Aliveandrunning June 22 2014 Juneathon Day 22


Who is this hopelessly ice cool dude? Why, it’s me of course. I’m wearing my uber fashionable Hoohaah hoodie allocated to me by the Hoohaah organisers of a series of 10k, 10 miles and half marathons for taking part in 3 of their races. This is my first ever hoodie and it won’t be my last. I might even get myself some shades to wear rather than borrow Lorna’s pair.

I picked it up at the Hoohaah Hatfield Forest 10k this morning. The weather was glorious, albeit a tad hot for running. The course was slightly undulating, over grass and shady forest paths. I stopped at the drink station and walked for half a minute which I think was sensible (I was in sensible mode). Despite being appropriately hydrated I still felt more tired than I expected at the eighth kilometre. I ploughed on, jumping nimbly over the runners laying on their backs gasping, having succumbed  to  the heat. Given that I’ve been cruelly  forced to run every day to satisfy the bloody Juneathon criteria, I was happy with my time. But then controversy broke out big time and I wasn’t the only one sent reeling by the disclosure that the 10k course was actually 10.3k. Not having a GPS device I was unaware of this but various people with Garmins confirmed it. Several of us fainted at this news and others found solace by hiding in their hoodies and  weeping. For myself, I took it like a man and assumed a sardonic smile.

The Hoohaah series is a great addition to the increasing number of paid for runs. Well organised, well marshaled, lovely courses and friendly people putting it on.



This is what I looked like during the run (I ran with unfolded arms, obviously). Why do I look as if I’m wearing a skirt? (I’m not). You see I have that air of quiet determination and understated strength which allowed me to storm across the finish line after 71 runners who got there first.


Aliveandrunning June 21 2014 Juneathon Day 21


A lovely, leafy, sun dappled long straight path in Milton Country Park, the venue for Cambridge parkrun. On the immediate left (out of shot) is a large lake, so useful for nudging arch rivals into. We have around 400 doing Cambridge parkrun now but by the time this point is reached, we’re reasonably spaced out. I had a good run today and finished only 23 seconds outside my personal best. I think getting below 23 minutes is possible after Juneathon, after I’ve had a few days rest, if  it’s not too hot, if I start nearer to the front, if I do some distance training, if I can fortify myself with lashings of Brussels sprouts, if any of the Greek goddesses are smiling at me from above, and if I’m feeling invincible. So, if all this criteria is satisfied, I’m suited and booted. If only!

We have two timers at Cambridge and Lorna was one of them today. It’s always a slightly anxiety producing job because of the sheer number of runners coming through in bunches, overtaking on the line (and funnel), being joined by children who may or may not have run, pressing buttons hard enough to register as a result and being distracted by the crowds around you. I collected the signage around the course after the run which allows me to take part in the race and volunteer. I came back to the cafe just in time to have a delicious coffee with friends in the sunshine. No matter what time you do, parkrun is such a feel-good experience. Tomorrow is the Hatfield Forest 10k. There should be plenty of shade, at least at intervals. It starts at 10. I’ll have to make a decision about when and how much porridge to eat in the morning. Probably a large bowl around 7 am.


Here is a fine bed of nettles I’ve cultivated over several years. The key to such an impressive display is to leave them to set seed annually and also to cut them down but leave the roots. They thrive on the challenge to recover their strength.

I can usually pull the young ones up successfully. The older, much more experienced nettles that have been around the block and attended the school of hard knocks are a different matter. They find novel and ingenious ways to sting me, I try to grasp them with gloves and they duck out of the way so I clutch thin air, they hiss and murmur insults. This time , it’s personal. I’m going to apply a lot of time , effort and cunning to make you history, a small footnote in my illustrious gardening career. Anyone for nettle soup?



Aliveandrunning June 20 2014 Juneathon Day 20


I didn’t go into central Cambridge for a run today, as planned. However, I did go to Milton Country Park and ran along the river. It was warm but not too warm. Not many people around but I wasn’t lonely. I stumbled but didn’t fall. I perspired freely but didn’t jump in the water to cool down. I used Lorna’s Garmin but have no plans to possess one myself.

I ran 8.1k and took some snaps with my phone at intervals. Tomorrow, it’s Cambridge parkrun. I’m running and volunteering (collecting the direction and information signs placed around the course after all the runners have passed by).

On Sunday, it’s Hatfield Forest 10k, a flat course, I think. Haven’t done it before. Don’t know much about it. Lorna’s doing it as well. I’ll just turn up like a cool, unknown outsider, run it, win it and leave them wide eyed and wiping the grit thrown up by the wide tyres on my Porche 911 as I drive off into darkest Essex. That’s just one scenario. It’s more probable I’ll come half way down the field. That’s good enough.



The picture on the left shows a branch from the extremely dangerous gooseberry bush, the source of the gooseberries in the glass bowl. My hands were cut to pieces after picking these. I’m surprised the thorns aren’t dripping with blood. I eat them raw. Sour but delicious. In a month or less the dessert varieties will be ready if the birds don’t get them first.



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 18 2014 Juneathon Day 18


Just over half way through Juneathon and I feel I’ve got my energy back. I just ran my default distance 2 miles and I ran it faster and felt stronger than I have done in months. Perhaps I should continue and do a Julyathon and maybe an Augustathon!

So far I’ve run around 70 miles this month plus about 35 miles dog walking. My expectation is that after June, I will have a rest for a few days and then get a PB at parkrun. This is what happened last year. Why not this year!

I enjoyed a large Americano coffee at Costa this morning. They served it in a medium sized potty which I could only raise to my lips by using both of my hands. I drank all  of it. On the way home , I regretted not having an available medium sized potty.

