Archive for the ‘Charity Events’ Category

.. insert bodily function of your choosing to finish the title.

In my infinite wisdom, and my increased hatred of glasses, I decided to move over to contact lenses a few weeks ago. 

Since having Monster 18 months ago, I found that my sight has not only got worse, but as a result, I am more dependant upon my glasses, which give me a headache. The prescription is fine, what causes my discomfort are the frames, I don’t like anything on my face.

I had great delight in explaining to the optometrist that up until that point my use of contact lenses was strictly limited to Comicon (i.e. novelty lenses), so I had some experience of them, but not with daily use. Well it didn’t take long to realise that daily contact lenses come with their disadvantages.

Following the trials, I chose to go with monthly contacts instead of dailies, mainly due to the cost. I know I’m tight with money but that’s me. 

With monthly contacts you receive 3 pairs just in case of accidents, they clearly had someone like me in mind when designing them, because in the first week I lost one on the train (it is probably still travelling to or from the city right now), I then broke another, luckily it was the opposing eye, then another one was damaged, I lost another one, again the opposing eye, the contact just jumped out while I was walking around my office, this left me with just one pair. I decided to stop using the plastic tweezers, and resided myself to the fact that I had to be careful for the rest of the month.

The contact drama was the week leading up to our break away in Sherwood Forest. It was to be a well deserved getaway as Jack and I were running on reserve fuel, what with full time work, marathon training, I was about to release another book, and of course Monster rearing. Jack was clearly feeling fatigued as well as while I was trying to negotiate my swim kit one morning, as it was fighting back, as well as the contact lenses that did not want to go in,  Jack returned home twice to pick up the items he had forgotten, luckily none of them were Monster, and the I had to call him back for a third time as I had left my purse and train ticket in Monster’s bag.  

I keep telling Monster they are doomed.

More details on Sherwood Forest to come…

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For fear of this turning into a ‘Monster’ blog I thought I would post about other things for a change. Namely, what happened to my swim watch and the last, final, complete end to the series Reign.

About a month ago I realised that my Swimovate Poolmate watch had gone missing. Normally I am very organised and if I can’t find something then I usually retrace my steps. However, since having Monster (there they are again), I have been experiencing bad memory issues and as I continued to search for my lost watch with no avail, I went from slightly irriated to anxious.

I have owned this watch for over 6 years and it has been there for me helping me train for every event, so I have a sentimental attachment to it.

After checking with my local haunts, Eltham Leisure Centre and Charlton Lido, I had nearly given up hope and so I purchased a new watch because it felt strange swimming without one. I purchased the next model up, but went for the same look as I have skinny wrists and I knew it would fit, only this time it had a black face instead of blue. Luckily as I was part of the Channel swimmers for Heart Research UK last year Swimovate were, opportunly, running a discount for the charity’s swimmers.

Needless to say, the new watch arrived and there was still no sign of the old watch.

Then at the weekend, I was manoeuvring Monster’s trike out of the shed to pack the top section with some snacks for a trip to the park, because when going out with a toddler you can never pack too much, I checked the top storage compartment of the trike and oddly enough (mainly because I don’t remember putting it in there), there was my watch.

I was jumping up and down with joy which surprised‎ me as I didn’t know I could still jump for joy, nor could I be that lively considering I had been up since 5:00am.

So where this blog was supposed to say goodbye swim watch, it now says goodbye and hello. I was convinced it had been thrown out in a plastic bag I use in my swim kit to store wet items.‎ Needless to say, I now need to keep a close watch (excuse the pun) on where I put it.

In additional to swimming technology, I recently purchased a new underwater MP3 player. I have used several over the years and my favourite has been by far the Speedo Aquabeat (first generation), however we now have a very close rival.

It has flexible innovative memory wire on the headphones also they bend to the shape of your ear for a great fit under your swim cap (if you wear one that is). The sound quality is really good, I can’t complain (and I am the type to, trust me), clear large and easy to press buttons (particularly good under water), MP3/WMA/WAVformats, 8GB Memory, built in Rechargeable Battery with up to 12 hours of listening time. It is lightweight as one would expect, the dimensions are 36 x 51 x 19mm and the weight is 20.2g.

The only downfall, I must have missed the section where it says that it does not support Windows 10. Overall though, a nice bit of swimmers kit.

 Those who watch the series Reign on Netflix will have learnt that the ‎final final episode aired last Saturday. I didn’t actually realise it was the last one even though I know the story of the two Queens very well.

