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

Sunday, 1 March 2020


After work on Wednesday, I get the train across to Nottingham Station from work where I meet L. We are on the 17:45 down to London St Pancras International, sadly only in 2nd class as I wanted an open return and nobody is rich enough for the 1st Class version.

Then it’s a short hop on the Circle Line to Paddington where we are staying for the first night at the Abbey Court Hotel on the edge of Hyde Park. It’s not a Holiday Inn sadly but it’s lot cheaper than a Holiday Inn. I have already sussed out the local Fullers pub, The Victoria, which not only serves us a decent pint of ESB, if expensive at London prices, but also does food until 10pm.

The hotel meanwhile is basic but is fine until we find out just how basic when we come to take a morning shower for which there is no hot water at all, not even for a wash in the sink. 

We check out, still smelly, and get the swift, but pricey, Heathrow Express straight to the Airport from Paddington. Our flight with British Airways to Berlin Tegel takes off just after 10am, giving us enough time to grab a pricey (again) Heathrow breakfast. Meanwhile L’s cold is getting worse and we’re worried that if she sneezes in front of Security, they’ll probably quarantine her.

On arriving in Berlin, we have to get a bus to take us to the city because the ageing airport isn’t hooked up to their train\tram network. The airport has been down to be replaced since 2011 which is when the new Brandenburg Airport, built opposite the former East Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, was supposed to open but they’re still waiting for them to finishing building it.

We do have a Holiday Inn this time and it is excellently position is just inside the old East, yards from a remaining section of the Berlin Wall in what is now the East Side Gallery. The actual border was the river Spree and the famous Oberbaum Bridge was a famous crossing point from East to West.

Having dropped off our bags we head off for the first of three days at the velodrome for the World Track Cycling Championships which is just a short train or tram ride away. We never could quite decide which was easiest. The tram was certainly more difficult when we approached the velodrome from a different direction and couldn’t find our way due to it being sunken into the ground and all the subterranean entrances being on the train station side.

After watching the cycling on Thursday we find an excellent bar called Protokoll and after trying a different, more English style, bar called Home on Friday we return to Protokoll for another session on the Saturday.

On Friday word reaches us that the last two days of the UAE Tour have been cancelled because of two suspected cases of coronavirus and all the riders have been quarantined. What is more vital to us is that Danish cyclist Michael Morkov left the UAE Tour the day before it was cancelled in order to ride in the Madison here. He was sat in velodrome on Thursday watching his teammates shatter the world record on their way to Team Pursuit gold and has now been told to go isolate. I don’t think he sat near us...

Friday daytime sees us doing the tourist sites including the Checkpoint Charlie museum. The museum, along with many things in Berlin, have changed somewhat since I last visited in 1992.

L, of course, has requested that parkrun be worked into our itinerary on the Saturday (not that she’s obsessed or anything). This does, without any pre-planning at all, coincide brilliantly with my 100th parkrun. As L says I've come so far for someone who hates them so much.

The run takes place at Volkspark Hasenheide and we run there from our hotel which is about two miles. The route is two laps (of course) and includes a nasty little 200m section up a steep hill. At the run we meet two people from Bramcote. It’s a small world as they say.

Afterwards we run back to the hotel in time for a late breakfast and a look at the East Side Gallery before heading back to the velodrome while failing to find a free cashpoint on the way.

On Sunday morning, it’s back to Tegel to start the journey back home. At the airport there are quite a few people wearing face masks as Germany announces it has over 100 people infected with the coronavirus including their first one in Berlin.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Geeky Spreadsheets

Both L and I have geeky spreadsheets of all the races we’ve done. L has been racing longer than me so she has done a lot more races than me. She has done a massive 542 races in total compared with my meagre 282 but it turns out that, out of my pitiful total, 91 of mine have been half marathons whereas L has only done 88.

She has done 8 marathons though to my 3.I'm still playing catch up there and her enthusiasm for number 9 seems to be waning. .She says her running Mojo appears to have up and left. I’ll have to hide her new hoover and only tell her where it is once she’s done her run or I could lend her our four legged Mojo He'd spur her on.

Instead Monday sees her out on the lash in Borrowash... and she’s out late. It’s almost eight o’clock when she gets on the bus home.

