Monday 30 October 2017

I've had enough......

The strap, which Garmin prefer to call a band, has broken for the third time on my Forerunner watch and, of course, outside the warranty.  As many will know, it's not possible to just replace the strap on these watches.  They've been so designed that the whole caboodle has to be replaced, refurbished watch with new strap - at great expense and with up to 14 days delivery time.  The current cost of this is £49.20 + however much it costs to return the old watch to Garmin by registered post.  Garmin are on to a good thing here, squeezing upwards of another £150 out of customers just because their perishing straps keep breaking.  Well I reckon it's time to say goodbye to Garmin, bin their watch and change to a different brand.  It's a shame, I've never been able to fault the actual watches, they've always performed perfectly, but I'm blowed if I'm going to keep handing over £50+ every time a strap breaks.  
TomTom here I come.
I'm considering one of these    (Click to enlarge pictures)
Things got worse.  Until I find a replacement for my GPS I strapped on an old Run-Tec watch to time my runs last weekend.  As I stripped off my running top there was a slight thud on the floor.  You've guessed it.  The strap had broken.  So there's another one to join the Forerunner in the bin.
Enough is enough....
Running didn't go too well on one day either.  I mentioned in an earlier post the hock deep holes beef cattle and their calves have made in Castle Hill fields.  They've now excelled themselves by joining up all the holes to create a quagmire of slushy mud that's impossible to run through.   My shoes and legs were in rather a mess when I got home last Thursday so breakfast got somewhat delayed.  Reluctantly, I'm going to abandon that route until the beasties have gone elsewhere and the ground given chance to dry out again.
We have lift-off
I'd another couple of enjoyable runs in the cemetery, the last one on Friday when I ran and hung around for slightly longer.  It was cold, maybe a slight ground frost, but there was a beautiful clear sky that heralded a glorious sunrise I didn't want to miss.  It didn't disappoint.
The sun appeared to rise out of the ground at the very base of Emley Moor mast before rising into the sky to light and enhance all the beautiful autumn tints around the graveyard.
A nice place to run
  I don't know whether it's an age thing but the Personal Trainer and his client carried on chatting with nary a glance at the pageant unfolding around them.
A braw morning at Grimwith
We were up at 6.30 on Sunday morning for an early run round Grimwith reservoir but as we stepped out into the lane we were stung by cold, driving rain.  Looks were enough. We retreated and went back to bed until breakfast time!  We finally got out into brilliant sunshine to find the car park at Grimwith filled with cars and a noisy flapping of sails as yachts went scudding across the choppy water.
Autumn glory, back o' Grimwith
Greylags elected to stay ashore with low honkings and buglings, talking about whatever it is geese talk about.  Mallard formed a loose bobbing raft out on the water with never a sound as we ran by.
Greylags resting and chuntering.
A pair of young runners past us at great speed, fortunately going in the opposite direction or we'd have been most embarrassed.
Glad those two runners were going the opposite way....
Most walkers, I'd say 90% of them, had dogs in tow.  Or were being towed by dogs.  It was strange because the number of walkers by no means equated to the number of cars in the car park. 
Running days don't get much better than this
 I reckon most were enjoying the warmth inside their cars while gazing across the water to the autumn tints and sunlit hills beyond.  Perhaps that's what I ought to be doing. 
If I was allowed!

Monday 23 October 2017

Opposites make the perfect match....