We, the audience, were approaching the point where King Darnley was about to meet his maker, but I was unsure where the Reign writers would take the series following Mary Stuart’s arrest. We know other things happened during Mary’s incarceration but the writers decided to end it and it was a very tear-jerking but also happy ending – contradictory I know.

I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it and if you haven’t watched the series at all, I strongly recommend it. If you liked The Tudors then you will like this series too. It is filled with exceptional actors, it keeps to the story we have in records (with a little creative writing in places of course), but if you want to watch an entertaining series that will invoke every emotion and will leave you wanting more then watch Reign. It will not only captivate you, but it will also remind you how far women and society in general have come, both in the British Monarchy and overall.

Admittedly, that was a long title, but it should tell you what the content of this blog  refers to.

It has been a massively busy start to the year, in fact the word ‘busy’ is an understatement, but I am hoping that once all of the grunt work (so to speak), is out of the way, then it will all be worth it.

I’ll end this post with some frivolity, so you will need to wait to hear about Twerky and the Unicorn (sounds like an Icelandic pop band), unless you want to scroll down to the end but then you will miss everything in between.

No Food Limits

This is something I started last year and so far the direction is sound, it is the productivity that is lacking somewhat. The aim is to educate people to eat what they want without impacting on their health. It sounds like this has been done many times before – the over profiting organisations that in essence don’t work. If they did, they would be out of business by now. For me, I am not out to make lots of money, No Food Limits is all about the education. When you have seen people die, or have life impacting health problems, which could have been avoided if a change in eating plan had taken place, then getting rich is the last thing on your mind.

SwimFor

Since having Monster, I find that my training has reduced by quite a bit. I also made the comment on Twitter earlier on in the year that given my decades of swimming experience, why not start my own events that in the interim, only cater for me. I have organised many charity events with work in the past, I shouldn’t have too many issues trying to pull this off.

SwimFor allows me to raise money for my own charities and swim the distances I want to swim in the desired locations. No more jelly babies in the Solent for me (it takes away the salt taste for those that don’t know).

The second event is due to take place in April 2017 and is called Swimfor2k. It was originally #swimfor2 and then we realised that this sent a completely different message.

Swimfor2k is also a little misleading in the sense that the swim distance is not 2k, it is 4k overall (2k per charity), but the idea is that next year when is says #swimfor3k, it will be 3k per charity.  Any charity can be picked, there won’t be a set charity per event, and the number of charities will not be limited. Providing the venue can cater the distance, the only requirements are to raise money for charity, swim the required distance and have a witness present to adjudicate. If you can take pictures even better but I am aware that many pools have a no photography rule.

I am hoping to open the event up next year to more people.

I can see Monster also getting into these as they get older. At present, I have limited Monster to swimming every other week as I am convinced that they are overdoing it. They get excited once they see the water and there is no stopping them. To the point where I have had to buy a float suit just to take the pressure off of my shoulders and back, but that is a different post entirely.

Kelly at swim

Dragon Realm Chronicles

I have been writing DRC for many years now and realised that I don’t have a website for the books to advertise them. Given that a few other authors have chosen to publish their books with similar names (naughty naughty), I thought it would be silly not to have the original series advertised under its very own domain, so now there is www.dragonrealmchronicles.com

The fourth book in the series is due out very soon.

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Dragon Realm Chronicles – Book 3 in the series

Here’s Twerky

‎Without further ado, my husband and I have been having great fun with Monster’s Christmas presents. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do when you have kids?!!?

‎The BeatsBelle (aka Twerky) is one of the bestselling toys on the market. The idea is to play music and dance so it gets aspiring little walkers on their feet and moving. At first glance, it does look like a twerking anime k-pop character which displays different colours on its body that could no doubt, if sped up, induce neighbourhood wise seizures.

It also has a voice recording system which replays in a chipmunk voice‎ to a beat. This feature has given my husband endless fun and as a result, Twerky has been nominated as his organisation’s new mascot.

Monster looks at Twerky awkwardly, like it doesn’t understand, but then again it’s not like they get to spend much time with the toy.

The Unicorn however is surprisingly effective, given that it was one of those 90% off Groupon jobbies. It lights up the room with effects of flashing stars and ‘z’, or the lights can be still. It has a calming baby planetarium effect which actually works. You can opt to have sound, but wisely I brought the version that did not contain sound. It has helped Monster sleep every night so far. Result!

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Last weekend was been a mixture of hot and cold in the pools.

Friday began with Monster swimming. This usually takes place on a Sunday but we had family plans (i.e. rare occasion that we all have the same days off together), and so Monster and I went for a Friday swim instead.

We got into the children’s pool, and there was another couple with a young baby, and a man with his son who was of toddler age. Both soon departed, which meant that Monster and I had the pool to ourselves.

