Friday, 30 May 2014

Quiet day

Neither of us felt like getting up this morning, so we didn't, but spent a quiet morning  reading and doing very little else. I expect we missed some great skating, but we find we can't watch all day. However, we had practice at 16:20, followed by the Draw, so we went down and watched the elite skaters before then. Sadly, the draw was early and the Clock in the practice-rink was slow, so we missed our draw, and have been drawn first. Which is good, I suppose, as nobody will be there so early to see make fools of ourselves. Oh well, we aren't the only old and slow couple in the class.  I just hope we skate it as well as we  are able.

After the draw fiasco, we had a cup of tea and returned to the rink to watch the short dance, again won in fine style by the Arnolds, who said afterwards they had only had two runthroughs. 

Then back to the apartment, as it was pairs next, and that is the one discipline I really don't enjoy watching - far too scary. So am now in bed as we must be up before sparrowfart tomorrow for Official Practice at 06:00.  

Ascension Day

I was far too sleepy, and it was far too late, to post when I got in last night. I had more-or-less slept off my funny tummy by the time I woke up, and we had a late breakfast before heading down to the rink to watch the elite ladies, who gave us some wonderful performances. Then back to the apartment for lunch, and we decided to go out for a short drive to see some of the surrounding countryside, ending up on a village in Austria, which was rather pretty.

Back to the rink in time to watch the pattern dances at all levels, and I bought myself a souvenir jacket and t-shirt. The dances ranged from the sublime - the Arnolds' Argentine Tango was simply the best I've ever seen, anywhere, and their Quickstep wasn't far behind - to the ridiculous: had we entered, we would not have disgraced ourselves. One couple's 14-step was rather like ours was when I said Enough was Enough and it wasn't going to happen this year! To be fair, their European was better, but not by a lot!  There were some appallingly bad European Waltzes - not that we could have done any better, but just saying - and a couple of good ones. I am hopeful that we aren't going to make too enormous folks of ourselves on Saturday. We are by no means the only Old and Slow couple.

Anyway, during a gap in all of that we popped up to the restaurant at the top of the rink to have supper - pasta for both of us, mine with mushrooms and I'm not sure what the Swan Whisperer's had. But he enjoyed it.

It was well past bedtime by the time we got back to the apartment, but we both slept really well!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Busy Wednesday

Actually, more stressful than busy. The Swan Whisperer was up early for his official practice, and when he came back we had breakfast, and then I made sandwiches for lunch. We got to the rink quite early and were able to watch the Silver Ladies II Artistic, including two very brave ladies who really aren't at all well, but who rocked it anyway.  And very pleased with themselves they were, too. Then it was Silver Men III, and then the SW's group - Bronze Men IV and V.

The SW skated very well, though not quite clean. Far more confidence than at Bracknell, said someone who has seen both performances, and I agree. He finished last, but in no way made a fool of himself, and was only one mark below the next skater up.

Photo: Liz McGlauflin
We stayed on to watch the Silver Men IV and V, and then the Silver Ladies III, in which we had a lot of friends skating. Then a bit of shopping (tomorrow is Ascension Day and the shops will be shut) and back to the apartment for an early supper, and we were supposed to have practice, but my tummy has gone back on me, not quite (yet) badly enough for Immodium, but.... So I have gone to bed and the SW has gone up for his podium and to watch some really good skaters. He is not very pleased with me, but then, I didn't tell him I was having tummy issues, only that I was tired. I'll be fine after a night sleep and some peppermint oil

Talking of sleep, I did sleep better last night with the bathroom light on - only woke every two hours, not every hour. The spare blankets they provide here in case the duvets aren't quite enough (which they aren't) look exactly like giant yellow dusters, right down to the red borders!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Oberstdorf Day 2

Today it was cold and wet. All day. It rained. However, Team GB got its first Gold Medal, in the Ladies' Bronze IV Artistic category - the one I would have entered,, had I done an artistic this year. Although I would certainly have been last, or nearly so, I would not have been disgraced. Anyway, I didn't,  so we'll never know.

After that, I came away and went into the village, first to run an errand, and then to go to the Oberstdorf Haus to use the free WiFi to download the latest Elizabeth Moon on to my Kindle and have a coffee, which two things I could have done simultaneously had I realised!   Then back to the rink and, eventually, to the apartment for lunch. I

I read all afternoon, but we had to be back at the rink at 5.00 for the Swan Whisperer's draw, and our practice at 6.20, which was not very good, as I was  tired. I have not been sleeping well as it is a bit too dark, but I am hoping that leaving the bathroom light on will solve that.

