Whitby, Cropredy and a persistent running injury. And Brexit?

WHITBY

Four days in Yorkshire. We visited Whitby where Bram Stoker’s Dracula landed on a deserted ship and bounded up the 199 steps, in the form of a large black dog, to the ruined Whitby abbey on the cliff top. Whitby is now a port of call (pun intended) for all Goths, past and present. These two Goth girl were hardly out of place.

 

Very atmospheric. The weather was warm and sunny but on a cold, misty, gloomy day it would be easy to appreciate why Stoker knew Whitby was the appropriate location for Dracula to disembark from his cursed ship.

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Cropredy, Oxfordshire. Fairport Convention hold an annual reunion festival here. They are a folk rock band which originally formed in 1967 and they are still going with original members and old members regularly returning. They have a loyal following which is just as well because the weather conditions were testing for long standing fans. Except we weren’t standing much. Such is our collective advanced age camp chairs is de rigueur even if the weather is good. This time around we endured a chilling wind, low temperatures and bouts of rain. It felt God was attempting to cull us!

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I’m being persecuted by another chicken. She turns up each day waiting to be fed then does giant poo which we duly tread on. She even became violent, pecking Lorna’s unprotected toes. We’re trying to become predominantly vegetarians but she’s trying our patience.

I’m alive but still not running My knee injury is still persisting and I’ve stopped running altogether. Still not sure of the exact nature of the injury. I had assumed it was a tear or bruising to the miniscus but now I’m not so sure. I’ve had a couple of private physiotherapy sessions and still awaiting a NHS referral for physiotherapy for which there is a fourteen week waiting list. This is not a service. Such a timescale for assessment and treatment will ensure that either the average person’s  problem will have resolved over time or will have become chronic. How has the physiotherapy service allowed itself to become so degraded and marginal? My GP, appparently, is not able to refer me for a scan to accurately diagnose my knee injury. That responsibility is now devolved to the physiotherapy servce, who if they feel a diagnostic scan is required, refer me onto another team who then make that decision. This will take forever. It is taking forever. A good example of NHS cuts and resource rationing. or softening up the NHS for private providers. Or simply dropping a treatment option. Is the NHS safe with the evil Tories? If you are credulous, yes, of course.

Brexit! Divisive or what? Remain or leave, your preference strips bare a predictable set of values and beliefs. In general the remainers live in a world with balmy weather and warm breezes where good humour and friendliness, co-operation and fairness are the norms and everyone is accepted without prejudice. The leavers, in general, inhabit a gloomy, sunless world, permanently chilled and inhospitable, where xenophobia, meaness of spirit, absence of empathy, lack of charity and self interest are endemic. Oh dear!

London Marathon 2019 and other stuff

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London marathon 2019. Spectating, as usual, was very enjoyable but it was cold. We stood between mile 19 and 19 at Canary Wharf, near a Waitrose and loos, a good spot if there’s not a cutting wind. It wasn’t cutting and clearly the runners, after 18 miles, didn’t appear cold, unlike myself. So perhaps I’m the hero! Many did look tired, however, and they had another seven miles to go. Okay, I accept they have the edge in the hero stakes.

Of course, the top runners made it look easy and effortless. Yes, Kosgei and Kipchoge, I’m pointing the finger at you! Then again, it must be annoying to be constantly accompanied by a phalanx of officials and photographers in cars, flat bed trucks and motor bikes with attendant engine fumes being breathed in.

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The London marathon is always a tremendous event. It’s full of wonder, adventure, excitement, stamina, pathos and bravery, a wonderful experience for all the runners and supporters alike. Unfortunately I won’t be doing another marathon but I can still watch one of the best.

My own running is going well at the moment. I train with the club on Tuesdays and this week I ran Cambridge parkrun then chased over (well, drove) to an adjacent village and did another 7k race at 10.45am. Sunday was a rest day and today I did another 5k race. Another club training run tomorrow, a 5k race on Thursday and parkrun on Saturday again. Plus any gym work. Any problems with this? Yes, I’m not doing any long runs so I’ve opted out of the Flaming June half marathon in Impington.

Is one of the consequences of getting older is that you think more about life, issues, consequences, truth, others, your own conduct or do you tend to think less, avoiding analytical modes of thought, reducing interest in events other than those that impinge directly upon our personal lives and opting out of voicing strong convictions? Do we write longer sentences as we age? Are we more likely to ask pompous questions like this?Am I referring to myself? Am I a solipsist? No, I don’t think so but it’s a great word!

Both Brexit and social media, like any substantial issues, have unintended or unexpected consequences. For me it’s been an eye opener to have a fuller understanding  of people’s views, frequently expressed  bluntly and explicitly. So much condemnation and proud unkindness. So much passive and actual aggression. Such limited perspective, so little humour.

