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

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Spirit Of Things

The traffic is very light and it’s almost tolerable in the car. I keep forgetting its Derby half term.

Son is in a lecture about orgasms. In sociology? He says it's far too early in the morning for something so graphic. Rubbish. It's never too early. L will agree, what with the sex splattered World War One audio book she’s reading. Although the hero has just had his chin blown off, which might curtail his activities a bit... and she says I read gruesome books.

Actually I’ve finished my own rather tame, orgasm free, but interesting audio book this morning. The Blackhouse by Peter May.

I’ve resisted the temptation to go straight on to book two in the series and have started a book by Sophie Hannah, as this promises a touch of the gruesome.

Suitable for a gruesome day because as Daughter so eloquently puts it 'bloody hell it's sodding Halloween. She does get into the spirit of things. L heads off to hide in the gym while the zombies are prowling the streets. If ever there's a reason to go dog training this is it. Oddly not many others have the same idea.

I’ll take back everything I said about the traffic, 70 minutes to travel the 15 miles home and then I have to turn straight round to head out to dog training, arriving about 20 minutes later than planned. Perhaps all the others are stuck in traffic.

(Wednesday 31st October)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Cheap For A Best Friend

Quite a sunny day today, much better than the grey of last week and very pleasant to cycle in.

Somebody has sold a sheepdog for a record breaking £8,400. Apparently that’s 'cheap for a best friend', that is if you want a best friend that’s a constant nag. I’m thinking of MD here. Actually I thought it said £8.40 a first, which would have been more reasonable. I wonder what ours are worth? L says they can have them for free. She doesn't mean that. I don't think.

Back home I indulge in a spot of night time gardening, it amuses the ‘nags’ and will annoy the council by giving them another bin to empty.

Apparently the Canning Circus Christmas Tree is up and L is off into town for Christmas pudding coloured wool.

Ah, the festivities commence. Is it December already?

(Tuesday 30th October)

Monday, 29 October 2012


Everyone appears to have had snow over the weekend, except us, who went, you would have thought, to one of the most likely places to get some.

The end to British Summer Time means that the dwindling sliver of evening light is now lost for some time and it’s well dark even before I leave work. On the plus side, we have gained some light in the mornings, which will make tomorrow’s cycle that bit more pleasurable.

I had doubts whether tonight’s dog training would be on, considering the state of the training field last week but it is. So muddy training all round and plenty of falls, from the un-surefooted humans.

(Monday 29th October)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Sound Of The Rain

It had started raining as we headed back from the Old Dungeon Ghyll last night and I don’t think it has stopped since. The clocks have now gone back, so we get an extra hour in the tent to savour the sound of the rain. It’s very pleasant actually.

Eventually we have to be brave and decamp, taking the tent down in the rain. Doggo isn’t keen to emerge from his comfy and dry cocoon at all and at one stage it looked as if we might have to roll him up inside it.

You wouldn’t catch him doing a runner away from his home comforts, as one dog on the campsite did on Friday evening. The dog finally reappeared at around 2am the next morning.

We take lunch in Windermere because Ambleside is full, well at least every car park is, and then we head home. I did mean to pick some bottles of the illusive Snecklifter but I even forget to do that, so it stays illusive.

I console myself with a blow out curry and couple of bottles of OP from the Co-Op.

(Sunday 28th October)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Pitch Black

It was a bit of a cold night in the tent but we’re hardy types. Well, I am.

The problem with an evening race is what to do doing the day. It’s an absolutely glorious day for walking but hitting the fells and yomping up a peak wouldn’t really be the best preparation for a good race this evening.

For saying we know the area pretty well, we have some problems finding Grizedale Visitor Centre. My mistake is probably to try and follow the race organiser’s directions, rather than a map, road signs and common sense. We get there and acclimatise ourselves with the forest and the course, which is already marked out. As we walk the first part of the course we find it horrifically uphill and treacherous, at least when attached to a dog.

Then we go pick up our numbers, don trail shoes and I introduce L to her head torch. I hope it works. It should, as it’s fresh out of the packet.

So the Petzl Nao Pitch Black Night Run. All three run distances, that’s 5k, 10k and 20k start together at 6:00pm, by which time the light is fading but it’s far from ‘pitch black’.

In fact I leave my head torch off for the first ten minutes, conserving battery power, not that I should need to... but just in case. Even when it gets a bit darker there still no need for it, as I can see where I’m going in the light of everyone else’s. When I do turn it on it seems to make running across the rocky terrain easier than in the daytime, the light illuminates the rocks making it easier to avoid them.

The head torches also pick out the reflective arrows which way-mark the route. So it’s almost impossible to get lost despite the darkness, unless you’re like L and take directions from a marshal on a bike, who sends her the wrong way.

I quite enjoy it, the hills aren't as horrific and treacherous without a dog, there’s even a water station. I continually catch and overtake people on the up-hills and the flats but then plummet back down the field on the downs.

My time of 53 minutes is not bad considering the terrain, the dark and the dodgy knee. Which is sore throughout but bearable. L is 20 minutes behind me and seems to have enjoyed herself.

