Category Archives: sport

Fitness, am I keeping to my plans?

Since the 34 mile cycle ride I have continued to exercise mainly on alternate days. This exercise has included:

Swanage Sea Rowing Club

– helping for the last two weeks at Junior rowing and taking part in parts of or next to relays.

– attending gents training again and doing weights, press up / sit up / squats plus erg sessions.

Home

– use of own erg

Cycle

– I took myself out last week and cycled down into Swanage and up to Ulwell then onto the Purbeck Hill Ridge. I admit to pushing the bike uphill to the Ridge as gradient and traction defeated me. The view from the top as fantastic and a good descent into Corfe Castle. On laving Corfe I found the track that winds its way as a bridle way back up to Kingston, as I was told it was very steep and again I pushed. So more route ideas and challenges to overcome in the future when I am fitter and the ground is drier.

Other

Walks including Studland beach where the purpose was peaceful and calming which the beach provided and a 3 mile paddle in the cool water.

Some gardening clearing leaves and blown branches and twigs to start the clear up of the area around my summer studio.

I have started to feel a bit coldified the last few days but will work through this and look forward to a rowing session back on the water on Sunday. So overall, I am being consistent. I am sharing cakes when out so feel that my fitness is improving and I need to continue in the same way.

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Pedal power fitness

So a mate, Dave Furmage a local mobile cycle mechanic (amongst other skills) offered recently to go out for a first ride for me once I started getting over January germs. Today was the day, our start time was put back slightly but to be honest it meant the air temperature out of the wind was above 0C.

I am now going to name various locations in and around Purbeck / Poole, if you don’t know the area, visit or take a look via google maps or similar if interested.

I am omitted to tell Dave that previously my average ride length was 15-20 miles, this became relevant later, but he offered a gentle pace and no pressure and that is how it was.

We started outside the Scott Arms pub in Kingston, which 8 live on the edge of. A controlled descent looking out for frosty / iced patches. We got down to Corfe Castle safely and started towards the castle and Wareham. BANG Dave’s back tyre blew out and was loud. A few locals and their dogs were surprised as well. Dave removed the wheel, inner tube to find the biggest tear I have seen in an inner tube. It took two spare tubes for the tyre to stay up, so we continued. We followed the A351 ascending and then turning off the main road at the roundabout for Norden Junction on the Swanage heritage railway. We set off and enjoyed crossing Stoborough heath m

and Middlebere. There were a few uphills that made me work. We proceeded into Wareham and onto the cycle shop to get a new spare tube.

Given the option of going through Wareham Forest or along the Sandford road I chose the former. I have driven past the forest but never walked or cycled there. A mix of coniferous trees, heathland and marshes and sandy trails and lots of stacks of recently cut timber still scented of pine gum.

We took a break for about 10 minutes looking out over Morden bog. It was so peaceful and the sun felt warm.

We continued off road with Dave pointed out a range of local trail options, some of which might be too much on my current bike, well at least with fitness levels. We went through Holton Heath and onto the A35 and a busier road section to the Bakers Arms Roundabout. The back road via Lytchett Matravers led us to Upton where we followed the national cycle route around the path and came out on the shore of Holes Bay, a branch off Poole harbour.

Another rest where Dave decided to knock some gear through the slats of the walkway. He managed to retrieve them very effectively.

We continued along the boundary of the bay and entered Poole and headed for the Quay. We had lunch at Deli on the Quay, run by two friends of Dave. After eating I created my latest #artcards, an initiative I am doing using photo paper as postcards or in some p,aces napkins to produce a piece of original art which is then left as a free gift to its finder as an example of my artwork as AndyKnillArt. (See more details on http://www.andyknillart.com).

Fed, erg well I hasten to say it was onwards around the edge of Poole harbour, through Bater Park used by kite fliers. The sun had gone in and this section was cooler to start as we warmed up again. A few more uphills were much tougher now for me, we went into Sandbanks and arrived just as the chain ferry started to load. A very reasonable cycle fee of £1. Once arriving at Shell Bay, Studland and now back in Purbeck we followed the road to Studland, flat to begin with as it makes it way between the dunes and heathland. As we approached Knoll beach managed by The National Trust we started to climb. I engaged slow mode but kept moving. Any attempt to get out of the saddle and stand on the pedals was met with refusal by my quads. Dave was patient as I gradually ticked off milestones on my ascent of the slope into the Purbeck Ridge which is chalk and runs from the coast inland at right angles to the coast. At last ascending finished and we descended into Swanage. A needed visit to our mutual favourite coffee house in town – Java. Treacle tart with clotted cream, peppermint tea and two bottles of water saw me starting to find some energy. Swanage is where Dave had started this morning.

