Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The holiday

I am 30 this weekend. Despite my mantra of "thirties are the new twenties", I still thought it was only right that OH take me away for a surprise birthday weekend somewhere lovely to celebrate. I have been subtly ('wouldn't it be great to have a weekend away at some point this year?') and not so subtly ('look at these flight times') suggesting that taking me away was the right and proper thing to do. All of my newly 30 year old contemporaries have been taken away. One to New York, another Prague, another Rome, a fourth to New York again. Everytime I see the photographic proof on Facebook that someone else has received a surprise weekend away, I have chuckled with glee and rubbed my hands together as the evidence grows. Everyone is doing it. OH would be a bad boyfriend if he didn't take me anywhere.

I had decided that I wanted to go to France. Having only ever skied there and not really having experienced the France of Peter Mayle fame, I thought it would be fabulous for us to have a few cheeky little days away: long walks through the lavender fields; lazy brunches in a quaint village where we would charm the locals with our amazing linguistic skills; sunny afternoons in the vineyards quaffing the Chateauneuf du pape - you get the picture. So OH had quite a lot to live up to with my expectations being so high. So high in fact, that I decided I would book everything myself. The irony of the 'surprise' element of this birthday trip makes me laugh every time.

You may wonder what on earth this all has to do with triathlon. I am getting there, honestly. You may even already see where this one is going.

Despite my quite specific daydreams of what I wanted from this trip, I had not decided exactly where I wanted to go. Suddenly OH became quite interested - piping up now and again with his suggestions of where to go. What about Provence, he said? (I'm not sure why this hadn't occurred to me weeks ago bearing in mind my Mayle visualisations - I had been looking at Cannes). I did a quick bit of surfing, found a few gorgeous chateaux, and yes! We were going to go to Provence! It was like doing a deal with the devil. Once I had signed on that imaginary dotted line I had given the green light for OH to cycle Ventoux.

Ventoux, notorious for its gruelling gradient, is one of the most famous stages of the Tour. OH assures me it is like a mecca for cyclists. It would be like me spending the day shoe shopping with Carrie Bradshaw, he tells me, as if to try and convince me that to not let him cycle it would be a crime against humanity. How can he not at least attempt it if we are going to be staying only a few kilometres away? His puppy dog eyes widen. But don't worry - I am a hardened negotiator in these situations. OH and I have been away on way too many holidays together for me not to have guessed there was some triathlon-related intention behind his willingness to suggest a location for our trip.

So. The deal is this. OH can cycle Ventoux if we get to stay for an extra day (I had only been planning a 3 day trip). And we have to stay in a luxury chateau. And he really ought to get me a small birthday present for me to open on the day, alongside his funding this trip. He will get to cycle, I will get to chill by the pool with a book. With the thoughts of Ventoux-shaped glory in his eyes, OH readily agreed. In fact, he called me today to say that he has officially purchased the 'small, on-the-day present'. Result. I have tangoed with the devil and I think come out with a pretty good deal.

And to be fair to him, he has delivered. Our hotel looks beautiful - lavender fields abound with french wine and cheese featuring prominently on the dinner menu. We have a turret room (if only I had long hair for a Rapunzel re-enactment). I am very, very excited and cannot wait to go. Even with the Ventoux blip.

Of course, depending on when you are reading this, you will know that at the moment we're not going anywhere. Volcanic ash courtesy of Iceland is keeping all planes grounded in the UK. I will be so disappointed if we don't get to go. But OH probably even more so - his new nemesis, for the moment at least, just out of his grasp.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The dream

Woke up this morning with that slightly uneasy feeling you have when you know you've had a terrible nightmare but you can't at that minute remember exactly what it was. The most common ones I have follow the same theme. I am either: a) back at school about to take my History A-Level, b) back at university about to take my finals exams or c) standing outside a nightclub wearing nothing but my night dress. With the first two, I am shocked to find that I just haven't bothered revising. This is very unlike the real me. With the third, I can't work out how to get home and change. So not exactly the same set-up but you can see that my anxieties about not being prepared for stuff shine through even when I'm asleep.

It therefore caused me much consternation when I came to and realised that I had been dreaming about triathlon and was experiencing the same feelings I have with the exam/nightclub scenarios. Don't worry, I tell myself, you've already done the exams and passed. And you're now too old to be going to nightclubs so there is no need to get worried about inappropriately skimpy outfits. So what do I need to say to reassure myself that this dream is not real? It's not even me who features! Stupid me. I glance to the other side of the bed to see him intently reading his Tri magazines and I know I don't need to worry.

But back to the dream itself. As I said, it's not me in the race (thank god, although OH got very excited when I told him as he thinks that I am now receiving subliminal messages to enter a race for myself), but OH. I am anxious that for once he has not properly prepared for the race that he was now running in. To be fair, it was a slightly weird course - one lap of cycling, followed by two laps of rowing and then running, and then three laps of running. I was convinced that OH had simply forgotten to complete the second lap of the rowing/running section. I found myself in my running gear then, jogging alongside OH (yeah, right, quite literally in my dreams) shouting words of encouragement. Oh, and then yelling at him when he took a wrong turn off the course. Having then bumped into some 'competitively supportive' Kiwis on a tube which took you to the end of the course, I forced myself to wake up. I was not enjoying myself. I don't know what's worse - that I'm dreaming about triathlon or the fact that I am now worrying about OH's performance which is not even in my control. Aaargh.

So since the last post, we have had a very exciting time of buying the accessories for the new TT bike (I use the term 'we' here very loosely, you understand. 'Exciting' is also perhaps not the most truthful word). Firstly, it was this very odd looking water bottle thing which I have now learned fits neatly between the handlebars. Apparently putting it here is better than having it in the normal place on the cross bar in the middle of the bike. I appreciate that I am showing my ignorance here by not knowing the correct names for all these parts. However. The water bottle reminds me of something from Lawrence of Arabia, an animal skinned pouch slung onto a camel's back as vast trips are made across the desert. It has a big straw coming out of it. The only time I have dealt with a straw similar in length is at my friend's SATC party - we used them to slug our cosmos without even having to get up from the sofa.

Yesterday we took a 50 mile round trip to pick up the helmet. Please don't laugh. Think Bradley and Sir Chris at the Olympics. Yes, I am talking about the pointy pear drop helmet. I'm told it's going to save OH 30 seconds in a race. Well, that makes it worth the money, I think to myself. My only consolation is that it's black and white and will therefore go quite well with the rest of his outfit. It even comes with its own little hard-shelled suitcase. And because it is TT equipment, it also gets to live in the house with us. Yippee. You can only imagine how secretly thrilled I was this afternoon when OH announced that he now thinks he has all the kit he needs to complete a race. I mean, I'm sure it would have been a physical impossibility to even contemplate entering a race with an old-school water bottle. It will definitely make all the difference.