We don’t get a lot for our endeavours. Just a bottle of water, a Cliff bar and the smug knowledge that we’re donated to The MS Society.

Time is getting on if we want food, so we leave before the 20k runners come in. Realising it’s a good job we didn’t opt for that distance ourselves.

We eat in the Wainwrights at Chapel Stile where they usually have Snecklifter but not tonight. It must be a conspiracy. Then we head to the Old Dungeon Ghyll where thankfully they can he relied upon to have the Old Peculiar on.

(Saturday 27th October)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Who Stole The Snecklifter?

After being early yesterday and thereby causing me to miss it, the bus is well late this morning. No consistency.

The plan is for L to collect me from work at 5pm and then we’ll head straight up to the Lakes. Where I plan to re-rupture my knee in the Grizedale night race. I’ve packed most of our kit in the car already, so all L needs to remember really is to being the dogs. Luckily even if she tries to forget to pack MD, he's unlikely to let her get away with it.

The M6 is no better for us being that bit earlier but then we didn’t expect it to be; at least it’s no worse.

We roll up at a very busy Great Langdale campsite and pitch up, as usual, in the dark. Then because it’s so busy, we forgo the usual pilgrimage to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hikers bar and head to the Sticklebarn instead, hoping it will be quieter. It is, much quieter. It’s usually much busier than this in October...

Turns out the Sticklebarn is now owned and run by the National Trust. They took over in June. First impressions aren’t great. There’s a new food menu, which we didn’t try but gone are the hot toddies and the regular local real ales: - Tag Lag, Cumberland and most importantly Snecklifter. No Snecklifter, no wonder it’s quiet. 90% of their beer trade must have been either Cumberland or Snecklifter. True, there’s an impressive array of lagers that no one’s touching and there’s the dreaded Doom Bar from Cornwall... There are other beers too, to be fair, but it’s no wonder everyone else has gone elsewhere. Probably sitting in the ODG emptying the cellar of Old Peculiar.

I think the National Trust are going to have to learn quite quickly that there’s a world of difference between catering for the summer tourists and the winter walkers.

So not a great beer night, at least back in the tent we have the cake that L has baked specially for the trip. She says it’s a disaster but the boys and I love it.

(Friday 26th October)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

You Know, I Don’t Care

I miss the bloody bus, which was a full five minutes early and didn’t even stop where it was supposed to, outside the Queen's Medical Centre, because there was no room and picked up 50 metres further down the road. Meaning although I had reached the actual stop before the bus pulled off, I still missed it because it didn’t pick up from there.

A very welcome pub lunch today and then squash later. Although I felt a bit queasy playing on pie, chips and a pint I still looked in better shape than my opponent. He claimed he was ill with a cold and, to be fair, he did look dreadful but you know, I don’t care. That’s a 2-1 win to me thank you very much.

(Thursday 25th October)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

First Rule Of Internet

I'm on the bike again amidst another miserable morning weather wise, the greyness shows no sign of leaving.

L is sans-internet and has been since yesterday. At least she has no distractions from her work.

I recommend doing a ‘Son’, unplugging the power from the router and plugging it back in, even if everyone else is using it just fine...

Doesn’t work and I get a string of expletives by email BT, AOL, WIFI, WTF. Ah, it’s probably AOL. First rule of internet, don’t go anywhere near AOL.

Then she mentions Norton Internet Security and the penny dropped. Second rule of internet, don’t go anywhere near Norton. Then she says her computer has McAfee on it as well. Third rule of internet...

I tell her to get rid of both and suddenly everything is fine. Norton and McAfee were probably arguing among themselves and blocking each other.

She says somebody has suggested installing Microsoft Security Essentials instead. Personally I wouldn’t. Fourth rule of internet...

(Wednesday 24th October)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Like The Red Sea

It's a miserable grey morning on the bike this morning, although quite warm. This isn’t going to last apparently with the likelihood of falling temperatures, rain and possibly snow (yeah right) later this week. Just as we head up to the Lakes, camping of course and a night run in Grizedale Forest.

L swims this morning when there was only one other person in the pool. I do mine this evening when it’s manic. Although oddly my lane briefly parts like the Red Sea and I get it to myself for about 10 lengths until it fills up again. At which point I decide it’s a good time to make my escape. Also to get out in plenty of time before the session ends at 7pm and everyone fights for elbow space in the changing room, as well as the one shower.

Derby win tonight at Ipswich due to a very late goal and former Derby manager Paul Jewell departs as their boss. He was talking about leaving before the game. I’m glad he decided to wait.

(Tuesday 23rd October)

Monday, 22 October 2012

7 Legged Pub Crawl

I’m in the car; L’s on the park battling the deer who are acting out a scene from West Side Story. Two rival factions eye-balling each other across the main footpath. She was probably right that MD, despite his best peacekeeping intentions, ought to be kept out of the way. She has such exciting park sessions, they’re never that good when I go.

