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

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Creak

My knees creak round Monday’s morning walk. I should probably be running later, topping up yesterday's distance but I’m not sure that would even be possible. Instead I manage to get a bike ride into work on Tuesday which was hard work, as knees still ache, and also quite cold.

I’m also in work on Wednesday which was very busy. So busy in fact that I fail to make the gym at lunchtime but do manage to go for a quickie afterwards.

It gets even colder on Thursday and L gets soaked in a blizzard, a very wet blizzard. So I probably don’t need to take a spade to dig my way out of Asda despite the persistent snow showers when I do my parents’ shopping later. 

On Saturday with the Lad now outlawed from Parkrun, I run it solo, which is weird, while L spectates with the boys.

There’s a match in the afternoon. L gets the SkyLink to Aston to sit with my Mum after having lunch with her Mum first.

Then in the evening it's the Psychedelic Furs at Rock City.

 (Saturday 2nd April)

The Psychedelic Furs

Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls open up for the Psychedelic Furs tonight. It is far from the first time I have seen Pauline Murray as she has been the perennial support act for many bands from the early 1980s era since, well, the early 1980s. At least at the gigs I go to.

She is now 72 and her voice is still sounding great. Accompanied now by her daughter Grace on backing vocals and her son Alex on keyboards. As she says it’s a family affair. She’s clearly still having a great time playing live as are tonight’s headliners.  

Since getting back together at the turn on the century, The Psychedelic Furs have never really been away from the live arena but they have been away from the studio. That is until April 2020 when 'Made of Rain' became their first album release since 1991's 'World Outside' and you know what, it's an absolute cracker.

For various reasons, well one big reason actually - Covid, they haven't had chance to play it live until now but when you’ve waited that long to make a record what’s a two extra years?

Tonight they go big on the new album, really big, with no less than seven tracks played from it but it comes off big time for them. It helps that it is so good.

The album is not an attempt to reinvent the Furs material of the early days, nor the poppy Furs of the mid-80s but it still has all the hallmarks of a Furs album including Richard Butler’s trademark rasp of a vocal which remains a thing of wonder. In many ways, the album continues the logical progression from their previous work. You can’t really tell there’s been a gap of 30 years since ‘World Outside’. While tracks like ‘Don’t Believe’ and ‘Ash Wednesday’ are broodingly atmospheric the likes of ‘You’ll Be Mine’ are powerful, exhilarating and just as anthemic as some of their more famous stuff.

There are of course plenty of juicy tracks from their other seven albums as well or at least the first five more famous ones. From the opening of ‘Highwire Days’ and ‘Dumb Waiters’ to the closing double of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Heartbreak Beat’ through the likes of ‘Mr. Jones’, ‘The Ghost In You’, ‘Pretty in Pink’. ‘Love My Way’ and ‘President Gas’

Throughout it all the 65 year teenager Richard Butler bounces his way through the set in his rock’n’roll shades. Although he does seem to have a music stand in front of him in case he forgets the words?

Then after a night celebrating the new album it is perhaps somewhat appropriate to go full reverse circle and to close the night with a encore of the opening two tracks from their self-titled debut album. The glorious anguish of ‘Sister Europe’ followed by the adrenaline whirl that is ‘India’.


Sunday, 27 March 2022

Quordle

If you’re bored with Wordle there is now Quordle which is basically four Wordles in one and it takes forever. I conclude that life’s too short for Quordle. 

After Sunday’s antics in Ashby, Monday’s walk is more of a hobble than a walk and now somehow I seem to have pulled a muscle in my side as well.

On Wednesday I cycle to work, which was a bit painful and pushing off from junctions was very difficult but I made it. I meet my ex-colleague in the Brunswick for Lunch and a pint seems to dull the pain a touch.

Back working from home again on Thursday, L asks how the pain is. He’s in his bed obviously and the other one is yawping in the garden.

I take the rash decision to push the pain envelope even harder and go for a 10k run with sore knees, a sore side and also nipples still sore from Sunday as I forgot to use glide at Ashby but otherwise the run was fine.

On Friday we have a big HR meeting at work to attempt to find out why everyone is hating the takeover, so everyone is summoned in. It’s almost like a school reunion, seeing people you haven’t seen for ages.

Saturday is the Lad’s last Parkrun, which we do at Wollaton. It’s a sad occasion for us but probably not for everyone else who will now be able to listen to the briefing rather than his barking.

On Sunday I run the Sheffield Half Marathon, which has always been one of my favourite races with its no messing straight uphill first half up Ringinglow and then the plummet back down to Sheffield in the second half. Well it was my favourite before my knees went awol.

