Aliveandrunning July 24 2014


My supper this evening, I hesitate to call it supper because a chum considered this posh. He felt dinner was the correct term for the hardworking, down to earth working person. Anyway the picture of this meal reveals to the world that I’m not starving and that broccoli continues to be an honourable substitute for Brussels sprouts whose season has passed. Please contrast it with yesterday’s supper/meal below.


Sharp eyed readers will note that this meal/supper/dinner is on a tray and that, reassuringly, it is consistent with other food pictures posted in that it features broccoli. Also present : penne pasta, turkey mince in bolognese sauce, cheese and red onion flatbread, mixed  salad, olives and raw onion.This reasonably balanced nutritional intake ensures I am able to run like Hermes, messenger of the gods and son of Zeus and Maia.

Today, I went for a 10k run and it was undeniably hot. Nevertheless I felt OK while I was actually moving. It’s when you stop that you feel the heat and later feel a weariness that is different compared with running in the autumn or winter. Tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday is Cambridge parkrun. I need to go for a longer 15k but I’ll probably wait until it’s cooler.

I saw some of the women’s triathalon at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow this morning. Very entertaining and an exciting finish. Unfairly, the BBC news I watched gave more prominence to the Brownlee brothers in the men’s triathalon getting gold and silver rather than Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland taking gold and bronze. They showed longer clips from interviews and more of the Brownlees’ race.


This is the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on the East Coast. It opened in 1904, originally to house flora and fauna but over the years has been used as an ice skating rink, concert venue and children’s amusement park. Now in considerable disrepair, it’s awaiting restoration and probable return to its original use of providing a large structure to display plants and showcase bio diversity. Funding has not been agreed so far. It looks very sad and unloved  at the moment but still majestic. I’ll have a word with Zeus. He’ll know how to sort this out. Watch out for more pictures of tormented fine old Yarmouth buildings in blogs to come.

And lastly, I was instrumental in saving a family of spiders tonight. Ms Alive and running pointed them out, simultaneously giving me a you’ve-failed-to-vacuum-them-away mean look. I, having appreciation of the bigger picture, became aware that a drama was about to unfold. A gnat flew into some dangling webbing and immediately mummy or daddy spider rushed over, swiftly immobilised it by rapidly weaving silken thread around its body, and then toddled  back to its little spiderlings. Ms Alive and running was amazed that this was played out in front of us. This was far better than watching East Enders and much more exciting than reading inane comments on Facebook. I announced that the whole family of spiders (and their relatives) were under my protection and were now, officially, my pets. This occasioned another harsh look. I’ll be hiding the vacuum cleaner as a precautionary measure, of course.

Aliveandrunning June 19 2014 Juneathon Day 19


A little bit of garden I tend. In the picture, it looks  busy and densely planted but it’s full of weeds including the delicate plants with white flowers. No matter. I do like the stipa gigantica, the tall grass seed heads just right of the conifer in the middle background. Couldn’t do much gardening today because I was placed in the unfortunate position of having to destroy  the homes of small spiders. They love our very old creaky cottage and want to live in harmony with us. All they ask is to be able to create a fine network of webs over everything. Why, you can hardly see them unless you’re really determined to wrong foot the little creatures, bless their little arachnid hearts. Anyway,  their finely spun abodes have been swept away and they surely want revenge. They’ll attack, on mass, in the small hours and we’ll just be relegated to a comic headline in the Daily Star “Spider Hordes Eat Family : Police Looking For Motive”.

Day 19 of Juneathon and my run was restricted to 2 miles. Short, sweet and unproblematic. May go running in Cambridge City centre tomorrow. Saturday it’s Cambridge parkrun and Sunday Hatfield Forest 10k. On June 28 there is a trial outing for Cambridge Children’s Parkrun (age 4-14) and the inaugural run is  on July 13. Lorna is one of the race directors and is assisting in setting it up.

Aliveandrunning June 8 2014 Juneathon Day 8


Meet my two long legged friends, Ethel and Reginald. As befits literate spiders, they can’t wait to scamper over the book shelves. They have oodles of fun, they tell me. They are voracious readers but tend to confine  themselves to the text on the book spines because, obviously, they can’t turn the pages. Additionally, the font size is large  and it takes time to scan, so progress is slow. They are terrible copycats! Every Saturday at 9 am, they have bookrun while I’m at parkrun so I never get to see them in any great number. So far, no pics on Facebook. I still live in hope. I like spiders running over my books.



Rather warm today. I intended to go for a short run (around 2 miles) because I’m still feeling tired. I ended up doing 1o k. I parked in the country park where we do parkrun, pootled around there for a bit then headed for the river. Plenty of people walking along the riverbank, some runners (avoiding eye contact with me), and cyclists, including trainers on bikes, coaching the rowing eights as they move at speed in the water.

In the above pic, an eight and a narrow boat pass in opposite directions. Next week the May Bumps begin and culminate on Saturday when the successful eights race against each other. The tow path will be full of people spectating and picnicking  on the banks and coaches will be whizzing along the path shouting out instructions to their own crews.

