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

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Performance Enhancing Muesli

L sends me to work with homemade Granola. I’ve always avoided Granola as I have no idea what it is. It looks just like muesli and now I know it tastes a bit like muesli, although perhaps muesli on performance enhancing drugs.

Having struggled to schedule in a training run this work. I enter Friday’s Jagermeister 10k, despite having un-officially having retired from 10k’s. L joins me, despite having un-officially retired from everything fitness related, not that we believe her.

The latest load of... on the BBC website, which categorizes L has having the body of a weightlifter.

She takes that badly. Don’t know why when you look at GB’s Zoe Smith who’s been impressing us with a new British record this week.

This 'clever piece of technology' then tell me I have the body of a basketball player, rower, tennis player or a pole-vaulter. Female ones. Clearly I’m not tall enough to be a male basketball player... Or possibly I may be a male Moldovan archer. I think not, although that has just about covered everything. I’d love to be able to pole-vault.

L's sister is a 100m sprinter, a male one. If only she'd have known earlier she'd have done some training.

L would rather be a sailor, having watched Ben Ainslie and co. Sailing? She worries about getting a puncture on her bike, imagine the sleepless nights about capsizing.

MD is due at the vets tonight for his annual booster and he’s terrified. I suppose with good reason, not only did they once remove something from underneath his tail, last time they squirted the kennel cough vaccine up his nose. He toughs it out.

(Tuesday 31st July)

Monday 30 July 2012


A colleague at work has just done the Three Peaks Challenge, although it took his team 30 hours rather than the optimum 24. He’s a bit disappointed with that, he had been training hard for it and felt they could have done it inside the 24. Seems a couple of his team weren’t quite up to it and once some of them had called it a day after Scafell Pike, the rest of them speeded up. He says they’ll have another go and has asked me if I’d like to.... L says she’ll hold my coat... in the pub.

Dog training tonight and despite a touch of heartburn, for which she’s blaming last night’s Indian for, L runs while we train. She’s such a martyr. The Battle of Bosworth on audio book should drown out her pain. Son doesn’t join us this week, so I’ll have to be impressed by her martyrdom enough for two people.

(Monday 30th July)

Sunday 29 July 2012

The Show Is Over

The third and final day of the dog show and MD’s worse day. No clears today. An assorted selection of faults and an elimination. Doggo is clear though, with a storming run in the Vets.

Then once the show is over, there comes the packing away. Many hands though make light work of it.

They ask for someone to drive the lorry around to pick up all the rubbish sacks. Everyone looks at their hands or the floor. Ok I’ll do it. Quite fun actually, as we load up the skip.

Then we head home to a clean shaven Son, a takeaway curry and some Olympic catching up.

(Sunday 29th July)

Saturday 28 July 2012

That's A Difficult One

The second day of the dog show and I'm excused car parking duties today.

L requests something healthy for breakfast... That's a difficult one. The food isn’t great on site and she likes to share the occasional boiled egg and oatcake with the boys at breakfast. Ah. Will a bacon and egg sarnie do?

MD isn't quite as on his game as yesterday. We’re clear in the team event but others aren’t. In the individuals, he gets an elimination, a five faults and a clear. The clear in the Agility nets us 6th place. So can’t complain. All this with a hangover. Mine not MD's. I knew I’d regret the Festival Ale. Can we do better tomorrow?

Doggo is back on form, clear in the Veterans.

We tone it down with the takeout tub and play is safer with the 4.5% Damson Porter.

We also revisit the White Swan for another curry. Jalfrezi this time.

With being in a different field this year we are closer to the 24 hour Thunder Run that is going on across the other side of the road. As we sip our Porter we can see them making their way around the course in the dark, head torches glowing. Quite fancy that, only problem is I don't know enough people mad enough to make up a team with me.

(Saturday 28th July)

Friday 27 July 2012

Half An Inch

I get a nice yellow jacket to wear whilst doing the car parking.

Once that’s done its ring duty. It’s hot to be working all day on the rings but it’s better than having rain.

Competing wise we get eliminated in the pairs, sorry partner, but do better in the individual events. I actually get a clear out of MD. In fact two of them. We come 8th in the Agility, 15th in the Jumping and then nearly go clear in our second Agility of the day but apparently we missed the dog walk contact by half an inch. Can the Judge really make decisions that tight, obviously he can.

So MD is doing alright today but Doggo, and it’s so unlike him, lets the side down. He has a pole down in Veterans and they’re only little jumps! Not a bad day though.

