Monday, 22 April 2013

Virgin London Marathon 2013

Congratulations to everybody who finished the London Marathon yesterday. Watching it on the television yesterday I found some people's stories so inspiring! Well Done! I'm not sure whether I could do a whole Marathon, but I'd love to try to run again a half Marathon soon.

Running through iconic London structures

Running is difficult as it is...

Tribute to Boston

Saturday bbq

Last weekend the weather in London improved a lot. It was so nice that after my morning run, we spent most of the day gardening and organising a bbq, the South African away. This year, after the huge success of planting courgettes, I planted carrots next to the roses. I'll keep you posted on how that will go. We decided to cook a lot of meat, for Sunday as well.

Salivating! We had to do something till the food was cooked, so we took pictures 

On the job 

Trying things with my phone 


It took us 2 days to finish that 

South African traditional braaibroodjie (very very yummy)

Friday, 12 April 2013

10 random things

  • I got an ‘above expectations’ performance on my appraisal yesterday! I was so glad. If only they knew… But if they’re happy, I’m happy. Unless of course they had no expectations whatsoever.
  • I was told in the same meeting though that I should speak up more. This is something I've acknowledged and should improve. In very big groups, especially with senior people, I’m not going to easily make a stand and talk / argue. I get nervous, my accent gets worse, I stutter and no one understands me.  Getting to know the people in my new department and getting more experience in the field helps though. And if I start, there is no turning back.
  • A work colleague has a ridiculous face tan that he got wearing big goggles while skiing. I’m so jealous, even if I've never been skiing in my life. I prefer summer sports but having a bad face tan in the middle of bad weather season is just so cool.
  • Another work colleague changed his work role to a part time position to pursue a career in writing novels. That’s so good for him. I wish I had a talent like that. Especially, when it comes to writing, I would have loved being good at it. I’ve actually read something he’s written and it’s very promising
  • Most of the random things I had to use in this list of random points of the day sounded a bit negative, so I’m not going to use them. I need to think of something different instead. My plan of the day is to be positive.
  • My next small experiment is to try listening to an audiobook while running. I usually listen to music, but then I end up hating songs I used to like for listening to them too many times while exercising. So, starting with Miranda’s latest book I’ll hit the roads. I needed something not too engaging but rather fun. There’s an app called audible from Amazon with a free 30 days trial. That will give me plenty of time to check this form of running. I wonder how that will go. My concern is that I get too distracted and get hit by a car. I hope not.
  • I've also started another personal project. I was thinking that it wouldn't harm acquiring a Microsoft IT certificate (MCSE) based on things I've been doing at work. I’m not entirely convinced that they are worth it and if employers look for them. But my educational background is in engineering and what I’m working on now is IT. Of course having some real job experience counts more, but having a certificate (any certificate) to back that experience wouldn't harm. Also, since I've been learning things on the job from other employees or online (stackoverflow) that doesn't mean I’m learning things properly. Reading a book or two might help me get better understanding.  Acquiring that certificate though means passing 5 different exams. So, that might take a while… 
  • Apart from struggling to choose a dog breed, when the time comes, it might be harder to pick a dog name. I assume Darth Vader or Victor von Doom is out of the question?
  • My Greek friend was asked at her first day at work if in Greece people speak ‘Arabic’. The person asking the question was surprised to find out that there is a language called ‘Greek’! These stories amuse me so much! 
  • What’s been on my mind though the most the last days is the trouble I've been having with my phone. It randomly freezes and I can only restart it to make it come back to life. I've tried formatting it by restoring the factory settings and reinstalling only very few applications. It’s generally more stable now, but it still crashes. That can be very annoying and I haven’t managed to find a proper solution online. Everybody says different things. So, I need to keep on trying different setups to see which one would work.  

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Water and dog issues

I was at work and it was early in the morning. Generally, I can’t properly function without a morning cup of coffee. And there are occasions that I don’t even mind that horrible thing that comes out our coffee machine that it calls ‘cappuccino’. Yuck! Anyway, I walked in the kitchen and there was one of our senior accountants. She’s a lovely lady of mid-forties of Indian origin. She’s generally polite and even sent my manager a ‘thank you’ email for some help I had given her in the past, so she’s on my very good side.

