Saturday, 13 September 2014

Vi Flyder I Vin - Part 2

Back at the start of June I took part in the Vi Flyder I Vin 'We Float in Wine' challenge. Sailing on a trampoline using wine box liners as floats.

It was such a success it was decided to do it again this time around the parliament building in the centre of Copenhagen. Somehow this time it was to be two trampolines.
I thought it was just another mad idea from Mogens Nørgaard who has these frequently and it is best to just humour him, however apparently there was a political point behind it...............................or so the official story goes.

Nicolai Oster the other protagonist from the original story has a bit of a reputation as a political activist, harmless but passionate and feels the need to have his say. He is well known to the Danish authorities and so when he applied for a permit for a protest, they were not surprised and granted it.

Now I am not saying they are nuts in Denmark, but I do like their freedom of speech. The protest was against the no recyclable status of garden trampolines and wine boxes, and his solution.... to builds boats that would sure up the Danish Navy against possible attacks! The permit not only granted the right to protest but included actual permission to demonstrate by having no more than 8 persons on each trampoline craft. For my friends in N Ireland, try getting that through the Parades Commission!

Malov is about 20km from the centre of Copenhagen so the challenge was to get two 4.2m diameter trampolines into town! Even with the help of a 32ton (we think they gave us the wrong stats here we would estimate at least another 30%), they had to be partially dismantled.

On arrival in the town centre, just by the Black Diamond Library they put them back together again and we got on with the building. Last time we had 272 bags for 1 trampoline, which was much more than needed, this time we had about 320 for 2, not quite enough but it would do. We had to reduce number of passengers and got wet feet but they were sturdy and safe.

It was a beautiful late summer's evening and people finishing work were very interested in what we were up to. I was like a kind of military quarter master, handing out and rationing materials (God forbid we rang out of duct tape), and explaining the build process (those bags have to sit just right). Defiantly not as perfect as the first outing good enough, we are now experts.

Once we had finished the construction we moved over to the canal. We started at the bottom left of the canal and sailed up and round to just past the arrow at Gammel Strand.

Last time I didn't believe we could actually sail very far so I volunteered to be a safety officer and stay in the water in a wetsuit, that way when everybody got wet I would be ok. I was also able to take interesting photos from the water. For this second challenge I was led to believe would have an outboard motor, and since I knew they were so stable I was sure I was not needed in the water.... I was wrong

Although I got on the trampoline I decided to get back in the water since there are no sharks in Copenhagen (that I know off) and there was a distinct lack of motor and the wet feet those sailing had already.
The original intention was to sail the 3 sides of the Frederiksholms Kanal spur, and our permit allowed us 3 hours in total but by the time we entered the water we had just over an hour to sail the 1.5km. The waterway looks quiet but in reality it is part of the tourist route and frequented by tourists so quite busy.

Being a tourist myself I  was keen to see this unique view of the Natural history museum, the original palace, the parliament and of course the old brewery.

As each tour boat passed us, we stood to attention and saluted as Nicolai would repeat his speech. The tourists loved it as did most of the crew but for each one we needed to move over to the side, the problem was the crew of my trampoline were too busy saluting and drinking to row so I spent the entire time towing them, just 6 weeks ago I did my PADI rescue diver and was worried I was not strong enough to tow an injured diver very far when in practice I towed a trampoline with 5 crew for over a km.
The reaction we got from tourists and locals was amazing with people stopping what they were doing to watch us and wonder what it was all about.

The whole experience was fun except for the final bridge, which was very wide and took us a long time to get through. I believe the rules of the water state that power gives way to rowers but we simply kept to the side and let them pass. three passed us in this tunnel, the first had about 1m clearance and was fine, the 2nd had very little clearance and it actually caused the trampoline to spin forward and I had to work hard to keep moving anti clockwise to avoid being crushed against the side of the tunnel. The third boat where we encountered our only miserable skipper, had no room and should have waited for us to clear the tunnel and we were literally 20m from doing so, but no he ploughed on literally into us causing me to actually be scared. The spinning was fine, I dumped my camera on the trampoline and moved quickly, but the speed was so fast that I was in danger of being sucked under the trampoline and I would not have been able to breathe, I may have had a wetsuit on but I had no air supply, so I had to kick out and push at the trampoline instead of pull it; but I was quite calm and it was all over ok quite quickly, and back to the important matter of sailing.

