened and that I'd frozen half of the now baked bread rolls, but there were another 12 available for use - they like to make sandwiches for themselves if they go off for the day - in 2 sealed zip loc bags.

They cooked up steak sandwiches for dinner and used a bunch of the ciabatta rolls and I was making some tea an hour or so later and noticed the zip loc bags were not sealed. "Can you make sure these bags are closed so that the bread doesn't go stale and we have to waste it" I said and that was it, all hell broke loose. Apparently my comment was disrespectful and how did I not know the freezer was working properly before? "I put this fish in the freezer over an hour ago and it's not freezing, maybe your freezer is broken," shouted my father huffily, "look, this ice cream is still soft!!!!!"

"I'm not saying it isn't broken, I'm saying that when I got home the freezer door was open," I responded and that was it, they got a huff on about respect, refused to listen to all reason and went to bed.

Anyway when I got up this morning I checked the freezer and guess what, everything was frozen, so I'm thinking that after defrosting for 7+hours it just needed some time to do it's thing, but apparently mentioning the whole defrosting thing is taboo!! Seriously they are completely irrational.

On a positive note there has been a VERY cute guy about the office these last few business days supervising a redesign of one of the large conference rooms. Looks wise he really reminds me a LOT of the Creative Cutie - who I haven't seen hide nor hair of in MONTHS. Never let it be said I don't have a type!!!

*Not that they don't give me a run for my money. I once woke up and looked through the peep hole to see two police officers at my neighbor's door, with their guns drawn!! Um..what!! Nothing came of it of course, I'm not sure what was going on, but on occasion they can get pretty shouty!!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

What Are The Chances...

...of my parents being involved in not one, but TWO major US blackouts? They were visiting me in 2003 and got stuck out on Long Beach during the 2003 blackout in New York, and where were they when parts of Southern California, Arizona and Mexico were plunged into darkness on Thursday?? Why San Diego of course!! I'm starting to get suspicious that they've been walking around unplugging things they shouldn't have ;-)

Thankfully they were able to catch their early morning flight to New York on Friday without any problems, so now they're here. Somewhere anyway. I just got back from an 8am gym class and they are nowhere to be seen. I'm guessing they are doing laundry as there were mutterings about some such activity this morning, but who knows, they could be out causing mischief somewhere. I'm sure they'll show up soon.

Sadly as a result of the San Diego blackout something like 1.9million gallons of sewage was spilled and a number of beaches have been closed due to the risk of contamination, which means the 6th annual Surf Dog surf-a-thon has had to be rescheduled to the 25th September. How cute is that, I wish I could go!!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Best Surf Lessons So Far & San Diego Zoo

Fantastic surf lessons with Ryder yesterday and today, I managed to get my footing correct and stand up on the board for like 10 to 20 whole seconds on multiple occasions and one time even managed to surf the wave right to the shore and then just stepped off the board all casual like into 6inches of water. Whoo hoo!! Admittedly the waves were more manageable these last two days, but hopefully it wasn't just that the surf was on my side, but that some of what I've been taught over the last 8 lessons has started to take hold. Whatever the reason anyway it was amazing, the only bit I didn't like occurred about two thirds of the way through yesterday's lesson when a kid, who looked to be about 12, paddled back down to Ryder and the other instructor who was teaching two guys near me and said "is that a shark?"

Um, say what???

Ryder asked to borrow my board and hopped on it and stood to get a better vantage while I, my brain not really connecting with the fact that I was still tethered to the board by my ankle leash, started to slowly edge backward toward the beach until the leash pulled me up short. Ryder and the other instructor looked at each other and shrugged. "I'm sure it was just a dolphin," said Ryder.

I bloody hope so. Having come across a headline only yesterday where some poor bloke in Western Australia had been bitten in half by a great white I was in no mood to take even the smallest of risks and it was with some initial trepidation that I continued surfing, although I was comforted by the fact that there were a ton of people out surfing that morning and they all seemed completely unfazed.

Anyway it's been a great couple of days and I am hoping I can continue this streak. I'm quite gung-ho to sign up for a few more practice sessions when I get back to New York.

The weather turned cold and rainy pretty a couple of hours after yesterday's lesson, so instead of blobbing on the beach for a few hours we took off to San Diego Zoo for the afternoon.

The littlest giraffe that can be seem galloping around between the larger two was born just 6 days ago. He's already 6ft 2 and 160lbs. His father is an impressive 18feet tall.

These guys are meant to be a whizz at mountains and can leap 6feet, nevertheless they seemed amusingly confused by the steps in their enclosure.

Does this look like a comfortable sleeping position to you? I've encountered some people on planes who seem to be able to sleep just about anywhere like this panda!! Lucky bastards!!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Day Off From Surf School

I took a break from my surf lessons today and after a hearty breakfast at Isabel's Cantina - the place was packed come 9.30am. They are such early risers these San Diegans; in New York we are more of an 11am brunch crowd - we took a bus to Old Town and then a cab to the Marriot on North Harbor Drive to pick up a hire car and then drove up the coast to visit La Jolla, Torrey Pines - where we stopped to relax for a few hours on the beach close to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography - up through fancy Del Mar, onto Solana Beach, through tiny Cardiff-By-The-Sea and finally stopping for a coffee and a snack at the Whole Foods in Encinitas before heading back to Pacific Beach for dinner at World Famous, which despite the popularity of the place - 45minute wait for a table - I thought was just okay. I much preferred the meals we've had at Cafe Chloe and Proper Gastropub in the East Village.

