I’m not entirely sure where the last week has gone. Well, two weeks. I was doing well with the to dos both at home and at work, so I’m not really sure what my excuse is for taking so long to share my latest Weekly Blog episode. But I really should stop worrying about that self-inflicted deadline, and make my weeks as long or as short as seems right.
In this bumper episode I will give an update on those B12 injections, chat about a buy-an-adventure experience I had with some work colleagues, talk about my shiny new motorbike side stand, and share the tale of my broken SIM card, and mention a couple of audio books I’ve listened to since I last posted.
Feeling Like a Pin Cushion
I’m done. Six of six vials of liquid B12 have been injected into the top of my arms over the last ten days. Alongside some super strength iron tablets, which I’m doing my best to remember to take three times a day (surprisingly difficult, even with phone reminders), these injections are my prescribed treatment for significant vitamin and mineral deficiency. This was diagnosed recently following some blood tests, and you read about that in Weekly Blog Episodes 91 and 92.
My arms are sore. Really sore. At my first appointment the nurse said they alternate arms to help with the soreness, as it can get a bit painful. I thanked her but, honestly, I dismissed it thinking it can’t possibly take more than 48 hours for a muscle to recover from a tiny needle being pushed into it. Oh, how wrong I was! Each dose got progressively more painful.
A small price to pay, of course, but interesting that this is something I have never considered before now. Thankfully the Covid Booster I had on Monday was a much smaller needle and vial size, so while still sore, it was much less so than the other ones.
The promised hyperactivity hasn’t kicked in yet, but I’m still hopeful! I do feel a bit clearer (less fog, something I didn’t even realise was present), and less heavy (the whole Coast to Coast hike was like walking through mud – even the bits that weren’t boggy!), so that’s a start. My doctor said the levels indicated were so low that the maximum dose of B12 she could give me wouldn’t be enough to fill me up, so I’m now waiting for a delivery of supplements to take along with those iron tablets for a couple of months, and I’m also making a big effort to get as much B12 from my diet as possible (tinned mackerel, anyone?!).
I have a couple of months now to see what happens before I go back to the doctor for more blood tests. Wish me luck… and send me your iron and B12-rich recipes!
Celebrating Christmas by Throwing Axes
My colleagues and I headed to Eat Sleep Axe in Cheltenham for an hour of axe throwing a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like a most excellent way to celebrate a series of big events delivered successfully, and as a little pre-Christmas treat. The whole team was up for it and, timed before any of the most recent announcements about Omicron, we headed to the little first floor centre on Winchcombe Street to let off some steam.
We started with the necessary safety briefing (I mean, if ever there was a need for a safety briefing, we were about to throw real life axes at a wall after all), before taking turns on the three lanes and playing around with a few friendly (always friendly) contests. Our instructor gave us a demo and was then on hand throughout the time to give us technique tips, but it was very light touch, which I liked.
The centre is quite small, with three lanes that look like a cross between cricket cages and archery lanes, separated by metal fencing and with rubber chippings on the floor. There were two with traditional looking targets, and a third with a noughts and crosses board, each made from small blocks of wood that the sharp axes (assuming you throw and aim correctly) stick in. The axes, and I wished I’d taken a photo of them, were just like normal axes you might find in a wood shed or such.
As with everything, some of us were better than others… I started off well, that experience of throwing those little tomahawk axes at Southern Pursuits down at Tulley’s Farm seemed to help. But it very quickly went downhill from there. I don’t know, just something about the pressure of team competitions that meant I went throw after throw without nailing my shot. Others in the group did much better, though, and it was fun to cheer each other on.
After some practice, we set up some friendly team competition, three groups of three – winner stays on. My little trio didn’t do much “staying on”, but it didn’t matter, it was fun none-the-less. We also tried the noughts and crosses, but I suspect one hour of axe throwing is nowhere near enough to successfully aim those spinning sharp things, so the games took a while. Thankfully I found my stride again before the final battle and came second in our individual competition at the end – I’ll take that.
It cost us £15 each for one hour, which I would say is about the right price and the right length of time. This is definitely an activity for a group rather than a couple, so you can try a few different games and competitions – we hired the whole place just for us and with nine of us I’d say that was pretty spot on. It’s well worth a look if you’re wanting a group activity in Cheltenham.
New Side Stand
You’ll be pleased to know that the side stand saga is nearly over; or at least I hope it is. I received my new bit of purposefully bent metal from an online parts store, and we fitted it last weekend. Putting it up against my current one, we couldn’t see any significant difference. Feeling optimistic, we decided to fit it anyway.
It must have been different enough, as now it’s on the bike does seem to be stood a bit more like it should. Which is a relief. The old one must have been twisted rather than just bent; hard to see even with two side by side, but enough to make a difference to the way the bike lent on it. I don’t know, other than being a lot more confident in that important bit of metal now.
I need to order a new bush for inside the side stand pivot bracket thingamajig (technical term), as there is a bit of play in the stand – remind me over the Christmas break I said I’d do that! And then, apart from a set of tyres, I’m ready for Morocco in Spring 2022 – assuming Morocco let’s us visit (read Weekly Blog Episode 90)!
No Phone for a Week – Broken SIM
Did you know that SIM cards can just go wrong? You know, work one minute, not the next? With no apparent interference or physical damage being caused by any external factors? I didn’t – but I do now.
