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.

 

 

Advertisements

Running, freezing at Beachy Head and drinking oolong tea. It’s life, innit!

Lorna at Beachy Head, Eastbourne. A beautiful part of the East Sussex coastline. High white chalk, undulating cliffs stretching for miles. When the weather’s good, the views are breathtaking. When it’s bad, you can’t see anything and it’s difficult to stand upstraight. Today, it was awful. Cold, very windy and everything wrapped in a thick mist. Only 162 metres above sea level and in early summer, it felt like Siberia.

The previous day I ran Eastbourne parkrun and I’m very grateful it didn’t incorporate a cliff top section. We just managed to get to the course in time following the satnav deciding to have a laugh at our expense and our determination to not miss our full English breakfast. Admittedly I didn’t eat as much as I would normally do but perhaps too much to comfortably run 35 minutes later. Miraculously no throwing up and not even nausea. I did a reasonable time, given the early breakfast and we found a much quicker way back to our B&B.

Eastbourne, the quintessential South coast sea side resort. A great many fine houses and mansion blocks, loads of hotels and B&Bs maintained to a high decorative standard (unlike a lot of down-at-heel English sea sides), a fine rebuilt pier and, surprisingly, beautiful light over the sea. I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t solidly Tory but you can’t have everything!

The previous weekend I ran a 10k in 30c. I didn’t go crazy and stopped for a long drink at 6k. Last 1.5k bit of a struggle but manageable.

The good news? I’ve turned into a tea buff (is this archaic language? does anyone use the word archaic anymore? I drank oolong at Tate Britain (we saw Queer British Art 1861-1967) and I drink lapsang souchong most days. Of course no-one I know has got the slightest interest in tea, least of all lapsang which smells and tastes like a bonfire Delicious.

Jeremy seems to be going from strength to strength (relatively) at the moment. Nice Mirror headline today, MAY GIVES £1B BRIBE TO CRACKPOTS referring to the Tory alliance with the DUP to shore up her evil Tory government.

 

 

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.

IMG_20160812_200115747

“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.

IMG_20151023_072107060

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

 

CAUTION : very slippery

 

IMG_20160417_100353374

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.

13041134_955525027887886_8926834109621878501_o

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.

IMG_20160417_114845182_HDR (1)

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.

13010791_10208867588549160_1070528738006431919_n

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.

 

 

Janathon Day 16 Drama on the start line

12469656_466251516918256_4035100595845987860_o

Picture by John Wilderspin

Cambridge parkrun and they’re off! Well at least two of them are. The man in the orange with folded arms is clearly sulking and thinking about it.

Chris in the blue top is showing serious intent and goes on to win it (I mean he completes it first, it’s not a race of course). Nice pose by Paul who sets them off with his horn (except the sulky guy who’s not playing ball).

12489232_466252986918109_4262409514162411967_o

Picture by John Wilderspin

Here I am, lost in my own world, slightly open mouthed and fully attired for freezing weather. Compare and contrast with the near naked elite on the start line. The temperature is around minus 1c which is cold enough to wear  my warmest jacket. Trail shoes were essential. There was ice, broken ice, mud, frozen mud and water lurking everywhere so one had to concentrate or one could find oneself coming a cropper.

Post run we had coffee with our good friends and very enjoyable it was, too. Tea was also taken.

Despite the cold and frosty weather, the sun held most of the day and we went into Cambridge in the afternoon. How lucky are we to live close to such a beautiful city which is really no bigger than a medium sized town.

DSC_0164

Here is the still spooky Trinity Lane.

DSC_0156

And here is the last of the Saturday sun shining on the righteous.

DSC_0158

One last pic. Cambridge University Press is currently having a book sale. All softback/paperbacks £3 and hardbacks £7. CUP academic books are notoriously expensive. It’s a big sale and goes on for three weeks with books being added daily. It’s beyond excitement. I’ll be back!

 

 

100th parkrun celebration. Runners not dressing down!

