Archive for September 8th, 2009

Meant to post this before I left London for my mad summer. But for one reason or another I didn’t. But I’ll post it now anyway cos it’ s still relevant. 

As I count down to leaving London, thought I would write a series of posts on ‘Things I will miss about Acton’ (should probably add – ‘things I won’t miss on leaving Acton’-  too but hey, the place has had its fair dose of negative publicity).

The list (of things I’ll miss) might cover any of the following:-


Vanilla cafe (too late, already gone)

The Rocket



Acton Park

Churchfield Road


Acton Central station

All of these places might get a post. But in the meantime I feel the pressing need to tell you how much I’ll miss Boot Camp (or Urban Vitality as it’s known outside the inner circle).

[N.B. Would put links to all of these places but my internet connection has just crashed and apart from losing half this post, it’s too slow to get the links. Will sort it later.] 

I started Boot Camp last November. And I’ve been turning up to Acton Park (or nearby Southfields Rec when the pitch was waterlogged) twice a week since then. Come rain or shine. Or snow. I’d been wanting to do it for months.

Here’s what we do. We turn up at 9.30, most of us having just dropped our kids off at the local schools and one or two of us having stopped en route at Estoril to get a cup of coffee and (one of us) a rice cake (as in Portugese with flour and butter and eggs not as in health fanatics’ sandpaper breakfast). Consequently I am usually last to arrive. Then I have to do extra star jumps.

I leave my bike propped against all the others, dump my jackets (always overdressed) and water bottle (If I’ve remembered it) and join the gathering group. John Limpus (our coach and one man Urban Vitality band) is there, smiling, eager to get going. There are gentle instructions to jog to the cones and back, then “high knees” or “the Londoner” – I love these expressions. When doing the Londoner I resist the temptation (though not always) to sing ‘My old man’s a dustman’. As we stumble along, we giggle and chat – who’s been camping for the weekend, who’s been for a run, who’s got a hangover right now…

We work hard. Really hard. We might do some endurance work – like the ‘Fahrtlich’ – running very fast for say 3 minutes, then jogging slowly for 3 mins, then running fast for 2 mins, slow for 2, etc etc. John will have to correct me on the timings. I never was any good at numbers…But you can always work harder in this group than you would on your own. And we play lots of games – alongside some tough exercises. We do “burpies” and “Turkish get-ups” and “karaoke”. Sometimes we are followed by a woman and her dog, or by young men training for the Olympics.  We always look impressive.

Anyway, the real plus about this form of exercise is it’s fun, it’s outside – and it’s effective. I so love being outside. The rain even doesn’t bother me – or the cold. And there is no better place to be than Acton Park on an autumn morning. It’s a mile away from being in a sweaty gym.



This is hard work

This is hard work


Back here in Trieste I haven’t been to Boot Camp now for 2 months – and I miss it! But I can vouch for the long-term benefits. This summer, I was a counsellor on a 4 week International children’s camp. This is a 24/7, going to bed at 2, getting up at 7, running around all the time sort-of-job designed for 17 year olds. It is full-on. I can safely say my energy was fantastic – and I even beat all the campers at sprinting. That made me prouder than you can imagine. 

And now, here in Trieste, I feel super lucky to have woods on my doorstep – and instead of gazing at them longingly as I would have done in my pre-Boot Camp days, I am out, running, loving the wind on my face and feeling better (fitter and thinner!) than I have for ten years. 

That’s a legacy to be proud of.

Thank you John!!!


John - and Fergus

John - and Fergus


Read Full Post »

So here we are then, truly installed in Trieste (Via Sigmund Freud don’t ya know?  That has to be the best address ever – depending on your past experiences, of course.) I have been putting off and putting off getting back to this blog (in the same way that my kids leave the best bits till last on their plates). Main reason  – no reliable internet connection –  I was waiting for the wonderful (heavy sarcasm) Telecom Italia to install our landline and internet yesterday but…they screwed up, we have to wait another week, so I’m writing here anyway, stumbling along with this little gadget conected to my laptop…

Blog…twitter…facebook…website. This is all such a challenge! How do you all keep up??? I can barely operate the remote on the telly!  

So…kids started school yesterday…


the route to school

the route to school


Success – so far….they are happy, relaxed, enthusiastic. For Fran a less daunting experience than starting at Acton High I think, even though we have moved country and language. I’ve just spent 82 Euros buying stationary for them both – notebooks, pencil cases, folders – all have to be a certain size, lines a certain width (depending on age), glue sticks, crayons, art paper. Then there are the brands that are ‘di moda’ – GURU and GEKO and Hello Kitty.


hmmm...anyone for tennis?

hmmm...anyone for tennis?

There’s a reason why Italians are organised, neat and tidy  (and a bit anal) – they invest in it all from an early age.  


Meanwhile I continue to build and unbuild the bookcases in my study in the basement. You will not believe the time I have wasted (or invested if you want to see it positively) in getting my books back in order. I have this modular system of beautiful hardwood units that Stef picked up 20 years ago from an auction room in Leamington Spa – and whenever we’ve moved I’ve had to invent a new configuration for them. Harder than you’d think. It involves a lot of maths, but more importantly, a lot of stretching and lifting and balancing shelving in precarious positions in limited spaces as I change my mind yet again….I think an espresso is in order before I embark on that this morning..

Last night I started an African drumming course. I am so happy! 18 years ago I did the most amazing African dance course here in Trieste down by the sea at the Hotel Europa as the sun set – and I’ve been looking for a class ever since. When we left Trieste last time I managed to find an African drum course in Leamington Spa – then we moved to Acton and even though London has everything I couldn’t find anything near enough.  I’d still love to find an African dance class though – the best workout ever.

Read Full Post »