Aliveandrunning January 21 2015 Janathon Day 21


“Ouch….ouch….ouch” I’m quoting myself  here and I could have continued with with significantly more ouches. This follows last night when I fell to the ground after tripping on a curb at the track. I was walking at the time, selflessly thinking about the needs of others because I’m that kind of guy. My judgement is second to none and I decided to go running with the club as planned since there seemed to be only minor discomfort to my right bottom area. I followed this up with warm down stretches and returned home. I had difficulty getting out of the car. It was painful on movement for the rest of the evening.

This morning, however, it felt much better and has further improved during the day. Certain movements are still painful like stooping or crossing my legs but full recovery is in sight. Just a bit of bruising, that’s all. My decision to run yesterday is thus fully vindicated and I remain infallible.

Nevertheless, I decided not to try to run today and went for a brisk walk with Ms Alive and Running. Around 2 miles. I’ll rest for a further day tomorrow and see how it is on Friday. Because I sometimes have the power of seeing into the future, I know it will be fine and I will do parkrun on Saturday.

Radio 4, File on 4, 20.1.2015, last night at 8 pm on benefit sanctions and claims that the system punishes or penalises vulnerable people, particularly the mentally ill. The claims ring true. Should be available on podcast.

This pic reminds me of last year’s London marathon. Looking forward to spectating again.


Aliveandrunning January 9 2015 Janathon Day 9

DSC_0319 Wimpole Hall, a National Trust property, in all its glory. They keep the front aspect of the house clear of plebs, poor people, lower middle class, New Age travellers and children not attending fee paying schools. Luckily, the grounds are extensive and us parkrunners don’t have to encroach on the upper class gravel. We are allowed to run freely over the undulating park land, however, and visit the lavatories when necessary.

But tomorrow’s dream parkrun at Wimpole is now a shattered aspiration. It’s been cancelled because of the expected gales. No run, no visit to the second hand bookshop, no National Trust rock cake , jam and coffee in their cafe. At the moment Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park hasn’t been cancelled and a decision will probably be made tomorrow morning around 8 am.

Another 2 mile run in the dark tonight but unlike the previous couple of runs, I didn’t set out on a full stomach. It was windy, although not excessively, and very mild. I think those Scottish winds will increase during the night so the fate of Cambridge will be in the hands of the Gods.

The NHS spending on children’s mental health has fallen by more than 6% in real terms since 2010, according to official figures. This equates to nearly £50m and was disclosed by NHS England in a parliamentary question. These cuts have been made against a background of decades of chronic underfunding. Who says we live in a civilised society? Who cares, anyway. It’s not a high profile service, there’s probably not enough money in it to attract private interest and most parents will be grateful for any level of help. Let the children suffer.

Aliveandrunning August 7 2014


The big wheel on Brighton sea front. No reason it’s in this blog other than I like it and I don’t have any other suitable pics at the moment.

OMG! What have I done ? I completely forgot to compete in a club race tonight. It would have meant a 40 minute drive to get there and the club would have gained a point. I had committed myself to do it  and had offered someone a lift (not taken up). I’ll chastise myself seriously for this oversight. I’ll buy and read the Daily Mail or make myself say something positive about the Tory government. That’ll teach me not to forget.

My next half marathon is September 14 which is not far away. I’ve got another one in October and a third half in November. Note to self – start running longer distances and get half marathon fit. I have a plan but it’s formulated in seconds. I run for an hour and then about I hour 20 minutes and then run a training 13.1 miles and that’s it. In between half marathons I’ll do one or two 10 mile runs plus parkruns and club training. This regime is good enough to get me round but not good enough to get a good time (for me) or a PB. But I don’t care. I’m beyond all that competitive stuff. PB worries are so last century. I might even run backwards. I might evolve into an anti runner who, confusingly, runs. I might just implode.

Yesterday, I visited the Forest Farm Peace Garden in Hainault, Essex.  It’s a community garden specialising in eco therapy, food growing, community volunteering, education, outreach and special events and permaculture gardening. Several acres in size, there are both communal and individual plots, a pond, a polytunnel, portacabin loos and various sheds. On Wednesdays, the main focus is on providing gardening as a therapy and rehabilitation for people with mental health problems. Everyone was friendly and working industriously. It was a lovely, relaxing environment that  many people had contributed to creating. Ben, the stand in head gardener showed us around and answered the many questions I threw at him. They had a very inclusive policy and while we there, we saw a mum and toddler group taking place among the flowers and foliage. My 87 year old  mother accompanied me on this little field trip and really enjoyed the visit.

