Cambridge half marathon and Tate Britain

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This is not the Cambridge half, of course. This is Cambridge parkrun the day before. And very muddy it was, too. Photo taken by Rob Moir who is able to twist around, whilst running, and take a good quality picture without falling arse over tit, before accelerating off. Thanks Rob.

I was very lucky to run the Cambridge half. Four days before I did a bit of light lifting without an obvious problem but overnight my knee became painful. The following day it was very sore and stiff and I thought this might be the second Cambridge half in a row that injury or illness would stop me running. The next day, Saturday, I did parkrun but the knee held up and for the rest of the day. Just over three miles is one thing but thirteen miles is something else. Nevertheless, I did the half, and miraculously, with no ill effect to my knee except a little aching and stiffness. Phew!

I’m not running very consistently at the moment and not for very long either. I did run my fastest parkrun this year, yesterday, but I’m still catching up on last year’s times. Today, I ran the Swavesey 5 miler. Swavesey’s a village 10 miles from Cambridge surrounded by very flat fenland fields and when the wind blows, as it often does in the fens, there’s no protection. It was windy today but the temperature was mild. Nevertheless I ran in my jacket to avoid the wind chill. I came in 22nd out of 69 but two and a half minutes slower than last year.There was also a half marathon at the same time in which 134 ran. Another half was a temptation but physically I don’t feel 100%.

After the race, as I was leaving, I came across a gaggle of St. John’s Ambulance standing alone in the wind. They asked me how my race went. I revealed it went okay (this is not fake news!) and I said their presence was very reassuring to me because of my heart disease (they also had a couple of bikes out following the runners). Good people (does Trump use this phrase, it sounds familiar).

And so to the Tate Britain gallery, Millbank, London to see the David Hockney exhibition. Well worth visiting to see all his iconic pictures and pictures of various periods. Very enjoyable wandering  around the galleries again and absorbing the wonderful creativity.

Lorna is contemplating Jules Olitski’s Instant Loveland. There’s more going on in this picture than appears at first sight, particularly in the lower left hand corner. Thankfully there is no danger of Lorna being overwhelmed by a kaleidoscope of lurid colours. Actually, I am sympathetic to this type of art but I still find it highly amusing.

This is Edward Halliday’s Christian and Hopeful Arrive Before the Celestial City, 1926. I’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress and I don’t remember it as a naked journey.

I walked into Cambridge’s premier bookshop, Cambridge University Press, with confidence and purpose. I found the hardback book I had seen in the window display and optimistically scanned it for the price. £60!!!!!!!! I staggered back, weakened in body and spirit. The staff were familiar with such reactions, helping me to sit down and wafting smelling salts under my nose. They gently prised the £60 tome from my immobilised hand, glanced at the price and offered the standard treatment response. “Don’t worry, sir. This title will be issued in paperback in two months at less than a third of the cost. I’m sure you’re  feeling better already, aren’t you? I was!




Cambridge half marathon a fortnight away, walking along the cam and those evil Tories again.


A cold, sunny Sunday in Cambridge yesterday. Plenty of eights on the river powered by the gilded youth, loads of runners and cyclists to knock you flying, hordes of couples mooning  around (St. Valentine’s Day) and shoals of tourists shimmying from one photogenic setting to another (it can be such uphill work getting people to believe you’ve actually visited somewhere unless you are able to show evidence of yourself in a snap with relevant backdrop).

I’m a creature of habit when I go into Cambridge. I always go into WH Smith to look at the magazines and usually buy one or two, I often go into Heffers bookshop or Waterstones, walk around the market square and visit the second hand book stall and take photos on a particular bridge over the Cam. Out of preference, I like to have a nice coffee and a tuna and cucumber baguette in the marvelously anonymous Eat cafe and possibly wander around John Lewis, a rather civilised department store. I like to trip through the extensive cosmetics area in a vain attempt to identify any of the sales operatives who have abstained from caking themselves in their own products. They are always immaculately turned out and attractive but wearing no or minimal makeup doesn’t appear to be an option. Are they contractually obliged to over do it?


These grand and beautiful trees are on Jesus Green. How lucky are we?

Cambridge half marathon is only two weeks away. I haven’t done the training I would like to do because other things have got in the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that despite not having put the mileage in, my overall level of fitness enables me to step up quickly to do 13 miles. It’s speed that suffers, of course, but if speed is your objective you are following a false god! The very shallowness of the concept of speed! Does anyone really care about this over valued aspect of running? I rather like these fall back arguments when you’re getting slower and slower.

