Challenge 2016

Wishing a Happy New Year to all my readers. 2015 was a quiet year for me on here. I’d love to say it was because I was so busy living it up, but I wasn’t. I just got side tracked with other things!

Well 2016 is going to be a busy one for me which I want to start writing about. It’s going to be a tough one as I’ve committed to two main challenges and I have several others in the pipeline as well as a house move in May!

The first challenge is to be part of PACT2016 with some wonderful people on Facebook. The challenge is to exercise every day and to log all the miles you do. If you miss a day, you pay £1 (up to £10 a month) and the aim is to make 500,000 miles in the year. The money all goes to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and their research and treatment of Child Brain Tumours. The cause is one that I have supported before and I’m excited to be helping, albeit only a little bit, again in 2016 (https://www.justgiving.com/PACT2016/).

The second challenge is one that will help with the first! And that’s to run my first ever marathon. This isn’t the first one I’ve signed up for as some of you may remember, but it will be the first one I ever do. And possibly the last.

Previously I have trained for a marathon but haven’t taken part on doctors orders, but this time, I am eating right, sleeping right and have been training for the training plan!

I will be running the London Marathon for two charities. I couldn’t make a decision between the two that I have most wanted to support so it’s a 50/50 split.

The first is the ‘Fishermen’s Mission’. They do a wonderful job supporting our Fishermen (those who work tirelessly to provide you with fresh fish every day!) and their families. They do a stunning job and this charity supports them through times of injury, illness and helps their families in times of bereavement.

I have become more and more fascinated by the effort put in by those at sea, ever since I got to know a few of the people of Brixham, in Devon. My visits there, coupled with watching programmes such as ‘The Catch’ brought home to me the troubles they face and I want to help in any way I can. Brixham itself has such a wonderful spirit and they put on two of my favourite events of the year – BrixFest and FishStock – where they celebrate the town and it’s Fishing Heritage. Worth a visit if you want to experience a working seaside town with some fabulous characters and a great community feel.

The second charity is much more personal to me. EDS Support UK help suffers of a little known condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It’s an inherited condition which causes a lot of pain and discomfort to those who have it. I have seen the pain it causes, as my sister has the condition. I was tested for it a few years ago and I was given the all clear. Ever since, I have wanted to help raise money and awareness for the condition.

So tomorrow, 4th January, I start my training plan. You know the biggest problem I’m going to have? Not snacking on things that are just going to make me feel lethargic and not revved up for my training!

The killers for me are chocolate and crisps. Both of which are still in my house and willing me to eat them. I did attempt to do some good cooking today, but that didn’t work too well as my Venison pie was a bit of a let down… Needs more practice some may say. I think I might just admit defeat and stick to what I’m good at… Stir fry, steamed fish/chicken and curry!

Anyway, here’s the begging bit… If you can spare some money, even 50p, then I would be very grateful. I know that it’s hard for many to part with any money these days, but it will help me get round that course and it will make a different to both of these charities http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=jemmaphillips

Worlds away

A holiday should be just that. Time away from the day to day experiences and a chance to recharge the batteries which are always taking a hit by the 9 to 6. My time in Devon has been all that and more.

Arriving on Saturday morning, we quickly unpacked and headed over to Brixham for their annual Fishstock festival. The event celebrates music, the sea and the Fish it offers to our plates. From the tasty demonstrations by the Chef’s to walking around a Trawler and seeing the conditions they live in when at Sea.

Smiles all round as Andy is declared the winner
Andy and Richard compete in ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’. Smiles all round as Andy (Right) is declared the winner

It was the walk around the Trawler which really got me thinking. These (apparently) large vessels, take to the sea with the aim of bringing back food for the tables of the likes of you and me. It’s the perils they face that make it an expensive business, both for the equipment they have to maintain and the injury/loss of life that they face in the harsh unforgiving depths of the Ocean.

Climbing aboard the Barentszee, we were able to walk around the kitchen and living quarters of the crew. For anyone who has travelled on the Northern Line in London, imagine living in one carriage, the seats replaced with beds (two of them to one row of seats), a Kitchen and Bathroom and sharing with several other people(!)

As we made our way up some narrow and very steep steps, we found ourselves at the helm of the vessel.

The Trawler
At the controls of the Trawler

The screens above the Skipper’s seat dancing with data and maps to help them locate their treasure, keep them safe and warn them of incoming weather fronts which may be of concern.

