Our first born courgette!

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I feel the wheel barrow adds a certain dramatic licence to the harvesting of our first courgette. And do they grow quickly! I could hardly believe it. In complete contrast with purple sprouting broccoli which took almost eleven months before picking (in fact I had to issue a series of warnings about their behaviour and was about to grub them up when they condescended to perform. If vegetables could be said to be lazy and moody, look no further than sprouting broccoli).

G reen Minds therapeutic garden is looking good at the moment. I’m extending the area to make new crop beds and I’ve got some money to buy a 3m x 3m shed which will free up the polytunnel of clutter and provide more growing space. I’ve also bought a small green house.

And so to running. A week ago, when it was hot, I went for a run of just under 10 miles. I’m still not running very frequently but I’m still going to the gym and maintaining a reasonable level of fitness. I needed to go for a longer distance than 5k or my standard 5 miler. What did I learn from running nearly 10 miles in the heat?

1. You get hotter, sweat more profusely and become thirstier compared to cooler weather.

2. The heat doesn’t seem to put many people off running.

3. It felt very manageable while I was running but I sweated buckets when I got home.

4.I felt lethargic for a coupe of hours afterwards.

5. I took my blood pressure and pulse as soon as I got home and again 4-5 minutes and 15 minutes later. This ranged from 113 over 69 with pulse 110 to 95 over 66 with pulse 94 at 4-5 minutes. At 10pm the best of three readings were 113 over 62 with pulse 54. I was happy with this. I know my blood pressure is much more under control compared to the past and prior to my heart attack eight years ago but it’s still nice to know running is helpful.

6. You need to drink over several hours to get properly hydrated.

7. I felt sheer delight when a couple of butterflies accompanied me along the riverbank for around 70 metres. They kept pace with me and danced around each other. Wonderful.

I may have learnt other things, currently lost to recall. If they present themselves, I’ll big them up in my next blog.

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Janathon Day 3 Dreich day for running

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New Year’s Day parkrun at Peterborough which Lorna and I ran. Impressively they put on the normal parkrun the next day (Saturday) although we ran Cambridge.

Today it’s all  drizzle, mizzle, dreary light and damp cold. It’ll be pishing it doon later. I’ve started this blog but I’m struggling to get out to run. I’ll play for time and commit to New Year’s resolutions.

I should :

  1. Eat more broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leeks and cabbage.
  2. Invest in a pair of Gore Mythos wind stopper running tights.
  3. Cough more loudly as I’m running behind someone on the river Cam footpath to alert them to my imminent presence thus avoiding them jumping into the Cam in fright.
  4. Confront people more assertively with my alternative opinion. A Scottish phrase springs to mind to assist me. Yer bum’s oot the windae! ie you’re talking nonsense.
  5. Buy a good head torch for night running. Resolution achieved! It’s arriving in two days.
  6. Grow up (I may defer this one for another year).

Not too demanding, I think. Anyway, I did eventually go for a two mile run, at 5pm, in the dark and rain. Initially I felt tired and lacking in energy. The second mile was much better and when I returned home I was feeling alert and chipper. Prior to going out, I had prepared the evening meal slowly and without enthusiasm. Now I snapped on electric cooker knobs with panache and finished the food preparation with brio. Another testimonial to the benefits of running.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme broadcast at 12.30 pm today. It looks at how diet can affect running performance. It can be downloaded as a podcast on iTunes and is repeated tomorrow at 3.30 pm.

 

 

Aliveandrunning November 27 2014

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It was Dr Johnson, who, in the 18th century, said “He who is tired of Brussels sprouts is tired of life.” Humphrey Bogart made a reference to sprouts in the film Casablanca and Pope Francis recently gave them a mention in a private audience with the mercenary Tony Blair (along the lines of being able to accommodate celibacy but not contemplate a world without Brussels sprouts). The message is clear. Take these delightful green orbs seriously and they will repay you endlessly. Somewhere, under the salad, flat bread, olives, raw onion, broccoli and a mound of Brussels, lay pasta and turkey bolognese. I am now being repaid endlessly.