IMG_20151205_094249695

Lorna’s and Michelle’s joint 100th parkrun (Lorna in red and Michelle in multi colour tutu. Various wings were worn and a lot of talking undertaken during the run. Coffee, tea and cake in the cafe afterwards. All very enjoyable. I was surrounded by running ladeeees and had to watch my P and Qs (an English expression meaning “mind your manners”, “mind your language”, “be on your best behaviour”. It’s not easy, I can tell you! I have to suppress the urge to be ridiculous at the best of times. It’s an ongoing battle since most of the time I think that’s a legitimate response.

IMG_20151205_094726922

Cambridge parkrun was attended by a rhinoceros seen here menacing two fairies who have become detached from the magical community. No clever comment offered here. See how grown up I am?

Parkrun was a bit of a no score draw for me. I’m still 90 seconds down on my usual times and yesterday I felt tired. Today I went for a nine mile run and felt much better. I borrowed Lorna’s Garmin and clocked exactly 9 minutes a mile as an average. I wasn’t pushing hard and I felt quite relaxed. The problem running with heart disease is the medication (bisoprolol and Ramipril) acts as limiter on the amount of effort the heart can undertake. In practice the difference between running comfortably and running to capacity is rather small ie I don’t run much faster when I put in maximum effort.

The attack by a knife wielding man at Leytonstone Underground station yesterday who apparently shouted “This is for Syria” as he stabbed and assaulted a random person (presumably) and threatened others before he was Tasered and subdued by police, was a disturbing and frightening incident. The police are regarding it as a terrorist act, provisionally, but I note that BBC reporters included the possibility of his behaviour resulting from mental ill health. His physical movements and manner certainly gave that impression.

Since a high percentage of people regard themselves as citizen reporters and can easily video scenarios played out before them and share via social media, we can all enjoy the unfolding drama with detachment and  the safety of distance. Over and over again as with this incident. We can also see how bystanders, or people passing, act. This ranges from running off in terror to standing gawping or even walking over closer as if the danger was occurring on a screen. If news isn’t accompanied by explicit film or images, it loses its impact compared with news that is.Video can be repeated endlessly and shamelessly, as it was with 9/11.

A large proportion of of news presentation, these days, is devoted entirely to exploiting our emotions. It’s cheap, voyeuristic and cynical. The police themselves are complicit in this approach and freely make available video of subsequently convicted suspects being questioned. They also permit the making of sycophantic TV programmes following traffic cops and docile fly on the wall documentaries about themselves. News has been receiving a substantial make over for several years. There’s less news, it’s dumbed down and it’s more likely to be presented as emotive entertainment. We can all feel sorrowful and pretend we care.

Must leave you now. Going to watch that emotionally uplifting Nordic noir TV crime prog, The Bridge.

 

 

Aliveandrunning February 8 2015

DSC_0638

Here am I making a supreme effort to shut my mouth when I’m running (or more specifically when I know a picture is being taken). As you can see the energy expended has furrowed my forehead and made my hair sick up. I’m not sure whether or not it’s an attractive look. Perhaps I’m trying too hard and less is more. Clearly it’s a work in progress.

I’m at Wimpole parkrun and I’m dressed for Arctic conditions. The mild frost and occasional cutting winds didn’t make it excessively cold  for me but I’m aware how much easier and relaxed I feel  running in much warmer weather. My ex arch rival came in 3 minutes faster than me which reflects his increase in performance (or use of performance enhancing drugs). Looking at my times on this course 2 years ago, I was surprised to see that I’m running it about the same time currently.

No run today. Instead we walked along the river from Cambridge to Grantchester via Grantchester Meadows and had tea, coffee and a fruit scone  with strawberry jam at the Orchard Tea Pavillon, originally brought into public notice by poet Rupert Brookes and his chums. Surprisingly, it was warm enough to sit outside in the deckchairs in the eponymous orchard. Quintessentially Cambridge, shabby not chic, still looks down at heel but still something wonderful about it.