Sunday, 28 January 2018

First Race Of 2018 & First Bee Rescue

Over 900 people gathered at Broadlands country house estate this morning for the annual Romsey 5 mile race round the grounds. The sun shone and it was dry! 

Romsey was full of runners when we arrived at nine, all heading over to the estate in a steady stream of brightly coloured lycra and happy, smiling faces (along with a few nervous ones from people who were running their first ever race). 

I had my Little Miss Sunshine runners on and noted three other ladies with the same bottoms! (Good job it wasn't a wedding). A lovely lady came up to me at the end and said I've just got to tell you, I was behind you all the way round and I love your leggings! I'm going to get the Little Miss Naughty ones next, they are purple :o). I'm thinking I could make a killing producing funky, colourful, humorous running kit for women, so much of it is black and boring and us girls do like a splash of colour in our kit.

I'd decided to take it easy, given the recent cold and the more long-standing knee. M informed me he was going to run the first mile conservatively. Great, I said, we can run it together. Not that conservatively, was his charming reply :o)

It was very sociable: it being a local race, lots of our friends from various running clubs were there and the spectators along the route were a great bunch too - clapping, cheering and encouraging. There were also lots of little ones with their hands held out hopefully, eager to high 5 the runners as we went by. The beams on their littles faces whenever anyone high fived them made your heart glad.

I set off at a steady pace, felt a bit ropey for the first couple of miles and, as usual, what felt like the entire field streamed past me, but after two miles I'd warmed up and picked up the pace a little to try and catch up with our buddy Rich who had gone on ahead. Normally, I can beat him, but I've hardly run in the last two months and had no idea where his fitness level was, so I contented myself with keeping him in view, watching him to try and work out how much energy he had left and plan my strategy around that. My buddy Neil (in the pic above) had whizzed ahead and I knew there was no chance of catching him. 

After three miles people began to tire and drop back and I started overtaking. As a race strategy this works for me. It's hard at the start when the pressure is on to race to resist it and keep steady, but if you can hold your nerve and conserve energy and then pick up the pace at the half way point when people are starting to fade it puts you in a mentally strong position, and much of racing is about the mental approach.

HOWEVER, I was not supposed to be racing AT ALL, so I thought I'll just set keeping up with Rich as a target and left it at that :o)

Mile three and all was going well. Mile four and I was feeling strong and my pace had gone up from 5:30 to 5:15/ km. I caught up with Rich and went past him, then he put on a spurt and went past me, but I could tell he was tiring so I trotted along behind him for a while and then at 4.5 miles went past, figuring if he picked up the pace I could sprint the last half mile relatively comfortably and come in ahead of him. I asked how he was. Knackered, came the reply. I was feeling fine, still had plenty of energy in the tank (thanks largely to running all those half marathons last year I think). Rich, however, had got his calculations wrong and thought we were into the last 200 metres. It is crushing in a race to realise you've mistimed your final sprint and have further to go than you think and when I told him (in reply to his question) where the finish was he groaned and fell back.

I pushed on, overtaking the folks in front without pushing the speed too much and crossed the line in about the time I'd set for myself. I wasn't tired but needed a few seconds to catch my breath so reckon I got the pace about right. I was very pleased. As for my husband, this experienced marathon runner had got so carried away with being back running he'd blasted out a 3:30 minute first km and then spent the rest of the race hanging on for dear life, coming in behind his friend and arch rival. He still finished in a very respectable time but I enjoyed teasing him about the school boy error in his race strategy :o)

After the race, we went to the coffee shop for celebratory tea and cake with our chums from another running club then headed home. Once there, I noticed a bee caught in a spider web. I thought he was dead, but when I touched him with my finger he wiggled his legs feebly. I managed to extricate him from the sticky web and he sat on my finger looking exhausted. The usual blob of rescue honey (wildflower this time) did the trick, and then I was left with my usual bee rescue dilemma- a bee happily eating honey on my finger while I had things to do. After ten minutes he'd had enough food, had a good clean then buzzed off happily towards the daphne flower. 

A happy running race and a happy rescued bee. All is well with the world.

