Cambridge half marathon a fortnight away, walking along the cam and those evil Tories again.

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A cold, sunny Sunday in Cambridge yesterday. Plenty of eights on the river powered by the gilded youth, loads of runners and cyclists to knock you flying, hordes of couples mooning  around (St. Valentine’s Day) and shoals of tourists shimmying from one photogenic setting to another (it can be such uphill work getting people to believe you’ve actually visited somewhere unless you are able to show evidence of yourself in a snap with relevant backdrop).

I’m a creature of habit when I go into Cambridge. I always go into WH Smith to look at the magazines and usually buy one or two, I often go into Heffers bookshop or Waterstones, walk around the market square and visit the second hand book stall and take photos on a particular bridge over the Cam. Out of preference, I like to have a nice coffee and a tuna and cucumber baguette in the marvelously anonymous Eat cafe and possibly wander around John Lewis, a rather civilised department store. I like to trip through the extensive cosmetics area in a vain attempt to identify any of the sales operatives who have abstained from caking themselves in their own products. They are always immaculately turned out and attractive but wearing no or minimal makeup doesn’t appear to be an option. Are they contractually obliged to over do it?

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These grand and beautiful trees are on Jesus Green. How lucky are we?

Cambridge half marathon is only two weeks away. I haven’t done the training I would like to do because other things have got in the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that despite not having put the mileage in, my overall level of fitness enables me to step up quickly to do 13 miles. It’s speed that suffers, of course, but if speed is your objective you are following a false god! The very shallowness of the concept of speed! Does anyone really care about this over valued aspect of running? I rather like these fall back arguments when you’re getting slower and slower.

Anyway, I did 13 miles today and 9 miles a week ago plus a 5 miler and a parkrun since the beginning of the month. I might do two more parkruns and a couple of long runs up to 10 miles and that will be that.

A government task force has published a report, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which is very critical of the state of Engand’s mental health services, click here to read Observer article Today’s Guardian headline is NHS vows to transform mental health services  with extra £1bn a year. The report talks about a sharp increase in the number of suicides, estimates three quarters of people with a psychiatric condition do not receive help and documents that children are being sent all over the country to an available bed that may be hundreds of miles from their families.

The Tories and the coalition government have presided over savage cuts to bed availability, support services, staffing levels and overall funding of mental health facilities. Cameron in his ever so reasonable, we have learnt lessons, we must all pull together and defeat stigma, senior Tory style is presenting the spending announcement as an innovation and Tory triumph. David Cameron and his mates are duplicitous, fraudulent, own class supporting, unfeeling,  and lacking in basic humanity. They appeal to the voters who share their values – the cruel, the selfish, the self centred. May God help decent and vulnerable people.

 

 

Janathon Day 26 Bleakness and gales

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I decided yet again not to run with the club tonight but go for a solitary long run during daylight. The sky was overcast and it was very windy. I usually love running by the river but the light was poor and there was a very strong, sustained  headwind. At times it felt like I was making little forward progress and the wind chill made me cold. As a matter of habit I run towards Cambridge (and, of course, the river Cam goes through Cambridge) but I decided to turn around and not complete the intended distance.

With the wind behind me I made better progress and decided on a footpath, which I rarely take, towards Ely, still along side the river but with open views across the fens and cultivated fields. Despite the openness, it was less windy but the dismal, grim light remained. There was nobody about and it was , bleak, bleak, bleak.

I ran up to Bottisham Lock and felt so lonely I was compelled to talk to this motorised sluice gate winding gear as I stood staring at the unyielding landscape. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t respond. I regurgitated the one joke I know. Still no response. I gave up and moved on.

Total distance : 5.76 miles

The Guardian, today, gives headline prominence to statistics obtained by the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb which reveal that deaths among mental health patients has risen by 21% over the last three years, from 1,412 to 1,713. There has also been a large increase in “serious incidents” – involving unexpected or avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury and abuse. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/26/rise-mental-health-patient-deaths-nhs-struggling-to-cope

These outcomes are linked with cuts to mental health service funding and the consequent degradation of services in the community and  hospitals and the substantial reduction in hospital beds. You’ve got to be a Tory not to care!

 

Janathon Day 22 On the way to being the next Lichtenstein

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It’s incredible! Print Making course, second week in, and Tate Modern in London and Tate Liverpool have been in contact, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst have messaged me and I’m being lauded as an exciting new talent. Here’s more –

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Despite this recognition, my fellow students failed to point out that I had a big blob of turquoise acrylic paint nicely positioned in my hair, just above my forehead. Luckily it came to my attention when I went to the loo before leaving the college. I was able to remove some of it but it looked very messy. I had to do a big shop in Tesco with very visible green highlights. Never mind. All in a day’s work to a creative like myself.

In the morning, before it went all kerflooey (this word was brought to me by dictionary.com : word of the day), I went for a run in a bitter wind and light, driving rain. Not my first choice of weather for running but it certainly made me focus and feel alive.

