Falling With Style

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This shall be a day long remembered! Only the most ardent of my readers are likely to have read my long winded first post, but to recap when I first embarked upon this blog I set myself the challenge of three, knock your socks off,  are you out of your tiny mind, make you scream ‘I’m alive’ adventures. After several years of the boring and mundane I’d finally put my foot down and decided that this time it would be different. Having resolved myself to completing one every four months, I then entered into a rigorous regime of procrastination in which the wild side of life was forever postponed by the allegedly essential. Thus after a great deal of time passed, I suddenly felt a little low on realizing that this time it wasn’t any different. Only, as the totally crazy photographic evidence above shows, most unexpectedly and quite delightfully, this time it is different! I have undertaken a true out of this world worthy of a bucket list adventure. And as you’re about to find out I loved every precious second of it.

So there I am, strapped to a stranger sitting in a rickety plane flying two miles above the earth and I have to pinch myself it feels like a dream. There’s a red light that’s about to turn green and I can’t help but briefly imagine that I’m a commando on a super-secret mission in a war film. My imagination is working overtime, as I try to ignore the very basic mechanic that I will have to execute in order for this adventure to occur. I usually get a tad frightened on normal plane journeys and that’s without the thought that at some point during the ride I’m going to have to bloody well jump out of it. It turns out I didn’t need to jump, oh no! I had to cumbersomely sit down on the edge of the exit and then as I teetered on the abyss I had to cross my legs and wrap them around the fuselage. I then felt a light tap on my shoulders which was my cue to fall forward like an undignified drunk. Upon reflection, I think I would have much preferred a short swift jump.

Whoosh! The first few seconds of the jump are a total blur as a result of the fifty espressos worth of adrenalin that automatically pumped through my veins on account of me doing something very stupid. I came to my senses a little while in, to find the camera lady falling below trying to grab my attention, she was blowing kisses. I’ve desperately tried to avoid using this word, but it was truly surreal. It sounds mad but after the initial fright of exiting, the experience of falling was a wonderfully pleasant affair. A beautiful majestic scene before me coupled with the exhilarating and calming white noise of the wind gave me a brief moment of ecstatic clarity. It came to a close when the parachute deployed and I suddenly felt like I was pulled up to the heavens.  Looking at the amazing higgledy piggledy farmland below, we now fell gracefully as we gently twirled our way back to earth.  Arriving with a bump, I was brimming ear to ear with joy having experienced the extraordinary.

I can safely say that exiting a plane from extreme height is terrifying but I also cannot recommend this experience highly enough. After the initial shock, the fall is pure magic. I’d like to give a big thank you, to all the wonderful people at the London Parachute School who made this most excellent adventure happen.

I’m Alive!!!

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Carpe Diem

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The article that sits before you dear reader has arrived with the aid of good fortune. The last week has been absolutely horrendous. Monday through Thursday I found myself inundated with endless tedious tasks with no free time to be had anywhere. I found myself dazed and confused on Friday, suddenly recollecting that I now write a blog. What the hell was I going to write about? I scoured the internet and found many exciting things but nothing appealed. Last week I was up for anything, this week nothing! The truth be told, all I wanted to do over the weekend was lay down and die. Thus I did what most people would do in this situation, I went to bed early and told myself not to worry about it, for tomorrow I would seize the day. A piece of wishful thinking so common it should be found on the first page of the procrastinator’s handbook. Only the next day against all odds something extraordinary happened, I did. The account that follows is of a most enjoyable Saturday in which vim and vigour were suddenly found to be in abundance.