To be fair, MD had already been upset by a cyclist with a flashing front light. I can sympathise, those flashing front lights upset me too.

Dog training tonight, in some paddy field in Derbyshire. It was very muddy under-paw and got worse as the night went on. There were several thrills and spills, all human ones.

L's been out running in Derby and shares the bus home with a bunch of student's doing the 7-legged pub crawl. Do they still do that? Cool. That dates way back to my days at Trent Polytechnic although it now seems to be the University Of Nottingham that is driving it. I'm also sure it was more than 7 back in the day... late 1980's. 16 springs to mind, I remember it being very unwieldy. The crawl got banned from most of the pubs and A&E. Perhaps 7 is better.

(Monday 22nd October)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Worrying Precedent

A worrying day and a worrying precedent set.

After doing the park, L and go out to look at some flooring. Only we can’t find anywhere in Nottingham that is open on a Sunday, so we end up in Mansfield. Nottingham’s loss is Mansfield’s gain and hopefully we have found someone who will fit us a wooden floor in our lounge, to complete the scruffy, I mean rustic, look started with the slate tiles we have pretty much everywhere else.

Then oddly we end up buying a settee, which we only saw this morning, plastered across an advert that fell out of the paper. Then we add a footstool and coffee table to it. All on the never never.

I’m off to lie down. I feel faint.

Thankfully L takes me for an evening pint at the Wheelhouse; clearly she can see I need it.

(Sunday 21st October)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Entrails For Tea

Football on the park this morning with the dogs, using the deer pretty much as goalposts. The females will insist on flaunting themselves in front of MD for some reason.

Then it’s the match, where Blackburn show to be possibly the best team we’ve played and only some inspired goalkeeping keeps the half time score down to 1-0. Second half is better, although you would still have to say that the late goal salvaged what was really an undeserved draw.

Then I get the train up to Sheffield to meet a hobbling L, who cut her foot painting. Yes painting, another dangerous hobby.

We meet up with Daughter who is now working for MI5, student style, but if I tell you any more I'll have to kill you. In fact I don't know any more myself. We eat at the Old House and ply Daughter with expensive cocktails (are there any other kind?) to loosen her tongue but I just end up having too many Stouts and Porters.

The beer washes down their excellent but arty food. I order some Lamb Sweetbreads, which is apparently off cuts or offal or entrails or testicles or something like that. Had to be tried...

Then a nightcap or three at the Sheffield Tap, worth deferring our planned 9.30 departure for a hour.

(Saturday 20th October)

Friday, 19 October 2012

A Gap In The Market

L tries the usual let’s pretend its Saturday idea to avoid getting out of bed but 'Darling, it’s the perfect weather for a bike ride'. Not too hot, not too cold and dry. So it proves and it’s a really nice bike ride into work this morning.

After having missed the gym because of her tardiness this morning, L attempts to perk up her day with a boot trying on session in town. Sadly she can't get anything to zip up over her calves. Surely they must do bootwear for runners? Or is this a gap in the market?

Tonight the sort of regular, which is when we get time for it, Friday night stay in. Although one thing I guess we won’t be seeing on the Top of the Pops repeats from 1977 is Jimmy Saville.

(Friday 19th October)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ugly Habits

As regards her hypothetical (at the moment) reading target of 50, L reckons she's read 27 books so far this year. Impressive. I wonder how many I’ve read... 8 perhaps... approximately. Very impressive for me... even though I haven’t really read them personally but had most of them read to me. The wonders of audiobooks.

The delightful Doggo ate his breakfast this morning and then chucked the whole lot up. You didn’t want to know that did you? He then had the gall to growl at L when she cleaned it up. I hope he wasn’t planning on saving it for later... dogs have ugly habits like that.

Another victory at squash, well just the one game in five but using my handicap system, it’s almost as good as.

(Thursday 18th October)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Practically A Festival

It’s miserable and drizzling with rain first thing, so I don’t bike. Predictably by around 10am it's lovely and sunny, although still windy. Getting windier by the minute as well.

This fifty books idea isn’t going away. L does hate being out-challenged and is probably already designing the celebratory t-shirt in her head. Reading fifty books would be the reading equivalent of doing an Ironman and how would she fit all her other hobbies in?

Time to escape. I leave L contemplating eating her tea one handed, a book in the other. Quite where she will have her knitting needle, paint brush, MD’s ball... I don't know and I hope she doesn’t forgot to run her daily 5k....

Meanwhile, I'm making my way down to the Rescue Rooms where, blimey, there are four bands on the bill. It's practically a festival.

Bitter Strings are a local Nottingham three piece who claim to be influenced by 60's rock music. I can’t see that. Pretty standard stuff if you ask me. There’s a little bit of Alex Turner about lead singer Ben McConnachie but it’s often drowned out by the driving bass and drums. A work in progress no doubt. Their best moment is a track called ‘Wonder In Our Eyes’, which McConnachie tells us is a new one before adding the afterthought ‘well they're all new if you haven't seen us before’. There’s promise in that track, if that’s the direction they’re going.