I’m considering creating some kind of gardening project in the field to the rear of our cottage and the Peace Garden seemed to provide an excellent model. I’ve contacted Cambridge MIND and they’ve shown some interest. I’ve also been in touch with a local councillor to explore what permissions need to be sought. The idea is to set up a charity and attract some funding although I don’t think a huge amount of money is needed. So, watch this space.

Aliveandrunning July 13 2014


Brighton, Sussex. This pic was taken as the sun went down. The light was fading and people were becoming silhouettes. The beach had a dreamy and languid feel which gave the remnant of the the destroyed West Pier a romantic aspect. We were in Brighton for my daughter’s graduation and to collect belongings  from her accommodation. This went well, despite the poor weather, although very emotional for her.


The bonus to our little trip to the South coast was being able to take part in Brighton parkrun (Preston Park) on Saturday morning. Unlike Cambridge parkrun which is along narrow woodland paths, the Brighton course is on tarmac paths on open park grass land, with 3 loops. Very enjoyable.

I arrived alone and maintained a cool insouciance throughout. They knew I was an unknown quantity, a stylish outsider that possibly had what it took to blow the local running talent to smithereens. I took my place on the front line and saw the fear in their eyes. Two of the young bucks had the temerity to look me directly. I faced them down with my steely alpha male stare, forcing them to lower their gaze in submission. A quick gesture by swivelling my eyes indicated they should move back to the secondary line behind me. They complied, ashen faced and shaken. I went off like a rocket and remained well ahead of everyone for an easy 20 metres before running out of steam and eventually coming in 96th out of 244. Oh well, you’ve gotta aim for the stars!



Today was the inaugural Cambridge junior parkrun, a 2 kilometre run for children aged 4-14. It was very successful with 97 children ( plus some accompanying parents) taking part. It didn’t rain during the race but there were plenty of puddles to run through and the children clearly loved the whole thing. It took 25+ volunteers to stage it and the plan is to run it (pun intended) weekly which is quite an undertaking for the event and race directors who are, of course, volunteers. An added difficulty today was the Alzheimer’s 10k and 5k sponsored walk through the park which was scheduled to start at the same time as the juniors set off (at 10am). There were 500 of them! It got sorted. We delayed our start time by 15 minutes and this didn’t result in any problems. It’s wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the youngest children as they put everything they’ve got into running. I’m sure  it will continue to be very successful.

If the Daily Mail was to cease publication overnight, the mental health and well being of the nation would increase significantly with immediate effect. It’s raison d’etre is to cause maximum angst and existential stress in it’s readers who can’t get enough of its dystopian outlook. And that’s putting it politely.

The Sunday Express headlines? The Queen is worried about the possibility that the Red Arrows team  (acrobatic aviation jets) will be disbanded. Our Queen must not experience this kind of perturbation. Mr Cameron, please allocate an increase in funding to safeguard these brave flyers and prevent our monarch from suffering continuing mental unease. After all, there’s plenty of money sloshing around in the mental health services budget and they can’t shout very loud. And libraries, too, when I come to think about it.



Aliveandrunning June 24 2014 Juneathon Day 24



This water lily is part-time! It comes out late in the morning and shuts up in the mid afternoon when it’s still warm and sunny. I bought it under the impression that it was a hard working, full time lily. I concede it’s rather lovely but it needs to put more effort into flowering time.

Out with the club tonight. We did a time trial 1k followed by 4 further kilometres. With warm up jog and getting to the run site we covered around 4.5 miles in all. The weather was odd – cool and clammy. I even put the heater on in the car on the way back.

Professor Sue Bailey, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said in an interview this morning that mental health services in England are “a car crash.” She said the services were in crisis and that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is not taking the problems seriously. I didn’t catch it. Was this an interview on Radio 4’s Today? I also managed to miss a feature on Woman’s Hour criticising anti depressants which asserted that they are as effective as placebo.

Aliveandrunning June 16 2014 Juneathon Day 16


A rumour swept North Cambridge today and caused hundreds of credulous people to line the river bank. I was there to catch the action. It was believed that a mystic, living in the farthest reaches of the Eastern Fen Lands, was going to walk on water and stroll into the centre of Cambridge via the  River Cam. After a 4 hour wait, another rumour swept the expectant crowd. He was indeed walking on water but had taken a wrong turn and was currently running down a minor tributary which went God only knows where! We were mightily disappointed and dispersed peacefully.

We had faith. Most people have a little faith in a lot of things and a lot of faith in a few things. I am losing my faith in :

1. The BBC news.

2. The humanitarian aspect of organised religions (the supernatural bit is gone already).

3. The coalition government’s views or interpretation of anything at all (particularly foreign policy).

4. The weather (it’s just not consistent).

5. Most people to consider almost anything in a fair, balanced, constructive manner.

6. Anyone who regards the Sun as a newspaper. It’s a comic just as the News of the World was a comic with a bent for sex, humiliation and raw prejudice.

