Spinning around

While we were up in Scafell (April. It seems so long ago!), N and I did some proper woolgathering. We picked up some rather manky looking bits of Herdwick fleece which had been abandoned by various sheep on their travels. Full of moss, grass, sticks and goodness knows what else. A particularly large bit came out of a gorse bush. That was prickly.

I brought it home, washed it, enjoyed the feeling of lanolin, washed it some more, and washed it some more. The water went a horrible shade. Ew.

Then I carded it, and, come July, and the eponymous Tour De Fleece, I got the drop spindle out, and had at it. By the end of the fortnight, all of it was single spun, and one ball had been plied.

 It’s now all plied. And I’m mighty proud, despite the fact that I’ve over-plied it (it’s a learning process). And it’s still a bit uneven (Herdy fleece is curly. It’s not the easiest thing to manage).  It’s been bathed and it’s twisting in on itself. However, it looks like wool. Somewhere between laceweight and sportsweight, with a few thicker bits.

Next stop: a spinning wheel.

Meanwhile, a new chapter for “Jane goes running in the Park and sees celebrities, or, possibly, really needs to get her eyes tested.” Either Michael Palin, clad in a fetching running vest and blue shorts combo, waved at me, or, alternatively, some old block with Michael Palin’s hair waved at me. Wildlife spotted: one meerkat, one camel, one monkey, no tapir, no tiger, and a handful of poodles and whippets (one of which had a very smart red fleecey jumper). Seven miles, average at MARATHON PACE! Which is nice, as only the middle 5 miles were supposed to be at pace. I did get the whole “I’m nearly home, there is energy here” speed up…

I am now in serious need of caffeine, having had about five hours decent sleep (and an hour or so of restless sleep).



The toes! They are getting a *bit* better

And lovely Mrs Spit has told me about toe caps, which sound fabulous, and which should help sort things out.

In the meantime, I’ve offered up a photo of my skanky feet to a friend who has a foot fetishist pestering her on Instagram. I also failed to have enough courage to cut holes in my shoes this morning. However, there were no further awful explosions. 7 miles, averaging at 9:22 min/mile. Muggy and grim, no meerkats, no tiger, no tapir, just some damp looking camels and a very fed up sheep.

I have earned my carrot cake.


Blood, Sweat, Gravy and Egg…

Isn’t that what Biotex used to remove from clothes? I’m giving it a workout – blood and sweat at the moment. I’ve not been indulging in gravy or egg while in running gear. My toes are still a state. Move along if you don’t want the details.

Two toes have blood blisters under the nails (or what’s left of the nails. Or where the nails used to be a few years ago. It’s hard to tell). I hit the tops of my shoes lots with these toes, despite wearing a larger size than my street shoes. I went out in the new Brooks today (photo may follow, as they’re growing on me), and, because my poor toes are still in a state of shock after Sunday, I hit the blood blisters pretty hard. Notwithstanding the fact that I’d drained them before going out (hence the need for Biotex. The inside of my socks was a state to behold). Although I didn’t quite achieve N’s spectacular blood-blister-burst on my return: he had some awful ones after a Milton Keynes Half Marathon, and hit the wall behind him with the spray; I did manage to hit myself on the nose while relieving the pressure post-run. Yeuch.

I think I need a couple of days off here. Or to cut holes in the running shoes: aha! Now I have an “old” pair that’s not totally knackered, this is probably the way forward.

Cue 7 miles tomorrow morning. With holey shoes.

Today’s 8 miles of intervals (8x800m plus 400m jog recovery, butted with 1mile jog each way) turned into 7 miles. I left too late to allow 400m jog recovery, so did 200m walk recovery. Which probably took almost as long. Much cooler on the track, and no-one was running clockwise. In fact, it was really deserted compared to last week.

I’m pretty convinced I saw Benedict Cumberbatch in the park though. Although I have no idea what he’d be doing there at that hour of the morning mid-Hamlet run. No actor in their right mind would be up and about at 7.30am the morning after a performance unless they really needed to? Mind you. I encountered Rupert Penry-Jones on Piccadilly at 8.30am once. So who can fathom the ways of the famous.



We have exchanged contracts, and, finally, after 12 years, I’ll be moving out of London! Having been very against the idea for an awfully long time, I’m ready. I’m fed up with the noise, the pollution, the noise, the mess, the people. I’m OK to move on. Even if the commute is going to more-or-less double in length.  Which is going to make any future marathon training somewhat interesting. I can see we’re going to be cycling to the station.

(Have you any idea how expensive removal firms are?! I am fainting at the quotes. But we are still van-free, and the idea of getting it all done in one day is vastly preferable to trying to do it ourselves over several trips once we’ve finally achieved a van again).

Apart from that, and some very sweaty running (Parkrun on Saturday, 20 miles on Sunday), not an awful lot has been achieved. Well. I finally finished N’s 1st Wedding Anniversary Present. I’ve done some book folding, in a cheap copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: no-one is going to say that that particular book needs preserving for posterity. It was very time consuming – it took about six hours all told. I got better with practice, as with many things, and I found a really good audio book was the key to getting it done. I spent most of Sunday, after I’d finished the 20 miles run, lazing it up in bed, stretching my tight calf, and folding pages. N kept me supplied with tea and food (baked beans on toast!) and carefully kept his eyes shut so as not to spoil the eventual surprise. Mind you, halfway through folding a book, it looks like nothing on earth. I bought the pattern from an etsy shop, and have a second to make one for Dad. I’m not convinced I’ve got the stamina for it. I’d rather run 20 miles.

