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

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Freedom Delayed

Our famous ‘Freedom Day’ scheduled for next Monday has been delayed for a month to not great surprise after the red carpet treatment was afforded to the Indian variant.

I cycle this week wearing my brand new Oakley’s. Sadly it’s taken until I’m in my 50s to be able to afford some and now obviously I’m too old to look ‘cool’ in them but it was good to actually see where I was going for once.

In fact I manage three bike rides this week. Two on my best bike and one on old unfaithful as rain beckons but doesn’t arrive. May 2018 was the last time I did three in a week but over four days. Sept 2017 was the last time I did three in a row. I just hope no one notices me asleep under my desk.

Which has nothing to do with, thanks to our not-quite-freedom status, the long boozy lunch I have with an ex-colleague who I haven’t seen since before the pandemic. We meet at the Brunswick where we revisit the legendary steak and ale stew. His retirement, a few months before the first lockdown, has obviously been a little different to how he intended.

L’s boss has also been in the pub and has possibly overdone it, so he's gives L the rest of the day off to ‘go home, lie in the sun and read a book’. Dogs permitting.

I’m even more exhausted after Friday’s 6k in 39:17 which we manage before some very prolonged rain sets in and probably washes away Summer.

Friday is also England v Scotland at the Euros which is a rather uninspiring 0-0 draw.

The weekend’s Sunday run stretches out to 14k in about 1:41 which used to be a good time for 14 miles...

In the evening we make a disappointing visit to Broadway Cinema who no longer have real ale or a specials board. What with that and hardly any films coming out at the moment there doesn’t seem to be much incentive to visit at the moment. We have a better time next door in Brewdog.

 (Sunday 20th June)

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Something Fishy

Everyone is coming together to ensure that L’s parents’ cat can get her fix of Age 11+ Fishy Cat Food of which there currently appears to be a nationwide shortage. So I am feeling incredibly guilty because I cleared Sainsbury’s shelves of the two remaining packs meaning that all other elderly felines in the area will not be getting their fishy fix tonight.

A Conservative MP gets in trouble after his 11-month old puppy ‘Pebble’ causes a stampede of 200 deer in Richmond Park. It’s funny but we know his pain.

The dreaded word ‘tennis’, as in playing it, gets mentioned but I’m in the clear because the Tennis Centre have tournaments on until at least the end of June. So it’s not going to happen for a while yet. Phew.

L and her author friend visit John Carroll Leisure Centre bearing chocolatey gifts with the centre slated for closure at the end of June. Meanwhile the protests to keep it open continue.

Daughter comes over to walk the dogs on Thursday and stays for tea, lured in by the offer of L’s legendary cottage pie. It's been ages since she's been to our place for obvious reasons.

While the car goes in for a Health Check and passes, unlike me.

Friday is our crack of dawn run, complete this week with a new best pace of 6:28 per km for 5k. Hardly earth shattering, as I was doing 4:00s not that long ago. While on Sunday we vary our route again having discovered a (not so) secret tunnel that leads from North Sherwood Street into the Arboretum. Again my watch reports a new best pace this time for 10k as we complete 13k in all.

England win their opening game of the Euros beating Croatia 1-0. I celebrate by cutting the grass at my parents and also in the Borlase later.

(Sunday 13th June)

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Afternoon Tea

Monday is a Bank Holiday which L and I celebrate with Afternoon Tea at Colwick Hall Hotel which was birthday present she received from her sister.

We go straight from that to the King's Meadow Vaccination Centre so that I can get my second dose of mind control serum (as L refers to it). This time I don’t seem to develop any aftereffects.

L is getting into the swing of the new ‘freedoms’ and on Tuesday goes out for a girls’ night out to a real live restaurant. I’m out as well, but sadly just with the dogs at dog training.

They really should be doing Indian, in honour of the new Indian Variant but they’re doing French. I'm sure there'll be one of those along soon.

With the Euros approaching, I draw North Macedonia in the Office Sweepstakes which means I have basically donated a £1 to someone else’s beer money.

As the weather is so nice I cycle into work on Wednesday and Thursday on my best bike but discover that thanks to my dodgy knee I have a problem dismounting on this bike when I get to work. The pedal clips are so much stiffer on it and therefore I had a knee related issue twisting out of them.

Taking of injuries, L develops a bad ankle from wearing real shoes to our Afternoon Tea on Monday. I can sympathise as I’ve still got blisters from putting on real shoes for my meeting last week. Thankfully everyone has brough their own working at home dress code into our office and there is no requirement at the moment to turn up smart every day at work.