Next, hang on its ‘From The Jam’. Oh. That's not Bruce Foxton. Twisted Wheel you say? The name seems familiar. Oh that Twisted Wheel. I've seen these before haven’t I? Weren't they supposed to be the next big thing about five years ago, got a support slot with Weller by mimicking Weller? Twisted Wheel released one album back in 2009 and their second album 'Do It Again' is just out, although guitarist/lead singer Jonny Brown, looking very Weller-like if I may say so, is the only constant between the two records.

The sound, punk-by-numbers guitar tunes, remains the same and clearly they remain popular. Lively but nothing special, it is only when they find out they have a mere five minutes left, that they step it up, with some older tunes I assume. Actually I make it less than five minutes, more like minus five. They play for ten. One more track? Why not? Curfew? Pah.

So now were behind schedule but Danny Mahon comes straight on. This is a first. I've never seen the previous band packing up their gear around the current band whilst they’re playing on stage. It’s all happening tonight. Mahon and his acoustic guitar are here at the personal invite of Jonny McClure to warm us up (some more?) after which, he says, he’ll be joining the crowd and going mental with everyone else whilst the Rev is on. His angst-y songs are pleasant enough and have catchy titles like ‘I'm a Twat’. You get the idea. Bob Dylan eat your heart out. He's a laugh at least.

I've been waiting a long time to see Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure. Whenever he plays locally it seems I've already got tickets for something else. So here I am, finally, and surprisingly it's only the Rescue Rooms. Perhaps his star has fallen somewhat, then again, it's a packed to the rafters Rescue Rooms that is jumping, literally, from the off. The off being 'Bassline', for which the Reverend’s gone rave, a hallmark of and a departure they’ve taken, with their new album.

Oldies ‘Bandits’ and ‘Open Your Window’ remind us that the Makers are fundamentally an indie band and are at their best when they are in this mode because ‘Warts n All’, a song about people on Facebook, just doesn’t really cut it.

This is, though, typical of the sound of the new album, which is appallingly named ‘@reverend_makers’ for the hashtag generation. This begs the question, should that album stand the test of time over the next ten years or so, will Twitter? Will they have to stick a label on it explaining what Twitter was? Bad call, IMHO.

The album itself is a patchwork of good and bad, and it doesn’t help the bad when you follow it with corkers like the ‘State Of Things’, the title track of their brilliant and witty debut album. Now, as McClure states, things have properly got going. Indeed. Until ‘Noisy Neighbour’, an ode from a Wednesday fan to those across Sheffield at United, keeps the momentum in check.

The set is drawn primarily from albums one and three but ‘No Soap in a Dirty War’, probably the standout moment on ‘A French Kiss In the Chaos’ surfaces. This is more like it, lyrically stronger but it sadly doesn’t seem quite as focused tonight as it is on record.

‘Sex With The Ex’ is the moment of the night. McClure stripping the band down to just him, his guitarist and his wife on keyboards/blow thingy. Yes, it’s always handy when you can bring the wife along, though perhaps not very rock n roll. She’s the effervescent beauty behind the keyboards by the way, in case you haven’t noticed.

The ‘hit’ ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ follows and weaves an unlinked path, that I’m desperately trying to link, from boxing to wrestling and ‘The Wrestler’, a new track which is more like a traditional Rev song, via ‘1+0’ and ‘Miss Brown’

The Rev loves to criticize Radio 1 but, call me cynical, the new album seems to be an attempt to get airplay. There’s hooks a plenty but little substance. The focused subject matter of their first two records seems to have gone in an effort for sales but tracks like ‘Out Of The Shadows’ are just twee, an aerobics class workout track, something he might have written for Britney.

We finish with some highs. ‘He Said He Loved Me’ is energetic and the band are animated in their delivery of it. When the vocals are dished out around the band, as they are on a few tracks, it brings added life to the show, making you not just focus on McClure himself.

Not that McClure isn’t worth focussing on. He’s a performer, I’ll give him that, and banters continually with the crowd. Not really an enigmatic one but he’s the boss nonetheless and his crowd love him.

Then finally ‘Silence Is Talking’ closes the set, from that difficult second album. A set that, at 19 tracks, may have outstayed its welcome a little but in general it’s a good fun gig. A party as McClure would say.

Do they still do an encore in the car park?

‘Outside in 2 minutes’ he tells us. That’ll be a yes then.

The encore, performed on the steps of Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building in the rain with Danny Mahon and the chap from Bitter Strings assisting is good, if disorganised. Tracks such as ‘Hidden Persuaders’ and ‘Sundown On The Empire’, Britney again, would have been better in the main set at the expense of some of the newer stuff but when you’ve got an album to promote you’ve got an album to promote, haven’t you.

‘Sundown On The Empire’ is cut short and morphs into Bob Marley’s Jammin' but by now his heart isn’t in it. He hands his guitar to the chap from Bitter Strings who, after some debate about what to play, attempts a cover of ‘Blue Moon’ much to Danny Mahon’s disgust.

