Saturday mornings

On weekdays I either teach or take the 6 a.m. Bikram Yoga class. If I’m not teaching it I help out behind the desk until class starts and stay behind to lock the front door when the teacher goes into the room. Without a doubt, the Saturday 8 a.m. class is always my favourite of the week, and I always come out of it feeling like £620,501. A combination of factors:

– sleeping in for two hours
– going straight from car to the yoga room without helping out at the front desk
– twice as many students creating an extra charge of energy in the room
the boss teaching
– anticipation of the weekend — two days off

Have I ever talked about the wonders and benefits of Bikram Yoga? If you haven’t tried it you’re missing out!

Bandwidth overload

John found a website last week that uploads a photograph of the Houston skyline every fifteen minutes.

Or so it said.

Turns out that it hasn’t changed once. And unfortunately John, in his excitement, set it to download onto our TV screen with our webcams at regular intervals and then forgot to switch it off when it failed to change. As a result, we’ve almost reached our monthly allotment of downloads from Comcast. 250 GB, I think.

So until the end of January . . . I’m not allowed to watch any YouTube videos or download anything, and the webcams will not be updated. Hope you don’t miss the Houston Habs too much.

Helen on the Radio!

Helen was Phil Hammond‘s guest on his Virtual Dinner Party show on Radio Bristol on Saturday. Click this link to listen.

As an experienced daily online Radio 2 listener, I think these audios only stay online for seven days. So listen now just in case!

And if you don’t want to listen to the whole programme, slide the bar along to 16 minutes 14 seconds. She leaves at at the 57th minute.

If you haven’t yet bought a copy of Helen’s Found in the Rain CD you’re missing some very beautiful music. Mine has been in Wendy‘s CD player for six months now. And I hear that there’s another coming out soon. Any estimate on that, Helen?

2010 Houston Marathon

The Chevron Houston Marathon circles our house. We watched the start at 7 a.m. on television while lying in bed. At 7:40 ish we went outside and cheered on the runners as they passed our local Thai Restaurant on Montrose Blvd. (Mile 7). At 7:55 we went home and brewed a thermos of coffee. At 8:30 we rode our bicycles to the Allen Parkway and watched the leaders as they passed the 23-mile point. The first six were all Ethiopian, I think. First in was Teshome Galana who set a course record of 2:07:52. The seventh was an American, Brett Gotcher, who ran the fastest time ever by an American on the Houston course: 2:10:35. First female was Teyba Erkesso, who also won it last year. Her husband ran all the way with her.

So there’s one way to watch it. We were home by 9:30 a.m.

Congratulations to everyone who ran (or is still running).

Two money saving tips for UK Habs

From David:

I may be “teaching Granny to suck eggs” but now we’re all electronic and doing everything online, I’ve found that switching house insurance policies (buildings & contents) every year produces huge savings. I’ve just binned Saga Insurance at £759.60 renewal premium and moved to Prudential – same cover for £270.90. Amazing saving which I guess could apply equally to car or travel insurance. It seems there’s no such thing as company loyalty anymore. Tip: Establish exactly what cover you need and visit – well worth the time and hassle.

Second tip: Don’t regularly dial expensive 0845 or 0870 prefix numbers until you’ve visited There’s almost certainly an ordinary BT number prefix 01. For Saga I even found there was a freephone 0800 number which worked fine – but they don’t tell you about it.

David's allotment – a deal at £30 a year

This is interesting. David has rented an allotment from the Havant Council. £30 a year. It backs on to the railway behind Emsworth Station. A two-minute bike ride from his house through the park. Since this picture was taken he’s almost dug it over and put up a shed at the end, between the two left-hand sheds. He’s planted shallots and garlic, and ordered potatoes which will be planted in the spring. He’ll also be growing beans and cabbage, and Libby is thinking of planting some fruit bushes: red currants, goosegogs, etc. They’re also thinking of planting the Christmas tree there each year to save buying one.

I’d only ever seen these in Holland when living there in 1980. I used to see men sitting next to their sheds smoking and drinking beer while they watched the vegetables grow and used to think they were getting away from their wives. I can also remember Dad at Coleford taking an interest in growing asparagus at the top of the orchard. Whenever I went up there to see how it was going, he’d be sitting in a chair and smoking a cigar. I was always sworn to secrecy. David, however, assures me that there is no electricity in the shed and he won’t be keeping beer there.

And more on allotment history, from David:

Allotments have an interesting history. Goes back to Enclosures in the 17th/18th centuries when landowners gained more control over fields and crops, and labourers lost a range of common rights. Social unrest and philanthropy led to initiatives to allow the poor people to rent their own small piece of land to produce their own vegetables. The Allotment Acts of 1887, 1890, 1907 and 1908 made urban allotments available. It became a new craze for the respectable classes at the beginning of the 20th century, with increased use of course during the two world wars when the country was nearly starved of food by the German U Boat campaign – “Dig for Victory” and all that. Popularity waned in the ’50s and ’60s when food prices dropped. Now back in fashion with the green movement. The allotment size is standard – designed to feed a family of 4. The previous tenant of my plot had six other plots too.

Council tenancy rules are precise – 26p per sq metre per year. Not allowed to sell the produce. Must mow the grass border. Bonfires allowed but not allowed to smoke out the neighbours…

Keep us posted, David, and send pictures. has some readers who I know will be interested in this, especially a couple in Oklahoma!