"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Beer And A Bark

A great drive in today, the roads are very quiet. You’d think all the schools were on strike or something but only one secondary school in Nottingham appears to be closed. Which is of course the kids’ old school, which as we know, never misses a chance for a day off.

That apart we’ve got to do with the courts, border control staff, coastguards, job centres and driving test examiners today. That combination will really bring the country to its knees.

It’s the dreaded MOT today. The verdict - two bulbs, dodgy wipers and an empty water bottle... How can they fail me on an empty water bottle? They tell me they’ve kindly filled it up for me but they’ve probably charged me labour and materials for it. Oh and they’ve adjusted my handbrake, it got an ‘amber’ for not being stiff enough. L will be pleased; she struggled to pull it on before it got its ‘amber’.

We visit the pub at lunch, for the traditional pie and chips which is not ideal race prep but then tonight’s race isn’t ideal race prep for Saturday half marathon either. Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb and it is Rushcliffe, so a pint can’t hurt. I can only make things look better surely.

So four miles of grit footpaths around Rushcliffe Country Park then. I vow to take it steady because my legs are still not functioning properly after Tuesday and I also need to keep something, well a lot, in the tank for Saturday. Oh and I’m full of pie and chips, and beer.

If I can run seven minute miles all the way I’ll be happy with that. Anything under 28 minutes for the whole thing would be acceptable in the circumstances, despite the fact I did 25 something last year.

I start well back and have to do a lot of overtaking, which should have been quite pleasant in a way, with one particular club from northern Nottinghamshire fielding all their female runners in crop tops and hot pants but there isn’t a pair of hips or a chest between them.

I achieve my target mile time with amazing accuracy for the first three miles, so I push on a bit in the fourth and start passing a few more people. I come in at 28.42. How did that happen? A 7.42 last mile? Gutted. Somebody must have moved the mile markers.

Where as I'm slower, L, much more shapely than a northern Nottinghamshire runner, is again quicker than last year by around 30 seconds. Well done again.

As it’s fairly warm tonight we collect the dogs and sit outside the pub afterwards, so that we can bark at everyone. A post race beer and a bark, you can’t beat it.

(Thursday 30th June)

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Team Going To Fail

On the bike today and somehow I managed to keep the legs turning all the way here. It wasn’t easy though. I hoped it would act as a loosener of the old limbs. It didn’t seem to work.

I like the second week of Wimbledon; in fact I actually prefer watching the doubles. I mean in the women's you get four for the price of two, don’t you. Strangely you'd have thought you'd get double the grunting but no, they seem to manage to restrain themselves when there's the risk of putting their partner off.

Then there’s the mixed and a possibility of a mini domestic on court, although Novak Djokovic managed a domestic with his racquet the other day without the aid of a partner. The mixed also gives the chance to see who the latest babe to share a court with Jamie Murray is. He certainly likes to play the field on that front. His brother may get the tennis headlines but he’s probably just happy getting the girls. He’s teamed up with a fetching Czech born Aussie this year.

It’s also the debut of Team Going To Fail tonight, in the pub quiz at the Old Bell. The quintet with the task of carrying off the honours is L and I plus Daughter and two of her fellow A Level students. So it’s in the bag really with that line up. The only problem, four rounds of questions, on books, films, music and a picture round.

I was confident about the music round until 6 out of the 10 questions turn out to be lyrics questions. Can't do them. Ironically '20th Century Boy' has been going around my head ever since but I didn't get it at the time.

All the same, we excel and come 2nd. 2nd bottom that is, by one point. It was close.

(Wednesday 29th June)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Uncharacteristically Tidy

At home the walls are strangely bare. Daughter has taken all her revision notes down, which is uncharacteristically tidy of her. It’s probably just to stop me blogging about any more of them.

The annual Nottingham Grand Prix starts tonight. That’s four running races in ten days. Part one is, as ever, 10k around Holme Pierrepont Water Sports Centre, meaning we return to the scene of the crime that was the 10 miler a month or so ago.

L is so stressed that she threatens to be eating chocolate as she runs round the many loops of the rowing strip at Holme Pierrepont. I think this is work-related stress rather than race-related. That said, it’s an interesting strategy and if it works she’ll have to do it at every race. I also hope she sticks to one lap. It is only one lap tonight isn't it?

In the end she just downs a sports bar, well that’s all she admits to and then apparently regrets it, feeling full all the way around. That is all the way around in over three minutes quicker than last year. Clearly something worked. Meanwhile I plod round two minutes slower than last year. So our times are converging, at five minutes a year she’ll soon be in front of me.

I suffer badly from stitch from 3km to around 8.5km, not pleasant. I blame my pre-race snack of a flapjack, which I had at 3.30, four hours before the start. So it shouldn’t have been a problem.

Oh well, things can only get better. Ah, no they can’t, its Rushcliffe next. I hate running around Rushcliffe and they’re making us do it twice in five days this years, thanks to Batman.

(Tuesday 28th June)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Poetic Justice

We have our favourite difficult customer up from Norfolk today, so I keep my head down. With any luck the meeting with him shouldn’t need me to get involved. Fingers crossed.

After birthday celebrations and cocktails in London, L’s liver announces that it’s putting its feet up for a few days. That easy for her to say, she doesn’t have a difficult customer up from Norfolk in the office but also her boss isn’t in yet either. So her liver might change its mind later.

L sends me a CV. Ah. This could be a sign of a bad day at the office after all, but no, it's not hers. It's Son’s but she's written it. She's determined to get him a job this summer. When he’s finished celebrating that is. His hall rather bizarrely won a free drinks session for being the most energy efficient hall. Hmmm... students... energy efficient...??? Unless you class staying in bed until lunchtime as being energy efficient.

At Wimbledon there’s poetic justice for the Williams sisters who whinged the other day when they didn’t get to play on one of the two show courts. They are indulged today, after their tantrums, displacing among others former champion Maria Sharapova and world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Who would you rather see on centre court?

