Tuesday, 18 December 2018

What's the last thing you want to happen nine days before Christmas?

The Gods were smiling on us this weekend. Usually, as you know, we are helter-skelter around the country doing various running adventures. This weekend, no races. We went off to parkrun first thing on Saturday and returned with the intention of painting the new bits of bathroom that were going to have things fixed over them this week. For this reason, we were upstairs when ordinarily we would have been miles away.

M moved some chipboard and I noticed a damp line in the carpet.

Me, pointing: What's that?
M: probably just wet from the chipboard.
Me: But it's spread round the corner where this is no chipboard.
M: Hmmm.
Me: I bet the new shower's leaking.

I hoiked up the edge of the carpet and to my alarm saw water swimming beneath it. A hasty call to the builders resulted 20 mins later in two of them appearing and taking ages to umm and ahh over what might be causing it while all the while the pool of water seeped further into the carpet and across the room.

Eventually, the plumber was called, a hole was cut in the bedroom wall (because Builder Martin had just finished all the wall coverings and shower tray and doors etc in the new bathroom and it would have been nightmarish seeing them all removed this close to Christmas when they'd taken a fortnight to be put in) and the culprit was discovered. As I'd said, the new shower pipe was leaking.

It was wrapped up in tape like an Egyptian Mummy, tightened and declared sorted and everyone left. I'd just got on with the painting when a sudden and loud noise of deluging water made me assume that M had inexplicably switched on the new shower.

Why have you turned the shower on? I yelled.
I haven't! He yelled back.

Oh S*!T.

I rushed round the corner in time to see water fountaining out of the hole in the wall, jet spraying across the other wall and flooding the room. In seconds the carpet was under an inch of water and it just kept coming.

M sprinted down stairs and wrenched the main stop cock to off but we were still left with a swimming pool where our bedroom usually is.

Towels and buckets mopped the worst of it and when the plumber returned and capped the culprit he showed me how a piece of the joint had sheared away.

I have a strange sense of humour and often feel it's better to laugh than cry when something like this happens. And because we'd been home and caught it quickly, was relatively able to see the funny side. HOWEVER, as M pointed out, had it been a usual weekend for us the likelihood is we would have returned to a flooded house; the ceiling undoubtedly would have fallen in and we'd have been looking at spending Christmas in a hotel and goodness knows how long the repair work would have taken. Far worse than this though is that the room directly beneath our bedroom is where the dogs sleep and they would both almost certainly have been killed. 

So like I say, the Gods were with us.

The offending pipe has been replaced but I have told them not to block up the hole in the wall until after Christmas. I want to be absolutely certain that it won't leak again :o(.

On to happier news. I've just finished wrapping all the prezzies which are now beneath the tree, have sorted out the stockings, bought all the food except the fresh stuff and got the booze in. Tomorrow, I have to make 40 mince pies for the friends who are coming after parkrun on Saturday and after that I'm more or less done.

L has been home with a temperature, so I'm really hoping we don't succumb to that! He has valiantly gone in to college today although I am on High Alert for a text to go and pick him up. 

In the meantime, I'm running in the fresh air with the dogs through the countryside as much as I possibly can in order to stave the bugs off!

I'll leave you with a short vid of Romsonians singing Silent Night during Christmas Carols in the Market Square last night, which we went to and thoroughly enjoyed. It was absolutely packed with the Romsey Youth Choir, the Romsey Male Voice Choir and several others all present as well as lots and lots of locals all singing away. Our friend Raymond was conducting (he is very funny and had everyone laughing throughout) and everyone was in fine voice, even if M and I had to hum/ make up the words in some places as we didn't have a carol sheet. I kept getting the giggles as M suddenly dropped an unexpected octave when the range got too high for him. This is acceptable during Christmas Carols, but I get into terrible trouble with it during funerals :o)

Happy Crimbo All!

CT :o)

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Christmassy Stuff & Running Twenty Miles With Pops

Homemade marshmallow and white chocolate rice crispy cakes. They didn't last long.

Just back from running twenty miles together

Now I know it's Christmas!

