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

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Ninety Minutes And A Discount

I’m on the bike and L’s in the pool. So ‘projects’ going well, sort of.

My computer is up and running or rather crawling. It’s working but it’s slow. I left it on overnight as I didn’t dare turn it off in case it wouldn’t come back on after I finally got it to start up yesterday.

L says the technical term is ‘lagging’. Not around here, the technical term they use here begins with an F.

I have booked a sports massage tonight with one of L’s ‘other’ men. He comes to the house and gives me a good pasting for almost ninety minutes then gives me a discount off the price, so I think he must have enjoyed it.

My squash/tennis opponent asks if I’m excited about Transfer Deadline Day. Ha ha. Only if Derby have a fire sale of all the dross we have but I can’t see it happening. We definitely don’t want any more signings.

(Thursday 31st August)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Welcome Home

Welcome home... The boiler is playing up and has turned itself off while we were away, the car won’t start despite it being impeccably behaved throughout almost two weeks of constant use in Scotland and when I get to work my computer won’t boot up.

The only bright spot so far is that I don’t have my headphones with me so I can’t listen to the rest of Andrew Gross’s ridiculous book on the bus.

L suggests we go back to the Hebrides. It’s tempting despite the strict two hour window for food.

L then launches Project Goddess, her latest health and fitness campaign. Only two weeks to the Great North Run... I'm feeling so unexercised myself I’ll be starting my own project at this rate. However I think Project God, might be blasphemous. 

(Wednesday 30th August)

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Highland Games And Other Scottish Jigs

Things don’t get off to a great start with the closure of the Thelwall Viaduct on the M6 causing traffic chaos. We try to drive round it and end up on the M56 which eventually leads us to Widnes which seems to be undergoing a complete rebuild. So we get stuck there instead. It’s a change of scenery I suppose.

So it’s a good job that I have got a new gadget for the car to play audiobooks, one that connects via Bluetooth to my new phone. It works a treat and we listen to Fatherland by Robert Harris which seems to do a god job masking all the car’s rattles.

All this means we don’t travel as far as we had hoped on the first day and end up at the C&C Club site Moffat again. As I’ve also booked one of their sites for tomorrow night we should perhaps have joined up but we say that every year.

The Black Bull pub, which was boarded up last time we visited, has reopened but seems to do only pies, albeit a wide range, and Theakston’s ales. So not very Scottish but it will have to do.

After breakfast in Moffat at the Green Frog, which is a sort of garden centre café, we continue our trip north and make it to Nairn where we camp at another C&C site at Delnies Wood.

The Braeval Hotel’s Bandstand bar seems to be the go to destination for food and beer. On it’s board outside it claims to have nine hand pumps but inside I can only see four pumps serving three beers. Trade descriptions act?

The next day we head to Elgin, around thirty minutes away, so that L can chalk up another parkrun where she beats Olympic rower Heather Stanning on TeamParkrun day. Heather, it has to be said, doesn’t try too hard and tailwalks.

Then it’s back to Nairn for the Highland Games where I am one of the attractions in the Half Marathon. Sadly I injury myself (calf again) during my warm up. I decide that the best thing to do would be to pull out completely. Then as things improve slightly after a few stretches I decide to jog the first mile. The first mile is uncomfortable but bearable, so I give the next mile a go, then I give the other eleven a go. My conclusion, as I hobble home home in two hours exactly and then can’t walk afterwards, is that I should have pulled out.

In the evening, we head to nearby Cawdor and have a really good meal at the Cawdor Tavern, along with beers from Orkney.

Then we move camp to Ullapool on the west coast and Broomfield Holiday Park close to the town which enables a tour of the local pubs on foot. We sample the Seaforth, the Ferry Boat Inn and the Argyll Hotel. We get local ales in two of them but the Ferry Boat serves us beers from Nottingham and Devon. Then we head back to the almost on site Indian Restaurant for a very good curry.

