Tag Archives: St. Maarten

What – no Top Gear ?

Just settling down for a sunday evening in front of the TV, Sunday 8pm, BBC2 Top Gear – but not tonight.  Seems that Jezza has overstepped the mark.  Poor old fella!  Personally, I think he could be a huge premadonna so I can believe all that I am hearing. I do predict that tomorrow though – the news will be full of stories about Mr Clarkson NOT renewing his contract with the beeb.  To really push the boat out, I reckon Hammond and May will stay on and Top Gear will continue with a similar format.  It does get a bit boring watching them smoking tyres out on dream cars, with the predictable punch lines and especially when they ask the audience if they want to see the lap in the  ‘star in a reasonably priced car’ segment – of course they do………..time for a change I think.  Tonight I am sampling a new program called ‘Off their Rockers’.

More toilet talk – I picked up a pack of Belgium’s finest bog roll the other week, all different designs.  One that took my fancy straight away was a roll with a drawing of a pile of poo on alternate sheets (almost mis-spelled that ), underneath the cartoon pile was the word ‘Happens’.  I kinda liked that – ‘Shit Happens’  quite apt for a toilet roll.  Then I noticed another roll had a cartoon face of a Lion (or Cat – I couldn’t tell which) with the words in Portuguese underneath that translated to ‘ Very Nice to see You’.  I thought that was a bit weird, dragging that across your butt hole but then this week I noticed the best yet.  Pictures of hands making shapes that signified letters of the alphabet – I assumed they were sign language but thankfully, under each drawing of a hand was the letter being signed.  I pulled a few sheets off the roll to reveal the full phrase, I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U  drag that across ring piece of your nearest and dearest to show how much you care.

So recently I have been to-ing and fro-ing from Brussels a lot – late night drives to avoid traffic congestion. Traffic just does my head in and if you plan badly you get traffic on the M25 and also on the RO (the Brussels M25 equivalent) at the other end. Usually this means a 10pm ferry, arriving in Dunkirk at 1am local time followed by a two-hour spurt into Brussels.  The other night I got into some morbid thinking about death on the long run into the ring from Dunkirk.  To perk myself up I started flicking through my iTunes playlist until I found something I really liked.  I found the mighty Biffy Clyro & 27. Singing my heart out I was fully prepared to play it again if it finished before I made it to the house but there was an ace in the pack, a very big ace.

As I approached Stockel Square, Biffy faded out and was replaced by Robbie feckin Williams with ‘Angels’.  It was 3am and I was definitely going to be at the house before this song had finished so I dropped both front windows on the car, pumped up the volume and started singing at the top of my voice.  I had time in hand, that was clear, so I circled the market square 3 times that morning – singing my bollocks off in the most out of tune manner you have ever heard in your life.  Think about the worst karaoke you ever heard – that was me.  It was like holding both middle fingers up to those boring french speaking fuckers of Belgium. IT FELT GOOD!! I hope I woke all of them up.

Friday saw the final chapter in Belgium close as we handed back the house there. I will miss having such a huge forest right on my doorstep but new chapters beckon, new adventures are always just around the corner.  Tonight I went for a run taking in a little amount of road before heading into the fields, aiming for the canal towpath somewhere between Kilsby and Barby.  I did finally make the towpath as the light was fading fast.  I missed a turn halfway down a field and added a good half kilometer to my distance.  My OS maps app didn’t work so I had no choice but to back track and find where I had gone wrong.  Eventually on the tow path, the inevitable happened – I needed a dump !  Now, the non runners amongst you will never understand the link between running and dumping but please be assured there is a legitimate link – I certainly do not have a fetish for dropping a steaming coiler out in the nature – sometimes it just can’t be avoided.  Thankfully this time, I had a packet of Handy Andy’s with me so my underwear and hat were safe.

Staying with running – I did manage a new personal best at Saturday’s Parkrun in Coventry’s War Memorial Park.  I ran my lungs out to take over 45 seconds out of my best time.  I was more than a little miffed though – on the last half of the second lap, two other runners that I correctly guessed were in my age group overtook me.  This is a problem for two reasons.  Firstly, anyone that is older than me or younger than me that is in front of me, is a target. I just can’t be beaten by anyone close by that is older or younger (yes I know that is everyone) but could I catch and pass them before the finish line ? Could I bollocks !  The second reason for this being a problem for me was that as they overtook me – they were having a conversation FFS!  If that is not adding insult to injury, I don’t know what is.  I do wonder though – if they applied my theory of ‘if you have enough air left to talk, you ain’t running hard enough’ – just how fast a time could they make ?  Anyway – I managed a respectable 77th place out of a field of 504 runners but I did get beaten by two chicks, and when I say beaten – I mean given a jolly good arse kicking !

But I keep trying – remember, there are two Great North Runs on my agenda this year.

Next week I return to St Maarten in the Caribbean before setting sail on yet another transatlantic crossing for Mallorca.  Transatlantic crossings are very boring. 16 days or so with not a great deal to do although I always say it’s better to have a boring 16 days than 16 days of fighting for your life.

 


How to save a life !

Haven’t been in Antigua long but already having fun.  Now I get some hills to play with which means that finally my trail running shoes have come out – and beauties they are too. Gliding over Middle Ground tonight in a smidge over 22 minutes – which was pretty sweet considering some of it is more of a scramble or climb…….I like it.

