Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Fair Isle Toorie

I'm now the extremely proud owner of my first Fair Isle Toorie! Designed and knit by my own fair wife. I had to use my decrepit mobile phone to take a photo, sorry about the quality, colours aren't true either, better in the botom photo, but I had to show you...

Drying on a pyrex bowl


The view from above


It's the first toorie Clare has knit and only the second piece of Fair Isle she's done. She designed the patterns and chose the colours herself to reflect the sea and moors. The trickiest bit being how to make the pattern decrease evenly as it went up.

We're both over the moon!


These feet weren't made for walking...

I went to see a highly recommended podiatrist, Bruce McCulloch, last night at The Clickamin Leisure Complex.  A podiatrist basically looks at the mechanics and function of the foot and leg from the hip and lower back down.

It's a bit of a complex beast is the foot isn't it? Never mind the rest up. My problems start at the foot and as they say with out good foundations the rest is going to suffer, oh and how it does.

I vaguely remember as a kid being told I was flat footed and have to some very uncomfortable arch supports in my shoes. I also remember at a later date, don't think it was that much later, that I wasn't and didn't need them!

I used to do a lot of sports, long distance walking and running in my teens but oddly when I got to about 16 or 17 I started getting really bad pains in my shin muscles even walking a distance, which prevented me running any distance. I've tried all sorts of insoles and supports that did or didn't work to some extent and finally ended up relying on expensive Brooks Beast Running Shoes for overpronators which really helped and SOLE footbeds in other shoes and boots, which again really helped but didn't solve the problem.



So, too many years later I go to See Bruce who does his thing and tells me that I've got about 9 degrees over-pronation (heels and feet rotate inwards a lot) and hypermobility in my knees (my legs go to more than just straight).  The hypermobility may not be an issue but the over-pronation most definitely is. As we know from the song all our bones are connected and a flat foot creates a heel that tilts inward and puts a rotation the ankles, knees and hps and also put unhelpful strain on the muscles, tendons and ligaments, even so far as leading to back problems.

Mmmm... no wonder I've had painful feet, ankles, knees and hips for years. It can also make you lean forward when you walk, another issue of mine, as I was kindly told by some nice friends as a teenager that I walked like a caveman! Unfortunately I can't do the beard!



To be fair to me though, I was pretty ignorant of these things until about 10 years ago and even then never knew who to see or had the money to do so.

So next Tuesday, 30 odd years later, I go for my first fitting of some new shoe inserts. I'm told that they'll take a lot of getting used to and I'll have to increase the time I wear them for over a period of may be a couple of months to allow my body to adjust.

Hopefully then, along with my attempted self application of Alexander Techinque, I won't be walking like a caveman and I'll get some relief from 40 years of my big flat feet and twisted legs!

You don't need to hear things like 'if you came to a podiatrist when you were a teenager you probably wouldn't have these problems' but it's true. I don't even know if podiatriasts existed then, atleast my parents did try, unfortunately they also saw a GP who was seemingly in-educated in these matters.

So best foot forward and if you have similar problems get it checked out. It's not particularly cheap, but it's better than years of pain, discomfort and inability to do things you like.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Burn of Lunklet, death of a camera

Woe is me, my camera finally died this afternoon. It's been on it's way out for a while and I couldn't understand why the pictures I took this morning were so bad, but they got worse this afternoon until it stopped all together. So unfortunately the following are the best of a bad bunch...

We've had a busy day what with me taming 'The Beast', shopping and sorting other things out in Lerwick, so we took Fern (the dog) and ourselves along the Alps road (from Voe to Aith) to The Burn of Lunklet under a grey dripping sky. No wonder I've just been asleep for 2 hours!

The burn was pretty high. Had obviously been higher, but Beren was impressed.


The path up towards the main falls is a grey chipping path, very out of place really, but pretty handy for little legged boys and 13 year old lurchers



The falls were looking very impressive with a deluge of peaty water coming over them and at the top a pool ideal for Beren's favourite past-time of throwing stones in water.



Fern just watched from above, while we pottered.


