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

Sunday 26 December 2021

Christmas Served Pink

On Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve, I am back at work. WFH. Which is good apart from the fact it’s raining and someone wants the back door open. That is despite the fact they’ve just had a walk.

L was been walking MD in the Lakes without his halti on now when I put it on him this morning he looked quite put out. Maybe he's growing up and he really doesn’t need it any more.

The locksmith arrives again, as pre-arranged, and fits our new letterbox.

Aside from bring back from the Lakes all the presents, a pickled liver and a halti less dog, I also seem to have acquired a sneeze, a cough and a runny nose. So I do one those dreadful LFTs which was negative or faulty obviously. Maybe I've just developed a dog allergy after a whole week with the Lad.

After being certified negative (or faulty) I head off to Asda to shop for my parents. Which is even more horrible than usual given that it’s nearly Christmas. They’d ran out of baskets and trolleys. Everyone was having to queue for them to be returned.

On Christmas Eve I do another LFT which is again negative for Covid/Omicron/cold/flu/dog allergy etc then I finish WFM at 1pm. So many acronyms. We spend the evening in the Organ Grinder which is about as busy as we’ve ever seen it on Christmas Eve.

Daughter does the night shift and then crashes at our place at 7:30am on Christmas Day with tales of rescuing a deer from someone’s kitchen. Which is impressively festive although it didn’t have a red nose.

I do another LFT which is once again negative before we Parkrun at Alvaston. The Lad is a pain, of course, but our time isn’t too bad.

We then visit L’s Mum for a coffee. Sadly her Christmas Day at L’s brother’s has been cancelled due to his wife having Covid but she seems happy enough spending it in front of the TV. Son will also later test positive which will disrupt the rest of his Christmas.

Then we go to my parents' where my brother is also visiting and we exchange presents. My brother will be taking them a meal round later.

I take my Dad out for a pint (or two) in their village at the White Hart where a pint comes with free port.


At which point I think it’s wise to hand the car keys over to L and then as we head back home we pass my mate on his bike on his own way back from a Christmas Day pub trip.

We cook another non-standard Christmas Lunch, not that Daughter is surprised at our weirdness any more. We serve a platter of meats and cheeses then prawns with chorizo in red wine with fried potatoes. It was supposed to be scallops but naturally Sainsbury’s didn’t have any.

Daughter exits early on Boxing Day and we take our meals on wheels service to my parents' where we put our leg of lamb on to cook while we head to L’s Mum’s again to take her to the care home to visit L’s Dad for lunch.

Then we head back to my parents to serve lunch and meet my brother there again. At which point their oven fuses all the electrics in the house. We do manage to get the power back on to everything bar the oven which means the lamb will have to be served pink and, after several failed attempts in the microwave, without Yorkshire Puddings.

(Sunday 26th December)

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Old Haunts And New Places

On Wednesday we head off to the Lakes for what is a frequent pre-Christmas treat and this year is longer than usual as I’ve been told to use up holiday from work. Which is not a problem.

A Wednesday to Wednesday schedule makes a cottage impractical so we do a mini road trip taking in three dog friendly hotels. Two of which we’ve stayed at before and one we haven’t.

First up is two nights at an old haunt the Watermill at Ings. We have really seen this place grow and develop since we first visited over 20 years ago. The car park we park in appears to be the latest new development as we don't recall it being there before. We have a pleasant couple of nights on their dog themed beers which in our case are mainly A Winters Tail and Ruff Justice. 

Our days are spent rather touristy e.g. Christmas shopping in Kendal, Bowness and Hawkshead with a spot of walking at Coniston Water, a morning run at from the hotel and then a trip to visit the Sticklebarn in the Langdale Valley.

Then we move to Grasmere and the Travellers Rest for three nights. This is somewhere we’ve long wanted to stay but we might not return as L is convinced that they kept serving her vodka and tonic without any vodka in it.


The weather is cold, misty and frosty but sadly L doesn’t get her wish to be snowed in somewhere.