Anyway, I did 13 miles today and 9 miles a week ago plus a 5 miler and a parkrun since the beginning of the month. I might do two more parkruns and a couple of long runs up to 10 miles and that will be that.

A government task force has published a report, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which is very critical of the state of Engand’s mental health services, click here to read Observer article Today’s Guardian headline is NHS vows to transform mental health services  with extra £1bn a year. The report talks about a sharp increase in the number of suicides, estimates three quarters of people with a psychiatric condition do not receive help and documents that children are being sent all over the country to an available bed that may be hundreds of miles from their families.

The Tories and the coalition government have presided over savage cuts to bed availability, support services, staffing levels and overall funding of mental health facilities. Cameron in his ever so reasonable, we have learnt lessons, we must all pull together and defeat stigma, senior Tory style is presenting the spending announcement as an innovation and Tory triumph. David Cameron and his mates are duplicitous, fraudulent, own class supporting, unfeeling,  and lacking in basic humanity. They appeal to the voters who share their values – the cruel, the selfish, the self centred. May God help decent and vulnerable people.



Janathon Day 16 Drama on the start line


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).


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.


Here is the still spooky Trinity Lane.


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


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!



Alive and Running February 16 2015


Cambridge junior parkrun yesterday morning. They’re off, just over a hundred of them, running in muddy conditions and loving it. I volunteered as timer but this changed to photographer (or one of them).


Seems to be rather a lot of adults running with their offspring and some of them are checking their watches. Good job it’s not competitive, isn’t it? You can clearly see how enjoyable it is for the children and they are constantly cheered around the course.

10366205_869057729799568_7495588904252193199_n On Saturday we went down to East Londinium and did Valentines Park parkrun in Valentines Park on Valentines Day for their 4th anniversary. Follow? I’m standing next to Joe who is marginally taller, marginally younger and marginally faster than me. You could say I’m living on the margins! We met up with some old work pals and friends from Cambridge, ran the race, had coffee in the large park cafe and then walked to a Wetherspoons pub in Ilford for a brunch. The food was surprisingly good and inexpensive.

We liked Valentines parkrun. Gill (not in the picture) also runs there. She is the sister of my Cambridge ex running rival, Mike and coincidentally someone I vaguely knew at work when I lived in East London (and had yet to come across Mike). Gill is also known to three of my children who also run sporadically at Valentines.

It’s Cambridge half marathon in 3 weeks. I’m back to full fitness but not running speedily. This is due to –

1. Being slightly overweight.

2. The cold weather.

3. Inconsistent running.

4. Taking my cardiac medication at different times before the run (possibly).

However on the longer runs I’m finding it easier. Yesterday I did 11.25 miles  comfortably and didn’t feel tired afterwards. As I loped along I thought how lucky I am to be able run such a distance, run regularly and take part in races despite having had a heart attack four and a half years ago. Since I was fit before my cardiac “event”, I regained my fitness levels relatively quickly. Of course I was highly motivated, my family were completely supportive and in Cambridge, the cardiac rehabilitation service was excellent and I had received treatment very quickly. But I was surprised that the take up rate for rehabilitation was only around 44-46%. Apparently this is regarded as a high. It consisted of a series of specific talks and physical rehab in the hospital gym conducted by cardiac rehab nurses, a sports scientist, dieticians and others over a period of several months. I found it extremely helpful. Why wouldn’t you take it up unless you had your head in the sand! Ah…there’s the answer.


                                                                   Cambridge in the summer. Please bring it on…..quickly.


Aliveandrunning January 28 2015 Janathon Day 28

WP_20140612_016 I haven’t bought a book in this Cambridge shop. I’m still waiting for permission! I don’t think I’ve even been inside it . It’s not very big and doesn’t give the impression of being haunted but the little shop window is always stuffed full of old books with evocative illustrations  and nostalgic content. I know if I passed through the door an ancient person would look up from reading at a Regency gentleman’s desk and murmour “I’ve been waiting for you to visit me……peruse these original 1940’s Rupert annuals and take your time. When you’ve made your choices, cast your eyes over these Dore illustrated bibles…’ll find them irresistible” Of course I would take them all, as recommended, and then start looking over the bulging shelves. As the natural light fell, the bookseller would light the many candles on the chandelier, still muttering “Take your time.”

