Sunday 21 December 2014

Wild weather - and wild women.....

Not fit to turn a dog out....(Click to enlarge)
      It's been a wild week weatherwise but the old Runningfox appears to have survived it well to clock up 18 stormy miles! Temperatures have hovered around freezing, a nithering nor'westerly never dropped below 20mph and numbing showers of horizontal rain puckered my face to render me almost speechless. Taking the wind chill factor into consideration at 900ft I reckon I was stop/starting along in 20ºF. It was impossible to run in a straight line. The wind, from the left, was blowing my raised foot against the opposite leg, and sometimes behind it, like some playful puppy trying to trip me up. At my time of life I suppose I can count myself lucky I still regard this as fun, though my wonderful partner has other words for it!      

Strange goings on at breaking dawn.....
      On Sunday the wind had bated a little, but still a wee bit blowy as I plodded up the lamplit road to my beloved high point. Several cars had passed me and turned up the narrow road to Castle Hill car park, which I thought rather odd for a Sunday morning, and well before sunrise. Then I heard odd bursts of music blown on the wind and recall thinking "I wish they'd turn their bleedin' car radios down".  But as I reached the summit, there in the lee of the Tower was a motley gathering of musicians and dancers cavorting around celebrating the winter solstice. And the beginning of longer days.

      My run got somewhat interrupted. Close at hand the music was most acceptable and their dancing
I avoided mixing with this lot....
very entertaining. I ran around the hill a few times waiting for it to come light enough to take photographs. In Facebook the group describe themselves as : 'a mixed border morris side who like dancing, waving big sticks about and yelling. We sing as well. We were formed in 2006 and ages range from 9 to 69'. They call themselves 'Thieving Magpie'. In their strange black tasselled garb, hats with fairy lights, painted faces and armed with stout sticks they made a fascinating addition to that sombre landscape at breaking dawn. They can come again!

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Yay, I'm back.....

Back in my elements......(Click to enlarge)
      OK, it was more than a wee cough. It's taken 16 days, a week of antibiotics and a week confined to barracks to shake the nasty bronchitis bug out of my system. At last, it appears to have gone and today, for the first time this month, I sneaked out before dawn to test the water. My alarm sounded at 7.10am and I awoke to half a gale battering the window. Regardless, I sensed a peculiar thrill at the prospect of running again, feeling the wind on my body and getting back into that wonderful rhythm. After a quick cup of coffee I stepped out into the darkness, clicked my Garmin and set off to face the elements. And the traffic.  I reckon most people in the neighbourhood set off to work between 7.30 and 7.45 for there was a constant stream of cars tail-gating along the mile of road to the Castle Hill turn-off, and in both directions. This minor road along Ashes Lane is narrow and so is the footpath. Some of the wider vehicles were almost brushing my sleeve, so I was much relieved to eventually turn away from the noise and blinding lights for the final steep climb into a traffic-free zone.
      I was back in my elements, breathing easily and relaxing into a steady rhythm I felt I could keep up for the rest of the
......and more atmospherics from my Study window
morning. A faint smudge of pink in the south east horizon was where the sun was rising behind a thick blanket of dark cloud. A stiff westerly gale was flapping my wind smock. If there was any birdsong it was drowned in the constant roar. Crows, or maybe they were rooks, were enjoying a game of flying into the wind, then being flung back like tousled bits of black rag. I wish I could do that!  Rabbits were conspicuous by their absence. Either they don't like wild weather or our local poacher had already worked the hill with his two whippets. I doubt the latter for I saw no-one. I'd the world to myself and boy, did it feel good after that enforced lay-off. After three circuits I descended, reluctantly, and headed for home feeling smug and invigorated. Old Runningfox is back in business......

Thursday 4 December 2014

A wee cough...and a week off

       "It jolly well serves you right" I imagine people are saying, "for going out running in that thick, nasty fog, not to mention all the toxic exhaust fumes from the endless procession of early morning commuters - and at your age".  Well, maybe, but very likely it was a bug I picked up while commuting on various buses and trains or, most likely, while sat among all the poorly people in my local surgery waiting for a flu jab ten days ago. Whichever, it's a vicious little bug that's given me a throat full of razor blades, a raucous uncontrollable cough and reduced my energy levels to almost zero. "Go and see your doctor" my wonderful partner shouted over the phone. "I'm not going out of this house, I'm staying where it's warm" I croaked back, "it will pass in its own good time. What's a few days out of a lifetime?"
      Given how almost every word was puntuated by a fit of coughing she got herself all worked up and issued an ultimatum. "Phone your doctor NOW for a home visit. I'll ring again in an hour and if you haven't phoned the doctor by then I'm coming over to sort things out".  Oh, for goodness sake, I don't want her anywhere near me in the state I'm in for fear of her catching it too, especially with Christmas just around the corner. In truth, when I'm ill I don't want anybody near me. But I was forced to submit and reluctantly rang my local surgery. The patient receptionist had difficulty determining who I was or what I was talking about amidst all the coughing but must have got the details right. The doctor arrived not long after I'd put the phone down.
       "Looks like you've picked up a nasty bronchitis bug somewhere along your travels" he affirmed after sounding my
chest back and front, "and you wont thank me for saying this, but I'd advise you not to even think about running until it's completely cleared up. Apart from anything else it wouldn't do your heart any good" he added. Huh, as if.......! He scribbled a prescription for a seven day course of antibiotics and tootled off - leaving me with a bit of a dilemma. The nearest chemist is ½ mile away and there was no-one around to pick up my prescription - except me. So I'd to muffle up, sneak out and cough my way across the fields, hoping my wonderful partner wouldn't phone while I was out and get even more upset if there was no answer. Women worry too much!
      In the meantime Christmas shopping has been suspended (though I've been surfing the 'net for ideas) so had plenty of time to print cards and address scores of envelopes. I'm certainly not looking forward to visiting the Post Office for sheets of expensive stamps and even wondered if I could get away with staying ill until the festive season is over. To kill more time I've been reduced to watching snooker on telly and came to the conclusion it's even more complicated than chess, though the Graeme Dotts, Ronnie O'Sullivans and Neil Robertsons of this world make it look so simple. I've decided to stick to running, although snooker, chess and suchlike games might be OK at times I can't move very far. Like when I'm ill.....

      No pretty pictures this week, just a few of the many quotes I read and roll around in my head at such times as this to stay positive...