Of course there has to be a Parkrun and we do the one at Whinlatter Forest on possibly the hardest course ever in preference to a three lap easy one at Rothay Park in Ambleside. It is incredibly hilly with evil downhills that my knees don’t like one bit. It doesn’t help that when they start unexpectedly, the Lad and I get left behind and have to catch up hindered by his usual lead biting as we zigzag down one of the downhills. Perhaps Ambleside might have been nicer.


There is more touristy shopping in Keswick and a walk near Bassenthwaite Lake as well as trips to Glenridding and Ullswater. We also fit in another morning run.

Then we move to another old haunt in the Mortal Man at Troutbeck. Where we do a pleasant walk from hotel and visit the nearby Queens Head for post-walk mid-afternoon coffee, whiskey and dog treats. Finally the trip home is via some final Christmas shopping in Ambleside and a pint in the Hawkshead Brewery at Staveley.

(Wednesday 22nd December)

Tuesday 14 December 2021

The Muffin Stealer

Saturday is the Locko Park Christmas 10k which is a new event and the first time I’ve raced at Locko Park. L and Daughter run it too. The course isn’t great being basically three laps of the lake with an off road section up a track.

This particular section was eventful on the first lap to say the least. Once you got to the top you were asked to do a U-turn and then go back down it. Except there wasn’t room to separate the runners going up from those coming down. Those coming down had to run to the side of the path in long grass which wasn’t good for anyone’s dodgy knees or ankles let alone my papier-mâché ones.

This is part of my excuse why it took me 54 minutes, which is worse than it sounds because it was quite a bit short of being 10k as well. I did consider doing old un-favourite the Bolsover 10k on Sunday instead but then if I was serious about marathon training I’d probably be doing both.

In the afternoon Derby beat Blackpool 1-0.

The next day L is visiting Son in Leamington. So I join them. I take the boys for walk while they’re Christmas shopping and then gate crash their lunch. Son hands me a mysterious barrel shaped thing that is my Christmas present. I look forward to finding out what it could be.

Monday is my first day back working from home which nicely coincides with the locksmith chap coming to fit a new barrel inside the lock on our front door. Having changes the lock I best make sure I’m in when L comes home.

He’s also replacing our broken letterbox but we haven’t got that yet as he only had one in gold and that would have looked a bit daft on our white front door. So he’ll be back after our holiday to fit that.

One advantage\disadvantage of being back at home is inadvertently sharing my breakfast with the Lad. I was looking forward to my toasted muffins this morning but then found that one had disappeared off the worktop while I was on a phone call.

Bizarrely Tuesday’s Libertines gig at Rock City has been cancelled even though Tuesday is the day before vaccine passports come in and they have it rearranged for February when there may be even less chance of it going ahead.

So having cancelled my dog training session I quickly un-cancel it. At least the muffin stealer will be pleased.

(Tuesday 14th December)

Friday 10 December 2021

This Party Is Actually A Business Meeting

L's pool is very quiet at the moment which could be due to the latest Covid scare or it could just be because a lot of people seem to down tools their fitness programs at this time of year until after Christmas. That is assuming you’re not training for a spring marathon. In an attempt to keep up with L’s superior fitness regime I head to the gym.

The assumption that now that L’s Dad is in a care home that visiting would be much easier and more frequent than at the hospital turns out to be a bit naive. They allow only two visitors on the premises at a time and each resident is only allowed one 30 minute visit a week.

By Tuesday the weather has turned decidedly icy. It would be nice to have some snow but that doesn’t look as if it’s going to happen. It is windy though which may be why the Covid testing tent near L’s work isn’t there this morning.

I have a night out with my ex-school colleague after work. Drinks in the Alexandra and the Brunswick before food in Silk Mill which was much better than last time in the Exeter.

There’s sad news from dog training as I hear that the Lad’s ‘mate’ from training has been rehomed after he attacked his owner and she needed to have stitches. He was handful but didn’t know he could be violent. He’s now at a rescue centre in South Wales.

