SOC had an event at Busketts Lawn (near Ashurst) today. We’d offered to help and a very thoughtful organiser had suggested that we should assist on the start which would save us the 1.8km walk there and back. Christine went out for her run first and I and the children were left in charge of the all important task of putting a map under each box so that competitors don’t have to faff around with trying to take just one map from the pile. The children seemed to love this job and, other than the odd complaint about cold toes, they kept going until Christine got back from her run.
They then went out on the White course and I was relieved from my post shortly to go out on the Brown. I dawdled around the first half until Rob Patterson caught me up. We raced around the next six or seven controls together before I finally got away. I probably clawed back a minute by the end but he still beat me by four overall. Looking at the download from my Garmin I ran a full min/km faster in the second half and my average heart rate went up from 144 to 160!
The area didn’t offer much variety with the strategy for most legs being to run straight trying to check off features on the way and not worry too much about missing the feature as a bit of running in circles in the right vicinty would usually pay off. It was still a nice place to run through despite all the mud.
We went over to The Vyne yesterday to meet up with friends. Unfortunately it turned out that the playground there is closed until 13 February but there wasn’t too much complaining from the children. Whilst everyone else had lunch, Duncan and I joined one of the gardeners for a spot of wassailing to assure a good crop from the orchard. This involved drinking cider (at least for me) in a toast to the tree, placing toast soaked in cider around the tree (to encourage the birds to come and eat any pests), making lots of noise (to ward away the evil spirits), and party poppers (which left the tree suitably decorated). After lunch we wandered around the lake and up in to the woods. Remarkably 20 month old Alice insisted on walking the whole way until she finally fell asleep within sight of the car park.
Due to a change in venue, the Wessex Night League came to Romsey this week for an hour’s street-O. I didn’t have the best run. My first mistake was only taking a small Petzl. I should know better from previous events that Romsey has its fair share of dark alleyways, open areas and even some small patches of woodland. Starting out around the city centre I was also quite embarrased how poorly I know Romsey. I don’t think I’ve ever been in Memorial Park before for example.
I then wound my way out in to surrounding residential areas and managed to get myself hopelessly lost in an area where it’s impossible to tell which road is the main thoroughfare and which is yet another dead end. At this point I concluded that I wasn’t going to get all of the controls which was a mistake as, with about 15 mins to go, I realised that actually it probably was still possible. I then promptly ran in to a stream (not literally thankfully) and had to detour significantly to get across. I was doing something like 3.5 min/km by the end and managed to scrape in with just 16 seconds to spare.
The official results aren’t out yet due to a failed control but it looks like Tim Morgan made it round in a mere 10 mins less than me! Still, it got me out of the house and despite my cough/cold, I didn’t feel too bad afterwards.
Our first orienteering of the year took us over to the WIM Galoppen at Moors Valley Country Park. I went out on the Brown whilst Christine shepherded both children around the White. Emma started two minutes after Duncan and Christine and had caught them by the second control. Duncan exacted his revenge on the string course! I’ve succumbed to the children’s cough over the past few days which, combined with a general lack of core strength, meant that I found all of the brashings and furrows hard going (and the planner had, unfortunately, done his best to ensure that use of the extensive path network was minimal). I may have been sixth in the results but I was a good 12 minutes behind the winner! Thanks to Simon Errington implementing my feature request, I can also now link directly to my route on RouteGadget.
Whilst Christine was out on her course we relocated the car round to the main Country Park car park and the children used up what remaining energy they had in the play ground and on the play trail. They certainly went to sleep quickly this evening! We’re booked in for orienteering the next two weekends so it’s good that they enjoyed the day out.
Anyone following the WASdev site may have noticed that I’ve been doing some work with WebSphere Liberty and Docker recently. I was therefore pleased to have successfully made it off the wait list in time to travel up to Docker London for my first meetup of the year on Tuesday evening.