By now the light was starting to fade so the decision was made to finish at the 2/3rd point rather than continue to our planned finish, we were running out of time. we docked at the tour boat jetty but it was a bit high for me and I was exhausted and my legs were in danger of cramping. I can't pull myself up and there was no ladder. luckily another thing taught on the rescue diver course is how to lift a unresponsive body onto dry land and I just gave orders. Not very lady like and I made them promise not to take photos but I forgot the go pro was set to take them every 10 seconds.

As we had finished early we were not at our expected rendezvous point and thus had 2 trampolines too far to carry. We decided to leave them where we landed and arrange something for the next day. It was suggested they were simply dumped as performance art but I like to think it was a way to show our point, there ARE no recycling facilities for these items.
Interestingly the next morning one was covered in graffiti and was observed being dismantled add disposed of by Copenhagen refuse collectors as if it was an everyday occurrence, and the 2nd had found its way to the main square.


We finished the evening with a lovely traditional meal and I thought I would never be able to stand I was so exhausted (although nothing compared to my friend Alex Gorbachev the next day, but that is another story.....)


Trips to the yellow mansion are never ordinary and it is always a worry as to what will be the next adventure but this was fun, and how any people do you know who have experienced Copenhagen from water level whilst making a very important point about a global problem? I am proud to have done my bit for the cause.

And just in case you think this is too far out to be true here is the Time lapse video of part II


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Vi Flyder I Vin

A recipe for a great day out - Take one half baked idea….
It started one dark, dark December evening, two Danish guys sat at the OakTable drinking wine from a bag (in Denmark it is common for the inner bag of a wine box to be removed and stored in a novelty container - or so they tell me) and having squeezed the last drops out, the old guy decided to share his wisdom with the young impressionable visitor.

“”If you blow up the empty bag, you have an inflatable pillow as used by scouts and festival goers worldwide" he explained. Then followed a long discussion around alternative uses for these receptacles and this led to exploring their use as a flotation device and the idea that would later be MS Vinonysus was floated.

Their first idea was an air mattress (additional sleeping arrangements is a common requirement in this house), but soon led onto building a raft that could sail in the local lake. Vi Flyder I Vin was born and translated this means floating in Vine.

Initially they intended to collect 42 (of course), bags for their raft and friends were recruited to help them find empties, which basically meant drinking lots of wine.

For me the idea also resonated because this house is in a village called Måløv and I do not speak Danish and always struggled with the pronunciation but was told to 'say it like Merlot' as in the wine, today that is a very literal town name.

Like most good ideas it snowballed and now today, the 1st June 2014 had arrived and the ship would sail.

Back to the recipe:

·         272 wine bags (and lots of hangovers later) - this equates to more than 1,000 litres drunk (most were 3lt but some 5lt).

·         Naval captain's uniform given to the old guy Mogens Nørgaard (not that any of you had not guessed the identity already) for his birthday.

·         A sailor suit designed by his girlfriend and made from a shower curtain by yours truly for the young guy Nicolai Oster and his hat fashioned from a real Russian Navy hat donated by Alex Gorbachev (don’t worry Alex we took all the important bits off and have now reassembled as before).

·         The girlfriend Cecilie will be the ships figurehead as a mermaid in a costume fashioned from an old nightdress and quickly crocheted flowers. Thank you Lotte for the sewing machine.

·         The ship itself will be launched with the name MS Vinonysus, taken from Dionysus the Greek God of Winemaking, Madness and Debauchery, all very valid here and the obvious Vino, thanks to Mogens’ daughter Christine for the idea.