Tuesday turns out to be glorious day for cycling... but for reasons known only to me I don't. Well it was also a bit nippy.

Talking of nippy. L is still eyeing up outdoor swims. Brrr. The latest one to take her fancy is the Jubilee River Swim in Windsor. It’s 10km long with three weirs on the route, which I’m sure they’ll make the swimmers walk around and not go wa-hey over them. Even though L says ‘OMG I hope not!  Doesn't it look great?’ Erm. If she says so. I’ll hold her coat. She claims to have already been hardening herself to the prospect with cold showers at our local pool. 

Her latest PT session has her sprinting on a Watt bike. Now that’s more like it.

(Tuesday 25th February)

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Slip Of A Girl

By Friday L is germ ridden. We’re pretty sure it’s just a cold and not Coronavirus but am I going to have to take someone else to Berlin next weekend? They might not even let her into the country.

A cruise ship called the Diamond Princess has been quarantined off the coast of Yokohama in Japan after hundreds on board are infected. It is the largest outbreak of the virus outside of China.

On Friday evening I have a match as Derby play Fulham and then on Saturday it’s Parkrun. It will be my 99th and the plan is... well firstly to find one that is still on by permission of Storm Dennis (or actually I think we might be on to Ellen now, not that I noticed a gap). There is a new Parkrun at Lichfield called Beacon but that seems to be off. Wollaton isn’t on because they are hosting the National Cross Country Championships, so we decide to play safe and go to Alvaston. 

After parkrun we do head to Wollaton Park to have a look at the Cross Country. This is hugely entertaining because the park is so waterlogged and muddy. Sections of the course are knee deep in water\mud and it makes for great spectating.

On Sunday I return to Prestwold Hall for RunThrough's Leicestershire Half Marathon. This is of course purely out of necessity and L joins me in the race as well, out of necessity. To be honest it doesn't seem quite as dull after doing it last year probably because I mow know what is coming and can mentally prepare for it.

The one thing that wasn’t quite so bad last year was the wind, which is really hard to run against this year but it’s very nice when it’s behind you and pushing you along. The effect of the wind is probably reflected in my time of almost 1:49, four minutes slower than last year.

Then we head to my Brother’s lad’s 18th bithday meal at the Joiner's Arms in Quarndon. I don’t think I’ve been before but L says she’s been to a disco there when she was just a mere slip of a girl. Which is not that long ago obviously. It’s all food now, and they do have some decent beer, but sadly they don’t do a Sunday Lunch. The foods ok though. Everyone has massive ice cream sundaes for dessert and can’t manage them which means I end up trying to eat about four of them.

( Sunday 23rd February)

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Keep Washing Your Hands

They tell us to keep thoroughly washing our hands to avoid contracting the Coronavirus, now given the name COVID-19 by the WHO, which is all good advice and what we should be doing anyway. They also tell us not to touch our faces which isn’t so easy. I mean, have you tried putting in contact lenses without touching your face. Suddenly it takes far longer to get ready for work in the mornings.

Sainsbury's are late sending out my new visa card and have blocked my old card before the new one has arrived meaning I have to pay for today’s shopping on a different card. This loses me about 90 Nectar points or meagre 45p. I ring them up more to ask where the new card is rather than to complain about the lost points, although I do have a small whinge, and they credit my account with 18,000 points. That's about £90. So, it does pay to complain...massively.

I manage to cycle on Tuesday and it was hard work in the still strong winds but then I am so unfit at the moment.

L skips running club saying that she doesn’t want to be faffing around with doing intervals at the club now she’s a proper athlete and running from home will give her more hoover time even when it turns out to be 10k in the rain. I’ve never known anyone get so excited about a new hoover.

She's looking forward to a night on her own with her new gadget while the boys and I are at dog training. She's never this keen to get alone with me...

On Wednesday she is London for work, which is another icy morning. A day in London with her boss probably means another day of crap eating. He’s the one who bought her four crème eggs and a bar of dairy milk for lunch the other day. There’s none of your five a day in there and most of it makes its way home to me where it goes in my not-so-secret secret drawer. 

In the evening I meet up with a friend of mine after work. Instead of going to the pub, we meet at the Derby Winter Beer Festival at the Roundhouse.