Back home, L’s parting shot as she gets the bus over to join me, is to tell Son that his beard looks cute, knowing full well it would be gone shortly afterwards. Good tactics.

I head over to Burton to meet L and to get some take out beer. Burton Bridge’s 5.5% Festival Ale is a good choice for our takeout tub but one we’ll probably regret.

Before we get our teeth into that, we eat at the local pub, the White Swan in Walton on Trent. The service is slow, only one chef on apparently, but their special Lamb Dopiaza was very good.

(Friday 27th July)

Thursday 26 July 2012

Book Addicts

I have just half a day at work then I’m off to Catton Park to finish setting up for this weekend’s dog show.

L’s boss takes her to Waterstones. He doesn’t seem to appreciate that this is not the way to deal with addicts? Turns out he needs assistance, as he’s too shy to buy his Daughter ‘that book’. So L does it for him.

Talking of Daughters, I’m getting texts complaining about the mess in the new student household in Sheffield. Daughter has apparently hoovered twice in two days.... do I know this child?

I do loads at Catton and then as they have plenty of volunteers to park caravans I head home. After pitching our tent that is, as we’ll be camping there ourselves for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately I volunteer to be there early tomorrow to do the car parking.

(Thursday 26th July)

Stopping The Traffic

L forgets her mobile, so perhaps today is the day she gets that puncture or it could be my turn. In honour of the first day of the Olympics I put on my Team GB kit and cycle to work and it’s good cycling weather with no wind.

Well I’m excited.

As I think is anybody who got off their bum to see the torch relay, which has convinced a lot of the waverers that something was happening and happening over here.

So today, two days before it starts, it starts. Quite how and why they have again mis-scheduled the opening ceremony to start after the start I’m not sure.

Great Britain's women football team kick off the Games against New Zealand and win in Cardiff... I’m also not sure of the merits of playing in places like Cardiff, which are so far away from London, but many will disagree with me.

L proposes the pub tonight rather than anything fitness related. I suggest we do both. So she frogmarches herself to the gym while I frog-cycle myself to the pool. It’s busy in the pool and end up only one lane above the bikini zone. In which a girl doing backstroke in the regulation uniform for those lanes literally stops the traffic. Enabling me to get in some unhindered lengths while everyone else rubbernecks. Clearly they can’t multitask.

L and I meet up later in the ‘pub formerly know as the Willougby’. We eat and have a drink there before we transfer to the Wheelhouse for the more serious Abbot Ale.

(Wednesday 25th July)

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Something Is Wrong Here

L is actually using her bike to get to and from work this week and is still not getting a puncture. Actually she’s never had a puncture but it doesn’t stop her worrying about it.

I take the bus with the intention of fitting in a run on the way home. Although it has to be said it’s a bit hot to run. I never usually take a drink with me but tonight I wish I’d considered one.

As I run along the footpath between Borrowash and Risley, a woman comes up behind me on a bike. It’s a very narrow footpath and I think I’m in her way. There is, of course, a rather wide and not particularly busy road, which I now end up running on to let her pass... something is wrong here.

I run, stagger and walk a bit (to cool off) for eight miles before getting the bus the rest of the way. Job done. It keeps the legs going for the next race which isn’t until the end of August. That is unless something takes my fancy in the meantime.

(Tuesday 24th July)

Monday 23 July 2012

Medal Winning Strategy

It’s good to see Derby featuring at part of Team GB’s Olympic medal winning strategy, as five members of Australia and Canada badminton teams fall ill with food poisoning at a local hotel.

A rather hot and sweaty dog class tonight, not that MD notices. I go with a list of things I want to work on with him and come away with an even longer list. Hmmm.

(Monday 23rd July)

Sunday 22 July 2012

Magpie Tendencies

Daughter moves house today, moving a couple of miles down the road in Sheffield. We moved Son the other week and got all his stuff on one half of the back seat, managing to transport both him, his girlfriend and the two dogs all at the same time. We’re not expecting this to be as easy but one car load should be enough I assume? Wrong.

We seem to be taking all the fixtures and fittings from the old house with us, as advised by the new owners of that property. Which would actually be in direct contravention of the tenancy agreement and so allowing them to keep the deposit... I’m sure they’re not that sneaky and are just using the students as a means to gut the house.

