Thursday 31 March 2011

Six weeks of yoga

Six weeks ago I started a yoga journey (The path to enlightenment & Can you stand in one place and sweat?) by embarking on a beginner programme at an Ashtanga yoga studio in Dunkeld.

After six-weeks I still can't sit comfortably in lotus (this is going to take a long time and a lot of work!) but I can now grab my fingers when in Marichyasana A and B (just!), my shoulder stand and headstand are stronger and mostly stable and my sun salutation flow is looking mighty fine. It's going to be a while before I can properly 'jump through to sitting' - I have improved. As for those arm balances and 'pushing up into handstand' - well, they'll have to wait a while too.

This journey has given me far more than yoga because once a week I run the 15km to the studio (I get a lift back with my mom, who has also been coming to yoga - a change for her after five years of Tai Chi) and on Saturday mornings (most of them) I ride my bike there and back.

Aside from gaining a different type of strength from the many sun salutation and vinyasa repeats, I have found that my hill running is far stronger; and I put this down to a direct effect from the yoga.

I'm really enjoying the practise and the people and I'm sure that in a few months I'll have made far more progress.

Monday 28 March 2011

Last grandparent, gone

My grandmother passed away yesterday afternoon. My father's mother. She moved to South Africa, from Paris, about five years ago and she was in a steady decline from before she arrived; Alzheimers. 18-months ago she had to be moved into a care facility when, within a few days she went from barely capable, to almost comatose. She recovered substantially from this episode but continued to decline mentally and physically. Over the past few weeks she'd been sleeping a lot more than usual and on Wednesday she had a stroke. She slept pretty much all day until she stopped breathing yesterday. A peaceful way to pass.

Sadly, I have never been close to any of my grandparents as I grew up with them in different countries. My family was very much 'ahead of its time'. As a child, most of my friends had their grandparents living in the same suburb or fairly nearby. My family was more like families today - 20 to 30 years later - where family members are spread around the world.

My mom's father lived in Zimbabwe and then in Eshowe. When I hit high school (aged 12) he moved up to Jo'burg. He alternated living with my mom and me for a few weeks and then with my uncle. Injured in WWII, his one leg had been amputated below the knee. As a small child I can remember tapping his wooden leg - always fascinated by it.

He read voraciously but had no other hobbies or interests or friends and spent his days in an armchair reading, smoking and drinking. I would stay at boarding school over 'home weekends' so as not to go home if he was staying with my mom. We didn't talk about much, had little in common and next to no history. I must have been 14 when he died in his sleep.

My French grandfather I can only recall meeting twice. The first: I must have been a young child and I remember playing cards with him and learning a fancy shuffling method. I've always enjoyed card games, which my dad and I always played when I went to visit on school holidays. I was maybe 15 when I saw my grandfather again, at an old age home in Zimbabwe. One of the few men in the home, all the old ladies vyed for his company. He was a charming gentleman. At this stage he had advanced lung cancer and he died a few months later. I remember his very strong French accent, which even decades in Zimbabwe had barely faded.

Both of my grandfathers were many years older than my grandmothers - certainly 10-14 years older. Both pairs were divorced before I was born. This was pretty revolutionary too. The Big D in those days!

My Zimbabwean grandmother, 'Gran' - my mom's mother - was the one I knew the best. In primary school I would often go to Zimbabwe during school holidays. I'd spend some time with her in Harare and the rest of the holiday on family friends' farm. She was in South Africa every few years. I remember her knitting toys for me, doting on her staffie dog, Jesse, and getting dressed so smartly to go to work. She always travelled with her make-up and lotions-and-potions in a square, hard bag. She called it "my face". She'd zip around in her sporty blue car.

Her partner of 35-odd years was an abusive, alcoholic swine who alienated her from family and friends over many years. When they retired they were often in South Africa but we rarely saw them. We certainly didn't want to see him and would sometimes get my gran to come and stay for a week. He would grudgingly release her.

She was a busy body, rarely sitting down for half an hour. Her life was dedicated to her partner to the exclusion of all else - his children, grandchildren and family in favour of her family; him above everyone else. By the time they retired she had few friends and no outside interests except for tending to him and having too many G & Ts. He had a heart attack and died. She came to live with my uncle. She had stopped living when he died and a few months later she too passed. She must have been in her early 70's - about 10 years ago.

My French grandmother. She lived in Paris and, as a child, I was forced to write to her. I say forced because my mom would make me write letters in response to her and also birthday and christmas cards. Although my mom's motivations were sound, I hated it because I didn't know this person I had to write to. She came out to South Africa every few years but I never had a connection with her. I was still a child.