On Thursday L does go to her club while I run from 14 miles from work. 

(Thursday 20th February)

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Character Building

On Friday they make a decision about Stamford and with Yellow Weather Warnings of winds forecast to be over 40mph they postpone the race to next week which rules us out. We have an 18th Birthday Party to attend, my brother’s lad, and we’ve also entered the Prestwold Half which is much nearer and an earlier start which means we can easily make the party.

We very briefly consider turning up on the day at the Naseby 1645, that I did last year, which they promise will be on but will be ‘character building’ in the forecasted strong winds and driving rain. Of course, we might turn up at Naseby and they cancel at the last minute.

L says she’d prefer to do her own thing on Saturday, as she did last week, and then have a
night on the lash, as we did last week.Which is fine by me, then we both spend Valentine’s Night in the gym but not the same one...

On Saturday we do the Wollaton Hall Parkrun which having dodged Ciara last week also seems Dennis proof and attracts 461 runners. Daughter joins us and runs with MD meaning we don’t have to cope with the conundrum of what to do with him. It is only five minutes’ walk from home but we can’t leave him home alone because he’ll howl in distress, so we’d have to drive over and pay to park the car just to keep him happy.

L does her 'own thing' by running an extra lap and then keeps running while Daughter and I check out the cafe. It’s good to see that the cafe is tuned into the potential to make money and opens at 9am rather than its usual 10am. It also now does breakfast baguettes before noon (don’t ask, I have no idea...).

Then I head off to the match. After which Radio Derby summariser Craig Ramage is sacked for singling out two of Derby’s black players for criticism.

L completes 14k, does Pilates, then head off for part two of her run, completing 16 miles in total. Very impressive. I am feeling totally upstaged by the two girls, L and her sister, who are all doing bigger distances than me in preparation for the Brighton Marathon.

So on Sunday I do my own training run and I run 15 miles with the Lad. Who I think gets more than he bargained for. We WhatsApp a few photos as we go, including one in front of the Robin Hood statue by the Castle where the Lad’s cuteness leaves not a dry eye among the assembled tourists who are waiting to take their own selfie in front of the statue. 

(Sunday 16th February)

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Hell Hath No Fury

Monday starts with some snow! Heavy snow! But then it’s gone and we have rain. Heavy rain.

L’s shopping list to me is (she says) long, expensive but healthy. Hash browns and curly fries are healthy? Who knew? And there’s something called FF on there but she can’t remember what that’s short for. We hope it's not vital and it sounds like some trendy brand of vodka. Then it comes to me, fish fingers!

It’s still cold and yesterday’s rain has now turned the pavements into ice rinks. I slither my way to the bus stop and only fall over once. For which I suppose I should have had a week off work and sued the council even though I’m fine.

It’s still windy too but I do my run. I manage 11k on what feels like an outdoor treadmill e.g. I didn’t seem to be moving much due to the wind.

Having lost one race last week to a moody Ciara, now we are faced with her handing the baton over to Dennis who is showing that ‘hell hath no fury like a’ man upstaged by a woman and it’s not looking very good for Sunday’s Stamford 30k at the moment. The trouble with races these days is you don't know whether you should be entering months in advance because they all seem to fill up almost instantly. Then when you do, they get cancelled.

An email pops into my inbox offering me tickets for the Ladies Final at Wimbledon through the ballot. They have finally moved into the last century with their ballot, scrapped the old paper form that you had to send in and now all you have had to do was click a box online. So I thought why not and now I have the offer of Ladies Final tickets for only £400. I think not and turn them down.

L’s sister gets a place in the Great North Run. L is gutted because she was hoping she’d be able to hand hers over to her sister but now she’ll have to run it as well.

On Wednesday L has PT and I have dogging. Then on Thursday I manage to cycle to work and without needing any lights which is an indication of how long it’s been since I last cycled.

(Thursday 13th February)

Sunday, 9 February 2020

A Nice Spot Of Tourism

L’s pool seems to have found a few customers from somewhere, mainly the tri club who she heard bragging about their events to each other. Not that she was impressed, she’s done most of them.

Clifton Bridge on the ring road near us is closed after damage was spotted on the underside of it. It is completely closed in one direction and has only has one lane open in the other direction. Not good and I can’t see any fast solution to this.

