Tag Archives: Golf

Ballesteros (the movie)

I have never been a big fan of golf and in fact I have only played a few times starting in 2012 during a trip to Scotland. Thus, the phenomenon of Severiano Ballesteros if not unnoticed never fully touched me.

Earlier this month I spent some days resting in the village of Comillas (Cantabria, Spain). There we witnessed the preparation of the set and the filming of a movie. We heard that the crew had a British accent and then lunching in a terrace we learnt that the movie was about the life of Ballesteros.

I then, searched in the web about the movie project. I found several articles and read a couple from The Independent and Today’s Golfer.

The movie is produced by BAFTA award-winning Stephen Evans. The £5m movie project is running late as it was initially supposed to be already released, and now is expected for 2014, after over  5,000 hours of footage. It will tell the life of the golfer from its youth in Cantabria. While reading about the movie I found some sentences that catched my attention:

“He had one of the most fascinating childhoods I have ever come across. It is almost straight out of Charles Dickens.”

“If you don’t understand Seve’s formative years then you can’t possibly grasp why he became the man he did.”

“Like (Ayrton) Senna, Seve transcends his sport and like Senna, Seve was incredibly handsome and charismatic, but unlike Senna, Seve was not handed everything on a plate.”

“Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are all wonderful players, but that is all they are. There is no real story, so if you tried to make a movie about them people would fall asleep. Seve is different.

I have never seen such a display of triumph and joy in my life. It was incredible, amazing and electric.”

Seve Ballesteros, Spanish golfer (by Peter from Liverpool, UK).

Spanish media tends to elevate sportsmen to the highest quite rapidly after some victories, thus I still wanted to check just a few figures of majors won. Ballesteros won 5: 2 Masters (1980, 1983) and 3 times The Open Championship (1979, 1984, 1988). In the last 50 years, only eight (8) players have won 5 or more majors: Gary Player (9), Jack Nicklaus (18), Arnold Palmer (7), Lee Trevino (6), Tom Watson (8), Nick Faldo (6), Tiger Woods (14) and Phil Mickelson (5).

I obviously missed something. I am now looking forward to see that movie.

1 Comment

Filed under Movies, Sports

Summary of (my) 2012

Let me share with you a brief recap of my 2012. (1)

Seychelles

Finally engaged.

I defined 2010 as a learning year, 2011 as a year on the run… I would describe my 2012 as a year of change:

  • I proposed to Luca and we’ll getting married in May 2013.
  • Luca came to live in Toulouse together with me last September, 4 years after having left Madrid to become a lawyer in The Netherlands.
  • My boss at the beginning of the year, Werner, moved to Germany thus I started reporting to his boss. A colleague, Paula, moved to another department and I had to fill the gap for some months trying to learn a complete new field for me. Yet another colleague, Rosa, moved to another country, and I will partially take over her role… and this implies managing a small team of 3 from January 1st.

I guess that all these changes didn’t give me the stability needed to fulfil all the objectives I had set myself at the beginning of the year… but don’t think 2012 wasn’t rich of events and fun. Have a seat in the roller coaster and run with me:

Sports. I wanted to do plenty of sports… in the end I run some 1,500 kilometres. I competed in 9 races, including tonight’s San Silvestre and two marathons: Paris and Berlin. I set personal best times in marathon (Paris, 3h45′) and 10k. I was not able to do so in half marathon due to an injury in the summer. Injuries forced me to run some 300 kilometres less than in 2011.

The year 2012 caught me running in Toulouse, Paris, Berlin, Torrelodones, Madrid, Sevilla, Rijswick, Papendal, Huelva, Asturias, Gaillac… so in a way it was also a year on the run. I also played some paddle, swam some days (including at North Sea, latitude 58º…) and got started with golf!

Learning. This year was also heavy on the learning side. It could have been much heavier if I had reached all my objectives. On the job I had to learn a great deal about configuration management in Airbus and will have to continue to do so, about leading and managing teams, about A400M aircraft systems…

Off of the job:

  • I subscribed to 4 online courses from Coursera and other platforms at the beginning of the year. I kept up with Codecademy for some 2 months while could not finish any of those courses (on valuation, corporate finance, game theory and model thinking). However, at the end of the year I took on some other 3 courses from Venture Lab and this time I did complete all 3 of them!
  • Languages: I started studying Dutch at the beginning of the year and I kept up with it for some 2-3 months… 2013 will force me to re-take it. French…
  • Toastmasters: I almost didn’t attend to my club meetings. I took part in the contests, though. having good experiences in the Spring winning both speech and evaluation and not so good in Autumn, not winning any, though being able to compete also at the area level.