In the years before she retired I do remember her being very dynamic. She did courses - particularly in art history - and would travel to super destinations regularly. I saw her very much as a jetsetter. In 1998 I spent a few days with her in Paris. She took me to some incredible places - including Monet's home and gardens in Giverny. I was very impressed that she walked as fast as me, whipping me around the city. It was also interesting to note our similarities, despite having spent almost no time together, ever. There are many traits that I have, similar to her, which my dad doesn't present.

When I saw her in Paris in 2005, a few months before she moved to South Africa, she had changed a lot. Although still very functional, I realised that her mental faculties were not what they used to be. Probably as a result of the early stages of Alzheimers and also, I think, lack of use. My dad had asked her a few years ago what her plans had been for her retirement. She had planned to do nothing; and that's what she did. Few friends and only occasional lunch arrangements, no hobbies, little reading and no interests.

Her days were filled with time-wasting activities. An hour for breakfast, an age to tidy up, a few hours to cook her lunch-time meal, daily visit to the shops to buy bread or a fruit and this and that, watching a programme or two on television and an early night. Every day. Gone was that dynamic woman who would study and travel. When she retired, everything stopped.

And so she moved to South Africa where the same routines continued in her townhouse, a few kilometres from my dad's place. No friends, no interests, no hobbies and a steady decline. A few weeks before her 80th birthday - in August 2009 - she was nearly dead. My dad went to visit and found her in a near comatose state and managed to get her into a nearby care facility. She improved a lot under their care but was never well enough to live outside of 24-hour care and supervision. Although she did recognise us, she'd lapse into French (her English had always been perfect) and mostly nonsense talk.

She had barely been with this world for the last year and spending every day sitting in a chair, dozing and barely functional is no way to live. Her passing is a release - and relief.

With Mamie's passing a chapter on a whole generation of my family is now closed. I can't even really look back at any of my grandparents with much feeling or fondness because I didn't really know them.

 My mom's childhood was spent with cousins and aunts and her grandmother (my great grandmother was alive until I was a late-teen; but I also barely knew her). I have had little of this. I grew up as many children are growing up now and their lives will also be empty of grandparents to whom they have no connection or obligation other than blood ties. They're real for the parents, but not the children.

'Tis the way of the world now, sadly.

Friday 25 March 2011

A night with Nataniel

I have always liked Nataniel and I think that if we met in person that we'd get along like a house on fire. He used to have a show on tv - it was some years ago and I always made a point of watching it because I found him so funny, interesting and entertaining. He regularly presents shows at theatres and although I had never been to one they had caught my eye.

Last night I went to see his new show, Combat. I had heard that the costumes were amazing - and they were. His music is big and while not my usual listening style, it goes with the whole stage show and I enjoyed the well organised, rehearsed and thoughtful performance.

From segments I've seen on tv over the years it seems that he's an incredibly hard worker, dedicated to performances as well as people in his life. Everything he does is done properly with exceptional attention to detail. So I expected this from his show and I wasn't disappointed.

I wasn't quite prepared to be so totally charmed by Nataniel. He is a talented storyteller with a lovely manner and clever way with words. His show is based around a number of stories, which are interrupted by song performances. The stories had me captivated.

Nataniel is matter of fact and funny and each tale has a special message. The last few stories were in Afrikaans and whike my listening is more fluent than my spoken Afrikaans, I did have to concentrate and there were a few subtleties (and jokes) that I missed. But I got most of it.

In one story (in English) Nataniel talks of his childhood and a child who was at school with him (these are not true stories... at least I don't think they are!).

A fast-food joint opened up in their small town and one family, in particular, took to it. The boy was in school with Nataniel and over a few years he became so fat that he was unable to go to school, ended up confined to his bed, inside his house and needed to be broken out by one of those ball-demolition things to be taken to hospital.

Some of the town's aunts decide that they need to have a stand with cakes and pies outside the house because this 'breaking-out' is going to be such a spectator event. So, one the day when the boy is to be broken out of the house, Nataniel is at the cake table with three aunties from the town.

They're watching the goings on and the one expresses her pity for the boy. The other aunt says that there is no need for pity because the child (well, hardly a child by this stage - probably late teens) had enjoyed every mouthful that he stuffed into his mouth.

