Great North Run 2015 : Part 2

Abject apologies to the entire blogging world. I accidentally pressed “publish” instead of “save draft” yesterday. I failed to notice this until Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour leader’s media team contacted me and said Jeremy had commented that he was sure I wanted to say a bit more in this blog. He was right! Thanks Jeremy.


The Great North Run in Newcastle last weekend. 47,000 runners gathered on a closed motorway and ran to South Shields on the coast 13.1 miles away. I wasn’t running but I was there as a spectator and supported Joe, my daughter’s boyfriend and a family friend, Sue and her friend Abi. Also spectating were Ms Alive and Running (Lorna) and Mike, Sue’s husband, previously an arch rival but now so fast even Mo would tremble at the mention of his name. A great race and a great atmosphere but not such a great transport system. We had huge difficulties getting back to Newcastle and my daughter Isobelle missed her connections back to London. Nevertheless it was a good running day, the weather could not have been better and the previous day we had a great meal with Joe’s lovely family who live in Newcastle.



We stayed in Durham, a short distance from the magnificent Cathedral which dates from the eleventh century. A hauntingly beautiful building, a monument to religious worship and complete indifference for the human condition as lived at the time.


We climbed to the top of the Tower which called for a great deal of effort. I didn’t feel any closer to God despite the spectacular views. A wonderful, spiritual building and a reflection of man’s hubris and vanity all in one. It’s full of male commemoration and eternal respect for the great and good but I didn’t see many  women represented. Am I being unfair, casting a twenty first century cultural eye over a medieval society? No, I’m not that kind of guy. Perhaps I over think these things. No, you don’t!  Yes, you do!

Out running with the club yesterday. We went over to the American Cemetery to do some hill work (you really have to seek out the hills around Cambridge). It was completely dark by the time we returned to the University athletics track. Some of us were wearing head torches which are very helpful if the beam is strong enough. I’m considering getting one. It will only be worthwhile if I start running in the evenings, of course, because if you wear them during daylight, people are not greatly impressed.

I’m happier with the club at the moment. They are trying very hard to introduce new training runs and are seeking feedback and runners’ views. This is good. I also feel they are considering slower runners’ needs which can be a difficult balance, on the road, when there is such a disparity of speeds.

So Jeremy Corbyn is the newly elected Labour Party leader. Despite all the media scorn and high level of spite from his own colleagues, despite the vicious condemnation from the political pundits and various stupid people, he won the contest overwhelmingly. There will be spin and compromise and economies with the stark truth but nothing like the degree of falsity and degradation of values under previous Labour regimes. It’s widely predicted Labour will be unelectable at the 2020 election. I don’t believe this.

Coming next on the blog………pictures of a bookshop (actually inside the bookshop as well) and old wooden doors. It’s that exciting.

Fast Fruit?

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Wimpole Estate parkrun. I look like an escaped banana pursued by smoothie bounty hunters but this astute and discerning photographer saw through the comic potential and recorded this classic, timeless running image. And to top it all, I was the first person to come in at number 76.

The weather was very kind on Saturday, the cows with their scary pointy horns sat around playing Monopoly, forsaking their menacing poses and ignoring the runners  and even the sheep, famously daft, kept out of our way. Three of our friends from deepest Essex, came up to run with us and we gave a lift to another pal who usually runs at Cambridge. Post race, we had coffee and a bite to eat in the National Trust café and sat around chatting for an hour. A brief visit to the pre-loved bookshop yielded only three old OS maps despite being horribly tempted by serendipity, and then home.

Gorgon Brown, ex Labour prime Minister for a month or two after Tony Blair, gave a speech today containing a “coded message”, warning against choosing a Labour leader who would be divisive and make Labour unelectable at the next election. Using skills gained during a visit to Bletchley Park several years ago, I rapidly decoded the hidden message and concluded he was referring to Jeremy Corbyn. This is the same Gorgon Brown who, as Chancellor of the Exchequer so proudly boasted of light touch regulation of the banks and financial institutions which allowed them to run amok. The same Gorgon Brown in the Blair government that was utterly determined to pitch into the Iraq war with the Americans. The same Gorgon Brown, who along with all the other Labour heavyweights and the Miliband shadow government, utterly failed to address the evil Tories’ onslaught of rhetoric which continually blamed the Labour party in power for all the debt and economic ills whilst affecting a “we care about the common people and your NHS” stance. An extremely poor judge, to put it mildly!

