Category Archives: glasses

FIN

So it’s over. 31 days of hell, finished. Finis.

Lets look at the stats:

Total km: 350

Total amount of time running (hours): 34

Place on Janathon leaderboard: 8

Average km run each day: 11.29

PB’s achieved: 0

Times I ran as fast as I could: 0

Blog posts: 31

Blog posts that insulted the French: 31

Regrets: 6

Welts: 1

Bad backs: 2

Pairs of shorts consigned to dustbin due to excessive groinal ventilation: 1

Contact lenses lost in haystacks: 1

Pensioners scared: 3

Onions consumed on pizza: 0

Haircuts: 1

Good haircuts: 0

Piglets: 10

ZEST4LIFE: 0

Public wees: 16

Porcelain Jesus: 0

Chance of me doing this again, expressed in binary: 0

 

Big thanks to Cathy for organising the event, and I might see you all for Juneathon… maybe.

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A firing squad, budget crisps and Sting

22.5k on the bike, and 16km on the feet, putting the runthomasrun cat among the pigeons on the Janathon leaderboard and putting me within sniffing distance of sixth. I AM SNIFFING YOU.

Thankfully tonight’s run was an altogether more pleasurable affair. Not because it was any easier (as each day goes by I get more and more fatigued, and slower and slower) but because I experienced it at a natural brightness level (it was still dark, but not ultra-dark).

Why?

Because the phone call came through at about 10am this morning.

A morose man – with a tone of voice suggesting he was about to announce that my entire extended family had been wiped out in a gas explosion – informed me that my glasses were ready. ONE DAY ahead of schedule. Admittedly the schedule was already running 7 days and 23 hours longer than I expected, but you need to take good news where you can find it.

Back on the bike, and back into the local town I went. I figured nothing could possibly go wrong again. It didn’t. I am now the proud owner of a new “stylish” pair of glasses, with incredibly thick cheap lenses, that nip my right ear like a beaver and are so small that my world has become vertically letterboxed.

Still, mustn’t grumble. At least it’s bright again. I’m sure the OAPs of France will rest easy in their beds once more.

All the talk in France today is about the credit rating downgrade. If you don’t follow world economics basically Europe is up poo poo creek without a paddle. France is taking a battering from the credit rating agencies, and the National Front are on the rise ahead of the presidential elections in four months time. As a foreigner in this land with a long, tortuous blog complaining about the country I expect I’ll be first against the wall when the next revolution comes. Still, I figure if the firing squad need regular eye tests I’ll be safe for a while yet.

That said, with a potential shooting in mind, I thought I’d say something positive about the French today. That’s what I thought. When it came to action, things became trickier.

I finally remembered the thing I admire most about the French. It is the fact that they produce some absolutely cracking budget range crisps. I’m not saying the UK doesn’t do a decent entry level potato based snack – in fact we may be the world leader – but France does some terrific stuff too. I will warn you upfront – if you’re thinking of taking a voyage into French crisp heaven you need to steer clear of their nut flavoured crisps. Who in their right mind wants a peanut flavoured crisp? Wrong.

But where France beats the UK is in the provision of economy crisps that don’t really taste of anything. You might think that’s a bad thing, but France have nailed a number of crisp lines that feature a sort of anti-taste. These wonderful crisps taste of mouth, which means you can eat loads of them without feeling sick/full/satisfied.

It’s like sex with Sting.

The French have perfected Tantric Crisps.

With a Tantric Crisp you have an extended promise of a taste orgasm, but ultimate disappointment. But Sting will tell you the voyage, of course, is where the pleasure is. Only with a French Tantric Crisp can you truly experience an extended sensual experience unmatched by any Quaver or Monster Munch.

Probably the best example of Tantric Crisps are the miraculous Sabor Bacons. These crisps are only available from L’Eclerc (the French equivalent of Tescos) in their budget range. They are 38 eurocents for a surprisingly large bag and look a bit like a fat Frazzle. If you were grading crisps on taste from 10 to 1 these would need a score assigned on a different axis. They literally taste of nothing. Put a handful in your mouth and you wouldn’t know. In fact sometimes you can have a few in your mouth and suddenly realise 4 hours later when you lie back to go to sleep and start choking.

There is simply nothing on God’s snack based earth that compares with a bag of Sabor Bacons. I would go to war for a bag of Sabor Bacons. They truly are one of the greatest things the French have given to the world, and yet only a handful of people know about them.

Now, admittedly, as a first entry on our list of great things about France perhaps a bag of economy potato chips isn’t what a nation would aspire to, but we have to start somewhere.