My wonderful partner, the one who shames me into doing all sorts of things I'd never do under my own volition, is looking for a new project.  Something to keep her occupied through the winter months.  Parish Clerk duties, secretarial work for a local Trust, zumba, yoga, U3A walks, theatre visits, National Park volunteer ranger duties - not to mention reading half the books ever written - still leave her with far too much time on her hands. 
Oh, and she runs too...   (Click to enlarge pictures)
She gets bored if a few seconds drift by when she isn't actually doing something.  When I left this morning she was preparing to treat her living room ceiling with half a gallon of Cuprinol in case there might be the odd woodworm lurking up there in the boards.
They create dust and it might fall into our sherry.
On my longest run last week - 4 miles   
Come winter, I'm exactly the opposite.  Shorter days are a wonderful excuse for doing as little as possible; longer nights mean more time tucked up in bed, something I regard as perfectly natural for homo sapiens.  Especially those of my vintage.   Besides, being a Yorkshireman, I long ago discovered it's  a good way to limit gas and electricity bills!
Long nights are OK for owls and fornicating foxes, or those bloomin' badgers that scrat holes in the lawn.  But not for me. Between sunset and sunrise lethargy rules.  Sometimes for a little longer....
So, whatever new project my wonderful partner finally decides upon to while away the woebegone winter I pray it's nothing remotely energetic or, more importantly, nothing to disturb my semi-hibernation.  I have a book on 'Up Country Swahili'. That might keep her quiet...
Dawn sky and mist in the valley
Many would think I was preparing for winter last week with my pathetic 10 miles of running.  But it rained every day, it was windy too and on Monday it appeared the end of the world was nigh when sun and sky took on a strange, dark orange glow weathermen said was due to clouds of dust from the Sahara.  I stayed low for three of my short morning runs, each just two miles of hill reps in the local cemetery and home in ½ hour.  A fourth run, 4 miles around Castle Hill was interrupted by various people who wanted to talk!  I got home just as it started to rain again.
Mist before the rain
I'd an MOT at the local surgery on Friday, the usual urine, blood and blood pressure tests, and mentioned to the nurse about a Personal Trainer putting clients through their paces in the cemetery - skipping sideways for 10 paces, then back again; then doing step-ups onto a 4" kerb, all the time chatting away. 
 "How can that do them any good? Surely they need to be doing something that doubles their heart rate. I probably treble mine in the short efforts I do. I reckon they're wasting their money". I said.
"Yes, but paying money probably gives them incentive to get out there and do it" she replied "and that's a good thing".   
Well maybe, but it sure wont make them into sub 3 hour marathoners....

Monday 16 October 2017


It's got to that time of year again when fields around Castle Hill are full of hock deep holes that squirt mud and water all over my bare legs whenever my feet accidentally land in them - which is quite often on my pre-dawn runs.  Charolais herds and their cavorting calves make a real mess of the place from September onwards, particularly in gateways that are impossible to avoid and more so after heavy rain. 
The culprits    (Click pictures to enlarge)
After Thursday's run I returned home plastered.  Not with alcohol, you understand, but with mud, glorious mud.  So my new bathroom, courtesy of Kirklees Council, is proving a real blessing.  No longer do I have to stand outside in a bowl of water to wash my filthy legs after those messy runs, but for the first time in 39 years, I have a shower!  A power shower with wonderful hot water.  
Old Runningfox is at last moving into the 21st century!
Nice to meet you, now can I have some shut-eye?
Meanwhile my eldest son, Alasdair, is stepping back in time as he roams through darkest Africa photographing many of the wild creatures and exotic birds that inhabit that wild continent..
Yeah, I'm a bit tired too...
 His pictures give the impression gorillas would like to shake hands with him, lions adapt posing positions in trees as soon as they hear him coming and crocodiles delay their return to the water until he's finished shooting. 
Can you see me better now?
One night a leopard graciously moved into a lighted spot to provide a better view for him.  Dunno how he does it...
Dunno what this was that came to say hello to him?
Meanwhile, back in sunny Huddersfield I have to make do with more mundane stuff - like the goldfinches that were having a punch-up the other morning. I was wondering, how many goldfinches make a 'Charm'?  There were nine of them squabbling at the feeders.  
Goldfinches building themselves up, ready for a punch-up
Regulars hog the same perches day after day and there's hell to pay if an intruder tries to muscle in.   Not very charming at all.
Come to think, I'm a bit the same - always sit in the same seat at my friend Abdul's fish restaurant, same at my regular coffee shop and yes, maybe feel a bit aggressive if someone else is sat there.  Guess it's only natural really.  Hmmm, God help anyone I find sat in my pew next Sunday!
The state of the moor
I'd a good 8 mile run across the moor on Sunday though it was a bit saturated after all the rain.  Regardless, I'm pretty much in my element up there, relishing the wildness, wind whispering through the coarse grasses, grouse kek-keking, plovers piping, wandering sheep and nary another soul to interrupt my reverie.
Hebden Ghyll
Hebden Ghyll was beautiful in the morning sunlight but there was a fair amount of water in the beck which meant I'd get wet feet where I crossed a mile higher up.
Atmospherics beyond Cupola Corner
Sunlight paled as I ran out of the ghyll and onto the moor at Cupola Corner.  Atmospherics enhanced the character of the bleak moor.
Bell pits - a long way from civilisation
I ran out of track and into much rougher country, old lead mining territory, of Mear stones and bell pits of which warning notices advise walkers to be very careful where they tread. One local lady was terrified when the ground opened up in front of her, swallowing her dog, never to be seen again.
Some hardy sheep
Grassington Moor can be a very dangerous place made more so where local gamekeepers have set hundreds of snares to destroy any creature that might prey on their beloved grouse.
And maybe some that don't...
Almost at the top..
I was still running uphill and my 85 year old legs were beginning to feel it.  Garmin reckoned a total of 884ft and I wasn't going to argue with it.
A few rocks on the way down
A few rocks and peat hags mark the topmost point but from thereon ½ a mile of gravel track sets one up for the glorious run down the long wall and back into the ghyll.
Parting shot before the jog home
Almost home and the sun came out again.. sod's law!  It called for a parting shot from the same spot by the Miner's bridge where I'd taken one on the way out.  It was a perfect ending to the week, one deservous of a well-earned dram that evening.
Just a wee one you understand, didn't want to get plastered...