I now had to ascend the other Ridge to the south of Swanage which is formed of Jurassic limestone, and I live virtually at the top of this. This was going to hurt as by now I knew that by the time I got home I would have covered about 34 miles (go back to that point at the start of this post about recent rides. I gradually rose up the hill through Langton (Matravers). There were many short breaks before pedalling onwards. Once I reached the Ridge there were no more stops. Back to The Scott Arms then back up the steep inclines through the village on West Street and Home.

In conclusion I had a great time, far in excess of any distance I may have done on the rowing machine too. I saw several local places I had not been before and finally I found out that I am fitter than I thought when it came to stamina.

If you have read all of this thanks.

Fitness update

Sunday Feb 4

Well one fitness device has been used this week. I used the concept 2rower on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The first row was 15 min. The last two have seen me row 5000m each time in just under 22minutes. This is slower than I was doing before I took part in Artisans on the beach and the training tailed off. I am finding adjusting my breathing pattern difficult and am not pushing stamina too much yet.

Today I walked around Corfe Castle so a bit of step climbing and descending.

The bike is due to be used on Tuesday. I will report back after that. I have no plan for my first kayak yet.

Declaration of intent: Feb. 01 2018

I, Andy Knill, do here declare that I now own three fitness items that I will use much more frequently from the above date. I will bore my blog readers senseless or give them an aspect of the blog to avoid if they do not want to see my exercise records.

The items are in order of purchase:

1) My bicycle – bought with money for my 50th birthday in 2014. Used but grossly under used. I have had the generous offer from Dave Furmage to get out and do some morning cycle rides in and close to Purbeck which I need to take him up on. I also need to travel into Swanage for rowing club sessions on 2 wheels not inside a box with 4 wheels. This will mean repeated return journeys up Langton hill which should help my stamina over time. By the time I return to my work at Wareham Boat Hire I wish to cycle on a regular basis to work via Stoborough Heath and on the return journey will have the “pleasure” of Kingston hill up from Corfe Castle.

2) My single kayak (SOT) – bought in August 2016 on arrival in Purbeck before the family moved down from Essex. It has been out in Swanage Bay, Studland bay and on the River Frome. It needs to be used more and in the company of our family double SOT for some family outings. I want to relearn my paddling skills which are useful at WBH too.

3) My concept2rowing machine bought secondhand from another member of Swanage Sea Rowing Club this evening. I have already reopened my online log with Concept2 that I started in Autumn 2001. I have added some recent Autumn 2017 rowing sessions from Instagram that I captured.

It won’t be living in a cosseted carpeted room but it will be used as I need to prove to Anne that I am going to use my fitness equipment. I fully understand her concern / skepticism. At the same time as knowing I want to use fitness as an ongoing strategy for my physical and mental wellbeing I will have to be aware of not overdoing it – this is an aspect of my fitness that in the past has led to illness more than injury to halt my progress.

So watch this space …

Retraining the mind and body to push themselves

Well my second men’s training session since Christmas. Last week it really was a struggle, a good warm up just over 2km and then a 10km Row where my energy levels fell apart between 6 and 8km but I finished in what I consider a slow time at 44min 40ish seconds. This week I wondered how I would hold up to a better attended session and mention of our first race ahead on March 10.

A good start with a warm up of 2.1km. We go through a stepped series of exercises to loosen up for using the ergs (indoor rowing machines later in the session). Then a 5km Row on 25spm and I managed 20min 43 seconds. Again I need to keep working on developing my muscle memory when it comes to inhaling and exhaling at the right time. Then we swopped with others and did a series of weights based exercises, most focusing on developing our explosive start to the rowing stroke / catch and using our legs much more than our arm strength.

Back to the ergo for a pairs exercise 500m each to simulate a racing start on 10 x 3/4 strokes at 28spm, then lengthen to 10 full length strokes at 28 spam, then drop to 24spm for remainder of 500m. Pairs swop after each 500m. We did 4 each so I had rowed 9km in tonight’s session. I got my 500m pace down to 1 min 47.8s which was very pleasing.

Final exercise and one I do not do well at – 70 press-ups and 70 sit-ups. No opting out, I did easier versions of each but managed the full count at last and then some stretching. I know I had worked out hard this evening. The title comes in because I want to gradually raise the limits I can perform to again, this is both a mental and physical challenge to calm the mind and breathing while exercising harder. I have done it previously and I want to again.