In fact the Williams sisters' games are the only women’s games on the show courts today, so everyone gets a ringside seat to see the world numbers 26 and 33 both lose in straight sets.

I survive the day without getting summoned into any meetings and head off to dog class with the boys.

(Monday 27th June)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A Reunion That Out Reunions All Other Reunions

I take L and Daughter to the station for their 8am train to London. I hope Daughter can stay awake. It’s Glee today, in that big tent thing in London. Not for me thanks.

The boys and I have a busy day at home. We have to, with the park shut for Batman and Robin. We cut the lawn and the hedge. Which I manage to do without cutting through a wasps’ nest this year.

L texts to say she has no need for her carefully planned directions as they simply need to follow the stream of teenage girls to the venue. On the way they stop to sip coffee on London Bridge. Hmmm, alright for some. I’m kicking a ball around the garden. They’re on the margaritas now, not sure if that’s pizza version or cocktail version. If it's the later, it sounds like the lunch budget is already under strain. And a Brazilian... I'm awaiting confirmation on that one.

Then, with the boys asleep, I channel hop to try and get a glimpse of the main attraction at this year's Glastonbury, without success. All I get is replays of a one legged Jessie J, which is no better than the two legged version. There’s not even a glimpse of the legendary Wombles.

Their first gig since 1976 has already been banished to a 2pm slot on the Avalon stage, the preserve of folk like KT Tunstall, after Michael Eavis said he regretted booking them. Eavis does not seem to grasp what a momentous occasion this reunion is. A reunion that out reunions all other reunions. Either that or he’s been leant on by the likes of Bono and Chris Martin who were worried their bands would play to near empty arenas if their sets clashed with the furry legends.

Thankfully there are a few clips on YouTube but nothing on the BBC site yet.

I hope someone got the set list.

Seems they did.

Oooh Superwomble and The Orinoco Kid, I'd have paid good money for that but oddly no ‘Let's Womble To The Party Tonight’. Come on guys sort it.

What we all want to know now is, are they going to tour? If so, I’m there.

At 10pm I collect L and Daughter from the train station, L brandishing her Glee t-shirt.

A good day apparently, despite the gig, oh apparently even the gig was good.

(Sunday 26th June)

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Big Day Arrives

The big day arrives. To some it’s just another Saturday in June but no. Not only is it the midpoint of Glastonbury, it’s the midpoint of Wimbledon and bizarrely the midpoint of the year, in that it’s exactly six months from/to Christmas. Freaky, scary even. If all these significant events have coincided at the same time it can only mean one thing. It must be Daughter’s eighteenth birthday.

The countdown has been going on for some time, approximately the last four years, so you must have noticed. I’m surprised they haven’t got one of those big clocks in Trafalgar Square counting down. Well they have, but it’s for the Olympics, that thing you can’t get tickets for.

Subsequently our Saturday lie-in is truncated, although it’s not all Daughter’s fault. True, L is up and baking birthday cake but I’m berating Student Finance England over the phone and that is no one’s fault but their own, for being crap, again.

At lunch we assemble the family hoards and invade a local hostelry that doubles as a Thai restaurant. Daughter goes to the off licence on the way to try out her ID.

The restaurant is a compromise. Daughter wanted Chinese but L’s not keen on Chinese. Daughter’s not keen on Thai but we’re paying, so Thai it is. Personally I don’t think there’s much difference between the two but here at least I can get a pint.

It all goes well. The family depart, Daughter heads for home to meet some friends for part two, so L and I amble back, stopping for another beer on the way.

Then Daughter hits the town, on her first night of freedom and we hope that she isn’t too late home, along with L she has a 8am train to catch tomorrow. We go to bed early, shattered. Daughter tumbles in at 2.45am and wakes us both up, which works out better than it might have. I'll thank her later.

(Saturday 25th June)

Friday, 24 June 2011

A Punishing Schedule

L reckons she’s just done her last ever paper round covering for Daughter. That’s a shame. I've always enjoyed the personalised service even if she never did don the
short shirt and white ankle socks like they did when I was a lad.

L’s sister has Olympic tickets. Bravo. She’s the only person out of around twenty that I know who got any. At least I can brag that I know someone who got a ticket even if I can’t go myself. She’s become a minor celebrity.

According to the TV some people got three lots or more. That shouldn’t be allowed. Of course I could have got up at 6am to try and got a foot in the door for the one remaining reasonably priced athletics session but everybody will be doing the same thing and the website will grind to a halt. So I didn’t. By the time I did check at 8.30 everything bar football, weightlifting, volleyball and wrestling had gone. All sold by 6.45 apparently.

Daughter floats out of her last exam, the one she was least looking forward to. It seems to have gone well. I hope she quoted Chomski, Skinner, Piaget et all. I would have done.

My dodgy calf is improving all the same but still I opt out of tonight’s race. A good call, as it rains again, just like last year. It’s the start of a busy week for L. Four runs and a Glee concert in the next eight days. Now that’s a punishing schedule for anyone, particularly the Glee concert.

The race, the Heanor 5 miler, is at Shipley Cricket Club and looks to be quite challenging e.g. hilly. I might have liked those hills but never mind, I spectate instead. There’s quite a crowd watching, a noisy crowd too or was that just Doggo and MD. Doggo is always noisy at races because he feels he should be joining in but MD has never been that bothered until recently. Now he’s becoming a right pain, perhaps ever since I did that one race with him. It’s not warm to spectate either, I’m glad they’ve got coffee laid on.

The goody bag is good, which comes my way. A drinks bottle, I always need new drinks bottles, and a selection pack of High 5. Useful to me.

We get home at around nine and head into town, via the chip shop, which is perhaps a mistake. It wasn’t brilliant. We head into town on the off chance that Daughter decides to join us for a midnight drink, when she becomes 18, because I guess one of our local pubs where she’s been going since she was five wouldn’t be quite what she had in mind. In the end though she doesn’t, so we have a pleasant drink on our own.

