Friday, August 28, 2009

77 years old and Arrrrggggghhhhhh

So here we have it, my Dad on his 77th birthday said that he liked what Shilpa and I did so much yesterday that he'd like to have a go himself. I was amazed at how calm he was but then when you look closely you'll see the vice like grip on the handles and his attempt to avoid a heart attack while still keeping his teeth in.

Great sport Dad, well done.

Can you believe it, he said he preferred paragliding (another of his recent exploits). My Mum thinks he's lost his marbles.

From the BungyCam

From the GrannyCam


In Paris at the Fun Fair, I suggested to Shilpa that we might try something a bit more exciting than the Ferris Wheel...

Taken from the BungyCam - Mad or what?

Taken from the GrandadCam

Next day was my Dad's 77th Birthday and guess what he decided he wanted to do to celebrate it? That'll be the next post. Have a chuckle at our expense with this one first.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

France - Friends, Family and Birthdays

Shilpa had arranged to meet Beatrice and her twin boys while we were in Paris. Beatrice & Bernard were part of the Twins Group in KL when they were based there. They are now back in France. We really miss them but it was wonderful to catch up, especially for the girls.

We met at the Jardin des Plantes, near to Notre Dame and just a short walk from the Batobus stop. They have a Zoo there too, the boys (including me just loved it).

Shilpa and Beatrice - good friends are hard to come by.

I wonder who these too rather curious young chaps are?

Later we met up with one of Shilpa's college friends, Chandani, at the Eiffel Tower. We left the girls to it, Grandma and Grandad went off for a well earned rest (in preparation for Dad's 77th birthday dinner) and the boys went on a horse buggy ride - AWESOME.

"Hey Seb, these horses are flippin big aren't they?"

Later that evening we celebrated Dad's birthday - here he is looking very cheerful and philosophical.

Mum making sure everyone was behaving.

Shilpa and Chandani getting stuck into to the wine.

Dad getting stuck into his bucket of beer. He was feigning shock at the size of it but then he didn't seem to have any trouble putting a few of them away - I guess it was his birthday after all.

As you can see Shilpa and Chandani were having a rather fun time and rather a lot of wine. This is what they looked like before we'd even finished dinner.

Happy birthday Dad.

When it came to bedtime, Grandad knows best and there he was assuming his role as the responsible Grandad with Sid and Seb obediently following. Impressive stuff.

Happy birthday Grandad, night night all.

We were all leaving the next day, the end off our holiday boo hoo boo hoo! Grandma and Grandad back to England and us back to Kuala Lumpur. What a great holiday and a lovely note to finish up on.

Shilpa stayed out on a bit of a girls night out with Chandani while Daddy did the dutiful thing and babysat the boys.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fresh Air Fund

Hi Simon
I wanted to write you a quick note to let you know that our 2009 Fresh Air Fund-Racers completed the NYC half marathon and raised a whopping $80,000 this summer! We are really thrilled and just wanted to thank everyone who supported us. I've posted some photos onto our Facebook page here:
Please become a fan if you aren't already. If you'd like to share this wonderful news on Tritwins or on Twitter that would be great. Our twitter handle is @freshairfund. Please shoot me back the link if you do so I can share it with the rest of the team.
Thank you so very much,
Sara Wilson, Fresh Air Fund

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

France - Paris

Sadly and very reluctantly we had to leave Sam and Carmen and travel to Paris. The consolation was that we'd be seeing Grandma and Grandad (my Mum and Dad). Also Shilpa had planned to meet up with a couple of her friends too.

Having checked in, we met Mum and Dad and then headed straight out to the Eiffel Tower. The queues were as usual enormous but we decided that since the weather was so wonderful and we had so much to do in the three short days that we had in Paris, we'd wait it out.

Mum and Dad took one look at the crowds and decided it wasn't for them so they took leisurely stroll while we battled to the top.

Paris is one of the most, probably the most beautiful city in the world.

Views down the Seine towards Notre Dame.

Champs Elysee.

Shilpa and the boys.

Me and the boys.

