Monday 25 July 2016

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer......

      Weatherwise, last week was made for running.  Warm, sunny mornings with clear views, gentle breezes, birdsong and bright flowers all contributed to that 'good to be alive' feeling as I cruised along, happy and carefree, my feet barely touching the ground.
First light with mist in the valleys   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Tuesday was best. As I stepped from the door at 5.20am the sun was just clearing the horizon, lighting the mist that hung in the valleys.
My feet hardly touched the ground.....
Mist dispersed quickly as I climbed higher, views became clearer until, at 900ft, the world was ablaze with light. Rabbits were hopping in the air, chasing their shadows, and each other, and a stalking cat crouched lower in the grass as I ran by.
Cat - or young fox - skulking on the banking
It was a morning to die for. I lost count of the number of circuits I ran round the perimeter path, feasting my eyes on the colourful panoramas stretching for countless miles in all directions.
View west when the mist cleared
 I didn't want to go down but as I did I passed a young girl running up, a broad smile on her face, clearly enjoying the pageant as much as me.
Dwarf mallow growing by the tower
After breakfast I walked the same route again, slowly this time, savouring every minute, wallowing in that glorious feeling of sunshine kissing bare parts of my flesh. After all, I thought, there may not be another day like it this summer.
Strange cloud formation in the evening
In the evening I lounged in the garden sipping a fruity Merlot as clouds gathered in a strange formation around the setting sun. It was still gloriously warm, I wore nothing but a pair of light running shorts, my skin appearing to go a darker shade of brown as the light faded.  The animal was happy......very happy.
Setting out on Sunday's run

      Saturday brought a repeat of the seven mile run we'd done the previous Saturday - for no other reason than I wanted to experience the feeling of speed down that grassy 2 mile path from Bare House to Grassington. Then a gentle lope through a flower bedecked meadow back home.
The run down to Grassington
      A swallow joined our congregation on Sunday morning. I'd heard it twittering as it flew into the porch. Then it came inside and circled round a few times before settling on a high beam. I'd rather hoped it would perch beside us at the communion rail, symbolising the descent of the Holy Spirit to bless us, but it was having none of that......
Jogging home through the flower meadow
      Four miles was quite enough for me in the afternoon. Such was the humidity I could hardly run. I was dripping with sweat when I got home, looking for all the world like I'd swum across the river, so a cool shower was most refreshing. Not to mention a cold beer!
Meadow cranesbill
      A scrumptious game casserole in the evening and a wee dram of a favourite malt whisky nicely put the seal on the sunniest week we've had all summer. Let's hope it's not the last.
      The beer is in the fridge......

Monday 18 July 2016

Who knows where the time goes......

      Some time in mid 1991 a letter arrived out of the blue from a lady member of Polaris Mountaineering Club asking if I'd like to accompany her to the Lake District to help plan a route around the Scafell area where she was due to lead a walk for members of her club some weeks later.
Making hay while the sun shines
 I'd met the lady on a few previous occasions and, to be honest, was quite terrified of her, but the chance of a free lift to the Lakes and a couple of good days in the mountains was too good to miss. So I complied, albeit reluctantly!
A braw day with fluffy clouds and reflections on Grassington Moor
 "I'll pick you up from Keighley bus station" she said, "we'll be camping in Eskdale, I'll bring all the food, gas and cooking gear, there's more room in the car for them than in than your rucksack, just bring a sleeping bag".  I still remember the look on her face while unpacking the car at the campsite and discovering I'd not brought a tent! But she couldn't blame me, I'd done as I was told...
On our weekend Anniversary run....
That was 25 years ago as of last Sunday, July 17th. That frightening lady morphed into my wonderful partner and we've been camping, walking, climbing and running together ever since that fateful meeting.
Celebrating 25 Happy Years