When I last ran Sheffield in 2018 my calf, which seized up during most races in those days, gave up the ghost in the warmup yet I still hobbled round in 1:55. Today it’s a 1:58.

(Sunday 27th March)

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Ashby 20

My colleague from work is doing the Tromso Rat Race this weekend. Snow biking, snow shoeing and cross country skiing across three countries. It sounds amazing and costs an amazing amount of money. None of which is of course is going to be as amazing as the Ashby 20.

They haven’t had a lot of luck at Ashby in recent years. 2018 was snowed off and although 2019 went ahead the last two years have been Covid-ed off. The original 30th Anniversary was cancelled at the 11th hour in 2020 with the first lockdown about to be announced.

I have the iconic hoodies for that race and the 2021 Virtual one, so I thought I best actually earn this year’s 30th Anniversary ‘take two’ one. Plus I need the training.

'Organised by runners, for runners' by Ivanhoe Runners, race HQ and the finish is in Bath Grounds although we start at short walk away on the road.

The weather is good, sunny but cool. The course has a great first mile which is all downhill, which of course means that the last mile wiil be all uphill. Then you arrive in Packington where you start two nine mile long laps.

These are hilly laps but with steady and rolling hills rather than anything too severe. We head through Sponge, then up an incline through Swepstone towards Heather and then finally through Normanton Le Heath as we head back to Packington where my support team of L, MD and the Lad await. I've kept a good pace at around 9 minute miles and lap one is done in a decent 1:29. Then I do it all again, just more slowly slipping down into the 10s and 11s.

Although I finish five minutes quicker than at Oundle last week in 3:12:10 this isn’t the fastest Ashby 20 time recorded by anyone in our house. L’s 3:07 from 2003 still stands and may never be beaten.

Then it's time for the iconic hoody, the iconic cheese cob and a commemorative 30th Anniversary medal which is the first time the Ashby 20 have issued a medal.

Funnily enough I quite enjoyed it.


  (Sunday 20th March)

Saturday, 19 March 2022

Not Saving The Planet

This week I receive the traditional annual London Marathon rejection which comes as no great surprise and its probably good news given my knees. Which the Lad treats to a hard work out on our morning walk but then the Lad is hard on everything.

As I am now predominately working from home, L reluctantly goes off to her early gym classes. She says she finds it hard going for a class when I’m not zooming off to work. Well, I can always pretend I’m going to work if that helps.

Actually today, Tuesday, I am really going to work. I head in by bike with my laptop on my back. It’s not ideal carrying the laptop because I can’t really fit anything else into my bag and it’s heavy but I’m not sure there’s any alternative.

I can at least leave it at work as I’m back at work the following day. I am out in the evening so I go in to work on one of those rare Red Arrow things. Problem is then that I have to take my laptop with me on the night out, so that I can work from home the rest of the week, which also isn’t ideal.

I also go to the gym while I’m in work which is a good way to spoil your lunch hour.

By being at work I miss a parcel delivery and DPD leave me card saying they’ve dumped it at some shop 2.5 miles away in deepest Aspley. Not helpful. They say that by dumping it miles away they are saving the planet as they don’t have to attempt a redelivery. What they mean is that they are saving their own petrol and using mine instead as I now have to drive over there to collect it.

It's ‘dog ban minus two’ at Parkrun this week as we run at Alvaston again and my fellow dog runner suggests he might simply ignore the forthcoming ban but I'm not bothered enough to try that. 

(Saturday 19th March)

Sunday, 13 March 2022

How To Destroy Your Confidence

On Monday L goes to the pool for a swim for the first time in ages and sends through the feedback ‘I managed not to drown’ which is exactly the sort of thing I’d say had I been near a pool, which I haven’t for some time.

Despite sore legs from doing Retford I take the Lad out for a run and we do 9k. MD gets shoved in the car, which makes him think he’s going somewhere even though he isn’t and the car stays on the drive throughout but he’d probably howl if I left him home alone.

Tuesday is International Women's Day whatever that means these days. I tell L she can choose what we have for tea but then I usually ask her anyway.

On Wednesday I cycle into work as part of my marathon training.

On Friday we go with some friends to the Shalimar in Derby which is somewhere we went with them about 20 years ago but not since. Although I’ve been on my own a few times. The place gets progressively more expensive every time we go and their sales pitch, for their Gold cards, get progressively more creepy. I’m not sure we’ll be rushing back.

On Saturday we Parkrun at Wollaton. Just two more now to go for the Lad before his enforced retirement.     

Then on Sunday I race a 20 miler. What better way to destroy your confidence for a marathon than to attempt to run two 20 miler back to back. My ‘long awaited’ Ashby 20 debut is next week but first the Oundle 20 miler down in Northamptonshire.