My toes, incidentally, are totally trashed from the running. You’d have thought, after completing the better part of 350 miles in a pair of trainers (including a 20 mile run), they wouldn’t surprise you with new blood blisters? You’d be wrong. I have now given up on ever having nice toes again. I’m wearing trainers one and a half sizes larger than my normal shoes, and still my toes bang about the toe box and bruise and blister. Maybe I need to try new socks? Perhaps the towelling-y ones are the problem? I know N’s been happier since he shifted brands. I’m apparently about due to change shoes (somewhere between 300-500 miles – but that aforementioned tight calf suggests that I need to change them at the lower end of the spectrum). With luck the new pair (a totally vile looking pair of Brooks) will be better… Still. I need to run the new pair in, so that means wearing the old pair for a few more miles, and I suspect I’ll hit 400 miles in them by the time I’m done.


Oh. So. Sleepy

Five miles done (9 min/mile. Ish. Plan said 10 min/mile, which is just a tad ploddy…). And I’ve had a good night’s sleep, and I spent all last night with my legs stretched out in front of me, either on the phone to my parents or watching the last episode of “Life in Squares”.

I’m still sleepy.

Life in Squares had so much potential, but it just lacked something. Depth, in all honesty. It was about the Bloomsbury Set, but it missed out various key characters. Poor Carrington got left out entirely. Lytton made some bons mots, was seen randomly in bed with someone, and then posing nude with Vanessa Bell, and then all of a sudden, he was being referred to as having died, and we didn’t hear anything about how he revolutionised the writing of biographies. I’m going to have to revisit his biography,in fact, as I’m sure I don’t remember the pictures being mentioned, and it was all rather weirdly done, with a lot of gazing at photos and flashbacks and a distinct lack of context. Three episodes wasn’t enough to explore the relationships, but was probably too many episodes of hand-held-slightly-wobbly camera work (the first episode left me feeling faintly nauseated). The costumes were glorious, the make up was superb. The acting was utterly wonderful. They filmed on location at Charleston (I want to go to Charleston!). I think it was, essentially, undemanding Monday night telly. Gentle. Not too challenging. Certainly it hit the spot while N practised the guitar in the sitting room. I flopped, knitted, ate ice cream and nibbled on biscuits. And I think the calf appreciated this. My equanimity certainly did.

Coffee. Coffee is evidently what is required here.


I need to go shoe shopping

I’m getting niggles in my left calf – and my shoes are now at the 320+ miles stage of affairs. I cannot but help believe that these two facts are related. I did 13 miles on Sunday (down the towpath again. I swear I noticed a sculpture that I’ve never seen before. In fact, I would swear it wasn’t there on the way out, but had mysteriously appeared by the time I was coming back), and the last couple of miles were distinctly uncomfortable, so I’m now thoroughly taped up and trying not to push too hard. I have made an appointment with LovelyChiro, for Thursday. It’s not a strain – that I can tell. It’s “just” a bit inflamed. More ice, more ibuprofen. More taping. Proper resting between times.

At the same time, I’m pushing a little bit – because I realised, part way through last week, I’m possibly taking this training a little easier than I could. I went out with N on his birthday for 6 easy miles. He pushed me up to a sub-9-minute mile (I would have hovered at 9-9.30min/miles left to my own devices), and concluded that, yes, I am capable of such things on an empty stomach so, really, get with the programme woman. Put in a bit more effort and stop cruising about. This morning’s intervals I tried to remember to push. I tried to remember that I can do a 7:30min/mile over 400 metres and actually do it. It would have helped if I’d taken water, used the inhaler a bit more, and not wasted quite so much effort glaring at the woman who was running round the track clockwise. Who does that? I mean. Seriously. Everyone else was going anti-clockwise, but this woman was going clockwise, and in the inside lane (natch) so we all had to keep moving out of her way. I think she needed more coffee. I think I needed more everything. 

We then headed up to the Albert Hall to get our tickets for the Last Night Of the Proms. I was still pre-coffee (other than the early morning instant) and pre-breakfast. I can’t say that I was exactly well disposed to the woman who seemed to think it was necessary to teach us how to queue when there is no clear queue, and to tell us we were standing in the wrong place, but I was polite, as was N. We’re British. We know how these things work innately (it’s a bit like queuing at a bar, where there’s no proper line either). She had coffee. I was jealous. We now have tickets. And, by 10am, I finally had both coffee and breakfast, and was feeling much more amiable and well disposed to the world. I much prefer a spot of equanimity. 

Tonight’s plans involve supper, and an early night. We’ve been promming the last four nights straight: it’s been a total Sibelius Fest, and I need to do some Listening Again. We also went to the Sherlock Prom (which was brilliant fun, and didn’t require any brain power). I need to phone Mum, and I need to weigh the mittens I’ve knitted so I can mail them off to R. I was going to do that today (the mailing) but realised the fundamental flaw – no idea quite what the package weighs, so I can’t do online postage.

Tomorrow’s plans involve paying the solicitor and praying that we actually exchange on the house before the month is out.

Tomorrow’s plans also involve a spot of morris dancing. And five easy miles at about 6am. And a deployment.

Is it any wonder that I’m finding it hard to read anything but pulp fiction? I’ve given up on Parade’s End for the time being (too post-modern and impressionistic). I’ve started Pamela (very easy so far), am roaring through the Mary Russell Sherlock Holmes stories (excellent fun), and have also embarked on The River Between (easier, so far, than The Cubs and Other Stories, with nice short chapters). The Mary Russell books are the ones I want to read, though. Or perhaps some Harry Dresden books (but I only have one of those on the bookshelf unread).