The burn continues up into the hills to it's source getting smaller as it goes. We watched a pair of Ravens doing their aerobatics and looked into the mist covered hills before turning home, all the time the rain pattering down as we splodged back.



So that's the last photo's for a while, the camera was obviously over-awed by the splendor of Shetland...

Round 2: Kevin 'V' The Beast

To be fair I think the boat knew it was whipped the moment I opened the garage. Like a dog that's tried it on, but know's ultimately it's not the boss. After some sage advice from people on the web,including 'you must be mad' from more than one person, I checked the rollocks and realised they were on the lowest setting. Again, the beast watched as I got the tools out and raised their height, one more thing in my favour.

It kicked and bucked as I wrestled it on to the car and strapped it down until it had no where to go.

Of we went to Graven on the edge of Sullom Voe. It was pretty windy with wavelets up to a foot high, not ideal y any means, but luckily for me it was an on-shore wind so I wasn't going to get blown out to the oil terminal. I couldn't get a decent picture due to the wind strength, may be 20mph? But here she is ready for the off after one last struggle to resist getting in the water.


Walking her out in to deeper water where she was a float and holding her oars handles together at feather I got in first time. The wind, waves and herself did their best to kick me off but I sat a square blades and plonked them up and down in the water getting used to the balance, feathering them from time to time to just sit and bob. But with the wind and waves I couldn't do much of that and was soon down wind from the car, but still close to the beach.

Time to paddle. Checking my grip, with legs almost straight I started with some short arm only strokes. Gentle pull, twist knuckles up, resturn to straight arms, in, and repeat. I was rowing!! Not using the slide, but rowing and not hitting the water enough to make much difference and more importantly not falling in.

I sat rowing into the wind but really going no where due to it for half an hour, turning too. Then I could see a squall coming and feel the water and wind pick up so I decide to call it a day while I was ahead.


By the time I got to the car it was pelting down, but I was happy packing up in the wind and rain. Then as soon as it started it cleared up, that's Shetland for you.

Enough for round two. Victorious I drove home!!!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Weight a minute! I'm in Scalloway

Some time back I made a post on CFS and ME and mentioned that I was doing a high intensity weight  training (HIT) routine from a book called Body by Science, which you can also get free by picking through a series of articles here.

Well it's been going well and I joined Scalloway Weightlifting Club (only link I have here ) which is a great traditonal free weights and 'strongman' gym complete with atlas stones, logs, tyres and the rest. It's also a community run gym which is great to see.


Anyway I had a shock the other week when I decided to add up how much time I actually spent doing the weights that day... ONLY 5 minute 46 seconds, YES LESS THAN 6 MINUTES!

I only do this once a week, this week it was 9 days between work outs as I'd had a busy time with the garden and it took me 4 MINUTES 32 SECONDS!

Believe it or not this is enough to see my strength and weight lifted go up each time. Do you really not have time to exerise?

I've modified the way I do the routine a bit compared to the book in that the weight is heavy enough that I do each set of exercise for only between 45-60 seconds with an aim of between 3 and 5 good form slow repetions in the set plus going to failure, where I can not complete the move. Then I pause for a short while and usually squeeze out 1 more rep and another attempted rep (failure). I don't put the weight down between reps and I move slowly to protect the joints and prevent 'cheating' by using momentum, no jerking explosive moves.

It  takes me more time to change the plates and racks between exercises than to do them!

Here's what I did today after a 9 day rest.

Trap Bar Dead Lift    130kg/286lb   5 reps plus failure in 53 seconds
Seated Row                60kg/132lb   7 reps plus failure in 75 seconds(weight was too light)Bench Press                80kg/176lb   4 reps plus failure in 45 seconds
Lat Pulldowns             60kg/132lb   3 reps plus failure in 52 seconds
Standing Front Press   40kg/88lb     4 reps plus failure in 52 seconds


5 exercises average of less than a minute each, once a week to allow plenty of recovery due to the high intensity and to prevent CFS/ME getting a hold again as I ready myself for a return to work. It's also good for your heart and blood pressure as you breath normally and the heart has to work very hard when muscles are worked to failure. Resting pulse rates commonly drop more than they would if you were running or the like.