This a newish event by Nice Work that started in 2018 and rather sweetly has most of the same snacks etc that you get on their 5ks.

The next thing I notice is that almost everyone from the Stamford race last month is here. Anyone would think there are some marathons coming up.

The race HQ is at Oundle Primary School but parking is all in the little estate roads around the start. I’m not sure what the residents thought of this... the ones in Retford last week would have gone ape and have done so in the past.

The route takes us out from Oundle around the local country lanes taking in the villages of Fotheringay, Nassington, Yarwell and King’s Cliffe.

They describe it as undulating with PB potential which is of course both contradictory and a lie. It was indeed hilly although not quite as bad as Stamford and quite windy too but thankfully not cold like it was for Stamford.

Like Stamford I started off with 9 minute miles and this time avoided dropping into 10s until about mile 13, two miles later than at Stamford. Then into 11s at mile 18, one mile later than at Stamford. All of which meant nothing as my overall pace was about the same. I’ll blame the obligatory last bit around the playing field. I came in with 3:17:36 which is about 4:25 marathon pace. 

Overall it wasn’t too bad an event and I’d probably do it again, if I had too...

(Sunday 13th March)

Sunday, 6 March 2022

Not Going To Happen

We come back from Scotland to be faced with the news that Parkrun intends to bring in what is effectively a ban on most dogs from 2nd April. They will no longer allow you to run with your dog if you’re using a waist harness but not only that, your dog must run nicely at your side on a normal lead. That's not going to happen with 99% of dogs and it's 100% not going to happen with the Lad.

We Parkrun at Alvaston where I have a chat with a fellow dog runner who is very morose about it all. I’m more accepting. The Lad will miss it more than me and he won’t now get the chance to do his 50 like MD has. He has three more, after today, to make the most of it.

On Sunday I run Retford Half which was the last run L and I did in 2020 before lockdown. L even put in extra distance afterwards as we expected the Ashby 20 to still go ahead the following week but it didn’t.

Instead of Retford this year I had considered Warwick Half which we could have possibly combined with a trip to see Son and it would have been more interesting place for L to spectate. Then I found out that Warwick is £36 and a t-shirt is £15 extra whereas Retford is £20 including a t-shirt. Given that Retford is also organised by the local running club that I would like to support, rather than a profit making race company, here we are.

Run wise it is what it is. Country lanes, not terribly exciting but useful training.

During the race I get caught by someone local to us who I’ve sort of being trying to beat for years and have usually done so until recently. Now he’s ageing better than me and he’s five years older than me as well. As we run a few miles together he’s delighted that we’re running at around 8:10 pace. While I’m dying because my target marathon pace is 9:00 and that's what I want to be running at. 

I ran a pretty amazing 1:45 for this race back in 2020 which was a typical time for me ‘back then’ even though I was struggling to get my distance up for the marathon. These days I’m running closer to two hours (different era, different knees). 

His daughter is running with him and is in training for the Manchester Marathon. Even 8:10 is too slow for her and she skips off in front because clearly we’re holding her back. A mile or so later I tell him I’m slowing down and drop off his pace. 

I finish in 1:54, which is still quite good and I suppose all thanks to his suicidal pace making.

(Sunday 6th March)

Friday, 4 March 2022

The Return Of The Mask

With skiing abroad still not being particularly attractive especially with the situation at airports right now we resurrect the winter break in Scotland. We head north with ‘Dead Lions’, Mick Herron’s Slow Horses Book 2 on the audio.

Surprisingly almost everywhere takes dogs but at varying degrees of cost. So we do another mini tour staying at three different places.

We drive up through a snowstorm just south of Glasgow, then after better weather through Glasgow and around Loch Lomond we follow a snowplough past a very snowy Glencoe Ski Centre. 

 

It is disappointingly not snowy in Fort William where we stay for the first night on the banks of the Caledonian Canal at the Moorings Hotel.

We are immediately caught out to find that unlike England, Scotland has not declared an end to Covid, scrapped all Covid rules, testing, track and trace and mask wearing. All those things are still very much a thing up here. In fact mask wearing still applies at all indoor venues including bars and restaurants, the likes of which we haven’t had in England since late 2020.

Then next day I make use of the Caledonian Canal and do a 10 Mile run down it accompanied by my Stephen King audiobook. Two days later I repeat the run accompanied by the Lad. Which he loves.

 

We have a couple of meals at the hotel and I’m quite taken by the Glen Spean beer they have in bottles, so we go to stock up from the brewery which is at Spean Bridge. The best place for breakfast, which we haven’t booked at the hotel, turns out to be at the Highland Soap Company which is something that has sprung up since last time we were up here.