Not a lot happening on the running front. I last went out on the weekend when I did Cambridge parkrun (5k). I missed club night on Tuesday due to family commitments but I didn’t go out yesterday despite the opportunity to do so. It’s taken me a month to get over my cold and I’ve lost motivation. Oh dear! I’ll do Cambridge or Wimpole Estate parkrun next weekend and then try to get back into the running groove. The bloody miserable weather doesn’t help. I may get a SAD light and sit in front of it looking at my watch and waiting for it to cheer me up.

Not running is not a problem. My motivation will return and I’ll return to form. My level of fitness is good and won’t disappear overnight. Unless I am completely seduced by MYCOLOGY!!! Following the fungi foray I went on a few weeks ago, I am now seeing the little blighters everywhere.

WP_20141119_002 For example , I noticed these little chaps as I was about to get into the car. I had to prostrate myself on the grass to take this shot. It wasn’t a pretty sight, it wasn’t dignified but it had to be done. Not sure what they are. Might be a Shaggy Inkcap (or Lawyer’s Wig).

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I noticed this little group because they were giggling as I passed by walking Rupert the dalmatian. Probably from the Mycena family. I don’t know which one. See what I mean? With all this focus on fungi, it’s a distraction from running. Perhaps I’ll never get back in the running groove. They’ll whisper as I pass by “He used to be a running god. Now he’s Mushroom Man”. At the very least I’ll be regarded as a fun guy (geddit?).

Before privatisation, when large swathes of industry and utilities were publicly owned, the trades unions were demonised and the nationalised industries were felt to be soft, unproductive and a bottomless pit into which huge amounts of tax payers’s was thrown. Now the unions are neutered, the companies are privatised and the nasty poor are a terrible drain on our welfare system (funded by hard working taxpayers). But there is very little focus on the extensive tax breaks, incentives, subsidies and tax avoidance methods currently in situ for privatised, (previously nationalised)industries and their shareholders(funded directly out of the public purse).

The Tories and their media may bleat about Labour provoking a class war when they questioned the charitable status of privately run schools but clearly their tax concessions amount to a subsidy (or state handout) to a particular class of people. You know where you are with the Tories – well educated, cruelly self centred and very adept at scapegoating  the most vulnerable in society. Tories too soft? Vote UKIP, the BNP Lite party.

Gardening project update : no planning permission needed apparently although a polytunnel and a new shed are essential and these will need permission so I’m a bit confused. Awaiting clarification. Good news is that I will get a donated polytunnel and will be able to choose the size.

 

Aliveandrunning September 25 2014

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“Oooohhhh! gasped Ms Alive and Running,”Delicious….salmon with Brussels sprouts…and cauliflower and broccoli as well…. all my Sundays have all come at once…thank you so much.” Well, this is my interpretation of what she said but the actual words were very similar (I think).

I went for an hour’s run today, partly along the river Cam, in preparation for another half marathon in 10 day’s time. My arch rivals Mike and Kerry have also decided to run. I can’t catch them over 5k or 10k but over 13 miles I can get nearer to them. I didn’t feel much like running today although after 15 minutes it felt fine. Afterwards I felt a lot better, both physically and mood wise.On the weekend I’ll do parkrun, club training on Tuesday, about 80 minute run on Wednesday, another  parkrun on Saturday and then the half on Sunday. It’s a training hotchpot but that’s me , innit!