Daughter and I have a lively discussion on the merits of this strategy before we leave some of it behind. The less clutter the better, we are still administering therapy to her bedroom at home, which has suffered from many years of her magpie tendencies.

Her new area of Sheffield, Hunters Bar, is really rather nice, too nice for students. We find a really nice pub, The Lescar, after only a bit of walking around in random directions.

The papers were full of it today. The Sunday Times had him on the front page and then had three full broadsheet pages of coverage inside. What’s going on? Bandwagon jumping of the highest order but not before time. It took a while for the press to wake up to what was happening over in France but they got there in the end.

So today, Bradley Wiggins rolls in to Paris in yellow having become the first Briton to win the Tour de France, in oddly one of the dullest races for some time... no complaints though. Wiggins was the favourite from the off and never looked like not winning. It’s a massive achievement for him, for Team Sky and for Great Britain with Chris Froome second overall and British riders accounting for seven stage wins out of twenty-one.

Mark Cavendish won on the Champs Élysées for the fourth year in a row, with Wiggins leading him out, and won two other stages even without the lead out train that he’s accustomed to having.

The highlight for me though, apart from Wiggins winning and then getting up on the podium to announce he’s ‘going to start drawing the raffle numbers’, had nothing to do with Team Sky. David Millar’s win on stage nine was just superb and I was so pleased for him. Eight years, a drug ban and a reinvention (as a spokesperson for drug free cycling) on from his last Tour victory he tasted victory again and I bet it tasted real good.

(Sunday 22nd July)

Saturday 21 July 2012

Grass Sniffing

A typical day with MD at the dog show I help set up, sort of, but isn’t ours, that’s next weekend. For starters, not a very good team run - 15 faults but the rest of the team racked up about the same. Then an excellent first individual run but one pole down... then a terrible jumping course - another 15 faults but the judge was generous.

Then in the afternoon, two good runs but in one we missed a contact and in the other we missed a jump. Oh well. One day.

Doggo does his usual perfect clear in Veterans, perhaps I should make MD watch the old hand at work. What I would have given to have a dog like Doggo but with MD’s speed and enthusiasm. Although it must take some high level of skill to go from, grass sniffing to clear round and back to grass sniffing seamlessly as Doggo can.

I hadn’t volunteered to help out at all today but somehow a lead got placed in my hand first thing and that was the end of that. Which meant I ended up having two lunches, the one I had brought with me and the free one that is supplied to helpers.

Back home later, L and I head into town and desperately try and stay away from the Old Peculiar in the Peacock. We eat in Broadway and then have a few super strong ones in Brewdog before we succumb to the OP. The Brewdog place has some sort of odd attraction that I can't quite put my finger on and it’s good to see they’re not serving the beer as cold as they were. Now if they could just stop serving it under pressure we’d be sorted.

(Saturday 21st July)

Friday 20 July 2012

A Fine Psychological Balance

I’m heading down to help setup our dog show today but don’t intend going before 10am, so I get chance to take the dogs on the park first, where it throws it down again. A day setting up equipment in a field is not going to be much fun, in the wet.

Having managed to prevent MD upsetting the fine psychological balance of the local deer population and the local deer population from upsetting his equally unbalanced psyche, I drive over to Catton Park in pouring rain, which gradually eases and then stops. When I get there they all say ‘rain? What rain?’.

It is true there’s no sign of there having been any rain here today. Must be another pocket of good weather, like the Hebrides.

Typically, having taken a day off work to help out, there’s not much to do. I setup the equipment in one ring, put up a tent and park a few caravans before heading home for our usual sleazy Friday night in... Top Of The Pops, cycling highlights, cooking tea for Son.

(Friday 20th July)

Thursday 19 July 2012

Lucky Escapes

I was supposed to be cycling today but I was delayed and ended up taking the car instead. It was perhaps a lucky escape as it soon began raining heavily again. Meaning it’s not looking good for tennis tonight.

Then having checked the Tennis Centre’s online booking system, I see there are no courts available anyway because there’s a tournament on. Then again, there was a tournament on the other week and they still let us play once the tournament games were over for the day.

So I rang them up and find that the phone number now directs to a call centre. Thankfully not in Bangalore, only Woodthorpe. The woman there asks me to hang in while she pulls up the same online screen that I’m currently looking at... so no help there then, and there is no longer a phone number to call the centre direct. All three of the phone numbers I have for the Tennis Centre now redirect.

I drop in on my way home, where the woman on the desk pulls up... the same online screen. I ask her to look out of the window where the majority of the courts sit idle but she won’t, ‘the system says...’

