The Orchard Tea garden, Grantchester, mid October.

 

We arrived at the Orchard early on a chilly, sunny morning. All the deckchairs and tables were out but it was virtually deserted. In the sun, it was warm enough to sit out to eat or drink tea or coffee, and it soon began to fill up. We had walked from Newnham along Granchester Meadows and on the way there, walking by the Cam, we  spied this chap swimming towards Cambridge. On the way back, this group of cows blocked our path and despite negotiation, mediation, persuasion and a few more concepts ending in -ion, they stubbornly refused to move. Guess what? We went around them.

Last Sunday, I ran the Histon Bonfire Burn 10k. This went pretty well, by and large. The weather was cold and bright, all my running chums beat me and I met old running chum, Dominic, whom I hadn’t seen for a year or two. He also beat me!

Three years ago, I ran this race in the worst weather I have ever run in. Scouring wind, low temperature and driving rain.It gets worse every time I describe it. This was the only race I ever considered stopping prematurely apart from when I was injured. Subsequently I have always preferred over dressing for a race rather than wearing too little. I can run when I’m hot.

Today, Cambridge  parkrun was another mud bath as it was last week. As usual we were exhorted to run through the myriad puddles rather than dodge them and run into someone else’s path. This did happen last week when a runner was tripped, fell and broke his ankle. These kind of accidents are relatively rare, surprisingly since sometimes over 500 people are charging around narrow trail paths.

One last half marathon, for the year, next weekend, at St.Neots.

Poor America! Poor world! Donald Trump continues to make jaws drop with his wild disregard for truth, compassion and basic decency. The evidence for corrupt practises is slowly stacking up but how long will it take?

Good news on treatment for schizophrenia research. Trials are starting which explore the possibility that for some people, schizophrenia could be a disease of the immune system. Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular biology at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant pschiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in South London, and his team, have uncovered evidence, with other teams worlwide, that abnormalities in immune activity in the brain may be responsible for the illness.. Good Guardian article on this November 4th.

 

 

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I Battle Very Wild Animals……..and Win!

my bottom in the polytunnel

Why am I in this undignified position quite unsuited to the running dynamo/Greek god reputation that others have bestowed upon me? I’m looking for a bird which found its way into my polytunnel and couldn’t get out. The quest to free the bird was a grade one challenge because I planted the tomatoes and sprouting broccoli much too close together. As a result its turned into an almost inpenetrable jungle. Conclusion : bird successfully flushed out to freedom and I got greater insight into what its like to be a young tomato growing up in near darkness.

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“Spending too long in the polytunnel….seeds in the wrong place” said my mother. Thanks, mum! I’m only striking a new mindfulness pose as part of my preparation for Brandon country parkrun. We did a bit of parkrun tourism because the venue for Cambridge, Milton countrypark, is undergoing a restoration of its paths.

Brandon is grass and trail with some mild ascents and woodland paths studded with tree roots. A lovely two lap course and a very good cafe for coffee and food. We had drinks and something to eat with both old and new friends and I scored more socialability points. I also had a chat with an 80 year old+ runner who usually runs at Cambridge. I saw him come in and I was concerned that he was obviously struggling in the heat. However his daughter was very attentive and he soon recovered his balance. How marvellous is that, to be able to continue running into your eighties on a regular basis!

I’m running a bit more at the moment, in fact, five times in the last six days. I did an 11k, a 5k and 2 miles x 3. Periodically, I’m attracted to running on a daily basis and this seems to fit in better with commitments. A default 2 mile jog only takes 18 minutes and can reasonably be accommodated even if the rest of the day is full.

Polytunnel wildlife update : three further birds and a couple of butterflies escorted off the premises. Stop press! Wren made a quick exit when I turned up.

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Gratuitous picture of typical Daily Express good news health headline. Not such good news for refugees, unfortunately!

 

London and Greenwich : a bit of running and a lot of walking

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And so to London for a four night break. We stayed in Greenwich, walked heroic distances along the Thames footpath and travelled up and down the Thames on the Thames Clippers, the speedy catamarans used by commuters, tourists and elegant, sophisticated travellers like ourselves. I also did a bit of running between Greenwich and the O2 Arena. There’s still a great deal of new building work and development along the banks of the Thames, in the main high priced speculative flats for investment and people with more money than sense. Nevertheless, many of the wooden quays and landing stages have been preserved or part preserved and the history and character of the river is still intact.

