Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Why I swim


Today I swam a kilometre for the second time, the first, according to my facebook post, so it must be true, was on 19th July. Since I achieved this distance I have not spent any time in the water until just over a week ago, so it was pleasing to achieve it again today. What I also achieved today was to swim 600 metres non-stop. The first time I have done this, and 50% better than my previous non-stop distance.

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The picture shows the pool I go to at the Olympic Stadium.(It was taken in February the building site behind, between the pool and the Cambodian Olympic Committee building, would now not fit in the picture.) People who do not remember the Cambodian Olympics will not be wrong as there has not been one. The stadium was designed and built in 1963-4 to Olympic standards to accommodate the 1964 GANEFO Games by Khmer modern architect Vann Molyvann and I find the pool is a joy to swim in.

It is only this year that I have started swimming as my exercise. As a teen I had swum a lot, getting my 800 metres badge and the silver life-saving badge. But a verruca resulted in me not swimming for 18 months and still going to the pool every week to watch my brother achieve a lot of other badges etc. He is a good swimmer and has continued doing it. I really lost interest in doing it much other than splish-splashing around for fun.

Then JTO visited at the beginning of this year, she is a devout swimmer and goes wherever she is so visited the pool a number of times, I walked with her to the pool from my former residence a couple of times and had a swim.(Former residence sounds so much grander than the flat I used to live in!) After she had gone I realised that I was not getting much exercise. Over the previous summer I had been living in Leeds and had cycled more than 4 miles to work and home again every day and, because of the spread out nature of my workplace at the university, had been walking more than 10,000 steps every day. Some days now I walked less than 1,000 steps and traveled everywhere by Tuk-Tuk. I was getting fatter and not getting much exercise.

As a result I decided to give swimming a go. I set myself a goal of swimming a kilometre, and then swimming a kilometre non-stop. A post on facebook, after doing 900 metres for the first time, by a friend resulted in me subsequently adding a further goal of swimming a mile, or the closest to it, of 1,500 metres. In my first swim in March I swam 6 lengths of the 50 metres pool and stopped after each one. In the heat of the Phnom Penh day it is nice to get into the water, although the pool is more like the temperature of a nice bath. The picture below shows some people who came to see me achieve my first goal!

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As I said, I achieved the first goal last month. Afterwards I kind of enjoyed laying off the monomania necessary to keep going at it. However, after a few weeks I started to miss swimming and the exercise. I started to feel tired in my limbs more often and didn’t get that clear head and oxygen high from doing the exercise. I missed it. So little over a week ago I started walking down to the pool from my flat again. First time I swam 600 metres and it has built up from there. So I was somewhat pleased to swim the distance again. I was also pleased to achieve another personal best of swimming 600 metres non-stop, more than twice the distance I originally managed without any stops- progress!

My current schedule means that I work very full days Monday, Wednesday and Friday and all Saturday morning. However I do not start work until later in the afternoon Tuesday and Thursday so I am able to get to the pool in the morning on those days and on Sunday and I like to do so. I am lucky to live in a place where an outdoor pool is available all the time, costs only $2 for foreigners like me, and it is a joy to get into the water and out of the heat.It is even better that, outside Sunday afternoons, I pretty much get the pool to myself. Imagine, an Olympic size pool, in a hot country, pretty much to yourself.

Alsace hardcore


I haven’t posted about the fact it’s snowing because, it’s Alsace it’s what happens in the winter. P1110883I guess the closest I came was through hinting at it in the post yesterday showing the planters on our balcony with a covering of snow. The first picture shows the courtyard of our flats, notice the covering of snow, it is not melting, it must be cold – probably below zero.

Picture 2 shows the flat across the courtyard from us. You will notice that they have both P1110884windows wide open. On a day when the apple weather app. on my mp3 device, there are other mp3 devices available, shows the temperature as -3 and The Weather Channel app. has the temperature at -1 but feeling like -6 then big style respect to the Alsace hardcore.

Everything’s coming up lovely


When we left for our Christmas break in the UK, which I wrote about here, we had some bulbs starting to show Birkenhea bloomersin the planters on our balcony, their green shoots poking out of the soil. This made me sad as I was afraid they might not survive the winter.

I’m not a big fan of the winter, more specifically things getting darker through the autumn and then staying dark in the winter. So occasions like Monday when the sun was shinning after 16:00 and it was still light after 17:00 are welcome signs of the improvement coming. Similarly the arrival and flowering of bulbs, when younger indoor ones that had been planted for me and given to me usually by my mother or other relative, whilst of late more that we have planted in the special planters on the balcony. The first photo is of myself in the 80’s trying to be arty and take a photo of myself taking a photo of myself and to my right are the daffodils I had received that year.