It’s now raining again. Perhaps another lucky escape.

So, feeling guilty after a no exercise day, I go in the gym and do 15k on the bike, followed by a paltry 3k run as a cool down. L is in a fitness class, pumping, so when she comes out and scrapes me off the treadmill we go for a pint at the Victoria and participate in their chilli con carne tasting contest.

(Thursday 19th July)

Wednesday 18 July 2012

A Not Short Enough Leash

I cycle into work in not great weather. It’s misting very heavily at one point but I don’t think it ever actually officially became rain.

On a whim I’ve even put my swimming kit in my bag; I need to do a July session... for the cash back although I may defer it to next week.

I defer it to next week. I think the boys deserve a park session in the rain. Hopefully Doggo will come out of his corner, where he's hiding from the weather and probably digging a hole out of the wall to hide inside, long enough to join MD and I.

He does but probably wishes he hadn’t when it starts thundering heavily. A few minutes later all three of us watch the rainstorm moving across the park towards us, then leg it. We leg it to a nearby tree where we join several other folk attempting to shelter from the deluge, unsuccessfully. So three very wet boys troop home.

L is apparently on her way to the gym, slowly, as she’s flexing her plastic in town on the way. Plastic which she has stolen from the top drawer of my bedroom cabinet. I like to keep it on a short leash but she’s helped herself.

She asks me to quantify ‘short’ as she buys new shoes and a leather belt. Sounds like she’s already at the end of it.

(Wednesday 18th July)

Tuesday 17 July 2012


For some reason, perhaps known only to myself and to L who said I should, I’ve started ’50 Shades Darker’. Oh my.

Although Daughter is wanting to read it too and I might have to hand it over when we see her at the weekend. No pressure. Well actually, yes no pressure, there’s not a chance in hell of me finishing it by this weekend.

I am set for an evening of fence building at the site of our dog show next week but then I’m not, as the fencing people cannot now deliver until Thursday. So I’m recruited to spray paint the grass instead, otherwise known as marking out camping pitches.

(Tuesday 17th July)

Monday 16 July 2012

With A Flourish

L is a brave girl for cycling again today, even if it was only a few miles. How was it? Sore! I agree, even driving to work in the car was hard work. My knee is also protesting at being made to do 100+ miles.

Dog class tonight. MD has a near faultless night until we decide to finish things off with a flourish and one final run. At which point he makes us both look like rank amateurs. He has a knack of doing that.

(Monday 16th July)

Sunday 15 July 2012

The First One Gets Closer With Each Pedal Turn

So what do you do when your Crufts qualifier is cancelled, a 100 mile bike ride of course. The Great Nottinghamshire Bike Ride. As it promises to be a nice day, I go down at 7am to pay on the day.

This is my first long bike ride for around a year. I’ve done nothing greater than the 15 mile each way route to work and not even that very often. Too much bloody running.

This year for the first time it starts from the Victoria Embankment rather than its previous home of Holme Pierrepont. This is a definite step up and much easier to get to. Unfortunately after a too fast cycle there, I’m exhausted already. Only the 100 miles to go then.

The sportive is now 100 miles not 75, which is what I did last time. There’s also a 48 mile route, which no longer goes through Newark like I think all the others have. L is doing that but will start later, so hopefully we’ll finish together. There’s also a 19 mile route and a three mile one.

There are loads here queuing up to start and loads, like me, paying on the day. The ride seems to be going from strength to strength now that the council have relinquished it to an events management company. That rather large German electricity company who took over East Midlands Electricity sponsor it, but never mind. It’s now a three day festival called ‘Cycle Live’ with some interesting races on the Friday night that had I been free I would have been tempted down to see.

I start and skip the first two feeds stations. The first one because it’s not open yet and the second one, because I can. Eventually after 34 miles I pull into the car park of the Royal Oak at Car Colson. Regrettably they’re only serving High 5, who are on board as a sponsor.

Meanwhile, back at the Embankment L is lining up to start and the DJ is apparently playing ‘Panic’ by The Smiths. Which she thinks is rather apt.

My second stop is at 56 miles, the Caunton Beck, ooooh it’s a pub crawl. The Caunton Beck is in err Caunton. Wherever that is. My geographical knowledge of Nottinghamshire expired when we went through Southwell.

