Archive for July, 2024

Oldbridge parkrun

Sunday, July 14th, 2024 | Sport

Oldbridge parkrun takes place at Oldbridge House. It’s a country estate which now forms the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre.

The course is all off-road. Most of it is grass with some on dirt. It’s a lovely course in several ways: off-road, pretty flat, around some beautiful fields and a single lap (although some of it does form an out back bit). The main limitation would be if you like road or if you want a PB: the narrow tracks through the long grass mean there is not much overtaking room.

I’ve been ill with one of those colds that you it is difficult to believe is “just a cold” because it wiped me out. This was my first attempt at a run back and I was around 35 minutes, and even that felt like a slog. But I got around and ticked off my second O, leaving me with only one letter left for the name badge challenge.

Challenge Roth 2024

Thursday, July 11th, 2024 | Sport

Lots of exciting thing happened at Challenge Roth this year.

In the men’s race, Magnus Ditlev set a new men’s course record of 7:23:24. And in British interests, Tom Bishop moving up to long format, came second with 7:37:54. He was actually overtaken by Rudy Von Berg on the run but battled back to regain second place.

In the women’s race, Anna Haug set a new women’s course record of 8:02:38. It was only two years ago that Katt Matthews set the first women’s sub-8 at Sub7 / Sub8 under artificial conditions and now Haug is less than three minutes from doing it in a race. Also, she’s 41!

Further down the field, Jonas Deichmann completed his 60th full distance triathlon in a row to mark the halfway point in Challenge 120. He’s been taking up to 15 hours to complete them, meaning less than a full night’s sleep, and yet incredibly is still banging them out every day as he chases Sean Conway’s record.

Number Go Up

Wednesday, July 10th, 2024 | Books

Number Go Up: Inside Crypto’s Wild Rise and Staggering Fall is a book by Zeke Faux which tells the story of FTX, Teether, Sam Bankman-Fried and other players in the crypto industry.

It’s not a complete history of crypto: digital currencies are already well established when the book begins but it does take you through Bankman-Fried’s rise and fall. Is is heavily critical of crypto, asking where any of the supposed benefits are (fair point) and examining its use in money laundering with the journalist visiting sites in Cambodia where victims are human trafficked and forced to run crypto scams for gangs.

It seems a little unfair to make crypto the villain, rather than global inequality or lake of regulation in these states. They did the same thing with cash or fake fiat bank accounts before crypto, and better money laundering controls would work with crypto, too. It also ignores the idea that maybe the true value of crypto is the blockchain, regardless of whether crypto turns out to be useful.

But it was a fun read, and at the same time, brings some attention to human trafficking which is sorely needed.

Mostly Harmless

Sunday, July 7th, 2024 | Books

Mostly Harmless is the fifth and final novel written by Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy triology.

The first couple of books wrapped everything up in a beautiful circle. Since then, it has taken various plot devices to keep the story going and explain how the Earth is back again. Mostly Harmless gets back to good old-fashioned science fiction which still maintaining the dry humour of the series.

Also, I’m sold on being the sandwich maker on Lamuella. Sounds lik a good life. That said, it was more difficult to follow what was going on than previous books. But definitely worth a read if you like Douglas Adams.

Ulster Folk Museum

Saturday, July 6th, 2024 | Life

Ulster Folk Museum is an outdoor village located in Belfast where you can learn about traditional living. There are a bunch of shops, houses, mills and churches, some of which are replicas and some of which are originals that have been moved brick-by-brick from various parts of Northern Ireland.

The main area contains a few streets with different shops in. Some of them are real shops such as the sweet shop and fully licensed pub. Many others act as a living museum. On the day we went there was a weaver using a wooden loom, a doctor who gave me and little bear a brief examination, some knitting, and traditional museum. There is also a tea room that offers hot and cold food.

The day we went was Ferguson Tractor Day. Harry Ferguson, co-founder of the Ferguson-Brown Company (now known as Massey Ferguson) was born in County Down and each year the museum hosts a rally for traditional Ferguson tractors. This included plowing demonstrations and a best tractor of the show award.

As a result, the place was rammed and there were parking cars on any spare scrap of land they had. It was very well organised, though. They had plenty of people to deal with the traffic and plenty of staff on in the tea room as well, o you were never queuing for long.

Outside of the main area they have various other buildings to explore and a farm with cows, chickens, geese and pigs.

Might be a bit grim on a rainy day and the paths on the map were not always accurate. But otherwise I would really recommend this museum. There is plenty to see, the demonstrations are good, they had colouring for the kids and on a nice day it is a beautiful walk, too.

Queen’s parkrun

Friday, July 5th, 2024 | Sport

Got my Q!

Queen’s parkrun takes place at Queen’s University’s sports fields and consists of a couple of laps around the campus. Nice, enough, not too hilly. Friendly place. I got chatting to one of the staff at Queen’s and it turns out he does computing. There were also tonnes of tourists, including a woman from Finland so I tried out some of my Finnish, which mostly went well.

Belfast Zoo

Thursday, July 4th, 2024 | Life

Good zoo. My favourite animal was the eagle but there were plenty of favourites, too: elephants, giraffes, zebras, flamingos, penguins, sealions, alpacas, lions, chimps, bongos, giant anteaters, lemurs, a reptile house, and plenty of others.

It is built into the side of a hill and is somehow hillier than the Welsh Mountain Zoo. Worse, the cafe at the bottom of the hill was closed so we had to walk all the way up to the treetops cafe to get some lunch. You do get a wonderful view from the top, though.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2024 | Books

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is the fourth novel in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. It follows on from Life, the Universe, and Everything and forms the fourth part of the trilogy in five parts.

It is very different from the previous novels. Which are science fiction. This is a romance story. With a few aliens thrown in but only at the end. Still an enjoyable read and a good addition to the series. And the rain good is good, too.

Julian Assange is free

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2024 | Religion & Politics

After seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy and five years in prison, Julian Assange is free.

WikiLeaks has made one a huge contribution to the world exposing corruption, human rights violations, war crimes committed by governments across the world. Governments come after you when you do stuff like that. Ask Assange. Or Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden or David McBride. It takes much more backbone that I have to stand up against a government.

There were no unclear weapons in Iraq. There was no £350 million a week Brexit bonus for the NHS. There weren’t any doctors to staff the Nightingale hospitals and Seaborne Freight didn’t have any ferries. We’re so used to the lies and corruption at the highest levels we become completely blase about it, or protect ourselves by retrospectively saying that we never really believed any of it in the first place.

Thankfully, there are some people willing to stand up for the truth. Julian Assange is one of them.

Back on two wheels

Monday, July 1st, 2024 | Sport

I was without my bike for three months earlier this year so I wasn’t sure I would remember how to ride a bike. Even without the gap, I cycled inside exclusively over winter so my last proper ride was Helmsley Triathlon last summer.

Luckily, I did remember. I had forgotten what a joy it is to be out on a bike when the weather is beautiful. Will have to do this more often.

My next challenge is to workout how to stop my sun cream clouding up my prescription sunglasses.