On Thursday I have a Committee Meeting which is still online but then there is more than six of us. I’m not sure that there’s any need for these to go back to real meetings anyway at least not frequently.

The Friday run goes under seven minute km pace for the first time. My watch say 6:40. I’m not sure how that happened. L then goes for her second jab.

On Saturday we go to Derby Theatre to see a Derby Book Festival event which features Jon Sopel, the BBC America correspondent talking about his book ‘UnPresidented: Politics, Pandemics and the Race That Trumped All Others’. It’s all about Donald Trump and it's a fascinating evening.  

The Sunday run is pushed out to 12k and then I hobble off to watch some tennis at the Nottingham Open. Andy Murray had announced he was going to be there but, like me, his injuries had other ideas. The weather also has other ideas and most of the day is rained off.

I abort, go to visit my parents and then go again later when I do finally catch some tennis.

 (Sunday 6th June)

Sunday, 30 May 2021

A Real Meeting

This week running legend Ron Hill dies at the age of 82. Sadly his running every day for 52 years couldn't push his longevity out beyond the average life span.

On Tuesday I meet up with my friend from school for a few drinks in the Alexandra in Derby. Drinks is all it turns out to be because nowhere is doing food.

I bike into work on Wednesday when we also have a real in-person meeting with some clients e.g. not on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. I even get lunch.

As I head home I look out for the tell-tale sign of a dog tied to a lamp post down the street that would indicate that someone had attempted to disrupt L’s weights workout in the garden. It appears the workout went well and I take them both to dog training.

I’ve been doing my parents’ food shopping for over a year now but L gets the experience of doing her folks’ shop this week and is asked to get something called pre-cooked sausages. Who knew that was a thing?

On Friday we are back on the early morning 5k run after a brief hiatus last week. I then hobble into work on the bus which I was a bit late for and I only caught it because there was such a big queue for it as everyone struggled with the evil Mango App.

I get ‘dragged’ to the pub after work for swift one. It’s only the Merlin on Pride Park, so not exactly a high class establishment and the beer was only Speckled Hen but it could have been worse. It was also a bit difficult having eleven of us split across two tables and you're not allowed to shout across but sign language is allowed.

On Saturday I head down to Shardlow where our Beginners Agility group have been exiled since March last year, that is when we’ve been able to run the group at all. The bad news for them is we’re still not allowed to bring them back to Hilton and probably won’t be for quite a while yet.

On Sunday I add a minute to my 11k, which isn’t really how it’s supposed to work.

(Sunday 30th May)

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Adjacent Lockers

This is the week when we are finally allowed to go to the pub again and possibly even hug other people but the Boss has made it clear that if we do and cases go up again then it’ll all be our fault.

L says that they are now allowed adjacent lockers at the gym and the ‘I am self-isolating’ stickers on the alternate ones have been removed. I hope they haven’t thrown them away. You know, just in case. While her office has a whole raft of new guidelines and still no chocolate machine.

On Tuesday Dog Training finally restarts although we do still have to keep to groups of six. The Lad has a great time regardless. He's glad to be back.

Daughter wants some climbing hooks off me, not that I climb and they’re only fake ones anyway. I’m not sure what she’s planning.

On Thursday I have another telephone physio appointment. I am now allowed to go to the gym, do 10 minutes exercise bike, light leg weights and a brisk 15 minute walk on the treadmill. I am just about managing to contain my excitement. She has though made an appointment for me to see a real live person in a few weeks’ time. 

Obviously I didn't own up to the twice weekly runs and my two cycle rides to work this week.

On Saturday I finally give in to the Opticians after their 20th texted reminder and visit them for a check-up. I hardly saw it as a necessary journey given we were in the midst of a pandemic.

My physio would be impressed as I run 11k in 1:17 on Sunday. She might be impressed (as well as disapproving) but I’m not with a time like that. My knees permit me to cut the lawn at parents as well, so perhaps this is progress.

In the evening we go inside a pub for the first time in ages, now that we are able, and visit The Good, the Bad and the Drunk which was formerly A Room With A Brew and is now managed by the not so cheerful former manager of the Organ Grinder. Who appears to have a rather large axe to grind considering how he says he left his former employer.

 (Sunday 23rd May)

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Iron Turns To Rust

After a few days of good weather, Monday brings golf ball sized hailstones. Tuesday looks better so I cycle into work only to have to hide in a bus shelter on the way home as the hail returns.

Not having learnt my lesson I cycle in again on Wednesday. It doesn’t hail but it’s tough doing two days in a row for the first time in ages. L says like a true Ironman e.g. one where the iron has well and truly rusted.