Went for a 2 mile run and felt good. I think I was slightly out of salts when I ran yesterday (whatever that means). Club night tomorrow and that always goes well. Parkrun on the weekend plus a 10k race. i’m looking forward to running through the centre of Cambridge again and dodging through the meandering crowds.

A few other random thoughts when I was running :

A. Gardening therapy for people with mental health issues.

B. Uses of amenity land and setting up a charity/social enterprise.

C. How to get funding.

D. Must get an early Victorian stove pipe hat. I’d look very impressive wearing it at parkrun.

Aliveandrunning June 11 2014 Juneathon Day 11


Ye old windy path that is troddeth by me nearly all days of the year accompanied by my faithful canine, Rupert. I particularly like this part of the woods. It has a mystical feel, as if  you could meet a country person from the Victorian age or the Middle ages or a wandering Greek god seeking a diversion from mythical responsibilities. I don’t run in this wood. Sometimes I meet other dog walkers but most often I’m listening to BBC Radio 4 podcasts. We are so lucky to have the BBC and to have such a range of high quality broadcasts. Today I listened to All in the Mind which featured a very affecting interview with an anorexic 22 year old woman and her carer mother followed by a discussion on current research on the role of the hormone oxytocin in mitigating some of the features of anorexic symptoms.I’m spoilt for choice. Woman’s Hour, The Life Scientific, In Our Time, Start the Week, the dramas, Beyond Belief, Open Book, Thinking Aloud and many more. Who needs music? Tip : Radio Times essential reading.

I felt fine after the late evening run with the club yesterday. We ran up and down a a short hill six times and covered over 7 miles. Today, I ran my usual default, just ticking over, 2 mile run. I run to an Indian restaurant formerly known as the Slap Up and now renamed the Bollywood Spice, salivate in response to any wafting Indian cooking aromas and return home along the same route. Might go for a longer run tomorrow. The world awaits my decision.


Aliveandrunning March 17 2014

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Following last weekend’s Cambridge half marathon when I ran a good time and then made it memorable by becoming dehydrated and requiring medical assistance (see blog dated March 10), I am now back to form. I ran with the club during the week and parkrun on the weekend. The Cambridge parkrun run director and her partner, who have bright red hair and a Mohican respectively, were stepping aside after four years. Dozens of regulars wore convincing wigs in celebration (see pic above). I think I should have spent more time finessing my coiffure. My lush Mohican came rather low and I had difficulty seeing my way around the course. I was also carrying a placard so my time was slow. Still, we had a lot of cake afterwards and everyone was very appreciative of the hard work they have put in since parkrun began in Cambridge.


Here I am modelling my tattoo sleeves after the race. Generally I am anti tattoo but these sleeves are hardly distinguishable from the real thing (as long as they are viewed 20 metres away with sun glasses). I am now scouring the internet to acquire a whole body lycra  tattoo stocking! How cool would that be in Cambridge Central Library or a Tesco super store.



It’s curious how many runners revere cake! Very few of them seem to worry about the sugar or fat or calorie content. Anyway, it was a very enjoyable, OTT morning.

I attended a funeral last week and had yet further proof that, all to frequently, there’s nothing less Christian than a practicing Christian. I’ve heard examples from family before and also seen it with my own eyes. The genteel, comfortable middle classes Church goers don’t seem to be able to welcome anyone who doesn’t conform to their particular norms. This is very clear when their services are attended by individuals whose behaviour may be loud or inappropriate or if they look different. They simply get ignored or sidelined or frozen out. I witnessed the good church folks in action against a women who probably has a borderline personality disorder in the reception after the funeral service. They really should have been able to accommodate her and make the effort to respond and make her feel comfortable. But they didn’t. And haven’t done on other occasions. I don’t like being around such hypocritical people. I don’t like to see such displays of prejudice and unkindness. They don’t take their own moral teachings seriously. They are self righteous nitwits!

Hot news! Scientists have found evidence of the signal left by the super-rapid expansion of space that occurred fractions of a second following the Big Bang, leading immediately to the creation of the Universe. That fraction is estimated to be a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. Wow!! That’s even faster than the Tories took to start dismantling the NHS by letting the for profit companies take over services. That’s why we need health union leaders of the calibre of Bob Crow who very sadly died suddenly last week, aged 52.