Saturday brings the inevitable Parkrun which is at the Nevis Range Ski Centre although the Ski Centre itself is closed due to high winds. There are only 30 people in the run but despite having to start dead last due to someone’s excessive over excitement we come in 5th.

We have breakfast afterwards in their café where they have the oddest anti-plastic policy that sees them use cardboard instead rather than just using normal plates and cutlery.

In the evening we eat at Spice Tandoori which seems to have done for our old favourite the Everest. Somewhere else we visited many years ago is the Grog and Gruel but it’s beer range is disappointing when we revisit this year.

On Sunday we move to Onich and the Onich Hotel which is just along from the Ballachulish Bridge. It has a few interesting beers but on keg and the food is pretty good although one evening we eat at the Isles of Glencoe.

Breakfast is a bit shambolic because you have to wear plastic gloves at the breakfast buffet. That’s not a restriction we’ve had anywhere before.

Whilst in the area we visit another old stomping ground of Glencoe Village, visit both the cafes there and revisit the old Lochan Lake walk. We also walk the section of the West Highland Way that goes through Kinlochleven which is a bit too uphill in places for MD. L then runs back to the hotel from Ballachulish and across the bridge. The next day I do a similar run in the opposite direction meeting her at the car park for Signal Rock.

On Wednesday I get a bit of skiing in on my snowblades at Glencoe Mountain where there is quite a lot of snow but also quite a lot of fog, so it’s not really feasible to go up to the top. It gets quite windy and snowy later with the visibility getting worse although L, who is looking after the cake in the café below, assures me it’s raining at the bottom which persuades me to call it a day and get the chairlift down. 

Sadly they had a fire in their main lodge the other year and are rebuilding it. It is just about complete and should be open in a few weeks’ time. 


Then we move to our final destination, about an hour down the road towards home, where we stay at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. It is somewhere we have passed every time we’ve headed up this way and wondered what it would be like to stay there. We stay in their ‘annex’ because of our furry accompaniments but it’s still quite posh.


While there we do another small chunk of the West Highland Way and eat both nights at the hotel because there really is nowhere else around here but it’s good in any case.

Then before long we’re heading back for home.

(Friday 4thMarch)

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

New Fitness Hero

L’s new fitness hero is Curling’s Eve Muirhead despite the fact she has two Border Collies. She may be able to lift some serious weights but there’s little excuse for the collies and definitely not for two of them. Who'd be daft enough.

Tuesday’s morning walk and my subsequent cycle to work were both very windy. The boys are quickly asleep in their baskets after their walk and I’d probably be asleep in mine if I had one. L has a much more enjoyable morning walk (to work) but that's probably because she wasn’t attached to a dog.

It is unfortunate that Boris Johnson’s plan to declare the end of Covid this week should have coincided with our 95 year old Queen testing positive but I’m sure it won’t deter him. He is however scrapping testing. We started all this without any testing and it appears that will be how we end it as well.

In one of those bizarre things you do, I attempt to vacuum the car before I take it to be cleaned ahead of our holiday on the basis that there is so much grit in it they would probably give up on it if I didn’t pre-clean it first.

The plan falls apart when the vacuum refuses to cooperate. L gives me some technical advice on how best to prod it with a skewer. No wonder she and the vacuum are barely ever on speaking terms.

Then it's our final dog training and final match before we head off to Scotland. I am fitting the trip in around the football so that my Dad doesn’t miss a match.

(Wednesday 23rd February)

Monday, 21 February 2022

The Libertines

Tonight’s support seems particularly well chosen as the Dead Freights from Southampton fit tonight’s vibe very well. They hit the stage with an energetically punky set that has levels of volume and bass not seen since the Health and Safety free 1980s. I’m going to be very deaf tomorrow. 


With the Libertine’s Gary Powell producing some of their material and vocalist Charlie James having more than a bit of Pete Doherty about him, there’s plenty for the crowd to relate to as they warm us up nicely for the main event.

That main event is The Libertines catchily titled Giddy Up A Ding–Dong Tour which finally makes it to Rock City. Postponed from December due to Pete Doherty experiencing a non-Covid respiratory infection while Carl Barât tested positive for the real thing.

Now 25 years after they started the new Libertines take the stage on time, cut out the messing around and don’t even look sloshed. Perhaps they’re finally growing up a bit.

Naturally Pete Doherty still looks like he’s just rolled out of bed and to be fair he could look healthier. Although that is probably more to spreading waistlines these days rather than anything more sinister.

Musically though he and everyone else is on form tonight and we’re straight into the debut single ‘What a Waster’ from way back in 2002. That is followed by ‘The Ha Ha Wall’ and ‘Up the Bracket’ before arriving at the brilliant comeback single ‘Gunga Din’ which now itself dates back to 2015.