She goes on to say that when you know the consequences of something and you still do it, you may as well enjoy it. Eating that burger, skipping that spinning class, drinking those few beers too many - they're all conscious decisions. Stop berating yourself for not doing this or that; or doing this of that. You chose to do (or not do) it, knowing the consequences, so enjoy whatever it is and suck up the consequences without complaint.

I liked this.

This theme came out tonight in a conversation. People feel uncomfortable when they're doing something that others are not doing. And Nataniel is like this. He's different to the [boring] norm; he stands out in speech, manner, clothing... I think he is charming and I'll be going to his next show. I'd love to see him do a show of stories...

To clarify my statement about uncomfortable...

My friend's sibling gave up smoking for about three months. She smoked. When her sibling failed and went back to smoking she was pleased, happy to have her sib back on her side. She was uncomfortable that her sibling had made the decision to quit when she should have been supportive and continued to enjoy her vice regardless of his choice. When he fell off the wagon, he was like her again. Same-same.

I don't drink. OK, so I drink water and juice and such. I don't drink alcohol. Rarely. I maybe clock up six units a year, maybe. Most of these units are logged in flu-fighting heavy-handed hot toddys (my great-grandmother was Scots) that knock me out cold.

I'm not the anti-alcohol version of a tree-hugger, I just don't like the stuff. Never have. Just like I don't drink coffee, Coke and other fizzy drinks and I don't eat brussel sprouts or any type of melon (cantaloupe, honeydew...) aside from watermelon.

I cannot even begin to describe how uncomfortable being a teetotaller makes people. Alcohol is pushed on me, I'm grilled about my taste preferences, I'm offered varieties of wine to try in an attempt to find something I'd like, people apologise to me for their drinking habits... and all I've done is ordered a mango juice instead of a gin and tonic. Why should drinking juice make other people uncomfortable? I really don't care what you drink.

If you're going to have a drink, enjoy it. If you're going to have two or three or four, enjoy them. JUST DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE 'COS THAT IS FRIGGIN' STUPID.

Eating too many burgers or chocolates or exercising too little is a choice.

Enjoy what you're doing or don't do it.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Benefits of balance

I go through phases of seeking balance, especially when my life feels skewed in one direction or another. Too many commitments, too little socialising, too many hours spent working, too few hours spent training, too many races, too little free time for reading and afternoon naps... Those scales rarely settle in the middle or even slightly to one side - they're too often all the way over to one side.

I'm not much good at full-time employment where I'm tied into an office and sitting at a desk for fixed hours daily. I'm very good at more-than-full-time employment where I'm sitting behind my own desk (for too many hours!) doing many different tasks each day. Although I have my work for clients, the other things like, FEAT, club involvements and other tasks are also important to me. I am community orientated and have a need to build and create within these communities. Some people have a need to eat burgers or watch telly, I need to create.

The only problem is that juggling so much stuff leads to the situation where I'm working all the time. Sure, many things I enjoy doing so it is fun-work, but it is still work. I have made it my focus this year to loosen my grip a little and not to compromise on myself so often. So far, so good. I've probably done more training in the past three months than I did in six months of last year and I'm feeling more centred, content and... balanced.

Sean Verret put me on to this superb talk from TEDxSydney by Nigel Marsh on chosing to have and establishing a work-life balance. There are so many really good things that he says.

Early on he says the following:
"So many people talk so much rubbish about work-life balance. All the discussion about flexitime or dress-down Fridays or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue which is that certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged, on a day to day basis, with a young family."
I'd like to substitute 'young family' with any of the following: yourself, your friends, community, partner, family...

He continues with:
"[People are] leading lives of quiet screaming desperation where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't like."
I've been here too - not the buying of stuff, which I don't care much for - but the quiet screaming desperation in a job I hated where I would come home shattered and in tears. He adds that going to work in jeans and tees on Fridays doesn't quite get to the bottom of this. He's right. You have to make the change; your company won't.

In order to get more balance, we take more on by squeezing in more training hours or events or social engagements before work, after work and gobbling up weekends instead of making fundamental changes. Adding is not changing.

Nigel gives the example of a friend who read his book and realises that she needs to change her life to what she wants it to be. She spends 10hrs at work each day; she commutes 2hrs. Her relationships have failed and there is nothing except work in her live. So, she decides to get a grip and sort it out. She joins a gym.

Nigel rightly says, "Being a fit 10-hour-a-day office rat isn't more balanced, it's more fit".

As a child, would you have written the lifestyle you currently lead on your 'what I want for my life when I grow up' list? And, would you wish this same lifestyle for your children?