P1110881On my return I was pleased to see that the shoots had not died off in the cold weather whilst we were away but they had prospered and grown. The picture here is of them in the sun this morning. I’m so looking forward to them blooming whilst today I just enjoyed cycling in the sunshine on my way home from work, even if it was cold, and seeing the sunshine on the neighbouring buildings out of the window.

Christmas Part I, or what we did in our holidays


This week I returned to Strasbourg from three weeks in the UK, seeing family and friends for Christmas and seeing the New Year in. If there was a theme for the period it was that we generally did the undoable.

dante%20gabriel%20rossetti%20lady%20lilith%20core_0The first day was spent looking round Walthamstow and the market, particularly to the good value store, and then on Friday we went to the Tate to see the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition. There were some fabulous paintings, a lot featuring women with long red hair, and I learned a lot about the movement, particularly on the impact they had on art, I hadn’t known before they were influential upon the Impressionists. The rest of the day was spent in London before meeting up with a friend who had recently left Strasbourg for Walthamstow.

searchSaturday saw us leave Walthamstow, via the fantastic and well worth visiting William Morris Gallery for more red-headed women, furniture wall paper etc, and headed to the Barbican for Complicite’s version of Bulgarkov’s Master and Margarita. Despite there having been earlier stage versions of the book it was held to be unstageable. Well it was three hours of fantastic theatre and definitely bought the story to life on the stage in an engaging and interesting way, was well acted and the time flew by.

Then I was with my parents for a week and JTO braved the flooding in the west country to celebrate Christmas with her mother, the first time we have been apart at Christmas for almost two decades! I went to see Reading FC play Swansea which was a dire game but they did what had largely been undoable for them before and avoided losing. After a really good night out in Reading with some friends and JTO going to visit her newly arrived granddaughter it was off to celebrate New Years Eve.

St Luke’s Summer


According to the Oxford Dictionaries website St Luke’s Summer is “a period of fine weather around 18 October (the saint’s feast day).” That is certainly what we’ve been having recently here in Strasbourg. Today the weather was sunny and the temperature reached 23°, it has been warm for the end of the week and it is forecast to last into the beginning of next week. It is wonderful seeing the sun so late in the year, people are sat outside cafes and you can go out without a coat, although being France, every French person is still wearing a scarf although there is no need.

Getting up in the dark is no fun but seeing the dawn break is a consolation, as can be seen from the first photo above. The second picture has the Protestant Seminary on the right and the church of St Thomas, sometimes known as the Protestant Cathedral of Strasbourg since the return of the city to France in 1681, behind it. The building on the left is a block of homes and the people on the foreground are standing on St Thomas’ bridge.

Finally, another picture taken at dusk on the banks of the Ill as the sun sets. Being seen as something of an interloper people are always asking me, do you like living in Strasbourg? Then I just think about these views as part of my daily journey to and from work and there really is only one answer. The sun shining in October is an added bonus. Thank you St Luke. I don’t know what you did to earn the sun and good weather around your day but it is welcome, now time to go to Franchi for the best sea salt caramel ice-cream, the definition of to-die-for.

Roll on Spring


A beautiful week so far (That’s bound to finish it!) and all the talk is of spring. Though I ‘m not sure if this one I saw seemed not to have got the lack of overlap between the season and the food:

To show I was onto this a week ago here is a picture of a tree coming into blossom from a week ago. It is outside the Council of Europe:

A final picture from Quai des Pechers this morning  where there is Strasbourg;s beach without any sand and in the distance the twin spired Eglise St Paul: have just caught up with the weather and been out filming you can see pictures of the beautiful city and beautiful Strasbourgeoise out in the sun here.

le grand froid


On Wednesday I worked in the northern part of Strasbourg, Robertsau, which has its own micro-climate. I have gone there at times when there is no snow elsewhere in Strasbourg and snow has been falling there. One person joked that it is the fall out from the paper factory which used to be in the area. The weather in the area was the same as in the rest of Strasbourg ‘le grand froid,’ cold. As you can see from the first picture the Canal de Marne Au Rhin is frozen solid in this stretch. The first of the houseboats is also a clubhouse for Strasbourg’s motorbike club. Another belongs to a friend. The bridge behind the boats, Pont Pierre Brousse, just about obscures the massive lock behind it which leads out  into the northern part of Strasbourg’s port and from there onto the Rhine.

The second photo shows the ice had been broken and then re-frozen, in this instance the piece of wood and the light making it into a nice pattern.

