Call options

2014 has now dawned and thus far it’s an extremely wet and windy year!  A run outside would have been a lovely idea under normal circumstances but, with the weather SO inclement, I chose to run on the machine instead of braving a cold shower outside.

To celebrate the New Year though I decided to go a little further than normal.  Initially I thought that 7 miles would be appropriate, but as the run progressed (hard work at 7 mph) I thought that maybe five miles would suffice.

We’d had a series of house guests from the 18th December onwards, across what turned out to be a truly FAB Christmas!  

Nigel & Kristin flew in from Seattle and stayed right through, my Mum & Dad for almost a week, Debbie & John for five nights (Debbie being my ‘knight in shining armour’ on the catering front!) and Kate & Alex drove down from North Wales to stay for one night.  In addition to this Michael & Jenny came from Wiltshire on Boxing Day and brought Christopher, Philip, Cherry & Helen with them.  Much fun was had!

The tea run!

We ate and drank really well but not to excess, except in the tea department where we eventually ran out of Twinings Earl Grey, something that has probably not happened in my household for 20 years!

We played a lot of guitar too!  My guitar experiment is just coming up to its 4th anniversary and the cumulative effort really paid off over Christmas.

Nigel Foster

The house finally emptied yesterday morning, when I took Nigel & Kristin back to the airport, and I spent the rest of the day tidying up and washing linen.  Ordered calm (and fresh supplies of Earl Grey) only returned yesterday evening!

Back on the running machine, in one of my rambling cognitive excursions, I started thinking about ‘call options‘.  This is essentially a financial instrument used by City folk, but I quite like the general idea behind it.

In my version, the effort put in to learning and honing a new skill allows you to use that skill at some point in the future, thus exercising the option.  You don’t have to use it, but you have essentially bought a call option which means that you can, if you choose… your time and effort was the price.

For example my daily effort in developing my guitar-playing skills over the last four years allowed me to play properly alongside my brother (who is a totally amazing guitar player!) for the first time ever in the 38 or so years I have played… I didn’t have to (and I’m still not brilliant), but it was fantastic to have that option.

Likewise, by designing and running short training courses over the last few years I essentially created a call option that made it possible for me to lecture at UCL and Brighton Business School last year… whilst the Fellowship of Higher Education course that I start in January buys me further options down the line.

In running terms, by putting in the hard work to run five miles I was essentially buying a call option to run a little further, say to seven miles, if I were so inclined.  Two miles is a short run on its own, but tacked on to five miles it makes for a decent run for New Year’s Day.

In the end the lure of being able to write about this slightly tenuous argument was really what finally persuaded me to exercise the call option and run the additional two miles.

So a great start to 2014 with 7.1 miles in one hour… I sense that this year is going to be pretty hard work all round, but hopefully more rewarding as a result.

Of course, having put in more time and effort on the running machine than normal, I then needed to at least try to alleviate the potential after effects in my musculature… thus I didn’t manage to avoid the cold shower after all!

Happy New Year to you all!  I hope that it’s a FAB one!

In amongst the Deans

This morning was bright enough for sunglasses, chilly enough for gloves and yet still mild enough for shorts… if any of that makes any sense!

And it’s my brother Nigel’s birthday today, so Happy Birthday Big Bro!  And as a result, what better place to run than on home territory… the Deans.

I started out at Woodingdean, running up the Falmer Road to the old bakery (long, long gone), and across the top of the village…

… before dropping all the way down the long and winding decline to Standean Bottom, where the hamlet of Balsdean used to sit.

From here I chose the path that went straight back up the hill, following it around until I came back to the side of Woodingdean again.  Today was clearly going to be a run of views.

Turning sharp left, I then ran down the Bostle, passing Balsdean reservoir, ‘Cottages and ‘Farm before reaching the top of Saltdean.

At Saltdean I snuck around the back of the houses to try to get a better view of Saltdean valley.

They I snuck back and from here I dropped gently down through the village of Rottindean, all the way to the sea, where the colour balance changed dramatically.

It was an easy run along the flat of the Undercliff Walk to the steps at Ovingdean, where I ran up the valley to the church, pausing to pay my respects to Ric.

From here I was going to take a quick detour into Roedean Bottom, but instead ran past and up to the Race Course at the Western end of Woodingdean.

Once at the top I ran along the Drove Road across the top of Woodingdean, looking down on Bevendean to my left, back to my starting point at the old bakery.

It was then an easy few minutes back down the Falmer Road to finish what had been a really pleasant run in two hours on the nose.

I had covered 11.45 miles at an average speed of 5.72mph, which is quite sedentary but I’ll forgive myself because of the terrain and the fact that I was very happy just moseying along, looking at the view and taking pictures.

I hope this is a nice trip down memory lane for your birthday Bro… I made sure that I went all the way around the village for you!

Surprise! (a partial explanation of my recent absence)

Kim & I dashed out to Seattle the week before last to Surprise my brother Nigel and more particularly Kristin, who was 50. Raaaa raaaa!

Our very good friends Carolyn & Scott had agreed to put up with us for the week and really were the perfect hosts, to such an extent that they invited Kristin & Nigel and their two house guests Claudia & Russell (who runs Sweetwater Kayaks in Florida) to dinner.  SURPRISE!

It was just great being in Seattle again where the folk are so friendly and the scenery so magnificent.  Look one way up N&K’s street to see Mount Rainier & the Cascades and the other way to see the Olympic Mountains.

I can’t begin to do the trip justice in full here, but the highlights included the Sebring convertible hire car (thankyou Amex!), buying & preparing salad with Scott (a story in itself), the surprise dinner (food and company), the brilliant party (though I’m really sorry to all those folk whose names I forgot or mixed up… not my memory’s finest hour!), the waterfalls in the Cascades, paddling the Whisky 16 (Nigel’s latest kayak design) with Nigel & Russell, playing (a lot of) guitar with Russell, Nigel and John Marshall, burgers in the 74th Street Ale House, grown up food at Ray’s Boathouse, seeing the Kri-Kri studio again, the Olympic Sculpture Park at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), being re-aquainted with Alice & Richard’s amazing contemporary art collection, and the upgrade to flat-bed class on the return flight (thankyou NWA, whose Economy Class has way more room than the equivalent BA Cattle Class anyway!).

All in all, a fantastic trip, with special thanks again to Carolyn & Scott who made it all possible!

 Nigel & Kristin

Latte: whisked doubleshot please!


Point 65 have just launched a couple of new kayaks, both of them designed by Nigel Foster

The Doubleshot is a kayak for two, whilst Nigel says that the Whisky 16 is the kayak for me as it’s slightly shorter than a normal sea kayak and designed to be FUN!  I’m really looking forward to trying one out and might have to schedule a trip to Seattle to hasten the experience!

And for those amongst you who have not tried the turning technique that Nigel is demonstrating above, it truly is amazing.  Takes a bit of getting used to though, as every fibre in your body is screaming at you to lean into the corner! 

Maybe he’ll explain how it works some time?

Happy Birthday!


Many of you know my kayak-mad younger brother Nigel and I’m sure you will join me in wishing him a very Happy Birthday! 

He is very lucky to be a well travelled young chap, visiting, amongst other places this year, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, Scotland, France, USA etc, not to mention starting off at my place and spending at least some time in his Seattle home town.

Those people who do know him will, I feel sure, be amused by this picture of him… for those who don’t know him, at least yet, I think this is the last recorded time he wore a tie. 

Picture courtesy of Peter Foster, 1967.

Happy Birthday Bro!