Meanwhile the Rev poses for some photos with his public before grabbing his guitar back and diving into a waiting car. Which speeds off in the wrong direction, stops, turns around and speeds off again in the other direction battling against Nottingham’s one way system in an attempt to find a way back, one would assume, to the stage door. They’re probably still driving round now.

(Wednesday 17th October)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Cloud Nine

A rather pleasant ride in to work on the bike. A bit windy but not too bad, perhaps it was with me for a change.

L’s having email problems at work. Cloud, apparently. I’m not sure if that’s cloud storage or just plain cloudy? Certainly not Cloud Nine.

I manage a post-work swim, although it’s again packed. I hand in my cash back voucher having completed a year of monthly swims. Now where’s my fifty quid? We’ll let you know, they say.

It’s the Booker Prize tonight, not that that means much to me but for L it means a specially convened session of her book club where they will choose their own winner. Which I assume will bear no relation to the actual winner.

At 9.15 I get a text from L saying she’s on her way home. Odd I think, as the actual announcement of the winner is due at 9.30. Council run book club though. When your time’s up, your time’s up...

She comes home muttering something about a woman at the book club who's challenged herself to read fifty books in a year...

No, no, please no. No more challenges.

(Tuesday 16th October)

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Odd Inspired Moment

I forgot to put the boys’ food out this morning. I’m sure it didn't go unnoticed and MD will be crap at training tonight then. No change there then, well, he does have the odd inspired moment.

Daughter is ill but is still at the gym. L tells her to take it easy but was told she'd been taking it bloody easy for long enough... Who is this girl? I wonder if L got the wrong number? It will be interesting to meet this person masquerading as Daughter on Saturday.

There’s a bit of rain in the afternoon but training is still on and MD does ok. Clearly not holding too much of a grudge over his breakfast or about not getting biscuits. We have tea and biscuits at this venue, we never used to get that at the old place. It’s not really my thing of course but I’d hate to be antisocial.

Meanwhile L gyms, runs, paints, knits, reads etc, all while watching Glee. I think. She’s so action packed.

(Monday 15th October)

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Straight Bat

I take the boys on the park again this morning, as the dogs seemed keen but it’s all bravado. Both are too knackered to go too far and I end up both throwing and fetching Doggo’s ball myself whilst MD won’t even let me have his. We keep it short.

In the afternoon, well the late afternoon, we head over to Leamington to see Son. He’ll be relishing the arrival of a food parcel, the free Sunday lunch and maybe even (though perhaps not) the arrival of one smart shoe, to go with the one he packed to take with him. Hint to students - if you're going to impress your mother by taking your smart shoes to Uni, make sure you pack both of them.

He won't be relishing the nagging he knows he’ll get from L about various matters of CBA-ness. He takes it all well and plays a straight bat to pretty much everything.

According to the pub guide, Leamington is not awash with great pubs, so we eat in Wetherspoons. Which is packed, reinforcing the fact that Leamington is not awash with great pubs. As ever, at Wetherspoons, we make the mistake of ordering drinks first before realising that everything comes with a free drink. This is not negotiable and means that, very quickly, we have a table full of glassware that needs necking to make room for the food. L fancies another half of a nice 6.6% Mud City Stout but they won’t serve her a half, the meal deal includes a pint and this is not negotiable, although they do compromise and put it in two half pint glasses.

The ‘poor’ dogs are abandoned again, this time in the car. We feel bad about that. Well, I feel a bit bad, L feels very bad. She’s been saying all week that she’ll treat them to something really nice for all this abandonment but not morsel of potato or Yorkshire pudding or anything, heads their way, again.

(Sunday 14th October)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Alcohol Rebalancing

I drag myself out of bed for an opticians appointment. They do work unsavoury hours, 11am on Saturday, I ask you.

This delays the dogs' park session, which they're not happy about. Then after the park, they're still not happy and try to disrupt my hedge cutting by chucking footballs at me.

Do they think I want to be doing this? I'm only doing this today because the council will be cutting our garden waste collection off for the winter soon, so the race is on to cram as much into the garden bin as possible until they do.

We stay in tonight, alcohol rebalancing. Although it's an AF night that’s not strictly necessary for the usual reason of having a race, as I’m too injured for the Coventry Half.

L had someone at the door the other day offering ‘rest and recuperation for people with joint problems’, we live in an area surrounded by old and disabled people. It must have been a tough call but she turned them away this time.

In fact there’s not actually a lot left on my bucket list of half marathond as the Tatton event is now full and I haven’t entered. Probably for the best.

(Saturday 13th October)

Friday, 12 October 2012


L works from home today because we’re out again tonight and the dogs could really do with some company. That’s if somebody would care to wake them up and tell them that they have company.

Surprisingly the head is not too bad after last night’s fairly heavy night with another due tonight as I’ve promised to take Squash Opponent to Brew Dog for a few 8%ers. Tonight is the occasion of his 50th birthday, for which he embarked on a challenge a bit like L’s 500 mile challenge for her 50th.

