Monday 24 October 2016

The Last Supper......

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven".  The sacrament of Holy Communion took place for the very last time in Hebden Methodist Chapel on Sunday, October 23rd. From that date it will no longer be a place of worship.  The pews where we've sung and prayed and come before God will likely be ripped out, the lovely old organ pass to a private collection, the building deconsecrated and sold. 
Next notice may read 'For Sale'  (Click to enlarge pictures)
Our Minister, Rev Janet Clasper, did well to hide her emotions as she preached on the above text from Ecclesiastes 3 v.1. And my mouth was drying as I read Paul's 'love letter' to the Corinthians ( Ch 13) to our final congregation. But hymns were sung lustily and our final gathering round the Communion table had a more powerful meaning being reminiscent of another Last Supper that took place in Jerusalem a long time ago. Our Chapel doors may be closed but our hearts are still well and truly open to God and all His wonders. 
Things bright and beautiful - a new carpet
Members of the congregation chose their favourite hymn for our final service and one came to mind as we ran on that crisp autumn morning of blue sky with its riot of colour and leaves tumbling from the trees to carpet our path with russet and gold.  All things were indeed bright and beautiful. (On her 'Order of Service' Janet had abbreviated it to 'All things B&B' which made me smile).
A bit chilly in the lane on Saturday's run
It was a weekend when we saw our first frost too.  I'd been running across warm, sunlit fields between Linton and Thorpe and came to a narrow lane little more than a metre wide. Under its shaded limestone walls the grass was frosted and such was the difference in temperature my shades immediately steamed up.
Sundays run along the riverbank
The wonderful tints continue, making running a real joy, and I can never make up my mind whether Autumn or Spring is my favourite time of year. Colour-wise it's got to be Autumn but Spring has the added bonus of birdsong, the thrill of hearing the first curlew or sighting the first ring ouzel. Maybe, come whichever season,  they're all favourites!
Sometimes it's easier to nip over walls....
Even without abundance of bird life winter landscapes have something new to offer on almost every run, sometimes challenging and exciting if snow has blanketed the hills, sometimes muddy and 'orrible!
...than squeeze through them
We're told, by a lady who runs early in the morning, that an otter has taken up residence on a stretch of river near Hebden Suspension Bridge and a gentleman in the village has actually photographed it.
Des Res for an otter
It couldn't have chosen a more beautiful place to set up home, where kingfishers dart by and bats skim low across the water for their evening meals. Trout fishermen may not welcome it if it spoils their fun.
We're hoping it finds a mate. 

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Running up that hill...

 A cow was bawling incessantly when I ran up to the Castle this morning while it was still dark.  As I gingerly eased by it seemed more interested in something happening under the hedge. Straining my eyes I noticed a calf laid on the ground with someone knelt by the side of it, apparently trying to revive it. "Will it be alright?" I asked. "Yeah, it's fine" the girl replied.
Angry dawn     (Click pictures to enlarge)
      After a few laps round the hill I returned in breaking light. The cow was still bawling. There was no sign of the calf or the girl.  I doubted whether it had survived. When I stopped to take a picture of an angry breaking dawn the distressed mother came chasing after me. I'm not sure what was going through her mind, whether anger or a cry for help, but felt sorry there was nothing I could do - except run.  Fast!
Calving time and the population has already doubled
      And talking of running fast, I reckon the effects of that Triamcinolone injection is still kicking in. I mentioned it to the Consultant who told me Sir Bradley Wiggins had been given an intramuscular injection of 40mgs. That would slow the onset of fatigue for the duration of the Tour de France.  I only had 4mgs but am still running easily after two weeks and actually managed an 8 minute/mile a few days ago.
Not bad in my dotage.
Warming up for that 8 minute/mile
      Autumn tints are coming to their brightest and best, especially under blue skies with sunlight upon them, or when reflected in the calm waters of the River Wharfe at Hebden.  A real feast for the eyes before the onset of winter winds and Jack Frost.
Autumn tints reflected in the River Wharfe
      Trees were ladened with berries on our route round Grimwith reservoir.  A few greylags bugled across the water. Mallard were feeding in the shallows.
Bracken turning russet back o' Grimwith
      A lone yachtsman was pursued by a man with an outboard and told to clear off out of it as sailing was not permitted that day. Water was exceedingly low for the time of year.
Striding out round Grimwith
      A South Devon bull (?) sporting a ton of beef and ring in his nose ambled along the road with two pregnant wives in tow. He glared at us as we passed. We could read his mind.
"Hey, I'm king around here, nobody messes with me".
A lot of steaks...
      Halloween is not my favourite event of the year (and 'trick or treat' should have stayed the other side of the pond) but Hebden's Old School Tearoom was suitably decked out with pumpkins and lanterns in a colourful display when I passed the other day.
Turning leaves by The Old School Tearoom
      Besides passing car trade the tearoom is a haven for weekend cyclists who stop by for refreshments before the long trek home. A cosy bed and scrumptious breakfast is available for those who decide it's too good a place to leave.  Friendly and highly recommended.
Halloween display outside the tearoom.
      With changing winds and temperatures it's getting difficult to decide which running gear to wear at this time of year.  I like to wear shorts for as long as possible, my legs can bear the cold quite well, but for early morning runs I've recently reverted to long, or tight, shorts.  As winter progresses, a jacket, tights, woolly hat, gloves and maybe Yaktrax will have to be dragged out of hibernation.
Autumn tints by Hebden Suspension Bridge
      Or maybe it would be more sensible to leave all those things where they are and go into hibernation myself!