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I awoke at 5:30am the next day feeling groggy but strangely determined. I made some tea, ate some toast, and in the murky depths of my subconscious a plan slowly came into focus. Two separate pieces of information slotted together cumbersomely to form a deduction that was to transform the day. The first unsurprisingly was the simple observation that I dam well needed to snap out of it man. The second was the realization that there were so many things in London that I always wanted to do but hadn’t, so surely I should do one of these. The initial thought that arose was a recollection of an open air lake that you could swim in at Hampstead Heath but it would be too cold at this time of year. Then it struck me, it was so simple. I needed to court hypothermia in order to bring an end to my malaise and thus find adventure. I set off for Hampstead Heath and having got a little lost I arrived a little before 8:00 am. The next thing I knew I was wearing a pair of swimming trunks and was diving head first into the ice cold depths. I did my best to muffle a most unmanly yelp that accompanied my arrival in the water and then set about swimming in this confounded frosty liquid. I soon decided to match pace with two elderly gentlemen who were sauntering along at what appeared to be an agreeable pace. It then became apparent that swimming in water that is slowly freezing the blood inside your veins is bloody difficult. In no time at all these pensioners were lapping me. My troubles then looked set to get a whole lot worst when four insanely buff gents wearing tight designer speedos that left nothing to the imagination arrived. They jumped into the lake in what made for a quintessential picture of manly fortitude. I need not have worried, within forty seconds these herculean specimens had promptly left the swimming area, no longer tanned but incredibly pale, each congratulating the other on how brave they were. Pah, I said to myself, Pah! I might not be able to keep up with the sixty year olds but at least I’m not a good looking, well endowed, wimp!!! The ice cold water was playing havoc with my judgment. After completing a couple of circuits I left the lake and dried off. It was at this point that the magic happened. My circulation kicked into overdrive and quite all of a sudden I felt euphoric. What’s more, my mind was now rendered crystal clear by the voodoo that is ketosis. It’s not every day that a hair brain scheme that was formed in the early hours actually works. I savoured the moment and then worked out what I wanted to do next.

marble_art_4The itinerary for the day then moved to brunch and a journey to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in London that again I had been putting off visiting for far too long. The origin of this sublime structure, which is pictured at the very top, is epic. The building is made from marble blocks from Bulgaria, which were subsequently sculpted in India, before being shipped back to the UK. The interior is even more majestic with the marble exquisitely carved in breath taking detail. Understandably they have a no photo policy but I did manage to find the picture above through their website. I found being in the temple an incredibly calming experience. I would even go so far as to say that the magnificent internal architecture somehow brought about a serene state of mind. I find it fascinating how one’s external surroundings can drastically alter how one thinks and feels. It must also be said that the people who ran the show were supremely friendly and all too happy to explain the significance of things. In addition to the temple there is also a mini museum that gave novices like me an insight into the history and principles of Hinduism. My favourite Qi style fact that I learnt in this museum was that the Pythagorean Theorem, the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle equals the sum of the square of the two sides, was in fact first proposed in India by Baudhayana. The tour of the temple proved relatively short. After leaving I headed over the road to where they have a great if slightly pricey vegetarian restaurant. All in all, this temple is a positive marvel and personally I feel it deserves as much attention as places such as the Monument and Trafalgar Square get.

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At this stage of my adventure, I was now beginning to reap the full benefits of my earlier exercise, my muscles were seizing up. Thus an activity which involved being a couch potato was called for. The last leg of my journey thus involved a pilgrimage to the temple all things gloriously cheesy. The Prince Charles cinema is easily one of my all-time favourite places in London. For those in the cognoscenti this is the ‘Empire Records’ of cinemas. It might not look like much but this place has a brilliant atmosphere, and it regularly presents some of the very best and all time worse movies in existence. I love movies and for a Nostalgia Nerd like me the Prince Charles is the go to cinema.  The movie I settled upon seeing was ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, which I had heard many good things about. Two hours later I emerged from the cinema my tiny mind completely blown by the awesomeness of this movie. My fantastic day at an end I skipped off home my neurons a buzz with life’s possibilities.

Before I leave you to your own fantastic day allow me to present a Haiku review of ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’.

Heartfelt funny joy

Charming tale with man and boy

An instant classic