Afterwards we met up with Mum and Dad and walked to the Seine, with the plan to take the Batobus. This is a cool tourist boat/taxi that takes in all the sites up and down the river.

Brotherly love.

Mum and Dad a.k.a. Grandma and Grandad enjoying their boat ride with their daughter-in-law, grandtwins and little baby son (me).

We hoped off the Batobus at the Louvre, had a bit to eat and then you guessed it (no not the Mona Lisa) - the funfair. Daddy and the boys hitting the Ferris Wheel. Spot the support team.

Blackpool Tower?

The Louvre and the Pyramid.

Oh what joy, the boys found a Sport Car Ride - they were in heaven.

Happy families. Waiting for the Batobus to take us home - everyone is getting pretty tired by now.

A beautiful model agreed to let me take her picture with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Simon Says: - When we were riding on the Batobus we saw a man throw himself into the river. It was all very traumatic.

We later found out he was in-Seine

Confessions of a running addict

(Courtesy of Angela Burkart and the Telegraph)

It appears I'm in denial. There I was, smug at how much running I do, gloating that Government diktats on healthy living don't apply to me. But apparently I'm no better than a heroin addict. Scientists reported last week that "excessive running shares similarities with drug-taking behaviour".

One expects this kind of thing about extreme sports, whose devotees relish the association of being called "adrenalin junkies". But the researchers were talking about running, the same activity encouraged by virtually everyone in the health industry.

They found that too much of it sparks a reaction in the brain that is similar to heroin – and it is just as addictive. It gets worse. Sudden withdrawal can lead to trembling, writhing and teeth chattering.

Writing in the medical journal Behavioural Neuroscience, the researchers found that a desire to get off the sofa and shed a few pounds can quickly become as compulsive as Class A narcotics. So mild exercise like jogging can develop into a serious triathlon or marathon habit. "Although exercise is good for your health, extreme exercise may be physically addictive," they warned.

Tell me about it. My story began with a simple desire to get fit. I signed up to the London Marathon. Like many people, I found the mix of camaraderie, excitement and finish-line euphoria a heady cocktail – and I was hooked.

Once the blisters had healed and the memory of painful muscles had subsided, I had one abiding thought. What next? Before I knew it I was on a one-way slippery slope to harder stuff – ultra marathons, five-day, non-stop races and extreme triathlons.

In what has become a familiar rite of passage for thousands of Britons, I signed up to the Marathon des Sables, a 150-mile run across the Sahara desert. This is where City boys, the SAS and the likes of Ben Fogle come to test themselves.

A behavioural psychologist would have had a field day among the 600 entrants; many have addictive personalities. In my tent was a former alcoholic ex-para who'd swapped booze for extreme physical tests. He told us proudly how he'd once done 10,000 sit-ups – in a day.

Rory Coleman is typical of many reformed characters who've done the race. Fifteen years ago, he was an overweight alcoholic with a 40-a-day smoking habit. Told by a doctor that he'd be lucky to make 40, he traded the pub for a pair of trainers.

Three months later, he ran a half marathon, then a year after that the London Marathon. Since then, the 47-year-old has clocked 619 marathons. A normal week sees him running 100 miles. "I'm somebody that needs exercise," he says. "I don't ever intend to stop. But I'm not addicted to running," he claims. "I've just made it a part of my life. And it's a positive thing – have you ever met a heroin addict who says they enjoy it?"

Mimi Anderson, 47, says her friends often comment that she's just swapped one addiction for another. For fifteen years she suffered from anorexia. Now an "ultra-runner", she regularly competes in marathons in excess of 100 miles. Last year she broke the female John O'Groats to Land's End running record, covering the 840 miles in 12 days and 15 hours (averaging 65 miles a day).

Like the rats that were denied exercise in the study, she says she gets twitchy after a week of no training. "Normally I run seven days a week, but my husband has told me I can only do six. He gets really cross with me. I've just got back from one race and I'm about to do another. It is an addiction," the grandmother concedes. "But it's a healthy one."

It's also highly intoxicating. In the endurance athlete bible, Survival of the Fittest, Dr Mike Stroud explains how opiate drugs like heroin create artificially what the body produces naturally. In other words, if you want to get high, forget heroin, take up running.

