2020 Review (Andrew)

You can review stats and try and work out patterns to improve your training. How far did you run. how fast did you swim? Was it faster or further than a month ago?

If you want you can dig down further and check power and heart rate. You can consider zones of training and recovery time and whole host of metrics designed to make even a simple jog round the blog into a carefully monitored scientific experiment.

“Are you off for a jog, dear?”

“No, I’m heading out for a zone 5 steady state session with five times maximum power intervals followed by a CT scan and X-ray!”

Or you can take a more simple view, like I’ve done and ask one simple question: did I beat Iain? And, yes. Yes, I did. You can see his lesser stats here.

Hello, Outer Mongolia (Andrew)

According to internet search stats the biggest increases in search terms during 2020 were for “how to grow tomato plants” (up 300%), “weights” (up 200%) and “face mask for sale” (up by over 5000%, an increase normally only seen on Halloween by people who’d forgotten a costume for a fancy dress party). While lower down the list “dog for sale” was closely followed by “puppy for for sale” and then “horse for sale”. Which makes me think that somewhere, someone is currently looking at an Arabian Stallion in their living room and wondering if they may have just been a little bit rash when the Chihuahua’s were sold out.

“I’d like a dog please!”

“Sorry, we don’t have any dogs.”

“How about a puppy?”

“Gone too. But can I interest you in a three year old jump racer?”

“What the hell, you’ve got a deal!”

But just as people were looking for plants to grow and pets to love there were a few other things which benefitted from a lockdown bounce and one of them was Wild Swimming – as every loch filled up with people desperate to swim while pools were closed. And while the lochs were full there were also a lot of people looking for information about where to go as we noticed a big boost this year in our visitor stats as TwinBikeRun was viewed over 10,000 times and by far the most popular posts were about wild swimming.

Top 10 Posts:

It was also great to see the number of countries that visited us this year (in a COVID safe, non-travelling, visit over the internet and not in a superspreading global pandemic creating way). We had vistors from most of Europe, North America and parts of Asia and South America. Africa was a notable gap but I assume that when you’re wild swimming consists of dodging hippos and crocadiles then reading about the danger of not wearing the right wetsuit when the temperature drops in a Scottish loch is hardly going to cut it.

Countries

And while the majority of visitors were from the UK (over 9,297 of them) it was great to see the countries where just one person had visited us because it kind of suggested that one person checked out the site and went “no, never again, this is not for me!”.

Also, during a pandemic, it suggested that there were genuine visits from other countries and it wasn’t just our Mum on a world tour checking in from every country she visited. With no one travelling anywhere, then each visit had to be from someone we didn’t know. So, hello to Ukraine, Brazil, Iceland, Pakistan and a big shout out to our one and only visitor from Outer Mongolia!

2020 was a difficult year for everyone. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve not been directly effected by COVID and we’re both in jobs where working from home was a possibility throughout lockdown. And while working from home we were also lucky to be near so many great spots where we didn’t break COVID laws (and tried to keep within the guidance too!). We hope you enjoyed the stories, that you found the reviews helpful and that you have the chance to run, bike or swim happily in 2021 too!

Reading 2020 (Andrew)

On 4th October 1957 the singer, Little Richard, saw God. He was on stage in Australia when he saw a light streaking across the sky. He immediately renounced his rock and roll ways and for the rest of his life he dedicated himself to the Lord or Sputnik, as it was more commonly called because, that night, Little Richard un-knowingly saw the launch of the first satellite into space.

That satellite also inspired an ex-Nazi scientist in America to go on TV and tell Walt Disney that America would win the space race as part of a publicity blitz by the American government to fire a rocket designed by a Satanist following the teachings of Alastair Crowley and Albert Einstein. A sentence I never thought I’d write but it is one which is completely true. A Nazi built a rocket designed by a scientist who worshipped Satan and thought he was destined to be the Anti-Christ. I hate to think which candidates NASA rejected.

“Hello, I work with small children and fluffy animals and I just want to make sure they are happy!”

“Weirdo, next!”

“Hello, I cure cancer.”

“Pervert, next!”

“Hello, do you accept Satan as your lawful masters and worship the great beast, Cthulu, and all it’s multi-tentacled nightmares from space?”

“You’re hired!”