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This pic features Ms Alive and Running establishing whether or not it was safe to go near to the edge. This was an independent decision, undertaken without my consent. I’m sure if I had done this, severe  criticism would have ensued.

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Part of the Seven Sisters, East Sussex between the Birling gap and Beachy Head, the coastal bit of the South Downs. Very hilly. Excellent running country. Useless for high diving or cliff top homes.

Cambridge Half Marathon, end of February 2016 : interest registered.


















Running, punting, yakking, gasping, digging, reading, gardening and other -ings



Ms Alive and Running and I ran Gorleston parkrun, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk recently. It was a fine, warm, sunny day and the course comprised of two simple laps of a lower and upper sea promenade with only one steep zig zag path connecting the two levels ie we only had to ascend it once because we started at the top and finished at the bottom.





We stayed in this little hobbit house overlooking the sand dunes in Winterton -on-Sea. I went for a lovely run to an adjacent seaside town by way of the dunes. I struggle to make an appropriate comparison but suffice it to say that one was a WI stronghold and the other a magnet for fast food and candy floss lovers. The latter was undeniably colourful in every sense and I found my senses being overwhelmed. Winterton, I suspect, is a Tory and UKIP kind of place but I might have found evidence to the contrary when I fell into conversation with Peter Chapman who was painting images onto his camper van. It transpired he is the uncle of the Chapman Brothers, Jake and Dinos, nationally and internationally known visual artists with a controversial portfolio. He is also an artist and sculptor and gave me a tour of his studio and garden.This was very generous of him. I can confirm that he is not exactly a typical resident of Winterton.





Thanks, Peter!

Back to Cambridge. I like to watch and take pics of the punts, particularly from Garret Hostel Bridge or King’s College Bridge. Today I went to Queens’ College and went onto the Mathematical Bridge.DSC_0973




My Druid book finally arrived, by Amazon (non-drone) rather than Guardian bookshop who said it was out of print. Naughty Guardian bookshop! My spiritual and magical renaissance is still on hold because I’m reading Gut : the Inside Story of our Body’s Most Under-Rated Organ. Very readable, very interesting, a complete education in intestinal health, ill health and poo related facts. Warning : sitting on a Western style toilet seat is not good for gut health. Squatting is much better.


Lastly, I’ve been doing plenty of digging and planting donated plants. My therapeutic gardening project continues to progress at a glacial pace for various reasons but is set to take a leap forward when I cover the constructed skeleton of the polytunnel with its plastic cover in the next fortnight. I’ve visited another gardening project, Gardening with Grace, in Bedford and they’ve visited me. It’s been very helpful and given me a different perspective on how to go about what I want to achieve.



With all the drama and heightened significence of a single droplet of water falling to the floor in a tropical rain forest in the rainy season, when the volume of rain has been extreme, even for a rain forest, I resurrect this blog !

Aaahhhh……. the pull of nature and mysticism. We went to Glastonbury recently to visit the town and climb the Tor (not to attend the Festival). We like Glastonbury. There’s a feeling that the 60’s never went away, a Center Parcs for old hippies, a place where you can easily buy a magic wand and no one bats an eye lid if you wander around in cloaks, habits or pointed hats.

But prior to entering the enchanted town, we  stayed at Montacute and ran the Yeovil Montacute parkrun in the grounds of the eponymous House which is owned by the National Trust. And a very nice late Tudor country pile it was,too.



A lovely parkland course, the weather was clement and the run director and volunteers could not have been more friendlier or welcoming. We’ll definitely be returning (when the omens are auspicious and the sun moon and stars are correctly aligned).