Aliveandrunning March 1 2014

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Cambridge parkrun today, albeit 4-5 minutes slower than I would  normally hope to do it in. Why? Because I enrolled on the If You Have An Injury, You Too Can Make It Worse Course For Idiots earlier in the week. Having strained my intercostal muscles (rib cage – my diagnosis) by throwing stuff onto a skip, I went road running with the club after first doing some painful stretching exercises. The following day I still continued chucking stuff on the skip. I despair of myself and will administer a severe reprimand when I’m in the mood to accept it. The end result is that it will take possibly weeks to heal. Certain movements are quite painful, like vacuuming, getting from sitting, lifting, leaning forward and breathing deeply. The good news is running doesn’t seem to make matters worse although speed is capped by increasing discomfort. Tomorrow I’m doing a 5 mile race and next Sunday it’s the Cambridge half marathon. 

Actually, because focus wasn’t on speed and effort today, I enjoyed the run more. I was also lapped by several runners. It was rather sobering when the winner swept past me with an eventual time of 15 mins 53 secs, nearly twice as fast as me. I’ll have to up my game. I usually place myself mid way in the 250-350 strong field, among the sturdy squires and minor landed gentry which are behind the running royalty and aristocracy. Today I moved back a bit further and mingled with hard working tax payers and no nonsense types not in receipt of benefits. And very enjoyable their company proved. Lorna volunteered again, as official photographer on this occasion, and took around 400 great snaps.

The top photo is the start of Cambridge  parkrun. The weather was overcast and misty this morning and the course is still very muddy. 256 runners took part which is a small for Cambridge. I seem to have successfully seen off any adjacent runners at this point and came in at 28 mins 7 secs.

This link takes you to an article in the Guardian concerning the tragic death of a mentally ill man whose benefits were stopped following an ATOS assessment which found him fit for work. He starved to death four months later. Who cares? Not the coalition government, surely, otherwise they wouldn’t award contracts to mercenary for profit companies only too willing to find any grounds to stop the benefits of the most needy people. It’s a many pronged attack on vulnerable people experiencing serious mental illness. The contraction in community services and support will ensue more incidents like this will occur. At the very least we’ll be entertained by tabloid stories of mentally ill people eating tins of dog food. Thanks David, Nick et al.

Aliveandrunning February 26 2014

Out with Cambridge and Coleridge running club last night. Usually, I feel like the fleet footed Greek god Hermes , moving freely between mortal mankind and the divine, delivering messages and protecting travellers.This time I felt wounded, as if Zeus had unleashed a thunderbolt at me in a fit of godly pique. A spot on my right rib cage  felt painful and sore on movement and when I breathed more heavily. The reason for this was rather less exotic than being struck by Zeus’s bolt or tapped by Thor’s hammer.I think I asked too much of my muscles by lifting and throwing heavy items onto a skip we’ve hired.

I ran up and down the garden path for a few seconds earlier in the day and pronounced myself fit to run and lo, when we did an 800 metre warm up on the track it felt reasonably OK. However when I did the dynamic warm up exercises and stretching I don’t think I did myself any favours. It felt OK when we jogged over to where we start our road training and then we did 5 x 600m, with a 600 metre recovery jog back to our start position each time. We split up into 4 groups of 5-6 runners according to speed. I was in the slowest group and the slowest in the slowest group. Oh how sudden was my fall from grace! The ignominy, the trashing of my reputation, the shame! Actually, I just ran less fast because the soreness increased and it interfered with efficient breathing. Still, I won’t go running again to the weekend. Parkrun on Saturday and a 5 mile race on Sunday. I’m sure I’ll be back to full fitness by then.

Today, I did a dreadful thing. I hereby make my confession on this blog. I bought a copy of the Daily Mail! I somehow resisted the temptation to blather an excuse about “conducting research” and “not usually making this kind of immoral purchase.” Why did I do it? To compare content with other papers I am more familiar with. I want to confirm my prejudices and pet theories. A preliminary scan of the news (or lack of it) suggests confirmation won’t be difficult. Working hypothesis : the Mail is harmful to your mental health. You risk a substantial increase in levels of anxiety, depression, anger and antagonism. Forensic analysis to follow.

Another interesting snippet caught my eye as I read yesterday’s paper today. Thanos, a Christian thinktank, has found a widespread belief among those surveyed that the poor are to blame for the perceived woes of the welfare system, putting ordinary Christians at odds with bishops who have been protesting about the effects of government cuts. One of the problems with organised religion is that when you have God on your side, you often feel the freedom to express all manner of harsh opinion, unkindness, bigotry and hostility. Faith and righteousness can provide excellent camouflage for aggressive, selfish and class attitudes. All too frequently there is nothing less Christian than a self confessed practising Christian.