A couple of weekends ago my phone went from full signal to no signal while we were travelling in the car. To start with I assumed it was a black spot (I’m with giffgaff, who use the O2 network), then once back home a network signal problem (one was suggested when I looked online), but after a while and with the network signal problem apparently resolved, I realised it must be me. After trying various things, my husband and I swapped SIMs, and yes, my SIM had apparently given up.
While I could still use WhatsApp and iMessage (along with all other internet-based apps) when connected to WIFI, I had no mobile network and so no phone or text messaging capability – I basically had no phone number. It was a real pain; it turns out I do actually use my phone for what it is designed for after all!
I was able to order a new SIM from giffgaff that evening, but being Christmas-time, it took nearly a week to arrive in the post. One it did arrive, though, it only took the network a couple of hours to activate it and switch my number over, that part of the process was really quick and easy.
The moral of this story? I don’t know really, maybe keep a spare SIM in the bits and bobs drawer so you don’t have to wait for one to arrive when yours breaks?
Two Audio Books
If you’re looking for audio book suggestions for over the Christmas period, here are a couple I’ve listened to over the last week or two which I would highly recommend. Of course, they probably also make good actual reading book ideas, too, but I couldn’t comment on that!
The Man Who Died Twice, Richard Osman
If you’re looking for a really great story, then you should definitely be listening to Richard Osman’s The Man Who Died Twice. The sequel to The Thursday Murder Club, this book starts just a day or two after the original story finishes, following the same characters as they get up to even more mischief.
I got through this audiobook in just a couple of days – there is something about Osman’s writing style that has me hooked. And the excellent narration by Lesley Manville helps, too. The characters were as normal sounding as they were in the first book, each given their own space to tell the story from their point of view, with a pace that kept me listening to just one more chapter before I took my headphones off.
Yes, the plot (and I’m not going to give anything away) is probably still rather far-fetched. I mean, it would be a pretty cool retirement complex if there was a hobby group solving real-life murders. But Joyce, Elizabeth and the others are just about believable enough to make this a great story rather than a confusing listen.
I do think that this is one of those sequels that will make more sense if you’ve read the first book already, but as soon as you’ve listened to The Thursday Murder Club, I do recommend this title. I wonder if Richard Osman is writing a third?!
The Farthest Shore, Alex Roddie
For those who prefer non-fiction, especially an adventure story, Alex Roddie’s The Farthest Shore is a most excellent listen. Subtitled “Seeking Solitude and Nature on the Cape Wrath Trail in Winter”, this is a book all about Alex’s 2019 300-mile hike in the Scottish wilderness.
I’ve chatted with Alex quite a lot over on twitter in recent years, I enjoy his writing (he’s now the editor of Sidetracked Magazine) and like hearing about his adventures. But I didn’t realise until now what a similar experience we’d had at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire. An interesting place to start this story, then.
Alex headed out on the Cape Wrath trail to run away from the chaos of the internet for a month. I mean, he’s got me right there – while everything the internet gives us access to is brilliant and wonderful and all the rest, it’s also incredibly exhausting. He hoped to learn how the constant connection to all the things all the time was truly affecting him.
This isn’t just a story of an adventure, but also a mediation on modern life – the impact of social media, the constant distraction provided by apps on phones, and on how these things affect life’s biggest moments. Alex effortlessly weaves the adventure in with the commentary on life, and I found myself nodding along as I listened, even though such an adventure is not something I can imagine tackling.
Thankfully Alex also gives you everything you need from prose about a really long walk, too. There’s plenty of talk about nature, the weather, gear, and people. There are missing bridges and wet sleeping bags, tent frustrations and whisky found in bothies. So even if you’re not quite ready for a dialogue on the interplay between outdoor adventure and modern-day life, then this is still worth a listen.
This book provides all the anecdotes about the mental and physical challenges associated with the Cape Wrath Trail in winter, with the added bonus of some real insight into the meaning of life along the way. One of the best adventure books I’ve read this year.
Replacing my Puffy Coat
And finally this week, because I know that most of my readers have some love of the outdoors, you may be able to help me with this important gear question.
My black The North Face Thermoball puffy coat, as worn or carried on pretty much every adventure since 2013 (read my original review from all those years ago), is worn out. The insulation is non-existent these days, and while the outer material is not fairing too badly (that’s polyester for you…), it’s not really doing the job it was designed for anymore. I absolutely love it – the fit is great (although I know TNF changed the fit in later iterations), it packs down really small, and it does an amazing job when it comes to warmth on the trail.
What do I replace it with? Do I go for another TNF Thermoball even though they’re not the same shape anymore? Go with the common choice, worn by everyone (probably for good reason), and get the Rab Microlight Alpine ECO? Get spendy on the credit card for a Patagonia Micro Puff or Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Jacket, knowing they are probably the best quality (are they)? Or go for something that has some retro-like fun to it like the Cotopaxi Fuego?! The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is supposed to be good, too, and I really like the dark purple that comes in. So much choice!
I also really like the look of the Columbia Powder Lite Insulated Anorak, a smoke-style puffy with a fabulous dark camo colourway, which uses their supposed-to-be-excellent Omni-Heat reflective thermal material. Sadly it isn’t packable in the way I’d need to replace my current jacket, although it’s certainly gone on my wish list.
Suggestions and puffy coat mini-reviews are very welcome indeed – this is a big purchase, so I want to get it right!
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