The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘sports’


Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on October 5, 2012

Looking elegant at the finish line.

Am I simply a moaner, do I always have to be ill in some way to find something to write? I hope not. It is just a coincidence I tell you. Or, well, maybe it also has to do with bedrest boredom. Anyway, my annual bout of bad cough has arrived, so: time to write! And since I am stuck at home and cannot currently do physical exercice, I will just have to write about it. And it occurs to me I still have not had the time to tell you about the Great North Run

It was, to use my lately discovered new adjective, amazeballs. I could also use stupendous, overwhelming, flabbergasting… but I like to use new words for new experiences, and I had a very emphatic and verbose teacher at school. Mind you, a typing glitch has just handily created exaggeramazing. That works.

And it was, it really was.  Even at mile 11 when I got a jelly-baby induced stitch. People were shouting at me to carry on. “Go Chef, nearly there!” And then the Red arrows to greet us as we all ran down lizard lane. Finding out I could hobble just that little bit faster than poor brave amazeballs Tony the Fridge could run with all these people talking to him (check him out). Ice pops and orange slices and even a beer stand. All the multicoloured charity T-shirts, wigs, baloons and yes, Oompa-Loompa costumes. A banana flying overhead and nearly hitting a passer by on the Tyne bridge. So many little big things adding up to bigger big things adding up to my oddly mathematical GNR.

And also, because I will never be able to say it enough, thanks to all the amazing people who helped me raise more than £650 for Alzheimer’s Society. It really means so much to me and to Chef, although she doesn’t really know it.

I cannot wait to do it again! But in the meantime, cows and pigs and tractors and lots and lots of farmers to look forward to.


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Units, conversions. How big is the Great North Run?

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on September 14, 2012

Now I am no mathematician, figures and numbers always take for ever to register in my mind. So usually in order to comprehend any statistic that gets thrown my way, I bring it back to something I know. Growing up between French and English culture, I have had to do this all my life. 1 mile is 1,6 kilometres. £1 equals approximately ten francs. Or 1,65 euros. Ounces and pounds to grammes, yards to metres,  Fahrenheit to Celcius…

It is the same thing when it comes to demographics. I was raised in a very small village in the middle of nowhere. Growing up, I moved from village to town to city, from school to high school to Uni, moving to ever bigger places, groups and communities. Inevitably, every time you get to a new place, someone will helpfully bombard you with information and tell you how many people live, learn or work there.  Now like I said, numbers are not my forte. I have as much difficulty picturing a population in millions as you would a travel distance in bolts, cubits, furlongs or megalithic yards.

So I bring those figures back to my village-girl level. I have my own special demographics unit: the Chaméane. How many times would my village population have to be duplicated to make as many people. A Fokker airplane would fit most of my disgruntled village neighbours. My high school in Clermont was about 16 Chaméanes. The total number of people working and studying at the University of Regensburg last year was 165 and a bit Chaméanes, you could fit 10 times my village in the biggest lecture theatre.

And in three, no, two days, I’ll be taking part in the Great North Run. 54 to 55 thousand people. Have not tried converting that into Chaméanes yet, but it will be so many I might have to find another, better unit… 2,5 Universität Regensburg? 25 or 26 times my high school? I have seen pictures of the startline, crowd stretching as far as the eye can see.  It will be massive I can’t wait.

PS: I am running for Alzheimer’s SOciety. Sponsor me here

PPS: Great North Run ≈ 3,2 x Chaméane2

Posted in England, France, Great North Run, Life, Sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Half-marathons and musicals; singing my way to the Great North Run.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on November 11, 2011

I am dreadfully exhausted, completely kaputt, one might even say bloody knackered. That is because, ladies and gentlemen, I have now gone officially bonkers and have embarked on a project bigger, greater than any other I have ever mentioned here: I have picked up running.