 

400 parkruns and a lot of long straw

Cottage getting a rethatch

I ran my first Cambridge parkrun in February 2010, six months after a heart attack and now I’ve passed the 400 mark. Two other running chums who are both in their late 60s and have had heart attacks are still running. Moral of the story? Stay fit and prosper after a cardiac event. Unfortunately I saw many people attending cardiac rehab who were overweight, didn’t do any exercise and regarded their heart disease as a considerable handicap. At that point, only just over 4 in 10 were taking up the offer of cardiac rehab and the takeup was lower in other areas. Oh dear! I don’t know if rehab uptake has improved much.

Cambridge half marathon in under two weeks. I’m trying to do a long run of 12 miles every week and , by and large, I’ve managed it. It takes some effort and focus but I feel so much better afterward, a sort of good, healthy tiredness.

Finished

I just read that the British teenager who absconded to to the Islamic State group in Syria when she was 15 (she is now aged 19 and has just given birth to her third child), has now had her UK citizenship revoked. She is currently in a Syrian refugee camp and wants to return to the UK. This is a complicated issue on a number of fronts but it is very disappointing that the Tory Home Secretary has placated the credulous and knee jerk nitwits of the Tory electorate who are unable to objectively evaluate any complicated issue. Compare and contrast with Tony Blair who was determined to go to war with George Bush on the flimsiest of pretences, shared responsiblity for tens of thousands of deaths and destabilised whole regions.

Last race of the year -Ely New Year’s Eve 10k

Here’s a recent treat fit for a running god like myself. Fish finger sandwich featuring fish fingers on fresh sourdough bread garnished with raw red onion. Yummy! Probably best to eat after a run rather than ten minutes before. Last run of the year!

Since November I’ve mainly managed to do a weekly 12 mile jog and some gym work plus parkrun. I think a long run is good for me but it’s certainly not improving parkrun times. Then again it’s winter – cold, wind, dreary light, rain and mud. I’m always slower even when I feel I’m running fast.

The numbers running at Cambridge parkrun are around 200 fewer since Coldhams Common parkrun got under way. This is good news because Milton Country Park, which hosts parkrun, was getting very congested. It’s essentially along woodland trail paths which sometimes had up to 600 galloping over them. Today we had 381 and it felt much more comfortable. Coldhams has already surpassed 300 on several occasions and has room to expand. Haven’t done it yet but will do sometime soon, I hope.

A recent UK news item highlighted the cost of hospital car parking charges in England (they are free or being phased out in Scotland and Wales) and have been described as “a tax on the sick”. It seems that a substantal number of hospitals justify the high charges by spending the windfall money on hiring extra essential staff. Another wheeze, of course, to circumvent underfunding and related to the shenanigans the hospitals are forced to get involved in when desperately try to attain government targets.

Discussing the charges at home, Lorna reminded me about the hard time she had parking at Papworth Hospital after I had a heart attack nine years ago. She rushed over, didn’t have change (pre-online app) and the reception staff said they didn’t give change. She was worried that she would get clamped and couldn’t get back to our 12 year old son. Luckily someone in the carpark supplied the right coins. As a close relative (wife) very little consideration was given to her as she waited for an hour without any information about me

Bearing in mind Papworth is a “leading heart and lung hospital” and must be receiving distressed relatives on a daily basis, this clearly demonstrated their corporate lack of concern and empathy. I don’t think things have changed much. The technology has got better but often requires you to have a smart phone and the wherewithall to use it. Additionally, the charges have mushroomed. Concerning regard for relatives and friends attending hospital urgently, I don’t know whether anything has changed. I sincerely hope so. I was very happy with the medical and nursing care at Papworth but  recognition of the needs of relatives was poor.

Hello Julie! How are you? Hope you are well. Missing your blog.

Loving the 12 mile weekly run! At the moment!

It’s been eight weeks since my last blog and summer has turned to autumn. The stark truth is that I’m eight weeks older and more to the point, I’m a first time grandfather. Wonderful! This brings new opportunities to be sensible, patriachal, dignified and generally comport myself in accordance with my new status. I’ll probably work on these aspirations in the New Year or when I get time or possibly never.

Six weeks ago, I did an undulating half marathon and this went well. I only ran a couple of ninety minute runs and one sixty minute run before the half and this seemed about right for my existing level of fitness. Since then I’ve decided to do a twelve mile run each week and this has felt okay. It seems that when I up the mileage I feel less tired or rather it’s a superior, more satisfying type of tiredness rather than simply feeling sapped.

The extra mileage has pushed my parkrun times down, I think. I recently turned my ankle on a root at Cambridge parkrun the day before I was due to do a local 10k. I finished the run but it swelled up in the afternoon, not substantially, but overnight, it felt stiffer and a little tender. Not wishing to believe the evidence of my own eyes, I went for a little trot before the 10k race and decided, using my new sensible grandad hat, that it was inadvisable to run.