It is quite an achievement to have been in existence for 25 years in total, 20 since your debut single, and yet to have produced only three albums. At least most people will be getting to hear what they want to hear tonight which may have been more difficult had they say at this point released a dozen or more records.

They ‘may’ have grown up a little but the music still remains a little rough around the edges but now it looks more deliberate rather than accidental.

After each salvo of livelier numbers they slow things down with the likes of  ‘What Katie Did’ and ‘You’re My Waterloo’ back to back. Another slow pair of ‘Begging’ and ‘Music When The Light Go Out’ come later. That’s the pattern they follow through a set of 16 songs before they return for an encore of five more.

Closing with ‘Don’t Look Back into the Sun’ into a rambunctious ‘Time for Heroes’ they send everyone home extremely happy.

Are they growing up a bit? Yeah, I think so.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Curling

On Friday L gets up really early to trial something called Battle Box which is not a computer game but is something really evil that they do at the gym at 7am outdoors in a howling gale.

Later she tells me how brilliant it was which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact they gave them all bacon cobs and coffee afterwards. Bacon cobs don’t really sound like much of a fitness plan to me.

It appears I have completely misjudged the council as they have already removed the fallen tree.

Wordle is getting slightly annoying.

We all have one eye on the Friday’s Women’s Curling Semi Final between GB and Sweden, of course one of us only has one eye. It’s so tense, all square with three to play. Then we’re three up with one to play. As you can tell I was working hard that day. Then it’s back to all square again and into sudden death but we secure victory in the end.

Meanwhile the Men had already won their Semi on Thursday and are into Saturday’s Final which sadly they lose as Sweden’s Men get revenge for their Women’s defeat but that is still a silver medal. I have to break off briefly from watching it to do Parkrun at Wollaton.

Our women go one better as they land a gold medal by beating Japan in Sunday’s final.

I have another run on Sunday which is just a 10k at Victoria Embankment. There’s also a 5k which L was tempted with but £20 for that, the same price as the 10k, isn’t cheap. So she decides to run there instead.

My 10k is pretty dull but it’s a necessary training run.

(Sunday 20th February)

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Echo And The Bunnymen

I have seen Echo & The Bunnymen many times over the years and over a career that goes way back and beyond the release of their first album ‘Crocodiles’ in 1980. It was a few years after that I started seeing them live and they were some of the first gigs I ever went to.

However looking at the diary I have not seen them since 1999, which is very remiss of me. I saw them a few times after they reformed with the excellent ‘Evergreen’ album back in 1997 but not in the last 23 years. Blimey. So in my quest to get reacquainted with all my old favourites again at least one more time, before one of us is no longer capable, I am back at the scene of that last gig in 1999. Although no surprise it’s Rock City and it looks like a sell out.

As they come on the stage something strikes me as odd. Ian McCulloch is up there but not chain smoking and presumably hasn’t in many a year. The stage is still smoking heavily, so no change there, but now it’s clearly all dry ice as since I last saw them the smoking ban has come in. This must have changed his act somewhat and hopefully his health too in a positive way. Yet it’s odd to see Mac stood up there without a fag in his hand adding to the smog. 


Little else has changed though. The long coat, the sunglasses, even the haircut is broadly the same. Yes he still has hair even at 62. Will Sergeant looks in pretty good shape too.

Talking of ‘Crocodiles’, that’s how we start and how the album starts too with ‘Going Up’ which is followed by ‘Show Of Strength’ from its follow-up ‘Heaven Up Here’ and then back to ‘Crocodiles’ for ‘All That Jazz’. So we’re starting really old school.

‘Flowers’ is a newbie, from 2001! but ‘Rescue’, ‘Bring On the Dancing Horses’ and ‘Over the Wall’ clearly are not.

But it’s all good and not just because it's a real throwback. Maybe Mac’s voice isn’t quite what it was but no one’s particularly caring.

There’s a brand new newbie ‘Brussels Is Haunted’ before a great finale of a brutal ‘Villiers Terrace’ and three particular faves of mine ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ from that comeback album ‘Evergeen’ and then the very wonderful duo of ‘Never Stop’ and ‘Lips Like Sugar’.

Another thing that’s not changed is that Mac still rambles off into other people’s songs in the middle of his own. This has always irked me but I guess he’s not going to stop now.

They come back and hit us with ‘The Cutter’ and ‘The Killing Moon’ before doing another very old school thing – a second encore.

They come out one last time to close with the achingly pretty ‘Ocean Rain’. I best not leave it another 23 years.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

One-Eyed Wonder

The Lad wakes up this morning with a swollen face. One wonders who he’s been picking a fight with. One of the local felines perhaps.