Reading. At the beginning of the year I wanted to read at least 15 books. I started well, but in the end I have finished just 10 while being half way through other 4. Check out “my 2012 reading list“, including just the finished ones.

Investing & helping others. I again set myself high objectives for saving and investing. This year however, the engagement changed the focus of the savings: from stock market to a preference for cash, at least until all the wedding expenses have been paid out. On the charities side: this year I directed 0.9% of my net income to different NGOs (soon I’ll make a similar contribution, check out which ones will I support this time).

Travelling. This year either with Luca, with friends or alone, I visited Monaco (flying aboard a helicopter again!), Seychelles (where I proposed to Luca!), Asturias (twice), Huelva, The Netherlands (Papendal, Rijswick), Berlin – Nürnberg – Munich, Sevilla (twice), Madrid, Scotland, Corsica, Nancy, Geneva… those were the leisure trips; the job made me go to Madrid another 20-25 times (?), that made it tiresome and difficult to combine with other things.

Javi 2.0. For another year I kept it up with the blog. I recently reached 300 posts. I’m not sure whether I’ll always write about 100 posts per year, but if life keeps getting more interesting and I’ve got the time, count on it.

Change of plans due to the bad weather in the mountains, heading south to the coastline, re-calculating the route.

Flying back from Corsica.

Flying. Last year I took on flying lessons. I was slower in this front that had wished to, though it wasn’t always easy to find time slots to fly with so many trips on weekends. I recently surpassed 20 flight hours and started with go-arounds in the airport. Without any doubt, the trip to Corsica with a colleague was the best flying experience of the year. I’ll hopefully start with solo flights at the beginning of 2013 (beware!).

Other reasons for joy…

  • It goes without saying it: Luca came to Toulouse!
  • My sister, Beatriz, completed her masters in Political Sciences. My father spent some 5 months in Bolivia working for NGO teaching children a bit of maths and who-knows-what (he is doing similar work for NGOs now in Madrid), mom kept on giving massages and Jaime had roller coaster year with the A400M!
  • Some friends and relatives got married… Fernando, Diego, Héctor, Sergio, Ceci.
  • Newborns: Clara, Lenny…

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to update the objectives setting for 2013. I believe I’ll give myself a more relaxed set of personal goals to cope with job changes, personal changes and else. One thing I am sure of: 2013 will be, again, the best year of my life!

I wish you the same: the best for 2013, enjoy it!

(1) This post is becoming a classic of the blog (like those talking about aircraft discounts, best and worst posts, charities I support, etc). You can see my 2010 and 2011 recaps.

8 Comments

Filed under Personal development & HR

Golf & running in Papendal

Luca wanted to enjoy a weekend out in The Netherlands, I only asked some time during both Saturday and Sunday to run some 8 to 10km each day. We ended up in Papendal: a hotel and sports centre in the country side close to Arnhem. 

Papendal centre entrance

At first I didn’t know about it, just what Luca told me “there is forest around where you can run”. Once we arrived she explained to me more about the place and we could read in some posters that the hotel is used by Dutch national sports teams of several disciplines to prepare big competitions such as the Olympics.

Time to the next Olympics games.

 

Then, I recalled “I believe that FC Barcelona might have come here as well for summer stages prior to starting the season”. I googled it, and voi là! FC Barcelona has been staged here several times starting as far back as the 70s. I saw an interesting article describing the centre [in Spanish, 237KB] from 1981, when it was already the 4th time the club visited the centre, in 1982 they repeated the experience and many times afterwards (including one in 1988 when the team captain got himself arrested by Dutch police!). Other Spanish teams have been there as well, e.g. Athletic Bilbao in 2003 & 2007.

Luca & I enjoyed a quiet weekend in which we played again golf, this time in the “Pitch & Putt” installation (close to the Edese golf club), just about 7 weeks after having played in Scotland. The game was entertaining, with some pond and trees in between the holes. We’re already looking forward to play the game in Toulouse.