(Friday 24th June)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wind Assisted Tennis

MD had it on him this morning and kept throwing his ball under my bike as I was trying to get it out the shed. I’m glad I’m not walking him this morning, although I will be tomorrow.

L suggests that if my calf is too sore I could always cancel tennis and rest it in the pub with her. Tempting. Actually it’s not too bad this morning. I’m happy to rest it in the pub after tennis.

That is if it is tennis. It depends on the weather. Tennis is Plan A but if it rains it’ll be squash, we’ve got a court booked just in case.

By lunchtime, with the weather looking good, we’ve cancelled the squash court and are looking forward to wind assisted Tennis. It doesn’t look like rain but it could be interesting serving with the wind, will never keep the ball in court. At least we’ll have something to blame our bad shots on.

I don’t enjoy the first set - 2-6. I’m not enjoying the second set either at 2-4 but enjoy it more when it becomes 6-5. I warn my opponent that after an hour and a half on court I’m not playing a decider if I win this one. It’ll be dark soon. I don’t, perhaps a lack of motivation is the problem here. I lose on a tie break.

L’s in the gym, probably getting a refresher course as it’s so long since she’s been. Although not as long as since I last went. We all adjourn to the White Hart.

(Thursday 23rd June)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A Fight To The Death In The Street

I did L’s trick this morning and get on the wrong bus. A brand new red Trent bus with Derby on the front turned up, so three of us got on it, assuming it was the Red Arrow. It wasn’t. So I took the scenic route to work.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists have announced that people over the age of 65 should drink a maximum of only 1.5 units of alcohol a day, just 11 units per week. That’s because older people are less able to process alcohol and the drink might also interact with medication they may be taking.

They are seriously missing the point here. Having reached the age of 65, those folk have clearly worked out what is good for them. Meanwhile the rest of us are desperately trying all they can to get to that magic number, or whatever the magic age is to by then, partly to piss the government off and claim a pension. Once there surely all bets are off and we can all drink ourselves into oblivion.

L runs home, via the canal, so that she has the option to drown herself on the way. Ah, hard day at work Dear? She should save her drowning for a glass of 1.5 later.

I may have a few more than 1.5 tonight but I’ll put a brave face on it. I meet up with a couple of old school friends, have a few beers, compare our lack of Olympic tickets and then we head off to find something to eat.

As we walk down the row of curry houses on Midland Road in Derby, both the Viceroy and the Shalimar try and prostitute us through their doors with tempting ‘offers’. We fell for this at the Viceroy before but the offers disappeared once they’d got us through the door. Although we did get a free drink when we complained about the slow service.

For a moment we consider getting the two to face off against each other, in a kind of a fight to the death for our trade in the street but we’d still need to get the winning offer in writing. Perhaps in blood.

But we don’t, we skip past them both and go Nepalese, sort of. The Mount Everest Gurkha Restaurant is just around the corner on London Road, I didn’t even know it was there. It’s Nepalese and Indian but judging by the menu, more Indian than Nepalese. That apart the food is very good and the place busy, which is always a good sign.

They even have a Nepalese beer called Gurkha. It looks interesting, tastes ok but turns out to be from... Horsham. Oh well you can’t have everything.

(Wednesday 22nd June)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


I’m struggling a bit with a tight calf at the moment, not another injury I hope but all the same I’m avoiding running on it. I do get the bike out today though, which doesn’t seem to aggravate it too much.

Later, after training MD for a bit, we head onto the park. That is after giving both dogs twenty minutes or so to recover. For some reason, Doggo who hasn’t been training, is more creased than MD.

L is out at a Jane Austen evening, whatever that is. She does explain but it’s still not clear, at least to me.

We have a long amble around the park, possibly our last before it shuts for the film making. We check out the assorted bit of equipment, tents and fencing that have appeared everywhere. None of which gives much away. I just hope they're getting lots of money for loaning the park out and that they’ll be reinvesting it in the place. Ha ha.

(Tuesday 21st June)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Orange, Vicious And Deadly

More exam day nerves today. For L of course, Daughter seems fine.

It’s on the news that a man died during the Great North Swim on Saturday. Tragic. The cause of death is as yet unknown. It has to be said that safety procedures looked excellent with rescue boats and life guards in canoes everywhere. Even I could not have drowned so you would presume some heart condition or the like was at play here.

As I drive back from dog class tonight I get a ‘distress text’ from L ‘There's a massive spider watching me in the kitchen’. An exaggeration obviously but I tell her to keep it cornered, as I'm rushing to her aid on my white horse. Well in the car anyway. ‘It's orange, vicious and deadly’. Sounds foreign. She thinks I brought it home with the bananas. It’s probably just on holiday.

I get home and see that he is indeed quite a big b******. I scoop him up in a tissue and take him outside. I was going to release him into the wild e.g. Nottingham, then on seconds thoughts I consider that he might make a run for it back inside. So I humanely euthanize him.

(Monday 20th June)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Nothing In My Size

L swaps her green swimming cap for a yellow one and gets back in the water. Day three of the Great North Swim and L’s second swim in Windermere, just a mile today but it’s still her third event in three days.

Again the weather isn’t too bad, not that the swimmers would probably be that bothered in their compulsory wetsuits. It’s a little colder and the water temperature has dropped a degree.

With it being only the half the distance I don’t really have time to chill in the pub, so I don’t have to wrestle with the £3.90 a pint question.

Afterwards L picks up another T shirt, which is the same as Friday’s. It would have been nice to have had a special for the two miler. Unfortunately I won’t be wearing this one for her, as they had run out of my size. Gutted.

Then we head to the Watermill Inn at Ings for a late lunch before head off back down the M6 to home.