Monday sees us get the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry over to Stornoway on the Isle Of Lewis. We plan to stay two nights at Laxdale Holiday Park just outside Stornoway but this turns into three due to the wet overnight weather which kept leaving the tent soaked and the lack of anywhere else exciting to go.

Lewis is pleasant but, compared with the rest of the Hebrides, rather dull. Once you’ve done the standing stones at Callanish and the Blackhouse village at Gearrannan, there’s not really a lot else to see.

Stornoway is also rather limited for food options and horrific for beer, aside from the Hebridean Brewery Tap called the ‘Edge O' the World’ bar but even their beers are a bit of an acquired taste. L does acquire the taste for their Berzerker strong ale at 7.5%.

The first night we eat at the very nice, but terribly named and also terribly slow, Digby Chick. Good food though. The next night, the Crown Inn doesn’t want us and nor do many other places but in the end we get an excellent meal at The Lido. On the third night all that is left really is the Thai Café, so we go there. Meal times seem to be strictly until 9pm every night and this seems not negotiable, you wouldn’t even get a coffee after 9pm. If they think you’re likely to loiter beyond 9pm you won’t get in in the first place.

Road trips to Port of Ness and the island of Bernera yield good scenery and a beach session for the dogs but not a lot else. Port of Ness is famous for the Peter May books but they’re hardly living off his name.

Another road trip, this time to Uig, yields more Peter May associations with some of his chessmen dotting the landscape. We take in two coffee shops, a museum and the Abhainn Dearg Distillery (Red River in English). From where we take away a bottle of ‘spirit’, which is a whiskey under three years old.
This is a new distillery, only founded in 2008, and it looks just like a collection of disparate farm buildings which is why we drove straight past it (several times) without a second glance. It is the first distillery on the Outer Hebrides for almost 200 years and apparently the first legal one.

On Thursday we move camp to Harris and stay at the same camp site at Horgaboost as on our previous trip a few years ago, where you leave payment in a brown paper envelope. We eat at the Harris Hotel in Tarbet where they have Skye beers in bottles but not on draft. There used to be a pub next door called the Isle Of Harris Inn that did sell them on draft but this has now gone and looks like it is being turned into a house.

After yesterday discovering the first distillery in the Outer Hebrides for almost 200 years we now stumble across a second one. Build in the what I think was the ferry terminal car park at Tarbet is the Harris Distillery. It was only opened in 2015, so they haven’t yet managed to produce even a spirit let alone a whiskey. They do however have gin and why not, I’m getting quite into my gins.

The next day we take the ferry across to North Uist, via Berneray, and head to our usual camp site, Moorcroft near Carinish. Where we promptly come under midge attack, which is actually a first on these islands.

We stumble across the Harvest Food & Writing Festival which is being held across the three islands of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist. Unfortunately it is not well publicised and hardly anyone else stumbles across it. It does include a beer festival (all bottles) at the Westford Inn but not Saturday’s half marathon, which could have done with any extra publicity it could get.

We had always intended to hit the Westford for food, as we have been there before, but the new owners struggle to fit us in or so they say. We eventually get a table at 8:15pm, hardly late and the place is emptying fast but as I’ve already mentioned, everyone around here turns into a pumpkin at 9pm. They insist we book for 6pm tomorrow.

The next day we head to Lochmaddy for the finish of the Two Islands Half Marathon which I wanted to do but I haven’t yet fully regained the use of my calves after Nairn. The race has been hastily rerouted this year due to the tragic death of an islander on Berneray. The whole race now stays entirely on North Uist with apparently a midge affected start in the middle of nowhere. So perhaps a good one to miss.

Later we head down to Benbecula to check out the literary offering of the festival but it isn’t that exciting. So we are incredibly punctual for our 6pm booking at the Westford Inn but no one else is. We could have had the 7pm table or the 7.30pm table... They need to stop taking so many bookings.