Playing golf.

Then I could run both days around the installations and in the athletics track. I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying out 400m (1’16”), 100m (15”) and long jump (…m)… though I have to say that after having run 9km each day, the legs are not in the best situation to handle those activities. I’ll have to try again being rested in a track in Toulouse… ideally after Berlin marathon training season is finished.

Athletics track where I did some training sessions.

Not that I jumped long, huh?

We also enjoyed the sports decoration motives that you can find in several spots in the hotel. They already make you feel in the sportive mood.

Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m high jump.

Bob Beamon’s 8.90m long jump.

2 Comments

Filed under Sports, Travelling

Scotland

On the 2nd of June I flew in the morning from Toulouse to London Gatwick. At more or less the same time Luca flew from Amsterdam, our friend Elena from Madrid and Maicol drove from Bournemouth, in the South of England. From then on, we embarked into the adventure of seeing as much as possible of Scotland in a week. There we go!

Day 1: Gatwick, York, Riding Mill.

Day 1

At first we encountered heavy traffic in the road, thus we arrived to York later than we wished. We could have a walk around the city. We then followed to Riding Mill where we would sleep at the Low Fotherley Farm, the first of the many Bed & Breakfasts that we would be hosted at. This is a feature which I loved of the trip: those breakfasts! I also enjoyed much the suppers at pubs.

Day 2.

Day 2: Scottish Borders, Markinch, St. Andrews, Edinburgh

We continued our way to the North, making our first stop at the Scottish Borders, listening for the first time to the pipes and starting to see Scottish flags (St. Andrew’s cross). We then reached Edinburgh and passed it as we wanted to reach Markinch to witness the Highland Games, of which I already wrote one post.

Scottish Borders.

We then went to St. Andrews to visit the Old Course, which I explained in a post about golf in Scotland, and back to Edinburgh where we arrived just in time for dinner.

Day 3.

Day 3: Edinburgh, Stirling, Glamis, Cairngorms, Balmoral, Aberdeen

In Edinburgh we slept near Arthur’s Seat, but we decided to skip the trekking to the hill and head to the city centre. We then visited the Castle, where they were getting prepared for the Military Tattoo (where this year an official name for A400M may be given!).

In the castle we saw Mons Meg cannon, St. Margaret’s chapel, the Great Hall, the Scottish War Memorial, the One O’Clock Gun firing at 13:00, the Stone of Scone… We then went down to walk along the Royal Mile to see some more highlights of the city, such as the Cathedral or the statue to Adam Smith.

Edinburgh Castle.

We then went to visit the Stirling Castle, but was already closed (as were Glamis Castle and Balmoral, which we also passed by later on in the day). We took a look of the views of the fields around the castle, where many battles central to Scotland’s history were fought, among them those involving William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, who has a statue just at the entrance of the castle.

Fields at Stirling.

Instead of taking the fastest way by the coast to Aberdeen, we decided to take the route through the national park of the Cairngorms, where the highest mountains of Scotland are. There we saw plenty of deers (we almost bumped onto some of them suddenly crossing the road!), cows, rabbits, etc.

Cairngorms.

Day 4: Aberdeen, King’s College, Loch Ness, Badbea, Dunnet Head, Thurso.

In the morning we took a walk around Aberdeen, the silver or granite city. It was a pity that the cathedral and other places were closed. We could visit the Maritime Museum. We then headed for the beach. We did not take a bath yet, as we were not enough in the North. Close to the beach we saw the football stadium of Aberdeen football club, one of the two which defeated Real Madrid in a Cup winners’ Cup (Recopa) final in one of the four times it took part in the competition. We then went to see King’s College, founded in 1495, with its idyllic campus. Close to the university we visited St. Marchar’s Cathedral where we enjoyed its heraldic ceiling with the coat of arms of many European kingdoms of the time (including Castile, Leon, Navarra…), and where a quarter of William Wallace is supposed to be buried in the walls.

St. Marchar’s Cathedral heraldic ceiling.

Nessie, at Loch Ness.

Once we left Aberdeen we went to Inverness and crossed it to see the Loch Ness, and we did found Nessie!

On the way to the north coast we stopped at Badbea, a former village by the cliffs of the east coast established during the Highland Clearances, a dark episode in Scottish history.

Badbea (what it’s left of it).