Hope you've all had a lovely weekend,

CT x

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Cast Of The CT RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

I'm not didn't see me...
 male Siskin

 Blue tit

The sparrow gang

I'm looking at YOU.
male sparrow.

very small or far away?
male GSW

A pair of elegant Starlings

Blue tit



female chaffinch

female brambling

female blackbird

An unusually marked (grey) house sparrow

a pair of goldfinches in the apple tree

song thrush

a trio of long tailed tits

thoughtful sparrow boys

female siskin


the LTT gang

They're a reliable bunch, my garden birds. Everyone I expected to see turned up for the RSPB big garden birdwatch this afternoon. Twenty-one species, all daily visitors. A few didn't show: the female greenfinch who's been popping in and out sporadically over the winter; the moorhen who hops over the hedge from the lake during winter and spring mornings; the bullfinches who I hear more often than I see; the stock doves; jays; jackdaws and carrion crows who are incidental visitors. The rarer ones who I glimpse when I'm lucky: the goldcrests who are insect feeders so don't come to the feeders; the female sparrowhawk; the buzzard; the ravens; the blackcaps. And those who I can't count by day because they come at night: the Tawny Owls who call most nights and the Barn Owl who perches on the garage roof at dusk.

Of all those recorded, the sparrows were the most numerous at twenty individual birds. This is modest- I've counted them at 50 before. Considering there were none when we moved here ten years ago, and the colony started with a single female and male pair about 8 years ago, they've done well. The blue tits were in second place with 15. in 2016, they really suffered from ill-timed torrential rain in the spring which washed caterpillars off trees at a crucial time when they were needed to feed young. But better conditions in 2017 restored numbers and now we've more in the garden than I've ever seen before. 

The brambling was obviously the star of the show in terms of rarity value. She's been here since November and visits regularly with a group of chaffinches. I nearly fell over when I saw her back in November, and assumed she was passing through (they are northern birds who over winter in the UK but are relative rarities in British gardens) but she's stayed with us all winter. A real treat. I'd never seen one before.

An unexpected pleasure was the song thrush, who's been popping in and out of the garden for a few weeks now. He hops about pulling up worms and I was hopeful he'd put in an appearance while I was counting but couldn't be certain, so it was lovely to be able to record him. I was similarly pleased that the GSWs both appeared. A real treat to be able to record two woodpeckers in one garden in the space of an hour. I was also glad to see the siskins, one of each for balance :o).

If you live in the UK and can spare an hour to sit with a cup of tea, a pad of paper and a pen (and a biscuit or two to aid concentration), it's well worth writing down what you see and entering the data on the RSPBs website.

In other bird news I'm outraged that Winchester fire station has cut down a line of trees that were being used a night roost by a large flock of starlings after complaints about bird droppings. Starling numbers have suffered a massive population drop, falling by 66% since the mid 1970s. I'm not sure why the roosting trees fell outside UK wildlife protection laws but clearly they should not have done. 

Ignorance of bird behaviour caused this- if the people concerned had taken advice from the BTO or the local ornithological group, they would have learnt that the mass flocking behaviour of these birds would have begun to drop in a few weeks- by the end of Jan/ beginning of Feb starlings start to pair up and disperse, moving away from the flock to nest and raise young. It's why you only get mass murmurations of starlings in winter. Added to this, the trees concerned were evergreens located in a city, a rare enough resource, and I'd put money on them being home to the UKs smallest bird, the goldcrest, who can not survive the winter without evergreens to provide insect food and shelter. Hopeless.

Let's hope something good comes of this disastrous decision and people learn from it so it isn't repeated.

Hope all are having a good weekend. It's been wet here today but the forecast is dry for tomorrow....race day......yipee..... :o)


Friday, 26 January 2018

An Onion Under The Bed

You may recall an oblique reference to M being sick in my last post. He is almost never ill and it has to be really bad for him to down tools. One day asleep in bed with a fever and a handful of days working from home and then, on his first full day back he came home looking dreadful and coughing fit to burst. I went into full-on wife nurse mode: banked up the fire, told him to put his feet up, made him hot honey and lemon, worked on his lung meridian and within an hour the coughing had settled. He's better, but still not 100%.

Roll forward to Tuesday morning this week and I wake with a sore throat and an impending sense of doom. My first race for two months is scheduled for Sunday. I had an unusually clear week so took to my bed (which I hate doing) reading Ann Cleeve's Shetland series (which made it more bearable), but still after a couple of days developed this really painful swollen lymph node on the left side of my neck under my chin which hurt like mad whenever I swallowed. To add to my general irritation, all my teeth felt like they'd been pulled out too.

Last night I'd had enough, and into my head popped the story of the village decimated by the flu pandemic in 1918. The story goes that the only house that didn't succumb was one where the mother had placed raw onions cut in half in all the rooms. The theory (much mocked by medical science, but then so is homeopathy), is that the humble onion draws bacteria and viruses to itself (which is why you're not supposed to leave them for a day open in the fridge). White onions, apparently, are best, but I'm guessing this is similar to the only pure (and expensive) honey works idea, so I cut up what we had in the cupboard, a red onion, and last night placed it beneath the bed to see what would happen.