The history of the twentieth century as explained by John Higg’s book ‘Stranger Than We Can Imagine’ is the story of how history can not be viewed from one angle but can only be glimpsed from a hundred different stories, all equally true. In a series of linked chapters he explains the impact of Einstein’s theory of relativity on art, politics, science and culture and the idea that there are many perspectives led to rock and roll, the internet, a man on the moon and the shattering of empires. You can find it here: Stranger Than We Can Imagine.

I think it had an impact on me because I’d just finished an article on the same topic – relativity, not Hitler – and how different perspectives change the way we think about laws. I’ve included it below because of all the things I’ve written this year, this was one I was most proud of. And the fact that it’s themes tied into my favourite book was just a nice coincidence to end the year.

Runners Up

Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey

One. Two. Three. Four – Craig Brown

The Last Policeman – Ben Winters

Things I Learned From Falling – Claire Nelson

Article

Have you checked with Paisley? What about Gretton & Reid? I think McAlister might have something to say about this.”

When I started as a lawyer in a busy property team at a large national firm I’d hear conversations like this every day. At first I wondered who these people were. I’d not been introduced to my new colleague, Mr Paisley, on my first day. Were Gretton & Reid partners on another floor? And while there was a McAlister in the IT team – I wouldn’t trust him to switch a computer off and on again never mind seek his opinion on a rent review clause, so it couldn’t be him, could it? 

Every day I’d hear those names and it was only a couple of weeks later after checking the internal directory and drawing a blank that I realised that these were not people, they were books. No one referred to books by their title. No one said, “have you checked ‘Servitudes and Rights of Way’, ‘Conveyancing’ or ‘Scottish Law of Leases’?”. Instead, books were called by the author’s name. Which I thought was nice. It was friendly. It felt like I knew them. And this was a personal link to not just current authors but also such big names as Stair or Erskine. These weren’t just law books; they were a glimpse into the minds of the men that wrote them.

And I use “men” deliberately because, all the way back to Roman times, property law has almost exclusively been written by men. The institutional writers were men. The main textbooks we read each day are by men. There are very few textbooks by female authors. And there are none as far as I’m aware by a BAME author. Instead we have many, many books written by white men – myself included as I have written three textbooks and currently edit ‘Rennie’s Scottish Conveyancing Legislation’.

I understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to gain experience and confidence to write a textbook and this will inevitable favour older lawyers and academics who are more likely to be male. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t help the future along by questioning if we have a problem with how we talk and write about property law. 

I believe that ‘law’ is not just the legislation issued by government but also the textbooks, commentary and articles that help flesh out and explain it to lawyers and the public. The best textbooks and commentary help us understand ‘the law’. They fill in gaps, they reconcile differences, they suggest changes or they show how laws work in practice and not just on the page. This very journal is a great example of that – it helps lawyers apply the law to all the different situations that arise when you deal with clients, with people. 

And those textbooks, commentaries and articles are only enhanced if lawyers with different experiences are heard, particularly in matters relating to housing and property where peoples experience of ‘home’ or, in light of the land reform agenda, ‘community’ are very different depending on their gender or race or background. The law is a mirror. Yet in conveyancing it only reflects one view. 

I believe it is vital we start to wrestle with the issues raised around the lack of diversity in how we talk and write about property law. This is particularly vital as we move to home working and as new trainees and lawyers grapple with learning the basics of property law and conveyancing in living rooms and kitchens rather than with colleagues in offices. They rely more on textbooks and commentary and the diversity that they may have received from working with colleagues in offices will be missing from their bookshelves at home. We can and should do more.

As a start, I have set myself the goal of adding a co-editor to ‘Scottish Conveyancing Legislation’ and I will be actively looking for individual contributions from under-represented groups to review existing commentary and to work on new comments on future legislation. And, as a next step, I publish this article with the hope that by publishing it I can start a debate as to whether such changes are required and, if so, what more can we do to ensure the property law in the twenty first century reflects all the people who work in property and all the clients who rely on it today.

Listening 2020 (Andrew)

A BREAK FROM TRIATHLON. HERE’S WHAT I LISTENED TO LAST YEAR. NEXT WEEK: WHAT I READ.

According to Spotify my most played artist of 2020 was Taylor Swift. While I’m pretty sure that shows why you should never share your Spotify account with your wife – especially given Kylie was number two and Madonna was number three – it was close. While my most played artist of 2020 would not have been Taylor Swift I can say that my favourite song of 2020 was by her – The Last Great American Dynasty.