I take the bus to work on Friday, which went ok but coming back is another matter. The traffic is hell because of the closures. I’m not sure what time I’ll get home.

L meanwhile seems a bit impatient as she waits for me and is threatening to start Friday night without me. This is because her personal trainer has recommended that she starts foam rolling and she wants to give mine a try tonight. I’d hate to miss out on that.

Meanwhile the world is beginning to get worried about a new flu like virus, coronavirus, with has so far claimed over 800 lives in China. Our local GP surgery texts me today saying that if I’d ‘recently returned from China or South East Asia and are concerned that you may have a viral infection please DO NOT come down to the surgery’. As I said, worrying.

Saturday sees the start of a new Parkrun at Wollaton Hall which will be our new local but where are we? We’re at another new one at Doddington Hall near Lincoln, which is on its third week. We’re on the way to visit a old friend of mine who lives near Market Rasen. What with Warwick last week as well, that’s a nice spot of tourism. We’ll do our new local next week. 603 turned up for the inaugural one.

We were actually supposed to be running on Wollaton Park on Sunday but the Winter Warmer 10k has been postponed due to the arrival of Storm Ciara, a troublesome female if ever there was one. Ciara’s tantrum somewhat rips up the weekend’s planned schedule but it does mean we’re allowed out on Saturday night. We pub crawl Sneinton, visiting the Neon Rapter Brewery tap for one, then the Fox & Grapes for one, the King Billy for two and then visit Brewdog to finish off.

A freed up Sunday allows me to do a track session at the Velodrome.

(Sunday 9th February)

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Collision Point

The race results from Watford have been corrected of their own accord. The normal order of things in our household has now been restored.

The Golf’s dashboard has suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree with warning lights. So, when L goes over to see her folks she takes the bus, not wanting to go over in a dodgy car. There’s always the Astra I say. Oh, she did say she didn’t want to go over in a dodgy car didn’t she.

I go over later to pick her up because I wanted to give the Golf a run to see just how dodgy it was but somehow it fixes itself as those wise folks on Google said it probably would.

On Tuesday L’s watching Kinky Boots at Broadway while I’m watching football boots as Derby defeat Northampton in their FA Cup 4th Round Replay. I shunt my planned dog training session to Wednesday.

L has her PT on Wednesday where she signs a contract committing to 12 sessions. As she says, that’ll sort her out. After which, she manages to walk home unaided but she may not be lifting pints for a while.

Meanwhile L’s dentist convinces her to make the leap to an electric toothbrush. Mine has been trying to convince me to have one for years along with regularly seeing the hygienist, selling me floss and also those things you put on the end of your fingers. Sometimes I’m not sure if he’s a dentist or a salesman. He spends more time trying to sell me stuff than he does looking at my teeth.

...and while she’s on a spending spree, she’s looking at hoovers and asks ‘how does a girl go about getting a new hoover?’ How does a girl go about getting anything new, shiny and expensive out of her man? But it’s not PC to do that sort of thing any more, so she’d best just tell me what she wants and I’ll get it ordered.

...and Daughter is searching for a skipping rope. I remember once shopping for a skipping rope for her. It may have been a few years ago... I think she may have been eight.

On Thursday L and I do a joint run, sort of. I start running home from work while she starts running towards me from home. The plan is we’ll meet somewhere along the way. The planned collision point is the Charlton Arms in Chilwell. Not that we intend going in but it seems just about the right distance as she wants to do about 8 miles while I’m going for the Full Monty home which will be 15.6 miles. As planned, I bump into L just past the Charlton Arms 11 miles in and we make it all the way home together.

(Thursday 6th February)

Sunday, 2 February 2020

A Ceremonial Trimming

On Saturday we head over to the Parkrun at Warwick Racecourse on the way to visit Son in Leamington. We meet him and his fiancée for breakfast, this time at Coffee Architects which sounds a bit posh but aren’t all the cafes these days. Posh of course means there are no prices on their online menu.

It is conveniently two doors down from Misters Barbers which is the chosen venue for the ceremonial trimming of Son’s wayward beard, the first in living memory. It is indeed an historic day and it also seems to be a great success, even with Son, and the aim is now to get another trim in before his wedding at the end of next month.