The cocktail of drugs the body produces include the pain-relievers endorphins and dopamine (also produced during orgasm), the anti-depressant serotonin and the "fight or flight" hormone adrenalin, which increases strength and concentration. It's quite a cocktail.

When the finish line of the Marathon des Sables came into view after running 150 miles, it was as though someone rammed a needle of adrenalin in my chest. One minute I was hobbled over like an early hominid, stumbling on bruised, battered and blistered feet. The next I was like Usain Bolt, sprinting to the finish line, arms aloft.

Extreme running can also induce the same effects of amphetamines. Last year, 48 hours into a non-stop (no-sleep) race across Ireland, I started hallucinating. A team-mate had to drag me away from jabbing a rock with my walking pole. I was convinced it was a deposit box full of money.

This brings a novel argument in the debate against drugs. No one has stood up and pointed out an uncomfortable truth, that they're a poor substitute. A cocaine high apparently lasts a mere 15 minutes. Big deal. After a race, I can be high for days, surfing on a wave of euphoria.

But as the researchers found, withdrawal leads to a comedown: depression, apathy, listlessness. Like the rats in the study, I'm suffering from it at the moment. It's been a while since my last big event, a 100km run around Mt Blanc, and I'm starting to crawl up the wall.

There's a 280km run across the Alps next month that takes my fancy. Or maybe the Ben Nevis Triathlon, a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, and a quick run up and down Ben Nevis. That should sort me out. Yes, there may be an addictive element to all this. But recently I was told by a doctor that I have the lungs of someone ten years younger. As addictions go, I can think of worse.

Simon says: - I'm not addicted, I can give up anytime I want, honest I can...I think, well maybe...whatever!

Monday, August 24, 2009

France - The Burkarts & Tignes

Angela, Markus, Nico and Sven were soon to be off home so we all met at the local Hotel and one of Sam's favourite watering holes for a lovely evening of dinner and drinks.

The boys all looking well behaved although the terrible twins did start making a bit too much noise as the evening progressed.

Sven and Siddhart

Nico and Sebastian

Angela and Markus

Sam and Carmen

Just before Angela left and as she and Markus were packing up the last bits and pieces, Shilpa and I took all four boys on the local tourist "train" around town. Probably one of Sid and Seb holiday highlights. We finished it off with pizza and ice-cream of course. Then we said bye bye to the Burkarts and has just one more day at Sam's paradise home.

On our last day we decided to go and have a look at Tignes. In the winter it is a Skiers Mecca but in the summer the whole place is set up for families, hikers, downhill mountain bikers (crazy - they have to wear body armour) - however you can still ski on the glacier on top of the mountain - coll or what?).

First of all trampolines - Seb doing his stuff

Sid performing at his best

Next onto the bouncy castles and blow up rock climbing - how come I never had these things when I was a lad. Sid and Seb were in heaven. (So were Sam and I, as we snuck off for a couple of cold beers at this point).

Big Slip

(Courtesy of Dave Clenton)

I can't believe this is real but hey it's a hoot and I bet you watch it more than once.

Friday, August 21, 2009

France - The hills are alive...


Now tell me this isn't straight out of the sound of music or what?!!! Sam took us on a drive just 10 minutes from his house for a walk to a little village that is cut off by snow in the winter and can only be accessed by ski's, snow shows and Yettie's.

Oh golly, just look at this...I'm going to have to say gorgeous again.

Sam also doubles as the local priest here (just kidding, he's a choir boy actually).

Words escape me!

Sam and I actually had a competition to see who could stand in this stream the longest. He laughed like a drain as I squealed in pain and leap out after about 30 seconds - IT WAS FREEZING!

How about this, not only on glaciers, Shilpa can find chocolate cake even in remote villages cut off from the outside world. Some might say she has a problem, she calls it a gift!!!

That's my boy - no doubting who his dad is.

And another one.

Check out the waterfall - nature at its best.

On the way down.

I feel like bursting into song.

The intrepid hikers.