Thursday, January 11, 2007

No more Capoeira

After a few days of jet-lag, I'm just about getting back up to speed with the world here back in London, a feat that's been double hard thanks to the fact that there is just so much ar y gweill at the moment. Work is busy, PhD viva soon, and I am preparding for the move to Spain, both professionally and logistically. The upshot of it is that play time is in short supply at the moment yet, as I have said before, all work and no play makes Alun a dull boy.

Recently, play-time has been split between climbing and capoeira, but I'll be honest the situation hasn't been ideal. I have reached the 'first peak' in capoeira - I can confidently step into the roda and play a simple game, and enjoy and appreciate and enjoy a good game when played by others. Yet rather than being happy about this, it's actually a little daunting: I've scaled the first peak, only to see the huge mountain range ahead, and realised just how much hard training is required to scale those mountains.

The mountaineering allegory is a good one, because it leads back to climbing. I realised last night, when riding home from the wall (or rather, the pub next to the wall), that climbing is still my number one. It is what inspires me and motivates me, drives me and pleases me. Because of capoeira, my climbing has suffered over the last few months, and I'm not happy about it. I have realised that I have to dedicate to one or the the other - trying to do both means that I will never improve at either, and risk getting bored with both.

If this reads a bit like a confessional, then it's probably because it feels like it is. I love capoeira, I think it's brilliant, and strangely I feel guilty for stopping. But stop I must. You know you've made a correct decision becuase once you've made it, you feel this massive weight lift off your shoulders. That's how a felt last night.

Bouldering in the Peak District on Sunday. Alright!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

USA Trip: Final Photos

Well we're back safe and sound, and recovering from the jet-lag, which has been awful for the last few days.

Of the 350 (!) photos we took there's a more manageable 60 now uploaded here. Let me tell ya somethin'...

Friday, January 05, 2007

USA Trip: Back to Vegas

There's a classic Monty Python sketch in which Death (that's with a capital 'D', i.e. the Grim Reaper) loses patience with a Yank who's trying to butt in all the time. Death, who is frightfully English, of course, snaps:
"You always talk you Americans; you talk and, and you say things like, 'let me tell ya somethin', and, 'I just wanna say this!'. Well, you're dead now, so shutup!"
It makes me chuckle every time I hear it, yet the truth is they talk different over here, and the worse thing is that I've found myself joining in - for example, it takes the average waiter a couple of seconds to realise that "can I have the bill please" actually means "can I get the check please"; or that "we're going to leave now" is actually "we're gonna shoot off right now". So me and DJ have found that changing the way we speak is easiest, at least temporarily. I draw the line at subsituting 'real' for 'really' though e.g. you're never going to hear me say that something is 'real nice', or 'real sweet'. Ych a fi.

Anyways, so today is the beginning of the end, as it were, and we have a 10-12 hour drive ahead of us, from San Francisco back to catch our flight in Vegas, although we are splitting it over two days. We've done a lot of driving - from Vegas to Oceanside in 'SoCal', then up Highway 1 past plenty of famous spots: Laguna, Newport, Huntingdon and Venice Beaches, Santa Monica, Malibu, Santa Barbara, the coastal road all the way up to Santa Cruz, and finally to San Francisco. It's been great.

From a surfing point of view, it's fairly obvious why so many world class surfers hail from California. The waves have been uniformally superb, all the way up the coast. Usually glassy clean and I've barely seen a single closeout. I managed to fulfill a lifetime dream and catch some pacific ocean waves down at Oceanside, perfect 3' peeling waves, no wind and totally glassy. Even on a crappy rental foam board, the waves flattered to deceive and I caught more good waves in 2 hours than I think I've caught in the last five years. Going back to relentless onshore Gower closeouts is going to be difficult! Up at Santa Cruz we nipped out to the point at Steamer's Lane a couple of morning's ago. It is one of the most famous breaks in the world, and you can see why in the photo in the post below. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to get in - though the be honest the thought of tackling that wave on a slippery 8' rented foamy didn't really inspire me, not to mention having to freeze in a 3-2 rental suit in the 10 deg water - the Pacific is cold in the winter!!

If you look in the gallery you can see our car. Due to it being the only one they had left, we were 'upgraded' by our car hire people from a little economical run-around (which we chose specially for it's ability to do 30mpg) to a complete behemoth of a Lincoln, which does 20mpg if we're very lucky. It's very comfy for travelling, but less pleasurable for the bank balance, and not to mention the environment.

Still, we've got two days of solid driving ahead of us, so maybe the added comfort isn't too bad...

PS You may also notice that, after 10 years, I have cut my hair! The dreads are still there, they're just really short. Feels different!