On Sunday it’s back to Lockmaddy to get the ferry to the other Uig on Skye. We tentatively drive off the ferry expecting the campervan gridlock and ‘Skye is Full’ signs that the media have warned us of. We drive along the very quiet north coastal road to see if there is anywhere to stay. Dunvegan with its castle looks a possibility but it’s not the ‘full’ signs that drive us away, as there aren’t any. There just isn’t really much there at all, so we keep on driving until arriving, as usual, at Sligachan.

We don’t feel the Sligachan Hotel it’s quite the cosy place it was back in the day but any port in a storm as they say and stormy it is certainly becoming. We pitch up and the pub actually appears less busy than usual. Their beers are now from their own Cuillin Brewery rather than the Skye Brewery. I try a few, a Harris Gin and a special 'non peaty' Talisker whisky. So all in all a very Scottish night.

The next day, the high winds make packing up quite interesting but at least it keeps the midges away.

After we've packed up we revisit Broadford for a full Scottish. Where, once settled in the café, I sort of forget what time the ferry from Armadale is probably because I was doubting whether it would be running, due to the wind, anyway. There is always the bridge but the half hour crossing to Mallaig does cut quite a bit of driving time out.

In the end we make it there with a few minutes to spare and the ferry is running on time. Back on the mainland we head for Roy Bridge and Bunroy Park camping where we stayed two years ago. The Stronlossit Inn is just across the road and the Caledonian Stag goes down very well.

Then we’re heading home via the Green Welly stop at Tyndrum where I get hold of a bottle of Benromach whiskey which was the one local to Nairn, from Forres, that I didn’t get hold of when we were there.

By now we’ve finished the excellent Fatherland and are onto a second book, Andrew Gross’s The One Man, but the less said about that the better.

(Tuesday 29th August)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Sleep Patterns

On the bike today, a finally spin of the legs before the holiday.

Daughter comes round for a run with L and then tea.

She tells us all about her sleep patterns or lack of them thanks to the Sleep App that she is using. She's decided that she snores, the App has told her so. I could have told her that, I’ve heard her. In any case, everybody snores.

(Wednesday 16th August)

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Wall To Wall Tudors

I had forgotten that I was supposed to be shopping yesterday after I’d picked the car up from the garage, hence I have no breakfast this morning.

I then forgot that I hadn’t shopped yesterday and forget to go in my lunch hour today. I do finally go after work on my way to my parents' place, there is another match tonight. Derby are at home to Preston.

Back in the day games seemed to be largely alternate, one at home then one away. These days it always seems to be two at home then two away and that's really annoying. It means like this week you get two games in four days and then the next game will be 9th September, over three weeks away.

L is at Broadway tonight where the author Philippa Gregory is doing a gig. I’m assured it’s wall to wall Tudors and G&T. That makes it sound a bit like a fancy dress party and I assume you have to buy your own G&T.

(Tuesday 15th August)

Monday, 14 August 2017

False Economy

I take the car in to the garage this morning for a pre-holiday check up. It passed it’s MOT at the end of June but the exhaust only got through by the skin of its teeth and the whole car is rattling somewhat...

However the garage say everything is fine. Yes, the exhaust is a bit cracked and a bit noisy but it would be false economy to have it fixed now. The chap says it would be much better to wait until the whole thing gives up the ghost. 

Like half way up the M6 on Thursday?’ I ask. 

He does one of those shrugs that mechanics are quite good at. He says he doesn’t want to take my money off me unnecessarily. Really? He’s in the wrong job.

But...’ he says. Ah, there is always a but. ‘You could do with two new tyres’.

So the car is all sorted but I was nearly looking for another co-pilot for the trip.

Due to her recently acquired criminal record, Hastings Direct have decided that they will not insure L any more. Why they couldn’t have told me this last week, when I first raised the issue with them, I have no idea.

Anyhow I quickly did an on-line search for a new insurer and it produced a list of 70 who were willing to take our custom. So we have now jumped ship to Swinton and the entire premium with them is less than it was at Hastings. So, result. Hastings must lose a lot of customers this way.