I’ve been running for around 33 years. I started running in response to my father’s ill health, in 1981 and, with the exception of the last 3 years, I’ve not belonged to a club or run with anyone else. My father died in 1983 of smoking related heart disease and other contributory factors, aged 62. I thought a non smoking and running lifestyle would inoculate me from ill health and particularly heart disease so I was surprised (British understatement and stiff upper lip example) when I had a heart attack , aged 58 (Thank you God, I’m sure you know what you are doing!) Because I had an overall good level of fitness, I have been able to recover and run at a better level and more consistently than before. Joining Cambridge and Coleridge AC seemed more attractive than hitherto and I must admit that running with this club is very enjoyable. The coaches are hardworking and very supportive of all abilities. We’ve got track and two road sessions to chose from each week and plenty of variation. But….I still have a strong urge to give it all up and run alone. I like the different running challenges but I have a limited capacity to talk about running and a club, of course, will be a hotbed of running related intercourse, verbally speaking. Perhaps I’ll ask one of the coaches about the possibility of introducing silent sessions.

Thank you prime minister David Cameron for revealing that the Queen “purred” when she was informed that our Scottish mates had declined to become independent of England and Wales, requiring exit from the Union. I always associate “purring” with Eartha Kit’s singing style. Dave has been castigated for audibly making this remark to another top person in conversation that was picked up by long range microphones. That’s castigation not castration.

Nice headline for non readers and people who have no interest in real news in yesterday’s Sun newspaper (oxymoron) : HAIRY CORNFLAKE FACES PORRIDGE. This refers to the British DJ Dave Lee Travis  who was convicted of indecent assault this week. His nickname is Hairy Cornflake and porridge is slang for time spent in prison. No wonder it’s the UK’s biggest selling newspaper with such fantastically inventive front pages. Laughably the Guardian ran with some boring guff about Milliband pledging to save the NHS or somethin!

 

Aliveandrunning September 10 2014

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Thank God (which one?) I was eating this meal when I heard  David Cameron talking, in Scotland, about the upcoming referendum on whether that country should become independent of the UK. Beware! These Tories mess with your mind and one way of dealing with this direct address to the credulous is to offset the unrealness by eating good, healthy, simple food. Look no further than Brussels sprouts and broccoli aided and abetted by chicken in an achari marinade, lemon rice and roast vegetables.

Dave anticipated feeling “broken hearted” if the Scots broke away. He was passionate about the UK remaining intact and apparently a rich vein of raw emotion was evident in his voice. In fact all three party leaders were in Scotland at the same time to support the No vote and they all vied to out do each other on the sincerity/passion/you gotta believe me, I beg you front. This is the same Tory leader who reassured us that the NHS is safe in Conservative hands and demonises benefit recipients. A very skilled liar and emotional manipulator.

Out with the club last night. We did a one kilometre time trial followed by four further one kilometres. I felt a little tired but overall it was OK. I made a new pal and chatted amiably. Hearing his parkrun 5k time, I thought he would be in the top third of our road running group that evening. After the time trial, we formed three separate groups and he did indeed go into the speediest set. Will this go to his head? Will I be snubbed because I was second last in the slowest group? Does he read the Daily Mail and hate non Mail readers. I think not to all three questions. He seemed normal, friendly and grounded. Damn!

Eco project update – I have been in contact with Cambridge MIND and I am meeting with them next week.

Grunty Fen half marathon this coming weekend. I’ll still do Cambridge parkrun the day before but I’m taking it relatively easy this week.

Aliveandrunning July 30 2014

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My supper last night watching the Commonwealth Games. I ate late because it was club training night with Cambridge and Coleridge RC. Alarmingly it did not include broccoli. However, accompanying the basmati rice, chicken curry with cauliflower and courgettes, mixed salad, naan bread with mint sauce and poppadum, I made a Shirazi salad, an Iranian dish  (in the bowl). I needed this after the running. We didn’t go for distance. We simply ran 8 x 1 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries. So only 8 minutes of hard running in all. It doesn’t sound much but it’s demanding.

Far less than usual attended, possibly on holiday, possibly fearful of the heat and cowering in front of an open refrigerator. Anyway, the cream of the elite were present (yes, I unashamedly include myself in their ranks) and I acquitted myself with distinction (well, second to last in the speed stakes but it’s not really about speed, is it?) On these warm days I drink 500 mls of water as soon as we finish and, with further water later, this seems to keep the cramps away.

