The last few days, as we pack up the flat, have been a nostalgia fest. There’s been some lasts. Last run up the Heath. Last run along the canal. Last run round the park, and the zoo. And I’ve been finding stuff. Quite apart from 17 year old pairs of knickers (Top Shop. They’re made of stern stuff as the elastic hasn’t gone. And they still fit), 18th birthday presents, and geriatric sugar, there’s been mementoes. I’ve been sharing them on Facebook, so thought I’d put them here:

My 10th birthday treat:


Eye to Ei, a region trip that took Guides, Senior Section and adults from the London Eye to the Eiffel Tower: I headed up the monopoly game, and was ably assisted by my friend Tom who did all the cards for me. It’s my maiden name, before anyone gets her up. 

My present from the ladies of the LBS Men’s Ruby Club. I did first aid for them. That night, I took the runner’s up trophy to bed with me. I was more than a little tipsy. 

Two club ties and a shirt. I was the first (and I believe only) female member of the club. 

My friend Simon, posing at Tiboli in Tome. This was about 15 years ago. 

Current knitting in progress. 

Giraffes this morning (oh, I will miss them. For a while, my commute home would be via the giraffe enclosure). 

Macaws (if you can make them out)

Soggy camels. They’re out most days. Although they are not always soggy. 

Tapirs! They’re very shy, and like a lie in: so to actually see two this morning, trotting about their cage, made up for the total lack of visible tigers. 



Hilly chilly

I wasn’t expecting a Strava PR this morning – and it may be that it’s the first time that I’ve run that particular stretch. I don’t really care. I got an unexpected Strava PR, and got to run in the chilly sunshine, and saw lots of woofs (Roly Poly Labradors, a sort of Setter-Poodle cross, chihuahuas, terriers, huskies, black labradors of a skinnier persuasion, a dog like Colin from Spaced, and heaps of whippets in smart, cosy coats). Heart Rate hit a peak of 185, which is much better – and averaged at 166. I am beginning to feel more normal.  It was the loveliest morning, a gorgeous 8 mile run. The sort of run that makes you feel good to feel alive and, if you’re me, scared for what the future might bring: because it was so lovely.

We are still packing. We are beginning to run out of things to pack, and to run out of usefully sized boxes to pack things in. We have hit the territory of “oddly shaped stuff that doesn’t seem to want to fit in nicely”. And Delicate China…


Some might say I overcommunicate

Based on this morning’s batch of emails, sometimes, I think it’s better that way. There are moments when I really loathe being a Division Commissioner. This was one of them. Last night was another – the potential volunteer I was supposed to me cancelled on me with half an hour’s notice. By that point I was already en route, packed supper in tow, and having eschewed pre-morris-practice sushi with N. I went to the cafe, and had a posh hot chocolate anyhow. With cream. Lots of cream. A veritable featherbed of whipped cream. It was like a Chalet School Story, but with less snow, no doctors, and no-one getting stuck on a mountain.  Joey Bettany was not present, and our One and Only Mary Lou was conspicuous by her absence. This may have been a small mercy. I can’t quite decide.

Went up and down Primrose Hill again this morning. Four times. In the dark. It was dark when I left, dark when I got home, but my heart rate stats looked a lot more sensible than last week. Next run: 8 miles along the canal at the weekend, I think. It was so dark, there were only a couple of dog walkers in the park in addition to the running lunatics. One of the dog walkers had a husky! It’s so grey and cloudy, it makes for really dark mornings, and the sunrise doesn’t really do much for anyone. Dawn’s milky fingers? Well. Not exactly. Too much cloud for that.

And so we go back to packing.



Oooh. That’s odd

They’ve changed the way the new blog post bit looks in the back end of this blog. How very disconcerting. All the buttons are in different places. I digress. Thoroughly.

I possess 20-odd Large Sainsbury Bags worth of books and CDs. Which would explain why, four bags into packing them up, it looked like I’d barely made a dint in the bookshelves. I think more bookshelves are required. I don’t want to be double stacking books when we move. So many old friendships have been renewed while I’ve been packing the books up, simply as I’ve revealed the books from the mire. We’ve got a lovely big dining-cum-library room (with a sort of stovey thing in it, which I’m yet to properly investigate), and the promise of two very comfy wooden chairs which used to belong to Great Uncle Geoff and Great Aunt Sybil, and which will go extremely well with my Grandmother’s Dining Suite if I upholster everything in the same material. There is plenty of space to decorate the room with books.

I’ve found some books to pass on to the charity shop (about eight) and some to sell (four Chalet School Fill-Ins. I’ve never bothered to read them, and probably won’t read them). I’m dithering about selling the Lorna Hill ballet books. I failed to get rid of a whole load of mid-century Annuals – they were just too pretty once I’d actually looked at them. I’ve been more successful at getting rid of yarn than books. Yet to sort the fabric stash or the Guiding stash.