The song tells the story of Taylor Swift’s former home and the owner who lived there before her. It’s witty and catchy and sad and triumphant. And I love it because it sounds like a song that could have be written by The National but the fact it was by Taylor Swift showed just how great she is because while the National might have been able to write this song (and one of their members produced it), they could never have written Shake It Off. That Taylor Swift writes both shows exactly why she was both my wife’s favourite singer and my favourite song of the year. Let’s see Bon Ivor tray and write the likes of “She Wore An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”.

But Taylor Swift wasn’t my greatest Spotify discovery this year that goes to the moment that I was looking at my wife’s playlist that she’d set up for her colleagues at work.

“Why have you got the ‘E’ version of all the songs?” I asked, “that’s a bit bold.”

“What do you mean,” she said, “it’s the excellent version.”

“No,” I said, “it’s the explicit version.”

Sweariest mutha****ing playlist ever.

According to Spotify I listened to over 3000 new genres this year and I can believe it. As I’m working from home I have music on all day and I usually switch on random playlists trying to pick things I’ve never heard as I like to work with music in the background that I don’t know. I find it less distracting than to hear songs I love. I also prefer faster music so I’ve ended up in some strange dance and techno playlist culdesacs which make my home working sound like a trendy clothes shop. I can’t say I’ve saved any of the songs to my favourites but it doesn’t make for interesting background to calls as BOOM I BOOM try BOOM to BOOM switch BOOM it BOOM off BOOM to BOOM hear BOOM BOOM my BOOM BOOM BOOM call.

Instead here are the other songs I’ve loved this year (ignoring anything which was a hit as you probably know them already (though big thumbs up to Harry Style’s Golden).

Sufjan Stevens – Sugar

In any year the man with the initial S.S would be the winner of album of the year. But not this year, well, at least not this S.S monikered man. For the winner, keep reading.

Carly Pearce – Next Girl

A song which could equally be about a serial killer.

Arab Strap – The Turning of Our Bones

And one for his victims.

Orville Peck – Dead of Night

Kanye West – Souls Anchored

Almost makes you want to listen to his Sunday Service album, then you listen to it and remember why sometimes it’s best just to stick to the one good track…

Yes – It Can Happen

U2 – Every Breaking Wave

Taking a break from playlists I also tried to listen to every album by an artist in order. I started with U2 and was surprised to find that some albums I loved have aged horribly – Rattle & Hum should have been a three song single – but others are much better with time, particularly Age of Innocence which was given away free by Apple and then deleted by half the world who didn’t want to wake up to find Bono crooning to them in their ears. This is probably the best song they’ve written in twenty years:

Sturgill Simpson – Sing Along

And the award for album of the year goes to Stugill Simpson for ‘Sound and Fury’. The only thing you need to know is that he’s the only man to ever be nominated for both best country and best rock albums and this song inspired one YouTube comment to simply say “Damn, if I knew country music sounded like this I might actually listen to more of it!”. Funk? Country? Rock? Grunge? Best album of the year.

Watching 2020 (Andrew)

A BREAK FROM TRIATHLON. HERE’S WHAT I WATCHED LAST YEAR. NEXT WEEK: WHAT I LISTENED TO.

The last time I was in a cinema was in March, just before lockdown. I say cinema but this was no ordinary cinema. It was a luxury cinema in London with chairs that reclined to form a double bed and popcorn that came in a sealed packet so that you knew it hadn’t been scraped from the floor. Very fancy – though not as tasty.

I was watching ‘1917’, a film about a soldier who is tasked with getting a message to the front line, a simple plot. Man gets message. Man try to deliver message. Man leaves card and says he’ll be back tomorrow. Or something like that. It was back in March and I can’t remember exactly what happened, it was two lockdown’s ago.

But I do remember this: just as the soldier was about to reach the front line, and we’re about to see whether he can deliver his message in time, the man in front of me picked up his jacket and walked out. He didn’t even look back when he got to the door just in case he could see whether the message was delivered. Instead, he’d watched two hours of a soldier walking and running and getting shot at and trying his hardest to deliver this one message and that man couldn’t give a monkeys.

At Star Wars he’s be like “Luke, I am your – “

“Nah, not interested.”

Or the Sixth Sense:

“Hey, Bruce Willis, you do know you are a gh—“

“Couldn’t give a toss.”

On the other hand, he’s probably never seen the last episode of Game of Thrones so he still thinks its the greatest show he’s ever seen – and he’s definitely going to call his daughter “Daenerys”.

Looking back now, I think he had the right approach. Leave it open. Keep the mystery. Always want more. A very apt attitude for 2020 where everything – work, life, the future, the present, the ending of 1917 – has been left hanging like they’re the unworn shirts in my wardrobe since I started working from home in March.

