My favourite place

Especially during the ongoing heatwave, one place I really look forward to visiting is an ice rink in Streatham.

Jimmy, who organises ice hockey practices, kindly invites me to his scrimmages when ice time are available, and yesterday was one of those weekend days.

Before setting off to the ice rink, Hubbie and I decided to have brunch at Ozone Coffee Roasters…

We found no customary queue at this popular eatery and a smiley staff ushered us to a table in the basement…

For my pre-scrimmage food, I opted for gluten-free pancake with smoked pear custard, hazelnut meringue & rhubarb ambrosia. I also ordered extra strips of crispy bacons…

The pancake was divine! It was fluffy and the topping was delicious.

Envious Bella, staring at my pancake…

Sorry, Bay Bay!

After the brunch, I headed to the ice arena with my friend who wanted to watch me playing hockey.

What a bliss! It’s so cool and comfortable on ice!!

Unfortunately, there weren’t enough players to play a proper scrimmage and Jimmy set up a few drills for us and it was fun.

Only one goalie turned up but he was a really good one – very mobile and aggressive with his stick! One of the drills was we, forward players, were to receive a pass from the defencemen standing by the blue line and to shoot at the goal. My turn came so I sprinted out, received a pass and I was about to shoot. However, before I knew it, a huge wall in the shape of a hockey goalie was right in front of me and I had no choice but simply crashing into him. Because I was such a light-weight midget with less than 95lb, I ended up flying away like a deflected bullet while he stood still, like a bloody bank vault wall! How embarrassing…

Another thing I kept on doing during the drills was losing my footing every time I tried to do tight turning.

What are wrong with my skates today?

I took my gloves off and ran my finger on the blades after skating to the end of a queue. The edges of the top halves were noticeably dull and it was clear that they needed sharpening.

After the drills, we did a 3 on 3 scrimmage using the half length of the rink. Despite my skates skidding on the surface instead of biting into it, I somehow managed to stay on my feet and enjoyed the game enormously.

‘Wow, it’s so hot and sticky!’, my friend and I moaned when we walked out of the arena.

Then, we drove by my place first to pick up Hubbie and Bella, and then drove to my friend’s to rink up with her husband.

My dinner at Andi’s on Church Street, Stoke Newington…

Pulled pork bao! A post-scrimmage protein fix.

It is a shame that I can’t come to a Monday’s practice because my skates are left in the skate shop and they won’t be ready before Thursday. Oh well, I shall work on my shooting at home then…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Oh well…

I woke up with aches and pains all over my body this morning. I fell a few times and also was being told off more than a few times 😭😭😭

Still, I love ice hockey. What can I do?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Fire away!

One morning, I was playing with a puck at home and thinking about hockey. While I gazed at the disk and the blade, I was wondering about one thing which had been bothering me for a long long time. My shooting skill, or lack of it. I really need to improve it, but seriously, how can I do it? I live in Central London and have no garden nor driveway in which I can set up a shooting range.

I did discuss my dilemma with one of our team coaches a few years ago. His suggestion was to find a place, somewhere like a car park or a quiet back alley, to set up an old mattress against a wall and to shoot a puck at it. Underneath our flat, there was an underground car park, so how about there?

No chance. The car park was full of my neighbours’ cars and they wouldn’t like an old mattress propped up at any wall anytime. And they would definitely object a puck pinging around their cars.

A few years had passed with no action. Then, I had a light-bulb moment last week.

I was looking at my Eileen Gray daybed which was placed in front of the wall panelling. Why don’t I flip the mattress of the daybed and shoot a puck at it? The distance from where I was going to shoot was about 5m and it seemed perfect. So I upturned the mattress and lined the top of it with cushions.

So, this is my indoor shooting range. What do you think Bay-Bay?

Why are my toys being lined up? Bay-Bay, they are my targets!

Oh no!

As soon as I started to practice, she retreated to a bedroom, disliking loud noises.

What the hell is going on?!

I was not going to tell about it to Hubbie but some shots went above cushions and dented the wall (>.<)

Anyway, the improvised shooting range worked a treat and I was happily firing away until my arms became sore. Why didn’t I think of the daybed then? The solution was dangling under my nose!

Anyway, let’s hope all the effort will pay off in future and I can be a one mean shooter. If I shoot a puck two hundred times a day everyday, will I be able to catch up with the lost time?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Age of discovery

This morning, I woke up with no pain and it was startling.

