humour, life

Adventures in the city


You know how I always turn everything into a quest, right? I think I’ve mentioned it before. Once thing is sure, my life doesn’t get too boring.

Whenever I start getting bored, it’s like subconsciously my mind flips a switch and then I end up doing something very random and weird. And I stop being bored (many times, I also start being tired).

On Monday I went to the house for the night and decided it was a good day to start a new workout plan. Since I didn’t have any weights or machines with me (I don’t normally carry those around), I decided Freeletics was the way to go. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s basically a series of workouts (with wonderful Greek gods’ names!) which are designed to be done with no equipment, and just your body. Also, it seems they’re designed to be performed in 2×2 metres, so there’s definitely no excuse. What this means in reality is a lot of high intensity, very taxing types of exercises (think burpees, high knees, crunches).

In theory, you select your workout, then your intensity, and then you start working out. Since I had joined Freeletics a while ago, but the software cleverly noticed I hadn’t done a single squat, I received an email showing me some baby steps, and a suggested workout to do, Athena.

Athena Workout

I did this workout, and finished relatively quick, which of course prompted me to question whether I had done it correctly. After a quick WhatsApp conversation with Brian (who is the one who introduced me to Freeletics, by the way), it turned out I had done it correctly. I still felt a bit of an anticlimax there, so I decided to do another, especially since the app pretty much took me straight into Metis.

Metis Workout

All in all, it took me only 13 minutes to do both workouts, but by the end of it, I was out of breath, my heart was racing, and I thought I was going to drop dead on the floor (maybe not dead, maybe just pass out a little, foam coming out of my mouth or something).

Monday Workout

So far, so good, right?

I overslept a bit in the morning, and instead of waking up at 6am, as I do whenever I stay at the house, I got up at 7am. I had breakfast, got everything done and left. My plan was to go swimming first thing in the morning. By the time I arrived at Lewisham, there wasn’t that much left of lane swimming, and a class was about to start, so I just went straight home. I chilled for a bit, ate, and then got ready to go back to the swimming pool at 12pm.

I walked to the gym (about 16 minutes), as I do to go to the train station, and was ready to jump into the water at 11.45am, and even though it was still sort of restricted (either kids, or over 60, or two very fast lanes), the lifeguard let me jump into the over 60 lane, since there were no seniors to be seen. My fears about lane swimming were completely unfounded! I thought the lanes were going to be narrow, like the two fast lanes at the far end of the pool, but they were quite wide, so there was plenty of space! I tried some freestyle swimming, but I was too out of practise (and my style is awful anyway) to pull it off, especially in public, so I opted for breastroke. I have a bit of an issue with this technique, which is that my kick isn’t great. I manage the right leg quite alright, but my left leg does its own thing. I spent the whole time trying to fix this.

A few more people joined, and they created another medium lane. It took a moment to figure out which direction we needed to be swimming, and then it was all fine. During one of my breaks for air, I started chatting to a Welsh guy who goes there quite often, which proves how easy it is to talk to strangers (and by strangers, I mean guys), when you have an ice breaker (gosh, I’m so out of breath here, definitely not as fit as I thought I was!).

I only swam for half an hour. In my mind, I had planned to do longer, but in reality, my body said enough. I had been pretty much on dry land for the past couple of years, so I would have been happy just splashing some water with the kids. I’m not sure how many lengths I end up doing (I honestly have no actual reference in my mind, it could have been anything from 10 to 50 – OK, probably not 50), but it turned out to be a great workout, and so relaxing, despite the effort.

Since I was already in Lewisham, I thought it was a great idea to do grocery shopping. As usual, I ended up buying more stuff than I intended (mostly cleaning products, which are heavy, and meat), and so I decided to take the bus back home. As I was walking out of the shopping centre, I saw in my mind my denim jacket on the chair by my desk at home. Why do I mention this? Because my Oyster card was inside that jacket, safely stored in a pocket.

Transport is expensive in London, so I pretty much always refuse to pay extra for anything (for example, to take a cab back home at night). Given that, I chose not to use my bank card, and walk instead. A few Tetris moves later, I had my grocery packed in my rucksack (alongside with swimming stuff), and a couple of extra bags tied to the straps, so I wouldn’t have to carry anything on my hands, and set off.

