I’m full of roast potatoes


Achieved the first sub-27 minute parkrun in a long time. Would possibly have been sub 26:30 but my shoelace came undone. N went out for a run at the same time, but was not feeling the crowded parkrun love, so came to cheer me at the end. In his bright yellow Boston top. Wish I’d had a pictute. We went for an 8 miler this morning: 9:19 min/mile while moving (also progress!). He started with a cold. By 2 miles in, it was proto-man-flu. By the end, man-flu and please could we walk the last 3/4 mile home. He is now snuffling on the sofa under a duvet, and we are watching the New England Patriots vs New Orleans. We are supporting New Orleans, who have a fetching fleur de lys motif.


Asthma meds now changed, biotin definitely doing something as BOB the chin hair has reared his ugly follicle three times since I started it, which is twice too many in the time period. Also: how come only half a millimetre of hair pokes out, but 5mm seems to lurk under the surface, like some sort of hirsute iceberg?


Holding pattern here. Period currently running late, but we all know that means nothing. SiL announced the arrival of #3 via the family WhatsApp complete with scan photos in the middle of the working day. I retreated to the ladies’ in despair and desperate need of mascara repair. N has declared #3’s to be called Dele Osvaldo Gazza. Due March, I am considering knitting this.


Finally blocking the baby blankets for L’s twins. 

Still knitting socks. As usual, as autumn starts, desperate to knit this. A situation ongoing for Six Years FFS. I have the yarn. I spent hours locating the pattern. What is wrong with me?


Finished Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Really did not care what happened to Eilis. Enjoying The Black Dalhila by James Ellroy much more. There was a brilliant podcast, Hollywood and Crime, which covered the murder the book’s based round.

Other stuff

My stepfather in law treated us all to an excellent lunch today (buffet carvery at a hotel with valet parking and a lot of people wearing tweed). I had two mains, and 8 roast potatoes. And gravy. Oh my, the gravy. I rather want to go back there. Joint celebration for his birthday and my stepmother out law’s birthday. We were totally outnumbered by her family, but I think C and I won the elegance and well fitted dresses stakes.



One week later…


Ran the Farnham Pilgrim half! 2:18:59 – about 10 minutes slower than 2 years ago (when I was training for a marathon…). My heart rate was about the same on this attempt as it was two years ago, and I wasn’t really pushing myself – I didn’t get home from a day’s morris dancing in Tenterden, Kent until just after midnight.  Got a nice medal, a really well fitting tech top (they had size Extra Small!), and just enjoyed myself. And the scenery was gorgeous.  Other than Not Enough Loos, this is the most beautifully organised and marshalled of races: and a brass band playing as you finish, and cakes and bananas at the finish line. Field of about 500, no idea where I came, but I don’t really care. Finished just before it started raining. Made it home safely despite driving on fumes.


Starts in 6-8 weeks (depends on when the next bar one period arrives). N’s SA looks excellent for IVF, I apparently have the ovaries of a younger woman (go me!). Interestingly, I think I ovulated this month. Go figure.  The next step is more blood tests, and an epic morning filling in paperwork.

I plan to bang out one more half in the next 6-8 weeks.


Lovely Fiona thinks the hair loss is stress, and has advised a morale-boosting trip to the hairdresser. I hate going to the hairdresser, so I’m not sure this will help. However, when she had stress related hairloss, the hairdresser was lovely.  Still taking the pills (probably not going to have this in the wrap-up unless something astounding happens). Haven’t quite had the GP appointment yet.


No real progress. Desperate to knit something else…


Rented. Embroiled in paperwork. ‘Nuff said.


Nearly finished ‘The Drowned and the Saved’. Not the most cheerful of bedtime reading. But, very very important: because the Holocaust was, hands down, the grimmest part of European History in sheer scale and brutality. And I don’t seem to have had nightmares as a result of reading it – which is odd. Because I feel I should have done. Nearly finished Elif Shafak’s ‘Honour’ as well.




Sausage Casserole

Honestly. Get a copy of “Potty” by Clarissa Dickson Wright. It’s full of super one-pot recipes. This is my current favourite (a variation without the potatoes is already on the internet). We had peas and carrots with it. 