I have been for some runs though. This early morning malarkey is really rather dark, and I think that I need to sort out some bright lights and reflective gear once we’ve moved out of the big smoke. It’s fine running in the dark-ish in London – the park’s relatively well-lit, I can avoid the canal (dark and water? Er. No thanks) until just after dawn. But the countryside, or near countryside? That’s going to be a tad darker, and I think both N and I need lights. I want to have a last run up the heath on Sunday. I’m going to miss the heath. This morning’s run was tiger-free, but did have a couple of camels. And, it was faster than the last time we ran that route, and I didn’t wheeze quite so spectacularly going up Primrose Hill, so I am getting better. Beginning to think that a sub 2-hour half at Milton Keynes is going to be beyond me, unless I’m running with N. He’s good at getting me to speed up, and keep going: and I’m always aware that I’m going slower than is a comfortable pace for him, so that gives me an extra push. When we first started going out, 4 years ago, his marathon pace was about my half marathon pace. It’s way faster now…so I need to push to keep up more!


Dr Who.

On Friday, I went to the Dr Who Festival, and had a gorgeously lovely time. It was, I will not deny, expensive for a day out. Or so I thought before I spent about two hours at the London Aquarium. We were nine hours at the Festival, saw everything, didn’t feel pressurised to buy anything. The Aquarium, by contrast, was full of efforts to make us spend, and felt dingy and old and crowded, and, essentially hell on earth. And I would have felt that without the pressure of trying to keep track of 6 Guides. It was rather lovely seeing B make her promise as a Guide, having also witnessed her make her promise as a Brownie, but, oh! Never again to the Aquarium (or, possibly, any Merlin attraction). Overpriced, overcrowded, overheating…

Have some photos of the festival (when I’ve uploaded them from the phone). That was far more fun. We saw special effects, we saw Peter Capaldi, we saw Missy and Osgood. There were some terrific cosplays (isn’t the teeny tiny 12 CUTE with his electric guitar and sonic sunglasses?!). We got a sneak preview of Saturday’s episode, we heard Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat explain STUFF (the sonic screwdriver should be back, too, according to PC). We chatted to the SFX guys, and we think we may have wangled some work experience for Morris N (she came with me because N had to work), and it was all Brilliant!

5th Doctor Wins


I love Ood

An overexcited chipmunk wants to take out a Dalek. 

It’s a Lego TARDIS!!!!


Also Brilliant was the Guides sleepover on H.M.S. Belfast on Friday night. Frankly, given the events in Paris, we couldn’t have felt safer at that point. Warships have a comforting bulk to them. The chap who was looking after us was ex-navy, had the shiniest shoes known to civilian life, was extremely posh (reminded me of The Boy), and would broker No Nonsense whatsoever from the girls. We are going to adopt some of his strategies. “There is no cake for being the first in the queue.” “Do not interrupt, I will answer all questions at the end.” “I want to see the colour of your eyes…”. He also had a nice line in the withering put down, but did not over-use it.  No pictures. I failed at pictures. I generally do when away with the girls nowadays. Mostly because I don’t take a camera anymore, and don’t want to fiddle with the phone in front of them.

Sunday I recovered, ran (speed is improving, very slowly), and we started packing. We’re going to need more boxes. And some of those immensely strong bags from Sainsbury for all the books (a tip from K). I have finally written out the notice for the cleaner, and put out some extra cash in lieu of actual notice. I feel utterly dreadful – she’s been cleaning for Em and me since about 2005, and I have given No Warning At All. We move Wednesday week, for crying out loud (and I can’t type that without beginning to panic a bit, so we shall move swiftly onwards). During the brief packing session we had on Sunday night, N & I discovered that between us, we own 5 copies of Withnail & I on DVD. I have the basic version, the 20th anniversary edition with CD and the 25th anniversary edition. We may need to retrieve the 20th anniversary edition from the charity shop – I have a feeling that’s the only one with the soundtrack, and that N doesn’t have a copy of it. Yes, we only really need two (one to watch, one to loan). Five is a tad excessive. We also appear to have duplicates of classic Dr Who. I’ve definitely married the man of my dreams.

I’ve cast on for a new hat. The yarn is Jamieson and Smith, part of their Winter Accessory Knitalong. I could not have curated such a lovely set of colours. My main colour is the deep blue, and I think that Saudade is going to look a bit swish in the shades of blue and neutral I’ve chosen. I was going to knit mitteny things. But I decided I wanted a hat more. I am being an extremely selfish knitter this season. I’ve done so much knitting for other people/events, that, frankly, I wanted some more woolly loveliness for me. Despite having a ridiculous quantity already.