I decided not to run today. Yesterday’s 7k with the club was quite a hard workout for me and although my glutes felt reasonably OK this morning, I don’t think resuming daily running would quicken recovery. Possibly the opposite! As before I’m counting a 2 mile dog walk in my Janathon total. At the end of this month, it’s around 5 weeks to the Cambridge half marathon so I need to be fully fit to do the longer training runs. The good news is I can take my own socks off and can get out of a car seat without help.



Aliveandrunning January 18 2015 Janathon Day 18

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I ran into Cambridge city centre from my teeny weeny village today. From my door to Heffers bookshop in the beating heart of academia, I clocked 6 miles. I entered Heffers in my hi viz jacket, radiant as a sun god, stated my business and was immediately taken to the book of my desire. The very same scenario was replicated in the Cambridge University Press bookshop. Owing to the pretentious nature of the purchased books, I cannot reveal their titles. I can only offer a hint. They are “substantial.” Need I say more?

It was getting late and rather than run back with two books jiggling around, I got Park and Ride and jogged back 2 mile s home.

Eight miles in all.

Aliveandrunning January 15 2015 Janathon Day 15

DSC_0096 No aches or pains after yesterday’s 9.8 mile run. I don’t feel as tired as previous Janathons or Junathons (as far as I can remember) and I’m certainly sleeping more soundly. Today I ran a brief 2 miles before 10 am and then I went into Cambridge with Ms Alive and Running. Unusually, we didn’t see any runners in the city centre but there was plenty of evidence that people were walking around (but not briskly). There were a surprising number of people smoking which always shocks me. Given the degree of awareness of the harmful effects of smoking, it feels like  a public form of self harm which has continued to enjoy public acceptability.

WP_20150115_001 A snap of the Cambridge University Press bookshop window display on the market square. There should be a law against this kind of thing because it tempts the weak minded to waste their meagre finances on books rather than food or fuel. Personal disclosure : I covet one of these books and it shall be mine! I tend to covet books, rather than want them, because it sounds more dignified and reasonable.

DSC_0075 One of the porters of a Cambridge college. I was able to step inside one of the old wooden doors directly off the pavement which open out onto beautiful courts and take this pic. Not clear why he was waiting. It wasn’t open to the public and there were no gilded youths in sight.

DSC_0077 This is the particular old door I walked through to take the previous image. What an ace opportunist I am ?

DSC_0071 This street is always fascinating (to me). It leads down to the river Cam.

WP_20150115_003 Finally, the Corpus Christi clock. It will tell you the time but only after you’ve worked it out and then checked it on your watch or mobile.


Aliveandrunning August 17 2014


This chap (I presume it’s male) landed on a bamboo cane near the little pond I’ve created. How envious am I not to have two pairs of wings like him.

Saturday! It’s Cambridge parkrun. I’m feeling fast. I’m confident. I look skyward and see Zeus reclining on a low cloud. He gives me the thumbs up. I can’t fail to get a personal best. It’s a big field of runners today so I position myself  nearer to the front than usual. We’re off and I’m running like a fierce wind or alternatively, like the shape shifting, liquid metal T-1000 Terminator in Terminator 2 : Judgement Day when he chases Arnie’s speeding car. It seems to be going well. But what’s this? A chum greets me as he runs past! “Morning David,” I manage to gasp. A few minutes later, Sylvia passes me followed by Paul, then Mike, Paula and Giles, all cheerily acknowledging me as they cruise past. This is not how it’s supposed to be! Only my pal Dominic, who is recovering his running fitness, remains one second behind at the finish line. When I recover my breath and look up, I have a clear view of  Zeus lolling around on an even lower cloud, shaking with laughter. Obviously I am nowhere near a personal best.

In the afternoon, I went into central Cambridge which was saturated with tourists. This is really unproblematic unless you can’t manage crowds. They generally keep to a few well defined areas and it’s easy to avoid extreme congestion by leaving this well trodden path. I like them. They create an interesting atmosphere. As usual I headed straight for a bookstall on the Market Square and, lo and behold, I found 3 Penguin paperbacks that I couldn’t afford not to have. The bookseller remonstrated with me, advising me not to buy them. “Sir,” he said,”your small cottage overfloweth with books. You have enough. Think of your lady wife, the long suffering Ms Alive and Running. Do not risk her wrath, I beseech thee. Forego the sublime pleasures these low cost volumes, awash with nostalgia for your your youth, can afford you.” I considered his little speech for three whole seconds. “Thank you for your wise words but I regard it as a counsel of despair. Now, my good man, will you or will you not accept my custom? I proffered metal coins which glinted i the sun. His eyes seemed to light up but a scowl played over his face. “Aye, laddie, I will,” he muttered. “On your head be it.” He wrapped up the books in brown paper and handed them to me. Several book browsers applauded as I turned on my heels and strode away. Believe me, it’s not easy buying books in Cambridge

