Rumour has it that the older we become the more we count out our days in coffee spoons. As it transpires, the five members of Team 212 (aka Team Four Play and yeah, we’d already broken the rules by smuggling-in an extra participant) count out theirs in the number of Captain Challenges they’ve competed in.
Once upon a time to everything there was a season: a time to bowl, a time to bat, a time to shoot, a time to pass. That was before the cricket and football seasons converged upon each other as evidenced by last weekend’s clash of the first Ashes Test with the Charity/Community Shield, heralding the kick-off of the forthcoming footie season.
Bonjour, je suis returnee! In the past I’ve provided an almost day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of my shaky trials and tribulations on two skinny wheels en France but, rather do that again here’s a slightly different approach which addresses some broad-based subjects that I’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks. Just to briefly recap, the plan was to ride-down a circuitous route to central/southern France on me jack-jones, camping and living on the cheap, before blagging a lift back in wee Tom’s Bongo (campervan) as he’d been surfing on the Brittany & Vendee coasts.
Notwithstanding climate change, insect armageddon and the inevitable extinction of the human race, the real downside to the UK’s warmest February temperatures on record is that the lanes at West London’s finest swimming pool fill-up with local revellers keen on exercising for the first time since before winter set in. Not for these dippers are wetsuits or special waterproof booties and the draw of tessellating, shimmering patterns bouncing off the bottom of the pool takes on a hypnotic ‘look into my eyes, not around the eyes’ quality.
In spring, as Lord Alfred Tennyson observed, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love…and cycling. As it’s been too cold of late to venture out with any real gusto I’ve started to reminisce on the last couple of two-wheeled adventures and put-my-thinking-cap on wrt the next one. Several have involved trips across La Manche to follow le maillot jaune and this made me consider whether Team Sky are looking forward to this year’s Tour de France as much as I am?
You may have run one. You probably know of someone who has run one. Undoubtedly, you will have sponsored someone who has run one. Personally, I’ve run four. Four, full-distance, official marathons of 26.2 miles, 42,195 metres and, as my legs are most likely much shorter than yours, approximately 60,000 steps. Sadly, 258 runners in last month’s Shenzen marathon in China, saw fit to not do the hard-yards and were left red-faced after being caught cheating.
The original tale, ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome tells of three friends rowing their way along the Thames toward Oxford. The pals consider themselves capable outdoorsmen, though they have trouble with simple outdoor survival skills and tend to find themselves holed-up in local hostelries a little too often. Setting up a tent flummoxes them, cooking on a camp stove proves way too complicated, before they eventually ditch the boat and take the train back to London.
With an anticipated twenty million of us watching the home team play our first knock-out-round match in over a decade, it’s safe to say Russia’s 2018 world cup has been a success. And even though they went out at the group stage, with a pretty ignominious one-point from a 1-1 draw with Argentina, I’d also like to highlight that this year’s tournament was another huge success for our North Sea neighbours, Iceland.
A couple of months ago a pal of mine, a half-decent middle-distance runner decided that, for his birthday treat, he would finally run a marathon. Wanting to avoid the palaver of buying an entry place, early-morning start and getting to the venue, ignoring the roaringly supportive crowds, trouble at the drink stations and having to get his completion medal framed, he simply set his garage-sited running machine to 26.2 miles, opened the door, put the fan on and ran the allotted distance.
Even though I desperately want to be European, I am British. However, as the Winter Olympics have clearly demonstrated to me, I have precious little patriotic spirit and even less national pride. The highlight of the last couple of weeks was undoubtedly Elise Christie crashing-out with nothing to show for her lifetime’s ‘sacrifice’ (and immediately committing to do the same for another four years until Beijing 2022, quickly followed by the plucky Japanese curling underdogs who consigned po-faced Eve Muirhead to sport an even longer-face than the one she wore for the eleven day-duration of her tournament.