I wonder how many knitted socks I possess? I may have to get them out and photograph them before packing them.


Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Wilfred Owen

Thames Meander Half Marathon Race Review

Soggy and dishevelled, having taken 2:09:57 (by the garmin) to run what was a more or less flat course. Couldn’t be much happier. 

We headed out fairly early, and got the train out from Waterloo, with a brief detour to acquire lucozade and chocolate. Bizarrely, we bought train tickets failing to twig that Kingston is, indeed, in zone 6 and part of Oysterland. It was early. We’d had instant coffee and porridge and that was it. We’ve done this race before, so I’m not quite sure why we were so dim. 

It’s a couple of miles from the station to the start of the race, and the walk was dispiriting. Wet. Windy.  Dank. Chilly (despite it being 16 degrees). A gust blew a very soggy leaf into my shin, which was like being slapped with a wet kipper. Throughly unpleasant. The YMCA was the usual chaos, with not quite enough portaloos and slightly too many people. Race registration was very efficient once I’d realised I was registered under my married name: usually I run under my maiden name, mostly because my passport isn’t changed yet. 

I quite like a good queue. It gives me something to do before the race. So I stood in the queue for the loo, then the bag drop, then the bag drop a second time not because I’d enjoyed it so much the first time round, but because I’d left my camelbak and chocolate in my big bag, and then the queue for the loo again. By that point, the marathon had started, there were vastly fewer people around, and we could hide inside. We found our vicar, who was running his 14th half marathon and keen for a sub 2 hour time. A small amount of gossip, and we headed out to fail to make any sense of the pre-race briefing (terrible tannoy system) and then go. 

N and the vicar both sped off, and I, quite simply, trundled. I had Chariots of Fire stuck as an earworm (or a rare orb, as the phone would have it), and somewhere around mile four plugged in the music. This helped immensely, but, generally speaking, this was a slow race. I managed to stay at a sub-10min/mile for most of it, but I flagged towards the end. It was muddy, uneven, occasionally slippery, with some challenging puddles to skirt round. The scenery’s lovely: along the Thames from Kingston to Kew and back again. This gives a fabulous opportunity to dance about like a Monty Python sketch at Teddington Lock. Twice. In fact, although I was going very slowly by mile 12, I perked up immensely simply from the silliness, gave myself a fit of the giggles, and nearly ran out of breath. Slightly before that point, someone slipped over and went base over apex, and three of us crowded round to check he was OK. It was very good natured in the pack generally, and passers by gave us lots of encouragement as they cycled or walked past. There were lots of muddy dogs too. 

I had two gels: but I wasn’t in the mood for sweet (so I think I shall investigate the salted caramel gels that I’ve read about). I could probably have done with spacing them closer and having a third. I suspect that the last 3 miles would not have been quite such a slog. I stopped at two of the aid stations in the way back, again because I was flagging and wanted the excuse to pause. The stamina is coming back, but speed is going to be slower, and this is the longest run I’ve done since Berlin! I’ve spend most of the time since then with a cold or a chest infection, with only one run, I think, that was more than five miles. I’ve not plugged the data in, but my average heart rate for this was 184 bpm, a definite improvement on last weekend, but still a little high. 

Point being, I was not a DNS. Nor was I a DNF. There is no shame in running a flat race 15 minutes or so slower than your PB. The important bit is going out and enjoying it. And that I definitely did. Then having tea and chips with the vicar. And then having Five Guys burgers. (A wonderful American Import).

Because you have to replace those 1800 calories somehow. There may be cake later. 


Speed: lacking. Stamina: lacking. Sweat: abundant.

That’s practically the size of it. Tuesday’s run was 9:30 min/mile. Today, 9:39 min/mile. The first mile was a 10 min/mile. By comparison, my marathon pace was 9:09 min/mile. My best half pace is 8:30 ish, and my best 10k pace 8:10. I did a 7:45 min/mile not so long ago. Aye me. We were not feeling the running love in the dark and dank. Oh no. It got a bit faster, but not dramatically so. And, unlike Tuesday, the tigers were in hiding. 

Still. It takes time to recover from being ill. So, I can’t get too het up about it. Well. I can. I can do almost anything. However, I shouldn’t get too het up about it. It doesn’t help. 

Last night we went to see a recording of John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, which was nicely funny. Tonight it’s football. Tomorrow I’m back to earth. A parents’ meeting for the next Guiding Trip (Kip on a Ship, a sleepover on HMS Belfast). I get to visit “my” Guides, which is lovely. I’ve missed the other parents’ meetings, owing to being ill. Oddly, the BBC felt the need to confiscate not just my Swiss Army card, but my Acme Thunderer whistle. And some people’s forks. But not the spoons I had in my bag. Not my ceramic soup bowl. I cannot fathom the logic involved. 

