Friday, February 17, 2012

Hot Chocolate

It's cold in Alicante at the moment, unseasonably so, I am told. The picture is of my daughter wearing her cow hat to keep warm in the kitchen. I don't like cold weather. Part of the reason for us moving here was to move to warmer climes so I am a bit grumpy! The sunny blue skies are a consolation, but it is very cold in the evenings, cold enough for having a duvet on the sofa upstairs for snuggling up with. Cold enough to wish we had already installed the log burner that we are planning for some future date when we have more money, (when August comes we'll find it difficult to believe why we ever need one).
I've had a busy morning today, the plumber has been, I've spoken to people about a random bill we may or may not have to pay for council tax, which seems to have been paid, but I need to go to the bank to clarify. The washing's been done, the kitchen tidied and I was feeling a bit busy and cold, so the heating has been put on and I have comforted myself with the best treat that Spanish culture can provide. A hot chocolate.
Here it is in pictorial form...

Feel much better now! In one of my Spanish classes, the teacher and I had a great debate about the origins of chocolate, he insists that it is Spanish, I countered that it's South American. He did some research and brought an article to the next class explaining the mixed origins of chocolate as we now know it - all in Spanish - which was a distinct disadvantage from my debating point of view. We eventually agreed that the origins of chocolate are indisputable South American but the chocolate that we now know and love (with added sugar and other flavorings) is Spanish. I have to say that the quality of chocolate here, particularly hot chocolate, is delightful. I am also currrently addicted to the Valor chocolate covered almonds pictured above. They were originally bought as a treat for Christmas, and have since been bought as a Valentines and now as just a cold weather treat! Lovely. Keep warm everyone.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fragments of Family Life: the Garmin

The Garmin
Basically it’s a computer for your wrist. It’s a very clever computer, with GPS and stuff. It’s my husband’s, purchased as a ‘treat’ after completing his second marathon, in Paris. His first marathon was the famous London, a marathon that is now so popular that it’s massively oversubscribed and wouldn’t be a marathon to go for a PB (Personal Best in runner speak). His third and fourth marathons were Dublin and London again, with lots of half marathons in between when we were living in rural Derbyshire/Staffordshire, so plenty of lovely hilly climbs!
Whilst we waited for husband at the finish line, I was always amazed at the variety of shapes and sizes and ages of people completing the marathon – a number of old and wiry looking men and women as well as large people who looked more like rugby players than marathon runners but all seemed to enjoy the experience (we were usually watching at the finish line where the enjoyment is probably at its peak, as opposed to at the ¾ point where everyone is hating the run and their bodies and wishing that it would all end!)
His next marathon is going to be Madrid and, using his Garmin, he will have a pretty good idea of what sort of time he can hope to run it in, although it seems that marathon running is not an exact science as you cannot always factor in the ‘human nature’ element of the race: how you will feel, if you’ll need a poo, if there are thousands of other runners, how you will feel when you are running your heart out only to have a person run past you wearing a womble outfit etc.
I only know all this because I am married to a keen, if not devoted runner. I can barely run a kilometre. I could probably walk about 10kms but running has never been my favourite sport. In fact I dislike running intensely and didn’t mind at all when a boyfriend at university pointed out that I was built for comfort and not for speed because, for me, it’s the truth. I’m an advocate of this School of life: why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can sit down? Why sit if you can lie down? I’m not averse to a bit of exercise, but I like it to be a walk, perhaps followed by a nice pub lunch or a lovely ice cream at the end as a treat.
I do like a good old competitive game of netball or basketball or rounders. Nothing like a bit of team sports to get the adrenalin going but I am pretty rubbish at sports in general and feel sorry for any team that may have me in its midst because I’m not that good. Not too good at tennis or badminton either. I like a swim, particularly a swim with flippers that let you skim through the pool like some magic woman from Atlantis. I think my favourite sport at the moment is a squash and a squeeze with my kids. This involves me tickling them heartily and sometimes ends in a pillow fight and wrestle – it’s good aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, my children, now 6 and 8, are almost strong enough to overpower me, so that work out may disappear soon as being a dangerous sport.
My son loves football and is also showing an interest in running, something his dad is happy to encourage. They have recently embarked on Sunday run together and to my shame, my son can run 5km now, an easy 4km more than I would be happy with. My daughter has the energy of a 6 year old and just runs around everywhere anyway, from the moment she gets up in the morning to her reluctant bedtime. We should really strap the Garmin on to her wrist one day to see how many kms she covers.
When husband first got the Garmin I considered it as a possible toy to get me motivated to start running, I was, for a long time, an aspirational runner, thinking that I could and would grow to love it with perseverance. Now I just accept that the Garmin is my husband’s toy. He is the marathon runner and I am proud of his achievements and will be happy to cheer him on at the finish line in Madrid. Next time you watch the start of the London marathon, watch the runners on the starting line, a good percentage of them, on starting, will push the little buttons on their Garmins to start inputting the data - some of them will have little bleeping reminders throughout the race to remind them to slow down or speed up and will use the Garmins throughout to monitor their progress and aim for a P. B.
They're all setting their watches!! Possibly Garmins!

I am happy to observe without participating; I am a woman of many talents – running just isn’t one of them.