About 20 minutes later, and even one hill after, I made it home. As a last hurdle, I climbed the stairs, and dropped on the sofa, completely beaten.

After probably passing out for 15 minutes, I put the groceries away, and then cooked my lunch. The plan was to eat, chill a bit, shower and get ready to see Swan Lake in the evening.

When I left for the ballet (looking smoking hot, if I might add!), I planned my route using an app, just to make sure I didn’t end up walking longer than I needed to, since I was exhausted.

I arrived at Charing Cross and made my way to the Royal Opera House. On my way there, I saw Bella Italia, the restaurant in which Su and I had dinner when we went to the London Coliseum to see La Sylphide and my brain played a tricked on me, and realised I needed to go to the English National Opera (London Coliseum) instead. I looked at my phone, with the app open, and told it off for telling me to go the wrong way (the destination on the app being the Royal Opera House, which I had entered, so it wasn’t really the app’s fault).

After walking a bit, I stopped to think that I had set off my journey to the Royal Opera House initially, so my app was right after all, and I was just going to a completely different place. I changed the course again and went back to my original plan. When I got there, weirdly enough, the doors were closed and the venue looked empty inside. I thought it was way too early, so I walked around until I found a Starbucks and bought myself a coffee (to keep me awake during the performance). I went back to the Royal Opera House and when I saw the doors were still closed, I started to get a bit worried that I had done something wrong. Maybe my ticket was for a different date? Maybe I hadn’t actually bought a ticket? Was it all a dream?

I am a very visual person (remember when I saw my denim jacket on the chair?), and once again, I had some sort of flashback, of my diary this time.

Note: the highlighter was there from the beginning, it’s how I mark some events on my agenda, I didn’t add it for the purpose of the photo. The random list of ingredients is for my Whole30 reintroduction process, nothing to do with this post).

Exhibit A - Screenshot of diary

As you can see, it clearly says ENO, which means English National Opera, which means I had to go to the Coliseum. That brain-glitch I had had earlier, yeah, that was my mind trying to bring my attention to the right venue and the fact I was making a mistake the first time around!

Once again, I walked towards the Coliseum (so much for not wanting to walk too long, right?) and made it with plenty of time. It’s a good thing they’re both quite close to each other!

On my voucher, it said I needed to collect the ticket. When I got there, the lady couldn’t find my tickets and just before I started panicking (again), she confirmed I could use my confirmation email as a ticket, because it already had the seat number. Of course, the seat was in the balcony, which meant… another bunch of stairs.

By this point, I was so done with my life in general. I just wanted to sit down on a step and have a nap. However, I gathered all my strength and made it to the top, found my seat and slumped on it.

The ballet was nice, very beautiful and rich. The costumes were amazing, of course. There was a French couple to my right, which were quite annoying (my French friends, don’t worry, I’m not generalising here). The guy kept using up the whole armrest, pushing me off it (even when I was trying to use just a little corner), and he kept taking photos with his mobile phone. When a lady behind him said something along the lines of Oh, for God’s sake, will you stop it already?, he got a bit defensive and told her off for not asking him politely. Seems the dude never heard of the fact that recording is prohibited, or something.

The story of the ballet didn’t flow, like other performances I’ve seen (ballet or otherwise), and it felt more like they were doing small dancing numbers, showing off their skills. A bunch of people would dance, and then stand still, while the audience clapped. Then the prince would appear and dance, finish and bow and, how do you call it, salute? And the audience would clap. Then the swan would appear, dance, finish and take a bow. And the audience would clap.

I don’t mind all the clapping, I’m used to it from theatre, but taking a bow after each piece was a bit off-putting for my taste. It wasn’t just a bow, quick and off they went, it was the whole I’m humbled by your appreciation for my art sort of thing. I don’t know, maybe that’s how Swan Lake is performed.

Other than that, their skill was amazing. I was able to put what I’ve known about this ballet into context. I knew the most widely known songs, and I knew some of the choreographies (like the Four Little Swans one – is that the name of that scene? I don’t know), but I had never seen it all together in context.