Another superb TED talk I watched over the weekend is one by Hans Rosling. I've watched a number of his talks. This one is about the greatest invention of the industrial revolution - the washing machine. Rosling shows the magic that happens when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading.

Friday 18 March 2011

Around Africa with Riaan and thoughts of Japan

I've been reading Riaan Manser's book, 'Around Africa on my Bike' for some time. Over the last two months or so I've interspersed 'biking' through a few countries with Riaan and reading other books. Last night I finished Riaan's 700-page adventure.

What an adventure! Two years two months and 15 days of biking and traveling through 33 countries. The sights that Riaan has seen!

But, I'll tell you straight that I would definitely not be up for putting up with what Riaan dealt with. It's one thing to get on your bike and ride (I'm fine with this, no matter the terrain) but it's a completely different issue to put up with roadblocks (official and not), border officials and police/military types who make you unpack every pocket of your pannier or lock you up for a couple of hours while they decide what to do with you.

And then there were the visa issues and the unbelievable amount of backtracking and catching lifts to major centres to sort out issues and then catching lifts back to where you left your bike to continue the journey. I do not have this type of constitution.

There were, of course, the dozens of really kind and generous people who assisted Riaan on his expedition. Right near the end of the book Riaan makes a comment about a South African chap who assisted him. You can certainly substitute the word 'South African' for 'person' in the following sentence as it applies to the other people he met on his travels and of which he made similar comments.

Riaan says, "He was just another South African who wanted to reach out and change our country for the better".

I disagree.

He was a guy who was able to and gladly did assist Riaan, not because he wanted to change the country but because he just really liked what Riaan was doing and by assisting he was contributing to the success of Riaan's adventure. I would gladly have a passing through adventurer stay over any day because I like what they're doing, I'd like to assist in making their adventure successful and I'd probably like to be doing what they're doing too. It has absolutely no bearing on the country but on personal interactions.

I may not believe in deities but I do believe in people and I do believe that people are inherently good and kind and helpful. I wasn't counting but there were certainly more people who were kind to Riaan than those who were not. And all of those nasty people he encountered? They're environmentally nasty - from the environment in which they've been brought up, how they live (defensive, territorial, brandishing firearms) and what they've been taught.

And this last point brings me full circle (or triangle) to the tsunami disaster in Japan. An interesting article on CNN mentions how 'calm' the Japanese affected by this disaster have been. There has not been any looting, people stand patiently in queues for a bottle of water and shoppers limited to 10 items only adhere to this restriction without compaint or cheating.

The article also mentions a shelter at a school in Shendai. "In a third-floor classroom, families have self-organized themselves on cardboard boxes and blankets. No one family has a larger space than the other, just as you see at any average family festival. Shoes are not allowed on the blankets in order to maintain sanitary conditions. Food is shared as equally as possible, even if one person eats or drinks a little less in order for everyone to have some sustenance."

A guy interviewed, Jeffery Kingston who is a scholar of Japan and has lived there since 1987 explains how this is possible: "The Japanese, from a young age, are socialized to put group interest ahead of individual interest. Many criticize them for deference to authority, abundant rules and conformity, but this is the fabric of social cohesion that keeps Japan together".

This would so not happen in South Africa, I'm mortified to say.

In adventure racing our team is a micro-community where everything we do within this team is for team benefit, not for personal interest.

This race thing

I do love racing; the vibe, friends, new locations, fun activities and all things nice and exciting. This year I have really struggled with motivation to go to races. Last year, especially the last seven months, exhausted me with an abundance of activities, admin and organising this and that. After Abu Dhabi there was no respite with FEAT in Feb - and I am alread working on the next. As a result, I just do not feel like organising myself or other people if I do not have to.

The only races I have done this year are Kinetic sprint and their nite run. I have had a good number of running dates with friends.

I gave Double Moon a skip this past weekend - and it looked fabulous. It is Wartrail this weekend - I loved it lart year. Expedition Africa comes up in seven weeks. I haven't commited either way.

I am loving my running, which has been more consistent and fluid. I am loving my dance classes again for the first time in a few months. With a mind that is more clear I have been planning and teaching more creative classes, which I enjoy and my students enjoy. And, I am totally loving yoga classes (and riding or running to the studio) and our irregular acroyoga sessions.

For now, these suit me. I am feeling fitter and stronger and more focused, which is great as I do have some super races lined up for later in the year.