Now you may think this is a bit of an anticlimax, and the most attentive among you (or possibly those with the greatest amount of spare time) may already be aware of my recent acquisition of a pair of running shoes. Since that day I have been trying to go out running every now and again, but nothing especially awe-inspiring. However now I have decided to take part in the biggest, most amazing, mind-blowingly great half-marathon of them all: the Bupa Great North Run. Maybe you’ve heard of it? 54000 runners, millions raised for charity every year. I think it’s awesome.  And what’s more, the finish line is just next to where my auntie Hilary lives. I’ll only have to run a few hundred metres further to get a shower and collapse on a comfortable settee with a nice cuppa (and possibly with both feet in a bucket of cold water).

But in order to get any of this, the first thing I need to do is actually reach said finishing line! I signed up on this “Take to the Streets” website I’d heard of which generated a lovely, very reasonable looking training plan, bought a pair of reasonable track suit bottoms and got running. Except it appears that unlike my outfit I myself am not reasonable, and struggle to keep to the official training plan.

It tells me: You’ll be running about three times a week for the next year or so. We’ll be starting gently: first week, do 5 – 10 mins easy run/walk. So I went out running and came back quite a while later, calculated the distance; 5k, not mad. Second week, maybe de 10-15 min easy walk/run.  Ok, so I felt quite good doing 5k, why shouldn’t I try doing a bit more. I came back 1hour and 9k later. Third week, you want to get used to your new rhythm, so do something similar to last week, 10-15min easy run/walk. I did 10k, got lost and somehow got home an hour and a half later. I don’t think I’ll be going quite  this far every single time I put on my sneakers – I simply don’t have the time – , but I also can’t imagine the use of  sticking to “10-15min easy run/walk” either.  So my plan is: whenever I get an automated reminder saying  “run”, I might just go the extra mile (or two, literally). Does that sound good? Are there any expert opinions out there?

So now I have just added something else to my already busy timetable (lessons, aikido/kickboxing, writing, exploring, going out culinary experimentation – latest to date: savoury muffins filled with feta cheese spinach olives and parma ham-…). And I don’t even like running that much! When I was at school I couldn’t stand even the idea of any form of physical exertion. I am getting better, but still going out running when one could stay nice and warm in bed… You need something to keep you going. What does the trick for me is west end and broadway musicals. I have heaps of them stocked onto my mp3 player. Admittedly it can be a bit of a bummer when you reach a hill, it’s raining and suddenly “Lost in the darkness” comes on…You just have to skip.  But just imagine, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on a bright sunny morning… just what you need to help you beat your personal best. The only really tough bit is not to burst into song and start tap dancing on the way.

There are auditions these days at the Uni for some sort of musical… maybe I should sign up. I really have too much free time 😉

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Sports: as fit as a cello

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on May 24, 2011

I am lazy: those of you who know me personally will be keenly aware of this, and the rest should catch on pretty quickly. One of my favourite things in the world is going to bed to sleep, or staying IN bed in the morning, just lying there knowing you could get up, but deciding to stay there “just five more minutes”. And up until very recently most of my other favourite things were food related, with one notable exception: reading. None of these passtimes can really be described as physically challenging, unless you count climbing over rocks and into trees in order to find the best reading spots.

As a matter of fact, I hated sports and exercising in general, I couldn’t stand it and I couldn’t see the point of it. Admittedly when I was in school I was a bit of a lump, to the point that running was just a long wobbly ordeal, and the tought of me jumping high or low was a joke. Being a lump also meant I was very very aware of the way I looked (not in a good way), and I didn’t want the aggravation of being viscid and smelly. It just so happened unfortunately that my PE teacher at the time was very fond of running, or rather: making us poor pupils run, while he bounced pebbles off a wall. I grew (or rather did not but stayed short and chubby) to hate the track around which we ran and ran. It was a relief when I changed schools and got to try out new varieties of physical exertion, but alas, hopeless: it was ruled out I had no aptitude for table tennis and someone dropped me while lowering me down from a climbing wall.