Nurture 17/18

My New Year’s Eve blogpost I have now done for several years but in a slightly different format as teaching headings are not necessarily relevant, balancing my life is however.

Work

A new phase completely, no more teaching. At first we considered the idea of me just having a year off – no attempt to work, but that felt wrong to me. I launched AndyKnillArt as a web blog on 31 January. I will review its first year on the first anniversary on www.AndyKnillArt.com. My art has earnt money, I have exhibited and participated in many events – a great success overall. In March I secured a part time job at Wareham Boat Hire with Matt and Julie Jones. The season saw me working at Abbot’s Quay, Wareham until the start of October. I love the outdoor nature of the work, standing in the river, talking with passers by and customers and guiding on safe use of our fleet of craft. I have learnt many skills and I look forward to my second season in 2018. Both of these offer much free time which has been spent with family, especially Anne.

Family

2016 had ended with Mum passing away. 2017 has mirrored this as Dad has passed away too. This time I was with him at the end and felt very privileged to be there to support him. Liz and the New Zealand clan came to visit while over at the start of the year and explore a little of what our new area has to offer. More contact with Jonathan to start the year after a low end to 2016. From May to November came a gap. We have now seen him but the circumstances were difficult and we hope contact can be more regular in the future. Living as a family unit across three generations has taken some adjustments but generally works harmoniously and of course we do live in such a beautiful place. We have also purchased a property to let out in 2018 as an investment for the future.

Exercise

At times too much, at other times gaps have opened up due to overlapping events and a need / desire to pace myself more sensibly. So ongoing membership of Swanage Sea Rowing Club although craft fairs and work at Wareham meant that after the Three Rivers race in March I didn’t compete in any other events until the Swanage Supervets event in October. I continue to help with Juniors on a Monday. My overall fitness has benefitted and rows over the tidal race at Old Harry and along the coast to Dancing Ledge have been highlights in seeing the coast from a different perspective.

My river work in Wareham helped my fitness with lifting and shifting equipment and also meant I did more paddling some in work craft and some in my own kayak . I have also paddled the entire coastal perimeter of Swanage Bay now. More kayaking is needed in 2018. I have underused my bike, it has been used to and from some rowing sessions but I haven’t really done any extended rides. I have achieved a nonstop ride / drag up Kingston hill which I was pleased with. I have walked quite a bit on local trails, some with Anne and some alone.

Learning

Two new jobs, setting up a business and learning other new skills has meant a busy year for learning. Learning I wanted to do in connection with new pathways. I have extended my art skills with attendance at Swanage Art Workshop with Anne which has given us a shared interest and led to new friendships. Art skills, purchasing equipment, self employed tax returns, working and selling at art/craft events including printing, mounting and framing work. The list goes on and on. Using a petrol driven mower…

Connections

After a poor January I cut most of my online ties for a while and closed whole accounts. I am now back online but with far fewer links / contacts and many are new ones that have been formed in the last year. It is difficult to believe when we are in Swanage that we have not been here longer from the number and variety of people we know, are friends with, who we stop to talk with as we make our way around town.

I have remade some of my education connections but steer away from discussing matters in education. I only taught at TSS for 10 Weeks but the lasting connection I made with pupils continues even over a year on and that is immensely satisfying.

Health

Physically I went through a bad passage after straining a shoulder at rowing training and receiving treatment. Otherwise physically, scratched insect bites have been my worst problem, generally I have been physically healthy. My mental health has continued to vary but the differences between high and low are not as wide as earlier in 2017 and suicidal thoughts are not my instinctive reaction to unease. I attend two groups now in Swanage and Wareham where I have made good friends, joined in with facilitating at meetings and even attended a training course with MIND.

I am not making specific plans going forward: we will rent our new property out, I will do Art and work on the river, we will spend time with friends and drinking / eating in various local coffee houses, pubs…, we will spend time together, especially Anne and I. We will continue to watch our wildlife and enjoy our location. We may welcome some of you to visit us. We will look after ourselves physically and emotionally.

Thanks for reading.

All in a day…

September 3rd, Sunday – so a possible busy day as it is a working shift day. I awake to 06:30 alarm and didn’t snooze it for a change as today I wanted to go for a paddle on the River Frome before work. Once I had showered breakfast was accompanied with the view of two young hares in the front garden / drive. In conversation with visitors to my stall at yesterday’s craft fair I still realise that for many people a sighting of hares is rare or they have never seen one. We however are blessed so I watch them grazing on the grass that waits for its next cut, then chasing each other in the drive and under one of the cars.

