It is with horror that I notice that my last post was over 3 weeks ago (I started this post on Wednesday, but had to stop due to actually needing to do some work... It is now the following Tuesday...)! I am really not doing very well with keeping updated - however, in my defence, I've not been in a lot in the evenings (and when I have, my new CD box set of the Mysterious Cities of Gold, and a very silly Tower Defence computer game have taken up most of my time...)
However, out of the flat, I've been doing a lot. My music has been important - I've got my oboe serviced, which was an epic in itself - a drive down to Taunton, going three times round the town as the road labelling system has changed since the AA set up their directions, dropping the oboe off, out to a friend's for lunch, then being phoned up to say that the oboe wouldn't be ready that evening, and could I pick it up on Saturday? Not a problem, as we were heading to Exeter on the Saturday. Friday evening, I got called to say that it wasn't going to be ready Saturday, and they would courier it to me on Monday. Finally got my oboe back on Tuesday, but the wait was worth it, as it sounds beautiful! Probably shouldn't leave it four years till the next service...)
Work has been manic, and included an all day excursion to the Forest of Dean Go Ape, an incredibly fun series of courses of rope or wood bridges, ladders, swings and zip lines, all at approximately 2-3 stories high in the trees. I pride myself in my head for heights, but this is actually really nerve wracking, as you are constantly having to battle your rational and irrational brains ("I am attached to the tree/line in three different ways. I am not going to fall." vs "HOLY SHIT I'M GOING TO DIE!!!"). I completed the courses (five of them including a training one), and am very proud of myself, as most of the time my legs were shaking, and I only completed a lot of the sections by will power ("One more step. Just one more step to go." It's amazing how many one-more-steps there are...). There will be photos, but as most of mine are of my colleagues, I don't think it is hugely fair to broadcast them on the net - mostly because the expressions tend to be one of terror, and the harnesses are not very flattering. I will wait for my boss to get back from holiday, as I know that she took a number of me...
The joy of the excursion was tempered by the fact that we then had to go in on the Saturday for an all day strategy meeting - not as boring as it could have been (for the first time in four years, I have an idea of the way the company is going!), but probably not the best place to spend half a weekend.
The other half of the weekend, though, was brilliant - spent going to Cardiff again, to the updated Dr Who Exhibition, where they now have one of the Angels from "Blink", whose outstretched arm is just high enough for a head massage:
We also had a very nice meal at Bosphorous (the Turkish restaurant that is on the end of a pier sticking out into the bay), inspected the Welsh Assembly buildings (glorious architecture, and I don't normally get excited about buildings - these are beautiful!) and a boat trip round the bay. Then a trip back to Bristol, and a lovely meal at a Chinese all you can eat restaurant. A fantastic day!
The other thing which has been taking up my time has been my hockey - we've had six games in our summer league (I've played four of them), and have now won three and lost three - a brilliant record, given that we hadn't won anything at all in the second half of our winter league. The last game (on Tuesday) was a very good one, and I am still on a bit of a high. We alread knew that the opposing team were good, however, when I spotted that they didn't have a goalkeeper, I initially was pleased - that meant that whenever we got up to their end, we would have no problems scoring. What the reality meant was that they had an extra person on the pitch (the team consists of eleven people, no matter whether one of them is wearing goalkeeping pads or not). So every time they attacked, they could always have somebody who wasn't marked. And they attacked a lot. I estimate that about 75% of the game was in our half, and most of that was inside our 25 yards (a quarter of the pitch). We did so well as a defensive team, given that we were spread very thinly - whilst I had to make some saves (and a couple of very spectacular ones, even if I do say so myself - one ended up going right over the top of the goal - I had a minor panic because I completely lost sight of it and thought it had gone in!), I didn't have to throw myself about the pitch as much as I feared - my team picked the shots up before they happened. Our attack did really well in getting their one goal in - as soon as the ball started going up the pitch, their midfield and defence formed a line that we simply couldn't get past.
However, I did have a first. It had got scrappy in the D (the area immediately in front of the goal - only goals where they have been hit from inside this area count). The whistle blew, but I didn't recognise the umpire's signal. I looked over to my team for some explanation, and noticed that they had all retreated to the 25 yard line. As had all bar one of the opposing team members. There is only one occasion when everyone will run away from the goalie. Oh dear... (well, "dear" is not what I thought, but as I've sworn once in this post, and I try not to swear, I'm censoring myself...) This would be the penalty flick sign then, wouldn't it?
For those who are uninitiated in the ways of hockey, I will explain the concept of the penalty flick. About half way into the D, there is a little white spot. The attacker puts the ball on the spot, and after the ref says "go", attempts to push or flick (not allowed to hit it) into the goal. The goalie (i.e. me), who has to stand behind the goal line, has to stop the ball. Nice and simple. Except that something funny happens to your perspective in this situation. The ball, approximately the size of your fist, becomes a golf ball. The attacker becomes a giant with arm muscles the size of trees. The goal suddenly stretches to the size of the pitch.
The ref asked me if I was ready. I couldn't really say "no", but definitely didn't feel ready - the whole match was riding on this. With us only being one goal up, and with less than five minutes remaining on the clock, we could not afford to let anything in. The signal was given, and the attacker struck.
And the ball bounced off the post and rolled up the pitch.
I hadn't seen it move, not consciously at least. Something had seen the ball go, as I was moving in the right direction, but if it had been a couple of millimeters closer to me, I wouldn't have had a chance to save it as it rolled in towards me instead of away. But for some reason everyone congratulated me as though I had done anything more than stand there!
But hey, we won the match, meaning that we aren't sat at the bottom of the summer league - huzzah!
And I'm not going to actually publish this post, as it's now a week since I started writing it. Then I can get round to writing the post about the trip to Tewkesbury and the snake...