We'd a celebratory meal in the Clarendon on Sunday evening to celebrate our 25 years of unmarried bliss.....
Me on that Anniversary run
It wasn't intentional, but very fitting, that I ran a total of 25 miles last week and, at times, felt like I was flying. I haven't run so fast in months.
Oystercatchers sharing our anniversary as we ran past on Mossy Mere
Nor has my wonderful partner and I had to feel proud of her as she sped downhill to Grassington with her hair blowing in the wind.
Speeding down to Grassington
Someone said " I don't know how you do it at your age". Well, it's quite simple really. All you have to do is get up off your backside, pull on a pair of trainers, step out the door and start putting one foot in front of the other.
Sticking one 84 year old foot in front of the other on Sundays run
  I was 54 before my mind finally accepted my body was capable of such things, that running is the most natural form of exercise. I only wish someone had convinced me of that 35 years earlier.
The title of this post - Who knows where the time goes - is from one of my all time favourite songs, sung here by Judy Collins.

Monday 11 July 2016

Jonny, Paul, Beverley, Patrick and me.......

      Paul in Philippians 4:11 claims he has 'learned to be content whatever the circumstances'.  I'm trying to emulate him but rapidly reaching the conclusion there are different levels of contentment and at the moment I'm a fair way from the top.
Concentrating on running in Howgill Nick, no room for other thoughts  (Click pictures to enlarge)
 My Rt eye still hasn't stabilised seven months after the initial cataract operation. Driving is still out of the question, curtailing travels and activities.  Trying to read with out of focus lenses is uncomfortable and frustrating - and after seven months my old brain frequently forgets to apply the prescribed drops four times a day. But hey ho, life is for living....
Scar Top - Patrick Stewart's house - currently for sale at £535,000
 Thankfully, I can still laugh at erstwhile trials and tribulations - like last Tuesday, for instance, when I turned up for a planned appointment at the hospital for a fluorescein angiography (dye test) to be told such tests were only done on Thursdays.
...and all that remains of Gill House under the trees
 By Thursday they'd lost the relevant documentation so I'd a long wait until some other doctor was cajoled into writing fresh notes - by which time the effect of the eye drops had worn off and my pupils weren't dilated enough for the test. So there was further delay while more drops were dribbled in to do their stuff. Luckily, I have the patience of Job - and a reasonable sense of humour!
The soggy landscape near Scar Top where Patrick did speed walks and I try to run
 I can still run, which keeps me reasonably sane!  To have the world to myself in the clear, early morning air, to run and empty my mind of all its troubles and clutter, is an excellent way to 'be content whatever the circumstances'. Maybe Paul was a runner, though I can't quite imagine him sprinting along the Damascus road in a pair of shorts - unless he'd just broken out of that prison......
Running in the clear air of Grassington Moor
Until last week I had three serviceable running watches, two Garmins and a very old bog standard one acquired as a freeby with a subscription to 'Runner's World'. By a remarkable co-incidence, in the space of seven days, the straps broke on all three of them! The main one, a Forerunner 110, was immediately sent back to Garmin for a replacement - setting me back £49.20.
I know a bank whereon wild thyme grows....
After sending it I wondered if it was worth the money, whether to stop recording all my runs for, after all, I'm not training or racing any more.  I run simply for fitness and pleasure. But how else would I be able to say I ran 43 miles over the last two weeks, with 4,710ft of ascent?  Or that I've run 38,580 miles in total since the beginning of my running career?  Does it really matter any more?
It's not all easy - among those heathery humps
On a weekend betwixt those 43 miles we were invited to a garden party, but weather dictated it took place in a barn. It was to celebrate six years of happy marriage between Jonny Jowett (poet, pianist, singer, fish farmer) and his charming wife, Beverley, former member of the British Mountaineering Council, a keen, competent climber and runner.
...or even in steeper parts of the ghyll
It was a gradely do, attended mainly by members of the climbing fraternity and entertained by Jonny playing and singing songs from his album, Naked, songs which have travelled Europe on my mp3 player. A folk singer whose name I didn't catch (or can't remember through the haze of Becks and Stella) sang a fine selection of her own songs with guitar accompaniment before two entertaining sessions on a didgeridoo.
Jonny and Beverley Jowett on a walk to Mossdale Scar
It's time for bed - to be up early for another appointment at the eye clinic and possible laugh a minute - though things may get a little serious when the Consultant, Mr Estephan, pokes that great syringeful of steroid into my eye.
I may or may not see you next week....