After loading the kayak / sit on top I set off for Wareham. On the way through Stoborough the traffic is brought to a halt by a black and white crossing – cows on the mooove not a zebra crossing. Onwards to unload and park the car up on the Quay, free until 10 am. Waterproof, hat and buoyancy aid and I launch from the public slipway on Abbott’s Quay. I head downstream today to see how close I will get to the mouth of the river – an area I have told customers about but never seen for myself. The river has far more moored boats than when I paddled this way in the winter. Steady paddling past a wide range of motor and sailing yachts sees me pass Redcliffe then Ridge slipways and yacht areas. Eventually I reach the widening and tidal markers at the mouth of the Frome. I watch some swans, take some photos as evidence – 9 o’clock and a 35 minute paddle. Returning is harder into the wind and tide. It takes 35 minutes to return as well and I am pleased to have beaten the time we advise customers in motor boats to take. measured later the return journey is about 4.6/.7 miles in 70 minutes.

I collect the keys for work and unlock / set up a mini fleet in case any customers brace the wet conditions. I do a fair bit of bailing water and then settle in the hut/ office. No customers are forthcoming so closed for 1pm, everything re secured and a drive home via Swanage where the sea is quite choppy in the breezy conditions.

A quiet afternoon reading books, social media messages and then blogging while watching wind blown rain outside.

Reflections . . .

This blog has had a more retrospective / reflective role in the last 8 months as a new beginning fell apart and an alternative new beginning started. Last night I sat and read through all the posts from August 2016 to April 2017. It was good to see how low I had become and I was able to see that even on #rollercoaster days where my mood varies that I am in a better place.

So, how is life now we are in May:

This weekend I do my 14th and 15th shifts at Wareham Boat Hire – I have now manned the business on my own a couple of times and successfully set up and packed away. I have had a go in all of the boats except the SUPs which have rarely been out so far. I have learnt routines, how the various types of equipment work. I have a better knowledge of Wareham and am able to help visitors with questions. I really enjoy my days by the river in our sun trap. I have been fortunate to have only had one shift rained out. Last week Anne , while visiting, asked how I would score the job out of 10 for how happy it made me feel – my answer 19 !! Yes it is that good. At the end of the day I go away relaxed with nothing extra to do. I have started to paddle my own SOT kayak too in Swanage and on the River Frome. I will do more of this as it helps me when guiding our clients.

My artwork – I enjoy it but the being commercial aspect has caused variations in my mood and self doubt to come thundering in. In the next 16 days as we head into Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW17) I will:

– collect exhibition piece one back from L’Artishe gallery in Swanage

– drop off pieces, exhibition sheets and labels at Etches fossil collection in Kimmeridge, Verges piece for RSPB Arne and Corfe Castle canvas, prints and cards at Rollington Barn for PAW HQ exhibition. I will also have pieces on show at Art Workshop in Swanage

– make my home Open Studio (22) ready to receive visitors with signs, a silk flag, old examples of work and new pieces developed through the 16 days of the art festival.

– I must just enjoy the experience of chatting about my work, mental health linked reasons for starting. A lot has happened since the end of January, yes all that time ago!!

So life has enough to keep me busy. In addition there are family linked tasks that take up attention to. If you are in Dorset over May 27 to June 11 please pop by between 10 and 4pm for art stuff and contact me about other times. We have some guests booked but others are welcome.

This week some things have knocked me off kilter but now over 130 days into my GOB diary keeping only 11 have ended as being below ok. I don’t always dismiss the negatives now and some of those dominate my thoughts but every day has positives of some sort and there is clearly another side to me apart from teacher and I have a future worth living. Those two aspects are huge compared to where I was mentally just a few months ago.

Alternatively there are also weekly news updates about the art work on AndyKnillArt blog.

How far can one’s life change?

On 24 August 2016 I moved to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. My aim to start a new teaching job, live in a dream property in a fantastic part of the country. To rediscover more time to spend with the family, to get outdoors and to regain more stability in my mental health.

About 7.5 months on plans have changed but my life has changed so much and for the better too. If you regularly read my posts this will repeat some points from previous posts.

I moved to live alone while issues to do with our family home in Essex were resolved. I was in a beautiful house, surrounded by countryside but only 15 minutes from work. The weather was generally good to start with. The job offered much. However, it didn’t work for me on many levels and it didn’t help my mental health at all.

Living alone was a shock after so long – 25 years. Lack of communication with no landline, mobile signal, or broadband was a big upheaval for someone who spent so much time networking and communicating with others online. I developed work resources using online contacts and sites previously. Now I was forced to go cold turkey and I didn’t cope well with it. I would joke when ringing friends and family from nearby country lanes where I could walk to get a signal that all was ok. I genuinely didn’t miss tv and now still only watch a few programmes, often recorded first. The contact gap with familiar voices however was much harder.

