I never used to read more than one book at a time, but owning a Kindle has made that so much more practical than before, and to think I was so anti-e-books for so long when they first came on the scene!
I’m currently seriously reading 3 books (of course there are other books that I’m X% through, but haven’t opened them in a while)
Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler – The Art of Happiness
Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
Kevin Kwan – Crazy Rich Girlfriend
The first two are an incredibly good book pairing. Reading them at the same time has given me different pieces of advice about the same kind of topic. When I read Sex Slaves: The Trafficking of Women in Asia (Louise Brown) , although the content was very interesting and gave me a lot to think about, it was very one sided. Not in the sense that I wanted to read something condoning trafficking, but in the sense that the writing style was a bit sloppy. Also, some things were exaggerated to an extent that I’d read some chapters and be left thinking there’s no hope and all men in the world are evil, it shed a very negative light on some countries and although it was a documentary on the bad aspects of the slave trade, there wasn’t that ray of hope at the end. It left me feeling quite sad and I wish I’d read it alongside another book that outlined the types of aid going towards combating trafficking in Asia, or showed how women got themselves out of those situations.
Anyway, I haven’t finished either The Art of Happiness nor How to Win Friends and Influence People yet, but I find they are complementary. They both give solid examples of how to lead a better life and be good, caring and compassionate towards others.
If you haven’t heard, one of the big side stories of the Olympics is how Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui came out and told people she was on her period during her race. Chinese women generally don’t use tampons like we do in the UK and USA. Chinese medicine and tradition also advises women to abstain from eating certain foods, drinking cold drinks, eating ice cream and even paddling in the sea, let alone go swimming or enter an Olympic swimming race whilst on their period. Weibo has gone wild, with people asking all sorts of questions about how she did it. Well, she swam with a tampon in.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent an article to my friend about a Chinese entrepreneur who is launching the first domestic tampon brand. Foreign brands have tried, but it’s never really caught on. If last month you googled ‘tampons in China’, you’d probably only find expat blogs telling you to stockpile before you go, or some people telling you where you can find them, but little else, now the world has pricked up it’s ears and noticed this phenomena.
What I’m concerned about is the misuse of tampons. In some places in China, there are still photos glued to public toilet cubicles showing people how to (and how not to) use a ‘western toilet’ (not the squat type).
I can imagine some people placing them in wrong places, reusing them, leaving them in too long, going to the hospital to have them removed, trying to use two at a time, not removing the applicator, cutting off the string and all other sorts of damage and things NOT to do with a tampon. I’m also worried that other brands will develop different flavours of tampons, as they did with sanitary towels, dotted with a few drops of nice smelling fragrance is ok, but the mint ones? They are just wrong and awfully uncomfortable, even painful in my experience!
I really hope the brands that are producing tampons for China create good leaflets and campaigns telling people how to use them properly. Because if people don’t know how to or are uncomfortable using them now, they will just revert back to the 40cm pads. They will in turn never teach their children about correct tampon use and that will be it until the next person comes along and tries to win over a nation.
Now is China’s time to embrace a new product that will, in my opinion, benefit women who use it. When tampons are released, I hope the adverts do the product justice and are informative without losing that Chinese corny cute style like this one with the cute animated rabbits…(omg 42cm!!!)
And I had to include this video, advertising basically a nappy for women on their periods…what shocked me was probably the amount of men in the advert, not the fact that they all have sanitary towels on their heads!
I buy most of my books from charity shops (the rest I buy online). You can get the exact same books for a fraction of the RRP, help a charity and sometimes they’re brand new anyway. I used to rummage through the book sections trying to find a title that caught my eye, but now I have a proper reading list, now I tend to search for books on my list in charity shops, rather than finding random books.
I used to volunteer in a charity shop, and I would always volunteer to put the books in alphabetical order. Here is a list of books I think you will always find in a charity shop, next time you go, see how many you can check off!
Steig Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
Cecilia Ahern – Ps. I Love You
E. L James – 50 Shades of Grey
Dan Brown – Angels and Demons
Alexander McCall Smith – The No. 1 Ladies’ Detectives Agency
During these Olympic games, as with many others, swimming is one of the highlights for me. I like the excitement when half the field is separated by hundredths of seconds and you never know who will win going into the pool.
But what I always find amusing/confusing is the big coats that swimmers wear on poolside before they swim. I used to swim and at meets everyone was in their costume the whole time, maybe we’d put on a t-shirt but never the big jackets and trousers that top level swimmers wear.
Swimming pools are really humid and even in winter, as a lifeguard I would wear shorts and just one t-shirt when on poolside, never a jacket because it gets so hot. These swimmers wear huge jackets, coats, trousers and trainers as if they’re going skiing!