Mainly because it’s the only thing I can think of at the moment.

Until tomorrow!

Inevitability, a swelling confidence and some pig sex

16km running today, and just under 20km on the bike. Both a bit slow, but it’s all about the distance. Also spent most of the day running round the pig fields i) trying to stop piglets escaping (there are 10 in total) ii) trying to stop pigs having sex.

The French have a saying “le client et roi“. Literally “the customer is king”.

Considering the French beheaded all their royalty long ago, the phrase has a certain truth to it. This was once again demonstrated today in the local opticians as The Glasses Saga entered its second phase. If you haven’t been reading the blog I recommend going back and reading the post with Daniel Powter’s mug at the top of it. If you don’t know what Daniel Powter looks like then just scroll down until you see a man who looks like a Freemans catalogue model with a beanie hat on. If the hat is black and the guy looks like he might be best suited to modelling footwear then it’s me. If not, you’re there. Read that, and then come back here.

Anyhoo…

I had a certain sense of foreboding this morning. Yes, for sure, I’d been told to turn up at 11am sharp on Thursday to pick up my new pair of glasses. Yes, for sure, I’d double and triple checked this and also told them to phone me if there was a delay. I’d covered all the bases. I had a bit of paper with a date and time on it, and that’s as good as a blood oath in France.

However, there was still a small flickering nugget of doubt in my mind. Not a linguistic doubt. Not a doubt that perhaps my average French had failed to get the message across. But a flickering doubt that if the French still had an opportunity to make my life a misery they would take it.

So, off I set to the local town. It’s local in the sense it’s 10km away. I debated running, but decided instead to take the bike. It was a fine day. My worries melted away. This was the sort of day when NEW GLASSES WOULD BE GOT.

I felt a swelling confidence.

At least I hoped it was my confidence.

I almost bounded into the optician. The French words and phrases for the conversation ahead had been prepared mentally (“glasses” “last week” “eleven o’clock” “Thursday” “brilliant, thanks!” “oh, they look lovely!” “thanks for all your assistance!“).

I was ready.

Ready for a world with the brightness and contrast controls set back to zero. Ready to see again! Whee!

The first tinge of self-doubt hit me when the original “optician” (or glasses sales representative as I suppose you need to call them, considering they can’t actually do eye tests) avoided me when I came in and ran off to hide in a back room somewhere.

10 minutes passed. Eventually she was forced to reappear and I collared her.

“I’m Mr Thomas” I said cordially “here for my glasses.”

I smiled in a way that suggested I was unhappy with the six day delay, but I was willing to put that behind us in the spirit of moving forwards towards a new situation where I was once again the owner of non-tinted glasses.

G.S.R’s face contorted like a dog sucking a polo.

“Ahhh” she said, like the air forlornly being let out of a child’s bike tyre.

“My glasses? ” I continued… “You said they would be ready today.” My smile had cracked slightly. I sensed something was wrong.

The polo was pushed around a little more. “Ahhhh…” (second tyre deflated) “…the glasses….” she said.

“The glasses….?” I prompted.

“…. they are not ready yet….the glass has not arrived in the post….”

Silence. A long silence. The Earth rotates. Civilizations rise and fall. Galaxies move apart. The sun begins to collapse.

She speaks again “…it will be ready on Saturday.”

“Saturday?” I say. The words croak from my mouth almost reflexively.

“…. Or maybe the week after. We will call you when they are ready.”

My mouth flapped like a goldfish. I searched for words, but none were there. So I just walked out (ss you can see confrontation isn’t one of my character traits. Mute acceptance of shitty things happening to me is more my style). As I went back out into the street my first thought was “At least it’s sunny! Maybe people won’t stare at my sunglasses!”

As I walked the short distance back to my bike I was proved wrong once again.

Seeing as the day was going so badly, I figured I’d go for another run after dark tonight, in the sunglasses and luminous cape, so I could terrify the local OAPs.

I figure if France is going to make me miserable then I’m going to make a few old French people terrified in return.

Until tomorrow!

Piglets!

Really, really, really, really, really didn’t want to go for a run today.

This running every day lark is punishing, but I dragged myself out and did the usual 10km course, still tracking about 13 minutes behind my PB for the distance. In the next few days I’m going to try a flatter course and push myself a bit, but today was not that day, and I was just happy to make it. Not a lot of interest happened. At one point I considered taking my pants off. I’m not going to go into any more detail than that, but I will assure you that I finally decided not to.