In the story I knew, Odette (the White Swan/enchanted princess) needs true eternal love to break her curse. The prince sees her as a swan when he’s out hunting and just before he shoots her she transforms from a beautiful swan to a beautiful princess. The usual happens, she’s hesitant at first, and completely ethereal, avoiding his attempts at touching her, then they dance together, falling in love. The evil magician is not happy about this, because that means the prince is going to break the spell, so he gets his daughter to pose as Odette and trick the prince into proposing to her instead, and thus breaking his promise of love to Odette instead of the curse. In theory, he uses magic to make them both look the same, which is more than we can say for any of the Disney films we’ve seen where the princes never remember how their loved princesses look like and end up always falling in love for a different woman. Tsk! (Disney 0 – 1 Russians)

Once the prince proposes to Odile, she laughs at him and then he realises he’s made a mistake and runs to Odette, who is, unfortunately, dying. Cue the rivers of tears. You broke your promise, broke her heart and now she’s dead. You pretty much killed her, prince, and the last thing she saw/felt was your betrayal. Don’t be all sorry now, at least Prince Charming used a shoe to find the real Cinderella! (Disney 1 – 1 Russians)

Last night, as Act IV was unfolding, I was bracing myself for the inevitable tears (I’ve told you, I cry with anything, stop judging me!) and then, the prince fought the evil magician (and spanked him with his own feathery sleeve, which was weird) and Odette suddenly wakes up, the curse broken with the death of the magician. She and the prince embrace, and seemingly, live happily ever after.

Wait… what? No tears?

I felt a bit robbed of an experience, I wanted to see Odette die. OK, we sort of did. She did perform a death, right before the prince fought the evil magician, but I thought it was a bit not enough at the time, and I was expecting she was still dying. With the magician dead, the prince will go to her, and then the real death dance would happen. She didn’t die. I was a bit taken by surprise.

The audience started applauding and cheering and then the longest curtain call in the world happened. First the swans, then the evil magician, then Odette, then the prince, then again. Curtain down. Curtain up. Flowers were thrown at the stage. More bowing, more you’re the best, nah, you’re the best. Curtain down, and up again (almost catching Odette and the prince in the process, by the way). Two bouquets were given to them, more bowing… Curtain down… Wait, why are they on this side of the curtain? More bowing, more thanks, more nah, you, audience are the best.

I get it, it’s a great ballet. I get it, you’re amazing dancers. I get it, it’s a classic and all that, the one every dancer must aspire to dance one day… But you’ve been bowing after every single song. Cut it out already.

I’m just saying that because it did feel like forever, but to be honest, it was a great experience overall. I had a lot of fun, even if I was on my own (I also met a girl who was on her own, and we talked during an intermission, she was Russian and she was there because all her Russian friends were telling her off for never having seen Swan Lake).

To top things off, when I got back home, I tried to fix the sink in the kitchen with some products, because it hasn’t been draining properly for a few days. I followed the instructions and guess what? It got worse. I went to bed really late trying to unblock the sink, with no success. I guess that’s what I’ll be doing this evening when I get home.

The whole of yesterday was a quest. It felt like a much more complicated day than it should have been!

Next up, Secret Cinema presents Star Wars on Friday. I can’t wait!!

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5 Comments

    • marz says

      Hi! Yes, Freeletics is awesome! I did another two workouts this morning (starting to feel them now… ouch!). Really? Are those good timings? I mean, I thought it went quick, but it wasn’t a lot of effort… You’re just saying that to encourage me!! 🙂

      • If it hurts, its working! 🙂
        Timings depends a lot fom person to person, what’s more important is to do it right. Workout after workout we will reduce our personal best times (PB).
        Some exercises are easier, others are harder. Follow your freeletics app coach, continue with the routines and you will see results very quick!

        Follow my journey in freeletics. I’m quite new in this also 🙂
        http://www.freeathletejourney.com

        Keep it up! #NoExcuses

        • marz says

          I agree some are easier than others (I hate burpees and sprawls!!). Good luck on your journey – I’ve started following your blog, so I’ll try to keep the encouragement going 🙂

  1. Pingback: Keeping it up | [shutter and ink.]

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