I’m sure the coats have their purpose, to keep the swimmers’ muscles warm before they race as well as advertising for the brands that sponsor them, but you don’t see this in other sports like athletics.
What I also find strange is that when they take the coats off, they don’t even look hot. They never break out in a sweat. What do you think about the swimmers’ coats?
I love Strava, I’ve been using it for over a year now to track my cycling and running sessions and I can’t believe it took me so long to get into it! It records your movements by connecting with GPS and you can connect it to compete in segments (mini races on short stretches of roads) against your Facebook friends, running/cycling club and other athletes. But there are some things which I think would make Strava* even better.
‘GPS connected’ notification
When it’s sunny outside (which is often in summer), I go outside and can’t see the screen well because of the brightness, let alone the little GPS bars in the corner which you need to look at to see if you’re connected or not. If my phone could vibrate or beep to let me know when it’s connected to GPS, it would be good.
‘GPS lost’ notification
Ever been out and had a really amazing split for one of your runs (or a really bad one), then realise that mid-run, your GPS had dropped out and you didn’t notice? Just look at this map, I was doing circular laps on the running track but my GPS thought otherwise. Again, if there was a notification to say hold on a minute while we connect you to another GPS satellite, it would help a lot.
Link heart rate data from Fitbits
I have a Fitbit that tracks my heart rate as well as all the other data, and you can link Strava with heart rate monitors to see your heart rate throughout your activities. But for some reason, Strava doesn’t link the data from my Fitbit.
Best effort since…
Sometimes you do a run or a segment and you know you won’t get a personal best on it because you’ve had an injury, moved country, are having a bad season or any other reason. So I think if you were able to add a significant event that affects your performance and then have a new set of times taking that into account it would be beneficial for people who can’t get those pb’s anymore. For example, with the pollution and conditions in China, I knew I wouldn’t get a pb on my 5km time very easily, so getting a ‘Best 5km time since moving to China’, that would be a great boost.
Extra voice notifications
When I ran in China, I heard other runners’ apps talking to them. While Strava says Distance 4km. Time 21 minutes, 43 seconds. Previous kilometre in 5 minutes, 12 seconds , the Chinese apps said all kinds of stuff!
You’ve just ran 5km, waheyyyy! You’ve ran 5km in 23 minutes and 24 seconds. You ran the last kilometre in 5 minutes 12 seconds. That’s faster than the last kilometre, keep going, you’re great!!
It was a much more personal notification and a lot more upbeat than the computerised Strava woman. There could be options as to whether you get the standard simple notifications, and then extra notifications which could be positive and motivating like the Chinese one, or even slightly negative to get you running faster. Imagine if your running app told you to pick your feet up, run faster or even told you that you’re slower than a turtle!
*I use Strava on a Samsung phone, Android operating system and have a free account
For the second year in a row, I entered the GeoPark Adventure triathlon. The race report for 2015’s Standard distance is here. The 2016 sprint is the first triathlon I’ve done in a year, and I was really looking forward to this race, only a couple of weeks after I’d landed back on British soil.
But unfortunately, this year I was quite disappointed with the event. It is a small event, but I feel it wasn’t organised as well as the previous year and there are still some issues that need addressing to make it even better next year. Most of this post will focus on those niggling errors, because this event has so much potential and I really want to be satisfied next year. It really is a great course and a fantastic triathlon to end the season with, especially when we have the weather to match.
Numbering: Numbers are always written on athlete’s bodies, but they were written on wrongly. Instead of being written on my shoulder and outer calf in a vertical direction (so people can read them) my numbers were written horizontally across my ankle and on the back of my hand. My gloves covered the number on my hand and nobody could read the number on my ankle. Let alone the people who wore compression socks for the run.
Swim: The buoys were a little small and not that easy to spot…also was this year’s swim too long or last year’s too short? As if you compare the times, there is a big difference! Last year the 750m was completed by most in 13-15mins, but this year the sea was calmer and it was 17-19mins for the ‘same distance’.
Bike: The no drafting rule, although important, could not be enforced for this course, before getting out onto the roads, there are lots of traffic lights and athletes do get caught at these and bunch up together at the lights. I saw some plenty of people drafting off others after junctions with lights. Also, it looked like some people did the whole course as a pair, swimming, cycling and running together…is this allowed?
Run: A lot of the parts on the run are narrow paths, and some places had a lot of overgrown thorns and bushes. If they could have been trimmed back a little, it would have been easier when passing athletes. If you need a volunteer to do this, get me a pair of scissors and I will do it!