Only he went via a route of amassing 500 points by running km, walking km, playing squash/badminton games, golf holes and then more bizarrely alcohol free nights and vegetarian meals. I told him that was too easy and he doubled it to 1000 points. Which was better... but then he achieved it with a month to spare by amassing extra points in some of the ‘easier’ categories at the expense of running kms. Leaving 65k unran!

I insisted he do it and, to be fair, eventually, he did. Leaving just 4k left on his walking total, which I thought might save him the taxi fare tonight but he opted to do it this morning instead.

So after a few in Brew Dog we head off for Greek Tapas at Yamas.

It was supposed to be Spanish Tapas, that was until I enquired whether there was a hidden message in the fact that his partner had picked a dungeon underneath the Galleries of Justice in which to celebrate his birthday. When I point this out they changed the venue.

The original place, Iberico, sounded really good. Rave reviews too. I liked the sound of a cheeseboard as a starter. They probably even have blindfolds for uneasy guests. L and I have vowed to make it next on our list of places to try.

Yamas is good though, the place is quite quiet but the food is plentiful and nice enough, if a bit, well, Greek. The wine flows and the champagne too, not that I’m a fan of the bubbly. They even give us a free drink to finish, which makes you think, oh no is the bill that bad, but it wasn’t too horrific.

(Friday 12th October)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Between Thornbridge And Titanic

On the bus today because it’s the Nottingham Beer Festival tonight, which is always a good night out.

As ever it’s a nightmare trying to get a bus out of Derby at rush hour but I get the last seat on the 5.35. Of course, I should been a gent and given it to one of the young students who smiled nicely at me and flashed their black tight clad legs but I was in a rush. Beer to drink.

I meet L outside the festival, which is held in the grounds of Nottingham Castle. Then we head inside; manage to find a couple of seats and a spare one for my mate who is heading over from Bingham.

I’m not sure about the point of having 1000+ beers available other than the bragging rights to say you have. We manage to try approximately 1% of those, just 11 between us. We stay amongst the T’s most of the night, in fact we stay on Thornbridge and Titanic most of the night, with only a brief sojourn to C and W. To be fair, between Thornbridge and Titanic is a very nice place to get marooned. With the rain coming down outside, it was even quite ‘romantic’, so I'm told, being in a tent in the rain with an endless supply of beer.

1. Thornbridge Late Star 5.0%
2. White Horse Horse Rustler 5.4%
3. Thornbridge Evenlode Smoked Porter 6.2%
4. Titanic Cappuccino Stout 4.5%
5. Titanic Chocolate and Vanilla Stout 4.5%
6. Thornbridge McConnells 5.0%
7. Castle Rock Midnight Owl 5.5%
8. Thornbridge Evenlode Smoked Porter 6.2%

1. Titanic Plum Porter 4.9%
2. Welbeck Abbey Cavendish 5.0%
3. Thornbridge Kipling 5.2%
4. Thornbridge St Petersburg 7.4% (1/3)
5. Titanic Plum Porter 4.9%
6. Titanic Plum Porter 4.9%
7. Castle Rock Midnight Owl 5.5%
8. Titanic Plum Porter 4.9%

We head home via L’s work and carry some of her work home for tomorrow, as well as carrying each other. Luckily L got her daily 5k done early, so we don’t have to jog home with that lot.

(Thursday 11th October)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A Genuine Case Of Mistaken Identity

I got mistaken for Bradley Wiggins today. Some 10 year old shouted ‘Go Wiggo Go’ at me. He could have been taking the p*** but I’m sure it was a genuine case of mistaken identity. My Team GB cycling top was surely partly to blame because I haven’t been growing my sideburns and my cadence perhaps wasn’t what it could have been.

It’s the closing date for Sunday’s Coventry Half Marathon today but we decide to skip it. My two half marathons a month plan is gradually collapsing under the weight of injury. The plan is not proving as easy to put into practice as I though.

It’s not just me struggling either, L still has a bad knee and I offer to fetch my spare sachets of the Victory V joint gel out of the dustbin where I’ve stored them but she declines. Don’t blame her.

I’m not even sure if the stuff does any good. It’s hard to tell but either way I’m not using any of that particular brand again.

We’re on the late shift for dog training tonight, which won’t finish until gone 10pm and then we have to pack away. After which I need to pick L up from her Mother’s. She decides to start walking to shorten our journey but her parents won’t let her. Ahhhh, you’re never too old to be grounded by your parents.

(Wednesday 10th October)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Silly Question

A very nice morning for a bike ride. L says it was freezing, I call it pleasantly chilly. The knee survived it and aches less than when I cycled last week.

Do I like these?

Well yes, obviously. Silly question. They’re knee length leather boots. The price is a bit scary though. Although, as L points out, about the same price as the two head torches I’ve just bought for an upcoming night race. True but she’d look daft with a head torch on each foot.

The new giant cycle lane in Hertfordshire is hilarious and ridiculous.

How did the council think people would react? Stupid council.

I cycle to the pool and do a swim. It was ok, packed though which meant I got in one of the ‘beginners’ lanes and could take it nice and easy.

