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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

Trump vows running community will pay for wearing out sidewalks (and by the way, runners are losers).

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Cambridge at night and approaching the Garret Hostel bridge over the river Cam. Strangely no tourists in sight which is a pity because the weather made it super spooky. It’s only around 7.30pm and there were very few people around.

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Trinity Lane also deserted apart from vaporous apparitions passing through the dank walls. You can just make out a couple of them in this shot. We did decide to take this route but with Lorna walking forwards while I walked backwards. Just as a precaution.

Tip : BBC, Taboo, 9pm, Saturday, two episodes gone, six to go. Wonderfully atmospheric thriller set in early nineteenth century London. Top cast, top production (Ridley Scott).

Did a bit of Cambridge half marathon training yesterday. I ran 9 miles in the most dreary of weather – cold, miserable light and raining. Didn’t see anyone running until I got to the river and then came across around 20-25, some in groups, some running alone. Most returned my passing acknowledgement, some got their salutations in before me, some looked straight through me. The latter group tend to be young and fast. No bitterness intended! Anyway, good to get the training out of the way. If I can do 9, I can do 13. It’s at the beginning of  March and there’s plenty of time to do some occasional long runs to remind my legs what they are in for.

My times at parkrun are still on a downward trajectory. I put this down to building up muscle at the gym. If this carries on, I’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger but come in with the tail runner. No matter. In two weeks it will be Cambridge parkrun’s 7th birthday and I’ll be running my 306th parkrun. I first ran it at #5 in 2010 when 88 took part. The current maximum field is 558. Another 10 years and walkers will be an endangered species!

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My haul of Christmas books. The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It profiles some odd but very creative people.

Emily Witt’s Future Sex is a non titillating investigation into different modern expressions of sexuality. Could be challenging to some, hilarious to others.

Permaculture magazine. A kinder, natural, way of growing and living with land and nature.

Writers’ and Artist’ Year Book to kick start my writing mojo (again).

Zealot – The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, 2013 (controversial) biography of Jesus.

The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by Sybille Bedford. This is a short, contemporary  account of the DH Lawrence book Lady Chatterley’s Lover which was published in its unexpurgated form in 1960 by Penguin and resulted in a famous trial for publishing obscene material . A very entertaining description, and the prosecution’s case is wondrous to the modern ear (as in the prosecution barrister asking the jury “Is this a book you would wish your wife or servant to read?”

Finally, The Big Watch Book, £6. It’s full of images of obscenely expensive watches. The manufacturers and purchasers of said items should be subject to prosecution under conspicuous and extravagant display of wealth laws. Unfortunately I am beguiled by these objects and their descriptions and this type of advertisement book is a guilty pleasure like the occasional buying of the Saturday Telegraph.

The more I see and hear Donald Trump condemn, pontificate, insult, sneer, lie, insinuate and intimidate, the less faith I have for people in general to make a reasoned judgement of what conduct is required to govern a country with wisdom and compassion. He’s a high functioning narcissist with a pronounced cruel streak (and by the way, he’s in charge of America!)

 

 

 

 

Muddiest ever Cambridge parkrun

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The entire Cambridge parkrun course was replicated in this short section. I took this pic on my warm up route and met a runner who warned me I would need a boat to proceed further. Many of the puddles occupied the entire width of the path so avoidance wasn’t an option. The rain held off but temperatures were low (for me) at around 2-4c. Despite the weather, 359 splashed their way round and it really was good fun.

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Here’s a good picture of Lorna (in the middle) with running (and chatting) chums. Looks completely normal.

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Here’s Lorna at the end of the race and about to receive her number token. Something has happened in the time these two pics were taken and I’ve yet to receive an adequate explanation. How long was she running while munching her glove. This certainly isn’t normal!

Tomorrow I’m doing a 10k race at the Icworth Estate, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. This promises to be another mud bath which raises the possibility that we mud splattered runners won’t be admitted to their very nice cafe/restaurant. or even worse, I’ll be turned away from their second hand bookshop.

Me : Do you realise I’m a National Trust member and therefore entitled to benefit from the full panoply of facilities and privileges which are accorded to my subscription?

National Trust official : On your bike, sunshine, and come back when you’ve had a bath and smell a lot sweeter!

Thanks to Stoke Gifford Parish Council, parkrun is national news following their decision to charge parkrun or parkrunners for using the open spaces of Little Stoke park as a course. They’ve been roundly condemned for this move because it contradicts the founding principles of parkrun and constitutes a degradation the philosophy of a free, inclusive, volunteer organised, run for all. There are nearly 400 UK parkruns and around 850 worldwide. Additionally there are about 90 Junior UK parkruns. Stoke Gifford Parish Council are very naughty, very foolish, very short sighted and probably Tory dominated.

