No trees were harmed in the making of this post…
A few electrons may have been slightly inconvenienced
There’s a nice easy partner balance for you to try…
We’re packing in the hours doing shifts at the gymnastics center in order to get a long period free over Xmas and New Year. There’s going to be a mass exodus from Tennessee to the UK. Dave and I, the girls, the kids, Dave’s dad and his brother Pete. Pete’s partner Ivo stays, as head coach there now, to support a diminished team of coaches. Jack and Ethan, and Ethan’s parents too, will spend Christmas in Toronto with Jack’s family. Zach will go to SoCal with his mum and brother Emilio, whilst Gary, reluctantly, stays in Oak Ridge, re-joining his family who are still uncomfortable with his ‘gay’ status after ten years. So Gary will be supporting Ivo with coaching, getting out of his family’s clutches as often as he possibly can!
Dave and Pete’s long-estranged mum Cathy, who lives in Cumbria UK, will even be joining the party in Oxford for the ‘big day’ (bah humbug!!). The Power of Love tells how Dave and Pete were re-united with their mum and how, when all of us were under serious threat at the end of Against All Odds, Cathy frantically made the difficult journey over to Oak Ridge to be with their father at that stressful time. But I think it will be single bedrooms for Brian and Cathy nonetheless…
Dave and I have a little task to complete in Cumbria, so we shall travel back with Cathy for one day. After that, we shall head over to our base in Wales, Cefn Derwen – which means ‘Oak Ridge’ in Welsh. Clever, huh! And there is one nearby, too.
We have a local farmboy, Neil, who has been sorting out our barn, completing the transformation into a bunkhouse (to make some money from vacationers, along with letting the house) and bringing in more and more gym equipment – he has assembled about 700 pounds of second-hand weights, bars, and benches, enough to keep his rugby-playing young farmer friends happy and also the members of his running club (he runs marathons). So, in the remote Welsh hills in the middle of nowhere, connected to the outside world (internet) by satellite, we have somehow established a little investment in a holiday let and gym!
The gym is a bit basic – not perhaps as basic as this Russian one though:
…but those guys have made some sturdy muscle gains nonetheless. We do have a proper training floor for acrobatics (it is, supposedly, our ‘European training base’ when we do tours) and, most importantly, Neil assures us, we have heating that works. I just spoke with him on the phone today, and he told me the early morning temperature was -3C (that’s 27F) – even son Leo would keep his shirt on at that temperature, whereas we do need to train with them off! Not much good training on a bed of nails in an overcoat, and we will have a series of ‘family fakir’ shows in cabaret clubs pre- and post-New Year (augmented by an additional acrobat (Pete)) in South Wales and the Bristol area. Scarily, I’m told they’re all sold out.
As some of today’s pictures have focussed on planches, here are the Kalutskih boys (Kirill on Danil), in mid-performance at a Moscow club:
…and a Ukraine boy training on a rusty play bar:
Neil says him and his mates have packed on some real muscle using our place, and want to challenge us in lifting and wrestling. So we wickedly replied ‘yes, if you’ll wrestle us naked’ and he instantly agreed! Notwithstanding that assorted girlfriends seem to hang out in our gym barn too. So we’ll have to see what turns up! In performance, using nails and glass, we obviously have to be seen to expose our bare skin to the challenges, as do the girls with their fire, but it will definitely be fireproof bikinis for them and thongs for us in the shows. And, for their acrobatic contribution, we shall put Leo in some stylish three-quarter length pants, letting him stay topless matching Pete, Dave and I for teh acrobatic sequences, and Jaymee has a rather fetching one-piece.
We then issued another challenge to Neil and his mates – swimming in the nearby plunge pool amid the January frosts, and suggested that they get in some practice. That’s something the whole of the transatlantic party will certainly be willing to do, so we’ll see who joins us:
By the second week of January, school will beckon again for the kids, and they will return with Pete who will have them in his care, along with his dad, until the rest of us return about two weeks later. And then it will be payback time for our shifts at the gymnastics center whilst our colleagues get a well-earned break.
OK, I think that’s the end of the news for now.
And, as a small present from me well ahead of Santa, a couple of
Save the Earth… it’s the only planet with chocolate