Category Archives: Uncategorized

My First Squid Game (Andrew)

Either you will instantly recognise the image above and be glad you don’t have the umbrella, or it will mean nothing at all. The only difference is whether you’ve watched Squid Game on Netflix. If you have, then you know exactly what happens when you have 10 minutes to to carve out the triangle with nothing but a needle – a challenge known as Dalgona in South Korea.

The triangle itself if made from melted sugar and baking soda. You melt the two together in a frying pan and then pour the mixture into small discs. You then press a cookie cutter lightly into the surface to create the shape to be cut out by the player.

The player’s challenge is to then cut it out without snapping the shape.

However, if you want a real challenge, don’t just try and cut the shape out of the cookie – you need to eat it too.

WOOOOOAHH!!!!

Sugar RUSH!!!!

I have never taken class A narcotics but I can’t imagine that crack cocaine could be as good as pure sugar mixed with baking powder. A combination that requires a dentist on hand before you even take a bite.

BLIMEY!

It tasted good.

If you want to try it yourself then I found this video really helpful with tips on how to make it.

And if you want to recreate Squid Game then I’m afraid you’re going to have to find your own guard with a gun to stand over you – sorry, I can’t help you with that one!

Alloa Half Marathon 2022 (Iain)

Four years have passed since the last time I ran the Allow Half Marathon. You can read (linked below) about my previous attempt to run it…and my attempt try and find anything interesting to say about Alloa.

The course had a new start and end point. So unlike previous years it did not finish next to a supermarket. Which meant I did not get my shopping done afterwards. But other than that, the change meant there was more of a start village and a better finish line.

To get to the start I used one of the provided shuttle busses. There is lots of parking in Alloa and the bus only took 10 minutes to get to the start.

Once at the start there was the usual long toilet queue. Please, will race organizers actually figure out how to manage a toilet queue! Its not difficult, just have a couple of folk who know where the toilets are and point everyone at them. In this case the long queue was because no-one in the queue knew there was actually a number of different toilets in the venue so everyone was queuing for just one.

This meant I was still in the loo at 0859. The race started at 0900. I managed to get to the start in plenty of time which means my watch must be telling the wrong time!

The route had changed slightly but nothing major. Starting out of town was quite nice as it got some of the boring road section out of the way early.

I had done al ot of training during the week and I had an injury. So I wasn’t expecting a great time. My hope was sub 1hr 50min but I’d have accepted anything up to 1hr 55min.

I felt fresher than I thought I would be and I ended up completing my run in sub 1hr 45min…just. 1 hr 44min 55 seconds.

Andrew beat me by 30s but he had rested before the race. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

The finishers goodie bag contained a t shirt, a medal and a covid test kit! I’d have preferred a Mars bar.

Overall, its an enjoyable race that is always a good test of Spring fitness.

Review: Serious Reader Lamp (Iain)

My eyesight isn’t very good. It’s not as bad as Al Pacino’s vision in Scent Of a Woman but it is getting towards a Mr Magoo level of poorness. Thankfully I’ve not crashed my car… yet!

I suspect anyone reading this who understands either of these references is also old enough to be experiencing similar vision related problems.

My vision has deteriorated to the point where I am unable to read a book at night. As the low light means I struggle to get the letters on the page to focus.

I tried every fix I could think of – turning on all the lights, using a Kindle, reading whilst wearing a head-torch.

None of them helped. After a few minutes the words would go out of focus and I’d have to stop reading.

So I threw money at the problem! I decided to spend more money on one lamp than I have spent on all the lamps I have ever bought in my life. I bought a serious reader lamp – https://www.seriousreaders.com/

And all I can say is that is worth every penny I paid for it because for the first time in years I can now read in the evening. I can read for hours without any eye strain or issues. It is life changing. Since getting it at Xmas, I have read four books. That compares to the zero books I read before Xmas.

This review is not sponsored by Seriousreader but if they want to send me a free lamp then please get in touch!

PS – Once you buy the lamp I recommend you try it out with the excellent book Twinbikerun by Twinbikerun https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twinbikerun-Norseman-brothers-attempted-triathlon/dp/B09T61XGMK

My first swim (Andrew)

I can remember swimming, but I can’t remember learning to swim. Instead I remember trunks and towels. 

We would swim on holiday in the small Perthshire town of Aberfeldy. It has a sports centre with a 25 metre pool and every day on holiday we would go for a swim. We would get ready by grabbing our towel, folding it lengthwise in half and the rolling it up with our trunks inside. We’d then carry it under out arm up to the centre. We’d then unroll it, get changed and then repeat again on the way home – except this time our armpits would get wet because we’re carrying a soggy towel and trunks. 

We never thought to use a bag. There was no need, once a towel was rolled up with your trunks then you didn’t need anything else. Not even goggles because for some reason our Dad didn’t believe in goggles. “You don’t need them”, he’d say, “If you duck your head under the water, it’ll sting for a minute but you’ll soon adjust.”