The third picture shows the Parc De l’Orangerie across the Canal. The tree in the middle, with the light shining through it, has been pollarded and in about a month each of the branches will offer a base for the nests of a family of storks. There is a zoo in the park and their work to preserve the bird of Alsace has seen the numbers increase significantly in the period I have lived in the city. Just to the right of the tree is the spire of the Cathdrale and next to that the chimneys of the pavillon Joséphine, which in Summer also have Storks nesting on them.

I have written before about the prevalence of Coypu in Strasbourg. The fact they have no animal which preys upon them means there are a lot of them around the city and you often see them, They are also amazingly tame and unafraid of humans. This one looked a bit fed-up that, because of the ice, it could not be swimming in the canal.

The next picture is of the Euro-district in Strasbourg. From the right there is the Agora administrative building of the Council of Europe,(CoE) then the Lord Rogers designed European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) building. Facing them across the canal is the old ECHR building, which now hosts the IT department of the CoE, which was designed  by B Monnet, J Aprill, Papillard Architects. The CoE building designed by H Bernard is just visible before the block of flats which houses one of Strasbourg’s finest institutions, Chez Franchi. Between the ECHR and CoE the building of the European Parliament can be viewed in the distance.

The final picture shows the ECHR with the eponymously named tram stop in front of it. In front of that is someone with a case before the court who is living in a tent, not something I would fancy in the weather.

Vote early, vote often


One of the things I like Twitter for is that it allows people to share things that are interesting, challenging or just a laugh. In the past I wrote about my accumulated Management wisdom, which amounts to:

  • Do it now,
  • Get it right first time,
  • When something’s not right it’s wrong.

This blog has had a manifesto since it started but it doesn’t have a mission statement, I don’t really think it needs one. If it did then one way to get one is the ISMS Mission Statement Generator©. I don’t know who pointed me towards it but it has created a mission statement for this blog:

We will strive to sponsor iconic e-business with internal impact for the benefit of our organisation and other public services.

Then this week I was pointed to the web economy bullshit generator. In the past I have studied management theory and other similar subjects and this would have been invaluable. So, we need to “…enhance sexy e-commerce, streamline real-time e-services and aggregate bricks-and-clicks ROI.”

The weather for the past couple of weeks has been beautiful here, as many places. The first picture is of the cathedral taken from rue d’Austerlitz, next to the Au Canon restaurant earlier this week. The blue sky shows what a beautiful afternoon it was, in the high twenties as it seems to have been forever. However, at the same time the trees have started changing as can be seen from the second picture where a brown leaf made it into our hall.

As I wrote about just over a month ago, I am a Germanophile, and my study of the language included taking part in an exchange with a pupil from a school in Osnabrück. It was on these two trips that I discovered the pictured biscuits which are a couple of plain ‘rich tea‘ type biscuit as a sandwich with a chocolate cream between them. They were not regularly available in the UK at the time. The times I have been to Germany since I would often buy a packet of the biscuits. One of the things I noticed on moving here was that the biscuits were available in my local co-op. I have been very restrained and have not bought them regularly as when I do I tend to eat a number each time which would not be good for my weight. Thursday I did buy a packet. I have never had a poll on this blog before. The first one is on the subject being talked of up and down the country. Vote, vote, vote. Oh, by the way it is set up that you cannot vote often.

Spring has sprung!


One of the good things about living in Strasbourg is that there are clear seasons.  As I posted here only a couple of months ago we were under the snow for what seemed like weeks.  The winter is dark and cold.  People I know are tired, succumbing to illnesses and generally worn out.  Last weekend was the Strasbourg carnaval which aimed to drive out the Winter.

As the pictures from the carnaval show the day was beautiful and sunny.  The weather has continued in the same vein since and it seems as if Spring is upon us all at once.  Where there were just bare branches there is the start of colour.  The first picture taken on the way back from some work this morning whilst waiting for a bus in Robertsau shows some yellow shrubs on the side of the footpath and in the distance a tree with pink blossom.

One of my favourite places when the sun is shining is Esplanade.  It was somewhere I spent quite a lot of time the Autumn I first arrived and I didn’t come to appreciate the wonders of the angularity of the buildings, the whiteness against the blue of the sky and the colours closer to the ground. This second picture is from Esplanade with the yellow and pink blossom on the amorphous shaped trees against the white blocks of the buildings and the blue of the sky reflected in the darker blue at the ground floor of the building on the left, and where it’s in the sun the blue is almost singing.