With a few further days of rest, it sorted itself out and I’m currently not injured. Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park is mostly woodland paths which are strewn with leaves. Thus the numerous raised tree roots are hidden and it’s easy to come a cropper. Are we brave, courageous, risk takers? Are we heroes? Are we daft?

The Guardian newspaper has recently announced that the reader funding model is successful. They claim a million supporters world wide paying subscription apps or monthly voluntary payments to help keep the journalism afloat and the website open to all and not behind a paywall. Anyone can view Guardian journalism on their website and share it freely, even evil, right wing people who seem to be more in the ascendency these days. Of course right wing leaning people have their own news outlets and it’s educational to compare and contrast. The right wing news tends towards condemnation, mockery, anger, alarmism, fear of change and loss and nostalgia for a perceived golden past. They don’t hesitate to vilify ethnic groups who they blame for loss of their cultural norms. They love jingoism like “We want our country back” and “America first!” Anger is often the predominant emotion which their target group consumes ad nauseum. And often there are objectively legitimate reasons for that anger and resentment. Classically, that discontent is easily exploited and often directed at the wrong cause. Best to read Guardian journalism and not risk it.

Upside : I’m running more frequently. Downside : I’m being stalked by a chicken.

Yes, this is the chicken! A hen, actually. She may not have big brain but she quickly worked out I’m a soft touch. All I did was provide a small handful of wild bird seed on two occasions and now she visits daily, occasionally with a cockerel in tow. Is this a problem? It wasn’t initially but she now contravenes normal social proprieties. If we leave a door open, she struts in brazenly. We’ve found her on a sofa in our front room, in our living room and she’s familiar with our bathroom. And she’s not even our hen! She and her pals are free ranging and belong to a farmer fifty metres away.

 

I rest my case!

I’m pleased to report that my chicken based woes are not adversely affecting my running. I’m back to running consistently and again trying to increase distance. I did the Greater Cambridge 10k a couple of weeks ago and I’ve got an undulating half marathon in two weeks. I’m a regular at Cambridge parkrun. I’ve also done a couple of training sessions at Cambridge and Coleridge running club with a view to rejoining. I miss the Tuesday road training. Of the present Tuesday group I’m the slowest which is not necessarily a problem but the effort involved does mean I have to put in maximum effort. Older running gods, like myself, have to be careful! Alternatively, I could do the track sessions which are probavly more manageable/flexible.

I did a 12 mile run today and this went okay. I have to resist the temptation to do another long run without sufficient recovery time. I feel good after a long distance and I want to repeat it but wiser heads object. Memo to self: enrol on that adult education class titled “How to Behave Sensibly for Advanced Years Citizens”

 

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Lips completed! I’ve made quite a few models now and it’s dawned upon me rather late that the bases are not adequate. So, at the moment I’m using,, or replacing previous bases with, reclaimed hard woods.

I made this sculpture over a year ago. I won’t be replacing this base but I need to upgrade it. This won’t be very easy because I won’t be detaching the statue because that would be a bit of a palaver.

So, how’s Brexit going? Not too well for the evil Tory goverment! Labour is hoping for no agreement and a general election. There’s increased talk of another referendum or at least another complete rethink on how to proceed. For my part, Brexit. as voted or by 52% of the population, reflects a very strong strand of xenophobia and right wing manipulation of racist prejudice. I certainly don’t feel the Tories are capable of making humane and compassionate laws and policies. I’ve got more faith in EU law.

Normal running resumed (almost)

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Nice couple of lips on the go! I’m spending a lot of time thinking about modelling/sculptural ideas and execution. I’m particularly exercised by problems concerning improving the bases and ensuring a high standard of finish. Subsequent to these two examples I’m preparing some old reclaimed wood I bought at an exorbitant price from a reclaimation yard with a view to cleaning, sealing and waxing rather than painting.

Running has been a bit neglected over the last 6-7 weeks. My hamstring is still twinging occasionally and I haven’t been doing any runs over 50 minutes to test it. But I have been running reasonably consistently, albeit shorter distance. Parkrun is okay despite not doing the times I managed a year ago. It’s only about 60-90 seconds slower per 5k parkrun so not truly shocking. I have had a nice cup of coffee with running mates after, though. Plan: to slowly up the weekly mileage. I’ve got a half marathon coming up in October so I need to know I’m properly fit for that.

Too much egregious world news to comment on just before I go to sleep. Suffice to say that Boris Johnson, ex British Foreign Secretary ridiculing traditional Muslim female dress in the right wing press is vicious, divisive and cruel. It’s a typical extreme right wing Fascist technique. In this case hidden behind the mask of a clown.

As for the Catholic Church and the Benedictine Order and the damning report into decades of sexual abuse at two “leading” Catholic schools, Ampleforth and Downside, it’s a searing indictment of the corrosive and self serving nature of religion.