It seems appropriate then that most of what I watched this year involved continuing series: which were all great for different reasons but all had stories which continue after I finished watching them. Better Call Saul and The Expanse I’m looking at you.

So, instead I’m going to recommend a programme which could have continued but didn’t after the BBC pulled the plug on it after one series. Which was actually a perfect move because ‘Giri/Haji’ already had a perfect ending. And, before that, a perfect final ‘confrontation’ which you will either like a Strictly judge “love, love, love it” or you will get your coat faster than my London friend. In between you’ll get the tensest thriller, a Guy Ritchie villain, scenes which play like a sit-com, episodes mostly in Japanese, parts in anime, parts in black and white, and a moment when you can see two characters fall in love just by looking at each other across a table. It was brilliant. I loved it.

Runners Up

Chernobyl – bleak and horrifying but better than watching the news

Schitt’s Creek – just, well, nice. Double nice. Triple nice. Lovely.

Eurovision – see Schitt’s Creek but with catchy songs

The Vast Of Night – if you love 1950s sci-fi then this pays loving tribute to small towns and UFOs

The Lighthouse – just like growing up in the Isle of Lewis.

Race Around The World – couples race from one end of South America to the other. Broadcast in March in the middle of lockdown. I can only imagine the disconnect I felt watching people on holiday and surrounded by strangers is the same disconnect Donald Trump feels every time he switches on the news and hears he hasn’t won the US election.

The Mandalorian – “Hey Mando, what’s that protein drink you’ve got there?” “It is the whey.”. “Thanks, Mando!”

Devs – a science lesson disguised as a thriller

Avoid

I’m Thinking of Ending Things – I only wish I’d ended it a lot sooner. Like at the start. Or never switched it on at all. Avoid.

Outdoor Swim Review: The White Loch In Winter (Andrew)

Iain TwinBikeRun modelling this year’s must have open water accessory: frost bite

This looks like Summer but this photo was taken at the end of November and it was Disney movie weather – frozen! You could see frost on your hair as sweat froze on your forehead. Yet, with the blue sky, it at least looked good in the photos.

The White Loch is just outside Glasgow and you can find our previous reports here along with details on where to go and how to park.

White Loch – First Visit

White Loch – Where to Swim

For this addition I would add the following information.

What make it ideal for winter swimming? The entrance and car parking is right beside the road. This is important because as soon as you get out of the loch you can get back to your car in less than a minute. Or, if you prefer to hang around and have a cup of team while wrapped up warm, then there is a nice flat spot at the loch’s edge to set up camp.

What make it less than ideal for winter swimming? The car parking is right beside a relatively busy road. So, while you try and strip from boots, gloves, vest, wetsuit, hood and swim cap there will be plenty of people passing and looking at your papa smurf like body – bright blue. On the other hand, it does give you an incentive to get changed quickly and to duck into your car for a nice blast of the heater.

Any tips for swimming? Stick to the edge and, if you do get cold, you’ll never be too far from an easy to access shore.

Overall: A good location for a winter swim but don’t be fooled by the photo at the top – it doesn’t look like this on every other day of winter.

Training for Celtman 2021 – November (Andrew)

This month I have climbed:

  • Col de Soudet
  • Cote De Revel
  • Port De Bois
  • Grand Colombier

And I’ve not left my house.

November is normally a wet month with few opportunities to ride outside so it was good to have a challenge to keep myself interested in spending 60 – 90 minutes sitting on a bike and not moving.

What was even better is that by not moving I don’t have to experience how tough it is to climb an actual Grand Tour mountain or “Col”, particularly when I don’t have 35 degrees of a baking sun one my back or – the biggest problem of all when climbing: no training!

Back in 2013 we climbed the Tourmalet. One of the Tour’s most famous climbs. I say climb but the best we managed about a kilometre before getting picked up in the sweeper’s van during that year’s Etape Du Tour race – a one day recreation of a Tour de France stage. We’d already climbed one mountain, albeit very slowly, and this was to be the second. But it was a failure. However I don’t look at it as failure. Failure suggests there was a chance of success. We were never going to be successful because we had no idea what we were trying to do. You might as well as your pet cat to round up sheep or ask Gerard Butler to use any accent other than his own. While technically possible, neither are ever going to work without considerable work and a whole lot more thought and planning. 