The final feed station is after 72 miles at Wellow or rather it isn’t. It’s been moved three miles further down the road to Eakring. Oh well three miles nearer the finish. All the other feed stations have asked for donations in exchange for cakes etc but here they have a price list for food, so I skip it. Although I do fork out 50p for a cup of tea mainly because the High 5 has ran out here. Not good. L meanwhile is having tea at Radcliffe with 10 miles to go and is therefore well ahead of me. My peloton isn't going to pull that particular breakaway back.

As I join the end of the shorter routes I realise just how many people there are without helmets, I’m surprised they allow that. 99% of the 100 milers have one though. I pass through Radcliffe, stopping briefly to check my phone for messages and finding one from L with her feet up at the finish, by the beer tent.

The route has been much better this year, easily the best one I’ve done. Yet still they have to take us over the pot holes at Holme Pierrepont, even when we don’t start there. Not good for folk with decent bikes.

Then I cross the... start line. Seems they’ve had the start/finish banner wrong way around all day. Bet they wonder why all these psychos on road bikes keep on sprinting after the line, just in case there is another banner somewhere with finish on it. After several panicky hand signals from a lass in a yellow jacket I slow down to a stop. I make the route actually 103 miles not 100 but never mind.

Even L ‘enjoyed’ it despite finding it psychologically tough, because she’s puncture phobic. Not that she’s ever had one, which just convinces her the first one gets closer with each pedal turn.

The Riverbank Bar is running a beer tent but with no real ale. I had expected Castle Rock to be here but they’re not, so along with many others we adjourn to the Ferry Inn instead. Not great but better.

(Sunday 15th July)

Saturday 14 July 2012

So Near And Yet So Far

The sun is out, quick get the grass cut, so that we can see out of the windows again. Job done, I try and get the hedge cut as well before this slim weather window closes. I’d almost finished the front hedge when the rain came. So near and yet so far. I try and continue until the threshold for electrocution has been well and truly breached. After which sweeping up wet hedge cuttings isn’t much fun or very easy.

Its sods law that the day after I’ve enter us both in the Fleetwood Half Marathon over the August Bank Holiday, I find out that the accompanying dog show in the area, where we were to have camped, has been cancelled. Normal campsites are going to be rammed that weekend, so the whole project is now a lot more complex.

L claims that as last night’s entertainment e.g. the beer festival, was basically my choice, so tonight’s entertainment is her choice. Snow White and The Huntsman. OMG.

I assume she means the film and a not a evening of roll play. She says if I argue it’s going to be ‘Magic Mike’ instead. I have no idea what that is and I’m not sure I want to find out.

Then, I’m saved by the trailer, which L re-watches and changes her mind, so here we are doing ‘Dark Horse’ and a Broadway Bite instead.

Abe (Jordan Gelber) is a thirty-something guy who has not only failed to leave the family home but also hasn’t left behind his childhood. As his room, a shrine to cartoon and fantasy characters galore, testifies.

He has a job, sort of. He ‘works’ for his father (Christopher Walken). ‘Work’ is a loose term here. Abe does little, if any. Most of his work is done for him by a colleague, Marie (Donna Murphy). Abe doesn't even like the job and shows his contempt for it by wearing t-shirts to the office whilst everyone else is dressed for work.

His failure to get on in life though isn’t him fault, it’s everyone else's. Yep, he has a huge unjustified chip on his shoulder too. His mother (Mia Farrow) dotes on him, despite owing him hundreds of dollars in backgammon debts, whilst his father, Walken redefining deadpan, views him as total disappointment. He is not, of course, his brother who is a successful doctor but Abe has always been the ‘dark horse’ of the family.

When Abe foists himself up a woman he sees at a wedding because she is the only other person, like himself, not enjoying themselves, he senses that perhaps here is someone depressed enough to want him. The woman is Miranda (Selma Blair) and even she is uncomfortable when Abe asks for her number.

When he calls her for a date, she's too polite to say no but then forgets all about it. Not a problem, he sits outside her house in his car until she gets home. Abe then quickly proposes marriage and surprisingly she considers his offer. Having once dreamed of being someone, Miranda has now her lowered sights significantly. Perhaps she should give up on happiness altogether and settle for a loveless marriage and children with a guy... like Abe.

As she accepts his offer and kisses him, she is pleasantly surprised that it isn’t as horrible as she suspected but now she has something to tell him. She has Hepatitis B, which is contagious, possibly deadly although possibly treatable and now he's been exposed to it. Oh and she’s still big pals with her ex, Mahmoud (Aasif Mandvi), from whom she probably got it.