Stayed to watch the Ladiies Gold III artistic, and then home to lentil curry!

Monday, 26 May 2014

First Day of Competition

The competition started this morning with various Bronze and Silver artistic and free skate. We watched some of them. Canada swept the board with the Bronze III Artistic, but the highest-ranked Briton was 4th.

There was also a trip to the supermarket, but we had woken up too early after a bad night, for to my phone insisting I'd set the alarm, when I had firmly not. Oh well, better that than the other way about!  So after lunch I had a nap, during which I kept dreaming about Canadian skaters!  Why?  Anyway, after that I got supper ready, and then we went back down to the rink to watch the first part of the Bronze Ladies IV, in which our friend Chris was competing, and then we had practice ice ourselves. We had a good session, during which I realised why my STF wasn't working (three steps, and I only have two feet!), and a fantastic run through to the music, after which I said Enough was as good as a feast, she got off. 

We came back to the apartment to eat shakshuka and ice-cream, and now are digesting this. In a bit, the SW is going back for his free practice, and I shall go to bed.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

First practice, opening ceremony, team dinner

I did not set an alarm this morning, and it was nearly 09:00 before we were awake for the day. We spent a quiet morning - the Swan Whisperer went out for a short walk, but I stayed in and caught up online now that I finally have decent (but not free) Wi-Fi  After lunch, it was time to get changed and go to the rink for our first practice  on the main rink.  We also had to pick up our accreditation, but that took all of two minutes. I thought we might need passports and so on, but no.  The ice was fabulous, and We had a good runthrough, except my STF is still not working properly. We took a wrong turn going back to the apartment, and had to get the satnav to come to the rescue! One of the main roads through town is closed for refurbishment.

When we finally got back, we had a much needed cup of tea, and some fruit cake, and the SW went on yet another walk while I caught up on my crochet, and then it was time for the Opening Ceremony, all very grand with champagne and flags and Bavarian dancers and speeches, and a video with Frau Kreiselmeier arriving on a hang-glider, like the Queen at the Olympics.

And finally, after a long day, the GB team dinner at the restaurant at the rink, which was delicious, but I am sleepy now.  Especially as we took a wrong turning walking back from the rink, and had to retrace our steps!  Good night!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Oberstdorf at last!

... But not before a delicious German breakfast with the Niece, who kindly let us make sandwiches out of the leftovers. Away by 11:00 - actually a little before - and an uneventful, if slow (roadworks) run down to Oberstdorf. We stopped once for a "comfort break" and then came off the motorway at Memmingen for shopping and petrol.  We were lucky, as the first exit to the town was closed, but the second exit was right by a supermarket and a petrol station. And then a straight run.
The apartment is lovely - one big bed-sitting room with bathroom and kitchenette, and a bit of garden. When we had unpacked, we went for an explore to the rink, just too late for the accreditation, which closed at 6:00, but meet some friends. Then accidentally crashed the Canadian team dinner on a hunt for beer, which we have now found. Then back to the apartment for supper and an early night.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Another day, another three countries

Actually, one of the countries was Belgium, where, of course, we were yesterday. We had a good breakfast at the hotel, and were away by 8.45, which was far too early, really. We decided to drive via Luxembourg and Trier. And then across the Hunsrück and down into the Rhine valley to Mannheim.
It would have been a pleasanter drive if it hadn't poured with rain most of the way!  However, by the time we got into the Rhine valley it had cleared up and stayed lovely the rest of the day. We stopped at a services to have lunch as we were far too early to check in to the hotel, and to our joy it was a Marché.  We had been expecting soggy sandwiches, but got rösti and ice-cream!
The hotel is very pleasant, although the WiFi is hopeless so I'm using 3G. We had a cup of tea and relaxed for a bit, and at 5.30 the SW's niece, who lives here, cane to pick us up. We went for a walk round the town,
which has some kind of festival on, and stopped in the park for a beer (lovely!).

Then we headed on, past the Niece's flat to the brewery where she had booked us a table for dinner. I had Zanderfilet with asparagus and new potatoes, and we shared a trial thing of six of their best beers. It were lush!
Then we came back to the hotel on a tram, and trams are always good.  And so to bed. Tomorrow to Oberstdorf at last.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

3 Countries, one day

We set off at about 07:30 this morning, stopping off at the Youth Centre to vote, and were away by about ten to eight. A very smooth run to Folkestone, where we were given a place on the 10:20 crossing, which just gave us time to eat our picnic breakfasts before boarding. The Shuttle was as uneventful as always, and then it was off to drive across France, past Lille, and so into Belgium.

