Sunday 28 June 2015

Another island holiday.......

A little corner of heaven, showing the beach by our campsite   (Click pictures to enlarge)
One of my great passions in life is visiting different islands. So far I've been to Mauritius, Seychelles, Crete, La Palma, Tenerife, Fuertaventura, Gran Canaria, Menorca, Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Orkneys, Jersey and Guernsey, Lindisfarne and possibly a few more I've already forgotten in my dotage. Over the past couple of weeks, along with my wonderful partner, I've been re-discovering another island dear to my heart, St Martin's in the beautiful Isles of Scilly. It's thirteen years since we last camped there on a site owned at that time by Christine and Christopher Savill, but which passed into the very capable hands of Ben and Caroline Gillet in 2008.
Our cosy corner
I'm not sure what Caroline thought of us when we opted to tote our camping gear from the jetty at Lowertown rather than have it transferred to the site on her waiting trailer.  But we'd only a rucksack each of backpacking gear which, in the past, we'd toted coast to coast across Scotland on many occasions so ¼ mile walk was child's play to us. Besides, we were anxious to pick a prime position on the site before others arrived, and that's exactly what we did. Loos, showers and washroom, laundrette, carousel for drying clothes, washing up facilities, recycling area - not to mention free wifi - were all within an easy stone's throw of our tent but all hidden from our cosy corner.
At the Face Menir (locally called Billy Idol) with Daymark in the distance.
Being a small island (it's possible to run all the way round in less than 60 minutes) I'd foolishly thought after our pre-breakfast runs I'd be able to relax for the remainder of our days. Wrong, wrong, wrong. There was a ton of shopping to do, a gallery to visit, Adam's fish and chip restaurant, Little Arthur for coffee, a bakery for fresh bread and goodies, walks to White Island (at low tide), a couple of standing stones to be photographed, birds to watch and exotic flowers to put names to - and all a fair distance away. My Garmin registered 44.7 miles of running but that distance was exceeded by far with the amount of walking we did. Needless to say, on returning home we'd both lost weight.
This 6 mile route took a pathetic 79 minutes to run....
In 2002, aged 70, I could easily run the 4 miles to the Daymark and back in 28 minutes. This year, running to the Daymark every day, I failed to break 40 minutes.  Hugging the coast paths with a character called 'John' those thirteen years ago I ran an estimated 7 miles in 54 minutes. This year I really showed my age taking 79 minutes for a measly 6 miles.    Anno Domini is not being very kind to Old Runningfox, I wish he'd go away and leave me alone for a little while, or preferably for the next 17 years until I've got my telegram, or whatever, from whoever happens to be sat on the throne writing them.
Ben starting his run....
Our amiable and much younger hosts, Ben and Caroline, are triathletes and took part in a race on the neighbouring island of Tresco while we were there. On a beautiful summer day we went over to support them and shout a bit of encouragement as they toiled through their disciplines. Must admit though, we failed to identify them coming out of the water in full body cover and only managed to spot them in the final transition from biking to running when their numbers were easier to see.
....and Caroline finishing hers
After watching both of them begin their 5K runs we darted round to the Finish (by a shorter route) to photograph them finishing.  76 athletes completed the course, the winner, Jack Plummer, setting a new course record of 1.07.14. Ben finished a creditable 25th in 1.26 with Caroline 37th in 1.29.  I couldn't help wondering how our local Brownlee brothers would have performed?
The pair of us approaching the Daymark on a pre-breakfast run....

...and oh, what bliss, recovering in the sun on Par beach in the afternoon
Great Bay and Little Bay from Top Rocks
After being mainly lucky with the weather it decided to rain for our last day on St Martin's. There was a thick sea fret and the foghorn was sounding 4 times every minute as we set off on a final run to the Daymark at 7am. For the only time during our stay, we wore rain jackets over our shorts and vests. Shrouded in mist it was a while before the distant Daymark came into view. We hurried towards it, did a quick circuit in the blustery conditions and headed straight back to camp. Mission accomplished and a fitting end to a brilliant holiday on this truly beautiful island.
Shouldering our packs ready to depart...
Our thanks to Ben and Caroline for their wonderful hospitality, efficiency and expertise at running what we consider the best official campsite in all of Britain.

Monday 8 June 2015

El bloguero britanico....

 Running into the headlines.... (Click pictures to enlarge)
   It's been a shock for my old bones, the temperature dropping around 20ºF since that 2½ hour flight from Menorca to Manchester, but summer is hopefully just around the corner. Despite some sneaky nithering winds it's felt good to be back running in familiar haunts, locally along bluebell paths, through vanilla scented gorse, by trees ladened with apple blossom.  Or, on mornings when running didn't feature on the agenda, to hear curlews lilting over the fields, pheasants crowing down the lane and doves cooing in the laburnum, all from the comfort of a warm bed .
Back on a familiar path up Castle Hill with gorse in bloom....
 My errant Achilles tendon has been slow to heal but is behaving itself a little better now. It stiffens and aches if I rest for any length of time (like 10 minutes) but quickly loosens again when I run. To my shame I only ran 59 miles throughout the whole of May, but that was 15 miles more than in April after I'd been ordered to rest. Since then I've been gradually ramping up the miles to get back to my pre injury average of 21 per week.
...and back to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales
 Last week I stuck in an extra run that took me to 26 - which probably accounts for me feeling like death warmed up today and toying with the idea of an afternoon nap rather than typing this! After three early morning runs amounting to 15 miles, Saturday's 5 miler was a real battle against a goodness knows how many miles an hour wind that buffetted us all over the place en route to Grassington Bridge. But oh what a joy it was to have it behind us on the way back. I felt I was flying.
Collapso.....on Sunday's orchid run
 Sunday's 6 mile run, in search of orchids, seemed to have far more of the uphill stuff than it did last time we ran it. My bloated nether regions weren't too happy about it either, which made for some uncomfortable interludes. But the sun shone, birds sang and the sought after purple orchids burst upon us in all their glory, as did bird's eye primroses and tiny yellow tormentil.
Bird's eye primroses...
Oh, I almost forgot (liar!), shortly after arriving home from Menorca an interesting email plopped into my inbox from a gentleman called Carlos Quetglas who'd read my blog report and passed it on to the editor of his local newspaper in Menorca. Result was, I hit the headlines whilst my wonderful partner and I both featured in a full page article inside illustrated with five photographs. It was all written in Spanish, of course, but Carlos kindly sent us a rough translation for our amusement. I'm not sure my octogenarian antics will do anything to boost the local tourist industry!