Sunday, 27 September 2009

Royal Park tour.

This week we ran for two hours through the central london parks ie Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, St James's Park and Green Park. Inevitably, there were many distractions:

We marvelled at the ultra bling style of the Albert Memorial,

Risked life and limb to get this picture of a coloured drain cover in the middle of the Hyde Park Corner gyratory system ,

Spent a very emotional 5 minutes with Len from New Zealand, recounting his current trip to find the grave of his Great Uncle who fought in the First World War - this memorial is for all of the New Zealand soldiers who fought for Britain in the two world wars,

Wondered what this sign could be about - beware headless shadow boxers ?

Turned away persistent admirers who seemed determined to present us with garlands of flowers,

And sat down at the end for a rest and to enjoy the Indian Summer (the term possible originates from raids on European colonies in America by Indian war parties; these raids usually ended in autumn, hence the extension to summer-like weather in the fall as an Indian summer.)

Time for a long lay down ...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Running with your mouth closed

This week we have upped the ante with a few short midweek runs, together but apart . We call each other at a designated time and then head off out into the pouring rain - if we didn't make this arrangement we would never go .

At the weekend, we had to do this as well due to various other commitments. As I didn't have my normal chatty running buddy with me, I started to daydream. This time it was about the dangers of swallowing flies whilst on the run - something that has happened occasionally over the years, with rather disturbing results. I tend to double up, retch horribly and scare the shit out of passing dog walkers.

So I try to run through the woods with my mouth closed or more often with my toungue sticking out to deflect attacking insects - all of which also makes me look a bit demented and certainly untrustworthy.

My daydreaming soon took me to a darker place - excerpts from the film 'The Fly' flash before my eyes or, even worse, long forgotten memories re-emerge of Val Doonican singing "I once knew a woman who swallowed a fly ....

Time for the old jumpers and cardigans to make a comeback ?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Up and running again - concrete and pykrete

We finally got it together and ran this weekend - this time on Saturday. We were surprised how busy it was compared to a Sunday morning but part of this was due to the Mayor's riverside festival on the Southbank. It is also clearly a big tourist tour time - we are always amused as to what some of them wear ...

Do you think some one should tell this stage assistant that Marilyn Monroe passed on some time ago - also interesting that her name is totally mispelt but it takes several glances to notice this.
At the end of the run we crept into the Smithfield poultry market to gaze at the amazing roof ...

Horace Jones' original Poultry Market was destroyed by fire in 1958. The replacement building was designed by Sir Thomas Bennett in 1962–1963. The main hall is covered by an enormous concrete dome, shaped as an elliptical paraboloid, spanning 225 feet by 125 feet and only 3 inches thick at the centre. The dome is believed to be the largest concrete shell structure ever built in Europe by that time.

More research on getting home revealed that during World War II, a large underground cold store at Smithfield was the theatre of secret experiments led by Max Perutz on pykrete, a mixture of ice and woodpulp, alleged to be tougher than steel. Perutz's work, inspired by Geoffrey Pyke and part of Project Habakkuk, was meant to test the viability of pykrete as a material to construct floating airstrips in the Atlantic to allow refuelling of cargo planes in support of Lord Louis Mountbatten's operations. The experiments were carried out by Perutz and his colleagues in a refrigerated meat locker in a Smithfield Market butcher's basement, behind a protective screen of frozen animal carcasses. These experiments became obsolete with the development of longer range aircraft and the project was soon abandoned.

Looks like they finally found a use for pykrete ...

P.S. New Smiths of Smithfield restaurant in Spitalfields now open - called The Luxe probably because they couldn't call it Spit of Spitalfields...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Driving on the right.

Mark managed to get into a fight with an Irish fencing post and a road this week - he won on points - but unfortunately no Sunday run.

Talking of roads, I was taken with the story about the Samoans deciding to switch the side of the road they drive on from the right to the left. They only drive on the right because of a short period of German rule at the start of the last century .

Apparently, in the pre-industrial era horses kept to the left so that riders could draw their sword. Napoleon changed Europe to the right - all because someone called him short - watch out for what Sarkozy does next.

The Samoans have wangled themselves a special two day bank holiday ( but with a 3 day ban on alcohol sales) to help them into the new regime. There were also reports of some people attempting to drive on the left before the official changeover- a Samoan spokesman was heard to say "though I don't know if they were doing it by accident or because they are crazy".

It reminded me of working in Holland with some Dutch colleagues - all of their jokes were based on the myth that all Belgiums are not that bright. One of their favourites was about the Belgium plan to switch from driving on the right to the left - but to make it easier on the population the first week, it would be lorries only....