Radar on the Trawler
Screens on the Trawler

The boat gently swayed as more and more people walked on and around the boat, some venturing on to the RNLI boat moored next to it. I couldn’t help but stare at the giant rig’s on the Trawler. Seeing them up close was a surprise, as they always looked huge, but you can’t appreciate them until you have been stood next to them.

Today, the wind is blowing and the sea is creating waves that are crashing on the rocks in the distance. I can’t help by think of those who are still going out to work though. The waves are nothing compared to what you can face in the open waters of the English Channel, but they still look impressive.

Our Fishermen go out, whether it be for the day or a week, in all weathers. No option to ‘pull a sickie’ if they don’t feel like it. They have bills to pay and families to support.

When I face the train pain of my commute or wake up feeling sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and sit in my office all day, I’ll remember them.

And to any Fishermen reading this now, stay safe and good luck for your next trip.

Walking and walking… and more walking

It has been a beautiful day here in South Yorkshire. The perfect day for a walk. Luckily! I had planned the day for doing a site survey ahead of the software launch next weekend and was hopeful the rain would stay away.

The software is to be used for the Angling Trust’s Winter League final and as such I had 3 miles of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal and Lindholme Lakes complex to check and ensure it had adequate mobile signal. I opted to head for the Canal first as it was the biggest bit of walking. I was pleased I did as it was lovely. I parked near Staniland Marina in Thorpe and walked down from the pegs in the 280’s. A barge going through the lock gave me time to watch a couple of local anglers, one of which was catching a few small Roach.

Barge in a Lock

The walk down from the lock saw me get a bit lost in the long grass. Now, I’m not the tallest of people (a struggling 5 foot 5), but the grass was taller than me. There were a couple of guys fishing but I daren’t have a chat with them as I wasn’t too sure I wouldn’t stand on something. There was a moment when I wondered if that was going to be my entire 3 miles, but soon the grass cleared and I was faced with a brief walk along the road.

When I got to around peg 180, I encountered another group of anglers. It  transpired that several teams had made their way up to Thorne to get in some practice on the Canal ahead of next weekend, some of whom were staying to fish the Open tomorrow. A team from Oxford/Reading were very friendly and they were doing ok. I informed them of my mission and they wished me well.

By far the chattiest, was a gentleman at about peg 120 who was with Maver Image. He was sat behind one of his team mates and we had a long chat about the matches, travel, London and technology. By this point I had been walking for 2 hours and was starting to feel it. I had plenty of water with me luckily and I made my excuses and carried on walking. Other than a couple of other gentleman, there was then no one until I reached peg 20, where Ossett (forgive the spelling!) were fishing ahead of their League match tomorrow.

Canal

On my walk back, I filled in the guys with as much info as I could and again had a nice chat with the Maver Image guys. I saw quite a few fish caught, the highlight of which was a nice Tench of about 4 pound. Beautiful fish.

4 hours after I had started out, I arrived back at my oven of a car and headed over to the Lindholme complex to check the signal there. After several missed turns and spending 20 minutes messing about with EE (I really do not enjoy dealing with them!), I managed to get out and have a walk around.

It’s a wonderful place and is very well managed. Most of the guys were weighing in and as I rounded one corner, a group of chaps in fine voice, were handing over the brown envelopes of cash to the winner. As I walked past, a very cheery gentleman of advancing years, who I believe was called Lesley was holding the envelopes with a beaming smile. He asked me for a kiss to celebrate his win and, encouraged by several others and despite my first attempt at saying no, I gave in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. His smile broad and his friends cheering away, I carried on my walk around the lakes.

Lindholme Lakes

So now I am faced with a need to input some data into my system and look at one minor issue ahead of Friday. I’ve had an amazing day, but 18000 steps and over 7 miles later, I think for now I will enjoy my dinner and well earned beer… or two!

Best of luck to the guys fishing in the Open tomorrow on the Canal! Here’s hoping the rain isn’t as bad as they are predicting.

As the warm weather finally decends on the UK, it seems that we need less than 24 hours of warmth, before people start to complain that it’s too hot!

I could’ve done with it being ‘too hot’ last Wednesday. I decided to embark on my first fishing match in 4 years. Harescombe Fisheries have several lakes which are ideal for catching Carp. Well, they’re ideal if you’re not me. The 3 hour evening match had a good turn out and within 15 minutes I was already a good 5lbs behind the men pegged around me. 35 minutes in and a section of my pole smashed.