Change of plan for tomorrow’s parkrun. It’ll be Cambridge, and not Wimpole Hall Estate, the former probably the muddier of the two. Possibly a long run on Sunday.

Reasonably realistic and sympathetic depiction of puerperal psychosis/bipolar disorder relapse in East Enders at the moment. This is a soap being sensitive and responsible. The only dud note if you’ve been watching it is the time taken for East End characters to appreciate her level of illness and their capacity to accommodate her severe symptoms. Tonight she received treatment!

Janathon Day 17 At least the dog’s warm

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We made Rupert cosy last night. Instead of shrugging off the blanket, he fell asleep immediately. He was still asleep in this position when I brought him a nice cup of tea at 7 am this morning. He likes his soft toys as well and often carries them around with him.

The temperature hovered around 3-4c when I went for an afternoon run. I ran through an adjacent village and picked up the river Cam at a different point. Saw plenty of other runners and some odd people just sauntering (okay, walking). I ran just over eight miles and feel better for doing a longer distance. I could have carried on quite easily but you can’t spend your life running, can you? Can you

 

I REMAIN SUBSTANTIALLY CLOBBERED. IT’S NOT MY FAULT. I BLAME THE EVIL TORY GOVERNMENT.

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Six days ago, I came a cropper during the Hoohaah Wimpole half marathon falling heavily on rubble. My left thigh took most of the impact. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again (thanks, Nat King Cole). I fell at just over  a mile in and continued running for the next 12 miles. By the evening I was hardly weight bearing on my left leg leg and couldn’t bent it at the knee.

Now it’s six days on.There’s clearly been some improvement but it’s slow. I think I’ve had an impact injury to my quadriceps (and specifically to the rectus femoris), the type that footballers get when they get kicked in the thigh. I can walk but not jog, I haven’t been able to drive and I’ve got limited movement in my knee joint because any kind of stretching movement hurts.

Today is parkrun day and if I didn’t do it, I know I would have been subjected to a torrent of hate mail, Sinton-Hewitt would have been on my case and people would have openly wept in the streets of Cambridge. I don’t want that kind of attention so I decided to walk it .Usually Cambridge  attracts around 450 runners and more often than not a few people are walking most of it. Unfortunately, no-one walked it today although I wasn’t too far behind the people in front of me. Cambridge junior parkrun provided all the volunteers , including the 13 year old run director Chloe who gave a very confident pre-run  address to the assembled crowd. I was accompanied by tail runner 12 year old Ben who was very supportive to me and gave vocal encourage to the myriad runners who flashed past us. I hope he didn’t hear me grinding my teeth as I watched them recede into the distance. I came in at just over 48 minutes which, interestingly, is exactly twice the time I do it on this course when I go full pace. Young Benji, who has cerebral palsy, started late and came in a minute behind me. He ran with his mum and came in strongly to enormous applause.

Hopefully, I may be able to gently trot around Cambridge parkrun next weekend and then the subsequent one will be my 250th. It won’t be a PB!

Recent reports show the NHS in dire financial straits, suffering financial mismanagement, imply inefficiencies, experiencing poor staffing levels, missing targets and spending mountains of money on agency staff. If you treat the NHS as a market economy, require it to compete and make a “profit”, continuously emphasise poor financial governance, cut staff levels, employ dodgy borrowing devices with the private sector, continually reinforce the private sector has the nous, nerve and expertise to do a great (and cheaper) job and create standards which are designed to fail because of under funding, then it’s an inevitable set of outcomes.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/09/chain-failings-led-death-charlotte-bevan-newborn-baby-coroner-rules

This is a very, very sad coroner’s report of the death of a mother and her newly born baby. She had a long history of mental ill health, sectioning under the Mental Health Act and had stopped medication in order to breastfeed. Tragically, she left a Bristol maternity hospital unchallenged and killed herself and her child shortly afterwards.

Reading the coroner’s comments and conclusions, it’s hard to comprehend the apparent complete lack of joined up, considered care for a patient who is so obviously at risk.. Vulnerable mothers with a history of severe mental illness have been having pregnancies and births for decades in a health system which is a aware of the level of input required to ensure the safety and well being  of mother and baby. I don’t think this event occurred because of a lack of understanding of the health requirements. I think it’s much more likely to be due to staff shortages, cost and unavailability. These days, I can’t accept that general hospital staff are so out of touch with mental health issues that they are capable of willfully ignoring them.

 

 

 

Alive and Running March 29 2015

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Wimpole Estate parkrun yesterday which explains the appearance of these three Penguins I rescued on the 30p table which sits outside the second hand book shop, in the open but under the over hanging court yard roof. Any further description would require a little drawing. Suffice it to say they should be kept in a warm but well ventilated room not partially exposed to the elements. I also rescued this orchid (Phalaenopsis) earlier in the week. The garden centre was selling it for £3 because part of it had rotted and the leaves were sparse and damaged. It may or may not survive but it’s a magnificent thing despite being poorly. It looks like a bookish plant so it’ll be in its element.