This morning, I decided I would get another long run in. I reduced my mileage last week from 38 miles overall to 28 because I'm experimenting with my training. The idea is to run three longer-mileage weeks followed by one lower-mileage one so your system gets a rest. It seemed to work well because this morning's twenty miles went by very calmly and easily, to the extent that I was tempted to carry on and notch up the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles. I resisted the temptation, largely because I'm not sure how long it would have wiped me out for and we have various running things and social things coming up that I don't want to miss this side of Crimbo.

Pop came with me. She's got over her sore paw but even so I checked her feet every 5 miles to make sure she was OK. She gave me one of those looks that children give their parents when they are being overly fussy, the I'm fine look. She was, too. So we carried on together to just over twenty miles and she was as bouncy as ever at the end, speeding up when a bunny appeared on the edge of the lane very soon followed by a stoat, which gave chase but returned to its home empty-pawed, and when she saw a cat

She and Ted both had a salmon bone when we got home (made of dried fish. They have the most disgusting smell but the dogs love them) and she's been asleep ever since, but I think that's allowed. We will decamp into the sitting room shortly once I've finished this and lit the fire and I expect she'll snooze the evening through. There is nothing so cosy to look at as a pleasingly exhausted, happily sleeping dog.

She also came out to train with the Hares last night- five or so miles around Romsey to see the Christmas lights which are very pretty. We ended up in the pub afterwards as usual and Pop drew a lot of admiring smiles and strokes from complete strangers. If they'd known she'd rolled in FP the day before and had to have a cold shampoo in the garden afterwards to get rid of it I think the admiration may have been a little less forthcoming. The FP incident was revenge for the bath I gave her over the weekend. She is a little monkey.

In other news, I am getting Christmas Stuff done. The tree is up and decorated, presents have been wrapped, crisps, chocolates, nibbles and cocktail sausages have been bought as well as a giant vat of champers and (at M's request) a bottle of port and some cigars. He's going to try, for the umpteenth time, to teach me how to blow smoke rings. The ingredients for the Christmas pud are sitting on the shelf in the utility room jostling for space with dog food, boxes of bird seed, an over-wintering pumpkin and three squashes, piles of muddy running shoes, high-visibility tops and dog leads. The mince pie mincemeat is in the oven gently melting as we speak. 

I think I am doing well, because the top half of the house has been in mild uproar for the past three weeks with builders updating a pretty hideous old en-suite. This means M and I have decamped to the attic and are currently sharing a bathroom with L, who has been very stoic about the whole thing and not complained once about the invasion into his usually peaceful ablutions. He's got a new shelf out of it for toothbrushes and soap, and the mirror that's been in the same place since he was seven has at last been raised so he can now see what he's shaving instead of a fine view of his shoulders. Stuff from our bathroom and bedroom has spread through the remaining upstairs rooms where it's had to compete with Christmas presents being stored for the Big Day. The spare beds have disappeared beneath a mountain of clothes and the floors appear to have shrunk because of all the boxes laid out on them.

In general we feel like we're on an extended camping trip. It's been quite exciting, but I am looking forward to getting back to normal now. I am assured the work will be done by Friday, but I doubt we'll get everything straight until next weekend as there's painting to be done before we can move back in. This means we should just about be back to normal before everyone descends on us over the Christmas period, by which point the house needs to be functioning fully and back to maximum capacity as all the kids will be here as well as both sets of parents, and we're hosting mince pies for 30 of our running chums on the 22nd, not to mention fitting in a swift marathon relay (#teamCT :o)) on the 23rd.

It's all go here.

How are you all?


Thursday, 6 December 2018

From Ted

Hello Friends.

It has been a while, I know, but I have been busy with the run up to Christmas, looking after Poppy and guarding my Boy, you know how it is. However, this afternoon I had a spot of spare time so thought I'd drop you all a line.

It is not-quite four o'clock in the afternoon here and it is almost dark. 

This morning, we had a nice scamper through the fields. We got stared at by a load of Curious Cows. 

Poppy didn't like it very much and she woofed at them.