I’ve discovered I like running through industrial landscapes and wending my way through building sites or cement works. We’re not talking about trespass here, just following access paths created to negotiate past all the development. Strangely, I didn’t meet many people during sections of my run. Obviously not every one shares my enjoyment of running past heavy machinery, cranes, temporary fencing and portacabins. Odd, that! To me, it’s reassuring that despite the business and congestion of London, you don’t have to go far off the beaten track to lose the crowds or feel alone.
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I took this pic at Greenwich and caught this large passenger liner travelling up river to dock alongside HMS Belfast, just past Tower Bridge.

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Another interesting aspect of the Thames is the opportunity to walk along the shore line at low tide which you can do at many points.

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The view from Greenwich Park adjacent to the Greenwich Observatory with a fascinating panoramic landscape of London spread out before you.

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CycleSuperHighway. We came across this dedicated 2/3 lane road way for cyclists and runners at the Embankment. It goes on for miles but if it’s like this section, it’s impressive. The Highway is properly separated from traffic by curbs and you feel safe (unlike us poor pedestrians trying to traverse it). A miracle must have occurred to bring it into existence in the teeth of London traffic congestion.

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The docked liner with Tower Bridge closing in the background. Cruises start at around £14,000. Think of how many books that could buy!

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Back to Cambridge. People and punts together are endlessly interesting and I can’t stop snapping them.

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I’m not doing much running at the moment, perhaps just parkrun and one other run between 45 and 60 minutes a week. I am doing an average of 13,000/14,000 steps a day, however, and I’m happy with that. We went to Wimpole Estate parkrun last Saturday and that went well. As usual, I walked up the short but steep hill and this enables me to start off at a reasonable pace at the top without feeling all in. We had a tasty coffee with our good friends before I repaired to the Wimpole pre-loved bookshop and rescued some old maps. Incredible how some people can abandon their books. I’m sure there’s a treatment for it somewhere!

 

 

 

Running in Romford, Rowing and Referendum. We are sent reeling in Brexit Land

Raphael parkrun June 18 2016

A bit of parkrun tourism last Saturday. We went to Raphael parkrun in  Romford, just beyond the outer reaches of East London. We met up with our friends who live relatively locally and are involved in the organisation of parkrun. And a lovely run it was, too, around a local authority maintained park within easy walking distance of Romford market, where we had breakfast in a Wetherspoon’s pub. We like Wetherspoons. They’ve got nearly a 1000 pubs in the UK and most are reconverted from old cinemas, banks and other old pubs.

I think Romford is typical Brexit territory and sure enough, we saw a Leave the EU car and van cavalcade wending its way through the streets. They want their country back. They want to drastically curb immigration. They want to be in control of sovereinty and decide our own laws. They frighten me. Please let us Remain!

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Cambridge Bumps time a couple of weeks ago. The Bumps comprise of college rowing teams competing on the river Cam. On the last day, a Saturday, they set off together, spaced at intervals of possibly 100 metres and attempt to catch the boat in front by “bumping” into them ie having physical contact. The race for both boats ends at this point. There are a number of races during the day and alternate female and male races. It’s great fun, quite exciting at times, a spectacle to behold, very British and not social class neutral.

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I ran a 10k Hoohaah at Hatfield Forest, Essex on Sunday. I didn’t go all out but I still put some effort into it. Very enjoyable and had coffee with good friends after the race.

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My mate talks to a banana!

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I’ve told Mike before that talking to a banana does his street cred no good at all, even a fast one. I informed him there was a Doyenne Du Comice pear and an Egremont Russet apple in the vicinity and a stem of asparagus was doing some warm up exercises but he insisted on chatting to a common banana. I don’t even know whether  he was fair trade!

This occasion was the second Hoohaah 10k of the season at Wimpole Estate. The weather was lovely, the course was excellent and loads of our friends and acquaintances were taking part. Unfortunately, I picked up a silly injury at Cambridge parkrun yesterday. Milton country park, where it’s held, is in the process of laying a new path leading to the finish straight and I trod on a sharp stone which went between the gap in the thick part of the tread. It felt like it had pierced the sole but after exclaiming “Oh bother” I soldiered on. Cut to today, despite my sole feeling bruised, I thought my metatarsals had escaped injury. Until around 8k  I felt fine with only a little foot discomfort but thereafter it quickly got very painful and I suffered the ignominy of being forced to walk/limp to the finish. To make matters worse, the banana came in 5th out of 750!