Cheating: There was definitely some cheating going on in this race, whether intentional or not, there was someone who cut off a whole corner of the swim, and looking at the results, it seems that no penalties have been added. If you are local and know the roads, there are plenty of places where you could veer off and skip out sections of the course, including the big hill in Galmpton at the end. Although there were marshalls at the half way point of the run, there was nobody checking that when you ran down that last set of stairs, instead of running on to Broadsands, you didn’t just run straight back up again. It’s frustrating when you play by the rules, and you see others that don’t…and then realise they haven’t even been penalised for cheating. “Goodie bag”: The goodie bag is usually one of the highlights of a race, although not everyone will admit to it, I look forward to seeing if I’ll get energy gels, cereal bars, bike wipes, porridge, vouchers or something else exciting…the race pack hyped this year’s goodie bag up up
Check out the Goodie Bags for a little something for the children or not, you if you get there first!
All finishers will receive a goodie bag, treats and souvenirs of the challenge you have completed. There is also a discount code exclusively for GeoPark Triathlon finishers to enter any other GeoPark Adventure events 2016
But when I crossed the line, I was handed a banana and a bottle of water, along with a rubbery medal on a plain green cord. I asked where the rest of the goodie bag was, and I was told they were cutting costs.
The most disappointing part was that later on Instagram, I looked up #geoparkadenture and found that the medals we got, that said GeoPark Adventure Triathlon 2016 were actually what seems like leftovers from the Torbay Triathlon they organised earlier in the year.
The medal was a step up from the mug I got last year which has been lost somewhere at the back of the cupboard, but I feel I’ve been cheated a little by getting a medal that other people have for doing a totally different event.
I love the concept of the GeoPark Adventure events, they are tough, hilly but so rewarding when you get those amazing views across the bay. What’s even better is that you don’t have to pay a fortune to enter, but next year can we please have an actual goodie bag with treats and souvenirs as promised?
I’ve been sporty for a quite a few years now and I’d never really been heckled, harrassed, taunted etc whilst playing sports until a week or so ago. Sure in China I was stared at and people took photos of me when I was running because I would run on the roads, rather than just on the track but there was never any malice from anyone.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out cycling with the Warwickshire Ladies Cycling Club and their pink cycling jerseys attracted a bit of attention when cycling on some of the roads around Binley. (I say it was the pink jerseys, but it could have been anything).
We got shouted at twice, once was “Oi oi sexy!” from some young lads in a polo and the second was a long and slow “Ohhhh myyyy Godddd”, as the car slowed down and drove past us, several men peered their heads out of the window to stare at us.
It’s just ridiculous how this happens and I asked the women if it happened regularly, one lady said not usually, but it is something that happens. Then I asked one of my male cyclist friends if he ever receives any similar treatment, he says he gets shouted and beeped at, but nobody ever calls him sexy which is something only women seem subject to.
Nobody’s ever shouted at me when I’ve been out cycling or running on my own (only when in a group), but I have heard stories from (female) friends who have either been told to ‘run faster’ or ‘get a move on’ or have been complimented on their ‘nice legs’. And this is harrassment. There’s no doubt about it.
No wonder there’s so few women out on the roads. No wonder it’s so hard for me to buy a women’s cycling jersey in sports shops. No wonder there’s just a ‘Women’s bikes’ section with 8 bikes for sale, compared to ‘Mens Hybrid bikes’, ‘Mens Road bikes’, ‘Mens Mountain bikes’ sections which have 8 bikes each.
Sure there are plenty of groups, clubs and rides specifically for women, but at the same time, I’m sure with a quick search on google, I could find sites and forums that either troll female cyclists for their cycling abilities and/or fetishize female cyclists for their bodies. Let’s just look at this.
Pretty different, don’t you think? Male cyclists are associated with Olympics, winning and medals, whereas the female cyclists and associated with death, disqualification, mistakes and their bodies. (I wonder why ‘presents for female cyclists’ came up and what presents are suggested)
Cyclists in general do get a lot of abuse from motorists on the road, regardless of gender, that is definitely true and should not be ignored, but I feel it is women who are more vulnerable to gender-based abuse and harrassment. It’s the same for female motorists, who have a lot of stick for ‘bad driving’, right? Road users should respect each other, no matter which vehicle they’re using and no matter what their gender is. Let’s stop harrassing each other.
A lot of people don’t recognise the value and importance of pockets in clothes. In fact, around half of the population just expect their jackets, whether casual or formal, to have deep inside pockets perfect for slipping your phone, keys and wallet inside. Yes guys, I’m talking about you.