I have woken up this morning with no sore throat and the lymph gland has completely disappeared. I'm snotty, but I feel better. Possibly, a couple of days of resting has done the trick, but as M had this thing for ten days despite resting, I'm going to thank the onion. It's just possible I'll be racing on Sunday after all :o)

Hope you're all well?


Monday, 22 January 2018

Look Who's Back.... And A Bit Of Running Stuff Too.

I've been waiting for them since I looked back through my notes and realised they appeared on January 18th last year. Yesterday, it rained and was cold all morning (we were marshalling at a cross country race in the forest, miserable but fun at the same time!), and then, in the afternoon, the sky cleared and the temperature began to climb.

It's now ten degrees outside and the sun has been shining intermittently, sending messages of spring, and look who's woken up in response......

The Honey Bees! Complete with full pollen baskets. There are lots of them on the Daphne, buzzing about, feeding. Gosh, I've missed that sound. It makes your heart glad just to hear it. I am so glad to see them. If that isn't a sign of spring I don't know what is. And here's another one, just to prove the point :o)

And two dog pictures, because they make me smile too....

In Running News it continues (cautiously) well. I'm back up to a steady three miles three times a week (although at the moment I've had to promise not to go off on any interesting trails and to stick to the roads and the flat- I sneaked a very small hill in yesterday in the rain and am none the worse for it today, so that's encouraging). I'm easing the mileage back up one mile a week at a time on my longer run as we've a couple of competitions coming up (yay! it's been far too long). One is a five miler and one is a six miler, both on the roads, so I need to be back up to those distances at least. I did close to 5 miles last week at a steady pace and that was fine so I'm not anticipating any major problems as long as I go slowly.

Marathon plans have been shelved until next year as I don't want to rush and risk upsetting my knee again. Getting marathon ready for the end of May constitutes rushing in my book, so I shall defer my entry till 2019 and pootle about building strength and enjoying parkrun and my longer runs instead. I've got a place in the Grizzly again this year. I was hoping to do the 20 mile version but will settle for the 9 mile (which you may remember was my first big competition last year and had huge excitement around it). That's in March so I'll see how that goes, and if all is well I'll get some more half marathons in from April onwards. If not, I'll happily stick to 5 and 10ks this year.

Instead of the marathon as my main focus for 2018, I am toying with picking up the parkrun PB theme again. I got it down to 23:09 last year and although I'm way off that at the moment (running around 27:37), I reckon in a few weeks' time I could pick up the pace and start to work towards chipping off the time. I have promised to help my friend Neil get his PB to under 25 mins before his 70th birthday (which is creeping up), so that would be a good initial target, then I'm thinking I can work towards sub 22 mins by the end of the year. 

To give you some idea of pace, at the moment I'm running about 5:30 mins/km which takes me to 27.30 mins over 5k (which is 3 miles) and represents hardish work at the moment. To run a 25 min 5k time with Neil we'll need to be running 5 minute kms, and to get to a 22 minute parkrun I'll need to do 4.24 min/ kms. I realise if you're not a runner that all this talk of seconds must sound rather feeble, but believe me, it is not easy to knock seconds off your km times when you're running at your limit. To do it, I'll need to follow a training plan which incorporates three things: 
1) endurance runs at a steady pace over longer distance (I'm quite comfy about these, they're my favourite kind of running)
2) Intervals, which involves repeated short runs at a very fast pace with short recovery times between (these are ok)
3) tempo runs, which involve running 10-30 minutes at a pace where you can say a three word sentence but no more ie it's quite tough (not so keen on these!).

The theory behind this is that if you train for endurance and speed your body learns how to sustain a faster pace over a shorter or target distance. I'm naturally not a fast runner, I can put on a good sprint and turn in a reasonably tidy time, but I much prefer a pootle along a half marathon distance, so training to run faster over shorter distances will be an interesting challenge, but if you've been reading for a while you'll know I relish a challenge so I'm up for it. It will also be good for my running and put me in a good place for when I start marathon training next spring.

I've managed to infect M's cousin with the running competition bug and persuaded him to sign up for a race with us in June, which should be great fun. It's part of the Cheltenham Challenge marathon weekend and I'm already looking forward to it.

Plenty to be getting on with, eh?