Which was okay for him to say as he only had one good eye. His other eye was damaged due to an operation in his thirties to cure an aneurysm. It was an operation that was so medically advanced he spent the rest of his life with doctors saying “I’ve never seen that before!”

He would start swimming without google and then say “you’ll get used it!”

We didn’t.

I could never put my head under the water. I still struggle now when water gets into my goggles. I need to stop and clear it.

But I never got goggles. It never occurred to me. I was learning from my Dad so I just did what he did. Even if he was medical miracle who thought he was Aquaman and I was a boy scared of getting his head wet.

Today, I always wear goggles but I still keep my trunks in a rolled up towel.

Book Review: The Runner by Markus Torgeby

“Ultra-distance runner Markus Torgeby was just 20 years old when he headed off into the remote Swedish forest to live as a recluse and dedicate himself to his one true passion: running. He lived in a tent in the wilderness, braving the harsh Swedish winters – for four years. This is his story. “

It was a rubbish story.

End of review!

But if you want to know why I didn’t enjoy it…

It says he lived as recluse in the wilderness but writes about how he visited his local town regularly, he writes about how he enjoyed it when his friends popped over for a beer on a Friday night and he writes about how he didn’t just live in a tent. He had a comfy bed. He got bed by popping back to the a fore mentioned town and asking the local hotel for one of theirs to take back to his tent/cabin.

I admire his achievements but his exploits are not as reclusive and as inspiring as the sales pitch made it out to be.

Score: 4/10

Master-Race Report (Andrew)

It tricky to know what to do when you wake up in the morning in your flat, walk downstairs and find your ground floor neighbour has added a swastika to their front door. I can understand adding a nameplate or perhaps a seasonal wreath but a symbol of Nazi power is a different matter entirely. Of course, it could have been the Indian symbol of peace but, when confronted with a swastika, my first thought is not to think these people mean well. Especially not when it was drawn on the door in blood.

What was worse, being British, I would have just ignored it and hoped it would go away by the time I got home from work. However we had people coming later that day for a second viewing of our flat. The first people to do so in five years. We’d be trying to sell it through the post 2008 recession and had it on the market twice. This was the first couple who’d not dismissed it after one viewing. We could not have them see a swastika as soon as they walked in. 

“What’s that?” they’d say while pointing to it.

“Indian symbol of peace?” I’d suggest while they make their excuses and leave.

I needed to do something. But what? I thought of knocking on their door and asking if they would remove the swastika themselves. But then I thought what if it was a genuine Indian symbol of peace. Would this be like asking a Catholic to remove their cross? Perhaps I should check first: I could say, “Is this symbol more ethnic or ethnic cleansing? 

And what if they said it was ethnic? Could I then ask them to remove it? I’m not sure I could, it would be culturally insensitive. So, I did what anyone would do in the circumstance. I grabbed a paint pot, a brush and decided to paint their door. Luckily, their door was white and I had white paint as otherwise they would open it and say:

“Can’t wait to see the swastika we created last night! If we just open this door we’ll see – what a minute, where’s the swastika? Where’s my blood? Was it this door we used? Don’t tell me, we got the wrong door. Check the kitchen! And, wait, was our door white?!”

It only takes me a couple of minutes to paint the door. The whole time I’m doing it I’m worried they’ll open the door and I’ll have to explain why they’re interrupting me mid-stroke. A mid-stroke interruption only slightly less embarrassing by your mum catching you mid-horniness. 

“What are you doing?” They’d say.

And I then have to explain we had a flat viewer coming and I’ve already said how embarrassing that would be – having to talk to my neighbour. But now I’m doing so while carrying out some guerrilla DIY.

“Just giving the hall a lick of paint,” I’d say, and then I’d have to paint the whole hallway and every door to keep up the pretence that I wasn’t just trying to erase their swastika. 

“Also,” I’d add, “it’s because of the symbol.”

“The swastika?” They’d ask, because if you’re going to paint a swastika in blood on your own door then I imagine they’d be pretty up front about it. It’s not the move of someone who’s shy and quiet.

“Yes, the Indian peace symbol,” I’d suggest because I’d want to give them a way out of the conversation.

And they’d say “Heil, Hitler,” while saluting. 

And I’d say, “Heil, Hitler,” just to be polite. 

Then the two of us would probably paint another swastika because I’d be too afraid to mention the first one again. Except this time they use my blood because they still feel a bit faint from yesterday’s swastika.

That’s the thing about daubing hate graffiti onto porous surfaces, you need a lot of liquid to leave a mark, which is something they don’t teach you in the Hitler Youth camps, it’s all marching and saluting and very little about basic decorating.

Luckily, the door didn’t open and I was able to make it all white while trying not think of the irony of that while erasing a symbol of white power.

