Eastbourne Half Marathon

March 1st, 2015 Alasdair

Eastbourne

1st March 2015

Eastbourne Half Marathon Finish

Eastbourne Half Marathon Finish

I know, I know, it was meant to be the Steyning Stinger, my favourite Hilly Half but sadly the application forms posted in December came flying back through the door last week with “insufficient postage” plastered over it. The Steyning Stinger was full and Eastbourne had places and so Eastbourne it was.
The appalling weather on Saturday encouraged me to wear a 250 g merino top for the race which was a big error. The sun came out on Sunday and blazed away all day. I nearly boiled over. I even had to grab some water en route – a rarity for me. I had a feeling it would be a flat run. There was mention of a hill which for some reason I thought would just be a minor bump – but I was wrong. After mile two we began to climb and it went on and on! At each “prow” there would be a turn and I would think “ah off down again soon” but once I arrived at the turn it climbed again. I suppose it wasn’t too bad but I just misjudged it. Most of the route was a friendly affair along the sunny seafront with drummers and cheering crowds.

Pier 150301We did a tour of the marina and headed back to the start which had one of those sneaky extra legs shoved in just when you don’t need it. My second half was slow and I let quite a few people slip past only managing a brief burst for the finish line. A well run fun race. My final time was a poor 1 hour 48 minutes and a bit. Oh well, must try harder.

Deal Half Marathon

February 10th, 2015 Alasdair

Deal, Kent

8th February 2015
I decided to attempt the Deal Half Marathon again this year, swayed partly by a kind offer of local accommodation and feeding by my friend Philip. Deal is a well run friendly event hosted by the local triathlon club. It starts at a very civilised 10.30 and you can register on the day. Philip had fed me well and drove me up to the start. It was a glorious dry sunny day and not too cold. During the run I found myself behind a couple running together and the male half told his female partner that she should drop behind if she was struggling and he would wait for her at the end. She did drop back and eventually dropped behind me too. At about mile 7 I caught up with the male runner and stayed about 50 m behind for at least a mile. At about mile 9 I heard someone coming up behind me with a strong powerful pace and his partner powered past me with a big smile on her face. I decided to try to close on the male runner to get his reaction as she caught up and he looked slightly peeved! They ran together for 100 m then she shot off ahead probably saying “if you are struggling just drop behind and I’ll wait for you at the end”!
I finished after 1 hour 44 minutes and 43 seconds my best ever time. The day was topped off by a whacking great big roast beef lunch in the newly decorated Rising Sun in North Street. Brilliant day!

Next on the running agenda is the very tough Steyning Stinger on 1st March. It is a struggle to beat two hours on the very hilly cross country course.

The finish line of Deal's Half Marathon

The finish line of Deal’s Half Marathon

Sailing Cancelled!

January 11th, 2015 Alasdair

South Dock, Rotherhithe 11th January 2015 Boff! I was really looking forward to a long weekend away sailing to the Medway but had to bottle out when the best forecast I could find (after shopping around) was westerly gale force 8 becoming severe gale force 9. That may just have been workable but the wind was forecast to remain strong westerly and I didn’t fancy getting a train back. The Thames can be a tricky little sail if the wind is gusting strongly, especially on the nose. I’ve been knocked down twice in the Thames but never anywhere else.

North Cape by Peder Balke

North Cape by Peder Balke

North Cape by Peder Balke

North Cape by Peder Balke

So instead I took the river bus from Greenland Pier into town to see the Peder Balke exhibition at the National Gallery. Peder Balke is a Norwegian artist and I confess I was rather saddened to be confronted with about 20 fine paintings of the North Cape. The reason it made me a bit miserable was because I should have been sailing round the North Cape this summer but this was another sailing trip that I had to pull out off earlier in the year. I could just imagine the good ship Sumara sailing close by such a wonderful cliff. I do like small exhibitions like this one. I went to the Turner exhibition at the Tate earlier in the year and decided blockbusters aren’t my thing. Some of Peder Balke’s paintings border on being kitsch but others are really inspiring especially the small black and white seascapes. If you like seascapes or like Norway then this exhibition is well worth a visit. What’s more, it is free!