Strava is just  as glowing in its praising, telling me I’ve claimed the title of Local Legend on the ‘Risley to Asda 8km of Love’. I’m really not sure what planet Strava is on. 

I send L some Dog Show dates, it’s a while since I’ve done that. The Lad and I intend to return to Bilsthorpe in July where I took him for his first début two years ago before all this strange stuff started.

Being back at work requires a refinement to the process of doing my parents shopping. I go to Asda in my lunch hour and take it round after work.

I receive the results of my antibody test which are described as ‘indeterminate’. They say it has not been possible to determine if I have antibodies because either there has been a problem with my sample, I have antibodies at a level that is too low to be detected or the test may have reacted with antibodies to other infections. So all very useful then.

Again we run\walk 5k on Friday morning and run\walk 10k on Sunday morning. In between the highlight of the weekend is a trip to buy a slam ball from Powerhouse Fitness in West Bridgford. Which is a very impressive and cool thing to buy, so obviously it wasn’t me who bought it.

I just hope L doesn’t drop it on one of the dogs when she’s doing her workout in the garden.

(Sunday 16th May)

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Back To Work

Back home and straight into the rest of a Bank Holiday weekend although there’s no rest for the wicked 0n Sunday as we do a morning 10k. At least we have the whole of Monday at home to recover from it.

On Tuesday I bite the bullet and return to work. We’re supposed to be taking lateral flow tests before we go in but it seems no one is bothering because, well, we know they don’t really work.

L’s author friend says her husband is concerned that I have folded and returned to work before the end of ‘work from home if you can’. He desperately doesn't want to go back. I suppose I mainly returned because I felt I was being antisocial by not doing so as we’ve had several new staff I’ve never met. Of course the Lad will now be saying I’m being antisocial by not spending my days with him.

I go on the bus as I’m out in Derby in the evening and surprisingly the bus is busy in that I had to go to about three rows from the back to get a seat to myself. Using the bus also involves attempting to use Trent Barton’s hugely annoying Mango App now that they’ve scrapped the plastic card.

Of course ‘out in Derby’ means outside in Derby and it’s not the warmest of nights. My friend starts to turn blue with cold after only a couple of pints so we have to call it a night. He’s clearly not had the practice of sitting outside pubs that don’t allow dogs in the middle of winter.

An Indian delegation pops over to London for talks with our government... and are forced to self-isolate after several of them test positive for coronavirus. Yeah, there is this Indian variant you know.

On Thursday I cycle to work while L has a workout in the gym where there is no hand gel, no one way system, no chalky striped arrows and lots of people but then this isn’t a council gym.

Then she goes to vote, at a council run facility, and where they have a one-way system round the side of the building, all marked with chalk in 2m wide stripes and oodles of hand gel which must be applied before you touch one of their pencils.

They had three staff on hand - one to take her name, one to hand her the voting slip, and one assumes the third one was to decontaminate the pencils although she was the only person there but then we only have a police commissioner election.

She did volunteer to be one those staff as it’s on her bucket list but then found out that she wouldn't be volunteering. She would be paid £40 for doing some online training and £20 for simply being on standby in case needed. Don’t know what the rate is if you’re actually needed. Maybe next year.

Friday is again 5k run day and now also Amaretto coffee Friday, making use of my birthday present from Son and a throwback to many skiing holidays. Which, who knows, may one day return.

Saturday is L’s birthday and the present she didn’t know she wanted is that Derby somehow stay up by the skin of their teeth with a 3-3 draw against Sheffield Wednesday in the last match of the season.

On Sunday will do another morning 10k.

(Sunday 9th May)

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Yorkshire Carte Blanche

On Saturday we head off on holiday while we’re still allowed to and hopefully before most people have realised they can.

We head up to Pickering to stay in a converted croft, thought to be built in the 16th Century, and which is now called Cherry Tree Cottage. Apparently there are no east facing windows because these were blocked up in 1665 to keep out the great plague. Hopefully this also works for Covid.

The sleeping area is on a balcony above the living room\kitchen area where in the past you would have benefited from the warmth of the animals sleeping below. Our animals, however, benefit from the comfort of the bed itself while the rustic nature of the whole thing appears to give the Lad Carte Blanche to pee everywhere.

There is a great narrow alleyway down the side of the building which is great for parking practice.

We have an Indian takeaway on one side and a Chinese takeaway on the other side. Over the week we have two Indians and a Chinese but our first night meal is rehashed Indian remains from Friday cooked with the only meat, some cheap steak, we could get from the local petrol station. We completely missed seeing the local shop three doors down from us.

