Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Loving the Olympics!

Well, we've definitely been caught up in the Olympic fever that's been running through London the past few days! It's been super exciting and we've been lucky to have attended a few events already.

On Friday we went to Victoria Park in East London to watch the Opening Ceremony on a big screen. I thought it was absolutely brilliant, completely bonkers at times, and hilarious - showing off the British sense of humour I've come to love since moving here. The Queen with James Bond was priceless, as was the Mr Bean skit (who doesn't love Mr Bean?!) and of course I loved all the music that was celebrated during the ceremony. I probably missed quite a few references, in fact it was so complex that I am sure even the Brits would have to watch it multiple times to get all the connections, but even still I thought it was really well done. Watching it in Victoria Park with thousands of others on a big screen really added to the atmosphere as well, and we all jumped up and screamed like crazy when both the Australian and Canadian teams paraded into the stadium.

Saturday morning - Day 1 of the Olympics - we got up early to go see Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade. Although the idea of a "beach" in the middle of central London is pretty laughable, the venue is actually excellent. We had the cheapest tickets available and could still see everything and the view of Whitehall, the London Eye and Big Ben was amazing. The announcer was a bit cheesy - I think they wanted it to be a bit like being at a baseball game - and the crowd was a bit funny at the start. Being British they would quiet down at the start of each serve, as if we were at Wimbledon! So the announcer had a bit of hard work getting the crowd to be a bit more lively throughout the whole game. Unfortunately we missed out on seeing GB vs Canada in the afternoon session, but we watched it on TV with friends - I was pretty happy as we won, whoop whoop!
Watching Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards

Day 2 we went to Putney to watch the women's road cycling. I say "watch" but really all you get is a few seconds of them whizzing by on their bikes. GB got a silver in that race, which was their first medal so that was exciting. We spent the rest of the day watching various sports on the BBC, including watching Canada get its first medal, a bronze in the women's 3m springboard diving.

Yesterday was Day 3 and we went to see women's Tennis Table with the Noble's at the Excel Centre. To get there we took the Thames Clipper from Embankment to North Greenwich, and then a cable car across the river that has been put up for the Games. It was a pretty nice way to travel around London! Table Tennis was INTENSE to watch, there are 4 games going on at a time and they are quick. Really impressive, and actually far more entertaining than I was expecting.

Table Tennis at the Excel Centre
I just want to take a minute here to say how easy travelling around London has been since the Olympics have started. There are giant pink signs telling you how to get EVERYWHERE and tons of helpful volunteers. Also, I have not been squeezed into a tube car once - in fact if anything it seems less busy than usual. TfL have really done a good job (who would have thought we'd be saying that?!)

We got home last night and watched the highlights of the day - the most heartbreaking was the men's gymnastics. GB thought they had Silver, but then Japan appealed a decision and bumped GB into third. Worst of all the Ukraine thought they had bronze but were bumped to 4th place - I felt so sorry for them! I guess for every uplifting and inspiring story from the Olympics comes an equally disappointing and heartbreaking one.

Really looking forward to being in London for the rest of the games - Go Team Canada, Team GB and Team Australia!


Monday, 30 July 2012

I am registered as a teacher in Australia!

Just a quick post to share some exciting news - my VIT registration has come through! Yippee! This means I am licensed to teach in the state of Victoria. I submitted the application at the end of June, so it took about 4 weeks to get a letter confirming the registration, which I thought was pretty quick.
So step 1 in the visa application process is complete - Melbourne here we come!


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

London 2012 Olympics

Olympic fever is gripping London!  Now that school is out for the summer, I have been into the city a couple of times and everywhere is buzzing about London 2012.  Mrs Wandy McNoble and I have tickets for Beach Volleyball, Table Tennis and Badminton, and will be watching the opening ceremony in Victoria Park on Friday.

Continuing with our efforts to cram loads of stuff in before we move to Melbourne, I tracked down the Olympic flame last night.  After seeing the flame being paraded around the UK on TV, I got the chance to see what all the excitement was about.  The flame made its way to South London and I got a front row seat on the side of the road!  I then had a stroke of luck as I got to hold an official torch inside the after party!  I got this great video of the flame being passed to the next runner.

Tonight I am heading back to Portsmouth.  I am going on a hot air balloon ride with Dad early tomorrow morning!  I will upload some pictures from that tomorrow!  Other upcoming events include climbing Mount Snowdon next week and then our holiday of a lifetime to Tanzania!  Mount Kilimanjaro and game reserve safari here we come!

Mr Wandy McNoble

Monday, 16 July 2012

Marlow River Triathlon

Yesterday mrwandymcnoble and I participated in the Marlow River Triathlon. We did the sprint distance, which was a 750m swim, 24km bike and 7.5km run.

We were up at the crazy hour of 4am, had a breakfast of porridge and bananas, and were on the road before 5. I noticed 2 girls on our street coming home from a night out, and felt pretty smug that I was up and ready to do something athletic instead of crawling home in the wee hours of the morning (though, let's face it, it wasn't so long ago that that was me!)

