The Isle of Wight or how I learnt that SPF 25 just isn’t enough…
Sunday, July 16, 2006

The story begins on the morning of Saturday the 8th of July 2006. I wake early to finish the latest update to and upload it. None of which quite goes to plan. The update takes much longer than planned, with more needing to be done than I thought and those updates taking longer and being harder to implement than expected.

But finally it is done and the site is ready for upload, ten minutes before I have to leave the house in order to drive to Portsmouth harbour to catch my ferry to the Isle of Wight. I upload it to the testing server and it works perfectly. ‘Great’, I think before deleting the old sites files and uploading the new ones. I navigate to the URL to expecting to see the website in all its glory, only all I see is a loooong list of php error messages.

Five minutes until I have to leave. I go through the error messages and it’s apparent that the site can’t find any of it’s include files, despite the fact it’s looking in the right place and they are all there. I search I look I scream I shout I beg I plead and then I change the single variable that reads “/sandbox/” to “/” and re-upload and everything suddenly works fine.

I send those last emails, shutdown the computer, finish throwing my cloths in a bag (missing some that I end up needing) and throw everything in the car. Off on the road again to Portsmouth through sun, traffic and jam. I arrive, just in time, just over half an hour before the sailing, so naturally I had a 45 minute wait before I could even board the ferry.

The bonus is that I managed to be the first off the ferry, and despite my GPS telling me to turn left when it meant right I arrived at the caravan park which was to be my home for the next week. I unpack, attend the group meeting and then go for a beer at the bizarre little ‘Family Fun Club’ which has some sort of Cabaret one man Karaoke act being performed by the campest man never to have appeared in a Carry On Film.

So the first day comes to an end with a late night of beer, TV and badly cooked sausage casserole, how better to start a week of intensive Kung Fu training?

I’m here for a weeks Kung Fu training for the style I am a student of, Nam Yang Tiger Crane combination Kung Fu. Nam Yang originated in the Fukkien province of China, and is a combination (as the name suggests) of the Tiger and White Crane styles of Kung Fu. The Tiger style is a very strong style, and is where the twisting punch that is a hallmark of Shaolin marshal arts comes from. The Tiger is beatable though by the Monkey, Monkey style Kung Fu uses weaker attacks but combines them with fast approaches and retreats that prevent the Tiger from attacking, in this way the Monkey can defeat the Tiger by constant attacks without receiving a hit. Which is where the White Crane comes in, the Crane sticks to it’s opponent, thus when the Monkey attacks the Crane stays with it while the Monkey tries to retreat, and waits for the opportunity to strike. In Tiger Crane combination the ability of the White Crane to stay with an opponent and the strength of the Tiger are combined to produce a strong style that can stay with and attack even the Monkey.

I look at the training schedule, 6 full days, Sunday to Friday each day split into 4 sessions, the first starting at 8:30am and the last finishing at 7:00pm. The only exceptions are Wednesday (1:30pm finish) and Friday (5:00pm finish followed by a demonstration), it’s going to be a tiring week.

The training starts early at 8:30am on Sunday the 9th of July 2006, that is the day is supposed to start early at 8:30am. In defiance to the expected weather and the roaring Sun of Saturday the day begins cloudy, overcast and with a good sheet of rain in case no one knew that it wasn’t a very nice day.

We wait an hour.

It continues to rain.

It’s beginning to look like the script to a bad Carry On Kung Fu film, well we do have the overtly camp guy.

After a general meeting we decide to wait another hour, after which the weather clears up and we can make our way down to a field to start the first session (two hours late) of Qigong (Chi Kung), exercises that promote the flow of Chi and help stretch and prepare the body and some T'ai Chi. As the first and second sessions have been amalgamated today due to the late start this blends into Sum Chien (The Three Wars fundamental Shaolin routine) practice.

So over the lunch break the sun is starting to come out, so I apply the strongest sun block I can find, Sun Protection Factor 25, the bottle says that it is a high protection factor.

The afternoon sessions kick off with fitness and stretching leading into sparring and fixed step pushing hands (where you attempt to break your partner’s stance by pushing and pulling them while keeping contact at all times, it’s a lot harder than it sounds). I get quite into it, and even manage to pull the instructor off his stance a few times when I sparred with him. We also do some sticking hands later on (similar to pushing hands but your trying to land a blow rather than just break the stance) which is tiring but always a lot of fun.

The last session of the day is weapons training and conditioning. Getting to play with traditional Chinese weapons is always a lot of fun, and I get to work on the staff, just a big long stick one uses to batter ones opponent. Again this sounds a little easier than it in fact is. The stances are very important here, and are also somewhat uncomfortable and unnatural feeling at first, as is the way you have to hold move and use the staff in order to properly project ones geng to the end of the staff.

Finally comes the conditioning. Let me explain something about Kung Fu instructors, they don’t have to be sadists but it helps. Conditioning is a fancy way of saying punching bags full of gravel, getting hit hard with bamboo canes, getting medicine balls dropped on your stomach, that sort of thing. General pain, the idea of which is to condition the body to be able to accept strikes in a fight situation.

Finally (thankfully) it is all over for the day and it’s time to grab something to eat and continue to a different kind of training and conditioning. You see when you practice Kung Fu your body is a temple, and by that I mean those ancient pagan temples where people drank and smoked and took drugs and stuff. I notice that my arms are sunburnt, but they don’t hurt too much so I think little of it. We drink, we smoke and make general pagan temples of our bodies, and we play pool. Especially a game called killer, where you have three lives and have to pot a ball on each of your turns. I lose but it’s a lot of fun, besides each player puts in a pound as a stake, with the winner taking all, and then the winner bought a round, each drink costing around two to three pounds, so for one pound in if you lose you essentially get two to three pounds back.

Seems like a good return to me.

So finally I go to bed and sleep, glorious peaceful sleep.

And I wake up at about 6am the next morning in agony as the tops of my arms are burning away and gradually developing yellow blisters the size of my thumb. It appears that the factor 25 sun block just isn’t enough to protect my mutant skin from the ravages of the sun. Today the weather is somewhat better, so the first session starts on time at 8:30am, while I’m liberally spreading after sun, Aloe Vera and even honey on my arms in order to alleviate the pain in my shoulders.

After a day of this I finally decide to take my problems to the doctor, who gets the nurse to bandage me up and applies some special burns cream that contains silver to stop infection. I’m now worth considerably more, being covered with precious metals, okay it’s not gold so I’m no gold finger *groan* but it’s a start.


Thursday, August 31, 2006 2:18 PM


Ouch. My sympathies. SPF-50 isn't strong enough for me. :(

Oh, and here's a home sunburn relief remedy: black tea. Yep, make a half cup, add cold water to get it lukewarm and pat/pour it on the sunburn. It helps take the heat out of it. :)

Monday, July 17, 2006 5:51 PM


Yeah, I did reapply the block, though maybe not frequently enough. The real sunburn was on the very tops of my shoulders, which are nearly always covered so never see the Sun.

I guess they probably just couldn't handle the exposure.

Monday, July 17, 2006 5:49 AM


oh no! That's a bad sunburn. I've gotten very badly sunburned before. I had a raging fever and I couldn't stop shivering and I felt sick for days and days. I hope that didn't happen to you!

Yes, reapplication is essential. Also, keeping yourself covered always always helps!

Monday, July 17, 2006 4:34 AM


HI Citizen

Ouch! I feel your sunburn from here!

You do know that you have to reapply suncream, whatever the factor, about every 30 to 60 mins?



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