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Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Carnival of Running Without The Carnival


Today we travel down to Market Harborough for their Carnival of Running. This consists of four races - a 5k, a 10k, a half marathon and a fun run. All the races start from Robert Smyth Academy and finish on Symington Recreation Ground in the centre of town where they are holding a Carnival.

Well they were holding a Carnival but when we get there we find that the wet weather has put paid to that. There will be no Carnival but they aren’t letting us get out of the run.

Of the main three races the 5k is started first, then the 10k and finally the half marathon. This means I am chasing down L and Daughter who are in the 10k and have been given a head start. I am in the half. 

The route starts off by doing a three mile loop around the town centre before heading out into the countryside. Although I catch L about two miles in, I’m struggling to catch Daughter before the two routes split just after the four mile point. I catch her in time, just.

The weather has been ‘challenging’ throughout but gets worse as I get near the end of the half marathon. The last mile is all downhill but that doesn’t help much when the conditions become biblical. As I do a final lap of the field there is almost nobody left to clap me in, not even Noah and his Ark. They are all sheltering somewhere. L and Daughter text to say they are in a coffee shop. Thanks for the support girls but I’d have probably done the same.

Timewise, I run 1:50. Not great.

(Saturday 8th June)

Friday, 7 June 2019

Don't Talk To Me About Railways

June starts wet and on Sunday I dodge the showers on the park while L dodges them on the back lawn with the mower. It has set in totally by the time we play tennis at 1pm but we go ahead anyway. It is fairly treacherous. Afterwards we head over to visit L’s Dad in hospital and then stop for Sunday lunch on the way back at the Nurseryman.

Monday brings the latest bout of A52 roadworks. The access road to Pride Park from Nottingham is closed for 13 weeks and the Derby bound exit is shut for a mammoth 13 months. With Ascot Drive closed as well, I opt for the bike. It’s a good decision although even cycling to work wasn’t pleasant as Chaddesden was basically a car park.

On Tuesday I risk the bus which isn’t too bad as closing the Pride Park exit actually makes it easier getting through to Pentagon Island.

The main reason I’m on the bus is I have a night out planned with my friends from school. I meet one of them in the Alexandra, where we shelter from yet more rain, before meeting the other at the Cosy Club. Which is a novel variation for us but sadly almost everything foodwise is off, so they must have been expecting me. We got something half decent in the end.

Wednesday, I’m back on the bike which is windy but dry. L and Daughter run in the evening while I go dog training for the second time this week after already having done so on Monday.

On Thursday I finally risk the car and survive to tell the tale. The journey does take longer but it’s not excessive. Getting to Sainsbury’s at lunch time however is another matter entirely but, on the upside, when I do get there there’s hardly anyone one there and there’s loads of reduced stuff. I guess these roads works aren’t doing much for their trade.

My tennis is off because my opponent has gone for a wet and windy weekend in Wales, which sounds romantic. Although I can't imagine him doing romantic. L’s tennis is on as usual.

After work on Friday, I meet L at Quad as she gets me to a Derby Book Festival event and at my recommendation she joins me in going to a talk by Simon Jenkins. Jenkins is a Guardian columnist who has in the past been editor of both the Evening Standard and The Times. 

He writes an awful lot of sense about current affairs and politics in general but in particularly about Brexit. As he released a book called 'A Short History of Europe' in October last year I was obviously expecting a talk along those lines but no. Jenkins is introduced as apparently being sick of talking about Europe and he is going to do a talk on another of his books 'Britain's Hundred Best Railway Stations' which he released in 2017 instead. Oh. Somewhat disappointed is an understatement.

Jenkins is a bit of a railways fan, who has served on the boards of both British Rail and London Transport, and it is interesting but seriously?

(Friday 7th June)

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Return Of Orienteering...

It’s another short week where we start back at work on a Tuesday. I go dogging on Wednesday and have a game of tennis on Tuesday, our first of the season. Of course L is an all seasons girl as regards her tennis.

She comes down and warms up with us before her own warm up with the guys and gals from her tennis class before the tennis class itself an hour later. That's plenty of tennis!

It’s very windy for our game as it was when I cycled to work earlier. Afterwards the dogs are pleased to find their Thursday pub visit reinstated.

Saturday takes us to the new Alvaston parkrun. This is their second one and our first time here. The course is a bit on the dull side because apparently the council gave them a long list of bits of the park they couldn’t use for various reasons (most of it) but the course actually works very well.