Sunday sees us down south at the Watford Half Marathon which has a very civilised start time of 10.30am. Which is a good job really as it's quite a drive for us down to Watford.

It starts in Cassiobury Park which, given the recent weather, is a soggy mess and the first challenge is not starting the race with wet feet as we head to the Race HQ to pick our numbers up. Then it’s a paddle back to one of the two start lines. These are colour coded Red and Blue with the vague instruction that the Red one is for Veterans. Which I think means us.

The two starts are both on footpaths which merge together before the race leaves the park. Getting a good start position is key because the footpaths are narrow and the terrain either side of them is muddy and unrunnable. So putting a foot off the footpath to overtake was unwise and tended to see you sliding backwards rather than moving up through the field. This meant it was difficult for me to latch on to one of the pacemakers and I watched them gradually pulling away from me.

Once out of the park we headed out into suburbia where there was at least scope to overtake even if my desired pacemaker was now long gone. Then suburbia gave way to countryside where the real fun began. Now I thought Watford was a flat part of the country, how wrong was I.

The race guide merely stated that the course is through pleasant undulating countryside. Although it did go on to say that 'due to the severity of some of the hills this course is not suitable for wheelchairs'. Always read the small print as they say, even if you don't have a wheelchair. It was very hilly and just how hilly seemed to come as a surprise to many, not just me, given that the hills were accompanied by some colourful language (I mean encouraging words) from my fellow runners.

Even when you get back to the park for the final mile, it is largely all uphill. I finish in 1:48:45 marooned almost equally between the 1:45 and the 1:50 pacers. L and her sister come in together about 45 minutes behind me although according to the results, when they come out later, she beat me by about five minutes. Perhaps I missed the shortcut. 

(Sunday 2nd February)

Friday, 31 January 2020

A Sea Of Positivity

L is having problem accessing Dog TV but it’s working for me. Well I think it is, nothing is moving so it could have frozen or they could simply be comatose.

Monday is the first dog club committee meeting of the year and L is, as ever, sceptical that I’ll be home much before midnight but it doesn’t go on that long and I’m back in plenty of time to heat up the scraps she’s left me for my dinner.

Not for the first time she is job hunting in remote places. She sees two jobs going on St Kilda but unfortunately she’s not an Archaeologist nor a Marine Biologist.

On Tuesday L is off work and instead doing a training run with her sister followed by lunch. I just hope that they were both a sea of pre-marathon positivity. I do my own run after work and make it as far as Beeston before getting on the bus, which is just over 12 miles.

On Wednesday, L is out to lunch again then has a consultation with a new personal trainer, one who takes her dog to work with her. I wonder whether it tries to join in the sessions. Ours would. Later I take ours to dog training.

Thursday see me cycling to work which was really hard after my two runs this week while L is at her run club.

On Friday Derby at home to Stoke and impressively win 2-0. Derby need to get as many points in the bank as they can because they are due in front of a tribunal for selling their own ground to their owner. That’s allowed but the valuation seems to be on par with that of Wembley Stadium which does sound a little dubious. They could end up with a points deduction. However they claim to have documentation signed by the league approving the valuation of the ground and if that’s true I can’t see how the league would have a case.

(Friday 31st January)

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Helpful Like That

I have Friday afternoon off work to help set up my club’s Winter Dog Show ahead of the event itself on Saturday. We have the venue just for a strict two hours from 5pm until 7pm, then I rush back home because we have guests.

Daughter and her +1 are coming around for dinner and in my absence L has cooked cottage pie. The main concern is whether we have enough wine after what happened last time...

We manage to not run out of wine but no one has room for Christmas Pudding. We really must stop doing all those races where they give these away to all the runners because we're not big Christmas Pudding eaters ourselves and clearly we can't give them away either.

I attend the show on Saturday without the dogs as it’s a more of a specialist type event with nothing for oldies like MD and not much for youngsters like the Lad. There was one event that the Lad could have had a go at but it seemed a bit unfair to drag him over for just the one run.

Not that they’re happy about me going without them and L gets barked up nice and early. They’re helpful like that. Then they get dumped again as L, Daughter and her +1 all go to Parkrun to run off their hangovers.

