Sunday, September 30, 2012


Salve! We have just returned from Northumberland in an epic trek along Hadrian's Wall with Helen and Brian. When I say epic I mean the 30 or so miles in the middle which are pretty and have more of the wall in tact then the rather duller outer parts. It snakes up hill, down dell and through bogs and we snaked with it. Most of us covered in mud apart from Brian who has some weird, but useful superpower that enables him to stay mud free. Helen is going to post in greater detail and with pictures (my Picassa account is now full so I must do something constructive about it) In the interim here is what I learned! Reivers were like the Mafia in the late Medieval, early tudor period and somebody should make a TV series about them. 10% of the Roman army were stationed at Hadrian's wall. The wall's contsruction consisted of something called a berm. Say it outloud in a Clousseau way and it will make you laugh (well it made us laugh!) I really don't like wet rooms. Northumberland does excellent cakes. In Northumberland a sunny interval usually involves rain! A lovely holiday with lovely family is just what you need to get over post Olympic blues!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Well, the Paralympics have now finished and I found them as good if not better then the Olympics. I have never really got into the Paralympics before. I suppose if the games are in a different time zone you have to make a more concerted effort to watch. However, as we had tickets to several events this year I made a conscious effort to understand the different classifications of difficulties. Channel 4 did a number of programmes before the games which were very informative if rather bizarely hosted by news anchor John Snow. So glad I made the effort. These athletes are remarkable. The adversities many have had to face just living their lives and then they have all the adversities an athlete has to face on top of that. There was many a moment of teariness. Jonnie Peacock our local 100 metre gold winning sprinter lost his leg through meningitis. Apparently when he in hospital with it the doctors told his mother that she should say goodbye. However she bent down and whispered - you keep on fighting son. And he has been doing it ever since. Look at this lovely hug he gave his mum.
One of the swimmers we saw at the Aquatic Centre only had half an arm but he went like a rocket and got the gold. It was just extraordinary. We also watched some Bocchia. The athletes mostly have cerebral palsy and some have no use of any limbs and they were controlling the balls using their mouths or sticks strapped to their heads. But you kind of forgot their disabilities and got caught up in the sport. Going to the Paralympic events was fantastic. I have never been anywhere so good natured. It is true the crowd was partisan but they cheered everyone, especially the people who got left behind. And they cheered so loudly. The noise in the Aquatics centre was quite deafening. I have to say the commentators at these venues do their best to whip everyone into a frenzy. The man in the Aquatics centre was relentlessy cheery. We were speculating if he was like that all the time so when he had breakfast he went. "Now let's give it up for the cornflakes! Make some noise for the cup of tea!" After three outings to the Paralympics I was quite exhausted from all this giving it up and making noises. And finally a heart warming story about the whole magical summer that shows Essex people are actually the best. The young man sent to meet the Burkino Faso team discovered that they didn't have anywhere to go. So he took the to his parents house and arranged for the women to stay in a convent in Brentwood. He sorted out training facilities and equipment. Essex people are great!