The parking is a little bit bizarre in the car park of Derby Homes, where they lock your car in while you’re running and then don’t open it again until there around 50 of you banging on the gates. They say they’ll be locking it for good at 10:30 which isn’t good news for trade in the park’s cafe. I don’t trust them and move the car, just in case.

Part two of the day sees us orienteering for the first time in over a decade. Ironically at Daughter’s request but she misses it as she’s in Manchester watching the Elton John film. I don't think that's the only reason she's gone. 

The orienteering is on Wollaton Park and I reckon I can't get lost on Wollaton Park... but who knows. The map does enlighten me to things I didn’t know existed, such as a random mini lake near one of the car parks but then when I’m there, stood on the sport, with the map in my hand, I’m still not convinced it exists.

I do two courses in the time that L does one, thanks to Lad power. I even, sort of, enjoyed it.

Then for part three L heads over to Derby Book Festival and gets home just as I head off to the Rescue Rooms.

Fatherson are not a new band, having been formed in 2010 and having recorded three albums, but they are new to me. They come from Kilmarnock and seem to have quite a following, many of whom are packed in down the front tonight.


They open impressively, blowing everyone away with their first song but after the simplicity of the opening number they went a bit arty after that and also a touch robotic, losing a lot of the audience in the process. They’d probably grow on me in time but tonight I felt like I’ve overdosed on them a touch by the end of their half hour or perhaps I was just desperate to get on with the main event.

It’s another box ticked tonight as I finally get to see the Futureheads live, who I totally missed out on when they were in the pomp even missing them at Leicester’s Summer Sundae Festival in 2010 despite having a ticket because I went to the football... Shortly afterwards they went all Acapella on us before disappearing completely, seemingly without trace.

I wasn’t confident we'd see the four Mackems back together and on stage again but here they are, bursting into ‘Yes/No’ from the ‘News And Tributes’ album and seemingly with renewed enthusiasm, which is very infectious. Next comes ‘Area’, bizarrely a top 20 hit from 2005 on the back of a famous cover version they once did. Things are rocking now as ‘Struck Dumb’ and ‘Meantime’ furiously tumble forth. 

Then it’s a pause for breath and a new song ‘Good Night Out’ sung by Ross Millard, then it’s back to Barry Hyde for ‘Decent Days and Nights’.

Another new song ‘Listen Little Man’ and then already we seem to be hurtling towards the finale. The other Hyde, Dave on drums, clearly working from a different setlist plays ‘Radio Heart’ but everyone else plays ‘HeartBeat Song’ which is outstanding, then it’s a particular favourite of mine, the gorgeous, ‘Back to the Sea’ before a fast flowing triple whammy of ‘Skip to the End’, ‘The Beginning of the Twist’ and ‘Carnival Kids’ bring things to close.

We’re all exhausted but they’ve only been going 45 minutes. Earlier Hyde seem to know exactly how many days it was since they’d last played Nottingham, although I’ve no idea if he was correct. He promised to make up for it by making this show last three weeks, which Millard pointed out would be a bit difficult give the 10pm curfew. So, on reflection guys, 45 minutes seems.. well... a bit brief?

The encore is perhaps a little odd. Opening, fair enough, with comeback single ‘Jekyll’ but then continues with two cover versions. Firstly the Television Personalities 'A Picture of Dorian Gray' which they covered on their ‘1-2-3-Nul!’ EP back in 2003 and then yes, they do still play Kate Bush's 'Hounds Of Love'. The song which sort of made their name but you have to say they have plenty material of their own that they could have played which far surpasses it.

This stretches out the gig to an hour but they still finish 30 minutes inside the curfew. In their defence they do look drained, having put their all into it and it is so good to have them back.

I meet L afterwards for a drink in first the Overdraught and then the Blue Monkey.

(Saturday 1st June)

Monday, 27 May 2019

A Busy Day

Monday, which is a Bank Holiday, is what you could describe as a busy day.

First L, Daughter and I get the 6:30am train down to London. We are heading to the Vitality 10k run in Central London. On the train, which is largely quiet, are several fans already getting tanked up ahead of Derby’s Play Off Final with Aston Villa. Yes, I’ll be there later, but not tanked up.
L has suggested not taking the tube to the race village in Green Park but jogging there as a ‘nice warm up’. It's 3.5 miles! and I’m not sure she’s mentioned this to Daughter. We take the tube. At Green Park we meet up with L’s sister, who is also doing the run, and with her family.