I don’t know why L has a hangover as I’m sure we only had one bottle between the two of us. Our guests must have accounted for the other four empty bottles. Then L and the boys spend the afternoon asleep, so perhaps it was only me who was restrained...

Meanwhile the Dog Show runs late due to a rather fastidious judge.

With no race again on Sunday, we reprise our run from Elvaston Castle with a few revisions to last weekend’s route to avoid traipsing through all the puddles that we encountered down the river path last time. We again do an extra lap with MD and then go visit my folks. 

(Sunday 26th January)

Thursday, 23 January 2020

All Bases Covered

L recommends the Fractured Marathon at Calke Abbey, that I’ve not heard of before. It sounds interesting and thankfully it’s not ‘fractured’ as in ankle although it is all off road . It’s called fractured because each of the 10 x 2.6 mile laps start on the half hour. So it’s not a continuous marathon, assuming you can do a lap in less than half an hour. It also starts at 7pm, which means the last lap starts at midnight.

Another race that is in the diary is the Peterborough Marathon, which I had considered doing as a warmup race for the Brighton Marathon but it appears there were only 170 in it last year. Which isn’t quite what I was looking for but then if everyone thinks that they’ll never get the numbers up.

On Monday we all head over to L’s folks to shift some things downstairs for them which means the boys get a walk around Mickleover. It’s already dropping colder and by the next morning it’s very icy underfoot. I fall over twice while walking the dogs, who barely notice. I do manage to make it to the bus and therefore to work without any further falls but that’s probably helped by not having a dog in each hand.

Later L fails to talk herself out of run club while I fail to persuade the Lad out of wanting to go Dog Training.

On Wednesday I am summoned to the Yard for pizza by my now retired ex-colleague. The only probably is that I am down to run 10 miles tonight and now I’m full of pizza. Somehow I get through it.

Thursday see L heading over to her running club again where they have introduced a longer 6 mile run but she is having what she calls ‘massive nerve attacks’ about it, what I call ‘adrenaline’. This is because it's only fast fellas that have posted on Facebook to say they are going. 

I’m sure she’ll be fine. I pop both a 0% Leffe and a 9% Leffe in the fridge, so that all bases are covered for when she returns.

(Thursday 23rd January)

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Dog Sledding

On Saturday we do Colwick parkrun which is a bad choice. In fact I can’t understand why it hasn’t been cancelled. If I’d been the Run Director it certainly would have been but then everyone else seems to have a great time wading through the thigh deep mud. Then again, nobody else is tied to a collie which is like dog sledding without the sled.

On Sunday it’s the 31st Folksworth 15 organised by Yaxley Runners with a field of 500 runners.

Note to self. If we do this race again arrive early, very early. I mean we aren't exactly late but everyone is far more clued up than us meaning all the nearby parking has already been taken by the time we arrive. We are directed out of the village, out to the 14 mile point and then down a country lane where we park on a grass bank. It would be a long walk back to Race HQ but the organisers have kindly laid on a car to get us there. Obviously we need to go ready to race, so we take a bag with us to drop in the baggage store.

Once at the Race HQ, which is the local school, we pick up our numbers and are then faced with a 15 minute walk\jog to the start, three quarters of a mile away. As it’s a two lap course it begs the question why not remove the walk to the start and call it 16 miles? I'm sure there's a reason...

It's a cold day and icy underfoot in places. I think many races would have been cancelled given the way we had to slither down some of the hills, so I'm thankfully that the organisers had the guts not to call this one off. We needed the run even if we do have to skate parts of it although apparently despite the conditions someone broke the course record.

The 15 miles, with its three challenging hills per lap, is a decent test of where my marathon training is at. If intend to run my marathon at 9:00 pace again, or hopefully better, then to not drop below 8:50 here and to average 8:15 is definitely promising as I finish, back at the school, in 2:03:45.

Afterwards I get a lift back to the car and release the dogs. Then the three of us clap everyone else, including L, through 14 miles just as they head up the final hill to the finish.

(Sunday 19th January)

Friday, 17 January 2020

Consoling The Inconsolable

With no race on Sunday we need to get out to do some training. I'm always happy to take the Lad with me but MD isn’t up to the distance we want to do and nor probably are L’s knees if she was to run with him. The problem is we can’t leave him at home.