From the minute Monster’s feet touch the water they are moving. For 7 months old Monster is an exceptional swimmer but is also very ambitious so I can see me having to instil some fear into them when they are older (it is usually the other way around), and with every session they get stronger.

It seems that cold water does not faze them either. Being a long distance and cold water swimmer I have always been aware of what the cold can do to the body. The cold can sneak up on you and before you know it, you have a draft or worse a strain of hypothermia, so I am continuously checking both of our temperatures while we swim. When we take breaks, what looks like a mother and child cuddle is really a temperature check and a transfer of heat over to Monster from myself. Like I said Monster gets very ambitious and then forgets to tell me if they get cold.

We had been swimming for over 30 minutes when a lady and her two children got into the pool. The eldest was around toddler age and the baby was around Monster’s age, perhaps a tad younger. From the minute they entered the pool the children cried due to the temperature of the water. I agreed with their mother that it was colder than usual but there was only us in the pool so 30 degrees is then much cooler.

Luckily Monster is not the type to react to upset children and mimic the mood, far from it, they seem to take it as a challenge and act the complete opposite, along the lines of ‘look at me, I’m so well behaved’.

The lady’s mother also entered the pool and proceeded to quiz the lifeguard on the temperature. She also said she expected it from the main pool as it was ‘freezing in there’, I didn’t like mention that I sweat under my swim cap when I swim in the main pool.

They left the pool within 10 minutes of getting in and I did sympathise, but I also wondered was it really the cold or was it the toddler crying and causing a fuss that then made the baby cry and then they were at the point of no return. It’s very hard to regulate your body temperature when you are cold, it is even harder trying to explain that to young children as they will not have the patience to wait to warm up, nor will they see the logic in moving around to keep warm if they have got upset.

I proceeded to also leave the pool with Monster as we had been in there long enough, and that is normally the only time Monster will cause a fuss. No pleasing some, but it did make me think, is my child abnormal? Am I also abnormal with regards to feeling the cold. More research wouldn’t go a miss on this one I think.

On the other end of the scales, I was swimming at my usual haunt over the weekend, Charlton Lido, and to my surprise found that they were also having questionable temperatures.

At this time of year swimming outside is perfect. The colder the weather the quieter the lido, only this time there were people in the lido, more in fact than in previous Novembers. It was down to the water temperature.

In the fear that my resistance to the cold had weakened during my Monster carrying months, I wore a rash vest. Big mistake. I had only got 100m when the vest came off and spent the rest of the hour at poolside. The water was uncomfortably warm and the whole idea of being in a lido is that you get the outdoor experience.

I tweeted after that swim:

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To my joy there was a temperature issue. I haven’t been back since due to schedules but hopefully it should be fixed now.

When training is concerned lane etiquette from everyone is key. If you don’t know what to do in a swim lane find out, as not only does it make the swim more enjoyable for everyone but also this elevates the risk of injury.

I have now got to point where my calendar is an extension of my brain. Completely. It has always driven my other half into a state of less than calm, the amount of reminders that go off on my Blackberry on a daily, hourly someones hour quarterly basis. Since having Monster I think I have completely given up using my memory. Even to the point I joked the other day saying “…in 5 mins I will receive a reminder that I have to go and do the shopping…”.
Sure enough 5 minutes later there it was.
This often leads me to the train of thought that if I did go totally reliant on technology for my reminders would my brain and/or memory just melt into a useless state needing to be controlled by a host for the rest of my days.
Yes, I know, too much Dr Who watching combined with an over active imagination. There really is no hope for Monster. Bless.
Aside from Monster keeping me out of the water, strangely enough the main reason for my lack of swimming, has been due to insufficient earplugs. It sounds like a weak excuse, but being a long distance swimmer your kit has to be as good at performing as what you are. Most of the time when I’ve had a bad swim it has been due to goggles, audio device playing up or more recently being unable to find earplugs that stay in my ears.
After many years of research into the perfect earplug, I settled for a long time for using the Speedo Biofuse. Of course it had to be Speedo (says the former Speedo tester), but I genuinely do love the brand.
The Biofuse earplugs are corkscrew shaped and designed not to move. They actually look like something that would feature in a sadomasochist’s wardrobe, ‎but following the birth of Monster every time I tried to use my trusty earplugs my body would reject them. To the point where I would insert the earplugs look in the mirror and could physically see my ears push them back out again.
It got to the point where I would either have to put up with them incorrectly positioned pushing on surrounding nerves and coming out of the swim in discomfort, or not wear any at all. Both scenarios presented potential lasting damage to my ears so I had to stop and think about how I was going to solve this.
I came across some highly rated earplugs called Cirrus Healthcare BioEars Earplugs from the Allearplugs website. They like putty which forms to the shape of your ear. ‎endorsed by Olympic athletes for £4.49 I thought that if they don’t work then I won’t be losing much. Well I am happy to say that for the first time in months, I had a comfortable swim.
The earplugs are silicone which make them soft and mouldable however, unlike any other silicone earplug they contain ACTIValoe. They do feel odd when wearing them but they are very easy to get used too once you get to grips with the idea of putting a substance like Play Doh in your ears, but the idea is that they cover the ear hole forming a comfortable water resistant seal. As with most ear plugs, insert them when the area is dry and you will see better performance and ignore the feeling that they might fall out because they won’t.
From a swimming perspective there are no annoying handles that can get caught on your swim cap, but be careful if you have long hair, as with a pliable substance like this, your hair will get stuck in it. You receive 3 pairs in a pack and a carry case. They are reusable but it is advised not to tear the plug, just let it form to the shape of your ear. I have small ears and it provided comfortable coverage over the ear hole.
Highly recommended, 10 out of 10 and I will definitely be purchasing these again. Click on the link above to order yours, or if you want to check out the Speedo Biofuse on Amazon, please click here.