Arctic Club Dinner

December 15th, 2014 Alasdair

13th December 2014

Queens College, Cambridge

A few months ago I was invited to lunch at the Athenaeum Club, and a very fine lunch it was too! Not only was I fed halibut but I was also asked if I would like to be a member of the Arctic Club. I have to confess that although I had heard of the Athenaeum Club I hadn’t heard about the Arctic Club. I soon realised that it is a huge honour to be invited to be a member so I was very chuffed to find that my application had been passed by the committee and I am now a member. The Club is a gathering of people who have a keen interest in the Arctic and who have led or been members of at least two Arctic Expeditions. They provide funding for worthy expeditions via their own Arctic Club award or through the Gino Watkins Award. I have already been able to help provide some slightly dated advice to a couple from Imperial College hoping to sail to Svalbard. I have threatened them with the punishment of watching my slides from my trip there a good few years ago. I suppose that is where Clubs like this can be so helpful as amongst all the members there will be someone who has been there or done that. Every year the club holds a special dinner. This year it was at the Old Hall at Queens College, Cambridge. It is a chance to meet other members and discuss any plans for future trips. It is also a chance to eat fantastic food in a very wonderful hall. In the morning after the dinner we all gathered at the Scott Polar Research Institute for coffee and to hear a presentation from Olly Sanders who was awarded funding from the Arctic Club. He gave a brilliant and very entertaining talk about his kayaking adventure around Cape Farewell. It was very inspiring and I am very tempted to travel to North Wales and learn how to do it from his company www.rockandseaadventures.co.uk. I took a couple of photos with me which I found tucked into a book at Arthur Beale’s. The book has invoices signed by Shackleton plus a picture of Quest. The challenge is to identify the two chaps with the dogs. Answers below please! We left some photo copies with the Scott Polar Research Institute so they are on the case too.

Press Release!

The Scott Polar Research Institute have come up trumps! They actually have the film negatives and copies of the photos can be bought online from their website. They all originate from the British Arctic Route Expedition 1930 – 1931. The two chaps are Quentin Riley holding the pipe and J M Scott smoking a cigarette and putting on gloves. They were setting setting off to relieve Courtauld. The photo was by Henry Cozens and it was taken in Greenland. Arthur Beale supplied the expedition with Arctic Club Rope.

The other picture of Quest shows her unloading at Base Fjord on the same expedition.

Who are these chaps?

Who are these chaps?

Shackleton's Ship Quest

Shackleton’s Ship Quest

Parkruns

November 30th, 2014 Alasdair

29th November 2014

Southwark Park 5 k Parkrun

My friend across the road mentioned these park runs to me. Amazingly I had never heard of them despite the fact that 60,000 runners run them every Saturday morning at 9 am. Yesterday I gave it a go and was really impressed. To enter you go online to http://www.parkrun.org.uk and fill in a simple form. It is FREE! You then need to print out your personal barcode. They advise that you laminate them and keep various ones in handy places (on your bike, glove compartment, under the insole of your trainers etc). Once you have your barcode you can turn up at any of 3,500 parks at 9 am (9.30 in Scotland). No need to book. They give a little briefing for all the first timers. At 0900 they set you all off. You don’t need to show your barcode to enter. There were 89 people running in Southwark Park. After three laps of flat tarmacked paths you enter the finish funnel and are given a barcode chip. You then take this chip with your personal barcode to one of the many volunteers who logs your result. Later in the day you can see how you did by going online. Brilliant. I managed 22 minutes 23 seconds and 70.98% age grade which wasn’t too bad. Coupled with a swim in the local pool it is a good way to kick start your Saturday. Give it a go!

 

Posted in Running | 2 Comments » |

Jan Mayen Talk at Arthur Beale’s

October 6th, 2014 Alasdair
Beerenberg's Rim

Beerenberg’s Rim

Thursday 9th October 2014 There are still some places left for my little talk about sailing to Jan Mayen in a 26 ft Vertue and climbing Beerenberg – the most northerly volcano in the world. It is on this Thursday 9th October and starts at 1845 lasting a bit over one hour. Ideally email talks@arthurbeale.co.uk to book your place but I expect there will be space on the night. The talk is free of charge. Arthur Beale’s Yacht Chandler, 194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8JP www.arthurbeale.co.uk

Henley Trail Half Marathon

September 28th, 2014 Alasdair

28th September 2014

The Route with some Confusing Loops that caught a few people out

The Route with some Confusing Loops that caught a few people out

Me looking wiped out after the finish

Me looking wiped out after the finish

 