 

A Tale Of Two Parkruns

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Here is a pic of Milton Country Park which hosts Cambridge parkrun. 341 runners turned out despite the rain and giant puddles of unknown depths. I’m sure we would be regarded as heroes or stars by people whose love of exaggeration knows no bounds. The truth is we were just ordinary guys (now regarded as a universal term referring to all sexes) doing our duty and taking no regard of personal danger.

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Here is a pic of Yeovil Montacute parkrun in South West England, hosted by the National Trust in the grounds of Montacute House, where 258 ran, including Lorna, who stayed near Glastonbury. Note the difference in the weather. Blue skies, unbroken sunshine and undoubtedly warm. They are simply runners, not heroes!

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Here’s another picture to underline the intrinsic unfairness. These are very little puddles compared with deep troughs of water straddling the narrow trail paths and the deadly swamps which edge them. Boy, did we get super muddy unlike runners at other mollycoddling parkruns.

Still, it was a good run albeit on the sticky side. My new arch rival Eric beat me by 8 seconds but I’m catching up. Neither of us are as fast as last year although we are both slowly improving. Ex arch rivals Mike and Kerry have moved well beyond me (unless I seek out those popular illegal performance enhancing drugs. I’ll have a word with the Tesco pharmacist next time I do my shopping).

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Photo by John Wilderspin

Here’s me, pursued by rabid dog, on the finishing straight. My mind is already on reading a copy of The Oracle that Lorna was bringing home from her sun drenched parkrun at Montacute.

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Can’t wait to go back to Glastonbury with Lorna and climb the Tor again.

Tomorrow, I’m running the Cambourne 10k and, unlike today, the weather looks good.

 

Janathon Day 11 Thanks David

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Archbishop Justin Welby, commenting  on David Bowie’s death which was announced this morning, remembered “sitting listening to his songs endlessly in the 1970’s particularly and always really relishing what he was , what he did, the impact he had.” That won’t be music to the ears of certain delegates to the Anglican Communion in Canterbury today. Bowie regarded himself as bisexual.

I couldn’t lay my hands on Ziggy Stardust but I did find Hunky Dory which I prefer. Looking through my old vinyl it was sad to come across past heroes, now gone – Kevin Ayers, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Sandy Denny, Janice Joplin, Rory Gallagher,Lou Reed, John Lennon, George Harrison, Nico. All part of growing up and the excitement of music.

A cold day in Cambridge, some sun but mainly dull and overcast. I went for a late run around 8.30 pm. Only my head light brightened it up.

 

 

Janathon Day 7 More gloomy light

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Heavy rain this morning and squally winds this afternoon.The quality of the light was poor all day After dark, the wind and rain eased off and I took the opportunity to use my new Petzl head torch. It’s a leap of faith if you can’t see exactly where you are placing your feet at night but the head torch provides sufficient strong light to illuminate a wide angle of the path. That means you can run more confidently. I don’t worry about running on a poorly lit pavement but a good torch makes for a more relaxing outing. Distance about 3.4 miles. Saw one other runner with a head light.

I subscribe to Heart Matters, the British Heart Foundation magazine which is free. https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine. It’s very informative, easy to read, discusses all aspects of heart disease and treatment and is full of positive and inspiring stories. This month it features explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who had a heart attack in 2003 and had to be resuscitated from several cardiac arrests. Following bypass surgery, three months later he ran seven marathons in seven days on all seven continents. In 2005, he climbed Everest and got within 300 metres of the summit before chest pains stopped him going to the top. According to his surgeon, Professor Angelini, who raised no objection to these endeavours, “his heart has recovered ; there was no damage.” Professor Angelini did advise him his heart rate should not rise much above 130 beats per minute.

Fiennes went on to successfully climb Everest on his third attempt in 2008. He is now aged 71. Last year he completed the Marathon De Sables, an extremely demanding  251k  race across the Sahara desert.

The article seems to be a puff for super hero Fiennes whose cardiac arrests, bypass surgery and heart disease appear not to have had any impact on his ability to undergo extremes of physical endurance. No mention of medication although NICE guidelines seem to put everyone on Ramipril, bisoprolol, aspirin and statins following a heart attack. Ranulph, why are you different? Is it because you are a knight of the realm and strong blue blood courses through your veins? I’ll be contacting Heart Matters and HRM Queen Elizabeth over this.