Monday, 18 November 2013

My lunchtime exercise class: Spinning

Let's get some bits and pieces out of the way about spinning as a form of exercise.

Spinning is NOT

  • what you do where you hold your arms out & turn around and around to make yourself dizzy.
  • what you do where you find a big curtain and turn around and around so it twists up, mummifying you inside it, sometimes pulling your hair, sometimes pulling the curtain off the curtain track, and almost certainly - getting told off by your mum.
  • the thing that you do with a wheel until you prick your finger it makes you sleep for a hundred years.
  • performing Kylie Minogue's 'Spinning Around' in skimpy hotpants*

Spinning IS

  • just like riding a bike, only these are like exercise bikes
  • like going for a bike ride with a group of people BUT you're never the last one at the back
  • hard - but it's all controlled by you - you can choose to increase the resistence when the instructor shouts "up one" (or not)
  • is done in a darkened air-con room - so no one can see how hot and red and sweaty you get (until the lights go on at the end)
Anyway, a few weeks ago (end of September) I decided to go spinning with my colleague Will.  It's a lunchtime 30min session and is good exercise.  I have had experience of spinning, when I tried it about 18months ago and couldn't walk down stairs properly for 3 days.  Anyhow, that aside, I decided to give it another go.  Two reasons why I wanted to do it:
  1. I wanted to get fit
  2. I wanted to get the adrenalin-fuelled drunk-tipsy-happy buzzy look that Will often had when he returned to the office after a spinning class.
So I gave it another go.

The Class

Each class is 30 minutes: sometimes standing on the pedals,  sometimes doing press-up arms on the handlebars, alternating stand-up and sit-down riding, or sometimes pedalling so hard and so fast you think your legs are going to drop off.  The Monday class is led by a girl called Leanne (same name as my older sister), who screams out "UP ONE" to increase resistence or "FASTER" when we have to pedal faster.  I like Leanne's classes, and think there must be some psychological connection, that I enjoy an exercise class whereby I'm being shouted at by a girl with the same name as my sister.

The other reason I like this class is because of the music that Leanne plays, there's a great mix of old and new, all with a pedal-pushing beat and each week there's a song (or two) that'll have me singing (quietly) to myself whilst I drip with sweat.  Music goes from Placebo to Lady Gaga to Stereophonics to Kings of Leon to Right Said Fred to Basement Jaxx to Right Said Fred to Chemical Brothers.

This is high-intensity training, some blocks of exercise will be high-resistence and slow (like cycling uphill) and other parts will be fast and energetic (like going downhill, except I don't do what I often do on my normal bike - which is stick my legs out and shoud "weeeeee")

Classes are hard work - and some weeks I get 10minutes in and decide I absolutely hate it, and never want to come back, but by the end I've got that adrenalin-fuelled drunk-tipsy-happy buzzy feeling that I really like, and I'm back again the very next week.

The Results

I've been going every Monday since mid-September - which is pretty good commitment.

I can't say if it's improved my outdoor-biking technique (I've only been to the allotment and back on my bike) but I think it's improved my overall fitness (I can run up the escalators at Haymarket without getting out of breath at the top).  And I feel happier inside too - must be those endorphins.


And I'm sorry if I've put Kylie's Spinning Around sing into your head - so just for you, I've embedded the video, so you can watch it now.

Friday, 8 November 2013

More embroidery - matryoshka

I love matryoshka dolls - I think it's something to do with the symmetry and order of them, a bit like butterflies...

After I made the embroidery sampler, I decided to create something else beautiful from threads - it was either going to be a matryoshka doll or a butterfly, so I created a scrapbook of images in Pinterest and chose from there.
Original by

I found this image of a matryoshka in Pinterest, the original creator is: Alexis (Fifi & Florence) - who also blogged about it) I liked the simplicity of it, and decided to recreate it for myself.

I used an old pillowcase, referred to Mary Corbet's Needle n' videos to remind me of how to do the stitches and I bought a 'washable fabric pen' to trace the pattern onto my fabric, and be able to wash it off afterwards.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

If you could invent one thing, what would it be?

My niece asked me this question in February of this year (& i forgot to blog about it). My niece is 11 (she was 10 when she asked).

This was a tricky question to answer...of all the possibilities i could have said, like cures for diseases or ways to end poverty,  I decided that I would invent a door.