Serves 4

  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 900g good sausages
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 bottle red wine or 1 bottle beer
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 medium potatoes, cut in half
  • 75g cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180degC/350degF/gas mark 4. In a heavy casserole fry the onions in oil until they’re coloured. Add the garlic and cook a little longer. Brown the sausages in the pan, pour in the alcohol and tomatoes. 

Season, add the potatoes, cover, cook in the oven for an hour. 10 mins before the end, uncover, sprinkle on the cheese and finish. 

Very forgiving on cooking time. 



Perhaps we need a weekly round up round here?

This shall be done in Headers this week….


I actually made it to parkrun (27:41). It might have been a bit faster, but for the fact that we were near the back to start with, so there was an awful lot of weaving about. In a field of 488, I managed 216th. 40th female. 4th in my age group. I am quite happy with that – it was far easier than the parkrun we did before going on holiday. Fitness is slowly returning. Just in time to hit IVF, I reckon…. My 10 year old intervals session is slowly producing the goods (and is getting a bit quicker. Now I’ve written that, this week’s attempt will be slower).


I’ve had my pelvic scan. Utterly fine until my left ovary got coy, hid itself away, and then there was an awful lot of poking and prodding, and I felt like a grey dishcloth by the end of it. Very pleased my boss gave me a ‘comp day’ to recover. By 3-ish in the afternoon, I felt more-or-less myself again, and we had a lovely evening entertaining friends of the family. There was wine. There was sausage casserole. Oh. The Sausage Casserole. Definitely making that again. Even if the oven didn’t get up to heat and I had to put it on the stove top to prevent solid potatoes.

The next step is the preliminary assessment on Tuesday. We get the latest sperm analysis then, and hopefully get some sort of timetable. I’ve found a local counsellor so I can have some extra support in addition to the couples’ counselling we get at the clinic.

Ubiquinol, Evening Primrose Oil, and vitamin D have been added to the vitamin regimen of fertility vitamins, iron, and probiotics. I rattle.

Having been horrified by a reference in Grazia magazine about women over the age of 40, with older partners, not being successful in IVF at all, I had to sit down and then think. We can think of at least two couples where IVF has been successful for women over 40 with older partners. N is under instructions that he not cook his balls.


I am fairly convinced that all hair loss (looks pretty ghastly under a bright light – guess who has a bright light above the bathroom mirror?) is related to the Clomid. I have a section where there is no long hair at all. It’s all a maximum of 4″ long. However, I have also found some little new hairs in that section today. Not many. One is grey…. So, I hope it might come back again. In the meantime, in addition to the vitamin regimen, Biotin and Collagen are being consumed, and rosemary oil added to the conditioner when I’m washing my hair. Shampoo is currently either T-GEL or the super-coconut based stuff from the GP. I’ve got another appointment in 2 weeks to potentially change my asthma medicines. A short google suggested that steroids can contribute to hair loss (although, usually anabolic steroids in men). A bit more google suggested that Symbicort users have recorded hair loss, but I can’t find any Fostair users (that’s the stuff I was on before Symbicort) who have mentioned this. I know my hair texture has changed in the last 4 years or so – when I also started taking Symbicort. And, now I’ve moved out of London, I don’t seem to need the Symbicort as much as I used to. I’m better controlled. I can’t remember the last big attack I had (and the last time I needed extra Symbicort during the day was on a super-polluted day in London back in May, which was the first time for a loooong time. When I lived there, the extra was needed about once a week). So: might as well try going back to Fostair. Bonus – Fostair is an aerosol inhaler. You can use a spacer with it. And this might, might, might, reduce the oral thrush side effects.  It’s worth debating with the GP, and worth trying for 6 months. Plus it’s a pretty pink inhaler, and I am shallow.

Efforts to reduce stress are ongoing. I ought to have more warm baths and early nights.