I have to walk him without his halti which wasn’t good on my knees because he certainly isn’t pulling any less. I book him into the vets and send them a photo of his (no longer quite so) handsome features. At the appointment they give us some anti-biotics although no one really has a clue what he’s done to himself.

By Tuesday the one-eyed wonder seems very buoyant, so I leave him to it and pedal off to the office. Which wasn't the best of bike rides. It started raining the moment I left home. It rained too on L who was swimming in the outdoor pool, she said that was lovely. Can’t say that being rained on while cycling was lovely but then L would say that there's not much about cycling that is lovely. I decide against also going in the gym and opt to save my knees for what I think could well be an equally un-lovely ride home.

The one-eyed wonder is still very buoyant when I get home, rampant actually and looking a bit less one-eyed so I take him to dog training.

Wordle starts to throw up increasing odd words such as Wednesday’s which was ‘Caulk’. I couldn’t see what else it could be so I was busy googling to see if Caulk was really a word and found people complaining about it being the Wordle answer.

Wednesday night is really windy and the next morning we have to detour on our walk to avoid a tree that has been felled by the wind. To be fair to the tree although it had ripped all the curb stones up it had ended up nicely resting against the house. It didn’t appear to have damaged it but it can’t be doing it much good. Not sure how easily they’re going to be able to shift that.

Meanwhile the council will probably come along to close the road for Health and Safety reasons before felling all the other trees on the road.

(Wednesday 16th February)

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Valentine No Mates

The Winter Olympics is now in full swing. It was bizarre to give it Beijing in the first place but now it’s looking even more bizarre as they’ve decided to not invite anyone to it either.

Also bizarre is that if you’re curler you potentially get to play almost every single day so that’s the sport to take up rather than something like snowboarding where you just get a minute or two of competition every four years.

This does make the curling a gripping long running saga. On Monday our Mixed Doubles pairing lose a nail biting Semi Final to Norway. The Lad finds it so stressful he has to sit on my knee throughout which doesn’t make my pretending to work easy. MD vents his frustration by going out in the garden and having a damn good bark at nothing.

Defeat means they play Sweden for bronze on Tuesday. Sadly they lose that too but now the Men’s and Women’s competition will begin. I spend the rest of the day on a training course learning the world’s dullest software. The bright spot of the day is when Derby beat Hull 3-1 later.

On Wednesday I bike into work which was hard. I can’t blame the weather or anything, it was the old man doing the pedalling who wasn’t up to scratch. On Thursday I’m at work again and in the gym, pretending to train. L does an actual real live run. 

On Sunday though I have a real live run of my own. Back in February 2020 when I was training for the Brighton Marathon, as I am now because it is two years late, I was down to run the Stamford Striders St Valentine’s 30k along with my (then) fellow Brighton trainees L and her sister. L was to be my 'Valentine Pair' as they have such a thing but now it's just me, 'Valentine No Mates'.

That race in 2020 was cancelled but not due to Covid which hadn't yet reached crisis point but down to Storm Dennis who was throwing a strop with 40mph winds. In the end they ran it a week later, which meant we couldn't make it. Instead I dragged the Lad around a 15 mile tour of Nottingham in the not quite gale force winds. 

Now I'm back at Stamford and wishing this year’s was being cancelled as well because the weather is possibly going to be worse than in 2020 just without the gale force winds which means it’s going ahead.

In the morning the temperature is just about above freezing with a brisk cooling breeze and the prospect of heavy rain later. Nice. I come equipped in long trousers, long sleeves and with a rain jacket that in the end I don't use and it stays wrapped around my waist throughout.

The race starts at 11am (a really civilised time) in the dry but the rain does come, although it’s not as heavy as promised, and the 'breeze' makes for a challenging last few miles.

I maintain my ideal 9 minute marathon pace for just the first seven miles before slipping to 10s and then 11s after 14 miles.

It is one of those races that makes you do one last humiliating stagger around a sports field to reach the finish line and as I do so I am shocked to realise that 30k isn’t ‘just’ 18 miles as I thought but it’s actually almost 19 but I should have known that.

 

My time is 3:05 which is apparently a mere fraction quicker than L ran ‘back in the day’. If I carried on crawling long at 11s pace it would turn out to be about a 4:25 marathon. Which I’d probably take. That’s if I could continue to crawl that fast. 

(Sunday 13th February)

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Yoga Stretches

On Monday while L is doing eclectic things such Yoga and Tai Chi, I am out on another training run of 23k through Ilkeston, Trowell and Stapleford.

This is followed up by biking into work the next day, into a headwind which leaves me replying to my morning emails while lying on the floor recovering. L suggests I do a few yoga stretches while I’m down there.