So Abe tries to return his new fiancé to the ‘shop’, insisting he has a receipt... yep, the film gets more and more surreal from here onwards. We learn that Abe’s work colleague, the rather plain Marie, actually lives in a swanky apartment, drives a flashy car and is a sexual cougar in her spare time or maybe not, since, midway through, Dark Horse begins existing simultaneously in the real world and inside Abe’s fantasies. Which includes his own death. I think. At least I think that wasn’t real.

I conclude that America much have as many freeloaders as we have here in the UK for director Todd Solondz to have such a dig at them. Nothing is Abe’s fault or his problem...

The film makes its point in a unique but often confusing way. Leaving you not knowing what was real and was wasn’t, just like Abe.

Thoroughly entertaining.

(Saturday 14th July)

Friday 13 July 2012

No Bad Place To Be

On the bus today, as it’s the Derby Beer Festival.

L comes over after work and together we try and make sense of their new system, whereby they have laid the beers out in alphabetical order by brewery but the guide to the beers is ordered by beer style. To say it’s a little confusing would be an understatement.

I drink by brewery and had no problem finding where each brewery's beers were being served but then looking them up in the guide for more information was a nightmare. I would have liked to have worked my way around the local breweries but it was too taxing on the brain.

It means that we gave up trying to discover anything new and stuck to whatever was nearest. This turns out to be the Fullers stand, which is no bad place to be. Not with London Porter and the first cask version of their bottled 1845 I’ve ever seen.

Apparently there was also a Mead Bar this year but we couldn’t find that either. We found the Owd Rodger though, which is always a pleasant treat, and that wasn't even on the menu.

We get an early-ish bus home to get back for the dogs and order a takeaway curry to soak everything up.

Revolution Clash London 4.5%
Black Paw IPA 5.0%
Falstaff Johnny Cash 4.7%
Marston Owd Rodger 7.6%
Fullers 1845 6.3%
Fullers London Porter 5.4%
Havant Got a Clue 6.5%
Fullers London Porter 5.4%

Jennings Snecklifter 5.1%
Fullstow 1962 & All That 4.5%
Mr Grundy’s Lord Kitchener 5.5%
Marston Owd Rodger 7.6%
Fullers 1845 6.3%
Fullers 1845 6.3%
Marston Owd Rodger 7.6%

(Friday 13th July)

Thursday 12 July 2012

The Ketchup Is Off Limits

At least my phone is working again now. I think. My Father keeps texting me the same message over and over again, so perhaps he’s still having problems.

Apparently some woman’s boyfriend squirted her with brown sauce because she refused to stop reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.

Sadly we’re all out of brown sauce here and L has made it clear her ketchup is off limits, so Henderson’s Relish it is then. Seriously though, who the hell takes someone to court for squirting sauce at them? I think they should both stop bothering other people with their own inadequacies.

A pub lunch and then more dog training tonight, outdoors... I needed the pint to fortify myself against the expected rain, which actually manages to hold off.

Then home to give Daughter another lesson in internet banking. During which she disappears for a few minutes to find the paper work and leaves me listening to Africa by Toto. I can’t believe she has her own hold music.

(Thursday 12th July)

Wednesday 11 July 2012

The Rest Of My Life

I run home from work. Well I do 8k and 4k separated by a bus ride. It should have been 6k and 4k but that’s buses for you. I’d rather run the extra 2k than stand around waiting. The run wasn’t as bad as expected but still pretty grim. I think I need a new audiobook to help me through it.

L has offered to précis the second 50 Shades book for me, which she has a rather old fashioned paper version of or I could read it myself as I assume she’ll have it finished by the end of the weekend or I could get the audio or I could do something more productive with the rest of my life.

Daughter accuses me of randomly ignoring her. Bit rich. As a teenager she does it to me all the time. It’s not me, its o2, who decide to disconnect most of their customers.

I head off to dog training unable to let L know how my run went but I assume her phone is dead too. Only it isn’t.

(Wednesday 11th July)

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Leaning Tower Of Literature

Well here we are again... back at work.

MD is quickly back in the swing of things and notifying the neighbourhood of his return, loudly.

Son is home and has been complaining all week of us having nothing in to eat. Despite the fact I did a full shop before we left for Scotland... As I survey the cupboards this morning before a trip to Sainsbury’s I realise that despite the rumours to the contrary, we still look very well stocked to me. What he means is we don’t have anything that students eat. Nothing he can pop under the grill and then between two slices of bread.