Work, well there was a lot of change and the above aspects that were already impacting on my mental health were exacerbated by my limitations in not being able to do much work from home, something I had relied on previously. I admitted some of this but not the true nature of my thoughts as I feared being removed from the post. The only harm I would have done would have been to myself but my moods were on a much steeper rollercoaster than previously and the dips were frightingly threatening to my own mental stability. I also hid this from home, a mistake but I loved the area and knew the house had potential for the family. Unfortunately I got to the point, linked to previous experiences, where what I saw as criticism became a stick to beat myself with emotionally and a path to recovery got to the point where it was no longer an option. I had to make the job work or teaching and I would separate at last, that scared me as I did not perceive that I existed beyond my label as teacher. Well in November after the family had been here a fortnight the job crumbled – I did and I lost teaching as part of my life. I still have bad dreams,sometimes even nightmares about educational settings normally a jumble of places I have worked. It will take a long time to let go fully as 28 years and a term took a lot from me.

So what has changed?

I live in a beautiful house with three other family members – my wife, younger son and mother in law. Everyone has now settled in and we are starting with the better weather and lighter days and evenings to get outside and work on the garden more. The house has the services (still no mobile signal) that It lacked when I moved here. We have grown into it.  I would say we are all happier generally for the experience and look forward to seeing more how the area changes through the seasons.

Work – I am now working as an artist, I endeavour to sell some of my work, I have a Facebook page, an art blog. I have signed up for classes, craft fairs and the local arts weeks later on. I have met many very generous local artists and crafters who are willing to share experiences and advice on resources and services. Also I have a part time job that involves being in and out of water in the River Frome at Wareham, I love that aspect. Work is not stressful as before. I still be the chance to use my teaching skills when helping coach juniors at the Swanage Sea Rowing club.

Anne,  my wife and I have spent more time together since she moved down five months ago than we probably have throughout our marriage of 24 years as I am not working 60 hour weeks, lots of my work is done from home. It has helped our relationship which is now in a better place. I know Vi my mother in law much better and at 95 she continues to be an inspiration in her vitality. My son Charlie and I have had more time to go and do things together which I hope isn’t too much of a bi d for him, I enjoy it.

Fitness – I was told I could join one club when I moved here, the fact that at a few points  I have been there six days a week didn’t impress but it has brought me a much fitter health. I have made many new friends and I love that training has now moved back o to the sea after a winter on the ergos in the rowing hall.

Mental health – thank you to my new GPs at the Corfe Castle surgery who have been very supportive, alongside the great Swanage Depression Support Group whose company I enjoy bi-weekly. Being able to shed and share has helped a great deal and they have commented on how much I have changed from my start in November. New acquaintances have even been surprised that I have a mental health issue as I do t present that way currently.

In the last week I have reflected that I have made more friends here than in the last 27 years. I am happy. I love my surroundings. I continue to learn new skills and things most days. Life has a future, I don’t know completely how it will be but there will be ways that don’t involve creating extra stresses.

If you get this far please comment or say hi on social media, in the street….

Finding your fitness match

I have always been active, the level of which has varied throughout my life. I have tried a range of sports both team and individual. I have increasingly done more of the latter but have now returned to an activity I did as a ten aged Sea Scout – sea rowing.

On a previous holiday to Mevagissey, Cornwall I espied the local club out rowing early one morning as I was taking photographs. I contacted them on their Facebook page and managed to go for a trial row – loads of errors but it relit a desire to row on the sea again. When I was a Sea Scout I had rowed with the 1st St Peters-in-Thanet group. We rowed from Broadstairs, Kent but also did trips up the River Stour towards Canterbury and went on trips to places like Chatham dockyard which was still a naval base in my youth.

So while on holiday in Swanage at Easter (2016) I saw they had a club and said if we ever lived somewhere like this I would want to try this. 5 months later I moved here and joined just one club to start with!!

I really enjoy my rowing with Swanage Sea Rowing Club. I am currently working towards participation in my first event in the Men’s B Boat for the Three Rivers event at Saltash in March. I am training four times a week on average – two indoor training sessions on the rowing machines and two weekend rows on the sea or today the River Frome downstream from Wareham.

I also assist at Juniors on a Monday evening which continues the interest I had in running clubs at Mark Hall School (2002 –  2006) and Bower Park (2010 – 2014). I realised today when chatting that I have been Erg-ing now for 16 years.

So, in conclusion – find something you enjoy and try it.