As I confessed in my previous entry, I had been living with pains and aches ever since I started playing hockey again and especially the peak of the discomfort was in the morning, like every part of my body was stiff and seized up like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz. And this extreme discomfort continued until I finished my morning exercise routine.

However this morning, despite the fact that I attended a hockey practice eight hours ago, I awoke feeling well rested and serene. While my body was cradled in a warm plump winter duvet, I was stretching my limbs and feeling blissful like that koala in the Cushelle ad chilling out on a fluffy cloud.

So what brought this change?

It has been almost one month since I introduced a series of therapeutic stretching into my morning workout and it was a revelation.

The stretching is constructed with three separate workouts – for upper body, core and lower body – and it takes 45 minutes to complete. As the length of time to finish it suggests, the programme is very thorough and educational.

‘So that was the cause of the pain?’

I have a dodgy right hip joint and it has been the cause of my misery every time I skate. I can’t remember exactly since when the problem started but I have been living with this annoying pain for more than fifteen years. I visited a physio and spent a small fortune to solve it but it was never cured. It is a mystery, the physio sighed and advised me to rest the area.

Then, I took a time-off from skating for more than 18 months and during the period, I was leading almost pain-free life. Occasionally, I felt a slight niggle when I rode an exercise bike hard but I didn’t make nothing of it.

However, the familiar old pain returned as soon as I started to skate again a month ago, exactly the same way and on the same spot.

I was shocked but also realised that the pain was not caused by a simple injury because if it was, the pain should have gone by now.

So what am I doing wrong? Why does my hip joint scream with a complaint every time I extend it?

I asked one of my teammates who was also a goalie if she experienced a similar problem. She suggested I may have been overstraining the hip joint while striding because my muscles around the buttock and the back of the thigh weren’t working properly. It was a “light-bulb turned on’ kind of moment for me.

It was very true that I had a very tight hip. Also the left side of my core / torso wasn’t as strong nor supple as the right side. So my body was out of balance?

The stretching programme has taught me a lot about myself which I was not aware all my life. There were so many muscles and joints on my body under the radar!

Recently, I am in the process of re-educating myself how to move each part of my body more “mindfully”. For example, making myself aware about turning my rib cage instead of my pelvis and my neck when I am twisting my upper body. Or reminding myself not to lean too forward when I walk so I will not compress my dodgy hip joint too much. There are more than a few adjustments I have introduced to my daily life.

It will be wonderful if the change in my workout regime eventually puts an end to my dodgy hip joint saga and allows me to enjoy hockey more. At the end of the day, I just want to be healthy and strong so I can age positively.

BTW, I am visiting Paris today!

My day trip has just started but already I nearly have had a disaster!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Magic!

How does this happen every time? I marvelled as I put away a balance ball and a Pilates mat and reached out for a glass of water on the table.

The customary aches and pain of post-hockey practice, which made me feel like a car wreck victim, vanished from my body like magic and I felt absolutely wonderful.

Before going back to play ice hockey again, I was exercising diligently and believing I was reasonably in a good shape. However, my smugness was slapped down to the ground quite spectacularly after the very first team practice. What had I been doing during those hockey-free months?! All those hours I spent riding an exercise bike and sweating with dumbbells and a balance ball seemed to mean so little, I felt utterly crushed.

It could have been far worse if I went back to the sport cold turkey, I convinced myself while nursing (& cursing!) my very sore and tired upper thighs.

Skating requires a very unique muscle group which is almost impossible to tone up with conventional gym equipments. Obviously, the sojourn from hockey did weaken the strength around my groin area and I was reminded of it.

One thing which really sucks when it comes to one’s ageing is the slowness of recovery process. I am doing everything I can think of in order to recover, yet I seem to be left with aches and fatigues days after the practice. Will my body get used to the new regime eventually?

However, there is a brief moment of comfort in my otherwise ache-ridden days. I feel pain-free and easy right after I have finished my daily exercise routine which consists of a series of dynamic stretching and core-works with a balance ball. While I am sweating and feeling loose, my optimism about the ache-free future returns.

Unfortunately, the aches will return while I am chained to a desk and forced to look at the screen of my iMac. Ugh, I hate feeling like being the tin man in the Wizard of Oz!

I am definitely not a fitness fanatic but I am addicted to the pain-free moment which arrives after the exercise. ‘Take it easy’, Hubbie says as he glances at me slaving on a Pilates mat. Well, it’s easier said than done…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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