The meeting was compèred by Ben Firshman from Docker and, after a mad scramble for the limited amount of pizza on offer for 200 people, the evening began with a short intro to SoftLayer who were sponsoring the venue. Andrew Martin from British Gas was the first of the main sessions, talking about Building and Testing Docker Containers as practised on their ‘connected boilers’ project. I’d seen Andrew speak at Container Camp at the same venue last year so I was glad that he’d included some new material, even if he did then have to race through it a bit. He’d probably have been fine just to cover building or testing rather than both.
Next up was Johan Euphrosine (aka proppy) from Google who demoed a few different ways to deploy Docker containers on Google Compute Engine. Hopefully there’ll be a recording of the event as, whether it was the strong French accent, or too much beer and not enough food, it was sometimes hard to keep up.
Last up was Dan Williams who provided an entertaining and enlightening presentation on what containers are really all about. It was just a shame that, in staying for his talk, we missed the last train before the Basingstoke-Winchester engineering works began and then a freight train broke down at Eastleigh. Suffice is to say that, despite a good evening, I would have preferred to get to bed slightly earlier than 1am!
Opening the curtains on the first Saturday of the year to view a very wet garden and more rain on its way could only mean one thing: the Hampshire Cross-Country Champs! At least it was handy with Fleming Park once again being the venue. Christine braved the weather first, cycling there whilst I fed the children lunch. We then followed on in the car arriving just in time to watch her race start.
The courses are particularly convoluted which has the benefit that, as spectators, we didn’t have to move very far to see Christine, and the conditions, getting progressively muddier and muddier. The children were very good given the weather. Emma said it was great fun although, to be fair, I think this may have just been her new discovery of sarcasm. Christine finished just in time for me to hand over, strip off, and head to the start for the men’s race.
Last time I ran this course two years ago, I started far too fast on the first lap only to realise that I still had to go round twice more. Knowing this still didn’t stop me repeating the error! I’ve strategically chosen a picture of Christine to accompany this post as, once you’ve removed the blurred and out of focuse photos she took, your just left with ones of me looking like an old man in lots of pain. I waded round the 11.5km of mud in 46:23, some 35 seconds slower than in 2013 and ended up four places further down in 45th place. By way of consolation, when I really am an old man next year and qualify as a veteran, I just need to shave off 16 seconds to end up in to top 5 M40s!
After much anticipation (Emma and Duncan have been playing schools for months), Duncan finally got to experience the real thing today. He’s well used to the walk to school and Christine didn’t have any problems leaving him (he got there early enough to bagsy a LearnPad which had his full attention). I, meanwhile, got to drop Emma in the junior school playground and lost track of the number of times I was told ‘you can go now’! Duncan’s only there for mornings to start with but, if the state he was in this evening is anything to go by, they’re going to have to try a lot harder to tire him out.
This post could equally have been called ‘Not the Austrian Alps’ as that was meant to be our summer holiday destination but we left things too late and somehow it ended up being too expensive or too complicated to get there. I’m not sure how we ended up on Guernsey instead though other than perhaps it is easy to get to from us with a choice of flights from Southampton or ferry from Portsmouth, Weymouth or Poole. We took the last of these which provide to be a bit of a rough crossing (Emma ensuring that we were in the majority of families that had at least one sick child).
We were staying at La Bailloterie camping which had a definite feel of end of season about it. Perhaps not surprising given the weather for the first few days we were there. We managed to dodge the showers fairly successfully though, enjoying the local beaches and visiting some of the many underground attractions when the rain became more persistent: La Vellette Underground Military Museum is full of memborilia from the German occupation but could do a better job of telling the story whereas the aquarium just looks tired. Thanks to a tip off from Christine’s brother we also enjoyed the view from Victoria Tower in St Peter Port (you get to let yourself in using a key from the nearby museum).
The weather brightened up as the week went on and we expanded our range of beaches. Originally we’d planned a visit to one of the neighbouring islands but after the ferry crossing nobody fancied it much! Instead we settled for walking across the causeway to Lihou Island.
All told, a good break and, although Guernsey has some fantastic spacious beaches, I’m not sure we’ll be rushing back there. It just seems a waste to spend 3 hours on a ferry and arrive at somewhere which is still very English (the local supermarket stocked produce from Tesco!). Time to start booking next year’s holiday in Austria…