Attempting to console an inconsolable howling MD whilst the Lad is taken for a run is a difficult enough task but if there’s no one there to placate him, who knows how long he’ll howl for. The full two hours? Or does he stop once we’re out of earshot, put the kettle on and chill out for a couple of hours?

So we all head off in the car, drive to Elvaston Castle and leave MD in his box. He seems happy with that. We then do half marathon distance with the Lad, running out along the river past Pride Park to the edge of town and then back through Spondon and Borrowash. L does a bit less than the Lad and I due to us doing loops up a few side streets whenever we get ahead. We then do an extra small loop with MD, so that he gets to feel part of it.

Then after visiting my folks we stay in, finishing off the tub of Blue Monkey.

On Monday L is out in Derby leaving the boys and I to have fun in the mud at home. On Tuesday Daughter comes around for a run with L and then we do some more angry-shopper role play.

Wednesday sees me on the bike, despite the threat of Brendan but thankfully that particular storm seems to have passed over now. In the evening it’s dog training and then Thursday is run day for which it’s still a tad windy but hopefully blowing in the right direction to power me along. I keep it to just 9k this week as we have a 15 miler on Sunday.

Then on Friday I have an appointment with my torturer for a sports massage.

(Friday 17th January)

Saturday, 11 January 2020


My Leeds United supporting friend has been told in no uncertain terms, by many people, that he needs to be more positive about his team, who are comfortably placed in 2nd in the Championship table. It’s probably his first ever New Year’s Resolution.

Leeds promptly lose 2-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday and I turn my phone off before he gets chance to send his thoughts through. Derby meanwhile draw 2-2 at Middlesborough.

This all comes after doing parkrun in the morning at Forest Rec and then in the evening we're at Broadway. It is the 2nd week of veggie month, which I am more than happy to indulge in.

It is 1917 in the British trenches and the German army appear to be in withdrawal but aerial reconnaissance has revealed that they are in fact lying in wait for a British attack. Two British soldiers, Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and William Schofield (George MacKay) are called upon by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) to carry a message by hand, because field telephone lines have been cut, to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) of the Devonshire Regiment. The message will instruct Mackenzie to call off the scheduled attack because it would jeopardise the lives of 1,600 men. Blake has been chosen because his brother Joseph (Richard Madden) is one of these men.

With time short, the men leave the trenches and cross No Man’s Land which is a sea of bodies, dismembered limbs and dead horses until they reach the abandoned German trenches, which they find are booby-trapped. A tripwire is triggered by a rat and the explosion nearly kills Schofield but Blake rescues him.

They then reach at an abandoned farmhouse from where they witness a German plane being shot down. They drag the injured pilot from the plane before it explores but the ungrateful pilot stabs Blake. Schofield shoots the pilot but can't save Blake and has to carry on alone.

After hitching a lift with another British convoy, Schofield then has to cross a bombed out canal bridge into the ruins of Écoust-Saint-Mein where he comes under fire from a German sniper. In the ensuing fight the sniper is killed and Schofield is knocked out cold. When he regains consciousness he heads off through the bombed-out French town under heavy fire.

It is rather unbelievable that he manages to dodge so many bullets before stumbling into a basement where he has time for a social call with a French woman (Claire Duburcq) and her child while I am literally screaming at him that he has a battalion to save.

Eventually continuing on, Schofield is again repeatedly shot out before escaping by jumping into a river where he amazingly avoids drowning despite being swept over a waterfall. Suddenly it's all gone a bit Indiana Jones.

The river spit him out on to a riverbank which by some amazing coincidence is where the Devonshire Regiment are having a singalong before heading to battle. Schofield manages to creep up on the Regiment without anyone noticing as they seem to have neglected to post any guards.

In one sense director Sam Mendes has made an epic film that looks great, is really dramatic and that puts the audience right in the middle of the action. It would also have been nail-biting stuff if you didn’t know for sure that Schofield would make it to Blake’s brother once Blake himself had met a grisly end. The only other problem really is that I just don't buy the plot at any price.

Afterwards we head to the Bunkers Hill for a couple of drinks before finishing off in Brewdog. L is appalled it’s gone 2am when we get to bed.

(Saturday 11th January)