L says she feels bad for causing so much hassle. Hassle? She means excitement. I’ve never lived with a criminal before.

(Monday 14th August)

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Injury Meltdown

The original Newark Half Marathon ran for many years until 2011 when it ceased to exist. It seemed the organisers had had enough of the endless hassle of organising it. Then in 2016 it returned, albeit without much Newark in it and certainly not the town centre start and finish.

The new race starts in the Sconce Park, on the outskirts of Newark, and the site of many civil war battles which are now being exchanged for battles of another variety. From there the race heads further outwards and despite it being advertised as the dreaded flat and fast, meaning its probably going to be dull, I decide to give it a go this year as part of my Marathon Project.

There is no car parking, so we park in the street and then walk to the start which is buried deep in the park.

The course is almost totally on closed county lanes, if you don’t count farm vehicles. One of which tries a massive reversing manoeuvre mid-race at about the ten mile point. It was sort of all on road as well, if you discount a few minor thoroughfares that hadn’t see a layer of tarmac in twenty plus years and had grass growing through them. Oh, and the entire last mile was a lap of Sconce Park itself, on the grass. Other than that... no complaints about the course.

I set out determined to take this (relatively) easily and quickly put aside the fact that one of my former Thunder Run team mates is currently ahead of me. I know he can’t maintain that pace and true enough I soon ease past him without doing anything.

What is more worrying is that another (occasional) rival of mine, shoots past me about six miles in as if his shoes are on fire. That has NEVER happened before. I hope he can’t maintain that pace but just in case he can, I up mine a little. This is probably my undoing.

I am correct in that he can’t maintain that pace and soon I get back in front of him, leaving him far behind until... disaster strikes. At ten miles my calf locks up and I start to walk, race over. Both of my ‘rivals’ come past me. Oh, the shame but I suppose I was in good company today.

Later, Usain Bolt pulled up injured in his last ever race while Mo Farah also messed up his finale. Mo is now apparently giving up the track to focus on racing against me full time on the road. Not sure I’ll give him much trouble.

I have my phone with me, specifically for an injury meltdown just like this, so I text L that I’ll be a while and to put her feet up/have a beer/get her knitting out etc etc.

She is somewhat appalled that I’m not. I sort of run/walk/jog/shuffle the last three miles and finish in 1:58. Not bad I suppose and at least I finished unlike Usain but it’s not a good omen for my future plans.

The goodie bag proved to be interesting, red t-shirt aside, with a few decent snacks, a medal and some weird plastic thing that I mistook for a dog toy but someone else said was perhaps a massage tool but could just as well have been a sex aid. There were no takers in our household to research this further, even the dogs weren’t interested.

We spend the evening in the Crafty Crow.

(Sunday 13th August)

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Intended Endeavours

Today I decide to test my latest calf injury, which is the same as my old calf injury, at Markeaton Parkrun ahead of doing the Newark Half Marathon tomorrow. MD runs with me and keeps my pace in check. Calf wise everything seems if not fine, well ok. Good enough to give it a go tomorrow.

Rather bizarrely, L and Daughter, who also run and cross the line side by side, are given times forty seconds apart.

It’s the first home match of the season in the afternoon which Derby lose convincing to Wolves. So another good season in prospect then. While L heads over to see her folks and then we have an evening in ahead of my intended endeavours tomorrow. 

(Saturday 12th August)

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Week In The Caribbean

I bike, basically hoping that cycling will do something good to my calf.

L has recommended some calf exercises to me and has even sent me pictures/diagrams. They involved wedging a ball between your ankles and standing on a step. I’d need to get the ball back from the dogs but it also looks dangerous to me. I’m sure I would fall off the step and injure myself.

L is also fretting about her own injuries and is again pushing for a campervan and/or a week on a beach in the Caribbean, which was her boss’s original prescription. I best cancel the Hebrides then. 