There is the thing of 'missing out' if you don't do this or that. But perhaps we miss out on far more when we try to do all the events that catch our fancy. They'll be there next year and if they aren't, there will be others that are as much fun and challenging.

Of interest... has always had a strong international following and as the site comes up for its 10th birthday next month, this remains true.

In having a look this morning, I see that in the past month has greeted visitors from 82 countries.

That's pretty cool ;)

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Full Moon Run Friday

The moon is getting bigger, which means that Friday is Full Moon Run.

Meet outside Vini's on the upper level, exterior of Bedford Centre (cnr Smith & Arbroath Roads, Bedford Gardens).

Meet at 19h00. Start running at 19h15.

Run will be up to 1h30 in duration. Pace is 5:30 - 6:30. Very chilled vibe. We stop and check out views etc.

Pizza and drinks at Vini's afterwards.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

I rode my bicycle

You probably think this sounds silly "I rode my bicycle", afterall, I am an adventure racer and biking is one of the three primary disciplines (the others being running and paddling). The thing is that I rarely ride my bike outside of races. Yes, I do lurch from one race to the next, sucking up the biking sections.

Over the years I've become increasingly phobic about riding my bike on the road and off-road spots are not close to home. I'm chicken of getting hit by a car (there are more pleasant ways to go) and I don't fancy being hi-jacked either -  a current trend. Each time I hear of cyclists getting taken out (I've got a few friends who have been hit), it really does reduce my desire to get out there. I'm far more comfortable on foot.

Yet, in urban adventure races where we ride on road, I love it and am quite content. It's probably also because I feel invincible, riding in a race environment, with my teammates. In years gone by (many years!) I did a number of long road bike races - on my mountain bike - and enjoyed them.

So, on Saturday morning I decided to face my fears to ride to a yoga class. The studio is about 14km from home (25-30 mins no traffic; over an hour with traffi) and it's a pretty decent ride (one BIG hill that takes around 12 mins to climb - riding on the pavement). Took me 50 minutes.

I loved it! I had such an awesome morning, riding through the suburbs that I'm so totally itching to ride again. This destination-orientated riding also works for me - one of the reasons I really enjoy mountain bike orienteering/rogaining.

I'm really chuffed that I finally decided to bite the bullet and stop being chicken, because it really wasn't a big deal - and it was fun. I haven't ridden in peak traffic yet... I did scout the route on foot the week before, checking out the pavements. And on Saturday I rode most of the way on the sidewalks - some better than others. The going is a bit slower than on the road, but I feel safer so I'll stick with it.

Nice. I'm pretty excited. Even better is that I've always got this little gremlin on my shoulder niggling me 'cos I don't ride my bike much. I've now found a way to bash the gremlin and to incorporate more exercise into a week. Sure, a 30km ride isn't a long one, but twice or three times a week sure beats nothing.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Here's a howler

So, tonight I'm chatting to my AR buddy on Skype. He lives in KZN so we type-chat regularly - shooting the breeze, bouncing ideas... He also does yoga.

Our conversation meanders from the awesomeness of our respective classes and I remember a damn funny video clip that my mom got on email some time this week. It had me howling with laughter so goodly that I had tears streaming down my face. Sharing is caring. I find it on YouTube and send him the link. YouTube will probably ask you to sign in 'cos it thinks the content is inappropriate and you've got to be over 18. Namby-pambies. It's really not inappropriate, especially when you consider so much of the other stuff on the 'Tube. There's a half-covered bare bottom.

He watches the vid and sends back, "I am in tears".

I reply, "When he realises... that retching from the core...".

So then we start telling related-tales from AR and other races. I was first.

My teammie wasn't feeling great. We were on about 7h30 out of 8.

He'd been drinking liquid, had two myprodol, a couple of fizzers...

So, we're walking up a steep hill. On way to last control before heading home. Only about 2km to go.

He's really not feeling well.

We turn the corner and up steep dirt road and he says he's really feeling likehe's going to chuck. I say, go for it. He turns to the side and projectiles.

I was fine for the first heave but the next one, which came straight from the depths of his insides, had me howling with laughter

The poor dude was in agony and I couldn't stop laughing.

[Friend] fine teammate you are

Anyway, he gets done with that and I offer him a tissue

He takes it and is about to say something and starts again.

Well, I could barely walk!
[Friend]: thats just rude

Better than vomiting too ;)

He felt much better after that purge.
My friend's turn.