The avenue through the centre of Esplanade is something of a living gallery of sculpture designed by the artist J M Krauth as part of the artistic decorations along what was then tram line B but is now C and E.  Each piece is mounted on a coloured bench and you see in the picture above the contrast between the blue and yellow benches, the warm brown of the artwork, the pink blossom further on and the white of the buildings and the blue of the sky.  The line of trees on the right in the middle of the avenue mark the separation between the tramway, which is in the middle of the road, and the road.

The picture above shows other trees coming into pink blossom and further trees lining the road showing where they have ben pollarded and there has been further growth last year.  The staff from the council’s green spaces department, I do think that’s so much better than the Parks Department, were at the top of the road pollarding other trees so it won’t be long before  these have been trimmed before their Spring growth starts and when in leaf they offer wonderful shade along the street in the Summer.

The last picture is from closer to home, just about 200 metres away.  This tree is the first locally to flower and it lifts the heart as you pass it on the tram in the morning, especially like today against a blue sky with the sun shining, although as this was taken this evening its a bit darker!

The title comes from what I thought was a Spike Milligan poem but thanks to the wonders of the internet I discover is an anonymous American poem to be delivered in a New Jersey accent:

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where the boidies is

The boids is on the wing!
Don’t be absoid!
Da wings is on the boid!

Vigilance orange


Today has been for the snow and risk of ice(verglas) across all the Bas-Rhin but before the snow started falling the threat for the last few days had been from flooding.  The level of the river through the city and the many canals around it are, of course, used as part of managing the level of the Rhine.  It surprised me going past Bassin Dusuzeau earlier this week on the tram at how high it was.  The Bassin leads straight into the Rhine.  Then yesterday it was back down to its normal level whilst the river Ill was really high.  As the picture of the local paper, the DNA, headline outside my local shop illustrates.(The Ill rises, the number of Batorama falls)  Here’s the story from a screenshot of their website. (Nasty times for Batorama – which, because of the high water level,  has only been able to travel around Strasbourg for eight and a half hours since the beginning of December and it is probable  it will not do so again this year.)  Batorama provides a tour of Strasbourg on the rivers and canals.

This week has been a delivery success with three out of four items we were waiting upon being delivered in a timely fashion.  It started yesterday when the receipt for my Bageo arrived so I was able to take it with me to one of my workplaces so I can claim reimbursement for it.  This morning the December issue of The Word arrived so I will have to with me to read whilst travelling to Cyprus next week and then when I went out earlier to collect my new reading glasses they were available.  The only thing which were not delivered was a present from the nice Mr Metz (which will not be missed as we have supplies in and it will provide us with something to look forward to on our return from Cyprus) but La Post tried to deliver something yesterday and by the time we went round to our local Post Office this afternoon it had closed for Christmas, so it looks like we’ll have to wait until Monday to collect that package.

The pictures on this page come from when I went out earlier to collect my new reading glasses.  The first shows the weir by the Pont de l’Abattoir where there are usually one or two of the sluices open but today there were four.  Last night the water was also coming over the top of the lock gate, the last outlet on the extreme left before the path.  The path is usually all visible but the water is up so much that a large part of the path is submerged, right round the Grand île.  The second shows a novel and season space-saving device at DIY shop Mr Bricolage.  The third picture shows the view from on Pont Kuss looking up Rue du Maire Kuss towards the station.  The fourth picture shows the view standing on the Pont Kuss looking up the river towards Eglise Catholique St Jean and the Place Des Halles. The last picture is looking from the Faubourg National tram stop across the Pont National at the snow bedecked roof of the Eglise St. Pierre Le Vieux with the buildings in front of it that also front onto the river.  If you imagine the Christmas decorations in the street alongside the church are similar to the one just visible next to it, above the tram.  It shows they are of a slightly different quality to the ones on Faubourg National.  I took the picture standing on the tram rails and the driver of the tram coming towards me, on the left, lent on his bell to get me out-of-the-way.

Christmas (Baby Please come home)

The next to the last video in my musical attempt to get me feeling more Christmassy.  As you will see from the picture we now have our tree up with a “rather camp” decoration around it done, and described, by JTO.  In the top right hand corner of the picture is the star from Sweden given to us by my brother.  Buying a new bulb for this is what took me to Mr Bricolage earlier – not one of my usual hang-outs but a place I’ve met more people I know than almost anywhere else in Strasbourg!  It does feel a smidgen more Christmassy but not lots.  To try to help here is what I think is probably the second best Christmas record ever from the Worlds best Christmas album ever, ‘A Christmas Gift for You’, the Phil Spector Christmas Album.  It has been something of a tradition for Darlene Love to sing the song on the David Letterman show and here’s the version from this year.  What will be the Worlds best Christmas song ever?  Tune in tomorrow pop-pickers to find out.


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