This mornings walk was a bevvy of experience for my senses.  Contrary to popular belief, the Caribbean, in particular, Antigua and St Maarten are not safe places to be.  Every year I read stories of tourists or yacht crew being brutally murdered.  It was still dark when I left the boat this morning so I stuck to the main road.  As the morning light started to drop in, I noticed a man walking toward me with a machete.  I am sure this is not normal for any part of the world so I braced myself to give him a swift punch in the throat should he decide to try and chop me up. Thankfully he decided to pass me by.

I even survived ‘Crack Alley’ as the locals call it.  Always a heart stopper walking through there – at any time of day. Yes, I am talking about Antigua still.!

Finally got up onto middle ground where I saw my first real life Mongoose scurrying around with the goats. Then I saw something very worrying.  A girl coming towards me with her ear buds in listening to music while walking the trail.  Second time in two days I have seen girls on their own walking across here with buds in.  So distracted was todays girl, that she failed to notice a bleating goat with its head stuck through a rock maybe 2 feet from where she had just walked.

At first I thought the little fella was looking through a gap at me, a bit like that dog I photographed in Mallorca a few years back

Guard Dog

But no – this fella had crashed his head through a gap that his body was too big to fit through.  the silly sod had also forgot that his horns on his head would act like a barb on a fishing hook when he tried to back up and draw his head out.  Worse still, in his panic, his arse had also gone in the wrong direction and was also wedged against the rock – he was proper stuck and no doubt shitting himself as I passed by.  I had to stop and help him.  I tried holding his horns and guiding his head back through the hole but his arse kept getting stuck. So I tried pulling his rear legs but his horns kept getting stuck.  The rock he was stuck under was too big for me to reach both ends of him at the same time so there was only one thing I could do – head back to the boat and get help.

When we got close to him again, the bleats were sounding a little coarse, like he had been screaming for help for hours. Poor fella was so distressed, when I reached down to hold his horns again, he turned his head away so that his eyes couldn’t see me coming.  I am assuming that was his instinct, he thought he was about to be eaten and didn’t want to see his doom moving in.

This time with Richie on the horns and me pulling at the legs it looked more promising.  I dug out some rocks with my hands, grabbed his legs and gently pulled him free.  Hurrah I thought – I saved his life.  The silly sod only tried to run straight back into the same hole again, no doubt trying to avoid myself and Rich on the other side of the rock.  Lucky for him I still had hold of his legs so another grab backwards then I grabbed his horns and guided his head to the safe side of the rock and released him.

Now, this may sound daft, but he gave a short bleat as he went.  Not a long cry for help, nor was it the call for his friends – they were much longer and different tones.  I am certain this little short bleat was ‘thanks’ in cliff goat language.

I had started my day by saving a life ! From this point forward, I have been hearing the theme tune to Grey’s Anatomy in my head all day.

How to Save a life

On the flip side – I also heard that Ravi Shankar had died.  I actually heard this over someones radio as I was walking past their house this morning.  I am guessing most of you will have no idea who Ravi Shankar is.  Shame on you!

This weekend it’s deep dive time.  John’s Wreck, a touch below 40 metres.  Been a few years since I saw it, and back then it had only just been sunk so I am hoping that it is well inhabited now with local life.  Dropped in at Pillars of Hercules on Saturday morning and managed to spot Matilda.  A menacing yet serenely beautiful thing is this green Eel.  Longer than I am tall and with a body thicker than my thigh – I don’t like to get too close to her and keep a respectful wide berth.

Stingray Alley also turned up trumps with a couple of big Stingrays in one dive.  Even saw a carcass of a dead lobster that was head to tail as long as my arm is from finger tip to elbow.  The local fish were feasting on its remains.

And of course the water temperature – according to my computer………… 28ºC


The last of the Summer Wine

A year has passed since I wrote my note – I should have known it right from the start!

This time last year I weighed in at 115.2 kgs, thats a little over 18 stone, or if my mothers scales are to be believed, close on 18 1/2 stone – or for you septics, 253lbs.

In the last year, I have covered some miles, all under my own steam – 2360 to be more accurate! That equates to over a quarter of a million calories burned in specific exercise. I have ran my longest single distance non stop of 10.2 miles, cycled on my mountain bike for a whopping 51.4 miler and even managed a top speed on the mountain bike of 44.6mph – it is all wholesomely impressive. My trousers have also shrunk somewhat, from a rather lardy 40” waist last October to a now very delicate by comparison 34” waist.

You would hope that with less of a belly, my knob might appear bigger but sadly no. More seriously though, I have logged activities in Belgium, Spain, UK, Antigua, Florida, St. Maarten, Rhode Island, Maine, Nantucket Island, Savannah and most recently Las Vegas with Georgia and the Caribbean looming before christmas.  It has been an incredible journey.  I have also worn out 3 pairs of training shoe in that time, thats over 300 squids worth of footwear! I have 2 new pairs of running shoes safely tucked away under my floor in my cabin – they should last until we get out of the caribbean and back to civilisation.

My original Claude Butler Mountain bike has been retired and I now plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land with my Specialized instead – but it is fed and watered by gods almighty hand. Yet to be ridden in serious anger, I am becoming one with my new steed, practise indeed for when myself and Mr. Brown meet once more somewhere up on Cannock Chase no doubt.

So what is next I hear you ask? A half Marathon is on the cards, followed some time in the near future by a full marathon but you will have to keep stopping by to see what I am up to, and more importantly, where I am up to it.

Let me leave you with a figure on that weight loss. Today, as I stand here, I tip the scales at………..

92.9kgs   or around 14 stone 8lbs

or (for the septics)

204lbs

 


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