(Friday 11th August)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

National Spoil Your Dog Day

Supposedly today is National Spoil Your Dog Day, although I thought every day was spoil your dog day, and it is also Doggo’s birthday. How appropriate. He is sweet sixteen today.

I make a rare voyage onto Facebook and post a picture of his custom made birthday card with him in a cowboy hat. He promptly goes viral.

I bike today and then later it’s tennis, followed by a beer afterwards at the Crown in Beeston.

L runs to us from the other side of town after a pump class at Djanogly.

(Thursday 10th August)

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Will They Remember Me?

It’s still raining this morning so again I don’t bike but I do grab my gym stuff (yes really) before I get the bus. I wonder if they’ll remember me?

The calf seems to have settled down now but all the same I treat it with a rather nice Tiramisu beer in the pub at lunch time. Feels almost as good as new now.

After a quick half an hour in the gym after work, just on the bike and without pulling anything, I head home. L is out, running round Wollaton Park with Daughter. Naturally.

(Wednesday 9th August)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Oh No, Here We Go Again

I get the bus into work, somehow dodging the worst of the rain. Not so L, apparently.

My plan is to run after work, which I do, with the rain now reduced to just an annoying drizzle but I change my route to avoid the river path which will probably be flooded. Instead I try to cut though the industrial estate on Raynesway but this just seems to take ages.

Then after only 8km, I have to abort my run after my calf tightens up. Oh no, here we go again. Walking loosens it but then when I run again it goes tight again. So I get the bus home.

Once home, I then head out again to collect L from her own ‘not running’ session. Her running partners are just eating at the Royal Oak in Ockbrook and I meet them there. It was worth the trip to get the rarity of Worthington White Shield on draft.

(Tuesday 8th August)

Monday, 7 August 2017

Some Shocking News

We’ve all had some shocking news this morning. The twentysomething daughter of a colleague at work died on the A38 on Thursday night. They were on holiday in North West Scotland and without mobile reception, so didn't even find out about it for a few days.

L and Daughter have now started running with one of the local clubs on a Monday evening. I just hope no one there tries to give Daughter any advice, we need to get her one of those ‘I Need Space’ bibs for when she’s running.

It’s glorious sunshine tonight, so dog training is on. The rain is saving itself for my run tomorrow.

(Monday 7th August)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The London Way

On Saturday we get up early-ish and head off to the Parkrun at nearby Mile End. Well, what else do you do on a Saturday morning. There’s no café but an enterprising coffee van fills the void. We then head for breakfast at somewhere stylishly called La Verde at Riverside near Limehouse DLR station. Then it’s back to hotel to put the do not disturb sign on door.

Later we do some sightseeing and check out a pub called the Good Samaritan, which was L’s boss's old haunt when he was a lad studying at the hospital in Whitechapel. There we drink reinvented Watney’s Pale Ale in the shadow of the old brewery that stands in nearby Brick Lane.

Then it’s a trip to the Jack the Ripper museum, which is ok but it really isn’t based on anything substantial. From there we stumble across the Tower of London where they are preparing for tomorrow’s marathon.

Evening drinks are firstly in the White Hart which boasts beers from the One Mile End brewery, sort of. Not many of them are on, so we move on to The Pride of Spitalfields which a real traditional pub, just off Brick Lane, which serves a good pint of ESB or three. Completely flat of course as is the London way.

We had always intended to do a curry on Brick Lane but are completely railroaded into making a choice by the on street sales tactics of one of the restaurants, Monsoon. Not knowing any of these places we decide to take the plunge but naturally the free drink offer they promised didn’t apply to what I wanted to drink.

The next day we again take in breakfast somewhere near Limehouse but this time at a café called Silvia’s before we head back to St Pancras, via the Tower of London again, where we see a bit of the marathon.

(Saturday 5th August)

Friday, 4 August 2017

Dirty Weekend In Whitechapel

I’m in London, again, by train, again, in First Class, again, only this time it’s not business but pleasure and a dirty weekend in Whitechapel with L and Mo Farah.