I wasn’t displeased with my parkrun time. The grass course was mainly dry and firm and the temperature reached 10-11c which meant I had to take my running jacket off during the race. I did this by executing a series of elegant manoeuvres and rakishly tying it around my waist. I walked up the short but vicious hill and avoided getting pranged on the horns of the long haired cattle the National Trust has imported to intimidate runners. I managed to nod my appreciation or actually articulate the words “thank you” to the encouraging marshals including the one who said “well done, you’re still looking fresh.” Clearly this was the opinion of someone whose judgement in these matters was extremely suspect. I ignored the urge to stop and remonstrate with him. I make looking as if I’m about to collapse into an art form. I can’t have people randomly commenting I look “fresh”.

Carol Morley is the director of a new film called The Falling which is out in the UK at the end of April. She has a fascination with mass psychogenic illness (mass hysteria) and her film tells the story of a fainting epidemic. The article in the Observer http://bit.ly/1IIfFsX is well worth reading.

Cambridge junior parkrun this morning. Unfortunately the loss of an hour with the clocks going forward combined with the rain more than cut numbers in half. Nevertheless, as usual, the children and adults had great time.

There had to be a down side to today. Tesco had entirely run out of Brussels sprouts. I narrowly avoided exhibiting The manager should fall on his sword!

 

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 December 6 2014

DSC_0829  Look what I’ve got! Don’t get distracted by the pretentious pile of reading matter or the plate of iconic Brussels sprouts or the original 1949 Rupert annual or the porridge in the cornflakes bowl. No, I’m referring to the SAD {seasonal affective disorder) light box which is therapeutically emitting its 10,000 lux power onto my visage. Will sitting in front of this light box alleviate the mood shredding effect of the dank, grey cloud blanketed  days of the UK winter? Will it send me high as a kite? Time will reveal the truth. This is a candid, unrehearsed snap of the third day. I’m using this basking time to reacquaint myself with Rupert Bear and his chums because I’m considering rejoining the Friends of Rupert Society (currently adults only at the moment: the junior section is suspended). It’s a top notch organisation that even plebs can subscribe to (although, understandably, they are limited to 1.7% of the membership}. So clearly all are welcome!

I’m back to running more consistently but not as speedy as before. Cambridge parkrun today and my slowest for a long time. It was very cold (for me) at around -2c or -3c. I was well wrapped up with long sleeve top, heavier duty jacket, trackster bottoms and gloves but I didn’t warm up to the point of feeling that the cold wasn’t an issue. I think this is caused by the aspirin I take (note to self : request placebo aspirin from GP). Only 20 seconds outside last week’s muddy course so not too bad really. Afterwards Ms Alive and Running and I had a tasty cup of coffee with chums in the cafe and rounded off an enjoyable running focussed morning.

Milton, Cambridge Tesco is only a stone’s throw from the parkrun course and we ventured in, risking existential angst, to transact purchases vital to keeping body and mind in harmony. I always cast a superior eye over the magazine and newspaper shelves and my gaze fell upon this –

WP_20141205_003Of course it’s very easy to poke fun at this sort of thing and at the people who read them and get vicarious pleasure from immersing themselves in the antics of celebrities lives. Compared with this ridiculousness, my interest in Rupert is sublime. Bloggers of the world, you may ask me any Rupert Bear related questions! Go for it!

 

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Aliveandrunning September 22 2014

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Weather fine today so we had lunch on the lawn. Mine was cold and consisted of left overs from yesterday’s  meal – chicken in Thai Green curry sauce, a few Brussels sprouts, runner beans, lemon rice, Mediterranean vegetable mix (originally frozen) and a radish, cucumber and red onion salad with cashew nuts, mint and honey.

Should have gone for a run today but didn’t get around to it. Just under two weeks to the next half marathon on Wimpole Hall Estate and I need to be running longer distances more frequently. If I don’t do this, I’ll run a mediocre time (by my own personal standards) but not so poor that spectators will boo and throw rotten fruit at me.

Saturday’s Cambridge parkrun went OK. I ran another sub 24 minutes but still more than 30 seconds off my personal best. If I don’t improve I’ll start wearing a hair shirt (at this point I looked up “hair shirt” and found a forum thread concerning a man asking advice about wearing a cilice (or hair shirt ) for spiritual/religious reasons. Very interesting! I think I’ll forget the hair shirt and cut down on my daily consumption of Brussels sprouts as a penance instead.

The proposed gardening therapy project took a step forward last Friday when I met a manager at Cambridge MIND, the mental health charity. She liked the idea and didn’t think making referrals or encouraging volunteers to get involved would be problematic. I’m now in the process of making an on line planning application to the District Council. I’ve also emailed  someone who has a remit to identify and develop green spaces which would have a beneficial impact on the health and well being of local communities. Might my project fit into this criteria? Who knows. I’ll have to look at funding and how to set up a charity shortly but this can only go ahead if planning permission is not an issue.

Aliveandrunning August 7 2014

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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.   http://bit.ly/X51WKT  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.