However, that morning I saw her pouring water from our cooler in a plastic cup and from there to a bigger half empty bottle. I said my good mornings and looked at her puzzled. She turns around and tells me: ‘I want to see how many cups there are in a big water bottle’! I was speechless! You have a cup with a visible 200ml mark on it and a bottle with another very visible 2 litter mark on it! How many do you think it would take? And she’s supposed to be good with numbers! I didn’t want to make her feel embarrassed so I didn’t say anything and just left. Would you? I did run into her later that day and she happily announced to me that the bottle was able to hold 10 cups of water!!! Imagine that…

On another very different note, there’s been quite a lot of ‘puppy’ talk in my household. I have mentioned it before, but the plan (for now) is to get a dog next year. If you ask me why next year, because it’s someone’s (JJ) big birthday and we need to celebrate with a bang or a woof. He’ll probably kill me if I even mention how old he’s turning. So, since he’s not happy with that number, I know that a dog will definitely make him happy. I couldn’t keep something like that as a surprise, so we have discussed about it.

There are numerous websites on which breed is best for you. There are online quizzes with simple questions to match you with the dog of your dreams. You can select the size of your house / flat / garden, the size of the dog you prefer, how much time you’ll spend grooming it, how active you want it to be, how much time you’ll be spending playing with it, about other pets or children in the household etc etc. Generally, we’d like something small to medium size and not very demanding (we can be selfish like that). I have a day job that keeps me out of the house from around 8am till 6:30pm and JJ has a shift job. So, some weeks he’ll be home in the morning and me in the evening or sometimes we’ll be both gone for hours. Also, I never had a dog, so to be honest I’d like something easily trainable and somewhat independent.

There are times when I feel tired and I wouldn’t like a hyperactive dog in constant need of attention and play. For example they say that Jack Russell Terriers as a breed are supposed to be extremely clever but also very energetic and in constant demand of attention. I’m not entirely sure, but that might cause me a problem. Although to be honest, they are very cute and I wouldn’t mind having one. They look ridiculously adorable. As you can see I’m even beginning to learn breed names and general characteristics.

And of course, there is the matter of personal taste. There are some breeds more appealing to my eyes than others. For example I don’t really like Chihuahuas. Apart from the Jack Russell Terrier I like dogs like the beagles or a cocker spaniel. JJ really likes pugs. All this is theoretical of course. Most likely we’ll pay a shelter a visit and see what’s available. I don’t mind having or not a specific pure breed dog. Having a dog will definitely change our lives, but I believe for the better. Any advice you can give us?

PS. Some of you have amazing cute dogs and I could have stolen some of your pictures, but I decided against it not to do injustice by forgetting some others.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

News Update

It’s April, although it still feels like January. We still get the occasional snow flake here and there and the weather here in London is still cold and a bit miserable. Some plants and trees have started to bloom, but it doesn’t look anything like spring yet. Unfortunately, the continuous for months bad weather hasn’t just affected me. I’ve heard many people say how tiring it is. To give you an idea, we had the coldest March since 1962 as BBC said. This week looks the same. Maybe it will get better next week?

You really need to try to see if you can succeed.  

I love the view of the sea 

The bad weather has affected my running schedule. I know it shouldn’t, but I just can’t get myself in running gear and out of the house when it is freezing cold and very windy. It takes almost a mile to run to get warm enough to actually start enjoying the running session. By then, it feels a bit like a torture. I had this conversation at work with one of our financial managers. He’s a very keen runner and finished last week a half marathon in an hour and a half. We agreed that people running the London Marathon soon, must have had it very difficult training during the last few months. So, March hasn’t been that good, but I hope April will get better. I’ve already registered for a 10k run in early June to keep me motivated. I hope to beat my PB.


Dressed up like onions (Long Johns, scarf, gloves, woolly hat etc), I took my new lodger on a day trip to Brighton last Friday. JJ was working, when the rest of us enjoyed a long Easter weekend. It was windy and cold, but other than that a bit sunny. I generally love Brighton. It’s close enough to London for a day trip; it’s by the sea and has lots of lovely small coffee shops and stores that are not part of international chains, giving the city a nice character. It was my lodger’s first excursion outside the city and I believe she had as much fun as I did.

Graffiti around the town

Being a Bank Holiday meant the place was generally busy. There were lots of families on the Pier and happy shoppers all around. We didn’t stay on the Pier that long though. It was too windy to be enjoyable for too long. I had hoped for a nice stroll along the sea front from the Pier to the Marina, but the weather didn’t allow us to do that. Nevertheless, we visited local cafes and pubs to stay warm.

Really nice coffee place in Brighton

Fortunately, I’ve already planned my summer holidays with ‘JJ’. We both needed to know when we’ll be going to a sunnier and warmer place. So, we picked an island in the Aegean Sea and decided to spend some quality and relaxing time there. Our last long holidays in South Africa were absolutely amazing but tiring with so many different things to experience. This time we decided to just find a small Mediterranean island and just do nothing apart from rest, get some tan and swim. This will not happen that soon but in July, but nonetheless it’s something fabulous to look forward to.