The big news in camp runningthomas was the arrival of 8 new piglets on the farm. Or possibly nine. It’s quite hard to count them. Here’s a photo of the proud mother:

Initially we thought we had seven, but another one or two popped out later on. It seemed logical at seven to name them after the seven dwarves. My 8 year old misheard and thought we should name them after the dwarves in the Hobbit. After some argument back and forth we decided that Thorin Porkenshield was quite a majestic name for a piglet, and we’d name the others along similar lines tomorrow.

I haven’t the willpower to write much more, but I did get an interesting spam message pop into my inbox yesterday in response to my rant against sports elitism. “Richard” from Human Kinetics says he loves the blog! Thanks Richard! He also wants to give me a free e-book about “breathing muscle training” and direct all of my readers to his site. Apparently the art of “powerbreathing” is all the rage, and taking the athletics world by storm. I’m afraid, Richard, that I must publicly decline your e-book and can offer no endorsement of your training methodology. I follow an alternative technique. Using the runthomasrun “Breathing Methodology” I simply consume sufficient oxygen to power myself through whatever task I’m performing utilising freely available gasses. My technique has certain dangers – if you refrain from my “Breathing Methodology” for prolonged periods it can damage brain function – however it is a tried and tested method which many carbon based life forms have been exploiting for millennia. My book will be out soon, and hopefully, dear readers, you’ll buy it instead of Richard’s.

Anyway, I’m tired and I need a poo. I will see you tomorrow – remember, Thursday is the exciting day when I finally get my new French glasses. I AM EXCITED! The perpetual nuclear winter I’m living in can come an end, and I can feel the sun on my cheeks once more.

Escaping pigs and a contact lens in a haystack

Do you know who this guy is?

I’m impressed if you do. No?

I’ll give you a hint. Top selling singles artist of 2006. Hmm?

Still struggling? Don’t blame you. It’s Daniel Powter. Famous for the “Had a Bad Day” song. Oh my giddy aunt have I had a bad day. You’ll have to bear with me as I relate this. It’s a long, sorry tale of woe and misery.

Like most bad days it started early. I was shaken awake by my partner who informed me that one of the pigs had escaped. This particular pig (Maybelline) is heavily pregnant, about to give birth, and refuses to stay where she’s put. I should say at this stage our pigs are reared outdoors, which is virtually unheard of in France, and there are a lot of them, so we have a series of pens over a couple of acres where young, old, testicled and non-testicled pigs etc. are sectioned off as needed. Actually keeping them where they’re supposed to be is a constant struggle. Pigs are bloody clever.

After herding the pregnant pig back into her pen and fixing her gate (which she’d barged through) I set to the first job of the day, securing a second pen for two other pigs that needed to move because they’d turned their existing pen into a quagmire. Pigs are hard work, outdoor pigs quadruply so.

After working on this for a while and nearly finishing I popped off for my run, but my leg was bleeding and incredibly sore, so I jacked it in after 4km. I was a bit upset, but I figured it was best to rest my leg rather than push it. Wouldn’t want to have a bad day I though jovially to myself.

I am such an arse.

When I got back I returned to working on the second pig pen. As I sorted the fencing out I glanced down the field taking in the mid-morning view. To my surprise my eyes fell upon two pigs far away in the distance, the other side of the valley in a neighbours field. “I didn’t know our neighbours had pigs” I thought, absent mindedly to myself. “In fact” I thought further “they look a little….like…. our pigs”.

Expletive uttered.

I was now at a full sprint.

Yes, two other pigs had escaped, and were busy eating their way through our neighbour’s crops. As I ran, I could hear shooting. To add to the drama the local hunt were out and French hunters – normally drunk, careless and spoiling for a kill – would certainly take a pot shot at anything boar-like. Or me. Calling for assistance from the runthomasrun family we all hurtled into action, rounded them them up, re-penned them, and then moved their pig-house into their new, secure area.

Cool. Done. But I needed to put straw in the newly repositioned house for them to sleep on.

Back I went to one of our straw bales and began bundling straw into a big bag/sack to take over. As I did this a bit of the sack flicked up and hit me in the left eye. Immediately I realised my contact lens had gone. After running inside I desperately looked in the mirror for 5 minutes to see if it had just been knocked off the centre of my eye, but I couldn’t see it. I was now faced with two options – 1) the contact lens was still in my eye somewhere 2) my contact lens was literally in a f***ing haystack. A contact lens, in a haystack.

AT LEAST A NEEDLE ISN’T TRANSPARENT.