Aliveandrunning June 17 2014 Juneathon Day 17




Into Cambridge city centre today. I took  the opportunity, as anyone would, to snap some bookshops because in 25 years or perhaps 5 years, they will have disappeared into history. “Books” will be downloaded directly into our heads as we sleep and we will awake with the full memory of the pleasure of the contents. Physical books will be regarded as unnecessary fire hazards which attract contaminating, throat choking dust, and the broad coalition government of the Daily Mail party, UKIP and Best Do AS You Are Told Alliance will ban them. The American Psychiatric Association  will categorise physical book reading as an unhealthy fetish and advise psychosurgery if the patient persists with his/her deviant behaviour. We follow suit in the UK.

Anyway, that’s the future. Let the unreconstructed enjoy today. I have included T.K. Max because this was where Borders had a three floor store before it went bust. I liked this large shop.It had a fantastic range of magazines, a good coffee shop, a wide range of books, comfy chairs and a relaxed atmosphere. After my heart attack 5 years ago, I couldn’t reach the second floor  because it was only accessible by stairs which I wasn’t permitted to use. I was disproportionately put out despite the relatively short ban.

I seldom go into the Cambridge University Press bookshop. Too many titles I would like to own, and expensive.

Heffers is Cambridge’s premier shop for bibliophiles, both for the general reader, the specialist  and students. A lovely, big, sprawling store with very knowledgeable staff.

Out road running with Cambridge and Coleridge this evening. We did 6 x 3 minutes with decreasing recovery from 5 mins to 1 minute. We stopped to a loud whistle so all speeds were catered for. We then returned to the position  from where we started, or where we reached at the 3 minute whistle. Then back home for fish and chips, baked beans and salad, accompanied by delicious flat bread. Alas, no Brussels sprouts!

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 15 2014 Juneathon Day 15


  May Bumps, always held in June, on the River Cam, Cambridge. Teams of eight, plus a cox, row to catch the crew in front and “bump” them. The two boats then retire to the side as others race past them, intent on bumping the boat in front of them.






It was good, upper middle class, English fun. Everyone who participated or spectated were hard working tax payers (or will be) and everyone believed in solid British values. No-one was selling Socialist Worker. No drones buzzed overhead and blew anyone to smithereens.

To satisfy Juneathon’s  exacting requirements, I ran just 2 miles today. I see from my running record that last June I was up to a minute faster than this year for the same distance. No matter, it’s the run that counts, not the time.

The BBC should know better than to allow that sanctimonious and unctuous Tony Blair airtime to pontificate on the current crisis in Iraq. He showed utter determination to go to war with Bush and not allow any argument or opposing views or facts to impede him. His body language at the time illustrated his desire to ingratiate himself with the Bush team. Bush came across as a no nonsense, macho avenger. Blair revealed himself to be poodle and faithful lapdog. Both men are professed Christians, of course. As if!








Aliveandrunning June 14 2014 Juneathon Day 14

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Ms Alive and Running (right) with her Fen Edge Runners Club pals (and mine) at Wimpole Estate parkrun today. Fen Edge Runners take their running seriously but are very friendly and informal. They allow me into their inner circle despite my belonging to a rival club.

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Ms Alive and Running showing good form as she approaches the finish line and Wimpole Hall in all its understated modesty (is this tautology?)

The undulating course and a particularly vicious hill meant that I run it almost 2 minutes slower than the flat and winding Cambridge parkrun. We had rain on the way to Wimpole which was dry on arrival but started after the finish so I didn’t get any photos of their second hand, pre-owned, formerly cherished but now callously discarded book shop. I did venture in, however. After establishing they couldn’t provide a second hand e-book download of my chosen titles, I was forced  to buy the hard copies.


I resisted explaining that I’m buying these books for a friend and not for myself. The George Orwell essays include the Art of Donald McGill, the saucy seaside postcard artist in which he explores the prevailing humour and assumptions underpinning it. This Penguin copy is old and looks like someone has urinated on it ( one of worst book crimes imaginable, second only to setting it alight). It possesses that lovely old paperback aroma (not faintly like urine) which e-books strangely lack.

In the afternoon, I went to the May Bumps which are a series of rowing races along the Cam. Very enjoyable and interesting. Took loads of pics. Very white, very upper middle class, very traditional. They set up road blocks along the tow path and you were only allowed admission to that section of the path if you could converse in Latin or Ancient Greek, attended a Cambridge college or had an air of smug insouciance. Am I being unfair? Yes!

Aliveandrunning June 13 2014 Day 13


An oblique view of Kings College, Cambridge. WARNING : if you visit Cambridge , DO NOT walk on the grass. Kings College groundsmen and groundswomen are licenced to kill anyone who transgresses this rule. Anyone caught dropping litter onto the sward is led away to an inner court yard and placed in the stocks. The gilded youth attending Kings are then invited to pelt the hapless person with stale asparagus tips, rotten foie gras and guinea fowl, uneaten caviar and the like. This is the risky under belly of tourism. Beware (but have a good day).

Another warm day for running. Various chores got in the way so I didn’t pound the mean streets of my village until 5 pm and ran an easy 2 miles.

Tomorrow we are going to Wimpole Estate parkrun. It’s predominately over grass and undulating. It features  a short but steep hill which in the past I have walked up because I find it so exhausting. Wimpole is one of the loveliest courses in a beautiful stately house parkland setting. The cows might also be out in force as well as the runners so there will be an extra frisson of excitement (or terror).

The cafe is excellent and, to top it all, there is a good second hand bookshop staffed by the usual idiosyncratic and helpful National Trust volunteers. This is beginning to sound like a review for SAGA magazine!