Yesterday, we went out running. The last time I went to the V.E.T (suffering the double indignity of being weighed and of my weight being shouted out right in front of all the other dogs and some cats), the V.E.T told Mum it wasn't good for me to run eight miles over the fields anymore. She intimated that I was too old! I ask you! Mum sensibly told her that whenever I don't want to do something I make it very plain (like sitting down in the road when mum suggests a road run, or giving people my Paddington Stare, or ignoring Dad when he's calling me to come in at night until he goes purple and can't shout any more because his throat hurts), so if I didn't want to run across the fields she was certain I would tell her. The V.E.T looked sceptical at this and repeated that I was too old to go running and it was bad for me, even though in the next breath she told Mum what good shape I was in for my age. Mum and I decided the best thing to do was to ignore her, so yesterday, Poppy and I went for a 7 mile run with Mum and her friend Abi who is a super-speedy runner who also loves dogs. We had great fun running over the fields, along country lanes, through deep, dark woods and chasing pheasants until they exploded into the air, and I wasn't one bit tired when we got home, so the silly V.E.T got it all wrong.

There is a builder upstairs at the moment. He is very nice, he is a Dog Person and he gives me and Pop lots of cuddles, but he has an unfortunate Christmas Music Habit, so I am forced to stare at the back door until Mum realises I can't take it any more and lets me outside.

I was also hoping to find an apple on the lawn.

With enough Determined Staring, Mum eventually got the message and opened the door for me...

No apples (the one I found last night and brought indoors to eat had a slug in it. Mum discovered it making its way very slowly across the sitting room carpet and had to put it out in the garden. She wasn't Very Pleased), but I did find a fat ball that the birds had dropped....

I ate it quickly because Poppy has a special radar for other people's food, which, coupled with her complete lack of manners means she often seizes interesting things that I have found and eats them so fast I can't say or do anything. I hope I don't get indigestion now.

Who's that I can hear?

Too late! After sniffing the crumbs she decided she wanted to be back inside by the radiator so she took herself off....

When I went back indoors and told her about the fat ball, she stuck her tongue out at me. Which is more or less all you need to know about Poppy. She is very rude.

Dad has been away in Paris working this week. I asked him not to take any yellow high vis for when he went running, just in case. As a result, I have had no one to stare at, so when he got home last night, even though it was Very Late Indeed, I got some staring in and so now I am feeling a lot better. I am planning to do some more staring later this evening when he comes home from work.

I bet you haven't got anything quite as exciting as that planned for your evening.

Best regards to all,


Monday, 3 December 2018

Running Over Dorset's Cliffs....In A Proper Storm

The CTS Lulworth race is a bit of a monster. Five distances, 10k up to 44.5 miles, run up and down and along the cliffs around Durdle Door and Lulworth on Dorset's Jurassic coast on the first Saturday of December. 

The weather was appalling when we set off from home and even worse when we arrived: pouring with rain, very high winds and zero visibility. It's no wonder one of our less experienced running friends called to stay she'd arrived early and gone home again without registering, having found it a struggle to walk upright in the wind. Anyone who knows the carpark at Durdle Door will know that when the weather's bad it's the last place you want to be. The wind hightails it over the carpark and threatens to blow you right off your feet. Cars were already getting stuck on the grassy bits when we got there. We left Chilli parked on a hill with an insubstantial-looking fence between her and the sea and uttered a fervent prayer she'd still be there when we got back!

We struggled over the hill being buffeted by the wind and spat at by the rain and scrambled down the path to Lulworth where race HQ was, wrapped up in a gazillion layers (including the new uber light-weight waterproof trousers I'd bought for M and I because they are a requirement in mandatory kit lists for mountain and other races- they worked like a dream on their first proper outing). I at least was fighting to stay upright and was glad when we got to race HQ in Lulworth near the sea, which was thrashing about furiously and roaring against the cliffs and racing menacingly up on to the beach. Various chums were running in the races; the marathon runners had already set off but the half and 10k were waiting, so we caught up with some familiar faces while we pondered how many layers we could safely lose without succumbing to hypothermia.

