Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Tough Mudder

For all three of you who've been spared my over-posting on FaceBook, I did Tough Mudder and survived!

The chicks in the office and I decided we'd do it a few months ago - and then struggled to find recruits :(    Everyone started off, keen as mustard, and everyone gradually developed a good excuse (you all know who you are!!)

Before any of us felt sufficiently prepared, the day was here. We'd enlisted the charming and chivalrous Nige, a talented director and producer we've worked with on many projects over the years, and my rowing friend, Janet. (I think she's still my friend... Nige suggested I may have used coercion and I suggested he may have been right. Rach from the office had money on that Janet would NOT be my friend after the event - it was gruelling.)

The start was hilarious. The Rocky theme song rocked on and we were all asked to get down on one knee, then told if that hurt, we should leave now. We then took the Mudder pledge, to help each other and just make it to the end.

We were also reminded that they would have a cold beer waiting for us at the other end and knowing we'd be exhausted, they'd even open it for us. Yay.

Off we ran. Only 18kms to go....

The first of the 23 obstacles was The Kiss of Mud, crawling combat-style through a long mud pit, force to stay low with the barbed wire barrier. The next was several deep mud pits where we spotted the first casualty of the day; a guy with a safety pin from his bib that had literally skewered his finger like a shish kabob - eww. We also found an asthma pump in a zip-lock bag - eek!

There were walls to scale, nets to scramble under, tunnels to crawl through, team mates to piggy back, waterways to navigate, monkey bars to swing from and more.

In truth, I'm a tad claustrophobic so wasn't sure I'd be able to handle The Birth Canal - a long crawl in mud under a sling of water that's heavy and in some places, pressingly low. I talked to the guy in the Canal on my left so I didn't have to look ahead and to distract myself, and just when panic was about to get the better of me, a random competitor reached in from the end, yelled at me to grab his hand and hauled me out in the nick of time.

It really was that kind of camaraderie that made the experience so enjoyable. Not just among our own team but everyone in our wave. We held hands with strangers as we picked our way blindly through pitted mud trenches, accepted leg ups out of deep holes and were dragged up walls by burly blokes. And of course we returned as many favours as we could.

The most alarming challenge was the Arctic Enema (it's on the video). A slide into a deep pool of iced water and ice blocks that literally takes your breath away, only to discover there doesn't seem to be an obvious way out. A volunteer explains that you need to swim under a wall to escape. So if the first dunking hadn't given you a good dose of brain freeze, the second most certainly did!

We also discovered the very weird sensation of running when you're drenched down to your undies with mud....

At the finish, my shoes (actually, my friend Sal's old shoes - she'd donated them for the occasion), socks and T all went straight in the bin.

So are we back to do it again next year? Quite possibly! Message me if you'd like to join us!!

(Thanks to Nige for the video, Gab and Rach for the commitment and laughs and Janet for still being my friend - I think!)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

How to Unshrink a Jumper

It can be done! For anything wool I suspect, but here's my tale.

Remember when my car got towed? I mentioned then that there weren't the words to describe the feeling you have at the exact moment you realise you left your car in a clearway and it's now past 4.30pm?

We need to neolexicate (that's a made up word that means to make up words).

Whatever the word is, I had that same feeling as I was hauling stuff out of the dryer - Geoff's work gear, school uniforms, sportswear - and spotted my black French wool felt jumper.

I nearly cried.

Not being one to spend lavishly on my wardrobe, this was one of my few 'investment' pieces. I say 'investment' because I find that term hilarious! By my definition, an investment either appreciated in financial value over time or delivers a return - clothes, or handbags for that matter, don't. I think the theory in fashion is that a big ticket item is so lovely and of such fabulous quality that it dissuades you from purchasing more items... again, not in my experience.

Anyway.... so out falls my jumper, not surprisingly a shite-load smaller than it used to be. It was short to start and now I was forced to wear an additional black singlet under the built in one so there was no gap and cascading muffin between pant and top.

The topic came up after rowing one Sunday morning. Sal had heard a of a method to unshrink wool - I tried it and - who'd have thought! - it worked!

Fill a bucket with warm water and mix in a good hand full of hair conditioner (any quality will do - even the old one in the back of the cupboard to comb out lice!). Submerge the item and squeeze the solution through the garment. Take it out and roll between two towels to remove excess water. Lay flat on a dry towel and start pulling/tugging/coaxing it back into the desired shape. I focused on length, but you might want the neck and cuffs. Lie it somewhere you'll notice it and every time you walk pass, give it a little stretch in the right direction as it dries - and voile la!