It has to be said that First Class just isn’t the same when you’re too late for breakfast and as we find out on the way home the perks are practically non existent on Sundays. If you want a drink, fetch it yourself from the buffet card, four coaches away. Thanks for that.

We do live it up a little on the way there, before we even get on the train, with wine and Prosecco at Nottingham Station which costs almost as such as the train tickets.

The Holiday Inn at Whitechapel turns out to be very swish and not at all seedy, shame. Then we head to the Olympic Stadium on the DLR where we join the huge security queues to get in. While we queue it gets me thinking that if someone wanted to detonate something for maximum effect then in the queue would be quite an effective option. Scary!

Of course these checks would be a hell of a lot quicker if practically everyone didn’t need to bring a huge rucksack with them. It’s a three hour athletics session folks, what can you possibly need to get through that?

I suppose the food options aren’t great and nor are the beer choices. The velodrome, just across the way, is much better so there’s no excuse really. We have a massive pasty thing and then pork roll afterwards. 

We arrive in time for the Opening Ceremony, which doesn’t really exist, then we see Mo win the 10k and everyone go ape for Bolt in the 100m heats. I’ve never quite understood this Bolt thing myself but then I’ve never really understood the attraction of the 100m either. 

We also see Laura Muir looking impressive in 1500m heats and get totally confused by the Pole Vault qualifying. It is one of my favourite events but they don’t make it easy to follow and, just to add to the confusion, there are three field events going on at once.

However it’s an excellent evening and it’s good to finally get inside the stadium. It's only took me five years. Then afterwards we are herded back towards the station down closed off streets whether we wanted to go there or not. We couldn’t get to a bar, which was all we wanted to do, and eventually ended up back in the hotel bar instead.

(Friday 4th August)

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Strangely Therapeutic

After last night’s run the bike into work was hard work although I think my legs found tt strangely therapeutic. However, they soon start seizing up once I’m at work.

No tennis tonight as the centre is closed again, this time for the British Open Wheelchair Championships. So, I shall do some proper exercise instead. Well, I shall cycle home.

As does L, who runs to meet us at the Dispensary.

(Thursday 3rd August)

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

First In The Queue

L and Daughter go for a run (again) tonight. Those are words that have rarely been spoken in the past but are now fast becoming second nature to us. They are being used almost as much as phrases like ‘ball chucking’, well perhaps not quite.

I go off for a plod of my own after work and run 16.7km, according to my watch, before getting the bus the rest of the way home. I was almost tempted to run all the way but didn’t want to overdo it and twang something or get attacked by bird of prey like some bloke was.

L and I apologise to each other for being late home and I offer to kiss and make up but MD says he’s first in the queue for recompense.

(Wednesday 2nd August)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Tortuous And Pointless

Today I’m in Croydon for work, this is south London of course so requires a 6:30am train in order to get there for a 10am meeting. First class naturally, which means breakfast, juice and two coffees. In fact I might have a third.

L meanwhile is living it up at home, seemingly not missing me, sitting in bed with a mug of tea, trying to talk the dogs into a walk but not too forcefully it seems.

After arriving at St Pancras, I take a Thameslink train across London and then attempt to call a cab to get me the last mile or so. The Speedy Taxi service that is advertised on the wall of the station proves to be anything but. When the chap finally turns up he claims not have heard of the huge new waste processing plant they are building in the area. Really? I though taxi drivers were supposed to know everything. It really is huge and as soon as we turn on to the road that it is on, it towers above us. ‘Oh that’ he says.

I hate meetings and this one was one of the most tortuous and pointless. Lots is still left undecided, I just hope they don’t want another meeting.

Thankfully it’s all over by lunchtime, not that they offer me any but I do get chance for a sandwich and a pint back at the Parcel Yard at Kings Cross.

Once home, I cut the grass for the dog sitter. We’re away this weekend and this will make the ball throwing easier.

(Tuesday 1st August)