We made "darn good time" as my dad would say, arriving at Higginson Park before 6am. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, a rarity in the UK lately. Registration and bike racking went smoothly enough; it was a small race - only about 160 racers doing the Sprint Distance. I noticed that I was pretty much the only one there without a road bike, which made me a bit nervous... where were all the novice triathletes with hybrids like me?!
Walking to race briefing

6:45am came around quickly, which was race briefing time. We were told there that the swim course was now one way, downstream only, as the current was too strong to have us swim upstream. Hurrah! I couldn't have asked for better news. I had been really worried about swimming in a river with the current, as I have never done it before. I was standing next to a super competitive guy though, who was not at all happy about this. He told me he was a strong swimmer and this meant he will lose his advantage over the rest of us less strong swimmers. Seriously, he was a bit up himself, and I think he got a bit bored of talking to me when he realized that I did not give a crap about his lost advantage!

We had to walk upstream 750m in the mud to the start of the swim which was an unusual warm up. We then got into the river and realized just how strong the current was. Some of the swimmers, the "serious" triathletes, were warming up by swimming against the current, and they weren't going anywhere! It was like one of those training pools where you basically swim in one spot (like a treadmill for swimming). I spent the swim pretty relaxed and trying to take in the gorgeous scenery - Marlow is a beautiful town which I wish we had had more time to explore.
Swimming in the Thames

With the swim done in about 10 mins I met with mrwandymcnoble in transition, who was about a minute ahead of me. On to the bike.

mrwandymcnoble heading off on his bike

Most of the ride was pretty uneventful. As the race was so small, I was on my own for most of it. The scenery was, again, gorgeous, and the weather amazing. I was averaging about 15mph which I thought was ok on my hybrid! Some tough hills, but these were rewarded with long stretches downhill to relax my legs. It was an out and back course, so mrwandymcnoble passed me when I was at 7 miles, so he was about 1 mile ahead of me.

me heading off on my bike

The last mile was at the end of a long downhill. I was going fast, too fast, and realized too late that I had to turn right. I turned in too quickly and tried to slow down with my breaks. Only mrwandymcnoble had just tightened my breaks the night before and I pulled them too quickly. Next thing I knew I was skidding and then laying at the side of the road, bike on top of me. I hit my head, but of course my helmet took the brunt of that (thank goodness for bike helmets!)

My first thoughts were that I was ok, and I had to get out of the road. There was a marshall across the street from me, who was pretty useless. She eventually called the paramedics for me when she realized I wasn't able to complete the ride. The paramedics took about 15 minutes to come as they got lost on the way. In the meantime a police car had driven by and stopped and the 2 police officers kept me company until the ambulance came. We watched the marshall together who was completely rubbish. She started telling some of the runners the wrong way (apparently some of the front runners went a mile out of their way!) and was pretty rude to anyone who asked her a question. I know marshalls are volunteers but she could have been a bit more helpful!
mrwandymcnoble about to cross the finish line

Once in the ambulance they cleaned me up. I have some bad scratches across my arms, back, shoulder and neck, and am pretty sore today. Mostly though I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the race. I was only 1km from the bike finish! How could I have been so careless and stupid! I am really annoyed with myself about it all, to be completely honest.

Once I got back to the race finish with the ambulance I met up with mrwandymcnoble and his dad who had heard that I'd had an accident. By then the shock of the fall had worn off and I was pretty tearful about it all. We had to wait around for a while to get my bike and I needed a lot of help changing into dry clothes, but luckily I was generally ok.

Last night I kept thinking "what if"and imagining my accident again. It could have been a lot worse. But, I can't let this put me off cycling and triathlon. I'm not ready quite yet, but I need to get back on my bike as soon as possible and not dwell on this. So I guess the only question is... when is the next tri???


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Life in London: Swimming in the Serpentine

So, nothing exciting is happening at the moment with respect to the move. We can't do anything until my VIT registration comes through. In the meantime, we are working on a bit of a "bucket list" of things to do before we leave London. So far I have 3 things: Visit Cambridge and go punting, have afternoon tea with the girls at Fortnum and Mason, and have a huge night out at Fabric. Any other suggestions are welcome!

Yesterday mrwandymcnoble and I did something else we'd never done: go swimming in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. This was mainly to get in some open water training before our triathlon in 2 weeks. I was super nervous, having an irrational fear of swimming in open water, despite spending every summer of my childhood swimming in lakes.

We got to Hyde Park in the morning and were a bit worried about the amount of Canadian Geese we would be swimming with. Thankfully the roped off swimming area was geese free, although there was a lone swan perched beside the lake watching us swim. The water wasn't as cold as expected, about 19 degrees, and the water was pretty clear (though I was very conscious of trying not to swallow any water!) The swimming area is shallow, the deepest it gets was only 1 meter, and you could see the bottom while swimming. I managed 12 lengths (110 m each) and absolutely smashed mrwandymcnoble who only managed 8. All in all it was a pretty enjoyable swim, finished off with a latte in the sun at the lido cafe. I'm feeling much more confident about the swim leg of the triathlon now.

Today we are off to another London first: checking out the Canada Day festivities in Trafalgar Square. Hopefully the rain will hold off long enough for us to enjoy some street hockey, music and Canadian beer!

Canadian Geese in the Serpentine
Climbing out after the swim