Cambridge junior parkrun today. 15 minutes before it’s due to start, it begins to rain fairly heavily. The adults don’t like the conditions. The children hardly notice. Despite the weather all goes smoothly. Junior parkrun is well supported by volunteers and parents and continues to be hugely enjoyable. Each runner is loudly encouraged all the way round the course and particularly over the finish line. Their faces light up with pleasure.No need to rely on the  good will of the Roman gods.

In the afternoon I went for a 10 mile run along the river Cam as part of my preparation for the Grunty Fen half marathon in three weeks. It felt easier thn last week. I got back in time to see Mo Farah win the 5k race at the Zurich European Championships. He’s got my running style!

Aliveandrunning June 17 2014 Juneathon Day 17




Into Cambridge city centre today. I took  the opportunity, as anyone would, to snap some bookshops because in 25 years or perhaps 5 years, they will have disappeared into history. “Books” will be downloaded directly into our heads as we sleep and we will awake with the full memory of the pleasure of the contents. Physical books will be regarded as unnecessary fire hazards which attract contaminating, throat choking dust, and the broad coalition government of the Daily Mail party, UKIP and Best Do AS You Are Told Alliance will ban them. The American Psychiatric Association  will categorise physical book reading as an unhealthy fetish and advise psychosurgery if the patient persists with his/her deviant behaviour. We follow suit in the UK.

Anyway, that’s the future. Let the unreconstructed enjoy today. I have included T.K. Max because this was where Borders had a three floor store before it went bust. I liked this large shop.It had a fantastic range of magazines, a good coffee shop, a wide range of books, comfy chairs and a relaxed atmosphere. After my heart attack 5 years ago, I couldn’t reach the second floor  because it was only accessible by stairs which I wasn’t permitted to use. I was disproportionately put out despite the relatively short ban.

I seldom go into the Cambridge University Press bookshop. Too many titles I would like to own, and expensive.

Heffers is Cambridge’s premier shop for bibliophiles, both for the general reader, the specialist  and students. A lovely, big, sprawling store with very knowledgeable staff.

Out road running with Cambridge and Coleridge this evening. We did 6 x 3 minutes with decreasing recovery from 5 mins to 1 minute. We stopped to a loud whistle so all speeds were catered for. We then returned to the position  from where we started, or where we reached at the 3 minute whistle. Then back home for fish and chips, baked beans and salad, accompanied by delicious flat bread. Alas, no Brussels sprouts!

Aliveandrunning June 12 2014 Juneathon Day 12


We runners have urges and today I had a strong desire to run through the centre of Cambridge. We live around 4.5 miles from the City centre and it doesn’t take long to drive to the edge and run in from the suburban road where I parked. It  took 6 minutes to run to Jesus Green then along the river to Magdalene College and Magdalene Street and St. Johns Street, past the wonderful Heffers bookshop and into Trinity Street and Kings Parade and then turning into Market Square.


I experienced inexplicable icy chill as I ran past the Haunted Bookshop and clearly the man outside G. David wearing the cream suit is no ordinary browser. I ran around the Market Square a couple of times, weaving in and out of the crowd and then past Kings College. I passed so many groups of Chinese tourists I’m almost fluent in Mandarin.


In all I ran 8.51k in 53 minutes which included stopping a dozen times to take photos. Just outside the Market Square I came across a man consulting a map and smoking a pipe (simultaneously). I thought I had slipped through a hole in the  time/space continuum and found myself in the 1950’s. I regret not asking him if I could take a picture. Pipes are so evocative of the past when there was no emphasis on the dangers of smoking and a pipe represented dependability and  thoughtfulness. This man is an endangered species. Smoking has killed them all off.


I really enjoyed running in crowded streets of Cambridge. Even in the most congested places it’s always easy to deviate down a side street or alley and break away from the seething masses. I admit to feeling a tad superior to the slow moving tourists and shoppers as I dodge past them with panache and energy. I didn’t run fast and I didn’t exhaust myself. I did feel I saw a different aspect of the city as if I was running through one piece of a jigsaw into another. Can’t wait to do it again, hopefully with Lorna next time.