The pre-race briefing informed us that both the half and 10k courses had been altered for . safety reasons, one of which being that the sea was over the course in places, and another being it wasn't safe to scale the highest cliff because the winds were too high. I saw M off on the half and then spent ten minutes changing and finding a loo. Waterproof coats had been made mandatory at the last minute so I went for a short-sleeved t-shirt and waterproof and left on the two pairs of running tights. It had stopped raining but my gloves were already soaked through from the earlier walk down. Wet gloves are no fun to wear, but I had nothing else so I just tried to forget about the cold chilly sensation and hoped they'd dry off in the wind.

The first half of the 10k is more or less uphill and once we'd set off I soon warmed up, although not enough to want to take off a layer. The fog was so bad you couldn't see the sea which was immediately on my left, and people who were only a few metres ahead of me quickly disappeared in to it (the fog, not the sea).

My friend Anna was also running, and I caught up with her a few times as I stopped to take photos and she went ahead. We ran a mile or so together, chatting. Anna has the elegance of a ballerina. In her mid-sixties she looks about 50 and is graceful and strong. Her half marathon best is close to mine and if I have half her running ability at her age I shall be doing well.

Just after the 3 mile marker where our dibbers got checked in there was a water station. I wouldn't normally bother with this on a 10k, but Lulworth isn't your average 10k, and my legs were also tired from running 20 miles earlier in the week so I stopped for some cola sweets and a drink. The heavens had opened again after a brief respite of sunshine and the driving rain and howling wind suddenly struck me as comical. There we were, a bunch of mad runners out on the cliffs in the most appalling weather, hoods up and zipped tight round our faces, legs soaked and covered in mud, all standing round a fold-away table in the middle of no-where calmly eating sweets and drinking water as if it were a perfectly normal thing to do.

The energy came flooding back as I ran off in pursuit of Anna who'd got about half a mile away in the time I'd taken to refuel. As I caught her I realised I was getting a better rhythm so I called out a quick hello before running on past. The ground conditions were exciting- mud, grass, mud - and lots of people were slipping and sliding all over the place, including onto their bottoms. I had my innov8 x-claws on, fell shoes that I have complete and utter faith in, so was able to run helter-skelter down these treacherous slopes in the sure and certain knowledge that I wouldn't fall. It was exhilarating. They didn't let me down and the warning cries of fellow runners as I whizzed past them made me grin.

All too soon we were running along the final bit of the race, which had been re-routed to hug the side of a big hill instead of coming over the top and straight down it. I got back in a reasonably respectable time, given the conditions, and once I'd got my medal I grabbed my bag and changed out of wet kit and put on several dry layers. M was back ten minutes after me so thankfully not much hanging about, although he said my lips were blue by then. There was just time to pop to the Lulworth Cove shop and get some chocolates that look realistically like pebbles to put in L's stocking (I did the same thing here last Christmas) and then it really was time to go as poor M (in shorts) was shivering. 

As we walked back up the cliff to the carpark, a chap was running with his dog behind us. I called out a well done and he said he was doing the ultra but had been sick all week and that he wasn't feeling too clever so he was stopping. I asked him which distance he was doing and said the 44.5 miler. I assumed he'd only done a few miles of it and was going back to his car, but it turned out he was at marathon distance and was swapping to the smaller ultra (a mere 33 miles) and was 'just finishing off the final six miles'. Trail runners are a tough and delightfully bonkers breed.  

Thankfully, Chilli was still where we'd left her AND she managed to move out of the space without slipping or getting stuck, unlike some of the other cars around her who'd been abandoned in varying states of carnage while their owners ran over the cliffs.

Hot baths waited at home and a filling pizza with chips, definitely earnt.

The next day I was back for more running, this time 5 miles round a flat carpark (a small exaggeration, but not by much). The Victory 5 is a local race where people go to get PBs so I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to enter it because it's the exact opposite of the kind of running I love. A moment of complete madness, but I'd paid so wasn't going to not go. Racing people on flat tarmac is my absolute least favourite running surface and although I got a decent time and we caught up with some friends and Ted and Pops came along in support mode, I didn't enjoy the race and I had a horrible headache afterwards which I still haven't got rid of. Give me the wild hills and the sea, and the wild weather of Saturday any day.

Hope all are well?

CT :o)