I am glad to say though, this sad state of affairs is now happily over. Two years ago I started learning karate, and it’s brilliant! I’m won’t write a whole tribute to karate right now, but sufficient to say it’s reconciled me with sports. Now if I don’t exercise, I end up feeling restless and a bit guilty. It’s just become something to enjoy alongside cooking and sleeping and reading. I actually enjoy those things more now I know I won’t turn back into a lump even if I indulge in a couple of patisseries or spend an extra five minutes (to an hour) asleep.

OK, perhaps I’m not exactly as fit as a fiddle, I’ll never be a major athlete, and I know even the local newspaper’s sports supplement won’t come knocking at my door for an interview any time soon, but I certainly intend to continue karate and to take up running more seriously. My mam bought me a pair of running shoes on friday (the highlight of my weekend), and someday in the far distant future, maybe I could do the Great North Run. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

In the meantime, at least the sticky horrid wobbliness has mostly gone. As I was making my way back from training yesterday, some guys drove by and whistled and whooped at me. I know my feminist side should be horrified and outraged at that blatant lack of respect for me as a woman, but I can’t say I didn’t smile a little.

Anyway: pancakes tonight!

Posted in Life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Just a quick note on inspiration, laughing, cleaning ladies, and stray dogs.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on October 22, 2010

It goes to show how inspiration comes from all sorts of places. And how uninspired I am. Honestly if I hadn’t promised myself to be constant in my writing efforts and instead chose to listen to the dark side of laziness, I wouldn’t be posting anything at all today. So here I am, stringing together a couple of anecdotes from the past few days, trying to make it seem like they have something more in common than pure chronology. I hope for all our sakes I achieve this with  a certain measure of style and panache, but I can’t promise anything. Maybe if only one thing happened a day I would be able to devote an entire post to it, but sometimes so many things happen one after the other, and all seem so worthy of being told…  I have such an exciting life! Ho ho ho. So, as it is I have to operate a quick analepsis and tell you about three different moments at once.

First there was training on Wednesday night. What larks! It was absofuckinglutely a-ma-zing! All right, half the time wasn’t all that productive as far as learning was concerned: I was too busy laughing! Do you know what it’s like when you start laughing and you just can’t stop. I was literally on my hands and knees, eyes tearing up, ribcage heaving, struggling for air, face red… You can take all the clichéed expressions about hilarity you can find and  I can assure you, every single one of them could have described me at some point during that training. I went through all of them. Several times. I tried telling people about what caused it afterwards, but then I realised: it wasn’t even funny. Shall I tell you what happened? No, I don’t think so, I’ll just let you make something up. You’ll probably come up with something better and more interesting. Just picture me in a room with four other “white-pyjama” clad people trying to learn japanese self-defence techniques and imagine all that could possibly go wrong. Add to that a propensity to laugh…

Before you let your imagination run completely wild, let me tell you the cleaning lady episode. Also surreal, although quite brief. It happened yesterday, a few hours after I climbed my way into university. After a while, the demonstrators all left to march through the streets and the bins and bits of furniture were returned to their usual place. How dull! But trust a french person to make entertaining things happen. Suddenly, some random bloke walked in, disappeared into a corridor and came back a couple of minutes later with an wheely office chair. He pushed it back through the hall and walked with it out the main entrance.  He then carried it down the stairs and down the street.

That’s when he was spotted by the eagle-eyed cleaning lady patrolling the area. She ran after him, down the street, armed with a broom. My gaze followed them down the road until they turned the corner. I decided to stick around. Come on. Surely there are better things to do with one’s time, but don’t you want to know whether justice prevailed or whether a poor lecturer will return after the holiday to find his chair gone? Well just so you know a few minutes later, they came back, in exactly the same order: chair, thief, broom and cleaning lady (slightly out of breath) Aaah if only I’d had a videocamera at hand.