Forget Dubai, New York or even East London, Glastonbury is the cool destination to hang out if you are an actual or even a  closet pagan. It’s so easy to buy a wand. I spent a lot of time looking in a wand cabinet, perhaps too long and Mrs Alive and Running bought me some patchouli oil.  We ate in the vegetarian Rainbow’s End cafe, natch, and generally tried not irritate the wizards and witches by treading on their robes.

And so to the Tor!



Magical, mysterious, steeped in spiritual history, overlooking the Somerset Levels and the Isle of Avalon, the Tor is topped by the roofless St. Michael’s Tower. The hill is associated with King Arthur, paganism, goddess worship and having a mystical positioning. It’s a beautiful mound to climb and then sit around thinking about nature worship, astral planes and magic while bracing yourself against the wind. By a wonderful coincidence (or was it pre-ordained) we arrived at the top of the Tor as 60 or 70 druids were climbing up the other side to gather for an early summer solstice celebration.They belonged to the Order of Bards, Obvates and Druids and were chatty and friendly. They were quite happy for people to watch their ceremony, respectfully take photos and ask them about their beliefs. They were down to earth (no pun intended), articulate, intelligent and sensible. We liked them.




Yesterday, it was very warm (although not as hot as London’s 34-36c today). Instead of running with the club in the evening, I went for a 9 mile morning run before the sun got too fierce and took a large bottle of isotonic drink in a holster belt. Sensible or what? It’s coming up to 6 years since I had my heart attack and I’ve run consistently and longer distances since then. I don’t know any other runners with coronary heart disease but it would be nice to know how they are faring and their experience of taking the obligatory medication. Are there any out there in the blogosphere?

Alive and Running April 19 2015

WP_20150419_015 New tactics for parkrun. It’s a good example of thinking outside of the box. I was musing (metaphorically) about scything down the competition and then I thought  why not in actuality! So when I saw this scythe at a local garage sale, I knew the universe was giving me something I needed. I bought it for a song ( Let It Be, and I threw in a shortened version of American Pie as an encore). I still have to figure out where to place myself on the start line but that’s not likely to be a problem since I think there’ll be plenty of space around me wherever I choose to stand (particularly if I’m wearing something black and hooded.

Anyway, back to a pre-scythe parkrun at Wimpole Estate yesterday. It went OK. Not too cold, a reasonable time and some unexpected sun. There was a frost at 7.45 am when I walked Rupert the dalmatian but by 9 am it had warmed up sufficiently to run without a jacket. A good cup of coffee and a fruit scone with strawberry jam in the National Trust restaurant/cafe with Ms Alive and Running and our running chums completed a very enjoyable morning.


In the afternoon we went into Cambridge for a birthday meal. The sun remained out and the scene on the Cam was barely distinguishable from the Venetian Grand Canal.


And so, today, to Ickworth House, which is a rotunda, to run a Hoohaar 10k on the estate. I think all races should be held on National Trust properties. Great facilities (lavatories instead of toilets, lovely large, airy cafes, wonderful grounds) and entry to the right class of person. The plebs are turned away at the Gate House and advised to go and run in a public park. Only joking! The hoi polloi are guaranteed entry everywhere.

The race went well and I knocked off 90 seconds from last year. There is an evil hill at 9k which slowed me down considerably but I’m not complaining (much). It’s a beautiful course, mainly trail, and undulating. Unfortunately one of our running friends, who moved to Yorkshire and came down for this race, fell and injured her knee. Unable to continue, she had to hobble back because of a lack of mobile signal and inadequate contingency arrangements.

And speaking of class based entertainment, one can do no better than listen to BBC Radio 4’s Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair, a 2013 production of Francis Durbridge’s detective drama at 11.30 am on Fridays. Paul Temple, his wife , Steve (female) and the top policemen have cut glass English accents and weld power effortlessly with confidence and panache. Gentle drama, gentle comedy and so redolent of a 30’s and 40’s class divided Britain.

