Wednesday, 15 January 2020

A full moon was lighting up the bedroom when I awoke at 6.30 last Friday morning.  After injections to both eyes on Thursday that almost blinded me I'd gone to bed early.  Now, I could see again and was rarin' to go for a run to erase nasty memories of the previous day.
Friday's full moon...   (Click to enlarge)
I stepped out under a clear sky into a silent world.  Grass was brittle and glittering in the moonlight as I made my way through frozen fields towards Castle Hill.  
Two masts at breaking dawn
At breaking dawn the local poacher materialized from the gloom with his two whippets and asked the inevitable two questions,  "Have you seen anything of Geoff lately (a mutual friend who is quite ill)" and "how is your prostate now?"  I answered  "No" to the first question and "It's manageable" to the second before tackling the final steep slope to the summit.
The ghost runner
The sky had lightened to pale orange as I circled the rim of the hill for a couple of circuits, waiting for the sun to peep over the horizon. 

I didn't have to wait long.  Pretty soon the whole landscape was awash with the sun's fiery rays and for the first time that morning I began to feel warm.  I jogged home in search of further warmth, hot porridge and a mug of reviving coffee.
It's two months since my last radiotherapy treatment and I haven't yet found the eagerness to run.  The Oncologist told me it would take time to recover but I didn't expect it to take this long!  Perhaps my 87 years has something to do with it?
Sunrise on the cricket field
But I'm trying.  Early morning reps on a local cricket field, stopping and jogging home when the sun comes up, is a current favourite.  I don't like folk seeing how much I've slowed!
Round Grimwith
And, together with my wonderful partner I've been on dawn runs round Grimwith reservoir.
Come on, slow coach...
She sometimes has to wait for me, which rankles a bit, but she is a tiny bit younger than me.... 
...which is better than thinking the radiotherapy hasn't worked.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Winter Solstice......

Maybe there's a bit of Druid blood in me for I just had to get out today on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice.  I struggled a wee bit up Castle Hill (read walked!) but got into some sort of flow again once I reached my old running track on the flatter top. 
My running track  (Click to enlarge pictures)
 I just had to stop and take a photograph, it felt so good to be back again, running on top of my little world, even in cloud and a nithering wind.  I could hear music playing and drums beating and I felt they were playing just for me, a welcoming back from that dark world I'd been living in for the past few months. 
Approaching the tower
 A little thrill was rippling through me as I approached Victoria Tower.  The folk group, Thieving Magpie, were going through their exuberant paces on the grass in time to the music of half a dozen darkly dressed instrumentalists. 
Thieving Magpie performing
There was shouting and clacking of sticks as they went about their merry dance. It'a shame the sun didn't join in the celebration. peeping over the horizon to light up the fun and proclaim that we were hopefully going to see a lot more of it in 2020
I jogged home through muddy fields, shouting 'hello you lot' to the horses I mentioned in yesterday's post.
This animal was happy,
very happy.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

I'n not done yet.....

I went for a run today, or rather I jogged across waterlogged fields, along a lane that resembled a muddy river before saying hello to a posse of mainly skewbald horses on the steep part of Castle Hill.  
Oh, and it was raining.  
 It was my first run for 88 days and in spite of inclement weather it felt so good to don my studs in the early morning and to feel wind and rain on my face again.  After the big C and drastic treatment, it had seemed doubtful whether I'd ever run again.
Friendly horses on Castle Hill  (Click to enlarge picture)
 I'd set my mind on December 21st because at each Solstice a Folk Group, Thieving Magpie, dance on Castle Hill to greet the sun on the longest or shortest day.  But they weren't there today, I assume because Winter Solstice this year occurs on the 22nd!  
I'll probably go again tomorrow.
Besides all the rain we've had some mixed weather in the Dales.
We've had mist, making it feel quite atmospheric,
a blanket of snow 
and occasionally a beautiful sunrise,
but unfortunately I've felt too knackered to enjoy it.  
Perhaps that will change over Christmas and New Year when Old Runningfox will attempt to acquaint himself with local trails again.