While we’re on the subject of “if onlys”, if only my sister wasn’t watching french reality-tv while I am writing. I’m already having inspiration difficulties, and it’s extremely distracting to watch crap telly in another language when you’re trying to write in English…

I’ll tell you about the dogs tomorrow.

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France is on strike. Yes. Again.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on October 19, 2010

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday, obviously my strong firm resolutions were not as strong and firm as all that. To sum the day up  quickly, I managed to come down to Clermont despite a train strike and no fuel being available in the region (or maybe the counry – this lack of oil does mean people travel a lot less these days), then I went to my one lesson (studying german has got its advantages), went food-shopping for the week, had a nap which swallowed up my entire afternoon and went to training. Training was hell by the way. It was just one of those days where I could not get anything right. And when I say not anything, I mean there wasn’t one exercice I did well. Even the teacher was starting to lose his patience, and he has probably seen his share of whingeing pains in the backside. He would keep on explaining, but it was no use. The sports I do by the way are Shito-Ryu Karate and Nihon Tai Jitsu (which can be dumbly translated as Japanese body technique, or Self-defence)and the theme of yesterday’s lesson was  ushiro-geri, a kind of backwards kick. I am just a beginner in both disciplines, having started karate 1 and a half years ago, and Self-defence only half that amount of time. As things are, I am still the only girl in the advanced group, although on occasions such as yesterday, everyone wonders what I’m doing there. Never mind, I enjoy it most of the time and I’ll try to get to the open training session tonight if public transports are running again (combat, yay!). I’ll probably devote a proper article to karate and stuff later on, but I mentioned strike in my title, so I had probably better mention it a bit.

So yes. The french are practicing their national sport: going on strike. As I write this it is 10:00 am in France and everywhere in the country where there are enough people and streets marches and demos are setting themselves into motion. Everywhere else is devoid of human life: they are all in town, marching in the street, blocking the roads and schools and post offices and trains and oil supplies. Everyone born in October will get late birthday cards this year and although that is probably the least of their problems right now, I sympathise.

For those of you who happen not to be in France at the moment, this current wave of striking ( I say wave, but I should say tide because it does just come and go on a regular basis) is because of new laws on retirement which our government wans to put into place where you have to work for aaages and ages and ages and get less money at the end of it. There also something where if you can’t or won’t work the 41 years that you’re supposed to work, you receive less than the money you have contributed… it’s all very complicated. And it all comes after three years of having Nicolas Sarkozy at the head of the french state and seeing the country going ever further down a steady slope (with a big gaping pit at the bottom of it.

When Sarkozy got into office, he promised two things:

  1. Transparence: which he used as an excuse to sprawl his private life all over french and international tabloids. As  .  if  .  we  .  cared.
  2. “Réformes”: he was going to change things, and he has. Every two months or less they come up with a new réforme, a new law. Usually the aim of these is to destroy the welfare state, make poor people give rich people more money and help them keep it, and generally piss off all working people in France. Up until now, the only people in the streets at any one time were the specific victim of one new law or other, with a couple of supporters from other sectors thrown in. But now, by changing laws about retirement he has managed to anger everyone at the same time.

There are so  many things wrong with the system and the way it is run at the moment I am getting all messed up. I would like to tell you about each one of the new laws is actually written during times such as summer holidays so that when people find out fter their vacation it’s already too late, or how it’s true that things have to change one way or other, and how the situation has degraded so badly now whatever solution is offered will cause more damage to some section of society or the other. Basically we are neck deep in shit and whatever turn events take, it will take us a very long time to crawl out.

On this happy note: Happy Birthday Mam! (Don’t worry, I’ll give you your birthday card in person; it won’t get lost in the mail)


PS: the reason this entry took so long to be posted was that half way through someone started the fire alarm (probably to try and convince unmotivated students to give up on lessons and take to the streets) and I had to evacuate and close the library.

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