L leaves herself open to some Christian Grey style punishment by lurching into Waterstones almost before her bag is unpacked and purchases another four books to add to the leaning tower of literature in our bedroom. I suspect two of these may be sequels. I hope she has to explain herself tonight at book club.

There was a possibility of tennis tonight but a combination of my opponent’s bad back and the waterlogged courts put paid to that. Instead I treat the boys to session on the wet soggy park with the antler mob watching over us.

(Tuesday 10th July)

Monday 9 July 2012


Straight home and straight into an evening meeting to discuss our Dog Agility Show in three weeks time that is currently going to be held underwater unless either the weather improves (unlikely) or we move it to a drier field (if such a thing exists).

Seems we can move it to a drier field. Whether this will stay dry over the next few weeks is open to debate.

I also come home to the news that Derby County have sold our best defender for barely more than what we paid for him. Our other centre half is out all next season injured, so we’re really in a mess now.

Now the club have announced we're going to be playing on a Friday night next season, three times, not for TV, just for fun. Great. Is there anything else they'd like to do to alienate people? It’s going to be another long season.

(Monday 9th July)

Sunday 8 July 2012

Frontal Lobes

As we meander back from Skye to Glencoe, I can reflect on the Isle of Harris which was actually rather magnificent.

Certainly one of the most amazing places I've been to. It was a heady mix of mountains, lakes and rivers alongside a rugged coastline that also boasted mile after mile of golden sandy beaches.

We even camped alongside such a beach at Horgabost on Harris. Heaven for a beach loving dog like Doggo.

The Western Isles were supposed to be notorious for wind and rain but we had little of the former and even less of the latter unlike the rest of the UK this week.

It's great walking country too. Even if the coffin trail was accompanied by some really ravenous horseflies.

The walk to Harris lighthouse was rewarding too, with coffee laid on in the lighthouse itself.

Christian and Anastasia keep us amused on the journey and I think amused is the right word. L though top and tailed that book with another one. One about pancake sex... which is entirely new terminology to me.

That book caused L to ask whether it’s true that all men want is a girl who is easy on the eye, not too taxing on the frontal lobes, and who will drops her knickers for a glass of white wine? Hmmm. No comment.

No pub quiz this time in the Clachaig, so neither of our frontal lobes are taxed. Other than by the beer and a couple of whiskeys randomly picked from the huge selection. We've barely seen a proper pub all week, the one thing lacking on the islands, so we're due a bit of a session.

(Sunday 8th July)

Saturday 7 July 2012

Oh My

As I've said the weather has been great since we arrived on the islands and we haven’t suffered with the wind that battered us a bit last time. Today though, we could actually do with it being a little cooler and as if on prescription, the week of glorious sunshine abates and it’s quite a bit cooler, Just what the doctor ordered both for us running and for the dogs not running, waiting in the car.

However, when we said cooler we didn’t actually mean we wanted a gravity defying Hebridean breeze, otherwise known as gale force eight (approx).

Just what you don't need when you’re about to do the Heb3 Part 3 with a bad back. I blame a dodgy sleeping position in the our ‘green tent of tranquillity’ E.g. sandwiched between two dogs who like half of it, each, rather than L roughing me the wrong ‘shade’. ‘That book’ has sort of dominated our conversation this week.

Our campsite by the beach at Horgabost is at mile two on today's course and several times this week we’ve driven along the other eleven miles, experiencing the experience of the route to Tarbert in advance, only with wheels. It was actually quite exhausting just looking at it from the car. As for running it? Oh my.

This morning we drive up the course again. The tables are out with water bottles and cups on them ready for the race, all weighed down with rocks against the wind. Then after we’ve registered a bus takes us all the way back up the route again to the start at Borve. This race is an A to B, in roughly a straight line, give or take a few hills, into the wind. Nice. Not. Holy cow.

The bus actually stops a mile from the start. Loo stop, on the beach. It's very well organised though. Men to the left, women to the right. Just hope the women weren’t downwind from the men, one’s aim could seriously go amiss in this wind. We both stay on the bus.

Then we travel the rest of the way to the start where we all huddle in some bloke’s driveway sheltering from the wind. No peeing in his hedge allowed, apparently he doesn’t like it.