Fishing at 7 metres, the float buried, I struck, the elastic came out and the number 6 section of my pole splintered. A quick lunge forward to grab the pole before I lost the lot and a lot of very unhappy thoughts. To make matters worse, by the time we were 30 minutes from the end I was cold, hungry and the few fish I had in my swim had decided to join the rest of the shoal and emigrate to the pegs next door.
At this point, my thoughts centered around whether I should even bother weighing in and that I was dying for a nice hot cup of tea. I did decide to weigh in, just shy of 7lbs – leaving me in a really successful last place.

The latter part of last week saw the rise in temperature that we were all hoping for and a reduction in the water cascading from the sky.

With this in mind, on Thursday, we finally made a trip to Cheltenham to attend the Brewin Dolphin Cheltenham Cricket Festival. It’s been a number of years since my last visit and I was suprised at the lack of support. I can only assume that with the uncertainty of the weather, people were reluctant to visit. It was day Two of the LVCC game v Leicestershire and it was great to see Gloucestershire in action. Leicestershire were in to bat when I arrived and I didn’t move until the close of play, leaving Gloucestershire on 40/2.

Sadly I was unable to make it back to the College ground and this was probably my only live Cricket experience of 2012. Such a shame considering I had hoped to watch several Gloucestershire matches this year and make at least one England game. Maybe a plan for 2013?

Friday saw myself and three friends put on a charity gig at Cheltenham Town FC. I would like to thank everyone who took part and everyone who came along to support us. We had some people up and dancing along to the songs and successfully raised just over £200 for Help the Hospices and Cancer Research UK. Both charities are dear to me and I am thrilled that we’ve been able to help them a little. We’ve been asked to do another gig in the near future, which we will (hopefully) do and now I have a bit more of an idea on what’s involved, I’m sure we will improve!

A lot to think about

I’ve completed the third week in my new job and I am really enjoying it so far. I can see the following months will be busy and fast paced, but I confess, I’m really looking forward to it.

I spent three days in Stockholm in my second week to meet my new colleagues and the staff of the Sweden office. I have to admit it was more than a bit nerve racking. I have never flown anywhere on my own before and also never driven to Heathrow! I was more concerned about the drive to the airport than anything else! My alarm went off at 3am and I was on the road by 3.45.

The drive was pretty good and I arrived at 5.15 with plenty of time to drive around the car park trying to find somewhere free. Once I’d transferred to the terminal I was quickly through security (I love online check-in!) and sat awaiting my gate allocation. This was the point where the tiredness hit me. I’d managed only a few hours sleep as I listened to Cheltenham’s game the night before and now I was regretting it.

Once onboard the flight, I fell asleep pretty quickly. Waking to the sounds of breakfast arriving and then dropping off again for an hour before we landed at Arlanda.

The following days were filled with new people, new software, new languages (both computer based and of course Swedish) and new ways of working. I think my brain’s just about recovered!

At the moment, I’m feeling very frustrated as I want to be able to help, but I’m not really able to. My knowledge is probably approaching basic, but as a perfectionist I have to reign myself in.

I also have a new car, which has been a fantastic purchase. A lovely 2.0l Mazda 6 which feels like a tank after driving around in a 1.7l Ford Puma for the last 8 years! It’s brilliant on the fuel consumption and the space is amazing. I’m confident I can fit all my fishing kit (and probably my dad’s!) in it, which is great heading into the summer.

The other advantage to the car is that I can fit my bicycle in it. I’m taking part in the Cotswolds bike ride for the British Heart Foundation in May (http://www.justgiving.com/sportmadchick-cycle), so need a way of getting the bike back there! When I say I’m taking part in the bike ride, I mean I’m riding as much of the 40 miles as I can and hopeful of finishing it… if I’m lucky!

To add to the new job stress, I’m moving house in 9 weeks and I don’t know the location of my new home yet. I have two options. I would, of course, love to be back in Gloucestershire and I do have somewhere lined up near Cheltenham, but I have to be sensible about this. If I was to move within biking distance of my office, I could begin to save more money to pay off my new car and keep my debt levels at a minimum. Being close to the office would only be for year or so (unless circumstances change) and I think it would make things look a lot better when I do move back.

The thing striking me at the moment is my feelings about moving. It’s hitting me pretty hard. I always look forward, but there’s one person I would love to tell all about this and he’s not here. I know he’d be pleased about everything I’ve achieved, and he’d be thrilled to know I’m not commuting in and out of London any more. He’d also be happy to know that I was finally moving away from the East.

To be fair, at the moment, he’d be telling me to pull myself together, stop worrying so much and that I should be going fishing more! It’s been four years since I stopped match fishing, but I promise Richard, this summer, I will be going back.