I normally run the Henley Half Marathon run by the local Rotary Club but my buddy who shall remain nameless although his surname sounds like a wood boring tool suggested this would be a great little run and we should sign up for it. So obeying instructions I duly signed myself and Grit up and paid the entrance fees. Of course my buddy who’s surname sounds like a wood boring tool decided not to bother! We went ahead and arrived in plenty of time for the 0930 start. I think there were about 400 competitors but that included a 10 k too. As we sat in the car park a car drew up alongside with a couple of hard-core runners – singlet top, slit shorts, dark glasses and I made a prediction that number 367 would win outright. It was a grand sunny morning but a little too hot for me. We started a 0930 and I was determined to do a negative split. The course was flat mainly along the Thames and predominantly on gravel, hard mud or grass but with some tarmaced paths. In theory it should be fast. I felt I was going pretty well even though I had done hardly any training and been working late the evening before. Sadly I misjudged it and came in at my usual time of 1 hour 50 min and I think 08 seconds only to find Grit already there having finished in a record beating 1 hour 28 minutes! Sadly she was directed incorrectly by one of the marshals and missed a big loop off the course so she duly owned up and lost her place. Number 367 came in first!

Before the start at Temple Island

Before the start at Temple Island

Posted in Running | No Comments » |

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

September 15th, 2014 Alasdair
Arthur Beale's Stand at St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

Arthur Beale’s Stand at St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

13th and 14th September 2014

Gudrun and Hannah take a break at St Katharine Docks

Gudrun and Hannah take a break at St Katharine Docks

 

It does quite "Pop Up"!

It doesn’t quite “Pop Up”!

 

The Arthur Beale Stand Closed Down for the Night

The Arthur Beale Stand Closed Down for the Night

 

 

Sumara dressed overall

Sumara dressed overall

I’m rather ashamed to admit that I have never been to this event before. I can only assume that any weekend that I had free I would whizz off to the coast to sail the Good Ship Sumara.

This year the Arthur Beale Yacht Chandler project has rather taken over my life so any chance to mix business with pleasure was to be very welcome. The staff at St Katharine Docks have been very supportive of the Arthur Beale project. They put our fliers in all the welcome packs which are given to the visiting yachts and send visitors down to us if they need anything for their boats. So when I broached the idea of Arthur Beale’s having a stand at their Classic Boat Festival it was received as a welcome addition to the shoreside activities at the festival.

We got to work and built a little stand and they let me sail in with Sumara as part of the festivities. The three mile trip up the Thames can be surprisingly rough. At high water, which is the only time you can lock in and out, the waves created by the pleasure passenger boats bounce off the embankments and cause a confused chop of short waves. It is lovely and calm at low water when the waves are dissipated by the beaches but of course you can’t lock in or out. Making use of the last of a really powerful spring tide we moored at St Katharine’s at about 4 pm on the Thursday. The dock was full of fantastic looking boats all dressed overall with gleaming brightwork. The steam tug Portwey was there, an MTB, some sailing barges and the Queens barge Glorianna plus a host of small yachts and wonderful river craft.

On Friday evening we built our stand. The blurb describes it as a pop up chandler – if only! It went together very smoothly but still took three or four hours to “pop” up. The stock arrived on Saturday morning and by 1100 we were open for business. Luckily it was a dry weekend although the odd spot of rain did scare us. The stand is watertight but we had spread our wings and laid goods out all around. We had no idea what to do if there was a downpour!

It was a lovely weekend with thousands of people admiring the boats and of course our fine merchandise. Some couldn’t resist the temptation and made a purchase others would chat about their boats and others just wondered what we were doing there.

On Saturday night we all dived on board Sumara for a drink and a modest bite to eat. With ten people on board it is a cosy affair!

The stand is all away now and early in the morning I’ll sail Sumara back to South Dock. Hopefully we will be able to do it again next year.

Brightlingsea isn’t in Norway

August 3rd, 2014 Alasdair
Man and Dog on Smack CK105

Man and Dog on Smack CK105

Chatham Ropery 220 m long plus a bit. It is huge!

Chatham Ropery 220 m long plus a bit. It is huge!

 

24 inch cable. The biggest ever made at Chatham. I think it was for the Victory but may be wrong.

24 inch cable. The biggest ever made at Chatham. I think it was for the Victory but may be wrong.

