Saturday 19 January 2008

Apres moi, le deluge

Flooding's becoming an increasingly common occurrence in the West of England. This time, I've been around to see the Avon break its banks around Bath, and in Bradford-on-Avon. I don't remember this happening last winter, but it may well have happened in the summer - I was conversing with an old man on the bridge in BoA and he said, "It was worse last year" - and it wasn't until later that I remembered the summer floods that happened while we were in the USA. I am a bit concerned about it, because when I moved out to Father Hand's for the year, there was some quite severe flooding (that was in 2000) - perhaps it's my fault.

Anyway, the Avon in BoA had been up to within a foot of the walkway on Tuesday and I persuaded Mr Z to let me borrow his baby on Wednesday so I could take some pictures around Bathford, but then on the way to work I found the water levels in BoA had risen roughly 4 feet and the bridge was nearly flooded, so I got even better pictures than I expected. Ian had picked Wednesday to take year 13 to see the Tithe Barn and the Saxon church, and then arrived back fairly wet after opting to wade through standing water rather than walk up the hill and around the flooding.
The picket fence marks the usual boundary.

You can see how high the level is by the benches - just the top few inches of them showing, plus that bin is almost underwater.

Almost all the arches of the bridge were filled up. On the other side, the water was swirling and sucking through where it was building up a little against the bridge and trying to run through the arches (the water is flowing from right to left in this picture). When the water is at its usual level, the bank runs from the lamp-post on the right to the tree on the left. The level marker on the other side said 29 feet. Scary! Very, very fast-flowing, too.

The water pouring up through the drains gave me a clue to why the whole place smelled so bad.

So, that was Bradford on Avon. Thankfully the place seems to be set up for flooding, and only the funeral directors and a couple of riverside pubs seemed affected. I wonder if they coped as well as the Lock and Weir in Hanham - apparently their carpark was underwater (uphill from the pub itself) and they were rowing people to and from the pub; the regulars were all in, sitting around drinking in wellies, in a foot and a half of water.

Further along my route home from work I travel through Bathford, and turn onto the A46, crossing the Avon again. This valley between the BoA road and the A36 was also heavily flooded...

I was very lucky with the light...

The sheep seemed unconcerned.

Meanwhile, the ducks (you can see their swim trails to the right) were positively loving it.

You can see, from the tree line, how flooded it really was. The usual span of the river is the other side of the trees - so the flooded portion is the wider strip. It was amazing how much water there was there. Thankfully there are no houses down there so no flooded buildings; and the flooding OUTSIDE Bath meant that INSIDE Bath was alright, I think, so nothing too serious. By the next day, the floods had abated, leaving behind them some very green fields in the valley, and a bit of a mess to sort out at the Bradford on Avon funeral director's.

Thus endeth today's picture-heavy post. Further pictures can be seen in my Flickr stream.

Satisfying my inner bitch

It's a wet Saturday afternoon and I've plenty to say and a new DAB radio to accompany me, so I am intending to do a couple of entries.

So, I am back at the gym with a vengeance, after a very slack December due to acute busy-ness. Of course, since it's January, everybody else is back at the gym, too: there've been a couple of ugly scenes at Spinning over the past couple of weeks due to overbooking, and at circuits on Wednesday, around 100 people turned up, which meant our usual 50-minute circuit turned into an hour and 10 marathon, towards the end of which even the instructor was tiring and running out of cardio exercises for us.

The January circuits sessions are always the best for people watching. For a start, you always see people you haven't seen for ages (I suppose I fall into this category this year). Then, there are the people who are obviously really serious about that "get fit" new year's resolution but don't really understand the need for a good sports bra: there were several of these, who almost had me clutching my chest in sympathy, and proved to be almost hypnotic for some of the gentlemen, thanks to slightly-too-small white t-shirts.

Then, there are the people who really aren't serious. These people are usually kitted out all wrong, and don't usually break a sweat. There were two such there on Wednesday; I didn't clock them until we were almost halfway around, but after that I couldn't stop my horrified glances and eventually it became so obvious that they started staring back. I couldn't help it, even then.

For a start, people like this are always glaringly easy to spot, because they wear the right type of trousers - football-type numbers - but they insist on rolling the waistband down to make them into hipsters. Admittedly, this is flattering if you have the figure for it, but anybody serious about the exercises will quickly realise (within the first 5-10 minutes) how impractical this is, when they are constantly pulling them up. In addition to this, they are often wearing heavy jewellery (gold chains, big earrings) and/or hoodies.