I made another new salad today – radish, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and orange blossom dressing. I went to Tesco to buy the ingredients and also for other new recipes I’m trying. Of course, I had to ask for assistance.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for orange blossom water, za’atar and a bottle of Corinthian red wine vinegar”

“Mercy me, sir, we don’t stock those kind of la-de-da things. You must be cooking foreign. May I direct you to Mill Road (a notorious area of Cambridge well known for the louche lifestyle of its inhabitants). I’m sure they eat loads of that kind of stuff. You can pick up some falafel that your kind can’t get enough of at the same time. Why not treat yourself to a box of our Krispy Kreme  doughnuts and tuck in as you drive over.”

So, not the positive response I hoped for. But what do you expect from a chain of supermarkets which appears to have a national policy of displaying plants for sale that are dead or dying as a result of not being watered. This happens so frequently at my local Tesco I believe that the staff must be prohibited from watering or possibly projecting their anger and frustration with customers onto the defenceless plants. Who hears them screaming. They just wither away, poor things. I’ve taken photos to prove it and I may publish them when the world is ready. Tesco, STOP IT!!

 

 

Aliveandrunning July 24 2014

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My supper this evening, I hesitate to call it supper because a chum considered this posh. He felt dinner was the correct term for the hardworking, down to earth working person. Anyway the picture of this meal reveals to the world that I’m not starving and that broccoli continues to be an honourable substitute for Brussels sprouts whose season has passed. Please contrast it with yesterday’s supper/meal below.

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Sharp eyed readers will note that this meal/supper/dinner is on a tray and that, reassuringly, it is consistent with other food pictures posted in that it features broccoli. Also present : penne pasta, turkey mince in bolognese sauce, cheese and red onion flatbread, mixed  salad, olives and raw onion.This reasonably balanced nutritional intake ensures I am able to run like Hermes, messenger of the gods and son of Zeus and Maia.

Today, I went for a 10k run and it was undeniably hot. Nevertheless I felt OK while I was actually moving. It’s when you stop that you feel the heat and later feel a weariness that is different compared with running in the autumn or winter. Tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday is Cambridge parkrun. I need to go for a longer 15k but I’ll probably wait until it’s cooler.

I saw some of the women’s triathalon at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow this morning. Very entertaining and an exciting finish. Unfairly, the BBC news I watched gave more prominence to the Brownlee brothers in the men’s triathalon getting gold and silver rather than Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland taking gold and bronze. They showed longer clips from interviews and more of the Brownlees’ race.

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This is the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on the East Coast. It opened in 1904, originally to house flora and fauna but over the years has been used as an ice skating rink, concert venue and children’s amusement park. Now in considerable disrepair, it’s awaiting restoration and probable return to its original use of providing a large structure to display plants and showcase bio diversity. Funding has not been agreed so far. It looks very sad and unloved  at the moment but still majestic. I’ll have a word with Zeus. He’ll know how to sort this out. Watch out for more pictures of tormented fine old Yarmouth buildings in blogs to come.

And lastly, I was instrumental in saving a family of spiders tonight. Ms Alive and running pointed them out, simultaneously giving me a you’ve-failed-to-vacuum-them-away mean look. I, having appreciation of the bigger picture, became aware that a drama was about to unfold. A gnat flew into some dangling webbing and immediately mummy or daddy spider rushed over, swiftly immobilised it by rapidly weaving silken thread around its body, and then toddled  back to its little spiderlings. Ms Alive and running was amazed that this was played out in front of us. This was far better than watching East Enders and much more exciting than reading inane comments on Facebook. I announced that the whole family of spiders (and their relatives) were under my protection and were now, officially, my pets. This occasioned another harsh look. I’ll be hiding the vacuum cleaner as a precautionary measure, of course.