A Fine Boatyard in Brightlingsea

A Fine Boatyard in Brightlingsea

3rd August 2014 Brightlingsea

Ugly Ship

Ugly Ship

Pretty Ship

Pretty Ship

Best laid plans and all that. Eventually I had to pull out of the sail to Lofoten in Norway because of the time I needed to devote to the Arthur Beale Project. Beale’s is hard work. With so much going on it involves working long hours for six days a week. To leave for a long sail just wasn’t going to work out. It was a great shame to have to abandon what could have been a great adventure but the Beales Project is actually great fun too albeit rather closely related to “work”. Never mind, Sumara needed a little sail to get some salt on her decks and I needed a bit of a breather so I took last week off to go for a sail with no plans at all. It was a modest affair but we managed to sail every day (if Pyefleet Creek to Brightlingsea counts). The usual routine of taking the tide down the Thames and up the Medway led us to Queenborough. The next day was filthy so we decided to visit the Ropery in Chatham. As we are clients of Chatham Ropery we were given a fantastic trip around this amazing building. I had been before but had forgotten just how the length of the building is so impressive. The Hearts of Oak exhibition is worth a trip too. Sailing in the Thames Estuary is quite taxing on the brain. There are impossible equations to work out – if we want the tide we must leave at high water and get in at low water but there isn’t enough water at low water so we can leave later but then it will be dark or leave earlier but there won’t be any wind and in any case who knows when we will arrive because if the wind shifts we will be headed but then we could lee bow the spring tide and maybe get a lift from it now my brain is very tired can we go to bed and just go sailing when we wake up? We arrived at Brightlingsea at the bottom of a spring tide and gently touched the mud trying to mooch up to read the tide gauge in the half dark. To be honest I don’t think I was on that 40 degree leading line so maybe we could have got in. However I always think it is poor form to shut a harbour by going aground in the entrance and we decided to drop the hook in Pyefleet and venture in with more water in the morning. We were kindly shown to a berth on the visitors pontoon by the Harbour Master and we sat in the sun in the cockpit watching life go by. A fine collapsable rowing boat with a couple and two children rowed across the harbour and I remembered how my friend Martin used to rave about his collapsable rowing boat. Then, just as two and two were adding up, (my brain was still tired after all that tide work) Martin stood up and waved! What a pleasant surprise, Martin and Katie with their much more grown up children Dylan and Tess were moored just opposite us. After a catch up, they decided to teach the children some sailing while we decided to go for a swim – my first sea swim of the year. We took the ferry ashore and the little pier was heaving with happy children pulling crab after crab out of the sea with screams of excitement. We had a nice chat with a boat yard owner working on a launch in a place of great character. We walked past the beach huts, the lido and the tidal pool and had a swim in lovely warm water between the groynes. In the evening we met up with Martin and Katie and children and had a tasty meal in the Yacht Club (although my friend Norman has just told me that we missed the best fish and chip shop in the world – next time!). The next day we sailed to Slaughter House Point to await a tide back up the Thames. South Dock shuts up shop at 5 pm on weekends so we needed to return a day early to make use of the bulk of the flood tide.

It was a good sailing week, but now some real hard work must start.

Teak Decks

August 3rd, 2014 Alasdair

20th July 2014
South Dock, London

Cockpit Decking

Cockpit Decking

Sumara's Side Decks

Sumara’s Side Decks

Sumara’s teak decks are, like the good ship, 24 years old. In general I would say they are doing pretty well but they were beginning to look a little sad and dried out. Each year I replace quite a few plugs with new ones held in with resorcinol glue. I also do a few strips of caulking so the worst 5 – 10% gets redone each year. Nevertheless the timber just looks sad and uncared for. I have always been a believer in leaving teak as it is, just giving it a gentle clean across the grain or letting active deck shoes do the cleaning. So I had a choice of doing nothing and continue with sad decks or maybe try to clean them up a bit. I decided to give a couple of products a try despite them having the most appalling names – wait for it: “Teak O Bright and Clean” and “Teak O Bello” – arghh! They are both water based and didn’t sound like they would do any harm. We tried the cockpit sole first just in case and I must say I was very impressed. The cleaner didn’t seem to do much at first but the teak dried out looking very smart and the water-based top coat went on easily and gave the teak a cared for appearance without seemingly affecting the grip. It was all pretty quick and the water-based clean up helps too. Lets see how long it lasts.