I get home and do a quick training session in garden with MD, in the dark. Unfortunately we’re now into that time of the year but, at least, if ever we’re tasked with competing in dark, we have it sorted.

(Tuesday 9th October)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Victory Vs

This morning’s workout for the dodgy knee is clutch session in the car. The clutch work wasn’t quite as painful today, so perhaps exercising the knee yesterday helped or perhaps it’s just that the traffic was a bit lighter today.

L sends me to Sainsbury’s for a mop. Which is the sort of thing you should only buy your partner with permission. ‘Just a cheap thing’, she says, ‘Don't go out of your way’. Unfortunately the latest redesign of Sainsbury's means that everything is out of your way.

I opened another sachet of joint stuff tonight. This one was a different brand and was like congealed Victory Vs. It wasn’t pleasant and smelt foul too. Luckily L was in a parallel universe, well more like a horizontal universe, and didn’t notice.

(Monday 8th October)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A (Slight) Sting In The Tail

We head to Congleton via my parents house, to collect my Dad who does like a 7am start. We take him to all the glitzy places and today’s its Congleton’s turn.

Now I’ve had a bad knee all week, well longer actually, so I’m not at all sure how this is going to pan out. I intend to start slow and not build up to a faster pace.

As is now the norm, someone with an Olympic torch helps start the race. Then as we leave the start at the High School, we find the first few miles to be a bit hectic, very busy and we all end up crammed on a pavement next to a busy main road. It was a bit like the ark, two by two, as the field hadn't had chance to thin out by then. Although I suppose this did it. There was the grass verge but I didn’t want to get my trainers muddy and I think everyone else thought the same, so congested it stayed.

Then across a busy roundabout heading into a supermarket before we finally quit the built up area. Thereafter it’s mainly country lanes, villages and plenty of room to run or hobble. Where I’m sure the view would have been really pleasant, if it wasn’t for some high hedges and a covering of low lying mist that didn’t lift. Actually perfect conditions for running, just not for sightseeing and despite a few undulations it seemed a fairly fast course. Not that dissimilar to Ipswich the other week, in fact that was probably hillier.

The race is chip timed and well marshalled. The drinks were in cups but for once I didn’t mind easing down to walk to drink from them, to give the knee a rest. All the drinks stations also advertised sponges, but they proved elusive, I never saw one. There was an extra drinks stop, set up outside the Black Swan and I eased up, just in case... but it was only soft drinks.

The race is called the 'Sting In The Tail' which is because, on the map at least, there was a huge dip, or may crevasse is a better word, at 12 miles, that you would think you’d need full climbing gear to get out of. Ahh, the wonders of map scales. The dip was not that severe. I didn't have to crawl.

L is racing too, she’s chosen the Quarter Marathon option, which I think is a first. At only £6 it’s bargain. Although she doesn’t get the t-shirt, which was a bit dull anyway, to be honest. Instead she gets a teddy bear and a much better goodie bag than me. There’s not much in mine at all.

I queue up for a massage but it’s not looking like a proper leg breaking sports massage, just two women playing patter cake on peoples’ legs. Which is always welcome but not worth queuing half an hour for, so I go to join L and my father in the cafe.

We head back to my parent’s place and collect my Mum before heading to the Canal Warehouse in Shardlow, where it turns out they serve a poor Sunday lunch but some excellent Hobgoblin.

After a bit of late afternoon R&R we decide to check out a beer festival that is happening at one of our local pubs, the Admiral Rodney. It’s nothing to get too excited about but they do have Otter Ale and that takes us back to many happy days spent in Devon. The pub are offering a discount for us Camra members and a loyalty card scheme, which is rather poor as you’re only allowed one stamp per day, rather than one per pint as is the norm with these things and it’s only valid for the fortnight of the festival as well. So not much of an incentive to revisit.

Back home, the knee is throbbing again and I rip open a sachet of jointeeze or something, which was one of the things in my goodie bag. L and the dogs immediately start choking from the aroma of the stuff and Doggo even momentarily gets off the bed. It’s all in a good cause guys, my dodgy knee, as is the Savlon for other areas that have taken a bit of chaffing.

(Sunday 7th October)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Menacing Females

A relaxing day. Well apart from a park session with the dogs. L’s been telling us for weeks that they’d not culled nearly enough deer but I hadn’t seen any for ages, until today. As ever it’s the females that are the most menacing but then females usually are.

Then I head off to Pride Park for the match, which is a waste of time. After the dullest of dull 0-0 draws, Derby’s manager discloses in his post-match interview that his team’s energy levels were too low, after two games in the last seven days (shock horror), to play two up front. So he packed the midfield and everybody fell asleep. If he’d told us that beforehand we could have all stayed at home and done something constructive instead. A point is a point I suppose, unless you actually want to do something with your season.

We stay in later, with pasta and apple crumble, but no alcohol of course. All in an attempt to be fit for tomorrow’s half marathon, to be ran on no training at all this week.