On Wednesday I again go into work but have a bit of a bus nightmare. The driver drove the way I cycle, so took ages and I was late for work. I assume something must have happened on the A52 and he didn’t just fancy the scenic route. It’s enough to make you want to work from home. 

Which is very quiet. Having left the dogs in charge they don’t seem to be taking their guard duties very seriously at all or, I suppose, keeping an eye on things from their beds.

I do the gym at lunch time and then meet my friend in Derby later for drinks and food.

I’m back working from home on Thursday and having a day off fitness. Which means I can already feel it slipping away. Although we did break our own record for the slowest dog walk ever thanks mainly to MD but they’re almost as bad as each other. Anything green they have to shove their nose in it.

Our toaster has finally died. RIP. 

By Friday my fitness is slipping away even quicker when I don’t find the time to get out for my planned lunch time run and then by the evening it’s raining.

On Saturday we parkrun at Wollaton and L makes her comeback. In the evening we have a very expensive but hugely enjoyable meal out at the Miller & Carter Steakhouse near us. L’s Mum pays as she said she would treat us to a meal or two as a Christmas present. I’m not sure she expected us to blow it in one go. It’s been on my bucket list to have a Chateaubriand, which we share, and it’s gorgeous.

Of course on Sunday I’m back to pounding the streets as I repeat Monday’s 23k route. 

(Sunday 6th February)

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Oooh. Nice. Not.

L is going into work most days while I’m splitting my time between work and home as I await confirmation of my ‘working from home’ status. When at home I can amble the dogs up to meet her from work partly because anything to delay the Lad’s teatime is good.

On Tuesday, as has become the ritual and at her own request, I metaphorically shove L out of bed for her 7:30am gym class. It’s not really the done thing to kick a girl out of your bed but I like to be helpful.

I prefer to lounge in bed and then do my fitness bit later. Which is another training run, although it’s cold out, and I run 20km through Trowell and Stapleford. L meanwhile attempts to restart her running by having an injection in her sore heel. Oooh. Nice. Not.

On Wednesday I go into work and sit in my little office in Derby on my own. Which is a bit like being at home just without dogs. It does at least give me chance to do my fortnightly gym session.

On Wednesday it’s dog training and on Thursday I have a Committee Meeting. I also go into work again on the Thursday, this time by bike which was tough. When I got on my bike I realised that I didn’t get new brake blocks for Christmas. I must get some, just in case I have to stop for anything.

Word comes back from my assorted bosses that I can now, actually, work from home as much as I want. So I’ll definitely be taking that on board.

On Saturday we have a dog show, the Ogre and I, while L who is still not quite fit to run is marshalling at Wollaton Parkrun.

To be fair to the Ogre his first run wasn’t bad but it was still an E. His second run though was bad, a total horror show in fact. Afterwards I head off to the refreshments van to see if they have any whiskey. If they have I wonder whether I should be administering it to the Lad rather than me.

Our third run is also an E but our fourth, lo and behold, is a victory of sorts e.g. not an E but a mere 25 faults.

In the evening we go out for a meal to somewhere we haven’t been before and didn’t even knew existed, the Corinthian Restaurant on Goldsmith Street, and very nice it is too.

On Sunday Derby come back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Birmingham as they endeavour to stay up despite the 21 point deduction. A draw doesn’t really help but it’s better than nothing.

They badly need a takeover to be completed but I think they’ll still be arguing about that come the end of the season. There was a protest and a march before the game to highlight this fact. Which actually made it easier for us to get there because I think everyone else marched to the match.

Funnily enough on the pitch this is the most enjoyable season we’re had in years. The players are totally committed, with the supporters totally behind them, and playing good football too.

Someone else who’s loving this season is my Dad. He loves the trip out to the match and also the post-match pint in The Yard. 

(Sunday 30th January)

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Sniff Sniff Bloody Sniff

Perhaps luckily, because it was icy, Monday morning’s dog walk was painfully slow. Sniff sniff bloody sniff. It’s not just MD either, I think the Lad was getting his revenge for me not taking him on my run yesterday.

If that was his tactic then it doesn’t work. On Tuesday I run without him again but only 8k around the University.

My gig on Wednesday, Blood Red Shoes at Rescue Rooms, is cancelled. I’m not doing terribly well with gigs at the moment.

While at work my old PC appears to be terminally broken but my new company laptop hasn't arrived yet. I’m not doing terribly well with computers at the moment.

Thankfully it does arrive on Thursday. So I make a flying visit to work, collect it and then bring it home to configure it.

L has a cough which everyone probably thinks is Covid but it’s not keeping her from her morning swim where the pool is often close to empty anyway. Of course that could be because they’ve heard her coming.