Postscript: A day later. The same cow came trundling towards me as I crossed the field again this morning. But she wasn't interested in me, she was heading to where a calf was quietly bawling under the hedge. So I guess the girl had taken the calf away yesterday to maybe revive it under a heat lamp, then brought it back.
A happy ending.

Thursday 6 October 2016

An Autumn run....

   With Triamcinolone crystals swilling around inside my eye after Monday's injection, a couple resembling shirt buttons, I reckoned it might be some time before I dare risk going for another run.  But by Wednesday the crystals had reduced to tiny black fragments.  I went to bed early, setting my alarm for 6.30am.
   Thursday dawned clear but with a nithering north easterly. I put a set of stinging drops into my eye before coffee and more after I'd drunk up. My Garmin typically took its time locating satellites while I stood shivering under the security light with my wrist in the air muttering "Come on, come on", hoping I wasn't waking the neighbours.
   After three days rest I was feeling good. The mile and 300ft of ascent onto Castle Hill took little more than 10 minutes in the crisp morning air.  I'd time for two ½ mile circuits before the sun peeped over the horizon.
Awake, for morning in the bowl of night
has flung the stone that put the stars to flight
and lo, the hunter in the east has caught
the Sultan's turret in a noose of light
Unfortunately I'd forgotten to bring shades with me, having set off in near darkness, so was soon running for home, eyes to the ground and as fast as my legs would carry me. A stone got in my shoe so I stopped to remove it.  My fingers were so stiff with cold it took ages to tie my lace. Autumn is well and truly upon us.
   I'm not sure my Consultant would approve of all this but hey, life is for living....and I aim to make the most of what's left of it.

Postscript:   Since posting the above I've heard Sir Bradley Wiggins was granted Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for his use of the corticosteroid Triamcinolone.  Is that why I felt so good running up Castle Hill in such a good time this morning?

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Farewell September, hello October......

      Last week, as I was plodding about above the roof tops, my wonderful partner was running the streets of Barcelona, watching the sun rise and flicker through the masts of vessels moored in the harbour. 
Enjoying a sunrise run at 900ft......(Click to enlarge pictures)
      We thought of each other, texted each other, and exchanged emails with photographs taken during our morning activities, usually before 8am.  Ah, the power of love.
But whatever did we do without smartphones?
.....while my lucky partner kept to sea level in Barcelona
      On Friday I was privileged to attend the wedding of Hebden stalwarts, Robert Stockdale and Joanne Howes, in what will undoubtedly be the last marriage ceremony ever to take place in our beautiful old Methodist Chapel.
Robert and Joanne Stockdale - a match made in Hebden..
      Sadly, due to its dwindling congregation, it will no longer be a place of worship after October 23rd.  So far as Methodist services go, from thenceforth we must attend a Chapel two miles away in Grassington, or revert to being heathens!
Hebden Chapel on Burnsall Feast Sports day
      On Saturday morning I was reunited with my wonderful partner for an enjoyable 7 mile run up the Ghyll, through Yarnbury to Bare House, down into Grassington and back through fields to Hebden. 
Passing some of Stockdale's black beasties by Bare House
      After recent heavy rain underfoot conditions have become a bit 'clarty' so we may have to revise some of our routes in order to maintain pace and momentum.
Running to Bare House
      From noon until 6pm a Food and Drink Festival took place outside the Clarendon, courtesy of our genial chef/landlord, Lionel Strub and partner Kirsty Richardson. 
Mine host, chef Lionel Strub (left), listening to advice...
      Stalls selling gin, Sicilian olive oil and books all seemed to be attracting attention.  Author Victoria Benn's recently published 'Studs and Crooks' was added to my bucket list.
If music be the food of love, play on...
      A charming folk singer, cookery demonstrations, a fun dog show, face painting and a chilli eating contest all added to the afternoons entertainment.
Dr Wallace with his pair of fun deer hounds
      It was officially opened by BBC Look North's Charlotte Leeming and attended by Hebden's own Golden Boy, Andy Hodge, winner of rowing gold medals at the last three Olympics. 
Andy Hodge with his Rio gold medal
      Sunday's four mile run round the hidden village of Thorpe, through fields into Burnsall and back along the river boosted my weeks total mileage to 24.  
      In spite of good weather throughout the day I'm afraid I did little else after that morning run.
Approaching Thorpe on a sunny Sunday morning
      Even my crossword brain refused to function as my mind dwelt unhealthily on the next day's intraocular steroid injection in the very same operating theatre where it all went dreadfully wrong last December.
Stile on way to Burnsall - note the dreaded shades
      Happily, I can still see to type this addition to my blog without the aid of spectacles so I guess things went fairly OK...
Don't ask!