Now to add to the fun my glasses had broken a few months ago. Having an eye test in France isn’t as easy as turning up at an opticians and having an eye test. Oh no. France has a mass shortage of ophthalmologists, so the average wait time in our region is 9 months. NINE MONTHS to have an eye test. The only glasses I had remaining were a pair of prescription sunglasses I wore when I was 15. So one pair of sunglasses with a 20 year old prescription. I needed to do something. I thought perhaps I could phone up my optician in Scotland and ask for them to send me my most recent prescription details. Then perhaps I could buy contacts or glasses online right? Good idea?

Of course not. Sing it Danny P.

I phone them up. They have no record of me.

“Do you remember the optician?” the girl on the phone asked.

“Yes” I say “she was a mad Irish woman who scared the shit out of me”.

“Oh yes, I know who you mean. When did you last have your eyes tested with us?”

“Er…. 3 or 4 years ago?”

“I’m afraid we can’t give out your prescription over the telephone”

“Could you mail it, or e-mail it?”

“I’m afraid we can’t give out your prescription details if they’re older then 3 years. Sorry”

“Nrrrgh!”

OK. So what now?

Time to visit a French optician. Perhaps I can appeal to their softer side. Perhaps they’ll help me as a foreigner stuck in their land, adrift with only a pair of sunglasses to wear in January. Sunglasses of a design fashionable 20 years ago, but now so retro they cause cars to slow down as they pass me on the street. Think Wayfarers, but a sort of NHS lo-fi copy rendered in silver leopard skin print.

I negotiate with the optician. This has to be resolved.

Here I must point out something interesting – if you ever visit France, take a look at people’s glasses. They are nearly always incredibly stylish designer label frames with index-thin glass. This is because the French get their glasses paid for them by the state. They can also get new pairs of glasses virtually weekly, all paid for. Most ladies here have a pair of 600 euro glasses per colour swatch, or outfit. Why not?

It takes 30 minutes to explain to the optician that the state won’t pay for my glasses as I’m a foreigner and the only benefits I get in France are a fortnightly bin collection. I explain I want a cheap pair built to the same prescription as my sunglasses. I am now looked at as if I’ve crawled in off the street and started begging in the shop. She goes to the “cheap” draw (moths fly out as she opens it) and hands me a few pairs as if she’s handling radioactive material.

I pick a cheap pair, and then select the cheapest nastiest lenses. All in all it’s still going to cost a fair amount, but I don’t have much choice. All through the conversation I have been confirming that the opticians can make the glasses there and then. Immediately. That day. As I wait. Oh yes! No problem! She takes my glasses away, works out the prescription, brings them back, prints out the invoice and get me to sign it. I do so. “At least”, I think, “I’ll be in normal glasses in a couple of minutes. I might not be able to see more than 5ft in front of me, but at least I’ll look normal”.

After I’ve signed, she smiles.

I go to hand my bank card over. “Oh no” she says “you can pay when you collect the glasses”. “I’m collecting them now!” I say, with a hearty laugh. Oh you cheeky French person you! “No” she says “we don’t have any glass in stock to make the lenses. You’ll need to come back… ” she thinks for a moment, and then plucks a day at random “…. next Thursday.” She sees my slack jawed astonishment. “At 11’o’clock!” she finishes up, assuming I’m upset because she’s been a bit vague about the time, and British people clearly like to know exactly when to return to an opticians.

6 days. SIX DAYS. No glass? Lets think. What should an opticians have in stock at all time? LENSES FOR THE GODDAM GLASSES. It’s a GLASSES shop, you should have GLASS in it at all times. It’s like Top Shop informing a customer that they don’t have any tops in because they didn’t think anyone would be looking for a top in TopShop. AND WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME FOR THE BEST PART OF 30 MINUTES? Nnnnnrggggggh!

I’m tempted to launch into a “my grandfather fought for your freedom in World War 2 you ungrateful French bastards, get me a pair of glasses now!” rant, but being British I of course politely thanked her for being so helpful and left without even a whisper. Yeah!

So here I am. For six days I’m going to have to live a life as a virtual recluse. I may, or may not, have a contact lens jammed round the back of my eye and to top it all, until I go back to the UK in 2 months time I’m going to be living life as if the world is being beamed into my eyes like ITV4 on Freesat or a 240p Youtube video.

Christ.

Running
Start Time
Jan 6, 2012 11:03 AM
Distance
4.00 km
Duration
22m:33s
Avg Speed
5:38 min/km
Max Speed
5:00 min/km
Calories
359 kcal
Altitude
153 m / 175 m
Elevation
10 m ↑ / 20 m ↓
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