Hope all are well. Have you got bees out with you yet?

CT x

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fancy Doing parkrun?

Image result for parkrun symbol

parkrun (always with a lower case "p"), started in 2004 when thirteen friends including founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt got together in Bushy Park, London to have a 5k (or 3 mile) morning run. It became a regular thing and it spread. It's now run in eighteen countries and has over 4 million members. Some parkruns are small (we did one in Ireland that had 34 runners) and some are large (our local one achieved record numbers of over 1100 last week). Some are run on tarmac paths, others in woods and others on grass.

So what is parkrun? It's a free, timed, volunteer-managed 5k (3 mile) run around parks al over the world usually on a Saturday, usually starting at 9am. It is run by all ages from babes in pushchairs up, and by all abilities. Some folks take their dogs along too. It's fun, friendly, warm, welcoming, inclusive, supportive and encouraging. Friends and family join the marshals on the course to clap and cheer and offer words of encouragement. People with disabilities are welcomed (we have two blind runners who regularly attend our local parkrun, other runners volunteer to guide them round the course and one at least is a very accomplished marathon runner who runs a good deal faster than I can). It is specifically NOT a race, although you can choose to battle against friends and colleagues and see who can win if you want to. Plenty of people jog round chatting, and plenty do a mix of walk and run. You can chase a PB (personal best), trying to improve on your previous time, or you can take it easy and enjoy it and just feel better for the exercise. It is absolutely NOT an intimidating environment: everyone helps everyone else. On the way round the course, it is very normal for stronger, faster runners to call out encouragement as they overtake slower runners, or to check whether people walking are OK. Everyone gets congratulated at the finish regardless of their time. If you're one of the last finishers you often get the biggest cheer and support of all, because the marshals are mainly back off the course and gather in to encourage you.

I think it is one of the best inventions of recent years. You're encouraged to volunteer from time to time, which means doing one of the following jobs: marshal, barcode scanner, hand out finish tokens, manage the funnel, time keeper, lead bike, tail walker, token sorter at the end. This is important because parkrun relies on volunteers. I try to volunteer at least once a month and have met some really lovely folks that way and made new friends. It's a fantastic way to support your local community and help people become fitter and healthier.

On today's run, (M was poorly at home with a virus) I met up with friends Neil, Craig, Baz, David, Eddie and Rob at the start and ended up running most of the course with Rob, who is a very fast runner normally (sub 19 mins 5k time- my best is 23:09 and that was pushing it!), but today he was nursing an injury so taking it slow. We chatted almost the entire way round putting the world to rights, and had a laugh with an older guy who was running behind us and celebrating every km marker he went past by cheering loudly. He waved and grinned at me when I saw him later on waiting in the finish line to get his token. That's the spirit of parkrun: a lot of happy, smiley, contentedly tired runners pleased when they've finished! I wore my Mr Men and Little Miss running tights (which you may remember are both bright and busy), it being a gloomy, wet morning, and had some cheery comments from fellow runners who thought they were bright and funny. Job done on that score.

Couch to 5k (C25K) programmes have risen in popularity because of parkrun. They are aimed at helping people learn how to run 5k from nothing. Many running clubs offer these 10 week courses (you don't need to be a member of a running club to take part in them, you just register on the club website, they usually have a nominal cost of £20), or you can search for the programme on line, print it off or download the app onto your phone and follow it at home yourself.

So, if you want to start getting fit, do a C25K programme, then when you're ready to run 5k, do a parkrun. If you're not hooked and don't feel better for it at the end and become a regular runner I'll eat my hat :o)

If you'd like to give it a go (what's to lose?), go to the parkrun website to register. There you can download and print off your athlete's barcode, which you take with you to your local park (check the website to make sure they run one first, but they are all round the country so there will be one not far from you if you're in the UK) by about 8:45, line up with all the other parkrunners and set off when the race director tells you to. Then you just run or run/ walk with everyone else, following the marshal's instructions which will tell you where to go (although its usually obvious) until you cross the finish line. Here you'll be given a finish token which has another barcode and your position on it, you take that and your athlete's barcode to one of the volunteers who will be lined up scanning everyone in and they'll scan first your athlete's barcode then your finish token (they'll keep the finish token with your run position on it once they've scanned it). After that you go home, chill out and feel proud of yourself (and probably quite tired and hungry too). Then about an hour later your results will be emailed to you and you'll be able to see how you did.

In two months' time you might find you've gone from non-runner to parkrunner, and who knows where that might lead?........10k.........half marathon.........marathon.......the possibilities are endless.......