Anyway it was nice to take a break from surfing for one day as my whole body ached after two lessons, although the last lesson I had was fantastic, I really learned a lot. The school had assigned me to a different instructor on Saturday as I guess Ryder wasn't available, so I got Eli the lifeguard instead, who asked me what I needed to work on. After Friday's frustrating session where I could barely stand I was all about pop ups pop ups and pop ups.

Eli had a great eye for detail and gave me some good tips which improved things a lot, most significantly the fact that he didn't think I was 'goofy' footed, which is term used for surfers who ride with their right foot forward, apparently a less typical stance if you are right dominant, which I am.

"Who told you you were goofy?" he asked.

"Um, no-one, it's just the stance I defaulted to when I've popped up."

"Yeah, I don't think you're goofy, I think you're regular. This might be your problem. Let's try the leash on the other foot and pop up with your left foot forward."

I tried it and while it was weird after 5 lessons defaulting to having my right foot forward, it wasn't so weird that it necessarily felt wrong. He also taught me a different way of popping up which helped hugely. He said it's not about jumping up because that makes the board more unstable, instead I should "Push, twist, slide." So push up cobra-like on the board, twist my torso to the side I'm going to face while standing, but leave my hands on the board as I am twisted, it's kind of side plank-like, and then drag my front foot - my left foot in my case - forward into position between my hands and stand. Of course all that happens in about 2 seconds flat, but it really helped me to have it broken down like that when I tried to shift to surfing regular footed. I think the years of doing warrior ones in yoga make me want to default to having my right foot forward. The hardest thing for me is that you drag the whole side of your foot forward, whereas I want to lead with the ball of my foot. Eli's response to my doing that was, "were you ever a dancer?"

Apparently eleven years of ballet means that I lead with the ball of my foot, because my natural instinct is to be on my toes!! Hmmm!!

It was a very interesting lesson anyway largely because he had such a good eye for detail and was able to correct me more on what I'm doing wrong - surfing on the wrong foot, looking down at my feet too much to check positioning instead of forward towards the beach and not learning forward enough to weight down the front of the board, so many things - and I regained some of the enthusiasm I'd lost from Friday's lesson where I really struggled to stand, although Friday's instructor, Ryder, said that the conditions were really challenging even for more experienced surfers as there were 7-foot waves at Pacific Beach, much further out from where I've been learning the basics, but it's rougher water than I'm used to with strong rip currents and lots and lots of dislodged seaweed which gets tangled around my leash. Anyway I'm back with Ryder for my lessons on Monday and Tuesday, who is great, an incredibly sweet guy, although I did momentarily think about seeing if Eli was available again, but I don't think it would make much difference since I now know more about what I need to do, it's just practicing doing it.

My father on the other hand did not fare as well on his first foray into surfing. Despite being a strong swimmer and used to rough British seas he's pretty overweight and I think he underestimated how fit you need to be to surf, so he gave up on his lesson after about 30minutes vowing to get himself into better shape.

Exploring the USS Midway Museum.

A statue of Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous WWII victory kiss photo. I love that people's reaction to this statue is to re-enact the pose. You can see the couple of the left side trying it out

Watching the surfers and body boarders on the beach at Torrey Pines.

That's quite a large looking wave in the background. More advanced surfers were out there, but I could never manage to catch one of them in a photo before they wiped out.

Driving back down the coast along Highway 101

Friday, 2 September 2011

Helloooooo San Diego

So despite seeing not one, but THREE reports of large shark sightings I decided to go ahead with at least the first of the four surf lessons I had booked after popping into the surf school and chatting with the woman working at the office.

"If it wasn't safe we wouldn't go out." she said "We also teach children from ages 4 to 17 and we wouldn't put anyone at risk, but it's your decision so if you're not comfortable then that's fine."

True, I didn't think they'd be tossing 4-year old kids into the ocean as hors d'oeuvres, but still I couldn't help feeling more than a bit nervous.

Anyway at her suggestion I decided to at least take the first of the lessons and see how I felt. "You can always call me and cancel after that if you don't like it," she said.

It was fine, but I have to say I was tempted to cancel the next three lessons if only because it was completely exhausting. Southern California is experiencing large waves along with strong rip currents at the moment, so San Diego is under a high surf advisory until Sunday night and paddling out to a LOT more effort than usual just to keep the board heading straight into the waves.

And of course my instructor kept me safe and we only practiced in the shallower waters where the surf was strong, but probably no more than 2.5feet high, however I struggled to get to a good standing position and the whole experience was a bit disheartening to be honest, but I got some good tips from my instructor, Ryder, who gave me a lot more feedback than I've received from other instructors and also told me that the surf was challenging even for non-beginners. I'm not sure whether he was just saying that to make me feel better, but it worked, so I'm sticking it out and hopefully things will get easier for my 3rd and 4th lessons on Monday and Tuesday when the surf is potentially a bit calmer.

My 60year old Dad is joining me for today's lesson. This should be interesting!!

Kite surfers enjoying the wind and high surf off Pacific Beach

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Biggest Post Hurricane/Storm Gripe I've Heard From Most New Yorkers

Having to make our own coffee, because everywhere is closed this morning!!

I suppose if that's all most of us have to worry about life is pretty good :-)