Monday 9 October 2017

Growing old disgracefully......

     I'm forever telling myself I'm not an old man yet but, judging by the way I sometimes feel, I'm simply deluding myself.  Last Tuesday was one of those days.  I'd got up early and was lacing up my studs while the kettle boiled for a strong mug of coffee.  In spite of secondary glazing I could hear wind racing up and down the Beaufort scale, a noise that should have told any sensible runner to stay low, or stay indoors. Better still, go back to bed.  
I went up Castle Hill..
Another day is born - No 31,322 for me!        (Click to enlarge pictures)
      For the past week I hadn't seen a sunrise.  Every morning had dawned cold, drizzly, cloudy and windy.  But on Tuesday I stepped out the door to a clear sky with a thin rosy glow on the eastern horizon.  And a wall of wind.  As my wonderful partner might tell you, I like wind, particularly if it's warm and gentle.  Whenever I experienced a  'runner's high', that floating out of body phenomenon, it was always windy.  But not like Tuesday. 
I cowered along the hedge side on the run home
As I struggled up the steep flanks I was blown all over the place and frequently forced to a standstill, panting for breath. I reached the summit just as the sun was peeping over the horizon and steadied myself, as best I could, to take a photograph of the dawning day.  I ran to a more sheltered section, behind trees, and took a few more shots of the waking landscape before beating a hasty retreat down the leeward side of the hill to return home by a leafy lane, sneaking between hawthorn and holly bushes where the wind was less likely to find me.  Then I did something I've never done before.  I went back to bed for an hour, feeling somewhat knackered.  But of course, I tell myself, it's nothing whatsoever to do with age.   It was that damn wind...
Autumn tints along the Wharfe as the week got better
On Thursday I sensibly stayed low for a session of 10 faster paced hill reps in the cemetery.  No-one complained!  I felt good, fully recovered from Tuesday's epic and was back home in ½ hour, before sunrise and before my neighbour went to work. 
Saturday was a grotty, wet and windy day in the Dales so, other than a quick visit to the coal shed for reinforcements, I'm afraid we never stirred from our warm cottage.
Skipping along the riverbank 
Sunday dawned sunny and clear, a wonderful autumn day that lured us out for a 6 mile jaunt round Burnsall and Appletreewick.  After holidays in Spain and Portugal it felt wonderful to be back in our old haunts again, despite the somewhat cooler temperature.
Autumn tints near Burnsall
We were not alone.  Cyclists sped along the road in their obligatory lycra, helmets, gloves and goggles.  I sometimes wonder if they ever actually see much of the beautiful countryside through which they travel, or whether they just cycle for cycling's sake?  Anyway, they all looked lean and mean so I suppose it must be good exercise...
Running past Loup Scar
A group of teenagers with huge rucksacks of backpacking gear dawdled along the riverside seemingly clueless as to where they were or which way they were supposed to be going.  They took some convincing their final destination, Barden Bridge, was actually down river and not upstream from whence they'd just come.  They did have a map but none appeared to have a compass.  We took them to be a party of High School kids but it seemed ludicrous they'd been sent out on a multi-day trek without first being taught some basic navigation skills.
So that was the week that was.  Three good runs with 667ft of ascent is surely proof enough I'm not an old man yet....