Hey, gang of less than three. How are you? All well I hope.
What’s that you say? “Cliffy, you haven’t posted for a week or two. Tell us what you are up to? Has your life been banal and non-productive or, have you achieved anything of note? And how is BLD (Boris Lock Down) going.”
Well, seeing as you – somewhat rudely – ask……
For freelancers and the solo self- employed (C’est moi) it’s still Bridget Jones size pants out there and quite challenging. But let’s not dwell. The glass is permanently set at three quarters full in Cliffy World and, compared to others; I have nowt to complain about.
The first thing I did when I returned from Jersey two weeks ago was to go straight to Runners Need and buy a pair of HOKA Clifton 7s. I’d done the research and my good buddy, James, who works at Runners Need, recommended these shoes.
Although they look like canal barges, the heel to toe drop is only 5mm, which is a lot different to the various shoes I used to wear before I re-embraced minimalist running some years back after reading Chris McDogall’s book Born to Run.
All I can say is that, in the two weeks I have been wearing them, I am more comfortable with the support the HOKAs give me compared to the Nike Frees they have replaced. And I think I am running quicker. I mean I haven’t suddenly got winged feet but I detect a slight turn of speed that wasn’t there pre-HOKA.
With the HOKA barges stowed away in a cabin bag, yesterday I arrived back on the beautiful island of Jersey for a three-week stay. I wasn’t planning to come back until late October but Boris’s latest restrictions in England reducing gatherings to six people (Snow White has a difficult decision to make!!)) made me reconsider.
If you pay attention to both informed and speculative reports, the portent does not look good or, to quote Private Fraser in Dad’s Army – “We’re doomed, Captain Mainwaring, we’re all doomed.” Today it’s no more than six people. Tomorrow, local lockdowns? Next week complete lock down? Curfew’s? Who knows where it will lead?
So, a hastily arranged return and here I am, looking forward to lots of running, swimming and DIY and future planning and navel gazing. And meditation. Yes, I shall embrace meditation. Well, let’s face it: Meditation is a lot better than sitting around doing nothing!!
When BLD was in full swing on the mainland, Jersey closed its borders in an attempt to contain the pandemic. The restrictions weren’t quite as drastic or dramatic as they were in the UK (for example islanders who wanted to were still allowed to swim in the open water whereas pool and open water swimming was banned in the UK). All commercial flights and ferries were cancelled and the only way on or off the island was as a medical emergency or for compassionate reasons.
In July, with the measures deemed to be working here and on the mainland (well, they were then!), Jersey re-opened its borders to let people like me in and BA and EasyJet reopened their routes. Tourism and hospitality on Jersey desperately needed support and a boost, and a very efficient, controlled Track and Trace system, enabled a relaxing of restrictions.
Entering the bailiwick of Jersey under Covid restrictions is an interesting experience. In my last blog I mentioned that I had to have a Covid test on arrival and that I would perhaps write about what happens on a separate blog. I didn’t expect to come back so soon but here’s how they do things here: –
The day before my trip I had to register on-line my intent to travel. On arrival at Jersey airport I had to present a QR code and then agree to a Covid test there and then.
I could have declined the test but then I would have had to self isolate for 14 days and make my address known. Had I elected that course, I could have been visited at the declared address at anytime. Unlike professional athletes who have to declare where they are at any one time for drug testing, and are party to a three strikes and you’re out system, had I been absent just once, a fine of £1,000 could have been imposed (and I might have been banned from competing at the Olympics. Heading the shot and catching the javelin are my best events!)
If you haven’t had one, and would like to know, the test itself was straightforward and efficient. At Jersey airport, a fully PPeed person checks your name and date of birth, opens a pack pack and takes out a swab about six inches long. You open wide and the swab is pushed in as far as where your tonsils are, or would be if you had any, which I haven’t.
You get a five second brush around on both sides, which, in my case, made me gag and cough into the face of the girl doing the test or, rather, the full plastic visor which covered her face and the mask beneath it. “Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I am so sorry. I couldn’t help it.” “No worries,” she said as if it happened all the time, which, she informed me, it does.
Pending the result, I was advised that I could go out but to avoid gatherings until it came through, which it did at about 7pm last night. It was negative so I had passed. I do believe that is the second test, of any description, I have passed in over 30 years, the first being the same test I had here four weeks ago!
My nervousness was not whether I had Covid-19 but, if someone sat near me on the plane had tested positive, that person and those around them would have to self isolate for 14 days.
Fortunately that call from Jersey’s Track and Trace didn’t come and I have been free to roam. And roam I intend to do.
Within the current restrictions, or when a safe vaccine is produced and we are truly free to roam ungoverned, I would urge all of you to visit Jersey. It is such a beautiful little 9 by 5 miles island. Good food, great beaches and a great ambience – I guess you could call it a Staycation of sorts. That was certainly the view of many tourists when I was here a few weeks ago. I have never seen so many British registered cars on this island.
On the swimming front, on Monday I had another great session with Tracey and Pam at SwimMastery. I now have lots of exciting new drills to practice. A few friends have asked me what the point is. After nearly three decades, and a half decent portfolio of swims in the bank, what is behind this strange – yet typically Cliffy – decision to learn how to swim?
Well, you know if you haven’t seen someone for a while and they have lost, like, three or four stone and you go, “Wow, check you out, how did you do that?” So, I have this surreal image of a day in the future when a swimming buddy, who I haven’t seen for a while, says, “Wow, check you out. When did you go and learn to swim?”
Truly, though, that’s not why I am deconstructing to reconstruct. Nice as that would be, I’m not after salutations. Well, hardly any. Maybe a few, then. OK, just one. Anyone. Will just one person say, “The boy did good!”
No, I’m doing it as part of a journey of self-discovery. A – how efficient can I become? A – can I develop a synergy and cohesive swim stroke that looks effortless but is very effective and deceptively powerful?
Let’s see shall we? Let’s see what happens. Do you remember the start and end of Pretty Woman? There’s a man walking across the road shouting, “What’s your dream? Everybody gotta have a dream.” My website is called Thimble D.A.R.E. D.A.R.E. : – Dream. Achieve. Revisit. Empower (and Enlighten). The day I stop (day)dreaming is the day I start to grow up and realise some untapped potential. Whoa, there. What the …. Where did that come from? Never stop dreaming. Never stop aspiring. When ‘they’ say, “Why?” you say, “Why not? When they say you aren’t good enough, show them you are. Like YEAH!!
So, there you have it. The mundane mutterings of a man on so many missions he is yet to differentiate his arse from his elbow!!
Take care out there and, if you are in England, keep to gatherings of six (sorry granddad you didn’t make the cut! Yes, I know grandma did but she doesn’t break wind and drop her false teeth in the soup like you do. Honestly, it’s beginning to scare the kids!).