Eden Challenge



we have stopped for a little rest alongside a crystal clear stream

Teammate has chaffe on his back and asks for cream

The best I have is antihistamine cream, which I duly offer

[Lisa]: this has gotta end badly

In the meantime a bunch of cows have meandered up to the stream and are drinking


I rub antihistamine into his blistered back

holy cow - the guys starts bellowing

He's lying in the stream on his back infront of these cows

Every time he bellows they do too

The rest of the team can't walk

[Lisa]: This is helluva funny. Tears.

He was very offended. I don't think he's ever forgiven me

I'm crying now just remembering


I eventually managed to get enough energy up to wipe the cream off

but he complained for the rest of the day

So, antihistamine and chaffe

BAD combo
Happy Friday everyone ;)

Can you stand in one place and sweat?

Tonight was another of my beginner Ashtanga Vinyasa classes where I'm learning the primary series - learning the basic postures. A very brave adventure racing friend came to join me. Although he is a remarkable athlete, he has never been anywhere near any form of yoga. But, up to try anything, he came through to give it a go - and did fabulously too.

The practise starts with 10 sun salutation sequences; five of the most basic version (A) and then five of the version incorporating warrior pose (B). We actually only did nine tonight and were sweating nice-nice already after the sixth!

We then progressed through some standing, balancing, seated postures and the finishing sequence. We were all drenched!

So, after the class I ask my buddy, who is more familiar with disciplines that have you progressing forwards  (running, biking, paddling) or upwards (climbing) at pace, how he found the class. He enjoyed it and added something to the effect of "sweating when you're standing in one place is... different".

Coincidentally I saw this gem on FB tonight... yeah, liquid awesomeness ;)

Oh golly, Oman

I'm currently reading Ranulph Fiennes' book, "Atlantis of the Sands: The search for the Lost City of Ubar" (1992). When I moved at the end of December I discovered my copy to be missing (I'd had it for ages but had read little, only really checking out the photos) - I fortunately found a second-hand copy through Amazon, which my dear friends Heather and Michael got hold of for me.

So, I've got this desert thing... I'm reading all kinds of desert stuff. Ran's book is a gem plus he's one of my favourite authors (lovely relaxed and fluent style - and adventure content). Checking out the pics of young Ran in the book; he was a dish. That he was 30-odd years younger now... ;)

While reading this book, I've been surfing on Wiki and other web resources - reading about Oman, Ubar, frankincense trade and oogling satellite images. Then, on Monday night I decide to do some Google Earth flying to match terrain with the sketch maps in the book. More than an hour later I was still surfing the sands of southern Oman.

Wow, the terrain in the Dhofar area where Ran was based in his military days (working for the Sultan)... absolutely, frikkin' incredible! Those massive wadis, the flow of sand, patterns... it's really amazing. Ran cruised this area first in the late 60's and spent 24 years and-and-off searching for this lost city, tipped off my tales that seemed fictitious but came up in oral and written records.

Like Abu Dhabi, Oman has beautiful beaches, five-star (plus) hotels and a range of outdoor activities, especially around the capital city, Muscat. Forget this - gimme the southern mountains, wadis and Empty Quarter dunes!

Just check this image out (from Google Earth). Incredible eh? Some of the big sand river beds North of the coast (near Ubar) are around two kilometres wide! Looks like land lightning - incredible patterns.

So, anyone going to Oman needing a luggage carrier?

What adventure burns in your heart?

Over the weekend I watched the FEAT talks with my mom, Liz; she wasn't at FEAT Cape Town.

She says to me, "I need an adventure". So I asked her what she had in mind. "Something like what Allyson and Marc did," she replies.

Allyson Towle and Marc Booysen did a sea-to-summit expedition in Chile over December. I answered that what they did was cool, but that was their adventure - something they had burning in their hearts.

"Where," I asked, "have you always wanted to go?".

Without hesitation she replied, "A Buddhist retreat in Japan". She has been doing Tai Chi for about five years and she has long had a 'Japanese thing' - art, painting, culture...

What a great starting point for an adventure! Find a place you've always wanted to go to and then figure out a creative way to get there.

And while you're thinking about this adventure, consider this.

I hit on two super articles in the past week. The first, by adventurer Alistair Humphreys, touches on first expeditions, why you're doing the trip and advises against focusing on media, blogging, tweeting and such. The next, by Scott Brady, is a really straight-down-the-line look at expedition sponsorships. Why, indeed, should a company pay for your holiday? Sponsorships are a trade of services, not a gift.

Pursue what is in your heart because it is something that you want to do. Not for lightbulbs or accolades - that comes later... maybe.