L wants me to ask if they want a cat as a replacement. She wants to offer everyone her Mum's cat as it’s about to be rehomed for the somewhat lesser crime of being slightly annoying.

By Thursday, the Government is again advising everyone to 'work from home where possible'. At work our new owners tell us we can do so starting immediately. Our old owners advise that we must have a dedicated work environment which does not include sitting on a bed and we must have a webcam for face to face meetings. So I now have a webcam, courtesy of the company.

Thursday is also, by some weirdly ironic fate, our Christmas Party at a new Indian called Nicco Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Pride Park. Did I say party? My mistake. This fictional party is definitely not a party it is actually a business meeting.

So it won’t be wild and certainly not as wild as the Lad’s fourth birthday party back at home where I’m sure they’ll be sausages.

Our business meeting is followed by the now traditional post-event long walk to somewhere to have a drink bypassing many places where we could have had a drink. This year's long distance venue is the pool club in the centre of town. No, I have no idea why we went there. I stay for one more beer then get the bus home with a pocket full of birthday naan for the boys.

On Friday I decide to spend one last day in the office before starting working from home again. Two staff don't turn up at all, last seen asleep in the bus station after last night's business meeting.

(Friday 10th December)

Sunday 5 December 2021


L asks if I’m basking in post-race glory at work. I’m not sure glory is the right word. Celebrating survival more like.

Mask wearing has always been high at Sainsbury’s and on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s compulsion, it is back up to around 90%.

In the evening Derby have a home match which they unfortunately lose 2-1 to QPR while Tuesday is dog training in sub-zero temperatures.

Sub-zero doesn’t put L off swimming in the outdoor pool in the morning, which is presumably heated, but it appears she has a hard time persuading Daughter to go alfresco when she joins her.

Daughter’s race numbers meanwhile have now arrived for last Sunday’s race. A little late perhaps.

I bike despite the cold, the wind, and a brief shower of rain.

Wednesday is the first day of December and therefore the first day of Advent. What better way to celebrate the festive season than a pair of Advent chocolate nipples (or whatever they’re supposed to be) to share with your significant other every day for 24 days.  

The dogs have their own Advent calendar which comes without nipples but with a horrendous amount of plastic packaging every day for 24 days.

On Thursday I take the bus to work which was really quiet, which surprised me, and on time, which surprised me even more. So much so I do it again on Friday. 

I get my Covid booster on Thursday at Midland House in Derby where I’m straight in and out, aside from the ten minutes you have to wait afterwards to see if you get an allergic reaction.

L has a totally different experience at Forest Rec on Friday where they are queuing around the block even if you have an appointment. They have those signs that say you ‘reached the 30 mins to wait point’ like they do at Alton Towers. She has more patience than me, I’d have come back another time.

On Saturday after Parkrunning at Alvaston and taking L’s Mum for an eye appointment we have a meal out with some friends at Anoki on the A38 near Burton. I have never been there before and this is partly to make up for the fact the dog club have arranged a night out there next week when we’re away and also because we haven’t been properly out with these friends for about 15 years!

Sunday is the dog club’s AGM which is very sparsely attended and then in the evening we have a few beers in the Borlase and the Organ Grinder.

 (Sunday 5th December)

Sunday 28 November 2021

Locked Out

We are having a bit of a problem getting in our front door. The keys and probably the lock itself are worn out. I gave L my key because it seemed to work better than hers and then I couldn’t get back in the house with hers after taking the dogs for a walk. I have to intercept her on the way to the pool to get my key back.

Anything I can do Mark Cavendish can do better. This includes falling off in a velodrome. The difference here is that it clearly wasn’t his fault. Somebody else hit him... don’t you hate it when that happens...

On Wednesday I cycle, which went well until I got a puncture coming on to Pride Park. It’s a long time since I’ve had one of those. I walked the last bit, which isn’t easy in my new bike shoes. So now I’ve got a sore knee again. I replace the inner tube over lunch.