Sunday, 20 October 2019


Running is currently out of the question, which is hard to take.  It's what I enjoy most, the only thing I'm any good at.  It gives me a time from the world, from Brexit, a time to float along, a free spirit, to forget my age, escape reality, to run for sheer enjoyment with no thought of time nor distance or training schedules. 
 To 'just do it'.
Reduced to walking - temporarily, I hope    (click to enlarge)
An inspirational  C. S. Lewis quote says "You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream" and I wondered just how old he was when he said it?   Well, he died when he was 64 so I don't know whether he'd still say that if he'd lived to 87?
Which just happens to be my age.
I still have dreams, especially after a glass or two of wine,  but at my time of life it's increasingly unlikely they'll  become reality.   Nevertheless, I remain optimistic, always believing that fate, or God, still has something good in store for me, but what it can possibly be will remain a mystery until it happens.  
I like surprises....

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Back to magnificent Menorca......

We've just had another glorious holiday in one of our favourite corners of the planet, the beautiful island of Menorca, but we almost didn't make it. The week before we were due to fly I'd gone into hospital for a biopsy and the bl--dy doctors wouldn't let me out.  They wanted to cut a hole in my side and stick a cathether through, presumably with a tap on it, to enable me to pass water from my bunged up kidney.  I refused to let them.  A 'bag' was mentioned too.  They could get lost!  I'd look well running or swimming with such impedimenta trailing beside me.    After four sleepless nights, due to constant noise and glaring lights, I was knackered.
"If you don't let me out tomorrow, I'll discharge myself" I told them.
Reluctantly, they allowed me home next morning, four days before our holiday was due to begin.
Our hotel with its feet in the sea    (Click to enlarge pictures)
Check-ins and flights both in and out were OK but we'd the usual long wait for our baggage at Manchester on return.
Sunrise run to the Tower
As on previous occasions we stayed at 'The Xuroy', a wonderfully situated hotel that sits with its feet in the water and gives access to the Cami de Cavalls (the way of horses), a well marked trail that goes all round the island.
The festival begins
After a pre-breakfast run to the Tower and back on our second day we took the bus to Sant Louis to watch the festival of horses.
Clever lady
Tons of sand are spread on the street where the action takes place to make it safer for the rearing horses.
A dangerous game
In the limited space in front of the band-stand, where all the dignitaries sit, crowds of people gather, some of them to tap the wheeling steeds as they rear into the air.
I gave that a miss...
It's a dangerous game and we heard one or two ambulances tearing through the streets.  I wasn't trying to 'prove' myself but still got a knock from one of the horses, but nothing serious.
One of the many cooling swims
We returned to our hotel for lunch before going down to the pool for a gentle swim to cool off from the scorching 86º heat.
Feral cats
We ran to Rafalet Vell in search of wild tortoises but saw nary a one.  What we did see was the group of feral cats which were a little tamer this year than last time we came across them.
Two of the 7 or 8 feral cats
Some kind person feeds them every day and they all look in tip top condition.
Swimming at sunrise, Cala Rafalet
On another day we embarked on a five mile run incorporating a wild swim at Cala Rafalet.
Sunlight on the rocks, Cala Rafalet
It's a rocky inlet of deep water between high cliffs and we got there just as the sun was rising at the entrance between the rocks.  Magic.
We ran back to our hotel via S'Algar where sunbathers were just beginning to emerge.  Our breakfast wasn't untill 8.30
Enjoying a coffee at the bakery.
After breakfast we got into the habit of visiting the bakery at S'Algar, mainly for bread, but also to enjoy a cappuccino before walking the mile back to our hotel.
A sunrise view as we ran North to Son Vidal
All our runs were pre-breakfast so we were treated to some dramatic skies as we ran West or North along the Cami de Cavalls.
No place for road runners..
Wherever we ran, it was rough going and we'd to be extremely careful not to trip up..
...but OK for hardened fell runners
Remarkably, with my failing eyesight, I never had a fall.
Inside the 'Oliver House'
 My wonderful partner visited Mahon alone one day, mainly to look around the 'Oliver House' which was open to the public.
View over the rooftops in Mahon
The Inter Island ferry was in the harbour
So was a three masted sailing ship.
A 'long thing' to sit on -  at Es Grau
We'd a walk round the nature reserve at Es Grau one day but all the natural phenomena seemed to be hiding, or sheltering from the heat.
No tortoise or raptors, but some big fish in the lake and a heron on the lookout for smaller ones.
RIP Happy Hour
 We were rather upset to find that 'Happy Hour' on the terrace, which always began at the beginning of September has been moved to October!  Who the hell goes in October?
Still happy - in spite of no Happy Hour
But we still went down at the appointed hour to enjoy the view and the ambience.
Waiting for a last meal before flying home
Traditionally, on our last day we'd a relaxed lunch at the fine Piccolo Mundo restaurant to round off our holiday.  Hours later we were flying home
It was another wonderful holiday.  Doctors can cut and zap me as much as they want now - so long as they get me running again.
But it could be a while.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

A slight trauma.....