·         The base of the ship is a large domestic trampoline donated by his young son Viktor but the hope is it too will be restored one day.

·         More duct tape than the average DIYer would use in a lifetime

·         Lots of champagne and food for the workforce

My role in all this? I am chief safety officer and photographer, dressed in 14mm of neoprene wetsuit stationed in the local lake (read murky pond) with waterproof camera and flask of whiskey (for sustenance only of course). My gopro luckily capturing all for a time lapse video.

Phase I – The build

The day started at 10am marked by the ringing of the local church bells (although it may simply have coincided with the Sunday morning service).

3 bags taped together made a T shape and using 37 of these (sorry the other 5 were used later), we wove them like bricks around the outside of the trampoline and using the duct tape created a firm, floating rim. The remaining bags were strung together across the centre of the trampoline and then the complete top was covered in netting to ensure no escapes.

Phase II – Getting to the Lake

The legs were removed and the trampoline rolled on its side through a side gate and then carried aloft by 4 strapping men (well Mogens and 3 strapping men) the 420 meters to the lake. In this journey only 1 bag was damaged as it hit a sharp stone.

Then rolled through the bushes to the landing deck of the lake.

By now I was in place, with trusty camera and whisky in place, and go pro attached at a dodgy angle to an overhanging tree.

Phase III – Launch

Re assembled the trampoline was placed upside down on the lake. The mermaid and the crew took up their positions and with the opening of champagne and a band playing sailing the MS Vinonysus had her maiden voyage.

Since it was such a success there were another 4 (.2) sailings (I lie there were 7 in total) allowing most of those who had gathered on the docks to have their go on board the latest addition to the Danish Navy.

I was able to video most from my vantage point at water level and only once had to tow the ship like a tug boat. My dive log and rescue credentials will record my part in this historic event.

Phase IV – Return to Port

After the most successful afternoon, in the beautiful sun, the ship was lifted from the water and carried home. Local walkers and car drivers were intrigued, this trampoline and frogman escort but we were soon home and then decided to leave it as it is, the next outing will have an outboard motor.

One small issue, I lost the flask and had to go back, but luckily the flask was bobbing about on the surface and not too far to swim and retrieve.  

Everyone then had a drink to celebrate and toasted to another successful albeit it unusual party at the Yellow House!


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Belfast Riots

I just want to say thank you to all my friends who have asked if I am OK? If you live in N Ireland, you know it is awful, unnecessary, and killing all the work done to bring peace to this beautiful part of the world. If you don't live here which is most of my friends, the media allows you to focus on the very worst.

It is horrible and spreading, but I live outside of Belfast about 20 miles from the centre and to date about 7 miles from the closest trouble. On Friday when I flew home from London my taxi driver had been affected getting to me and the drive home was very hairy. I was once in my own car in a riot and that was one of the worst times of my life and spent an hour on the phone to a friend who just talked rubbish to me to get me through it.

I don't want to belittle the problem, it is not what we want, it is affecting the economy, no one wants to go shopping in town, more than half of the cruise ships planned to stop in Belfast have cancelled, and I am sure we have lost our place in the top 10 places in the UK to visit. BUT it is not the whole story, N Ireland is beautiful, I love it and normally I am proud to stay I live her.

But thank you all for caring, I do appreciate the messages and emails - I love you all

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Doing her Bit

If you know me at all you know how proud I am of my daughter. I tease her, I laugh at her and if you read some old postings on this blog you can see just how much she makes me giggle.

Yes I am proud of her, she is an officer in the British Army and she got there herself, no pedigree, no silver spoon, no sponsorship, she achieved everything she needed to get there. In a few weeks she has her first posting and will have her first set of soldiers depending on her for leadership, but first, she and her fellow young officers of the Royal Artillery are raising funds for SSAFA, a charity that helps the families of service people.