I have one pair of sock monkeys nearing completion, I am on the home straight of the first of the pair of N’s Boston Marathon socks, and I have made two baby blankets for L’s IVF twins (these were her third attempt).  I have found a new pattern in this month’s Vogue Knitting magazine to try on the yarn which refused to knit to gauge but which is so soft and lovely, and I have discovered a podcast app, Overcast, which will actually play the BBC podcasts (the iPhone App refused – it wasn’t just my phone. They also failed to play on N’s phone). I do like a good podcast and a knit on the train into work.  The Archers, More or Less, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Case Files, They Walk Among Us, The Guilty Feminist, BBC Comedy of the Week, BBC Friday Night Comedy are my current favourites. I can’t quite decide if I like the Nerdery or not.

We have two more episodes of Twin Peaks to come this week – and those are very good for knitting to (we went to see Fire Walk With Me and The Missing Pieces at the cinema. I have had my fill of popcorn recently. I find it ironic that the most narratively coherent piece of Twin Peaks seems to be the film made with the outtakes/deleted scenes).


Repainted, ready to rent. Worked out why the sink blocked under the previous tenants – this would be all the rice which wasn’t scraped off any plates before being put in the dishwasher (which also didn’t have salt or rinse aid put in it).  Finding an inch of stagnant water in there when I was aiming to de-scale it was Not Fun. Curtains are up, shower works, there is now an extractor fan in the bathroom, the carpets are cleaner, and N will be putting up a proper blackout blind in the front bedroom this week (he’s taller than I).  Currently having a mild tussle with the agents over the fee – the contract says 15%, my emails say 12% (letting, rent collection and management. I cannot be spending any more mornings trying to unite tenants and plumbers…).


Finished Enigma of Arrival, started The Drowned and the Saved. Also reading Elif Shafak but can’t remember the name of the book, and it’s so much harder to remember the name of a book on a Kindle. Loved The Forty Rules of Love, though. Beginning to feel like I’ll never read all the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die before I die. The project’s been going on 10 years now…and a lot of the books on the list are hard going. While I was on holiday, I knocked through Naked Lunch, All the Pretty Horses, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Autumn of the Patriarch, The Wind Up Girl, Paul Merton’s Autobiography, Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s Autobiography and The Forty Rules of Love. Only the last 3 did not include the word ‘Sh*t’. I got really quite fed up with how I’d managed to choose so many books that just seemed to be mired in faecal matter (to be fair, All the Pretty Horses was using the word mostly as the very occasional swear, but the rest were decidedly smeared and besmirched).


I may have made jam

I may have made a sticky mess. The jam thermometer says that it should set. But it’s anyone’s guess. We picked about 2Kg of blackberries on Monday night: far too many for crumble for two. We may have got a bit carried away by the sunshine and a hefty dose of nostalgia on my part. 

Last weekend we headed into London. N’s birthday always means a meal at MASH so he can eat half a cow, and I can wear my favourite Damsel in a Dress dress (which involved a brief crash diet of the type beloved by Jilly Cooper. Pro tip. Remember to eat enough the day before running. It’s hard to run without fuel). Mission was accomplished. Epic fail to take a photo. But the dress did up, and I could sit down in it without it splitting. Bonus: after a brief week of wearing my fattest jeans, I am back in the normal size. 

We also went running round Hampstead Heath, and saw Leon at the Prince Charles Cinema. Awesome film. 

The weekend before, we entertained our neice and nephew. Small is a cutie pie. Big is a cuddler. We haven’t seen them properly for aaaaages as they usually live in Dubai. 

That hobby horse is awesome. It makes galloping noises. 

And isn’t that dragonfly cool?

I’m now in the throes of knitting socks and baby blankets, having hundreds (or so it feels) of blood tests pre IVF and to see if my hair thinning is thyroid related (probably not: but I suspect I’m generally not getting enough iron as that cam back as “normal” despite the iron supplements). Friday I have a pelvic assessment scan (not fun) and the rest of the day off to recover (last time I had one, I just felt sick and crampy for the rest of the day) and a  dinner party. The PAS can only be done between days 2 and 6 of my cycle, and we go on holiday on Sunday. It was not my plan to have a dinner party on the same day as a scan. Posh sausage casserole for the win….

