Sunday, 22 June 2008


I don't often feel proud - I am much more likely to be disparaging and to knock myself, and the things around me. I'm not sure whether it is my inherent Britishness - mustn't blow my own trumpet and all that, what, what? - or whether it is a hangover from school, where the aim was to duck my head and not stand out at all costs.

However, a number of events over the last couple of weeks have left me feeling proud. I'm proud of myself for getting my green belt in Tae Kwon Do, after only a few months of being green stripe. I was sure that I wasn't ready, and, though I didn't pass with credit (getting pretty much everything right), I did well enough that, in my mind, I passed fairly, rather than just scraping through.

I'm proud of my work team - we got through to a demonstration in a very big tender, and we were repeatedly complimented on the presentation and professionalism of the bid work.

I'm proud of my hockey team - ever since I started playing, we have been losing - often really badly (I think the worst when I was in goal was 9-0) Yet this week, we managed to win a game, 4-0 - and we really ran rings round the opposition. It might just be a one-off, but we played really well as a team, and deserved the excellent score.

And I'm proud of where I live. This is really a new sensation for me - I've moved around a lot through my life, usually following my father's work, and have always seen each new village/town/city as another stopping point. But we had a friend over from Australia to stay for a couple of days, and decided to go out on one of the open topped bus tours. We had an excellent tour guide, who came up and sat with us on the top of the bus, even though it was blowing a gale and threatening more rain (hey, who comes to the UK for the weather, anyway?). The commentary was fascinating - I had had no idea that Bristol had so many literary connections (Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island being the books named, as well as the poem Vitai Lampada (The Close mentioned is the playing fields at Clifton College)), nor that it had so many "Firsts" or "Biggests" - everywhere we went there was something to be proud of. Yes, there is the slave trade, which is a shame that should never be forgotten, but Bristol is a place where I can be proud of living.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Happy Birthday to Me :-)

Well, another year over, and another year of scaring my parents with how old I've got...

Still not thirty yet, though :-)

We were in Cornwall for the weekend, as I was taking part in another TKD competition. This therefore involved a fairly major drive in a company pool car, as ours is still in the garage (coming back from a friend's party last weekend, the head gasket blew outside Swindon. Fortunately, the garage we ended up at were taking someone else back from Leigh Delamere Services to Cardiff, and agreed to drop us off at Bristol for only the charge of getting to the services, saving us a serious amount of money...) As it was a company car, John wasn't insured to drive it, meaning that I had to go the full way down to St Austell, (Friday night) then on to Truro (Saturday), then back to Exmouth (Saturday evening) and to Bristol (Sunday afternoon). Not a lot, given the breaks that I had, but I'm not a confident driver, particularly when having to go down country lanes (and one accident just outside St Austell, when we were two miles away from our B&B, meant that I ended up going up a lane which hadn't been mown for a good few months, and had to creep past a badger and a ginger cat). But we made it in one piece, and didn't scratch the car, either. It's the first time I've driven a Megane - one of those cars with the 'arse' at the back - a very ugly car, but actually really pleasant to drive.

The competition itself was great fun; I got bronze in both the patterns and the sparring. I can't really claim a *huge* achievement for this - there were only three of us in my class! Both patterns and sparring were set up as round robins - each of us competed against the other two. However, it wasn't so much that I got a medal just for stepping onto the mat - the patterns were both very close; in both my matches, the judgments went 3-2 against me. The first sparring match was also very close - I was 3-1 down on the judgments, and I don't think that there were more than a couple of points in any of the counters. The second sparring match, I did get completely thrashed (though not knocked out...), by an opponent who, after only having a minute's rest from her first match, was still able to kick me round the head. I still really enjoyed it (that's the blood thirsty side of me talking), and as a club, we did really well, with all 11 competitors getting at least one medal, and we shared 19 between us. (and for those of you who are keen to know what I look like, I'm in the back row, third from the left on the top photo... Stalkers ahoy! :-P )

And the TKD fun doesn't stop here - for some reason our instructor has decided that I'm good enough to go for my green belt next week - I'm having to do a lot of sneaky practice in the toilets at work!