We didn’t plan and we certainly didn’t think – my sole thought was “Dougie, did this so we can do it too”.

Don’t worry if you don’t know Dougie, I didn’t really either. He was a guy I worked with on a university project when I was studied for an MBA in 2009 and 2010. He spotted me cycling into the university one day and told me that he was also a cyclist. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was the equivalent of me driving into the university in Ford Fiesta and bumping into Lewis Hamilton who said “Do you like driving? I like to drive too”.

Dougie, I found out later, used to take one way train trips to England just to jump out in the Lake District so he could cycle round the Lakes – and then cycle home. Wow.

He would cycle 50 miles or more on a mid-week night and I would think I was on the same level because I cycled 15 minutes to get home from work. 

During one class he told me that he’d taken part in a race which allowed you to ride the route as the professionals in the Tour de France. I thought it sounded brilliant and immediately checked out how to apply. What I didn’t do was check out the route or work out how high an actual Alp was. I thought it was a hill, not a mountain, and no higher than some of the hills around Glasgow. And even when I checked the elevation and saw that we would be climbing higher than Ben Nevis, I still had no idea how high that would be because I’d never climbed Ben Nevis. 

Ignorance is bliss – until you find yourself climbing an Alp for 10 minutes and expecting it to take half an hour, only to find you’ve still got two hours of climbing and you’re half a day behind everyone else. Ignorance, then, is stupidity. And the end couldn’t come fast enough on the slopes of the Tourmalet.

So, this month in preparation for the undulating roads around Applecross, I’ve been training for height by taking on various virtual climbs. I’m not keen on spending 2 – 3 hours on an indoor bike to try and get the distance needed to train for Celtman, instead, I’m swapping distance for metres climbed. Longer rides can wait for Spring.

Not So Smartbells (Andrew)

The one thing no one warns you about when you buy dumbbell weights is how heavy they are when you pick them up. It might seem obvious to you. It may seem obvious to anyone but, the first time I bought a set of weights, I had not thought at all about how I was going to get them home.

I was in the final year of university and decided that it would be good to have a set of weights in my flat to use between studying. I lived on the edge of Glasgow city centre and thought I could pop into my nearest Argos, about 20 minutes walk away, and get a cheap set of weights. It was a simple plan for someone with a simple mind because…

They gave me a box. And in that box there was a set of weights and those weights weighed at least a tonne. If not two or ten. Because no one buys dumbbells in order to lift weights they can already manage. You buy weights that you can grow into and that can be increased as your biceps bulge.

Nor had I thought that the weights would be the total weights of both bars. I thought I could lift 10kg in one hand so I’d bought a 30kg weight set – 15kg for each hand. But now the set was in one box. So it wasn’t just 30kg, it was 30kg plus packaging and a large unwieldy box.

And I then had to carry this awkward package from Argos back to my flat, an easy 20 minute walk without weights. A trip through hell with weights.

Firstly, no one lifts weights for twenty minutes. You curl, you release. You put them down and have a wee break and a sip of water. Then you pick them up again. You don’t lift them for 20 minutes.

Not that it was 20 minutes. On the way in it was a 20 minute carefree, arms swinging, song in my heart kind of walk. On the way back, I couldn’t walk one minute without nearly dropping the box on my toes as I struggled to lift it across a street. Within two minutes my arms felt stretched like home made pasta. Everything ached. I couldn’t find a comfortable position to carry the box. I tried both hands, I tried under one arm. I even tried carrying it on my head like an Italian grandmother bent back from the fields of Tuscany. Nothing worked. I’d bought more weights than I could lift.

And what was worse was that the weights were in a box. To any passerby it looked like I was struggling with an ordinary box. There was nothing to indicate that I was trying to carry home an elephant wrapped in cardboard. Instead, I look like the very guy that someone would come up to and say “I think you need to work out!”

I did. But I couldn’t cause I couldn’t get the flipping’ box home with me!

Eventually, I decided to risk splitting the box. I took out the weights and, hiding behind a bin so no one saw me, I put the weights together and hid one in a bush and carried the other home. I then had a not so wee break and a gallon of water before going back and bringing the other home. Luckilly, it was still there but that was probably because no one could lift it.

And, once I got them both home I put both them under my bed and never touched them again for six months because my arms were as weak as a plastic bag handle when you’re trying to get a big shop home from the supermarket.

So, let my lesson be your lesson if you’re thinking of getting a lockdown weights set to avoid going to the gum. If you’re going to buy weights make sure you know how to get them home.