Aerobic exercise leaves me very drained and the CFS/ME symptoms build up over time, but this short routine this is actually allowing me to build strength so that I can manage more walking and hopefully rowing at Vidlin Rowing Club. The original Body By Science routine was actually designed for rehabilitation of elderly people and prevention of osteoporosis, but it works for all and me and my ME.

If you are interested in talking to me about it or borrowing my book (in Shetland) just get in touch.

If you are thinking of doing it please consult your GP and take the time to read all about it in the articles first.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sculling in Muckle Roe marina

Lovely day today, the wind has dropped to non-existant, sun is out and in the little marina just before Muckle Roe the water was smooth, the odd bird was about as well as a passing seal.


I had my camera thinking of a short trip in the boat in the voe just to see how it is, take a few pics and then go home. Serene.


Then some great dollop in a wet suit with an enormous bright yellow thing with big floppy arms disturbed it all.


I carried on disturbing it for a couple of hours as I laughed to myself first in amusement, then out loud, then more and more histerically as I splished and splashed getting in, falling out, teetering on the edge of falling out and the edge of getting back in the sculling boat I was given yesterday.


I'm sure it was some cruel prank played on me. They say nothing comes free! Now I've kayaked, canoed, cycled, even uni-cycled so why oh why can't I manage to stay in the thing and do even one stoke that takes me in a vaguely straight line?!


A couple of people happened to come down while I was there and very politely said nothing other than 'i'i' Bet they wish they had a video camera. I would have paid to watch my antics.


I watched some video's on youtube, read some articles on sculling technique and problems, but I need help, professional help!! Luckily I couldn't manage to get far enough from the shore to be in any danger. Unbelievable.


I can honestly say I have never felt so thoroughly defeated by anything I've tried. But I'll be back, oh yes, that floating bit of plastic and aluminium won't get the better of me, even if this time it scored first blood by dumping me on a load of broken shells to leave a nasty deep gash in my finger. Playing nasty it was!


Here's a video of how it should be done with a sliding rigger, grr.... show offs! Sensibly I saved my camera before it got a dunking...

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Papa's got a brand new...

... sculling boat! Very generously gifted to me by a friend who had no use for it .


It's a Virus Rowing winged Turbo 11 very versatile, fast and stable sculling boat.

Here it is being rowed down a weir


I need to figure out how to set it up properly for the foot/oar glide and make sure it's trimmed right, but it looks great and should do well in the voes and lochs. It's pretty much unsinkable (barring stupidity) and self emptying.

I might even give it a try out as a sit on top kayak/surf ski by moving the seat back and paddling it instead of rowing it, just depends on how it will effect it's stability.


All I need now is a good day for some sea trials. Am I excited, you bet I am!!!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Spring has sprung

The daffs in our garden have started opening and it was a lovely day today. After Clare being away we couldn't be bothered going anywhere and had no plans for the day.

That was until our neighbours started to dig some veggie plots. Having intended to get some veggies growing ourselves we go stuck in too, it being the first nice day for a while. Both of us de-turfing and digging over and Beren helping in his own way! It was amazing both the quantity and size of the stones One was bigger than a paving slab and about three times as thick. It was like trying to lift the atlas stones in a strongman competition.



I had the brain wave of using the turfs to build a hobbit style den for Beren, so as I de-turfed, Clare built the walls. It ended up looking more like and army bunker, but we've seeded it with marigolds and such, so when the grass and flowers grow it should look pretty cool.



To finish it off we made a fire pit in front of our garden bench, ready to make the most of those long summer evenings to come. We're all exhausted now, aching and muddy, but it was a great day. First of many in the garden I hope.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Bungil Beach, Muckle Roe


I don't know how steep that looks, but I can tell you it's very steep and at 8.30am even steeper! The only reason I took the photo there is that it was about the only safe place to leave the pushchair, the rest was sheep rutted path and splodge.