The race starts on The Mall and takes in quite a few sights of London (Trafalgar Square, St Paul's, The Bank of England, House Of Parliament, where Daughter went for her interview at Somerset House) before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. Although we finish before it, not after it like they do in the Marathon.

I finish in a disappointing 47:05 and then head back up the course to cheer in first Daughter, then L and her sister, who are running together. I have a different start time to the others, so get a head start on them.

After a sandwich, a coffee and quick clothes change in a portaloo I’m off to Wembley for the match. While everyone else, apart from L’s sister who is my partner in crime at the game, head off home.

At Wembley I am rather shocked, but pleasantly surprised, to find a real ale stand. We have a quick drink and it does have to be a bit quick as we’re running late. Then we take our seats five rows from front.

I am totally relaxed about the match as I’m not particularly keen for Derby to go up where no doubt they would once more fill the side with ageing relics and crap foreigners like they did on the last two promotions then spend the next ten years paying them all off but what will be, will be.

The way Villa play in the first half that doesn’t look very likely anyway. Villa score at the end of the first half and then again early in the second. Derby finally get their act together and pull one back but it finishes 2-1 to the Villa.

Mostly though everyone is pretty pleased with the season and with Frank Lampard. Subsequently the team get a fifteen minute standing ovation at the end. That’s not something I’ve seen before in defeat. Lampard has turned out to be exactly what we all needed and has been a breath of fresh air. He has not only brought a calm, professional approach to the club but also an infectious enthusiasm that has rubbed off on everyone. More than anything though he’s united the team and the supporters, something that's been missing for years, probably since the Jim Smith era. On top of that, he’s given us two glorious cup runs and late run up the league table all the way to the Play Off Final. I just hope he’s still here next season.

While there isn’t a dissenting voice in Wembley or on the train home, the alternative universe that is Social Media World is a different matter entirely, as I found out later. In that world things have been interpreted very differently but the who cares what the armchair experts think.

Later was quite a bit later due to the utter chaos at St Pancras. Thames Link were using two of East Midland Train’s four platforms due to maintenance work on their own platforms and to make matters worse all the trains were single locos rather than the usual doubles because it’s a Bank Holiday. The staff said they didn’t think it would be busy... despite the fact they’d emailed me in the week, saying it would be busy. They quickly start coupling up extra locos.

So there’s a huge disorderly queue where reservations were not being honoured and all the Nottingham trains were being rerouted to Derby. Helpful for many but not for me. I hop off at Long Eaton where I have to wait a further 30 minutes for a Nottingham train.

I’m ready for a big V no T when I finally get home.

(Monday 27th May)

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Twilight And Dawn

On Saturday L and I both run Clifton parkrun and then head off in opposite directions.

L heads to Leamington on the train to spend the rest of day with Son as it’s his birthday this coming week. While I head to Newark to supervisor our team in the Crufts Team Qualifier. Sadly I don’t have a dog in any of the teams with MD being now in the twilight of his career and the Lad only just past dawn. We reunite later in Beerhedz at Nottingham Station.

I’m back at Newark again on Sunday, supervising more teams but I’m back home just after lunch after deciding not to wait to MD’s one run which was right at the end of the day. Sadly none of our teams troubled the qualifying places.

(Sunday 26th May)

Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Rhinoceros

L’s tennis is off on Thursday due to the whole centre being closed because of the European elections which due to our bizarre habit of only voting on Thursdays means they have to store everyone’s ballot papers until Sunday when they can count them.

Meanwhile I’m at the Rescue Rooms where, amazingly, they have Stay Puft on hand pump. I contemplate sinning on a Thursday. L unhelpfully offers to sin at home just make me feel better but I couldn’t make her do that. Then again I can’t not have Stay Puft on hand pump. It is indeed very nice.

Colour Me Wednesday look like a new, youthful all girl five piece band but have actually been around for twelve years. My apologies, they’ve aged very well or even not at all. They seem to come on stage reluctantly. Perhaps it’s not their sort of crowd, full of us oldies, but they soon get into. They very quickly look like they’re having a great time, promptly winning the crowd over with their enthusiasm and punchy indie punk songs.

The band, from Uxbridge, are built around sisters Jen and Harriet Doveton. Jen’s vocals are impressively strong, they have great drummer and a bass player who sings every word despite not having a microphone. Afterwards all the old men, and women, of the audience form an impressive queue at their merchandising desk.