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend. 


Monday, 15 January 2018

The Maddest Of Weekends

A small number of birds in the garden :o)

Whose feet are these? Nearest I can get is a polecate. Thoughts?
Poppy vanishing into a badger's hole. Her new favourite thing to do. Naughty.
Scone Birthday Cake

a Murmuration of Starlings

60,000 starlings over Romsey

Running Chums

New bat box in the twisted willow ready for spring Pips 
Daphne out and smelling divine.

I need a weekend to recover from the weekend. 

1. Get up early, go to parkrun* 
2. Chat to some friends about the Stubby 10k which lots of people are doing tomorrow and muse about potential finishing times, then go home, shower, breakfast, tidy up. 
3. Decide unexpectedly at midday to go to Reading for the cross country league race that afternoon.
4. Make hasty sandwiches, shove them in a pot, grab an apple and drive an hour and a half to Prospect Park. Fall asleep in the car on the way there. 
5. Arrive by the skin of our teeth with minutes to go before the race starts.
6. Enjoy watching friend Peat trying to greet a team mate with a hug while the team mate remains utterly rigid with his arms by his sides. Peat persists for a few painful seconds more. 
7. Cheer M, Peat, Mick and a couple of hundred others round the 6 mile course with Bex while getting progressively more and more frozen, despite being muffled inside a thermal coat, hat, gloves, scarf and breaking out the star jumps.
8. Reacquaint myself with some surprise and a little bit of envy at just how enormously powerful Becky's lungs are when it comes to shouting at runners.
9. Briefly consider getting pom poms for next time to mitigate my lack of bellow-ability and to generally wave about and encourage the runners with.
10. Yell myself hoarse in the closing seconds of the race encouraging M to stay ahead of the runner behind, who, despite all our combined efforts, catches him on the line. Bex and I groan loudly.
11. Know M will be very cross about this despite a) coming in the top 100 in a very competitive field and b) the guy being about twenty years younger than him.
12. Get back in car for the 1.5 hours' drive home. Fall asleep in the car.
13. Arrive home, give dogs brief cuddle and explain we're going out again. They don't look at all impressed. Go upstairs to sort out my hair which, after being scrunched under a hat all day is sticking out in weird ways. Give up and plait it into pigtails so it will at least wave all in the same direction later. Pull all my clothes out of the wardrobe and cover the bed in them. Choose a dress and heels, which immediately feels all wrong. Worry about the effects standing for several hours in heels without my special inserts in will have on my recovering knee (!). Briefly wonder if I can get away with wearing trainers but decide probably not. Realise how much life has changed in the last five years, priorities etc. Get M to make call to sis in law to find out what she's wearing. Overhear his side of the conversation with his brother which makes me laugh: I've no idea why she needs to know. No, I don't understand it either. What are you wearing then? As a result, change into skirt and comfy (flat) boots. Feel better. Reflect that I must be getting old as the appeal of heels has entirely left me.
14. Cover entire house in sticky notes in an attempt to remind L to let dogs out for a pee at 7pm then again at 10pm.
15. Try to ignore the way Poppy's hopefully wagging tail fades sadly away as she realises we're off again, and Ted's accusatory look of utter abandonment as we again leave the house.
16. Drive up to London to Henry's 50th birthday party. Fall asleep in car.
17. Arrive at 7pm and wake up with a start, find a place to park (eventually) and only just remember to pull the plaited pigtails out of my hair before Henry, dressed all in black and looking very London Elegant Chic opens the front door.
18. Discover it isn't a sit down meal with a handful of others but a live band in the conservatory where 70 people are due to party out the night.
19. Have half an hours' catch up with Henry and Lucy and my bro and sis in law before everyone descends.
20. Notice all the women are in sparkly party dresses and heels. 
21. The noise level immediately reaches a crescendo, except it doesn't go down again, and I wonder if my ears will survive the night without bleeding.
22. Shout for a while to a man from Chicago about Trump and American politics and the possibility of Oprah Winfrey running for President. Also about Miriam Margoyles' American road trip and the south side of Chicago, which he confirms he's never visited. Talk about skiing and importing expensive wines.
23. Shout to another man who, once he discovers M is a runner too, doesn't want to talk to me anymore, but spends the next half hour telling M all about his competitive running times, while apparently entirely failing to notice my husband's glazed expression.
24. Despite my intention not to, drink three glasses of prosecco in quite quick succession.
25. Eat my second plate of curry in as many days while listening to another man busily assuring me that my son will be at home with an enormous number of teenage friends right now drinking, smoking and generally trashing the house. He doesn't seem interested in my assurances that L has been looking forward to having the house to himself so much over the past week that filling it with other people would be the last thing on his mind. Ah, he said, knowingly, that's what he's told you. I reflect that this is a sad assessment of what it is to be a teenager and try my best to smile politely while thinking what a *!@$.
26. Have a shouty conversation with a lady dressed head to toe in couture complimented by impeccable makeup and perfect hair, with whom, despite heroic attempts on my part, I can find no common ground at all. I amuse myself for a while after she's gone off to find more sartorially suitable company by imagining her describing our encounter to her friends later: I mean, she was wearing a SKIRT and FLAT BOOTS! And her hair had clearly been in plaited PIG TAILSI giggle to myself about this for quite a while.
27. I am tired of yelling to people I don't know.
28. Head thumping, I try to make subtle but noticeable can we go home yet? signs to my husband (harder than it sounds) before realising it is only 9pm.
29. Escape to the hall where the noise only makes me wince instead of cry, and find a pint glass which I refill (with water) and drain three times in an attempt to neutralise the prosecco.
30. Reflect that my tolerance for loud has disappeared completely somewhere between the ages of 34-44 and that my preference for socialising is now a nice meal somewhere quiet where you can talk and no one worries about what they're wearing.
31. Reflect too that, the advantage of socialising with runners on a weekend is that many of them have races on a Sunday so there is no imperative to stay up beyond 11! 
32. Manage to last until 11pm when thankfully M is also keen to get home. It has been lovely to see Henry and Lucy, despite my inability to cope with noise and party frocks. 
33. Fall asleep in the car on the way home.