Since the last entry, the little human (known as Monster) is moving around a lot more, and is contributing to a lot of conversations, in fact monster tries and ‘over talks’ most people and you can see people’s faces cringe when this happens – yes I am now the woman with ‘that child’. However there is a difference between ‘talking’ and whinging and I think that most people recognise this. In recent days one side of the line still holds the 0-3 month clothes, while the other side now has 3-6 month clothing. Where did that time go?

Speaking of baby clothes, I am astounded by the price of baby swimwear. For a normal 3-6 month swimsuit this can set you back £16.99. My swimwear costs slightly more and that is designed for sports and endurance training – have babies starting swimming marathons now? Also, like with most babies clothing, it is hard to know how much is too much. For example, do you just keep it to normal swimwear such as a swimsuit, or add a warmer over the top. Given that I will only be taking Monster to indoor swimming venues for the time being, I think we will just stick to a normal swimsuit for now.

With regards to my kit, for those that don’t know, I have swum for over 30 years, this of course is most of my life, but in the last decade I have incorporated more events and worked on my endurance swimming. Swimming has always come naturally to me, so it only makes sense that I take advantage of my ability to swim long distance, both for the fitness and wellbeing aspects, but also it fuels my competitive side and the need for personal goalsetting – Urg corporate phrasing much!

As one can imagine, swimming for long distances can be both time-consuming and it can make your mind wander. An example of this was last year when I did a 12 hour overnight swim. For the first time in an event, I actually suffered boredom with the swimming. As time went on through the night, it became more challenging due to fatigue, seeing where one was going, and the other drawbacks that can come with such an event, such as chaffing and if in salt water, the salt will irritate even the smallest of wounds you have.

To relieve any monotony when training I use aids such as an underwater MP3 player. I have used several makes and models over the years, all of which will have their pros and cons, and all will have an element of endurance themselves. My favourite was the Speedo Aquabeat, which unfortunately is no longer in production. I had one of the first models and as soon as the upgrades began for Windows 7 the Aquabeat would no longer connect to a computer as it would only run on XP. While the device was still useable, this meant that I could not change the music which soon became boring – thus the circle was complete. So it was time for a new device.

My latest device took a while to get to grips with, I couldn’t get it to work in the pool, the earphones were unsuitable (for some reason since pregnancy I have only been able to use particular earphones), and when I managed to get the thing working (which in the end took several weeks), I then accidently wore it into the showers after the swim and got shampoo in it. Oops. Anyway it still works so all is right with the world.

Over the years when using devices such as this and my Swimovate Poolmate watch (which I love), it has got me thinking do these devices hinder the swim more as opposed to their original purpose which is to aid motivation and performance? In which case would it not be more productive using the time to swim and train rather than, for all intense purposes, faff around with reinserting headphones, changing the track on said MP3 player, adjusting state of the art goggles, realising your watch which was supposed to start counting five lengths ago isn’t switched on and so on….

Most of the time, given the distances I swim, I feel like I need an aid as even though most of the time my mind is going a mile a minute, if on the rare occasion my mind is blank, or I am not having a great swim, or I experienced road rage on the way to the lido, then I need something to either distract or destress me while the swim works itself out.

All in all, I would really like a new and improved Speedo Aquabeat or alternative given that they are no longer in production. For now my new one will do the job, but I feel the search will continue for as long as I swim.