"The CT scan showed nothing abnormal to your brain so you can go home now"  Those were the words of an unsmiling, unsympathetic, heartless woman who masqueraded as a doctor at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to where I'd been rushed in a blaring ambulance, unable to walk without support and unable to sign a consent form with my left hand.
"How will I get home?" I asked.
"Can't someone pick you up?"
"Not really,".  My partner was at  a meeting 30 miles away and her phone was switched off"
"Haven't you enough money for a taxi?" was her next question.
"Well, yes, but I was rather expecting you'd provide transport and a little help".
"Well, we can but not for about four hours" she said, abruptly turning on her heel and leaving me stranded in a wheelchair. 
 I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  Warmth, sympathy and understanding, parts of the Hippocratic Oath, seemingly meant nothing to her.
I fumbled my way along the wall out of the ward, dragged my leg up stairs and across the bridge to the main entrance and phoned a taxi that kindly took me as near to my door as he could get.
I spent a weekend licking my wounds, lovingly cared for by my wonderful partner.
"Perhaps you should try a little walk down to the river" she said on Sunday.
I tried but could only manage a few hundred yards on wobbly legs.
. . . . . .
Back home in Almondbury I forced myself into "I can and I bloody well will" mode.
On a sunny Monday lunchtime I managed a mile walk with a stop off at a favourite fish and chip shop for sustenance.
I did it    (Click to enlarge pictures)
Tuesday found me heading up Castle Hill, determined to make it to the top a mile and 300ft of ascent ahead.  I did, after one or two little rest stops. 
A gentleman flying a drone was persuaded to photograph me in front of the tower.  He was impressed when I explained I couldn't even walk 100 yds 4 days ago.  I wanted the picture to prove I'd actually made it.
Trying a few reps...
On Wednesday I was on a local cricket field attempting short repetitions, but at speed my left leg seemed reluctant to go the same way as me!  After three or four attempts I opted for a steady circuit and called it a day.
Come Saturday evening my wonderful partner enquired  "You wont be getting up for a run round Grimwith in the morning,will you?"   "We'll see" I replied.
Running round Grimwith reservoir, albeit slowly, 4 days after my TIA
Much to her surprise, at 6.30 I was out of bed and rarin' to go!
After running the 4½ mile circuit I was back at the car ahead of her, leaned over the door laughing somewhat hysterically.
Old Runningfox was back in action.
Made it, all the way round
OK, I was 13 minutes slower than usual, and maybe didn't look very stylish, but nine days earlier I was feeling distraught and wondering whether I'd ever run again.
I wont be running as often in future.  I'd even considered changing the name of my blog to 'The online diary of a Geriatric Jogger' but 'jogger' is a dirty word among runners!
Besides, I think I still look like a runner (?).
Keeping going
Some days later, I tootled off on another hilly run accompanied by my wonderful partner.
Passing the mast on High Lane 
  Embarrassed by my slowness I'd chosen a route where hopefully no-one would see us but was surprised to pass quite a few weekend walkers.
Through the gate on Tinker's Lane
There were dark clouds, very little sunshine but intense humidity.  We'd started out over-dressed and had to shed layers half way round.
Delightful running on Tinker's Lane
It had forecast thunderstorms so we were anxious to get home before they struck.  But there were still things that stopped us in our tracks.
Flowering heather
Like a patch of early flowering heather ahead of the 'Glorious Twelfth' that just had to be photographed and smelt.
Hey, wait for me...
It came darker for a time, calling for us to put fastest foot forward and get on our way.
Running under a cloud
At this stage I was struggling to keep up as my wonderful partner tore off ahead, but was content to trundle along at my own speed, just happy to be out running again after the recent trauma.
At the gate by High Garnshaw
Reaching the gate by High Garnshaw farm the air was filled with the bleating of penned sheep, possibly waiting to be stripped of their woolly coats.
Meadowsweet in the ghyll
We pressed on, down the ghyll, past nodding harebells and fragrant meadowsweet to arrive home dry so far as rain was concerned but otherwise soaked in sweaty gear that went straight into the washer to freshen up..
Ready for next week....