If I had been caught, I suspect that my neighbours would have not thought I was a mutual admirer of the Fuhrer. Instead they would probably have thought I was Jewish. Many do. It’s because I have a big nose. Which sounds racist. I’m saying that people think I’m Jewish because I have a big nose. Which suggests I think Jewish people have a big nose. But I’m not the one making the comparison. It’s the people thinking I’m Jewish because of the nose. They’re the racist ones. Especially the Jews. 

(I’d better explain that comment quickly!)

I was on holiday before lockdown when a group of Hassidic Jews approached me. We were queuing for a tourist attraction with Asian tourists in masks, a few black families and a number of Hassidic Jews. We thought nothing of them until they came over and said “Shalon, brother!” and then tried to talk to me as if I was part of their tour group. I wasn’t. But my nose made them think I was. Racists!

It wasn’t the first time either, at work, a senior partner would always ask me for directions to the Jewish cemetery or if I knew how to get to various synagogues. Again, I’m not Jewish, but my nose is or at least people think it is – and think I am! – until they catch me with a paint pot in front of a door with a recently daubed swastika.

Races 2022 (Andrew)

Celman Solo Point Five

No long distance races for me this year. Not that there were any in 2020 or 2021 but I did train for Celtman in both those years and would have taken part in them then if it wasn’t for that pesky COVID closing swimming pools. This year I don’t want to commit to that level of training again so have picked a middle distance race as my main race this year. Even better, it’s a middle distance version of Celtman with the added benefit of a bike route that takes in the famous Beach Na Ba climb. I’m really looking forward to this one.

Cairngorm Ultra Trail

A departure and a long shot. I’ve entered an ultra race along with a friend from work. I don’t know how this one will go and whether I’ll even enjoy training for it. But it’s good to try and challenge yourself with races you’ve never attempted before.

Others

Race Report: Kirkintilloch 12.5k 2022 (Andrew)Kirkintilloch 12.5k

Bucklyvie 10k

Loch Leven Half Marathon

And, when (and if they open for entries this year): the Hebridean Triathlon and the Forth Road Bridge 10k.

Race Report: Kirkintilloch 12.5k 2022 (Andrew)

12 hills in 12 kilometres

In 2002, ex-fireman Lloyd Scott took over five days to complete the London Marathon wearing a deep sea diving suit weighing an incredible 130lbs. I used to think he was crazy for taking on the marathon while dressed like a submarine but, after running the Kirkintilloch 12.5k on Sunday 13 February 2022, I’m just jealous.  I wish I I’d worn a diving suit while running through some of the puddles/newly formed lochs on the course.  The race was held in Marti Pellow weather: wet, wet, wet.

About the race:

The Kirkintilooch 12.5k is a hilly loop around the northern edge of Kirkintilloch. It’s held on quiet country roads except for one small section through a housing estate. Even though the roads are open, it feels like a closed road race, you only see a handful of cars.

This year was the fifteenth anniversary of the race, though only the 14th time it’s been held. That’s what a global pandemic does to anniversaries – it makes years disappear. The race number were also confused. The numbers had “2020” printed on them. So, the 15th anniversary was the 14th race run under the banner of 2020 in 2022.

About the course: 

The course is a loop with a challenging up and down profile of 12 hills in 12 kms.  You can find out more about the route here from our previous reports: here, here and here

How was it?

Did I mention it was wet? 

The problem with 12 hills is that you also have 12 ‘valleys’ and those valleys quickly filled with puddles so deep they could have been French philosophers. The rain didn’t stop, the water flowed down every hill and it was difficult to avoid the thought that there must be better ways to spend a Sunday morning than running outside in Kirkintilloch: maybe diving into a pit of snakes or brushing your teeth with a brillo pad or running a marathon while wearing a diving suit… all would be better options.

The other side to the rain was the cold that starts to seep through your body unless you keep your legs and arms pumping. All my fastest times in races have happened while it’s been raining. I think rain makes you run faster. Usain Bolt may have run the fastest time ever for the 100 metres but I bet you that Noah was a pretty decent sprinter too when the rain started to fall.

Should I run it?

Absolutely. It’s a great race, very well organised and, most years, relatively dry. But if it does rain then just bring your flippers and a snorkel.

Web Stats 2021 (Andrew)

Hello Western Samoa!!!!

We had one reader of one article on one day of the blog from one of the smallest countries of the world. All I can say is that I hope you found the review of the White Loch in Newton Mearns useful as you contemplated the c20,000 mile round trip it would take to get there. Good luck – and welcome!

For everyone else, we had another successful year of the blog with more readers, more views and more jokes that ever (regular readers may disagree). Thank you very much for reading, it means a lot that anyone would read any of our posts. That nearly 20,000 people read this last year is amazing as that’s almost 1 in 10 of the population of Western Samoa!