On Friday the legend that is (or now sadly was) Meatloaf dies. I knew he hadn’t been well for a while but it had, I thought, mainly been back problems and he was supposed to have a new album coming out.

Sadly also L’s Mother’s cat has gone but to be rehomed. So hopefully that will have a happy ending.

In the afternoon we head over to Rugby where we are holding our Winter Agility Show having been kicked out (sort of) of our old venue in Newark.

We had originally been told we could set up from 5pm but during the course of the day that morphs into 6:30pm. The show is actually at Onley and on the way I drop L off at the Holiday Inn close to the motorway where she intends to have a swim and a gym session probably followed by some reading with a glass of wine in her hand while I’m lugging agility equipment around.

I eventually make it back to her after completing setting up just before the hotel’s food curfew at 10pm.

The next day, the show itself goes well although it isn’t as popular with our own members as it’s further for them to go. The Lad has a wild time competing and even occasionally does something I ask him to.

On Sunday I run again, 10k around the University.

(Sunday 23rd January)

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Capricious Collie

On Monday I take a trip into work which doesn’t go well as the main purposes of my trip - to nick a monitor for home working and to bring home my beer don’t look likely to happen as neither are at work.

Luckily a few hours later things improve when my beer arrived. Only a week after I got the email saying it had been delivered. Hopefully a monitor will materialise next.

I did try to set up our old TV as an additional monitor at home, which worked well for a few days until it packed up completely.

The world’s most famous anti-vaxxer aka Novak Djokovic turns up for the Australian Tennis Open unvaccinated and to everyone amusement they lock him up in a detention centre.

On Tuesday I am back to working from home. After ‘work’ I go for a 16k to Stapleford and back. I even take an audiobook to keep me company. Slow Horses by Mick Herron. I pop the run on my running spreadsheet. As for the book... I don’t have a reading spreadsheet. Not that they’d be much on it if I did.

On Wednesday I have an online meeting with my new boss who is based in Huddersfield. He tells me that I could work from home as much as I wanted to. Yippee. He says he’s only been into the office, which granted is a long way south in Loughborough, once since he joined the company eight months ago.

By Friday the weather has turned really cold again and our morning walk is treacherous underfoot for those attached to a capricious collie.

On Saturday it’s Parkrun at Wollaton and then later Derby beat Sheffield United but with no progress on the takeover front several players are let go which will make picking up future wins more difficult.

I run again on Sunday extending my Stapleford route slightly to 18k.

(Sunday 16th January)

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Lights

Tuesday is the first day back at work after the New Year Bank Holiday. That is if I get there as I have been summoned to the dentist first thing. He had advised me that I needed a wisdom tooth removed not that I was even aware I had a problem with it.

Twenty minutes after my 8:30 appointment I’m back home and still have my tooth. He did an x-ray and decided the tooth was too difficult for him to remove. He therefore needed to refer me to get it done in hospital which will apparently take months. Then he asked me whether it is giving me any trouble, to which the answer is no. So he said if I wanted to I could leave it in, see how it goes and then we’ll review at my next check-up. So it was all a damp squid really.

L is back at proper work, in an office, where she says it’s cold as the heating has been off throughout the Christmas break. A bit like having the kitchen door open at home where ironically we have it shut.

Sadly the Christmas Lights at Wollaton Hall are about to come to an end. 

 

Not that we actually attended as such but it meant the park was open in the evenings and we could walk the dogs up there and see some of the lights anyway.


Talking of Christmas lights, my Dad finally gets his working just as Twelfth Night arrives.

Our milkman who has been coming at increasing weird times, anything from 11pm at night to 8am in the morning, now seems to have disappeared completely e.g. absconded with his Christmas tips. We currently have a different chap in a different van.

On Thursday is snows or something that could have been snow... but was more like sleet... that then turned to rain... Sadly I didn’t get to have a snowball fight with the boys. L got all excited and went for a lunchtime walk in it but just got wet. That’s probably our lot now for the year.

On Saturday I run Wollaton Parkrun which, with L not running at the moment, MD gets a damn good bark out of while the Lad gets a damn lead biting session. MD also gets a new food bowl after he somehow put his foot in his old one and snapped it in two.

Then on Sunday it’s the New Year 10k at Sherwood Pines that L and I ran when I was last marathon training two years ago, for the same race I’m now training for e.g. Brighton. Only last time she was training for it too but now she isn’t. She would have done this 10k though if she’d not had her foot injury.

It’s a two lap course which this time they seem to have measured properly as last time it was well short. This time it may actually be slightly long. It’s a two lap course and last time we did an extra training loop with the Lad but I was younger then. So I don’t do that this time. 

(Sunday 9th January)