A visit to the UK from Juliana Hatfield isn’t a common event and a visit to Nottingham an even rarer one. Her last trip here was in 1993 when this very band played with the Teenage Fanclub. I didn’t catch that gig and consequently this is my first time seeing Juliana in my home city.

That gig in 1993 was billed as a ‘Juliana Hatfield Three’ gig as is tonight, reforming the line up that recorded the album ‘Become What You Are’, of which we hear plenty tonight, before going on hiatus for 20 years. This means we have Todd Phillips on drums and Dean Fisher (Tanya Donelly’s other half) on bass. The ‘Three’ did get back together briefly in 2014 for the album 'Whatever, My Love’, none of which makes the setlist tonight.

However the next thing to say about the ‘Juliana Hatfield Three’ is that there’s four of them with the addition of Joe Keefe playing a second guitar. Keefe worked with Hatfield on her ‘Made in China’ album in 2005, so it’s not surprising to see three tracks pulled from that particular record tonight.

They open with ‘Everybody Loves Me But You’, a solo classic of Hatfield’s from back in 1992 before ‘Feelin' Massachussets’ is the first from ‘Become What You Are’ tonight. To be followed in due course by ‘My Sister’, ‘Spin The Bottle’, ‘President Garfield’ and ‘I Got No Idols’.

Hatfield has a new solo album out at the moment but this is largely ignored tonight, aside from one track ‘Lost Ship’, while her Trump inspired (if inspired is the right word) previous album ‘Pussycat’ from 2017 provides five tracks.

Perhaps they didn’t get time to rehearse her new record but then again 'Pussycat' is excellent throughout and I'd have given anything to hear her play the wonderful ‘Rhinoceros’ from that album. 'Guess who’s getting f***ed by the rhinoceros America?' and of course the man himself is over here in just over a week.

With seventeen albums bearing her name there’s a lot to pull a setlist from, and that’s before you start considering the Blake Babies and other projects she’s been involved in, but I think she's makes a pretty fair selection.

There's even a cover of Olivia Newton-John's ‘Physical’ taken from a tribute album where Hatfield covered thirteen of Newton-John's songs with the proceeds going to her cancer charity.

Her stage manner, as ever, comes across as quite shy and unconfident meaning she doesn’t chat an awful lot but the performance is top notch. Let’s not leave it another 20 years before the next one.

(Thursday 24th May)

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


When I return to work on Tuesday, L asks if I’m basking in my post-marathon glory. Not really, as they all think I’m nuts.

In the evening I hobble through dog training while L goes to her running club where they play tag, supposedly after a hill session. She has now signed up to become a member and her transfer with UK Athletics has clearly been rushed through. Mine took months when I signed up with a new club. So she is now a Smalley Road Runner although I’m going to have to get the map out to show her where Smalley is.

On Wednesday, L and Daughter run the Trent 5 at Beeston. I decide to rest my legs, spectate, exercise the boys and try to stop the Lad joining in.

(Wednesday 22nd May)

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Another Little Run

On Saturday we head up to the Lakes via Stoke where we do Hanley parkrun, which looked the easiest to get to and the most interesting of the two in Stoke. I decide to jog it myself, well as much as you can jog with the Lad, despite having another little run planned for Sunday.

Then we continue northwards. We have taken the new car and it’s the first time the boys have been allowed in it. We even use the Satnav a little to find the hotel although it doesn’t seem that accurate. I think the girlie on Google Maps on my phone has a much better grasp of where she's going. 

The entire car is festooned with ‘helpful’ gadgets and did for a while keep asking me where my Samsung was. What it actually meant was where Daughter’s Samsung was. I’ve now unpaired her phone and got mine set up instead.

We are staying at the Mortal Man where we stayed a few years ago. The beer range is still very on the pale side but the food is half decent although I do have to decline the Full English on Sunday as I have that little run to do. I will make up for it on Monday.

My little run is the Windermere Marathon. 

With around a thousand entries this year the race is growing year on year. In addition to the Marathon there are also seventeen runners doing the 10 in 10 challenge in aid of the Brathay Trust. Basically this is ten laps of the marathon course over ten consecutive days. Gulp. Sixteen of them have lasted the distance.

These mad folk/legends (delete as applicable) are given a heroes send off when they start one by one an hour before us mere mortals.