Women’s jackets, jeans, dresses and skirts rarely have good functional pockets. We often even have to endure sewn on flaps of fabric so from a distance it looks like we’ve got pockets…but actually we don’t.
So why do women need pockets when they’re always carrying handbags? Did it ever occur to anyone that the reason we always carry handbags is because the pockets in our clothes aren’t good enough?
For me, it’s not that I have loads of things to carry around with me. My phone, a small purse, my keys and a pack of tissues are the absolute essentials I take out with me but my pockets are never big enough, deep enough or there’s simply not enough of them to allow me to go out without a bag.
Then because you’re already carrying a bag, you find yourself adding other things that you don’t necessarily need (but might do): a power pack, kindle or book, makeup, a scarf, pen and paper, hair clips, snacks, bottle of water, 3 different types of lipstick etc. This just becomes a habit from when we’re younger and before we know it, our handbags weigh 2kg, the same weight as a small dog.
In China, many men carry their girlfriend’s handbags for them, and at first I thought this was strange and OTT, even 娘, but now I think why shouldn’t men carry women’s handbags from time to time? Handbags are useful and beautiful and all the rest, but constantly carrying one is bad for posture, can affect your balance and you then have to carry other people’s things inside (can I put this bottle of water in your bag please?) making them even heavier.
So is there a solution? I personally don’t see the trend changing any time soon, the fashion industry is doing just fine, with or without giving women good pockets. If you’re a woman and really desire a big, deep pocketed coat, you could always buy a small men’s jacket (which would probably work out cheaper and last longer too), but besides that, I see no other way to fulfil my pocket wishes.
You’re flying somewhere, and the airline has a weight limit for your baggage. It’s always a gamble, do you pack within the limit, or do you take a risk and pack a few kilos more and hope you get away with it at the check in counter.
This happens to all of us I’m sure, and when you’ve been away for a long time, it’s difficult to pack within the weight limit (for most people anyway). There’s books, which are really heavy, shoes, clothes, gifts, maybe food and sometimes toiletries too.
I was travelling back from China, and before I left, I knew that if I packed all my books, I would have no room left for anything else. So I sent my books separately through the post office. The rates were much cheaper than buying excess baggage through the airline (270rmb/kilo with Qatar airlines and through China Post 130rmb for the first kilo and 50rmb/kilo afterwards). I packed all my books up, approximately 12 kilos, not including the box and took them to the post office.
They wrapped it up very well, even putting big thick staples into the box and weighed it, 12.05kg. But when the postman charged me, he charged it as 1kg + 12kg + tax + box fee. I told him he was wrong, because 1 + 12 = 13, my package is just 12kg. He said no, your package is over 12kg, making it 13. I asked if he was serious…it was over by 50grams, did they not learn rounding in school? He said that if it passed 12kg, it had to be classed as 13kg, no matter if it was 12.01 or 12.99.
50rmb is not a lot of money, about £5, but the principal made me so angry, I ordered him to reopen the package so I could remove the smallest notebook to make it under 12kg. He wasn’t very happy with me (he had been sleeping before) but I refused to pay the extra money for going over by just 50g.
She also didn’t make me weigh my cabin bags, which were probably double what they should have been. But if I’m honest, almost everyone had a small wheely cabin bag and an extra handbag or rucksack, despite the rules being one piece of 7kg + one duty free shopping bag. I guess flying on a big international airline you get a few more priviledges and leeway thatn you do with buget airlines like Ryanair!
There’s one dilemma that will always exist when you go travelling…the towel.
Whenever I take a towel away with me, I know I’ll have to take a shower before I go to bed rather in the morning, to give it time to dry properly. Because if it’s damp it will make everything inside my bag damp and smelly. This is the start of one of the towel dilemmas…
So I pack my bag the night before I leave and the towel is left hanging out to dry. I close my bag, happy that everything’s fit in, then I turn around and say “oh, I forgot about my towel!”.
Towels take up a lot of room when you’re packing, and it’s not like socks that you can just squeeze into the corners, you need a whole two inch flat layer of space to fit that thing in. So when you think you’ve packed everything and then realise you still have the towel to squeeze in, it’s a nightmare!
But then if you decide not to take a towel, you can’t be sure of the quality of the towel in the hotel you’re staying (or if they’ll even have towels at all). Especially in China, even ‘4 star’ hotels provide towels that are scratchy and thin like cardboard, rather than the fluffy towels from home. And even though their texture is probably due to being washed at 100 degrees, you still don’t know how many people have used them before.
So what do you do? Take your own towel and have it take up space in your bag and restrict you from having a shower in the morning，or take a gamble, not take a towel and pray for decent towels in the hotel?