(Sunday 19th June)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Surviving The Trail

Race two of the weekend and I’m involved in this one. The Ronhill Great Langdale 10K Trail run with a nice relaxed start time of 12.30. After some awesome overnight rain, well it sounded great on the tent roof, the weather gradually fines up through the morning and the race is run in the dry.

Now I don’t like trail running, at all. Nice, smooth, flat tarmac for me, thank you very much. This however turns out to be ok. Just ok mind.

It’s mostly on good trails, some gravel tracks and even has a longish tarmac stretch. There is a rather tricky, rocky and root strewn section down by the river, which I opt to walk across, rather than fall head first into the river but the rest is fine.

The scenery is, of course, gorgeous and I even remember to have a look at it, apart from when tiptoeing alongside the river. There was one serious hill and that wasn’t that serious, certainly not considering where they could have sent us. Bowfell anyone?

I come in 13th out of 73, so that’s pleasing. My time isn’t bad either which perhaps indicates it wasn’t quite 10k. However it’s more accurate than the advertised half marathon which shortened itself to a 20k before they even started. That started thirty minutes before the 10k and I was pleased to get home ahead of anyone in that race.

On the plus side it was very well organised by the chap I think who treated us to the Windermere Triathlon last year. We got a good pre-race briefing/spiel/monologue, lots of way markers and plenty of marshals. There was however no chip timing or a t-shirt, both of which were advertised. Neither of which is a problem, except when you pay £25 to enter event, as we had for this one, and start to wonder what you’ve paid for.

Which turned out to be an energy bar and a bandana, which isn’t really going to get worn by most people and I guess Ronhill couldn’t sell them either which was why we got them. A T-shirt next time guys and no excuses, if only to advertise your race and up the numbers which were perhaps a little down on what you expected but not too bad for a first running of an event.

Particularly considering there was not only the Great North Swim on but another swim up at Derwent Water and, probably their main competition, The Great Lakes 21km Run not half a mile away down the valley at Stool End Farm. Now that was a serious undertaking, they did send their competitors up Bowfell but they didn’t stop there. A scenic tour of Upper Eskdale followed via the two highest peaks in England, Scafell Pike and Scafell. Not for me thanks. Later there was a guy on the campsite bemoaning his four and a half hour time. Sounds blindingly good to me.

We head down to the Old Dungeon Ghyll to rehydrate. Yes ok, for the Old Peculiar and a Cumberland but in the evening we return to the Sticklebarn for a second go at the Snecklifter. Problematic is the fact that Keswick’s Thirst Fall has been added to the bar which is also very nice. 4.8% and much darker than I remember. I decide to alternate.

(Saturday 18th June)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Great North Swim

A day off today and a drive up the M6 to Cumbria. A drive that is largely uneventful, which by M6 standards is exactly how you want it. As we drive past the Low Wood Bay Hotel and Marina near Ambleside at around 1.30pm it is clear that the Great North Swim is Blue Green Algae free and going ahead, as preparations seems to be in full swing and folks are even heading to the start already for the first two mile swim at 3pm. We pitch camp in our usual spot on the Great Langdale National Trust campsite and head back to Low Wood Bay, a very nervous looking L is off at 4pm. She’ll be fine.

There are just three waves today in the two mile event totalling around 600 swimmers, so it’s much more relaxed than it usually is on a Saturday or a Sunday when they’ll be around 3000 each day.

‘Typical’ Lake District weather of sunshine and showers with a gusting wind has been predicted. Waterproofs are recommended, for those who aren’t donning a wetsuit for a dip in the choppy looking lake.

Actually, the weather stays fine and I get to spectate in my shirt sleeves, my Great North Swim 2010 T-shirt, kindly donated to me by L. Well no one can say I didn’t do it because the whole race was cancelled so no one did. The boys and I settle into watch from the veranda of the Low Wood Bay bar.

Disappointingly there’s no ale in the main bar but I dig a bit deeper and find the local Hawkshead Bitter in the hotel lounge, that’s better. A snip at £3.90 a pint, ouch. That’s for a 3.7% ale. So I won’t be having a second.

An hour and half later, L surfaces from the water with part one of her three part weekend challenge complete but with only two miles added to her total for 90 minutes effort. She should get a bike, it would help her clock up her 500 miles in a much quicker time.

We head back to base camp and the Sticklebarn Inn, where the Snecklifter is a reasonable £3.30 a pint, which for a 5.1% ale is much better value.

(Friday 17th June)

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I’ve got an exam this morning or is it Daughter who has the exam? I’m not sure, what with all the bathroom based learning I’ve been doing, in the shower, brushing my teeth, on the loo etc etc. Thanks to all the post-it notes everywhere, I feel ready for anything.

Take Jean Paiget's ‘Sensorimotor Intelligence’. If an object moves out of view it ceases to exist. Rather like Daughter's dirty socks or a used plate or an empty margarine tub. We live with that phenomenon every day. I’m not sure how old Paiget was when he wrote that but he was obviously still a teenager at heart.

The late Douglas Adams had another phrase for it in 'Life, the Universe and Everything', he called it ‘Somebody else’s problem’, an S.E.P, something the brain just edits out, like a blind spot.

It seems I’m not taking the exam, so I walk the dogs instead, while L reinvents herself as the paper girl. Which just leaves Daughter with simple matter of sitting the exam. Teamwork eh?

Well it was going to be tennis but as the weather predictions were so bad we booked squash but in the end it’s sunny, so we cancel squash and blow the dust off the tennis racquets. I was dreading this but in the end I quite enjoy it. A 2-6 6-3 0-6 defeat. I was desperate to get to the pub at the end, that’s my excuse anyway.

(Thursday 16th June)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

D-day Approaches

I cycle again despite the dire weather predictions. Oddly I don’t see any rain at all, although L says it rains repeatedly where she is. She’s just unlucky. Hope her luck improves before Friday when she’s swimming and I’m stood on the bank watching because the forecast isn’t promising.

