Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 New Year's Resolutions
(back from a FREEZING night sleeping in the campervan in the Peak District)

I can't resist. Not sure why - I rarely keep to them for more than a few weeks. But there is something irresistible about that clean slate to write on - a fresh new year. A chance to do things right.

1. Stop shopping! (go for the shabby-chic retro look).
2. Follow my running training plan on Buckeyeoutdoors to be prepared for the White Peak Swift Half Marathon in May and the Mendip Muddle 20K in October.
3. I found a quote I really like: Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away. Make sure that I'm not too busy to notice them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I sent in my forms for the White Peak "Swift" Half Marathon 0n 16 May 2009, and paid for my kids' entries for Christmas... hmm... isn't that really a gift for me? Oh well.

Join us! The sign-up is limited to the first 200 people and opens on 1 Jan 2009 - it usually fills up by April. Here's the link to the entry form:

Its a great race; soft underfoot on an abandoned railway line with fantastic scenery and a 800 ft downhill cruise for the second half - really fun!

There's a video of Nick and my Swift Half run in 2009 which can be found at this link on . Petra and Snowshadow Phil also talked about running it this year!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Recovered from my bug, I really enjoyed the run on the beach this morning - what a great break from dank, dark and dreary London! A colleague and I extended the business trip a couple of days to see a bit of Ghana. I had my doubts as we said goodbye to our driver and his lovely air conditioned vehicle, and moved pretty down-market in hotels, but it was great to see a bit of the country. It would have been a pity to go home only having seen the beach, a conference room, our western style hotel and the drive between!

Well, it was great except for the 3 hr drive to Cape Coast in a taxi with no AC, in horrible traffic (both ways!!) What a miserable journey, choking down petrol fumes and sweating! I guess one really needs to travel very early or very late to avoid the Accra congestion. Sometime we didn't move for 10 minutes, as people came up to the car trying to sell us everything from drinks to a dictionary (really!) But the music on the radio was reggae or West African highlife music which I'm going to search out at home!

But as we began climbing up into the rainforest at the Kukum National Park, I knew it was all worth it. The canopy walk, a roped bridge 40 m up in the trees was the Ghanian equivalent of an amusement park for masses of school kids, but it was fantastic all the same. We were dripping sweat as we waited our turn on the forest floor, it felt like 100% humidity! But high in the trees there was a breeze and what a view!

Then we visited the British forts at Cape Coast and Elmina - sobering and horrific reminders of the slave trade. I’ll never forget standing in a lightless, airless stone cell that held women in incredibly overcrowded and inhumane conditions for months before they were boarded on ships never to see their loved ones again.

I wandered around the market at Elmina by myself for an hour and chatted with women at the Kente cloth stalls, and explored the noisy fish market. I really wish Billy had been with me to photograph the impossibly ordered chaos!

Home now with lots of souveniers of Ghana, necklaces, paintings, cloth and other suprises that will re-appear on Christmas morning. I do hope I get to go back to Ghana again!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Its been an interesting week in Ghana, meeting with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and our counterparts at the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. We’ve been treated like visiting dignitaries, chauffeured around by a driver in a lovely Air Conditioned car and addressed with undeserved respect. The Ghanaians are incredibly warm and friendly people; they laugh alot.

We’ve spent all of the time in one conference room, reviewing documents, except for two hours a day driving from the hotel to the office and back. The stretch along which we are we are driven, from the capital, Accra to Tema, the container shipping port, is far off the tourist track and the inhabitants seem to live a pretty hard life. The women walk along the road balancing their wares on top of their heads (bags of water or fried plantains) and the shops are open shacks and most wares are set out in front on sides of road.

I most wanted to buy one of these coffins! To set out on that last journey in a giant duck or a model cruise ship would certainly lighten the mood at a funeral. I shudder to think how much it would cost to ship one to England!

I managed an beautiful early run on the beach a couple of mornings, but then caught a nasty food bug, and I didn’t want to stray too far from a toilet for a couple of days... But I’m feeling better now and we’ve a tourist day tomorrow visiting Cape Coast and the Kukum rainforest. It will be great to see a different stretch of road and some green space before heading home.

I saw this scary ad for a herbal AIDS treatment.... I hope they don't have many customers.