It’s already quite apparent that today is not going to be a day for fast times. Although at first my pace isn’t too bad, as we run along the beautiful coastline and I hide from the elements in the middle of a bunch of about ten hardened Scots folk. I think this is a good strategy or was, until the group somehow dissipated. I think perhaps some of them got blown into the sea but I can't be sure.

My times were good until the serious hills began after about four miles and from that point onwards I took up a new, previously untried, racing position of being bent double against both the gradient and the horizontal ‘breeze’ from which there isn’t a degree of shelter anywhere. Scenery? What scenery? Nice tarmac. I spend 90% of the race looking downwards. My bad back is going to be even worse after this.

The wind is that strong it half rips my race number from my chest. Using my lightweight race pins to attach it now looks folly, a nail gun might have been more appropriate.

Oh my, this is tough. It would be a hard course on any day but today’s conditions are simply cruel. I look on the bright side, at least it isn’t raining.

If Barra was supposedly like pushing a wardrobe uphill then, holy s***, this was like pushing the entire bedroom suite. Fifty shades of hell.

For a while I battle with my nemesis, the winner of the over 60's category at the other races and likely to do the same again today, with knobs on. I beat him at Benbecula but here, like at Barra, he leaves me floundering in his wake. For some reason my 'inner runner' vows to keep chasing, pushing onwards and upwards or is it downwards? The wind is a great leveller, making everything seem impossible. My 'subconscious' meanwhile is in the pub knocking back its third Red Cuillin and whiskey chaser.

Apparently we have now crested the main peak but the 'mostly' downhill last five miles is not very evident, not with this fierce wind trying to push you back up the hill you’ve just come down.

Tarbet is just around this corner I’m sure or is it this corner? or this one? It’s here somewhere or at least it was yesterday. Finally I see the man trying to hold the finish line up against the prevailing gale and know that it is all nearly at an end.

1:47 is slower than Barra but that wind must have added ‘hours’. The boys and I sit by the finish and await L, watching all the others runners ‘plummeting’ down the final incline like tumbleweed in... well, quicksand.

The post-race buffet isn’t as bountiful as Barra’s but doesn’t need to be and at least they have tea. They also have Heb3 t-shirts, which is what we came for. In black as well, very nice. We also have our medal with its Harris Tweed ribbon, very authentic.

Afterwards in the Isle of Harris Hotel, the Red Cuillin is actually on for the first time this week, only it doesn’t taste like it... Some mean feat to taste off on its first night on. Then we find out that the 8pm ferry to Skye is running an hour late, which actually means we head into the Hebrides Hotel for a meal and a bottle of wine which is very nice. Perhaps gale force winds have a silver lining after all.

(Saturday 7th July)

Friday 6 July 2012

Masquerading As Jamaica

Almost a week on from the Barrathon, we’re now on the eve of the final Heb3 run on the Isle of Harris.

We stayed on Barra until Monday

and walked on to the nearby island of Vatersay.

There’s a causeway so we didn’t have to walk on water.

Barra airport is on the beach.

Then we moved back to the middle islands for a few days camping at the same site as last time on North Uist.

MD is finding the constant activity and the lack of ten hour daytime kips exhausting. He spends most of the week looking like I do after too many Old Peculiars.

One of the advantages of being on North Uist is the Westford Inn, the only Camra recognised watering hole on the islands.

Its Isle of Skye ales provide excellent rehydration. They also probably serve the best chilli that I haven’t cooked myself, shame it’s such a long way to go for it.

Not only is there a lack of pubs over here but a lack of breakfasts. Sourcing a full Scottish or for that matter a full English has also proved nigh on impossible. Another business opportunity?

On the up side we haven’t seen a Tesco, a Costa or any other major ‘brand’ bar the Co-op all week. Rejoice.

By now the whisky has run out, so we really needed a good pub when we go onto Harris and the Isle Of Harris Inn does have a pump for Isle of Skye Red Cuillin but it’s off. They do have the very dull (award winning) Caledonian Deuchars IPA, which I suppose is better than nothing, just.

We camp pretty close to the beach on Harris.

The weather has been fantastic all week. The rain ceased on the morning of the Barra race on Saturday and has not returned, the sun has been out consistently and we both have the consistency of overcooked lobster. Wet summer? Who says.

They say the jet stream is stuck in traffic down south, dragging the Scottish weather down to England while leaving the north of Scotland masquerading as Jamaica. Not that I’ve been to Jamaica. Are we complaining? Nope.

(Friday 6th July)