We finally reached Thurso, on the north coast, but that was not enough, we needed to reach Dunnet Head, the northernmost point of the island (being this the one and not John o’Groats). There we could see the lighthouse and some fortifications built during WWII.

Day 5.

Day 5: Thurso, Bettyhill, Durness, Ullapoll.

We departed from Thurso and started our tour along the north coast of Scotland, one of the requirements for the trip. We made some stops along the way, to see some sight spots, to have a swim at the North Sea (close to Bettyhill), to visit the Smoo Cave at Durness, to see Durness’ beach and unexpectedly to play golf at Durness Golf Club, as I already explained in an earlier post.

Having a bath at the North Sea.

Luca “flying” at Durness beach.

Day 6.

Day 6: Ullapoll, Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Goban.

We had been recommended the visit of the Isle of Skye, as the most beautiful of the islands. After almost rounding it completely we do not recommend the visit. We had some lunch at Portree, which we didn’t either find particularly beautiful. Sincerely, we found dozens of more beautiful spots driving down the west coast of Scotland.

Continuing with our tour we made two short stops: at Glencoe, to visit the memorial of the massacre, where most of the MacDonald clan was killed, and at Goban, a nice port city.

Day 7.

Day 7: Islay

In Islay the main attraction was to visit Bowmore distillery, which I described in an earlier post. We had a walk around the village and then went on to visit the other villages of the island, Port Ellen and Porthaven, where we had some coffee.

Day 8.

Day 8: Islay, Glasgow, Lockerbie, Liverpool.

On the way to Liverpool we stopped to have a walk in Glasgow, where we had lunch at the restaurant “The Willow Tea Room“, designed by Charles Mackintosh in 1904. Later on, as we saw in the road the signpost of Lockerbie we drove by to see if there was any memorial of the tragedy with the Pan Am Flight 103 which exploded on air; we didn’t find it.

In Liverpool we went by Anfield, though we were late for taking on any guided tour. This is something for which I’ll have to come back. We then moved to the centre to visit The Cavern Club (where The Beatles made their first performance) and have some dinner.

Anfield, “You Will Never Walk Alone”

Luca at The Cavern Club.

Day 9.

Day 9: Liverpool, Gatwick.

This was the last day of the tour, with the only goal to get to Gatwick in time for our flights. The only remarkable thing we saw were some paratroopers being dropped from a C-130J-30 from the UK Royal Air Force, some miles to the East of Brize Norton air base.

1 Comment

Filed under Travelling

Playing Golf in Scotland: St. Andrews & Durness

According to the Wikipedia “The Old Course at St. Andrews is considered by many to be the “home of golf” because the sport was first played on the Links at St. Andrews in the early 1400s”. Thus, we could not skip a visit to St. Andrews when we visited Scotland last week.

Even though none of us plays golf, the place breathes a special air of tradition that anyone can feel. We loved the visit. The views of the course are wonderful. Its placement close to the beach and the village make it all the more enjoyable. The possibility of crossing through was also inviting (even if hazardous).

Close the St. Andrews Links there is a small field where putts and balls can be rented for just one pound in order to play 18 holes in a green and make small tournament with friends. So we did. We had lots of fun “playing golf”, though I am afraid I came in last, with 76 strokes. See in the tweet below the complete results of our competition:

As a complement to visiting the Old Course, there is the British Golf Museum just 50 metres from it. The museum is wonderful. I will have to come back to it one day, as we had to visit it in a rush (it closes at 17:00 – free of charge).

Durness

A couple of days later, completing our tour by the Northern coast of Scotland we arrived at Durness. Walking by the beach we discovered a golf course. My friend Maicol mentioned that it would be a good plan to play.

At the beginning we were doubtful as in Spain you need a licence to play in a golf course, but we gave it a try and went to ask. What a positive reply! “Visitors are always welcome at Durness Golf Club”, “you don’t need any licence to play here”, “you need to pay just 10 pounds to play”, “a set of clubs can be hired for just 5 pounds”… we had a plan! 2 hours of playing golf for just 30 pounds altogether.

Again, there, the views of the course at the seaside were wonderful. Especially the last hole, where you needed to avoid the ball falling down the cliffs into the Atlantic Ocean to reach the green. We highly recommend paying a visit to the club.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6 Comments

Filed under Sports, Travelling