D-day tomorrow. A Level exams. Daughter is studying in the library in town. So it’s serious stuff.

I swim tonight and feel sorry for the poor 13-14 year old lad who was floundering in the fast lane. He hardly seemed to complete a length without stopping half way and standing up. First he only had me to contend with and I passed him almost every length. Then somebody else got in who was faster than me. I was amazed no collisions occurred. You would have at least thought one of the two attendants would have had a quiet word and recommended that he moved down a lane or two.

(Wednesday 15th June)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Distant Sound

I cycle in today. A glorious morning. Warm, dry, sunny with little breeze, not much traffic on the roads, birds singing blah blah etc etc and the distance sound of a dog barking. That’ll be MD then. He was practising hard before he even left the house.

The weather forecast is not looking promising for our first tennis match of the year on Thursday. My opponent has already suggested trying to get a squash court just in case. We can always cancel it if the weather looks good.

Unbelievable. Just rang Portland and they said when you would you like 6.00, 6.45 or 7.30! We can’t usually get in, at all. Where’s everyone gone? More ammunition to the council, they’ll be closing it.

They’re not swimming because for L’s possibly last Great Swim training session there were only three of them in the pool. So they'll be filling that in as well and extending the gym.

I take the boys on the park. There are deer everywhere, totally ignoring the designation deer areas. At this time of the year, we have to keep out of the calving areas, according to all the signs. Only the deer calve where the hell they like. Can they not read?

(Tuesday 14th June)

Monday, 13 June 2011

You Have To Laugh

Billy D gets the bullet from Forest. You have to laugh. I think we all saw it coming but it’s still funny. Billy just doesn’t get on with chairmen particularly if they're called Nigel Doughty. No doubt another club will be lining him up to see if theirs can do any better. Guys, save your money.

L’s out tonight, running with friends. Which always seems to get organised for the day after a hard race. Apparently they bump into some ‘hashers’. A drinking club with a running problem. They sound like a ‘sane’ bunch, they have ‘hares’, I assume that’s the run leader, called ‘Shagulator’, ‘Butt Plug’, ‘Rectal Probe’ and ‘Andean Sex Beast’ among others. Is she sure running is the only problem they’ve got?

I’m not dog training tonight. I have committee meeting instead and some good arguments hopefully. I'll take that back. After tonight’s meeting I could really strangle somebody.

(Monday 13th June)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Potter Around The Potteries

I'm not doing any half marathons until at least August. Well apart from the Birmingham And Black Country Half Marathon in July because it sounds cranky and well, the Potters 'Arf... because... it sounds cranky and if it actually says ‘Potters Arf’ on the t-shirt, I’ve got to have one. So here we are. At this rate I’ll be at 500 miles around the same time as L.

We arrive early in sexy Stoke, as the organisers suggested, and park right next to the course in a multi-storey for £1.50 all day. So far so good but there's one problem, there’s hardly anyone here. So I'm looking at top ten and probably, so too is L. Perhaps not, after going back to the car for a while, we re-emerge to find that hundreds have arrived ‘late’.

The early morning sunshine has given way to black clouds and the temperature appears to be dropping fast but we’ll be ok because they say the rain isn’t coming until mid-afternoon. ‘They’ are wrong. The main consolation as they walk us down to the start in the rain is that things could be worse, I could have been at a wet dog show. I look across at a daffodil that seems the worse for wear already, I wonder if he’d rather be somewhere else. That costume must be pretty heavy when it’s dry, let alone wet.

The start is well organised, after they’ve walked us down to the line we are released almost immediately, so no standing around shivering in the rain. Small mercies I suppose, as it rains from start to finish but once you’re running you don’t notice it that much. That’s what they say isn’t it? It certainly didn’t put off the hardy folk of Stoke who still came out in large numbers to cheer us on.

Sexy Stoke ain’t that sexy to be honest but the zero scenery of endless housing estates and industrial units, often derelict, doesn’t bother me much. It means I can concentrate on my running and I actually loved the course. Which is a challenging mix of hills and hills with a few hills in between, but all on decent tarmac. The field is big enough to have some atmosphere, which the crowd add to by offering sweets, drinks and ice pops. Apparently there’s usually a hose pipe spray at the top of one of the hills, not required today. Also absent apparently is the guy who DJ’s from his roof. Shame. Could have done with a bit of music but I don’t blame him for bailing out.

I start to enjoy myself, burn off the daffodil and a rather bedraggled Alice in Wonderland and set about running a steady but not spectacular pace. There’s not much point going for a time on this course and with my lack of training.

A ‘Potters Trotter’ potters past me, or should that be trotters past me, so obviously my pace needs to be a little more spectacular. I put that right. Interestingly I’m beginning to think the step up in distance to half marathon suits me. How irritating is that?

At around 12 miles they throw ‘Heartbreak Hill’ at us, just like the one on the Chicago marathon. It’s short and sharp but not too bad. Then it’s all downhill to the finish where I finish in a second under 1 hour 42.

They are handing out gold, silver and bronze medals, which is a nice touch that I'd forgotten about. I get a silver for under 1:45, sadly a gold for under 1:30 is out of my league. There’s also a Potteries plate and the famous t-shirt in a generous goody bag. Well generous apart from the fact that there wasn't any chocolate in it.

I’m very cold when I've finished and there’s no massage tent staffed by girls from the local uni to warm me up so I head back to the car to get dry, dressed and have a quick coffee. Then it’s back down to the finish to see L storm down the finish straight and she does storm, I can’t keep up with her.

Well done Stoke, you've done your city proud. An excellent race, very well organised with police everywhere dealing with the traffic. Ok there’s a gripe or two. The mile markers were not very visible and I missed a few. Also advance notice of the drinks stations would be nice, so that I can glug my gel well in advance but overall it was superb. It again makes me wonder why Derby can't manage to organise a half marathon.

