Adventures in Swimmming… Open Water Wishlist


Since switching my focus to swimming and getting chatting to people in the Cotswold Open Water Swimmers group I have built up a wishlist of swims I want to do in the next few years.

I’m sure this list will build as I get to know more people and hear their stories and experiences. Also there are many swim and places I don’t know about so they will be added to the list. My goal will probably be to do one big one each year, but if the timing works out I might be able to do more.

My 2015 Swimming Goals

My goals for 2015 have changed from the ones I set previously and that is okay. I have now set myself some new ones and I am excited about working towards them.

My technique goal is to master bilateral breathing. At the moment I can do it, but I feel it slows me down, so I also need to build my fitness back up while using this style of breathing to make it become habit. Overall I just want to swim as much as possible in both the lake and the pool.

Garden Transformation

I am not great at looking after plants. If they can’t tell me they need food and/water I usually end up killing them through over or under watering. Not even grass is safe from my non green fingers.

So this year, after two years of being in my house, I finally transformed my garden into something i will use and that is low maintenance.

This is the before state of affairs. I can’t be held totally responosbile though! Anyone who has bought a new house know that developers aren’t the best at leaving gardens presentable or flat.  My garden is on a slight slope and the ground was not flattened before the turf was laid and that has been a nightmare since with mowing.

I therefore decided to pave the whole thing over!

Extreme yes, but also totally logical. The builders took about 4 days to complete the whole thing, from digging up excess garden, to creating the base to lay the paving on, that is flat!

The end result is a simple, but so much improved outdoor space I will use and can bring the cats out to enjoy.

It feels so much bigger and it is so nice to be able to put my table and chairs out and for them to be flat.  

I have since collected a number of pots and planted some cat friend herbs, that will hopefully survive my lack of green fingers.

I’m pretty sure I have the thumbs up from Merry and Pippin. It took a few attempts for them to come outside due to the changes from last year, but they did and ahve been nibbling at the shrubs since. Pippin got to 3 of my runner bean seedings straight away, so had to get some protection to keep him away until they can survive cat nibbles.


They have been running around the space attempting to catch flies and watching the birds fly across the sky. They go and peer under the gate, but have yet to try and get underneath.   

Overall I am so glad I decided to spend some of my savings and get this done. I know I”ll enjoying going out there as the weather gets warmer and know the cats will also love it.

Adventures in Swimming… Open water coaching

I had my first 121 open water coaching session this week with Jason from South West Swim. This was a follow on from my Video Analysis session earlier in the year. This was my treat to myself this year and has really brought back my love of swimming and my motivation to focus on it over other things.

I got to the lake just after 7am on Tuesday morning. It was beautiful and sunny, even if a little chilly. The air temperature was 6 degrees and the lake was 14-15 degrees!


Once I was ready with wetsuit on and tow flat attached we headed into the lake to see how I was swimming. I have been concentrating on my head/body position and my hand entry /catch since the video analysis and it has been working. There are still some tweaks I can make to improve even more and there are times when I slip into the wrong position, but I now rectify pretty quickly.

In the lake we concentrated on my catch through the water to make sure I am getting the most efficient stroke possible. We used a new toy for me – the Finis Fulcrum – to hold my arms in the correct position. This is the torture device of swimming I’ve decided. There is no room for movement or adjustment once your arm is in them. They feel like an arm brace, it reminded me of the only time I had my arm in plaster. You don’t want to keep these on for very long. Even once I had taken them off I could feel where they had been on my arm!

We then went onto sighting. It’s the one part of open water swimming I don’t like. I find it throws me out of alignment and rhythm. It also tired me out more quickly than if I don’t. However I don’t swim in a straight line. The test, which we did, is to swim towards a buoy with your eyes closed and see where you end up. I ended up to the right of my target, so I need to sight, so I need to practice! There is not one right way to sight, but I am going to have a play around with sighting first then breathing, as I natural do the opposite and feel like I’m holding my breath, which probably make me feel more tired than I actually am.

I have another 3 121 lake sessions booked and another video session to book over the summer, so there are plenty more adventures to be had in the world of open water.

Adventures in Coffee… London Coffee Festival 2015


This last weekend my friend Ingrid and I went to London for the weekend for the London Coffee Festival. I like London for all the events that are on, but a weekend is enough for me. It was super busy! We gave up on the tube pretty soon and wandered from Covent Garden to the Tower of London, via Borough Market and Tower Bridge. It was great to just wander and catch up. We also spotted two Shaun the Sheep art works!

Shaun the sheepmap Shaun the Sheep

We also found The Hummingbird Bakery and had the most amazing cake! Mine was the lemon raspberry three layer cake and Ingrid had the raspberry cheesecake brownie. Both were amazing!IMG_0712

We went to the coffee festival on the Sunday. It’s held at The Old Truman Brewery near Brick Lane. Ingrid and I stayed near Liverpool Street Station for easy access to transport and easy walking distance to the Coffee Festival. I could not believe have busy it was. The queue went around the street and although it moved quickly it was a bit crazy.  

starbucks cups

Once we were in it was great to wander round. We decided to buy nothing on the first lap to make sure we didn’t spend too much. We tried lots of samples from lots of different vendors – Union, Grumpy Mule, Freehand, Costa, Starbucks, and a few others I’ve forgotten I’m sure.

I was really impressed with the Starbucks stand. They focused on their reserve blends . We tried a cold brew and mint sparkling coffee, both of which were lovely. I loved all the coffee cup art. They also gave us both free samples of each of the 4 coffees they had to try. Thanks to Dan for sorting that out for us.

Starbucks coffee

We wandered around more and looked at the different cups, teas, machines, and people around the place. It was hard to spend that long at any stand as it was so busy. I would have liked to learn more about brewing techniques, but we didn’t get to the demo area until we had finished. I was surprised that a few stands where we asked about the some of the brewing techniques the people there couldn’t explain how it impacted on the coffee. I felt a few people there were just sales people who hadn’t even read up on what they were selling.

I did like the art and displays around the place though. It definitely had a quirky atmosphere.
coffee machinescoffee sacksscience coffee

If I went again I would probably go in twice to have some more time to talk to the vendors about the farms they buy from and the different brewing techniques.

The last thing we did was go to the martini bar for an espresso martini. The guy on the bar was fun and chatty as he made our cocktails.

espresso martiniespresso martini 2

We really liked the cocktails. Neither of us had tried one before and although I do like martini and have all the ingredient required to make this, I have never done so. I think I might in the summer if we are drinking in the afternoon, but I wouldn’t want this as an evening drink due to the espresso required.

espresso martini 4 espresso martini 3
I came home with the free Starbucks testers and a bag of Freehand coffee the guys on the stall kindly let me buy although they were only using for drinks at the festival. I went over especially at the end of the session to buy from them and almost wasn’t able to, but they were super nice and let me have a bag of the Peru beans to take home. I can’t wait to try it out!

I do love coffee, but I will say we were over caffeinated after 3 hours in the festival. All I wanted was water for the rest of the day. So many samples in so little time was a bit rough on the body. However it was super nice to try from small scale roasters and now I have a list of them to find online to allow me to try different beans and blends. Also I can find them on my wanderings too!

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