L bravely takes MD to the vets for his annual booster. He is a bit of wimp when it comes to the vets.

Thursday is L’s parents’ Diamond Wedding Anniversary which isn’t quite as wild a celebration as it might have been with her Dad now in the care home. It’s still moderately wild though with a meal followed by cake, sherry and wine.

Also on Thursday, at the dog club we have our first in person committee meeting since January 2020.

Then there's the news of the new Covid variant. Hot on the heels of Delta comes Omicron which is currently lurking somewhere in a departure lounge in South Africa waiting to get the next flight over.

Then again, perhaps its not so ‘hot on the heels’ as clearly Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu, Nu and Xi must have turned out to be insignificant.

After her morning swim L has a mince pie muffin which clearly tells you that Christmas must be limbering up somewhere. Although, to be pedantic, surely it’s a pie or a muffin? It can’t be both.

The weather isn’t great. It clearly wasn’t cycling weather on Friday and doesn’t appear to be Parkrun weather either on Saturday. Many are cancelled due to wind and snow as we hide under the duvet.

We emerge eventually to head to the care home. L and her Mum visit while I indulge in coffee and a bacon roll at a local café.

The weather is still cold but at least fine for the Derby Half Marathon on Sunday. While I do the half L, Daughter and Daughter’s +1 do the 5 miler. We take advantage of a non-existent £2 parking offer that Chapel Street car park won’t accept and therefore ending up paying a further £3.90. Bargain. Daughter is still awaiting her race number so she has to go to the desk to get that sorted.

The run itself goes surprisingly well as my knee holds out until the nine mile point meaning I only have to hobble less than a third of the distance. My time of 1:57 is my best for a while. Progress at last.

The biggest challenge of the day is reserved for after the race. They have stored everyone’s bags in a tiny baggage tent that is about the size of that used by a family of four to go camping. It takes 25 minutes queuing to get my bag back and therefore to put some warm clothes on, by which time I’m turning a nice shade of blue.

In the evening we head to Stapleford on bus for a few pints in the Horse & Jockey. Despite the Government announcing that compulsory mask wearing on buses is coming back in from Tuesday but there is no sign of many on the bus wanting to be proactive in starting right now.

(Sunday 28th November)

Sunday 21 November 2021

Haphazard Training Regime

I continue my haphazard training regime this week. Cycling on Tuesday and running from work on Wednesday where I manage ten miles which disappointingly isn’t to the centre of Long Eaton which was my target. That was only nine miles so I had to keep going a bit further.

The dogs don’t have any mercy on me as we hobble around our walk the next morning where we meet two dogs we don’t like and two cats as well. There are no cats that we like.

I add to our Commonwealth Games tickets with some for the England v New Zealand netball game.

The car goes in for its MOT on Thursday and just like last year I hear nothing from the garage all day and then they ring me about 4pm with a list that I don’t get time to think about. This actually does them out of money as I just get the bare minimum done.

On Friday we chaperone Daughter (and her car) up to Ashbourne which gives us a brief night out up there. Although to my horror I see that there isn’t a single Good Beer Guide listed pub in Ashbourne. The best they appear to have is a craft beer bar called the House Of Beer that has ten keg lines. Thankfully it turns out to be excellent. 

Not so excellent is the Mango app which locks me out again just as we're trying to get the bus home.

On Saturday we go to Alvaston parkrun for the first time since the initial lockdown and where I know they’ve really missed the Lad.

On Sunday Derby impressively defeat league leaders Bournemouth. 

(Sunday 21st November)

Sunday 14 November 2021

Off The Cuff

My shoulder injury, from my minor tumble on the velodrome, seems to be getting worse and L advises me to google Rotator Cuff injuries. Of course you should never google a medical issue as you’re sure to find you’ve got whatever it is.

