Tag Archives: University

Mad Dogs and (orange) Englishmen Go Out in the Midday Sun


How unfit am I at the moment? Not as much as I was this time last week. How unfit was I last week? Very (wheeze).

I‘ve got to admit, I was almost dreading the day when I’d attempt to resume my “fitness regime” again. It wasn’t so much a lack of motivation to exert myself physically (although I’d choose eating and sleeping every time), rather, a certain apprehension of discovering how out of shape I’d actually become. It’s easy to try and kid myself into thinking that the last 8 months spent pacing around Gasthof Stern was in itself some form of exercise. I could use the worn out shoes, the hideously smelling socks as “evidence” of running about so much, always being on my feet? Maybe not. On the other hand I can just be brutally honest and admit that I did a grand total of ZERO HOURS of exercise during my time in Germany. In the long run it’s better to overcome this obstacle (accepting the fact that you’ve been a lazy bastard), swallow / digest this truth, and do something about it (before you become a fat bastard).

So I resolved, basically as soon as I arrived back in England, that I’d attempt to get myself into shape again. The lack of real exercise, mixed with a high-calorie German diet for 3/4’s of a year (the Bratwurst, the cakes, the beer), meant that I was in no fit state to be on standby for the European Championships in case Roy Hodgson needed me. Something had to be done.

If I’m being honest, I don’t look that professional.

Fail to prepare = Prepare to fail

Why do people even do exercise? It can hurt! Half way through a bike ride, a football match, a run, I inevitably find myself asking the question, ‘why am I subjecting myself to this physical torture?!’ It was no different yesterday when I set off on the first bike ride with my best friend Ollie towards One Tree Hill; my heart was screaming at me to stop and my legs clearly weren’t in the mood. We managed it mind you (two whole hours up and down hills and through the woods), but our preparation (or rather lack of) for the ride hardly set us in good stead:

  • 28 degrees of heat = Could Ollie and I have picked more appropriate weather conditions? Probably. It doesn’t really get much hotter in Britain, and it doesn’t help matters with the sun beating down and no sign of a breeze. Ollie was sweating even before he got on the bike!
  • Flat tyres = Despite Ollie having  repeatedly asked me whether I was completely sure that my tyres were fully pumped up, it took me a quarter of a mile of cycling to decide to turn back home and sort them out before we went any further. If anything that was the best decision I’ve made all week. At best my tyres were at 40% of their maximum capacity (clearly I’d overestimated originally at 80%).
  • Mum’s home-made cake = Now there’s nothing wrong with mum’s home-made cakes. In fact, they’re almost always delicious. However, contrary to my previously held beliefs, there is certainly a time and place for cake, and as I quickly discovered, the middle of a gruelling cycle ride isn’t one of them. I’m sure you can imagine that by the time we’d reached the summit of One Tree Hill (a couple of steep hills later) in the blistering heat after an 8 month-long sabbatical from exercise, that Ollie and me were exhausted. Collapsed on the floor, I rummaged through my bag in search for something to eat and drink (typically Ollie had forgotten to bring anything with him!). At first I thought I’d struck gold when I pulled out some of Mum’s home made-cake, but Ollie’s response gave me a reality check somewhat: “Kit this is the first time I’ve done exercise in 8 months, my body is overheating in this sun, my asthma pump expired in 2006 and my throat couldn’t be any dryer. Now you’re telling me that the only thing you’ve brought with you is some dried out cake? You might as well offer me a packet of cream crackers mate.”

                                                  Fish & Chips, Jumbo Jets and Amateur Balloon Performances (only in Southend)
I love Southend-on-Sea, I really do. It’s one of those places where street signs aren’t always necessary to work out which town you’re in; you can just feel it. Now I was in Southend with my family on Saturday afternoon / evening, and if you had simply plonked me right on the edge of the seafront that afternoon, I could have told you instantly where I was. Orange-smeared, topless men with bullet proof abs or a six-pack of rolls (you take your pick), and thousands upon thousands of even more orange-smeared mums wheeling about little screaming kids in pushchairs. There was only one place I could be, and I was there.
Aside from the sarcasm, like I said earlier, I do like Southend a lot. Which is why I was there on Saturday with the family for a meal at the seafront establishment the Fisherman’s Wharf, suitably located a 100 or so metres behind the beach, situated on a raised point where you’ve got a great view of the sea and Kent on the other side. You can probably guess what we all ordered to eat. Yes, that’s right, FISH AND CHIPS (why order anything else when you’re in Southend?!). It took a while to order mind you, and not because of the reasons that might normally spring to mind. No, in fact, on that Saturday afternoon the “Southend Air Show” was taking place (how lucky). Conveniently enough, just as we were starting to order, it was time for the Jumbo Jets to start flying directly over our heads. When I say directly, I mean directly. The planes were spinning, doing loops, dropping at seemingly dangerous angles, and in my opinion, flying as close as they could to the beach to try and scare people below (which was really funny). The amount of times that the waiter said to us, “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that,” as we were attempting to order our food, was possibly a record for how often you could add that phrase into one conversation. Anyway, ten minutes later we managed to order.
Among other memorable highlights of that afternoon (besides the food and the half the Royal Air Force relocating to Southend-on-Sea), was the impromptu (and amateur) balloon show that we were treated to from the table directly next to us in the restaurant. Typically Essex with the estuary accent, pinching the waiter’s bum every now and then, this group of middle aged Essex boys were actually quite funny. Their rather drunken antics were a source of entertainment that’s for sure, but the best bit was near the end of the evening when they encouraged all the surrounding tables to turn around and watch as one of the group attempted to “swallow a balloon.” Now as far as tricks go, this was one of the better ones I’ve seen (to the extent that I only realised it was a trick when my dad bluntly said, “that was a trick”). I was quite disappointed to be honest when reality sunk in that this was a trick, because it was really funny at first when this guy seemingly polished off a metre long sausage balloon. Either way, that’s just how life rolls in Southend-on-Sea.
It’s good to be back.

The perfect dinner-time ambience: Jumbo Jets and the beach.