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 20 2015 Janathon Day 20

WP_20150120_006 A cold morning but not as cold as yesterday when my mouth froze shut. This is the Wise Old Bench of Bourne Wood where I walk Rupert the dalmatian. It’s reputed to infuse wisdom in anyone who sits on it for more than five minutes. Why is no-one sitting on it? Everyone in the village has already sat on it and we all have maximum wisdom (except UKIP sympathisers who are not susceptible to benign influences).

Possibly, I need a top up. Tonight I went running with the club after I failed to negotiate a low curb at the track and fell flat on the floor. I landed on my bum quite hard. It felt a little sore and I judged it fine to carry on. We did a pyramid on a new route around Cambridge roads, alleys and green spaces which was experimental and required bravado because it was very poorly lit. This went well as did the warm down exercises but after a 20 minute car journey my bum felt painful and I walked stiffly. Ms Alive and Running was not pleased with my heroism and said something along the lines of “You can be such a ******* idiot sometimes.” Guilty as charged.

About 5 miles in all. Let’s hope I can run tomorrow.

Aliveandrunning January 17 and a half 2015 Janathon Day 17 and a bit

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Abject apology to the entire world. I accidently published this blog instead of pressing the preview option, earlier in the day. It only showed two pictures and is now deleted. I don’t go in for self flagellation but if I did I would (but I don’t). I have already forgiven myself.

Anyway, back to my reality. Wimpole Estate parkrun did go ahead after a course inspection. The temperature was around -1c or-2c with minimal wind. At the start, the sun shone in a blue sky. A few minutes later, the snow came down in super large flakes. It didn’t last for long and it felt quite magical as we ran over the Wimpole parkland.

It was a lovely run over one of the best parkrun venues. Trail shoes were needed over the frozen ground which was churned up in places and there were a few areas of mud which couldn’t be avoided. It was cold enough to slow me down and my body only started to warm up at the end of the 5k. My hands remained freezing despite good gloves. It took at least 15 minutes in the Wimpole cafe to feel comfortable. Another one or two layers required, I think.

DSC_0166 This pic features Ms Alive and Running and arch rival Kerry. I beat Kerry soundly today. The main reason for leaving him behind eating my dust was that he wasn’t running. He has a cold and cough and a bruised chest sustained after being blown off his bike into a Cambridge ditch last week. Honestly, I’ve heard some excuses in my time but this takes the biscuit!

DSC_0172 This is a large pair of closed doors. Beyond it is the Courtyard wherein exists their bookshop filled to the gills with pre loved books, made of paper, given to them by self deluded people who have convinced themselves they don’t need them. These doors should have been open if there was any justice in the world. They looked shut and when I put my weight against them, their unyielding nature confirmed the evidence of my own eyes. Yes, they were definitely closed (tight). The horror of the situation was intensified by the muffled sounds of the books calling to me (by name) like little lost souls. Oh, the pity! Ms Alive and Running gently led me away and I walked back to the car in a daze. “There, there,” she said soothingly,”I’ll buy you a copy of the Mail. That’ll snap you out of it.” Grrr!…..

DSC_0119 Our parkrun director today. It looks like he’s being menaced by someone in a sky blue hoodie. If the truth be known, I am very envious of his stove pipe hat. It looks good quality. Just the thing to wear out and about in Cambridge.

So, another parkrun Janathon day completed.




Aliveandrunning January 16 2015 Janathon Day 16

DSC_0268Back to Wimpole Estate parkrun tomorrow where they’ll be celebrating their second birthday. Along with Cambridge, they cancelled last week because of the high winds. It’s expected to be below freezing and there could be snow so I will have to dress sensibly. That comes so easily to me because I am innately  sensible. We are taking arch rival Kerry with us although he hasn’t run since last Saturday when he was blown off his cycle into a ditch. I presume he was badly bruised and just needs a couple of weeks off to fully recover. He’s coming along to spectate, not run. I’m running so that makes me the winner, doesn’t it?

Another 2 mile run today. It was cold, dark and I had eaten too much.

Breaking news brought to me by Ms Alive and Running! Wimpole are warning that they may cancel tomorrow because of the icy conditions. What!!!

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.