We stopped at a random services to eat lunch - again, I had packed a picnic, finishing off what was left in the fridge to do so. Then we drove on, passing, to our delight, our old friend the Strépy-Thieux canal lift, and so on to Namur. The hotel is as nice as ever, but there is no remote control for the TV, and they are saying there is nothing they can do, so I am going to try to get a discount. The Swan Whisperer says not to bother, but....

Anyway, I had a much-needed nap, having slept badly the previous night, and then the SW went for a walk, and I read for a bit.  And we found a very nice Chinese restaurant a few hundred metres away, and he had beef with noodles and I had Thai-style squid, and we shared a bottle of very delicious red wine. Too much, really - he is snoring, and I am not far off!  I did upload a picture of the meal to Facebook, but it hasn't synced, so can't load it here.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Bank Holiday Excursions

Well, you've got to do something, haven't you?  Can't sit at home in front of your computer all day, tempting though that is.  So I looked up Free and Cheap Events on Londonist, and found a variety of options.  There were two which appealed to me - an African Market at Spitalfields, and a Spanish Market on the South Bank.

Discussion ensued, and it was decided we would go to the Spanish Market.  However, this turned out to be a complete bust, as it was packed out - you could hardly move - expensive, and generally nasty.  Many stalls sold tapas - but £2 for 1/4 slice of bread with something on top?  I don't think so!  One could have scarcely lunched for under £10 each, plus drink.... and the stalls that had more sensible helpings of food at sensible prices had queues a mile long.  So we gave up and went into Eat, where we bought pulled pork with coleslaw and rice and I had beer and the SW had orange and mango juice, which he said was very dilute and more like squash.  The food, as he said, was not gourmet but very good!

He wanted to visit the Olympic Park.  I've been there often enough recently to know what it is like, and I did want to go to the African market, so we agreed to go to Liverpool Street together and then separate.  So we walked across the Jubilee Walkway, or whatever it's called beside Hungerford Bridge, and through Charing Cross Station, and on to a no 11, which is, of course, a Boris Bus.  Quite fun to get in through the open platform and use the back stairs, as in the olden days, but when we got off we used the middle stairs and middle door, just like any other bus.  The SW got a train to Stratford, and I walked over to Old Spitalfields and the African Market.  This was much better than the Spanish one, far fewer people - or more room to spread around in, one of the two.  And I bought a lovely African-style trouser suit to wear at my niece's wedding, which I had hoped to be able to do.  So a win all round.

I wished the Swan Whisperer had been with me when I saw this poster:

Lamb and rhubarb being two of his favourite things ever!  Although what they are like together I hate to think (I dislike rhubarb, so wasted on me). A koresh, or khoresh, is apparently a kind of stew.

Then I wandered back to Bishopsgate, stopping off at a Patisserie Valerie for an ice-cream, and caught a 35 home.

Meanwhile the Swan Whisperer had seen all he wanted to of the Olympic Park fairly quickly, so followed the Lee Navigation up to the Lea Valley Ice Rink, and then caught a 56 bus down to Barts Hospital.  I would have caught a 48 to London Bridge, but he didn't know about that one.  And then he wandered around and came home about 45 minutes after I did. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Bracknell Adult Open 2014

Yesterday was the annual Bracknell Adult Open, and as usual, it was a delightful competition, impeccably run, very efficient, very friendly, and a good time was had by all.

We got up at sparrowfart, and left by 06:30, which means we arrived well before 08:00, but you can't leave for Bracknell any time after 07:00 and hope to get there before 10:00!  The traffic simply doesn't work like that.  So there was plenty of time to watch the solo dancers before we had to skate.

I don't think we skated that badly, and the audience liked it:
The judges, however, did not!  In this country, they do seem to judge you as if you were the Kerrs or Penny and Nick..... thank goodness we get better scores abroad.  Another couple also got really poor scores - less than 1 point better than us - so it didn't mean we were crap and everybody else was fabulous!  Still a lot of work to do before Oberstdorf, though, and not much time in which to do it.

The Swan Whisperer did his free programme, not very well, and got a costume deduction for fancy dress.... which is totally our coach's fault as he insisted.  Never mind, we'll know better for Oberstdorf, and he'll probably skate it better there, too.  He still managed not to be last, which is gratifying.

We left before the end of the competition to avoid the worst of the traffic!  I slept in the car for quite a lot of the way home.  It was a lovely day, and loads of thanks to Nicki and the team for making it a great competition, as always.  And thanks to Colin for shooting the video for us.