The post race coffee we have brought is very welcome to warm us up; as is the hot bath once we get home. Now we just need the beer. We slip on (almost) matching coats over our matching ‘Potters ‘Arf’ t-shirts and head out. How twee! But as it so annoys Daughter, it's so worth it. We attempt to pub crawl Beeston but find out that the Wetherspoons there is so good - several dark ales including Damson Porter plus Jaipur that we can’t escape for several hours. We do eventually make it to the Crown where, as is tradition, I try and took L into a curry.

(Sunday 12th June)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Looking For Positives

A dog show in Osmaston today, which is near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. A nice location and probably the best, flattest surface we ever get to compete on.

The old man kicks things off with a nice steady clear round and goes into 5th place. With rosettes down to 8th we might even get one. We don’t, he gets pushed down to 12th but not bad for starters.

Now to unleash the pocket rocket onto an unsuspecting public. On a tricky first course (for grades 3-5) he has a pole down and misses his weave entry but it’s a promising start. I really fancy our chances on course two, a lower level grade 1-3 course with only 14 obstacles. I didn’t think only 14 obstacles was legal and nor did many other people, so the judge gets his rule book out to show us that anything for 10 to 20 is allowed. Game on. It’s very straight and should be very quick but MD does quick quite well. I tell him I expect a rosette, if not a trophy, so to keep his paws up and not to knock any poles. Yeah yeah he mutters, whatever. He’s such a teenager.

I concentrate on getting the trickier mid section right, only we don’t get there. MD tries to miss out jump number four. Why? We are so not speaking. Still he kept all the poles up. I'm looking for positives here.

Perhaps our luck will be in on run three. We are quick, fourth fastest. It’s just a shame about that pole he clipped. Back to the drawing board. Again.

Doggo saves the day with another solid run and 11th place. Unfortunately, again just not quite good enough for a rosette.

(Saturday 11th June)

Friday, 10 June 2011


On the bus, some call it tapering, for a jaunt around sexy Stoke on Sunday.

Have you heard that they’ve declared a drought in eastern England? Apparently it’s not much better here in the midlands.

As I ride home from work on the bus, the driver can’t seem to find a fast enough setting to clear the latest thunderstorm from his windscreen. Oddly as we drive through Bramcote everywhere is white over. Snow or hail? I’m not sure. The rain eases off by the time I get off the bus in Nottingham but the deluge has left its mark.

Though I imagine it’s the wrong kind of rain to ease the drought.

I get home to find one dog, bone dry, waiting for me to open the bedroom door so that he can hide whilst the other one is bouncing around in the garden in the rain and up to his eyeballs in mud, waiting for his ball to be kicked. They are so not alike. I take one look at the ominous clouds still lurking over head and axe the planned park session, whilst also refusing to kick MD’s ball on health and safety grounds. He sulks.

L’s at the pool, with the delightful pleasure of slipping into rain soaked clothes once she’s finished her swim.

Things do ease up later and MD does get his ball kicked, for a while, before we slip out to the Ropewalk for a few.

(Friday 10th June)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Grand Finale

Apparently the latest Batman film is to be part filmed in Wollaton Park. This I assume is why next month’s grand prix race has been moved to Rushcliffe. Although I think the organisers have been messed around by the film makers as the park will actually be open on the day of the race - July 5th but will be closed totally for nine whole days between June 25th and July 2nd. Surely they don’t need the whole park? I don’t think the council drove a very hard bargain here, particularly as the golf club appears to be unaffected and the dogs are going to livid.

I’m on the bike again which goes well until somebody bombs past me on the way home. Smart a***.

Then it’s time for the grand finale at Clifton. The final squash match before the council takes away our Thursday night game. L makes me promise not to throttle anyone at the leisure centre and to let her know if I want my tea taxied over because I’ve chained myself to something.

It turns out that there’s not much point staging a sit in because the building work has already been delayed. The closure of the courts has been deferred until Wednesday, at the earliest. We are told that we can book for next Thursday if we want, on the off chance that the courts will still be there when we turn up. We decline.

It’s a good final match, a close one and although I don’t win the match I can at least lay claim to winning the final game at Clifton.

Afterwards I have a chat with the centre manager who says they did have a display about the changes in the cafe area for a while, but we never go down that end. Although apparently retention of the squash courts was not an item that was up for discussion. It seems the argument is – if a gym isn’t used enough, we’ll expand it and modernise it to persuade people to use it, but, if squash courts aren’t used enough we’ll demolish them.

We decide we can’t be bothered with jumping through the hoops required to get into Portland next week for game, so we’re playing tennis next week. So that’s two less squash customers for the council to worry about.

L is also unhappy with the council, she swam 98 of her planned 100 lengths before she got chucked out of the pool and then found out the mocha’s gone up by 10p. That’s to pay for the new squash courts. Ha ha.

My shoulder is oddly ok after the squash game but not so ok after a training session and a lot of tugging in the garden with MD. I need a glass of wine to dull the pain.

(Thursday 9th June)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Back On The Old Wheels

Back on the old wheels today and I must say they’ve done a very good job with it. Rides like a dream, albeit not quite as good a dream as my best bike.

L’s got a race tonight, the Beeston 5 miler. I’m not doing it; I have dogs to train. This means she has to get herself there, straight from work, which often delays her. She threatens to get a taxi out of petty cash if work causes her to be running late. Her boss gives her a lift.

She’s got competition tonight, in the shape of the mother of one of Daughter’s friends and about 150 others of course. L is worried and even takes an energy bar with her. Blimey, she is taking it seriously. Apparently the woman’s got a profile on Runners World. So, hasn’t everyone? Apparently not. Perhaps it’s just me then. L says that if she doesn't beat her she'll drown herself. That’s what I like. Incentive.