And then a half marathon on Saturday. Which is going to involve some walking, and will be lovely. 


It’s chilly

I have applied a blanket, some porridge and some decaf coffee. I am no longer shivering at home. This is what comes of going out for a run, and then sitting about in an unheated flat with damp hair. Folks: you get chilly. This is your PSA for Tuesday. The heating is now on. It’s November. It’s allowed.

I may go stark raving mad, and invoke a hot water bottle in a bit. The supreme decadence of it! Bet you’re jealous of my life. I am wearing my UGG slippers (a wonderful present: and when they collapse, I shall replace them. I have no idea how much they cost, but £100 would not be too much to spend on fleecy, sheepskin slippers. They are warm).

Last night I went to the CEW awards, to sell raffle tickets for the Eve Appeal. I did better than last year (I think I sold about eight last year. This year I managed ten. Which is still the smallest number anyone sold. Next year I’m aiming for a dozen). I find it quite the effort to pluck up the courage to interrupt some chattering ladies, who are all beautifully turned out (it’s an award ceremony after all), and ask them to buy a ticket. Most of them did. Some didn’t. I coveted the Celine handbag that one of the Tatler ladies’ had something chronic. But, at the better part of £1500, I shan’t be having one. That’s enough to pay for chairs in the sitting room. I don’t really use handbags anyhow: I have a rather nifty leathery rucksack, which I try not to overfill. But I do feel smart with it.

I learned from the previous year – although I couldn’t quite persuade my hair to behave (working on this. Have bought a new hairdryer which, at 2000w, is twice as strong as the one I’ve been using since I was elevenish), I did make sure my makeup was up to the job. Used the expensive foundation (the cheaper one is the wrong colour, anyhow, so I’ve binned that). Applied the wedding lipstick. Put in contact lenses. Wore good trousers (the ones Lovely Kat gave me about six years ago. They’re a US size 2, so I always feel very slim in them!). Heels. This I think helped with the sale of two more tickets. Worthwhile.

This morning we did a shade over 4 miles. 9:20 min/mile, but kept the heart rate below 185, and that’s a good thing. Saturday’s half marathon is going to involve some walking, I can tell. But if it’s a nice day, it’s going to be GLORIOUS. I was considering, on the way back, getting back to running after an illness. So, in the best traditions, I have found some questions for the three people who are lovely and read and comment…

How long does it take you to get back to “normal” fitness after a cold?

Do you concentrate on speed or stamina first?

What are your top tips for a speedy recovery?

I’ve also finished my Color Affection. Photos to follow when I’ve taken them.


Sometimes, I feel you can know too much about your heart rate…

Let's try not to die, eh?

I mean. Really. 204 bpm? No wonder it was hard work. And, I was going a weeny bit faster, on average, than the previous run I’d done on Friday (all of 3 miles, at marathon pace). I am evidently entirely unfit. But full of beans. I suspect that some of this high heart rate is due to lots of use of the blue inhaler – it does tend to speed everything up. Me included. The park was lovely. I took photos on the way home. And, on the way in, all the spiders webs were decked out with dewdrops. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many in one walk. It must have been the mist, and the general mellow fruitfulness. Possibly they’d been at work to celebrate Halloween.

I’ve spent much of the afternoon on the sofa, watching Citizen Smith with N. Or rolling around on the balance for the decorator (he wanted paying in cash. It’s a four figure sum. I’m never going to have that much cash lying around again, so of *course* I decided it was necessary to roll around on it. I mean, why wouldn’t you? Once in a lifetime experience. I love those).

I went up to my parents on Saturday. Spent the morning with Jo (my former flatmate), having an entirely necessary pedicure, and then playing with her gorgeous, happy, smiley (FOUR teeth!) son. He’s a very easy going baby. The afternoon, I looked after Mum, who’s got labyrinthitis. While Dad has done his best, going up and down two flights of stairs several times a day (and then some), he’s not quite got the energy for, or the knack of, making a sick room look tidy. He did try to make the bed, but merely achieved something very complicated and tangled with the blankets. So I re-did it. Mum’s responding well to whatever the doctor prescribed – it’s certainly removed the symptoms, and she’s going to do her balance exercises again to help her brain retrain to compensate for the wobble. 

I’ve just checked Strava. Apparently my fastest 10K on that course was an 8 min/mile in 2014 when we were training for the Rome Marathon. This race was my slowest at an average 8:57 min/mile. What a way to do a last run on a course that I’ve run at least 20 times in the last five years. Oh well.. I still managed to pass people on my way round, and I got terribly excited on lap two – the Tapir was having a bit of a gallop round his enclosure. He’s terribly shy, and I’ve only seen him once before. So that really was a treat.