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Following my debut into parenthood I am currently swimming 22 miles over a maximum of 12 weeks for Helping Hearts. If you would like to donate, please visit my JustGiving page.

Life is interesting at the moment. Since the appearance of my little human, one would think that I wouldn’t have time to breath let alone check my notifications on Twitter, but it seems that every few weeks I do get the chance.

So in the last few weeks, I have got back into the pool more and am back to my pre-pregnancy speeds, I have been helping my husband with his 365 day photography project of said little human (because he got bored of trying to find a new picture everyday), and somehow I got talked into helping him damp proof and paint the outside of the house.

No, I don’t know how that happened either.

Considering I had little human just over 7 weeks ago I must have dislodged a few brain cells to be up a ladder. Then again, I am also trying to work out how I was the fastest in the pool the other day, but that is a different story.

I also found out this week that my coordination has still yet to return to normal, mainly because when opening a coffee jar, the suction of the glass lid was clearly too much for me as the granules that would probably make 2-3 cups of coffee ended up on the floor. I not only did this once, but again the following day, and I found out that when you spill coffee granules on a rug the most intriguing thing happens, unless cleared up quickly moisture sets in and embeds the granules in the rug/floor surface. If the surface is smooth then it gets stuck like glue, if it is a rug then the wet granules implants into the rug and takes for what seems like forever to get back out again. If only I knew a carpet cleaner (Rugged Carpet Cleaning anyone).

I am tempted to write an email to Douwe Egberts regarding their choice of storage jars and said super suction lid, however, I would feel stupid as I can’t imagine anyone else having this trouble. Of course these spillages happened when the little human had given me five minutes to myself, which soon ended when I was frantically trying to clean up and then little human decided they also wanted to eat and proceeded to scream the place down. Cue me trying to clean the carpet and prepare a bottle at the same time.

Anyway, to the point, while going through my Twitter notifications, I saw that someone had ‘liked’ some posts for a conversation I participated in back in October. The campaigns I get myself involved in (for my sins it seems at times), are without a doubt marine conservation, gender equality and animal rights in general.

The posts in question were regarding Emma Watson’s He for She campaign  and the comments on my posts were made by an individual that you always get in a campaign, the troll!

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Troll Hunter – an awesome film

Trolls in campaigns are always present and I unfortunately have been on the other end of their posts on numerous occasions. They like to distract from the point, and try and veer the debate into meaningless and irrelevant deliberations bordering on arguments. Why they do this I do not know, I have always been open to the fact that everyone will campaign for something different so normally I tell these individuals that unless they are going to contribute something constructive go elsewhere as they are just wasting their time and everyone else’s.

When posting on Twitter during the He for She campaign conversation, I came across one who I thought was a troll but I am still a little confused as to why he was posting. I am not sure he was for the campaign, neither am I convinced he was against it either, but he did come up with some interesting comments directed at me, namely:

“You’re opinionated just like the rest of us. Based most on your life experience.”

“So you are 100% impartial when researching? I don’t believe you.”

These comments came about when he said that I was opinionated (as you can see above), I responded that I do base my campaigns on impartial research, that is what one does when they have been trained in law. You are trained to find every facet of information before making a judgment, you are also taught to never assume as, to put it bluntly, assumption is the mother of all f***-ups, and if there is one thing that annoys me it’s those that tell me, or assume they know what I am thinking.

This got me thinking, could one possibly campaign without having an opinion? Realistically I think the answer is no, as you need to be drawn to a campaign in the first place. For example, I follow Sea Shepherd and the Marine Conservation Society as I have a marine biology qualification and know the importance of all of the marine life in our oceans.

Additionally, I have also campaigned for gender equality as in this day and age I do not think one gender should receive more benefits over the other, whether they are male or female it shouldn’t make a difference. This has not been based on my life experiences, even though many would find that hard to believe because I am a woman, and we are still considered to be at a disadvantage with regards to pay etc. Also the media always like to give us a good bashing, but genuinely I have not experienced any negativity or disadvantages from being a woman in society (aside from not being able to delegate pregnancy and childbirth to my husband). This however does not stop me from campaigning for those that do. Why do I campaign about this, because I see men and women as equals.

I suppose the only campaigns I do have personal ties to and do not facilitate based on the ‘greater good’ is when I have swum for Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation as well as Helping Hearts as both diseases have affected members of my family.

So can one really have an opinion in a campaign? Yes of course they can, but in my experience it is better to fight a campaign with facts rather than assumption, and one thing I can assure people of is that my sources are properly researched, and my comments are based on said research rather than a whim.