Dog training goes well; both MD and Doggo get to train. We try out some new manoeuvres. People are always trying to do things differently, not that I’m sure it helps. As it confuses me, it must confuse the dogs and in Doggo’s case it’s certainly a case of trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

L’s run goes well and she wins her personal battle. I had every faith.

(Wednesday 8th June)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Why I Don’t Do Shuffle

I actually get the right bus this morning. It must have been late. Rather reluctantly I start another Logan McRae audiobook and instantly regret it... severed heads on the beach his time.

L’s on audio as well. Although she’s listening to a CD that I converted to mp3s and then copied to her ipod. I hadn’t realised the downside of this. She almost always has her music on ‘shuffle’, which is not something I ever do, and her ipod intersperses the odd chapter of a book into the music. That’s almost hilarious. Here’s Marilyn Manson followed by a random book chapter followed by song from Glee. She has varied tastes. Then again Marilyn Manson followed by Glee is shocking enough. Which is why I don’t shuffle.

I run home. We have the ‘Potters Arf’ this weekend. So I'm doing a bit of (late) training, allegedly. I decide to do nine miles of which the first seven are pretty gruesome. They are not pleasant at all but then oddly I enjoy the last two. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or not. In fact I probably could have carried on but thought I better not spoil it.

I get the bus the rest of the way and then when I'm home, I cook those Singapore Noodles that I’ve been promising. They’re a complete disaster but oddly popular with the girls at home. I suppose they taste alright but they come out the pan in one amorphous pasta lump due to my refusal to use any cooking oil. I'm trying to be healthy you see. The recipe needs tweaking I think.

The work in progress on the ‘gigography of my life’ continues apace. I’ve managed to track down my written diaries covering the period July 1988 to the end of 1994, when I went computerised. I’ve always been a bit of a diary fiend I’m afraid. I’m sure I have some earlier diaries somewhere. I can feel another loft search coming on.

(Tuesday 7th June)

Monday, 6 June 2011

Pain At The Dentist

I’m doing a recipe for Singapore Noodles tomorrow. So the question in Sainsbury’s is do I go for e-coli ridden beansprouts or not. Obviously I’ll avoid anything German but then you do anyway don’t you, on principle. I’m sure all these health scares are generally over hyped anyway. Although I notice L hasn’t requested I pick up any cucumber this week. Then I realise that we have a tin of beansprouts in the cupboard at home. Nice safe tinned beansprouts, bought a couple of months ago. Sorted.

After work I take the dogs to the dentist. Well I go to the dentist; the dogs sit in the car and wait for me, as we’re on the way to dog class. My teeth are fine by the way, in case you’re wondering. Well I think they’re fine but I was in and out the clinic so quickly and the dentist gave them such a cursory glance and the quickest of quick prods that I’m not sure he could tell himself but at least he’s not going to inflict any pain on me. What’s that? £18? Apart from the pain of the bill that is.

(Monday 6th June)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Grimace And Bear It

Today the Sinfin Classic 10k which is organised by Sinfin Running Club but rather confusingly isn’t held anywhere near Sinfin. Instead it’s at Elvaston Castle, which is a nice location but I think the race needs a better name.

We arrive early and join a rather long queue to collect out numbers. That hold up apart, it’s a well organised race, with plenty of friendly, encouraging marshals and an almost totally flat course. So in a way there’s PB potential here and I did dip just under 40 minutes here three years ago, which was a PB at the time.

I must have closed my eyes and my mind three years ago because this is really not my sort of race at all. I've become a nice smooth tarmac sort of person. Today we start off with speed bumps and smattering of pot holes to negotiate. Then we’re on to grit paths (not my favourite) for most of the rest of the route with a small respite to take us over some cobbles in the castle courtyard. It’s a new course this year and if I’d have changed the course, the first thing to have gone would have been the cobbles but perhaps that’s just me. I grimace and bear it.

I had considered that this might be the ‘one’ that I’ve been in training for but in the end I decide to designate this as another ‘training run’. I'll be awesome when I get to the event I’ve actually been training for.

They take us up along the river and up through the new road system that has been laid down for the new industrial park that doesn't have any industry on it. I notice they’ve started building even more roads on this land. I have no idea why and they probably haven’t either.

I go for a negative split and start with a 4:06km rather than the usual suicidal 3:40km. Doesn’t work though. I still get slower. I run the first half in 20:57 and the second half in 21:49. The second half is only as quick as that because I get a panic on that I’m not going to break 43 minutes. I do, by 14 seconds.

Just out of interest my splits three years ago were 19:38 and 20:20. Which was quicker but is another positive split.

Whilst I’m three minutes slower than three years ago, L is a similar amount faster but she’s not happy with her run either. She is happy though with the green t-shirt, well happier than me. Green is not really my colour, although granted it’s a vast improvement on the red long sleeved one of three years ago.

My parents have come to support so we all go for lunch at the New Inn, Shardlow and then afterwards head home to relax, chill out and nod off.

I recover enough later to train MD and share a bottle of wine with L.

(Sunday 5th June)

Saturday, 4 June 2011


A dog show at Catton Park today, the scene of MD’s near victorious 10k run, and he performs well again on the Catton Park turf. On his first run he’s a mere half a second behind the winner... unfortunately we had a pole down, attempting a manoeuvre we’ve only been practising for a fortnight but the point is, he was quick.

He’s quicker still on run two, only .2 behind the winner but again with a damn pole down and I even held him back on that course once we’d had that pole. So that’s also encouraging.

We have the speed, we just need to keep those paws up when going over those jumps or rather he does.

His last two runs are not so good. Showing we also need to improve our consistency. We have two training sessions this week, plus some homework in the garden and then we’ll be good to go again next Saturday.

Doggo is unlucky, to have me handling him. We pick up just five faults (one set) on each of his two courses and both of them are probably my fault.

A night in tonight, another run tomorrow.

(Saturday 4th June)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Making Plans For The Hunger Strike

I walk the boys this morning. It’s uneventful. L is incredulous. We did see a few of his favourite things:- squirrels/cats/dogs/people, but he was fairly chilled about them.