This challenge is one that Brooke is not only taking part in, but is one of the organisers. It is a tough time for raising money, soon after Movember, Christmas and alongside the January Dryathlon, but dig deep and support them.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Thoughts on 2012 and 2013

I don't blog as much now and was surprised to find my last personal blog was last year's review.

Personally the highlight was Brooke's Commissioning Day at Sandhurst, you will never meet a prouder mum.
  • I learnt what is important, the hard way, when Brooke was involved in an incident the week before her comissioning. God was looking down on her, thankyou.
  • The Diving has taken over, and I have just returned from Egypt where I completed my Advanced Open Water, on my fourth diving trip this year (Gran Canaria, Barbados, Mexico and the Red Sea).
  • I had the best 50th birthday ever and shared the celebrations with Tim Gorman and Pete Sharman along with another 30 of friends in the Rockies.
  • My friends continue to support me (and that physically includes after a very dodgy 80's party in Vegas). 
  • I have made many new friends, many from outside the IT world (that would be the diving again) and hope I can be as good friends to them.
  • I did find the time to visit my best friend in Germany, my 'family' in Guernsey (who also came over for Brooke's Commissioning) and many others. I am blessed.
  • Brooke came home to lay the wreath in our church on Remembrance Sunday, another very proud moment although when I had a chance to fire a large gun under her command on Salisbury Plain she was less proud of me :-)
  • Sometimes still struggle with the mother v friend relationship with Brooke, but every day count my blessings, I never had a good relationship with my mum.
  • My health is good, I put on about half a stone last Christmas and haven't shifted it but you know, just look at how far I have come. I am a new person.
  • The Silver Surfers are still having fun and teaching me.
  • I have spent more time at home this year, the longest period being 9 nights which is top ranking this year for number of consecutive nights in the same bed, (last year home was 3rd at 6 nights).
  • Despite a quieter year (avoided all but 1 trip to Denmark), the imaginary friend is still going strong despite the continuous threat to his life. 
  • Yet again I got to travel the world and indulge my love of teaching. #ILoveMyJob
I am very grateful for the circle of friends who help to lift me up when I get down. Last year I said I was going to try and drag the lows up, unfortunately that didn't happen and the distance between the highs (that were brilliant) and the lows (that sucked) were even greater. As casualties to this was a very good friend, a strained friendship earlier in the year which has now recovered, and far too much time worrying. I especially want to say thank you to those who have given me the physical and virtual hugs to pick myself up.

Professionally it has been a very mixed year:
  • For a while Fujitsu was a challenge as they went through a period of major change and I as one small individual struggled to find my place.
  • The last three months were great I had a fantastic Fujitsu time at Oracle Open World, in Japan and Munich and of course closer to home.
  • UKOUG continued it's change and although I achieved my ambition for re-election I stepped down as President in August which has been a very difficult transition.
  • I continue on the UKOUG Council and led the 2012 Conference Committee and hope to lead the 2013 Apps Conference and foster a vibrant Fusion Community. I am also responsible for Public Sector and Ireland were we continue to grow.
  • I did get to introduce Martin Corry on stage which was cool, love Rugby.
  • I did as intended step down from the Product Development Commitee at the IOUC but it hasn't really developed and I am very sad about that. 
  • I have perfected the 'jazz hands' to go with my signature statement 'I'm not technical', thank you to all in the ACE program for the coaching.
And what do I want from 2013?
  • Sort out those lows!
  • Writing a book as therapy - need to really get on with it!
  • Rescue Diver (and the lots of diving that goes with it).
  • Get fitter, the diving is tiring and what would help is being fit (and / or Nitrox!) 
  • I haven't succumbed to the Internet Dating but will probably give it a go. 
  • Wish my ex and I could be friends,we still share a daughter and should be able to celebrate her achievements together.
  • Get used to Brooke being overseas, she is posted to Germany in February.
  • Visit more friends.
  • Speak in Africa, perhaps we can get an ACE tour sorted.
  • Decide which speaking I can and can't do, so many more considerations now, Budget, Fujitsu and Vacation time and of course which ones I can add diving to. Cary commented on last year's post it was about commitment and I so agree with him.
  • Blog more here, first up needs to be about the diving (did I mention I am hooked?)

