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It Feels Like Sunday

2 Nov

Well, it kind of does. Patrick has been off work for two days, as he has an exam tomorrow and is revising/watching Dexter with me. Over the weekend, I went to Newcastle for a fun weekend with my baby sister, who goes to university in the city. It is so crazy the idea that she has a city that is all hers, and that she shows me around! I absolutely fell in love and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants an affordable weekend away, or a trip to Europe on a budget.

I went on a nice almost-four-mile walk this afternoon, scaring myself silly because I managed to venture into the woods where it promptly got very dark. I convinced myself that every shadow of a tree or crack of a twig was some kind of axe murderer coming to get me. It was a really fun route, though, and I’ll definitely give it another try earlier in the day!

While walking, I listened to a radio documentary about a city called Maywood in California. The city had got to such a state of disaster, financially-speaking, that they had to sack all of their staff and contract out the work. One of the reasons why things had got so bad was the fact that they were reliant mostly upon sales and property tax for revenue, while the majority of their inhabitants were domestic staff or builders of Mexican origin, seriously feeling the hit of the recession. It was a desperately sad situation – there was no way for them to increase revenue because the local residents just didn’t have it to give. It made me feel terrible for the children who grew up in the area – what hope would they have for the future? How would they break the cycle that they were born into, by no fault of their own?

It made me think of the occasional resentment felt by the South towards some areas of the North, and of Scotland, for the feeling that we are down here generating revenue that is spent by the government up there. One of the people interviewed for the documentary expressed that the only possible ways out of their situation were to open a casino, like a nearby town had; or to obtain funds at state level, obtained through taxes. I think we can safely guess which would be the favoured option at the moment, and an increase in taxes to help a city where half the population was born outside the US isn’t likely to be it.

If we’re meant to look at these situations and thank our stars that it’s not us, then I thank them twofold. I’m grateful that my parents are the hardest-working people I know, and I’m grateful to live in a country where, had I been born to a different family, it needn’t have set out my path in the way that it appears to in some. Of course, we can all find examples of those who rose from extremely humble beginnings to excellence anywhere in the world, but for many places, they are truly exceptional. Here, unless there’s a massive clerical cock-up, you will have a roof over your head, a meal in your belly and medical treatment.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you feel that your area provides equal opportunities, no matter what your background? Do you think that it should, or is improved opportunity something we leave as a legacy for our children?

In other news… I got a positive pregnancy test result yesterday morning. We’re so delighted, but I must confess that I’m nervous as hell – every second that I don’t feel sick, I’m convinced it’s because there’s something wrong again. The terribly sad news about Lily Allen has meant that miscarriage has been a big news topic today. I can’t imagine what the poor girl is going through, and it makes me grateful as anything that my own miscarriage was comparatively straightforward. Fingers and toes are firmly crossed for a successful pregnancy this time.

I’ll leave you with a pretty picture of some exceptional artwork of mine (if you’re on a slow connection, please don’t wait for it to load; it’s not actually good). I’ve been checking out this HDR malarkey on the iPhone and I’m not convinced – it has a real tendency to flatten pictures. I’ll let you be the judge.

Please bear in mind that I have no formal training in politics beyond a big crush on the boy who represented Conservatives in our school debate club, so if I have missed/misunderstood something, please be gentle with me. These are musings, opinions and observations, not statements.

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Is Something Chasing Me?

13 Jul
Because that’s the only time I ever run! Ok, this isn’t really running, just a light jog, but this morning I got up, left the house at 6 and did 5k. I’ve been faffing around with Couch to 5k programmes for so long and getting absolutely nowhere, so I thought I’d take the advice of the title of my latest blog crush, and just Shut Up And Run!
I seem to have reasonable stamina at low levels of effort, so I figured I’m just going to focus for now on getting my 5k jog up to a reasonably respectable 5k run. To do this, I did 500m warmup, jogged for 2.5km, turned round and jogged back for 2.5km, then 500m cooldown. Simple enough! I suppose what I’m hoping for is to get to the stage where that feels really natural, and so I can push myself a bit further.
So… Here’s the data! I’m not sure how exactly MapMyRun.com figures out what a lap is, but I haven’t managed to find a better site for this purpose yet.
Lap # 1 – 1.70 km; 14.30 minutes; 6.84 km/h
Lap # 2 – 1.62 km; 12.23 minutes; 7.06 km/h
Lap # 3 – 1.66 km; 13.14 minutes; 6.91 km/h
Lap # 4 – 0.85 km; 07.58 minutes; 5.80 km/h
Total – 6.04 km; 52.51 minutes; 6.74 km/h
The route I take is absolutely beautiful – there’s a canopy of trees that make it almost faerie glen-like. Once the new phone arrives (Carphone Warehouse rang to inform me that they believe that the delivery driver has stolen the one that I was due to pick up today…) I will be sure to take some pictures to share. Maybe even ones of my post workout face, รก la Chocolate Covered Katie. Hmm… We shall see.
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