I’m walking the boys because L is cramming in the swimming training as it’s Windermere in two weeks. She reckons she’s on target for an hour and a half for the two mile swim. Hang on a sec. L has a target? That slipped out. She takes it all far more seriously than she usually admits to.

I go to the Clifton Leisure Centre webpage this morning and yep, there are the secret plans to flatten the squash courts. Well they were there until the website was mysteriously updated at 8.45am and all reference to the changes removed, just as I was trying to fill in the feedback form. This is turning into a full blown conspiracy. It looks like the hunger strike and chaining ourselves to the squash court door is the only way to proceed with this.

OMG... Look what they've done to the Birmingham Half.

It's been Bupa-ised. The event has become part of the Bupa Great Run series and has been relaunched as the Bupa Great Birmingham Run. So that's the end of EDF’s 'Race Against Climate Change' then... I wonder who won? Bupa are taking over everything at the moment and fast becoming the Tesco of running. I’m not looking forwarding to next year’s Bupa Great Nottingham Run.

Well, at least it should run like clockwork, though they still seem intent on starting 15,000 runners on Broad Street but I'll be doing it anyway, I have unfinished business.

At lunch time I collect old faithful, so I'll be back on my old bike next week.

Then at night we revisit the Ruddington Beer Fest. It is split over three pubs. We start in the White Horse Inn, which is incredibly busy and has a very good range of beers. Then on to the Red Heart, which you can tell isn’t quite as into its beer but they made a pretty good effort and had even got bands playing on their back lawn. Then we finished up back at the Three Crowns where we were last night and take advantage of the curry deal offered by their own Indian restaurant, which is in the back of the pub. A very good night.

(Friday 3rd June)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The End For Our Squash Games?

I wake up with an incredibly sore shoulder. I was possibly too overzealous with the tug toy and MD last night. Still I grit my teeth and cycle. Will do it good I say. L doesn’t look convinced.

The shoulder IS improving. Slowly. I think exercising it on the bike this morning did it good. L still seems sceptical and thinks I should cancel squash. Which is a bit of an overreaction I think.

I remembered to avoid the loose chippings this morning but forget on the way home and have to u-turn but it proves to be well worth it when I get to slipstream a couple of girlies on road bikes. Briefly. My God they were fast women. Out of my league, that being the veterans league of course.

It’s good that my shoulder didn’t cause me to cancel squash because it’s a good game, very close and I even win a game. Although I think my necks gone now. Also because we might not be getting many more games in, as we find that the courts are being demolished next Friday. Ah. Nice of them to tell us. We book a final farewell game for next Thursday and considering camping out in the courts afterwards to stop their demolition.

The courts are closing because the council line is that no one uses them. I pointed out to the staff that both courts were almost always booked at 6.15 before we play, at 7.00 when we play and at 7.45 afterwards, on whichever day we play but apparently this isn’t classed as busy because people aren’t skipping work to play in the afternoons.

So the gym is going to be extended over the squash courts instead. There have been rumours about this for years but I felt confident that this wouldn’t happen without consultation with centre users, what with us being regulars. Got that one wrong didn’t I.

Problem is where will we play now? A year ago two courts in the east of the city were demolished, then with these in Clifton gone that leaves just four. Two of those are at Beechdale Swimming Centre but that entire centre is scheduled for demolition sometime in the not so distant future. I’m guessing here but I bet Beechdale’s courts won’t be replaced either. Which leaves out old favourite Portland but Portland is popular, in the evenings anyway, and is almost impossible to get into, which is why we usually play at Clifton.

Nottingham City Council has been running down its squash provision for years, saying that squash is in decline, whilst offering facilities in such a state that they actively encourage a decline by driving customers away. All the courts are in an appalling state without exception. Peeling paint, uneven floors, uneven walls and rails broken. I am also not aware of a single council court that has a working ventilation system; all are broken and have been for as long as I can remember. Some of the doors don’t shut properly. One at Clifton, when shut, could often only be opened from the outside. Then some weeks we have been unable to play because the squash court has been booked for Pilates! So it's no wonder they can't attract enough people to play on their courts.

L runs to us, goes in the soon to be expanded gym and meets us afterwards. Hopefully they’ll be some good beers on at the pub tonight, I need a strong one. As its the Ruddington Beer Fest starting this evening we should be in luck. The festival runs across three pubs of which our usual the ‘Three Crowns’ is one. Titanic Stout and Batemans Victory. Shame I'm driving.

There’s always tomorrow.

(Thursday 2nd June)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

No Olympic Games Tickets

Apparently all payments for Olympic Games tickets have now been taken. Did I get any? No. I’m hopeless at gambling though. I never win anything in a raffle and seemingly even when I gamble £3,500 on twenty different events I still come up with zilch. Mind you not one person at work has got any either, so perhaps it was a postcode lottery.

L drops into work for the first time this week and then drops out again to go to an audio books talk in Bilborough by a guy who dictates these books for a living and who used to be on Playschool. Gordon Griffin. No I don’t remember him either. I wonder if he’s read any Stuart McBride.

I run home, a bit. A mile and half to the bus stop and then three and a half home. It went ok.

It was a good job that I got the bus for the middle bit because I discovered that they've stone chipped the old Nottingham road, again. Why? It was fine. More fine than fine actually. What’s the logic in resurfacing that road when we have others riddled with pot holes?

So I had a lucky escape. I could have been coming along that on my best bike today if I hadn’t opted to run. When the stones are fresh, apart from getting chip blasted by passing cars, which can be very painful on the legs as well as damaging to the bike, it also renders the road gripless to a road bike. Not pleasant at all.

Now I need to remember to cycle the other way through Ilkeston tomorrow and for a few months until all the stones have gone.

MD is actually very good at dog training later.

(Wednesday 1st June)