(Saturday 6th October)

Friday, 5 October 2012

Quality Control

Well, I didn’t have to crawl up the stairs at work this morning, so the knee is clearly no worse after last night’s activity. In fact it’s a little better.

I spend some time reading the Cycling Weekly article ‘26 things to do before you die! on two wheels!’ which is a very unfortunate title if you remove the first exclamation mark.

L says it’ll be all psycho stuff such as freewheeling down Glencoe Mountain without using your brakes. Hmmm she’s not too far wrong. She also points out that 26 things to do before you die isn't many, and most people list 100 but they’re probably assuming you'll expire during one of them.

L and the dogs walk up to meet me off the bus, which is far easier on the knee than driving, and I find them by homing in on the barking. L greets me warmly (although not as warmly as the dogs do) before handing the encumbrances over to me, so that she can head off on her daily 5k run. Doggo looks gutted as she heads off on to the park without him.

Later, I head over to Bingham for our six monthly mini university reunion, just the three of us. Two other chaps couldn’t make it, one of them only pulling out ill this morning, so we’ll need to do the next one in a lot less than six months.

I get the impression Doggo is being a pain at home when L suggests sending him over in a taxi. It’s usually MD she complains about. Something about him interrupting her Glee DVD. Isn’t that what you call quality control?

(Friday 5th October)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Simply Being Cautious

I take the bus and don’t bike, which makes L suspicious that my knee injury is worse than I’m letting on. I am simply being cautious, which is admittedly a word that L may not be familiar with coming from my lips. Cycling to work and playing squash on the same day tire me out anyway, so it was prudent to drop one of them.

My squash opponent also claims to be slightly injured and says he too will have to play on one leg. So it could be a comical game as we can limp around the court together.

Two points in and I had no idea how I was going to complete the match such was the aggravation from the knee, but then I forgot about it, won the first game, had chances in the second and eventually lost 2-1. Which as my opponent tells me, when I win 2-1, doesn’t count as its first to 3.

Luckily, under my own unique handicapping system of three points for a win (for me only), that’s a win for me. As a grand finale, on the very last point, I twist my right ankle in a desperate attempt not to exacerbate my left knee further. Only a slight sprain though, it’ll pass.

We meet L out of the gym and head to the Navigation pub and brewery for a pint of joint aid.

(Thursday 4th October)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Not Bad For His Age

I’m in the car today because Doggo is at the vets later for his annual MOT. All that clutch work in the again horrendously bad traffic doesn't help my knee, which was almost fine until I got in the car. I’d hate to have to start looking at automatics.

We get a rare male vet tonight. Doggo and I feel a bit cheated by that, something is clearly amiss on the veterinarian production line. Nice chap though and he doesn’t hide behind the table, when Doggo utters his trademark low growl, like the others did. The vet describes Doggo as 'not bad for his age'. Personally I’d have bitten him for saying that.

Dog training for MD tonight, his first for ages. He’s consequently totally hyper, which means we destroy a few courses, in between soon rather good bits.

While at training, we get some sad news. Doggo’s older brother has died. He was roughly 18 months older than Doggo, so he was 12 maybe almost 13. We will have a drink to his memory later. Good job you’re 'not bad' for your age mate.

(Wednesday 3rd October)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Better Than Fine

"How’s the knee?"

"Good thanks. Never better..."

That's the sort of thing L would say. So I assume that’s the reply she’s looking for. Actually it’s fine as long as I don’t move and it was better than fine while I was cycling to work. It was when I stopped cycling, that it started to throb. So whether cycling was a good idea or not I'm not sure. To misquote somebody famous "To rest or not to rest, I struggle with that question."

Later, as I leave for home, the traffic situation is again ridiculous. So I’m really happy I’m on my bike, bad knee or not. Even the rain is better than that queue.

The rain does put paid to my planned swim though. Taking off wet kit and then putting it back on again does not appeal.

(Tuesday 2nd October)

Third Puppyhood

The new Monday night dog training is not going well or even going at all. Last week we had to cancel due to rain this week to a lack of people. No more than three of us can make it this week. We need at least four to make it worthwhile and the other thing is that Muggings here will end up getting all the heavy equipment out on his own. It has to be on next week, rain permitting... because we have booked a trainer.

L is distraught, kind of, as it disrupts her date with the hoover or rather Doggo will disrupt it. In his second or is it his third puppyhood, he’s started attacking the damn thing. I will have to organise a football shaped distraction. A muddy one, which will subsequently undo the benefits of the hoovering.

I’m not sure I would have got there in time anyway. The Derby traffic is horrendous tonight; it takes 70 minutes to travel the 14 miles home. It’s 20 minutes quicker by bike, in fact it’s getting to stage where it’s almost as quick to run home.

Once I finally get there, I spend a bit of time training MD in the garden, going through what he did wrong yesterday and of course he didn’t put a paw wrong once.

The new Nottingham Half Marathon course seems to have been a success. It may have looked dull and boring on paper but it pulled in about a thousand more than last year.

(Monday 1st October)