Sure enough, a Rotator Cuff injury ticks most of the boxes except for the fact that it hurts the most when I cough or sneeze but I can’t find anywhere that says that’s a symptom. It then goes on to say that it usually needs an injection or surgery. Looks like I might have to call my GP again... 

At work I am chucked out of my own office for someone else’s meeting and I have to hot desk in another office. I should have probably worked from home, it would have been much easier.

In other news Daughter is now qualified to drive a marked or unmarked police car but not under blue lights (yet) and I run eight miles after work before getting the Indigo the rest of the way home.

On Saturday L and Daughter are at Parkrun while the boys and I are at a dog show. I have to say, credit where credit’s due, the Lad did a really good first run. We missed a jump out so still got E’d but everything else was perfect.

Of course we’ve not done so well since. Somehow we managed to avoid queuing for his first run which seemed to make a difference because having to queue for his other runs clearly wound him up and he was hopeless.

He gets a double dose of competing because on Sunday we hold a Members' Fun Day at our training venue. L offers to sit with my Mum while my Dad attends which, of course, gets us all worried when he gets lost but he makes it to us eventually.

It’s all good for the Lad though, who manages to do two runs without getting eliminated. 

(Sunday 14th November)

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Just Wrong

L says she’s not counting (although she does have a spreadsheet) but it’s 2738 days to retirement. I assume that’s to the state date as she’s on about going part time from May this year. That’s just 181 days away.

I see some mince pie flavoured chocolate digestives in Sainsbury’s, which is just wrong.

On Sunday I was on call for some testing one of our customers was doing but they never contacted me, so I assumed it either didn’t happen or it went well. Then on Tuesday when I get in the office it is to find loads of emails from the same people after something went wrong when they started testing it on Monday night. Nothing like thorough planning.

On Tuesday afternoon I have my latest physio which was a bit pointless really. The ‘main’ physio didn’t really know why I’d been referred back to him from ‘movement’ physio and nor did I. He offered to refer me back to again but I declined. I’m beginning to feel as if I’m the ball in a game of ping-pong.

He did offer me a painkilling injection which I also declined, so instead he gave me yet more exercises but mostly variations on the current ones. I’ve just got to keep building up gently, which is code for not running with the Lad. They will keep my case open for six months then it will be closed if I don’t request another appointment.

I’m on the bike on Wednesday which is the same day L’s Dad moves into the care home.

(Wednesday 10th November)

The Hunna

There are two support acts Kelsey Karter with her band and Idolising Nova. Unfortunately Karter is on at 6:45 which isn't conducive to those of us who work. This also enables those that don’t and/or the students to get there first and grab all the best spots. So I am unusually a fair way back for this gig and for once feeling a bit old amongst a very young crowd.

Idolising Nova are Jack Fulton Smith and Kyle O’Sullivan, they hail from Peterborough, have some decent indie tunes and fancy light show. They are pleasant enough but probably aren't what most of us have come here for tonight.


They're certainly not like the Hunna, who open with just front man Ryan Potter and drummer Jack Metcalfe on stage. Potter sits wearing a balaclava in front of a door positioned in the centre of the stage. This is ‘One Hell of a Gory Story’ and that eases us into ‘I Wanna Know’ which is accompanied by copious amounts limb flailing from the crowd. Not with my knees sadly. As I say, feeling a bit old tonight.

The energy of the opening never wanes and neither do Potter’s lungs, which are highly impressive. An honourable mention too to guitarist Dan Dorney who matches Potter bounce for bounce but the whole band are true performers and clearly love being up on stage while Potter is a real old school front man.


This is another of those tours that never was, so it’s the first time this four piece from Watford have had chance to play the songs from the band’s third album ‘I’d Rather Die Than Let You In’ live.

Although, as with many bands during lockdown, they have already moved on and showed off two brand new songs tonight. One of which is their collaboration with Kelsey Karter, who I missed earlier, called ‘I Don’t Like You, Okay’.