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Here I am, face etched with pain, just about to limp over the finish line. Ripping off my sock expecting to find a highly visual injury with which to impress my friends, I found healthy looking, unblemished skin. Is there no justice?

This series of runs, so far, has raised over £6000 for The MindEd Trust, a mental health charity which focusses on the prevention of mental illness in young people and early intervention strategies for  those experiencing trauma. It has been set to address the woefully inadequate mental health support for young people.

Parkrun etiquette. It’s so easy to impress fellow runners. First tip : if you are a fast runner, consistently start at the back and pass slower runners at speed, particularly when the path is congested. Second tip : pal up with another runner and chat loudly in a normal voice while others are struggling around you. To enhance this behaviour, overtake at the same time. Third tip : bemoan your time to others who have done 5-15 minutes slower to you.

Cambridge parkrun has a record attendance of 534 and yesterday the field was just over 500. It’s getting very busy.

 

London marathon April 2016 : courage and pathos. It wasn’t easy spectating, either!

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Is this normal? Yes, actually, at least for the London marathon. I deserved my own bravery medal for spectating above and beyond the call of duty. It was very cold around the Canary Wharf area and I felt the harsh wind very keenly. These two seem unaffected but a significant number of people were visibly suffering.

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Now the bare facts. We arrived at Canary Wharf around 9am, had coffee in the warmth, saw the wheelchair athletes first, then the runners with physical disabilities (which was humbling) followed by the elite women, elite men, fast club runners and then the mass of runners, many in inventive and spectacular fancy dress. We stayed until the official sweeper car went by around 4pm and immediately behind it were a convoy of clean up vehicles. Threading their way through these hazards, marathoners were still coming through, having been on the start line st 10am and running/walking for 6 hours. They still had 8 miles to complete the course and were obviously struggling. I took 1400 pictures and nearly froze to death. Who is the hero? Me, obviously.

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These last two pics are typical of people gritting their teeth and carrying on.

I’ve successfully injured myself again and it’s stopped me running. I seem to specialise in picking up a heavy weight but swivelling awkwardly at the same time. The result is I’ve hurt my back in a similar fashion to previously. Actually I can run on it but decided, wisely, that perhaps this wasn’t a good idea after I did an inter club 5k last week (Kevin Henry series). The problem is getting up after I’ve sat down for more than 10 minutes. It takes a long time. I can’t put my socks on, either. It’s getting better and I’ll be doing parkrun on the weekend.

Ken Livingstone must have had a stupid moment in his attempt to support of Naz Shah, Bradford West MP, who was suspended by the Labour party for a historical post on Facebook suggesting that Israel should be relocated to the US. She stands accused of antisemitism. Ken used Adolf Hitler in defence of his argument, stating that Hitler once supported Zionism. Unfortunately, Ken has got some previous on the topic of antisemitism. This is Labours dark side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAUTION : very slippery

 

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Icworth House, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk and the venue for the first Hoohaah 10k of the year. Beautiful setting and a lovely trail course (in the main) BUT VERY MUDDY.

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In fact there were hundreds and hundreds of metres of mud and easily qualified as the most muddy race I have ever taken part in. To enter the restaurant/cafe, shopping emporium and second hand bookshop, one had to don these blue plastic over bootees! One didn’t look very cool.

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Fair enough. I wasn’t impressed by their bookshop, however. Not a patch on Wimpole Hall’s and I didn’t buy anything. Highly unusual, highly irregular but a memorable experience thanks to the blue bootees.

Still, the race was very enjoyable and later we had coffee at an outside cafe with our chums.

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I found myself inadvertently sitting on the orange side and consequently ruined the symmetry.

Tuesday was running club and we did a “country fartlek” from the University of Cambridge Athletics Club to Grantchester Meadows, along the Cam.

Today, we ran Cambridge parkrun. Cold but a great deal dryer than last week. I couldn’t catch any rivals. I’ll have to choose new and slower rivals.

Tomorrow, it’s the London Marathon. Spectating, not running. It’s not easy devising a training regime for marathon spectating. I’ll know tomorrow when it’s all over.