Tomorrow, I get up early to have a run. I am hoping to be a bit faster than last week. Certainly, my intervals are improving a bit. Fitness will return. Heck. My resting heart rate has dropped about 4BPM this month. Partly I suspect due to cutting out caffeine. Partly due, I hope, due to speedwork. 


I want to run more

That half: it was hard work. It could have been easier, I was 4 minutes slower than last year (even with the slightly easier course), my heart rate was woeful (my heart rate is always woeful – I have a lovely, slow, resting heart rate, but I seem to spend entire half marathons at 180+ bpm. This seems to worry doctors until they look at my resting heart rate. I had an ECG this morning – which put the first part of my pulse a bit short, but is apparently nothing to really worry about. I also reckon both symbicort and ventolin push up the heartbeat). But, by golly, I enjoyed this race.

And I want more.

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 13.13.36Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 13.14.10

I am particularly chuffed with that PR – I seem to recollect last year I whinged quite a bit round about that point.

This time, I walked when I needed to. I walked when my heart rate was >190 (and dropped it down to 175). I sweated profusely – and chafed something horrible under my heart strap and on my shorts label (I am covered in sudocreme now). And I LOVED this race.

It’s small – about 600 last year (not sure for this year, but about the same). The marshals are awesome, and there’s LOADs of them. There’s water at sensible intervals, it starts at a football stadium, so there’s a fair quantity of proper, flush, loos. A most excellent goodie bag, and a pretty decent medal. Lovely route (apart from the first and last mile – it’s a bit industrial estate getting out of the stadium), mostly on road, but just enough off-road to keep me happy.

My knee yelped a bit at mile 3, then behaved perfectly. I got through 3 gels. I felt good – not pushing too hard (and it was never, ever about a PB for this race).

But now? I want a bit more running. I want to be back up at 20 miles a week. I need to keep the weight (I am 26.2% fat – spot on for conceiving. BMI is 22ish – needs to be at least 20. Wasn’t in December…). I need to keep the fat. But I want to run more. I am going to have to work this one out. Next half is the Farnham Pilgrim in September. Another hilly one. And the vicar is wildly running 52 half marathons this year, and has invited us to join him for the Thames Meander. Please sponsor him: he’s a sweetie pie, he did us a wedding sermon with a Dr Who theme, and he’s raising money to keep the church in one piece (more or less). He’s now got a half marathon pb of 1:45…

Apparently I’m also possibly slightly lacking in calcium. I wonder if this is the missing piece in the fertility jigsaw…certainly, none of the pre-pregnancy vitamins have any particular addition of calcium, and I mix up milk with non-dairy milk. I shall go and find a supplement.


In times of k-need

drink gin? Knit? Consume chocolate? All of the aforementioned in turn? Or simultaneously?

Having not run for a week, after falling over, it seems that I’m perfectly capable of morris dancing a mile and then some (balls of the foot), but, as a heel-striker, running, not so much. Sunday’s 8 miler got aborted about 0.7 miles in. Tuesday’s 2 miler was a bit better, but still painful at times. 2017 is not my year for running.

I *think* I’ve worked out what’s going on: tight muscles – there is much foam rollering happening. With appropriate grimaces, groans and attempts to remember to breathe. I *think* I’ve worked out how to tape it: not how I taped it on Tuesday. I *think* I’ll be OK for High Wycombe Half on Sunday: it’s going to be boiling hot anyhow and there is no shame in walking parts of the course. Particularly the hilly bits. And DNF is generally an improvement on DNS.

I hope I have worked out what’s going on here. Because, frankly, this week is being just a tad tiresome. Friends are suffering. Period arrived just late enough to raise hopes (10 day luteal phase? Not long enough, really, if you think about it. But the three mornings of feeling utterly nauseous were, shall we say, thought-provoking? Yes. I think that’s a reasonable description. Better luck next month). The diet overhaul is possibly not quite enough, but almost right. Maybe. Perhaps I am clutching at straws here. We are supposed to have a referral to IVF, but the clinic has no record of it – but then again, Mr R hasn’t been in to open his letters (from himself to himself…).

Roll on the weekend? Or is that wishing my life away?