There is still plenty from their latest album, although some of which I find a little bit too plodding... by their standards unlike the explosiveness of their earlier stuff. That said two of the best moments tonight are slower (but older) songs - a sublime version of ‘Sycamore Tree’ and the always excellent ‘Piece By Piece’.

Then of course there's ‘Bonfire’, an awesome ‘Babe, Can I Call?’ and a closing 'She's Casual' with the first verse sung exclusively by the crowd. By the end both Potter and Dorney are shirtless to the delight of most of the girls in the crowd, for some reason.

Sunday 7 November 2021

Ignoring Advice

For the second Monday running the morning shower is rather painful due to my freshly acquired injuries from the velodrome.

Then I head off into some awful traffic, the roads were absolutely mad. Half term has ended and I think that anybody who was working from home now seems to have returned to the office.

In the evening L is out at Seven and I pick her up afterwards.

On Tuesday, I manage to cycle despite my bruises. It is cold but sunny. Then go to dog training in the evening.

While L finds out that her latest personal trainer has quit. That’s three of them she’s seen off now. She says that, on the plus side, at least she can stop feeling guilty for not doing his workout. Which is probably why he’s quit because his clients are ignoring his advice.

On Wednesday I go to the gym and do my leg weights workout before heading into Derby later where I undo all the fitness work with several pints and a meal in the Exeter where it’s chips with almost everything.

The penance, of course, is a run after work on Thursday which amounts to 8.5k. After which I’m knackered and the shoulder I fell on is getting considerably worse no better, so I don’t cycle as planned on Friday.

Although I do parkrun on Saturday where we are back at the scene of my other injury at Wollaton. I don’t repeat the feat.

Then L heads off to Quad where she’s going to a Derby Book Festival event to see Wendy Moore. In the evening we’re out in Canning Circus again at the Good Fellow George and The Organ Grinder.

On Sunday after a 6k run with L we attempt to get a Sunday Roast at the Nurseryman, which is always a safe bet, but they let us down and have run out.

(Sunday 7th November)

Sunday 31 October 2021

A Bruising Week

L and I do a Sunday morning 7k run. This comes after doing Parkrun on Saturday at Wollaton where I took a tumble down by the lake where either a rock or a tree root felled me. The Lad appeared not to notice and attempted to keep dragging me along. He’s no Doggo, who would have immediately administered mouth to mouth resuscitation. I crossed the line with a gashed knee, grazed elbow and, as L points out later, a grazed back of my shoulder as well. I have no idea how I did that. The Run Director had to add me to their race report.

In the evening we hit Stapleford for a few beers

On Monday we discover that we didn’t do very well in the ticket ballot for the Commonwealth Games but we did however get tickets for the finals of the Lawn Bowls. L is very excited about that and says it’s on her list of things to try in retirement. This is, I understand, a long list.

So we’ve spent the princely sum of £44 whereas L’s sister has apparently spent over £800 but she doesn’t have Lawn Bowls! We did only apply for finals and we can add other events later.

L’s mum escapes from self isolate after a mild bout of Covid and promptly head off into town as usual. 

I attend the gym on Tuesday which will either enhance or hinder my run tonight. At least Derby Arena seem to have sorted my gym membership out now. My run is only 7.5k but that’s a start as I build up to the Derby Half.

On the back of that, I cycle on Wednesday which wasn’t quite as much hard work as I was expecting. It’s just me cycling this week as my colleague is having a week on the Cornish ales. When I get back home, in a fit of jealousy, I book us a week on the Cumbrian ales.

Wednesday is also dog training, while L does the Pumpkin Trail, and Thursday is the horrible Asda trip.

I work from home on Friday because I want to and almost no one is in the office.

On Saturday, we parkrun at Forest Rec and Derby lose at home to Blackburn. Then on Sunday I go on the velodrome where I make a schoolboy error, cycle too slowly on the banking, fall off and (the worse bit) bring someone else down with me. So now I have more bruises, knee/hip/shoulder, to add to the ones from Parkrun.

(Sunday 31st October)