Wednesday's two displayed all of the above, between them. Girl#2, in the hoody and gold, seemed more serious than her friend Girl#1, with the DIY hipsters, but when I spotted them neither looked particularly committed, because they had TAKEN OFF THEIR TRAINERS. They were doing star jumps, on the rock-solid, tiled floor of the leisure centre, in their socks. They progressed like this for some minutes: in fact, for the next 20 minutes or so until eventually the instructor broke with the tradition she has of never interacting with anybody on an individual basis, no matter how badly they are doing the exercise, and went over to tell them they had to wear their shoes. They put them back on, at which point it became obvious why they had taken them off - at least in Girl#1's case, they were much too big. She then seemed to spend most of the rest of the session concentrating on stopping them from flying off - but not tying the laces.

This seemed to take up most of her concentration, in fact, because she did not at any point, for the rest of the class, do a single exercise correctly. This is the dangerous part. I never do jumping lunges because I am not convinced I would keep form and I fear for my knees. Her jumping lunges were an accident waiting to happening. Her squats were straight out of the "How NOT to..." book. When she deigned to lift a weight, her whole body helped her to swing it back and forth.

It concerns me, greatly. I very much doubt she'll be back, but I can't understand why the instructor didn't say anything - or her "co-instructor", a teenaged boy who has never, to my knowledge, spoken to a single person in the hall and is about as helpful as a wet rag. Every time I go, I watch people doing the exercises wrong and think about how much damage they could be doing, and it pisses me off a bit more. Every time she makes us do endless sets of jumping lunges, or bridges with leg lifts, and I watch the arching and the sagging and the knees in the wrong place, I silently fume. Maybe I should actually make a complaint, one of these days. I do feel a bit full of it, though, because there are no mirrors and I'm not even sure I'm doing the exercises right.

Anyway. I needed a little rant there. I'm going to start a new entry now because I think this one's semi-poisonous and I don't want to infect the rest of what I have to say *grin*

Sunday 13 January 2008

Well done, Endemol

I have, for the first time, been watching the January Big Brother....the celebrity one never appealed to me and so I never watched it. I was intrigued, though, by the idea of putting 12 alpha teens into one house, and I have to say, I think it's a resounding success.

At first I felt quite sorry for them. They're all at the top of their game in their own way, but have this arrogance about it that reflects their age, and I could see them being publicly ripped to shreds about it, and I felt quite sorry for them. But that hasn't happened, at all. Instead, they've all bonded really well, without the usual clique wars we see on the summer BB; the celebrity hijackers are doing funny things with them that are meaningful, instead of getting them to eat fish guts in return for food; and generally, the show is a lot more entertaining than I expected it to be. It's a shame it only has such a short run, though I can see how it would get old quite quickly.

It really made me laugh when the purple ninja went in and started throwing around rose petals. Jade was really annoying, though, and I find that brother and sister combo vaguely creepy.

So, hats off to Endemol! After last year's racism debacle, they were always going to have to be super-careful about what they did with the format this year, and somebody has their head screwed on over there. It really works. That said, the kids at work don't seem to be discussing it as much, so perhaps it hasn't been as much of a success among the yoof and therefore will not reappear.

This post was brought to you by the Sally Institute of Trivial Ramblings.

Saturday 5 January 2008

Happy New Year! - And Further CPH Whinging

Nearly time to start work for 2008. I turn the big 3-0 this year, it's exciting, but I could still do with it being LAST weekend so I had another week off before work. I feel thoroughly rested and I've done the bare minimum amount of work necessary to ensure I don't get to the end of Monday and have to cry all way home due to the stress, but I could do more. I suppose I could always do more. If I'm making one new year's resolution, it's to Know My Limits (Woman).

I have finished the left front of my Central Park Hoody, and I knitted the short row shoulders and did the three-needle bind-off with the back piece, without event. I phased in a second ball every 2 rows and so the colour difference isn't too bad (I hope). However, after reading a lot about the project I realised I knitted the doucle central cable on the back piece....well, backwards. I cabled front and then back, instead of the other way around. This was because I read the chart from left to right, like any dumb western scholar. I am really irritated by this, because I wanted this sweater to be perfect - but, in all honesty, I like it better that way. It's just that it's wrong. Anyway, I'm glad I learned the trick of chart reading on a project where the mistake doesn't mess up the whole thing. I have a far more ambitious cable project in mind (once I get my hands on this bookful of cable patterns) and it's good to get the practice in.

I am joining in with this bag-a-month project on Ravelry. I am charmed by the idea - who doesn't need more bags? I have an excellent project in mind for the cables, from Drops, and there is a cable and moss stitch bag I was planning to make with my leftover Maya, but since I'm not planning on forking over for the pattern that will be of my own design. I also have a great idea for a beaded bag, which will also be my own design. The felting may be a little tougher, I don't mich like felting; since the washing machine consumed a piece of my last felted project, I know I'm going to have to hand-felt and I am much too lazy for that. I still need a laptop bag, though.

January's project will have to be quick and simple. I'm thinking a string bag. I have a bunch of Lily Sugar'n'Cream that is begging to be used.