On Sunday we drive to Bridlington which is further than we expected and totally packed with folk celebrating their new found freedoms. We keep driving and head further down the coast to find somewhere to do a beach and ball session for the boys before heading back for a beer and food session for us (outdoors of course) at the Black Swan. They brew their own beer and do a nice Meze but are sadly then closed until Friday when we return.

On Monday we do an earlyish morning 5k run down to the local Castle and back, followed by L raiding the local second-hand bookshop then a full English at a nearby café. Then we drive to Dalby Forest, just six miles away, for another 5k but walking this time.

That evening we eat the Bay Horse which has less interesting food and only ok beer – Black Sheep Bitter and Bradfield Farmers Blonde, which are the least interesting beers that those two interesting breweries do. 


Tuesday sees a trip to Scarborough and Filey on my birthday while Wednesday is a trip to Whitby after another morning 5k run. In the evening we try the third village pub (that is open), the Rose for a drink but it is so busy that we can’t get in and the local dogs bark us off anyway.

Thursday sees our tourism continue at Robin Hood's Bay and Friday sees a return to Dalby Forest after another morning 5k run and before our second night at the Black Swan.

Then it’s time to head home on Saturday via more beach in Hornsea. Derby lose two games while we’re away, the third time in four games that they’ve lost 2-1 after going in front. Relegation could be confirmed in the final match of the season next weekend.

(Saturday 1st May)

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Lots Of Sunbathing

The schools are back, so our morning’s walks suddenly got a lot busier. It’s all too much for MD who spends the rest of the morning asleep, outside sunbathing.

Boris Johnson cancels his trip to India. Which is a good job really, given that foreign travel is banned. As usual he was saying he wasn’t going to change his mind until when, at the last minute, he did.

On Tuesday I have to prove my age to accept a parcel for L. Which turns out to be my birthday present from Son, although the Amazon Prime logo had already given that away.

L gives permission for her author friend to mention MD in her newsletter. So I promptly sign up to her fan page and I am now eagerly awaiting delivery of the newsletter.

She’s allegedly a big fan of his since he rubbed his nose up her shins when she was minding him while L was in the coffee shop. She mistook this attempt to get his haltie off his nose as a loving gesture. She’s promised to not mention him by name obviously because we don't want floods of fans at the door.

On Friday we do our 6:30am 5k run again which goes ok. Later, sadly the weather is nice again so, the evening ball session on the park is ruined by several deer sunbathing on the first field and dozens of semi-naked students doing the same on the second field. 

(Sunday 25th April)

Sunday, 18 April 2021

No Running

From Monday pubs (outdoors) and shops (indoors) are open. L’s Mum is straight there, to the shops that is.

L goes for an evening swim with Daughter. You can do things like that now, just not dog training. Meanwhile I have another antibody blood test at the QMC.

On Tuesday we do our evening walk with the dogs to The Crown in Beeston and have a couple of outdoor pints where a drunk is being thrown out as we arrive. We don’t even have to order a scotch egg.

The second-hand Technics tape deck from 1993 that I ordered on Ebay arrives and I hook it up to my Sonos wireless system. It works like a dream and amazingly most of the tapes I have fetched down from the loft all seem fine and play great.

On Thursday I have a telephone appointment with a physio, who sends me a very familiar looking exercise sheet and prescribes no running or cycling for 6 weeks... L says I need a swim but the physio didn’t say that I was allowed to swim.

Although actual running isn’t allowed the physio didn’t rule out run\walk, jeffing, jogging, shuffling or whatever my current marathon training can be described as. So on Friday I do another early morning non-run with L. It must have gone better because this time I am not late for work and seem to have loads of time on my hands. This must be the power of the exercise sheet, which I am following.

Saturday is the Nottingham CheckPoint Challenge in which you have to navigate your way between Wollaton Park, Forest Rec and the University. This is apparently a distance of around 15km but due to our superior local knowledge we manage to trim it down to 12.7km. Due to our excellent route choices I am 11th and L is 12th out of the 43 who did the whole thing or perhaps it was our speed? But don’t tell the physio.

We 'run' for five minutes and then walk for one minute so, physio please note, not actual proper running.

On the same day my brother and his dog start training with my Agility Club.

On Sunday I cut the lawn at my parents, even though most of it had already been done, purely to give the boys a run around. Then afterwards I take my Dad to the Harrington for an outdoor pint. Later L and I walk to the Borlase for a few more.

(Sunday 18th April)