A number of eights wait in staggered positions and, at the firing of a small cannon, set off and attempt to catch up with the boat in front, “bumping them”, that is making contact with their boat or oar. Both eights then pull over. It’s not permitted  to sink another competitor or swipe at them with cutlasses. The crews are mainly Cambridge University colleges with a few affiliated clubs taking part (I think). What do class warriors think of this? Do they move seamlessly among the wicker hampers, jugs of Pyms and bottles of champers cluttering the banks, furiously stroking their chins in wonderment? Or shrug their shoulders? Or kick the picnics into the water? Or, like us, sit on the fence? We’ll enjoy the races but drink fair trade tea, brewed on a portable gas cooking stove, using water drawn straight from the river.

Anyway, no such dilemmas today. Just a lovely run along the river bank. I felt less tired following the run. Only my jaw muscle still ached, a consequence of excessive social intercourse yesterday at parkrun and elsewhere.



Aliveandrunning2013 December 19

We swept through the subtle gloom of late night Cambridge, negotiating dark alley ways, racing over bridges and exploring barely imaginable aspects of the City asleep. We were 17 super heroes running, nay sprinting, our chosen course and helping to keep Cambridge safe. Great deeds, too numerous to mention, were done that night. Modesty precludes relating their nature save one. A baby fell from an upstairs College window and seemed certain to be dashed on the aged Cambridge cobblestones below. But Archibald D’arcy-Smithers, the lead super hero runner spotted the falling tot, increased his speed exponentially and caught him in his arms in the nick of time. The group dutifully ran on the spot, waiting for the child to be reunited with its negligent father who stammered his thanks and admitted he had become over absorbed in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Only in Cambridge ! A few words of advice later, we were soon on our way again and dispensing more good karma.

Generally speaking I have few idiosyncrasies and odd habits (except for collecting books, hoarding newspapers and magazines, sometimes cultivating,always tolerating, spiders’ webs, disliking having my daily newspaper opened up and roughly loosened by someone else (yes, you Lorna!), justifying buying a book by not buying food, regarding a visit to Tesco as mystical experience, holding contrary opinions (example – detaining Daily Mail and Express readers in a holding centre on the Isle of Wight preparatory to their re-programming and re-integration back into sensible society) and having my porridge ritual devalued by Lorna who regularly extracts the spoon out of the glutinous mass as it’s cooling down and licks it !) Apart from the above, I’m completely normal.

Parkrun again in a couple of days. Forecast is rain and plenty of it. I don’t have trail shoes yet and the poor traction will slow me down, My cunning plan to run a faster time consists of cutting my toenails and swinging a kettle bell during the week. I’m unlikely to get below 24 minutes for the 5K. I know how Superman feels when his powers are temporarily removed by kryptonite. Bring on the Spring weather NOW.

Aliveandrunning2013 November 3

Bonfire Burn 10K this morning. I ran reasonably well, albeit not particularly quick but hey, it’s not about speed and fast times, is it? Running is about the joy of movement, the physical wellness you develop, the fitness and vitality that accrues, the sociability of like minded people, the sense of achievement. Unfortunately, it’s still a bummer when your friends and age related rivals beat you hands down. Did they cut a few corners or many corners? Is anyone checking blood samples for banned substances? Were my eyes deceiving me or did I see Mike, my arch rival, discreetly place a “jelly baby” in his mouth just prior to the start? All very suspicious or are they just faster than me ? Am I just yesterday’s runner? I think I’ll stick with the “jelly baby” theory at the moment.

The sun was out and the wind was cold. It was too windy during some sections for me and I was overtaken in swathes (well, small swathes) because I couldn’t maintain my speed. Still, I’m coming back from injury and I’m pleased overall. Peter, who is in the 80-84 age range for the  5K parkrun, gave vocal support to runners in several locations. I see he hasn’t done parkrun for 5 weeks. I do hope he is able to continue do it. He’s a very nice chap and an inspiration to all runners, particularly older ones (and potential older runners who might take it up).

I’m beginning to realize there is a specific downside to autumn sun. It cruelly reveals dust on surfaces when it streams through the windows. My dust control and elimination skills are seen to be wholly inadequate  and my standing as house husband is reduced to tatters. I don’t like dust and I am adept at ignoring it but sometimes one simply must address the problem. One does make an effort, particularly when the vicious dust particles begin to reside on one’s books. Hopefully there will be no more sunny weather for a while and I’ll be off the hook. Cobwebs I like. I’m in a minority here as far as my family is concerned. We live in a very old  cottage with a thatched roof. Some of the cottage dates from the 1640’s and that’s seriously old. One of its notable features is that it is home to a huge number of spiders and spiders like to weave webs. I feel the cobwebs contribute to an attractive atmosphere to our living space. They complement the organic materials that make up the structure – wood, lime mortar, thatch and brick. I wouldn’t go so far to say spiders are my friends but I can disclose that, in the past. I protected and tended an occupied spider’s web stretched over beams in the eves about a couple of feet/60 centimetres away from my sleeping head. So what if I accidentally ingested one in the night (not good for the spider, of course). It’s not likely I would subsequently develop amazing spider powers. No, the best I can hope for is that the spider kingdom will acknowledge me as a human protector and guardian of their habitat and award me an honoury arachnid status.

photoour cottage   WP_20131020_010family of mushrooms   mum's fly agaric


Our cottage, a family of mushrooms in Worts Meadow and a fly agaric.