Saturday, 26 March 2011

Motorcycling - wow, there's a lot to do

OK, this isn't an original 30BeforeI'm30 idea, but it fits in the general scheme of Doing Interesting Stuff Because I Can And I'm Deadline Driven.

I have several friends who own motorbikes. After many, many years of not wanting to go near one (my late Grandad had a stiff knee from a motorcycling accident in his teens) I was finally persuaded to give it a go late last year. It was ACE!! I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie in some ways - it's why I loved cross-country horse-riding best - and this ticked all my boxes.

I have another friend intending to gain a motorcycle license, so the idea is we can motivate and hold each other accountable this summer. The plan is for the Direct Access Scheme, where the last part of the training and the test is carried out on a big (500cc+) bike, and you can immediately ride these without restriction - it's only available to over 21s, and we're definitely that! The Standard A1/A2 route carries a 2-year restriction on riding bikes over 125cc and I guess neither Dichotomy nor I are feeling patient.. There's a number of steps to go through - I'll link posts to them as they happen:
  1. Get your provisional license - I'm fine because I have a full driving license
  2. Get some glasses that have two arms and a current prescription - hopefully sorting out this week
  3. Do a one day Compulsory Basic Training course - tentatively May this year
  4. Pass the Theory Test and Hazard Perception Test - I am massively not looking forward to these! I passed the Driving Theory test many years ago, but the Hazard Perception is new. On the other hand, I've been driving for over 10 years, so hopefully my perception of hazards is pretty good.
  5. Practice on the road - optional, but recommended
  6. Take an intensive riding course and the slow-speed Module 1 test - tentatively sometime in the first two weeks in August
  7. Take the Module 2 test - hopefully also in August
  8. Ride, and practice, and possibly undertake further training

Simples, right? Or at the very least, some light relief from my MSc finals and Dissertation writing, which has to happen concurrently!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Lottie Loves: Finishing School L is for Ladylike

This challenge contains quite a lot of Stuff To Think About, so I've posted it verbatim, with my thoughts below.

I have offered up so much to think about this week that I am going to make the challenge simple. All you need to do is think and give a little thought to being ladylike.

  • Think about your own behaviour. Are you ladylike all the time? Do you have a lady like image? If you don’t, what can you change to improve that?
  • Think of a woman from the past or present that you admire. What do you admire about her? Is she ladylike? If so, what makes her ladylike? What is it about her behaviour and look that you like?

By reflecting on the image of others and looking at yourself you can see where improvements need to be made. None of us are perfect and we are all a work in progress but working towards being ‘ladylike’ is a move that will stand you in good stead.

Just remember, ‘Ladies’ command respect without even trying. Being respected makes an enormous difference to every woman’s life.

I have just had a tattoo done, which is not the first thing you might expect someone claiming to be ladylike to say. I'll let you ponder that for a while, as I outline what I think being ladylike is about. Then I'll post a picture, and you can decide if you think my tattoo is, in fact, ladylike.

Lottie identifies posture & confidence, being well-presented, using good language and good manners as the key features of being ladylike. I won't argue with any of them, but I will add one more: an aura of quiet strength, rather than of overt power. This is not to say that women can't or shouldn't be assertive, upfront and loud when it's appropriate, but it is more a more stereotypically male way of getting things done. Perhaps this is what Lottie meant about commanding respect without trying?

So, posture and confidence: other people see me as more confident and with better posture than I do. Generally, though, I don't slouch horrendously (although I no longer have a ballerina's posture after 20 years away from the barre!) and if anything I tend to err on the reserved rather than over-the-top side of confident.

Being well-presented: my personal sense of style requires that as well as clothes being clean, pressed and fitting right, they also have to have an understated elegance to them if I'm going to feel truly ladylike. This tends to manifest in the cut and quality of pieces I buy or make, and you will often find me bemoaning (rather than the unladylike cursing I'd like!) my "champagne tastes, on beer money" lifestyle.

Good language: definitely a work in progress, and dependent on who I'm with. My language is far from terrible but I'm conscious of odd things I could improve.

Good manners: this really should go without saying. I will always say "thank you" to the driver when I get off the bus - many people don't. It's so basic to decent human interaction I don't know where to start with contemplating this one, other than to observe that I've been learning over the last few years that saying "no" can be done politely.

Strength rather than power: I find this one hard to articulate. I know what I mean, but I'm not sure I'm good at putting it into words. It's not about avoiding being the centre of attention, but someone who is ALWAYS the centre of attention doesn't embody this to me. It's about making things happen without making unnecessary waves. Maybe that's the key: it's about drawing as much attention to yourself as is necessary to achieve your aims (which should broadly be balanced, and not totally selfish or totally altruistic).

A Lady I admire: Ok, this is hard. Role models of grace and elegance are not something I have ever sought out, especially since my ballet teacher used to refer to me as "The Baby Elephant". (She was right - there's a reason I find the relaxed style of Swing & Jazz Dance much more fun than restraint inherent in classical ballet or ballroom!). OK, I'm going to be a bit contentious and pick Samantha Cameron. She's not classically pretty, but she's always well-turned out in an understated way, and has managed to balance motherhood, being the wife of the PM and a career thus far.

So, I mentioned earlier that I've just got a tattoo. And I'm assuming many people will have gone "Ugh. Call yourself a lady?!". So, here's a picture - does it embody elegance, grace and confidence to you? Comment (either way, I'm genuinely interested) and let me know!