This wasn't any old household door, it was a special door - a portal to anywhere in the world. 

Before you stepped in you would key in a postcode of any place you needed (or wanted) to be: a holiday destination, a place of work, a family home (on the other side of the world), a friends house.

Then when the door had a fix on the postcode it would be activated.

All you need to do to use it is open the door, step through (with your family/suitcases etc) and when you close the door behind you, you are teleported to that destination.

If there wasn't a door at the destination then you would be able to get there - but you'd know before you set off.

The door would reduce the amount of other forms of travel (rail, sea, air, car) and connect you to anywhere in the world, saving you time, money and the inconvenience of delays/traffic jams and all that stress. For those people who suffered with travel sickness or fears, then this would literally open up a whole new world for them. You could live absolutely anywhere in the world and use the door to commute to work, no more delays due to low rail adhesion, no way!

I would use it to visit family and friends, knowing that the journey wasn't going to take an age, or be disrupted by weather, timings, cost or vehicle issues.

So my weekend might look like this:
Friday evening I would visit my mum after work, saving myself a 50min train or 1hr car journey and we could catch up, staying for a couple of hours before going home for tea.

I'd spend a leisurely Saturday morning at Made By Bob in Cirencester with my friend Kate, and Saturday afternoon in Made Cafe Whitley Bay, doing something crafty. And Saturday evening Mr Lisa and I would pop over for a bite to eat with my friend Auntie Gemma & her family in Beijing.

On Sunday we'd have breakfast in our own bed :)
Then for the afternoon we'd arrange to meet up somewhere child-friendly and cycle friendly with friends (possibly somewhere Scandinavian) and have a blast on the bikes followed by cake.
And Sunday evening we'd meet up somewhere in Newcastle for dinner with friends, staying out as late as we wanted - we'd go through the door to get home.

The doors would exist in every town/village, they would be free to use and always available. No one would own them, and no one would get rich from them. They couldn't be broken or vandalised and would be there for everyone to enjoy.

This might reduce the number of journeys on our travel networks but it offers so many amazing possibilities.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Fashion trends I don't understand: Uggs

Uggs.  In my head, Uggs is a shorter version of the word Ugly.  And I think they're FUggly.
It's the only way I can describe these weird fat boots.

I don't doubt they're comfortable and warm.  But they're so ugly.
They go over the trouser, not under and make your feet look like they've swollen to twice the size they are normally.

Their suede outer isn't very practical either; notoriously difficult to keep clean and as soon as they get wet they seem to take on sponge-like properties, soaking up the water.

They look fairly rigid, but they're not and when they slouch they make you look like you've got swollen ankles, something I'll leave to pregnancy (or old age, thanks very much).

Wikipedia has some very detailed stuff about the origins of Uggs, but to me they're just fugly.
If I want warm winter boots I'll buy warm winter boots, I won't by Uggs.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Fashion trends I don't understand: Onesies
When I see 'onesies' I think of giant babygrows and George Dawes and wonder, Why would a grown adult want to dress like a giant baby?

I don't find them attractive and don't think they're that practical - especially going to the looThe only thing they're useful for is dressing babies -that is to say, real babies (anyone under the age of 3).

I got the Christmas catalogue for Next the other day, and they're advertising onesies for women, but describing them as 'all-in-ones' essentially it's the same, it's just a giant babygrow
There is also something a bit old fashioned about them, like the longjohn (or Union Suit) that men used to wear...But even so, they were worn as underwear and not outerwear, which is what people do these days.

I have seen students (I work in a University) on campus wearing a onesie, some Uggs (don't get me started on these) and a hoodie.  I'm thinking that the logic is, stick a hoodie on and you can go outside in it.  To me - that's like going to the supermarket in your nightie/pyjamas and slippers (wrong on all levels).
Fancy dress costumes - fine.  But that's all it is, fancy dress, a one-off event or party, not every night.

What people do behind closed doors is fine, lounge all you like in your onesie, but get dressed when people come round to visit - make an effort, don't just sit there in your onsie - it'll look like you're about to go to bed.
Don't ever buy me one, I won't thank you, I won't even wear it.  I might cut it up and reuse the fabric or just burn it in the back garden in one of these.

Burning onesies on my allotment

That is all.