Saturday, 31 December 2011

My Thoughts on 2011 and hopes for 2012

More personal this posting

Professionally 2011 has been great:
  • I have a new boss in Fujitsu who sees the value I bring, and enables me to do what I do best.
  • UKOUG has changed and I am President of a great community with a great future.
  • I continue to speak around the UK and the world on Fusion Apps, with help from the ACE Program and the UX Advocates Program.
The friends I have made around the world have given me great highs, but towards the end of the year I also had a number of lows. I get quite lonely, which maybe because I rarely spend time at home, but also because my darling daughter of whom I am so proud graduated from university and is now at Sandhurst as an army officer, and really has flown the nest now. I love travel and love my job and I love my house, but I do need to decide what I want to do in the future.

So my wishes for 2012
  • Iron out the highs and lows (or rather drag the lows up)
  • Have the best 50th birthday ever (which I will because I am celebrating in Colorado with 42 of my best friends
  • See my daughter graduate from Sandhurst
  • Continue to enjoy my job
  • Get re-elected to UKOUG Council and stay on as President
  • Make more friends and stay friends with the ones I have now
  • Visit my best friend in Munster, Germany
  • Step down from the Product Development Committee IOUC and help someone else take over
  • Do more diving, and defiantly before the liveaboard I am doing in August
  • Find someone special would be nice but not sure I am ready for online dating

Friday, 30 September 2011

so Proud

Today my daughter is 23. I am so proud of her, 6 years ago she spent a week with the army for work experience. She came home and said she wanted to be an army officer.

That was the start of a long journey, the familiarisation visits to different areas to decide what part of the army, the tests, and finally the selection board, but 18 months later she was accepted and given a Place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. She had 6 years to take up her place the intention being that she could go to university.

Government cuts meant the gap year the army offered her was cancelled, and later once she started officer cadets there were more cuts. Other people would have given up, but not her, she wanted this and no one else was going to stop her.

She did a volunteer stint in a school in the Dominican Republic where we sponsor children in their medical centre. She had a place to start a nursing degree 6 months later, but very soon after arriving at the school decided nursing was not for her. I love the fact she was brave enough to say so.

After discussing with the army she found a degree that suited her interests, in outdoor activity management. The degree itself was very business focused, the running of the industry and the educational value of outdoor pursuits. Her first year was difficult, not the course she loved that, but the university itself was in a fantastic location but not really a university setting and she felt she was missing out on university life. Worse was that she was unable to be an Officer Cadet as it was too far from her designated base. Again she didn't give up, and moved universities, but first she took time out.

The course required a placement in the industry, not very much a few hundred hours, but she wanted to do something more worthwhile. She found, applied for and was successful in getting a place on an internship with the Australian Outward Bound organization. 9 months but she loved it, learnt a lot about herself and the industry and gained qualifications in many activities. I remember the day she rang to tell me she was abseiling, and how nervous she was. "why?" i asked, "you have done it before" ; "yes but this time I am tying the knots" she laughed.

All too soon and she was back, and within 6 days had celebrated her 21st and started at a new university for year 2, another brave move. She joined the cadets with enthusiasm and over the next two years added sailing and running to long list of achievements. She took part in many adventures including army biathlons and Cowes week. She finished her degree and even going to university was nothing neither me or her dad had ever done.

This summer she had her final tests with the army and there was a little health wobble that threatened to scupper everything. She was devastated and had to wait two weeks for a follow up during which she was marching with the army in Nijmegen. But the medical went OK everything was cleared and the big career was back on.

Then one of my proudest moments, taking her to Sandhurst. She was so excited and so nervous. It is a years training, it is hard, relentless but she will be great at it.