You are then supposed to rinse the conditioner out and dry and stretch and blah blah - but it smelt nice, fitted again and frankly, ain't no one got time to be rewashing a clean jumper!


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Second Rummage

It happened again last Wednesday night. I'd been to the supermarket and was unloading groceries over a few trips, talking to kids and forgot to lock my car.


I came out on Thursday morning to pack for Oaks Day (Day 3 of the Spring Racing Carnival) and some of the contents of my glove box were over the seat. They'd been back.

Another pair of cheap sunglasses, stolen, plus all my parking meter money, my first aid kit and my manuals and service book! WTF??

There is a brand of car that apparently once you have the service book, you can organise a replacement key. A quick call to the service centre and I discovered my car isn't one of those.

Fortuitously, I had actually read my car manual last summer but still very annoying. I rang the local police in case they thief realised the books were useless and dumped them somewhere.
If you'd like to make an official record, we'll need to send out the crime squad to take finger prints on your car, the sergeant informed me.
Bit late for that I'm afraid, I confessed. I've already touched everything and anyway, I'm off to the races.
If it's got your rego in them, we'll find you, she added helpfully.

If you see someone around town wearing a tortoise shell pair of these - but TopShop, not Mui Mui - good chance they're mine!!!

On Sunday, as I headed off to Avalon (charity for the homeless) I remembered I'd grabbed a client-branded backpack from the office to donate. Now where was that? Oh that's right - it was in the car...

It would most likely have gone to some poor homeless drug addict and now, I supposed, it was the property of some poor homeless drug addict - so I guess on this occasion, we'd just cut out the middle man!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The weekend of contrast

Talk about extremes.

Saturday was Derby Day of the Spring Racing Carnival (horse races). Some friends and we hosted a car park On The Rails - an enclosure right on the track available only to members and their guests. It was a perfect day in every sense. The weather was magnificent, mid 20s, sunny and only a cool, light breeze late in the afternoon at the day's warmest. The roses were blooming and the French champagne following. 

The chicken sandwiches, pea and feta tartlets, eye fillet, salads (including edible flowers), brownie, slices, fruit platter and chocolates were all exquisite (if we're allowed to say that about our own catering!). We had a long table set up under shade, with a white cloth adorned with fresh flowers.

Geoff and I invited friends we've known for more than 30 years and the friends of our co-hosts were fabulous and engaging company as well. Other friends popped by to say hello, have a drink and ask if anyone was winning on the horses. It was, as always, an extremely convivial event.

We got home and raised a glass with our friends (and some neighbours who we lured in to join us!) to a hugely successful day.

It's the kind of carnival that attracts millions of dollars in sponsorship, corporate and private entertainment, gambling, horses and fashion, with people coming and going in cars, trains, boats, limousines and helicopter.

In stark contrast, on Sunday night, Sass and I headed out with Avalon Centre - the organisation that distributes clothing, bedding and toiletries to the homeless. The afternoon, when we'd sorted and packed the buses, was warm and windy but a cool change had come through and it was cold and raining intermittently. 

We usually see people who are hard up - of course - but Sunday was worse than usual. There was a 9-year old girl with her mum, getting a meal from the organisation that puts on a dinner in the park and a pink coat from Avalon to protect her from the cold wind.

I chatted to a gorgeous girl with an apparent ice addiction who was quite happy and gregarious only to slink over later and apologise for being 'sloppy' in front of Sass, who she hadn't realised had been within ear shot when she'd been mouthing off about something. She was so down on herself it hurt to hear her grovel for forgiveness. Sass and I assured her no offence had been taken and all was fine. She seemed to spring back a little.

There were a couple of softly spoken indigenous women, one with bare feet on the cold pavement. That was a problem we could fix. There was a polite young guy with nothing but the few clothes he was wearing and an impolite woman from Europe who was demanding, insistent and trying to take things that weren't on offer.

One of the Avalon buses outside Flinders Street Station

I don't know why, but there seemed to be more people than usual, drunker, dirtier and more drug affected. The smell of stale urine was more apparent and the language less tempered. There was a bit of agro and a few police. It was cold and we ran out of blankets early.

A woman was looking for some feminine clothes and we couldn't find anything to fit the bill. We checked the shoes - nothing there either. As I repacked the tub, I spotted a pair of almost new orange sandals - bang! I walked up and down the street but couldn't find her - it ruined my night.

I thought back to the apologising young woman at the first stop. She explained she'd been drinking all day. In truth, I'd been drinking for much of the day before. Same, same but so very, very different.

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...