1. Despite getting only 6 hours sleep and having gone to bed with a thumping headache, we get up early and drive to Stockbridge for a race. Meet up with the running club and have a giggle generally about life, running, weather, back aches etc.
2. Buy soup and bread and cheese, a chocolate cake and two Toblerones (special offer) in the village shop while M is out racing round the course with Neil, who comes second to M's third.
3. Hold onto a blonde labradoodle called scraggles while her mum goes off to find her son. She is very sweet and friendly and we have a nice cuddle (the dog, not the woman) and I reflect that T and P will be scandalised when I get home and they sniff another dog on me.
4. Tell two small boys NOT to throw great jagged lumps of rock into the river where the trout are swaying in the current, in the absence of any obvious parental presence.
5. Cheer M in, go home, bake 20 scones, dress them with clotted cream and strawberry jam and stick a candle in twelve of them, then wrap my mother's bd presents (in fabric with ribbon, not a bit of plastic in sight. We are giving her a bird feeder from the grandchildren, some fabric and a cross stitch set from us and some locally made goats milk soap with chamomile and lemongrass that smells lovely), quickly wash my hair and am downstairs in time to welcome M's cousin and my ma in law who've just flown back in from Ireland where they've been visiting elderly relatives, and who are coming to lunch.
6. Over lunch try to persuade M's cousin to do some races with us this year. Follow up with an email about the Cheltenham and Cheddar Gorge Challenges which look fab.
7. They go, I have a quick wander round the garden to admire the Hellebores and the Daphne which are coming into flower, and then my family arrive, with my bro in law ferrying the parents who've accidentally got pissed at lunch.
8. We have a good giggle about this and promise not to let them forget it. The grandchildren in particular find it hysterical and the grandparents look suitably red-faced. 
9. Sit down for presents, which are unwrapped and admired, chat, blow out the candles on the scone cake, brew up some tea and eat and drink while discussing the problem of plastic waste and what to do about it.
10. 5pm everyone goes home, I fall asleep on the sofa watching Ian Mckellen in Holmes, which is a shame because the bit I saw was good.
11. Wake up in time to watch Vera, have some bread, cheese, an apple and a cup of tea, and make L's lunch for Monday. Check the results from Stubby and am pleased to see my friend Neil did really well.
12. Promise the dogs that tomorrow I will be at home and take them for a long walk round the fields.
13. Fall asleep more or less as soon as my head hits the pillow and only wake at 1am briefly to talk M down from some intense sleep-walking drama that had got him out of bed because he was running the Zimbabwe election. My dreams are never that exciting.

*parkrun was great, in case you were wondering. Did it in a steady 27 mins and thoroughly enjoyed it. Only a very small sprint finish at the end to overtake the four people in front of me. (Don't tell John).

Hope you all had a good weekend?

CT x