With Beren up since 5.45am and already bored in the house I thought I'd go out discover another cove on the South of Muckle Roe before going to pick Clare up from the airport later.

Well it didn't take long to realise I should have probably just taken him to the park so I could sit down and he could play!

The view looking back to Muckle Ayre got better and more time consuming the higher I got...


Beren was obviously feeling fit though, but then I might be if some one had pushed me up that hill and through the heather and muck. Here he is doing an early morning kettlebell work out (net floats really, but he's only little). Bungil Beach and then Gilsa Ayre are in the background.


It was soon pretty apparent we wouldn't be going down to the beach.


I left Beren strapped in while I desperately searched for a route we could take, but had to admit defeat. Arrgg... defeated by a mere cliff? No, I'll be back on my own some time to find a way down. Those net floats mean some one has been up and down collecting off the beach, and if they can so can I. It'll be great to kayak to these coves too when it finaly arrives.


It was a great morning once the shock of the climb had worn off and I knew the way back was pretty much down, very very down actually the quick way we returned.


Back on the relative safety of Muckle Ayre Beren played piling stones before kicking them down, time and time again. I sat.


One last push back to the car, with a hope that Beren would fall asleep on the way home. He didn't. But Clare was home later, so I did!

Friday, 19 March 2010

It's the Viiiikings!

Today Mossbank Primary School was invaded by a bunch of marauding VIkings with big axes, shields and scary hairy legs, never mind beards!

Although Beren was in Viking mode himself...


He wasn't so sure when he saw a real one!


In fact he ran to me, clung, to me and spoiled my chance of any decent photos LOL!


And being shown the axe close up didn't seem to improve matters!


But they're not all growls and grunts and the kids loved it!



Hope they have a good night and the weather improves for the procession tonight in Brae.
                                  Three cheers for the Guiser Jarl and his squad...

Unfortunately the procession was cancelled due to the weather but the galley was burnt. Here are some great pictures ofthe galley and Squad on another Shetland blog

One windy day


It was wet and windy today, gales over night, as I set out for Lerwick to pick up a secondhand Minn Kota electric motor and battery for using on the kayak I'm getting.


There seemed some irony in getting an electric 'turbine' to quietly and relatively polution free drive a boat when the wind turbines that can create so much energy quietly and relatively polution free get so much stick. OK, so at the moment only Mina, Betsy, Brenda, Sally and Karen grace the skyline on the way into Lerwick. The planned 150 will have an entirely different impact, and some one will need to think of a few more names! But I love their grace and elegance, standing there in a howling gale, effortlessy turning to produce electric, with just a gentle swish as the blade flies past.



Unfortunately the weather won't help the Delting Up Helly Aa celebrations tonight as it's still howling and pelting down, but they're tough these Vikings you know.

Been a long, tiring week, but Clare's home tomorrow, just one more sleep...

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Little Tyke at Little Ayre

Remember to click on a picture to enlarge it

After whizzing down to drop Clare off a Sumburgh airport, a round trip of 98 miles (who said Shetland was small), Beren and I went out to get some fresh air. The good thing about Shetland and all it's nooks and crankies along the coast is that there's usually some where you can go that's atleast sheltered from the wind if not the other elements. For a 2 year old the wind up can be a big challenge!

So check the wind, North-Westerly, head to South-East Muckle Roe and yet another  beach all to ourselves, Little Ayre. We could be getting spoilt!

On the way down we passed a cute plantie-yard



And Beren enjoyed throwing rocks off the bridge


From the beach the Ness of Gillarona was on one side with Papa Little in the background


And the Ness of Little Ayre on the other with the Holms being the home to...


Beren was bored of throwing stones and decided to take and adventurous route up the Ness of Little Ayre. Mummy wouldn't approve...


A breather at the end of the first pitch


Enjoying the summit view


We popped over the Ness of Little Ayre to yet another secluded and well sheltered cove


And within that, another smaller cove (think Russian dolls!)


And views out towards Vementry


All finished off with the joys of an exploding nappy! It could be a long week...