Monday, 26 May 2008

TEFL Course

Last weekend me and Amy took attended a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Newcastle.

I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, i've never really done any 'proper' teaching before, just sports stuff so i wasn't too sure of what to expect. Not to mention that we had to complete the 20 hour course in one weekend, which meant 11 hours on the Saturday and 9 on the Sunday! it certainly gives a new meaning to the term 'long weekend'.

The course was in fact, very good. I really enjoyed it, it was delivered very well and i would definately recommend it. Everyone else at the course seemed to enjoy themselves, even all the mock 'lessons' that we had to teach were very jovial...

...i'm sure i'll found out soon enough if it was worth the money or not... 5 weeks til we go to Japan! Woo Hoo!!!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Sink or Swim... it's a mini adventure

This is a pic of me looking particularly smug in my kayak, just on the north sea coast, off Hartlepool's Headland. My Parents home is in the background too, just to the left of the photo.

I don't have any photos of our latest er, adventure because the sea was a bit too rough for posing. Me and Mark did the usual, packed the car with the boats and headed to the coast. Hartlepool bay was like a mill pond, totally flat, so we decided to launch away from the bay and into a bit (understatement of the century!) of surf instead.

The road next to our launch site is part of the sea defense, so its quite a bit higher than the beach below. But the sea looked relatively flat, with just a few small waves to contend with. We got our gear unloaded and hauled it down to the beach, which was still getting covered by the falling tide.

I launched first, with a bit of help from mark, straight into the oncoming waves, which somehow seemed to become head height in the short time it took us to kit up. The paddle out past the surf turned into a mini adventure, and i really pushed Carolina (my boat) to the limit with quite a few waves breaking on us. It made me pretty confident that i could handle the sea's conditions that day (which would come back and bite me later in the day).

Mark eventually joined me past the surf line, and we headed off north towards Steetley pier. We had a rough ride to Steetley, with the wind and wave combo making the going tough. We called an end to the paddle out, and broke for a quick Mars bar, then turned round and headed back to our launch site. The plan was to have a gentle paddle back, then surf in on the very waves that made our launch so tough...

I picked my line to get back to the beach and was just about ready to go for it when a series of freak waves, probably about 3/4 times the size of all the others started building just in front of me. The set of freak waves had gone within a minute or so, i waited to see if they returned. They didn't so i made my way into my line. Seriously, i must have paddled about five strokes when this set of freak waves returned. I couldn't get away from them so i had to go with it, i managed to stay at the top of the first two and built up some speed. However, the third (and the largest), caught the stern of my boat and lifted it vertical, over my head, so in effect i was doing a cart wheel whilst still sitting in my kayak. The next bit was in slow motion, {remember the bit in the 'Indiana Jones' movie where that big boulder is gonna run over Harrison Ford, and the camera zooms out to show the full danger of the scenario?} well anyway, thats what it was like, i had time to see Mark getting wiped out in front of me, the beach some way ahead of me and just a chance glimpse of the sheer size of this wave.

...somewhere in this 'slow-motion', i made the decision to abandon ship! when i hit the water head first, everything started to run real time again. I landed in the water in front of my boat. The waves were battering the boat into my head so i ducked under water and came out the other side of her, i managed to collect my paddle and hold on to Carolina for dear life as the waves battered us both to the shore line. After what seemed like an age, my feet could touch sand so i could drag my boat and broken pride back to the beach just in time for the waves to die down completely, typical!

Now my boat is approx 14 foot long, so the wave that was to wipe me out must have been HUUUUGE!!!

...Lesson learned though, don't get cocky with the Sea, oh and always wear a wet suit cos the Sea is freezing!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

a bit of a paddle...

Bank Holiday Monday, fantastic weather, so we decided to go kayaking...

We chose the river tees as its only a ten minute drive up the road and we're lazy.

Me, Mikey (my big bro), Scot & Mark headed out in two Cars to the tees barrage for a days gentle (?) paddling... or so we thought...!

Scot decided it would be a good idea to paddle from the barrage to Preston Park, and back again. This is not a massive distance to travel, however, Mikey (my big bro) doesn't have much paddling experience OR his own boat, which meant that he was using a boat designed for a 5ft dwarf that weighs nothing. (mikey is a little bit bigger).

This caused a few er, problems...

Mikeys boat decided that it prefered being on the water upside down, which unfortunately for Mikey, meant that he did a lot of swimming. After a number of false starts, and before we even set off on our mini expedition. I got lumbered with the dwarfs boat, and Mikey took the 'unsinkable' Carolina off me!

The weather was fantastic, and once I had figured out how to keep the tiny boat upright AND tracking in a straight line, we we're off on what turned out to be a great days paddling.

Hartlepool Wadokai Annual Sponsored Walk

With us going to Japan, we've brought our club's annual competition forward from November to June. This means that the club's sponsored walk (to raise funds for the comp) also gets brought forward.

We were initially going to have a camping weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, however, after a few set backs with the weather etc... we had to go with plan C. This was a walk around the Hartlepool country side and then back to Vicky & Vince's pad for a BBQ/Party.

I'll post some more pics when i get them, but we had the best turnout ever for the walk, with over 80 people dragging themselves out of bed early on a Sunday morning! Naturally, we picked the worst day (weather wise) over the whole bank holiday weekend for the walk, with intermittent showers, but the majority of the rain managed to stay away until we finished the walk. Then it was back home for some quick showers and then off to the party... a good day.

Visa's, Karate & the Congestion charge....

So, we've had a pretty busy time of late. We've basically been trying to fit in a years worth of Karate events into a six month period, so to say our schedule is a little full, is a bit of an understatement. We both work full time through the week & don't have a weekend free until we Fly to Japan at the end of June!

Anyway, after quite a bit of negotation with our employers, we managed to get a full weekend off work. We decided to travel to London for a sunday training course run by Sensei Sakagami & Sensei Peter May. Me and Amy would stay over in town and visited the Japan Embassy on the Monday morning. Simple enough plan!

All should have been well, however, Me being Me, i decided to forget my CV which is needed for the Visa. So, after some quick thinking, and a little bit of flirting with the cute Japanese embassy lady, i decided to call my (Computer iliterate) mother back in Hartlepool and try to talk her through sending an email with an attachment... then all i needed to do was find an internet Cafe in the poshest part of London, print it out, and we'd be done.

...if only life was that simple!

45 minutes later, and we've sent emails to every man and his dog, but not to me... eventually, we get it sorted, with the correct CV attached. We head off to an internet cafe at the bottom of a general store. Log into my mail account and guess what, the file won't open. Well, at this point i can't even contemplate calling the mother again so the only thing left to do is to re-write my CV before the embassy closes...

All is done, now all we need to do is find the car & get out of London, before the Sun goes down...

A few days later, we got a lovely letter from the then Mayor of London, big Ken, 'we are happy to anounce that you've been stung with a £60 fine for driving in my city, please come again'.

Just a quick question, how the hell are you supposed to know that you have to pre-pay for the congestion zone when you don't live in London? D'uh!

So, naturally, i will be protesting my ignorance/innocence via letter... despite always being a Labour supporter, i was quite pleased that Boris got elected, strange that...