Then it’s our turn and we led down from Brathay Hall to the start line on the main road by a marching band. Then we’re off and it’s all somewhat pleasant, undulating as you’d expect but nothing too extreme. The roads have even been closed for us and remain so for most of the first half of the race. They are briefly open around Hawkshead, where we are diverted through the centre of the village which was packed with spectators who lined the street and cheered us along the cobbled streets and alleyways.  

Then we are back into the countryside past Esthwaite Water with Lake Windermere itself in the distance. The next landmark is when we reach the bottom of Lake Windermere at Newby Bridge and then start coming back up the other side. This is roughly halfway and I’m pleased that not only am I feeling pretty good but also that I go through 13 miles in 1:59. Therefore I'm running at four hour marathon pace despite the testing terrain.

We turn onto the A592 ‘coast’ road and past Fell Foot where we have parkrun. Here it’s busy with cars but after that the road is made one way until Bowness and goes relatively quiet again. I really cannot fault the organisation on how they have minimised the traffic.

The course though gets more difficult, hiller and not as scenic with Lake Windermere largely obscured despite the fact you’re mostly alongside it.

After 20 miles we arrive in Bowness, which is packed with mostly bemused tourists but with plenty of spectators too. I recall from when I did the bike leg of the Windermere Triathlon, which started in Bowness, that there is a bloody big hill coming all the way up to the main A591 road and beyond. My memory is not wrong.

This is where I begin to struggle. Although I have had no calf problems at all my lack of training post-Manchester is telling and I drop well off my four hour marathon pace. In fact it get so tough and my legs so knackered that I walk considerable chucks of it. I do put on a spurt when I pass local legend Rocket Rod who was helping at the next feed station.

It probably doesn’t help that I know the A591 through Troutbeck Bridge to Ambleside so well, that I know exactly what is coming. Even then Ambleside seems hillier than before and even once through Ambleside it goes up again at Clappersgate and then just to cap it all the finish up the driveway back to Brathay Hall is uphill as well. At least there I have L and the boys to cheer me through.

I cross the line in 4:15:22 which, I suppose, for a course like this still isn’t too bad and at least I’ve not got another nine laps to do.

(Sunday 19th May)

Friday, 17 May 2019

A Pleasant Morning For A Puncture

This week sees the return of Monday night dog training which the Lad thoroughly enjoys and he also does rather well. The quiet open field on a Monday suits him better than the busy indoor arena we usually train in where it’s far too easy to get overexcited. Which is something he specialises in.

I cycle on Tuesday and get a puncture but it was actually quite nice... I can’t remember the last time I’ve repaired a puncture when it hasn’t been either dark, raining, cold or a combination of all three. It was a very pleasant morning to have a puncture and I even had it close to a layby, on Coventry Lane, with a bin to dispose of my old tube. Perfect really.

L says that only I could put a positive spin on a puncture.
I go to a presentation in Derby about renovating the Assembly Rooms because finally, after it being closed for five years, they are going to reopen. While I was there I got interviewed by the Derby Telegraph and got my photo in the local paper along with a quote of what I said which was basically ‘stop ****ing around and get it open’.

Wednesday is the second leg of the Play Off Semi Final with Leeds. I’m not too bothered about winning, all I ask is that I get my money’s worth if I’m paying Sky to watch it. That I certainly get.

Derby win 4-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate, becoming the first side ever to overturn a first-leg home defeat to make it to the Play-Off Final. While Leeds became the first side in a decade to lead the league at Christmas without going up. As I said, got my money’s worth.

After the game Frank Lampard’s bar bill goes viral after he ‘got a round in’ after the game. With 65 Grey Goose on the bill, among other things, they weren’t buying any old rubbish.

I have a Derby County themed night the following evening too as I take my Dad to an event called ‘90 Minutes With The Champions’ at Quad. The Champions here are the team that won the Division 2 title in 1969 and they manage to round up five of the team from that era, some of whom have better memories than others. Well it was 50 years ago.

Daughter comes over to dog sit. She runs to our house and then goes out on a dog job with the Lad. As L left for her tennis, MD was waiting, quivering in anticipation (or trepidation) because it was his turn next.

Daughter then stays over as the girls are doing the Sunrise City 5k in morning. These runs are now at 5:25am, five minutes earlier than before which is something to do with the tram timetable I believe.

I meet up with L after work, she has been visiting her Dad, and she suggests a post-work pint in the Exeter. It’s very shallow of me to be swayed by such an offer but there you go.  

(Friday 17th May)