Monday, March 18, 2019

Stormy Weather

My goodness we've had some very changeable weather the last couple of weeks. The winds have been so very strong and as one storm moves away another has followed swiftly. With 80+mph one day last week our windmill decided enough was enough and lay down in the grass where we've left it as the strong winds still keep coming apace!

We watched as the fence by the yard moved ever lower and it's now settled at a jaunty angle but it's too windy to go and sort it out at the moment. Fingers crossed it doesn't go right over!

We watched the birds trying to fly in one direction and then get blown a different way. I saw a Wood Pigeon fly out of the oak tree only to be blown straight back into it. The sensible birds, like this female pheasant,  rode out the storm in the safety of the hedges.

The adverse weather has meant that the 101 jobs I need to do in the garden haven't been finished and the new growth of the herbaceous perennials is showing through. I did manage to start digging out the herb garden, as it need replanting, but that's still not finished. I'm hoping that the weather improves soon so I can get on with things.

I'm in the last 4 weeks of the Six Pack Revolution and I realise now that I couldn't have done all my planned running events alongside the regime anyway. Doing all the exercises in the plan has taken my mind off not being able to run so a lot of good has come out of being injured. Sometimes things happen for a reason don't they.

I've also noticed some changes in my body shape and my clothes feel more comfortable plus I've got muscles in places I didn't have them before! We have to send in a photo of ourselves each week and I can see a huge difference from week 1 to now. I won't share them yet but I will show you my comedy belly button which has gone from this shape ( to the shape of the Mercedes logo:

Go Team Mercedes!

I started running short distances again a few weeks ago and today I did a hilly 10 miler and whilst I can feel the pain in my foot slightly it has improved dramatically from when it started back in December. Now it's a fine balance of getting myself to the start line in the Brighton marathon in 4 weeks without too much pain and then London 2 weeks later. I should add that I really, really, wanted to do the Sevenoaks 30 today with all my chums but Mary Massage Lady forbade it - being sensible is jolly hard!

In other news our darling Tilly cat has had a major operation to remove what the vet thinks is a malignant lump in her intestines. The vet said she wouldn't normally operate on a cat her age (she's only 12) but because she's a feisty little lady she decided to go ahead. We're waiting for the test results but I suspect the prognosis isn't good for her. Poor little darling. 

She refused to go in her usual basket when we arrived home and so I remembered the Hello Kitty one that Mike chose for her (which she refused to use much to his dismay!) and thought that might be worth a try:

She's been with us 5 very short years and I'm praying that she can stay with us a while longer as she deserves to have a long and happy life as the first 7 years before she chose us were horrible for her. Please send her all your positve thoughts and prayers as I think she might need them. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Peeping Out

I haven't felt like blogging at all, sorry.

The Podiatrist turned out to be unreliable, didn't reply to email/phone calls from the hospital/Drs Surgery or me and didn't update Mary Massage Lady with anything. He never even sent me the stretches he promised, nor did he telephone Mary as promised. 4 weeks after my appointment he phoned up to see if I wanted another consultation; erm, no thanks - I was polite but firm!

Interestingly, the things Mary has done coupled with the stretches she gave me together with icing have made a huge difference. A couple of weeks ago she told me to try a short run which I did but it didn't end well (big tears I'm afraid).  I iced and stretched and tried again a few days later and managed 3k which made me ecstatic and more importantly gave me hope that things were progressing in the right direction.

I've found these ice blocks from our cool bag invaluable

Tilly isn't quite sure about it though!

Since then I've done 3 x 10ks (that's 6.1 miles each) on consecutive days, a 5 mile walk up to Great Dixter and back (photos to follow) and as of 1st March I have been completing 5k on the treadmill each day with a view to starting running along the lanes tomorrow. After each session I've iced and stretched my foot and I've been wearing my compression support and a gel heel insert in all my shoes.

Feeling emboldened, whilst trying not to push too hard too soon, I finally shared details of my fund-raising challenge and I'm not too far off my target now thank goodness. I also emailed lots of people in our village asking them to give me a smile and a wave if they see me out running, which most people do anyway, as I suspect I'll need all the help I can get and they have all been fantastic over the years.

It's amazing how quickly you can lose your stamina though so I'm hoping that all the stuff I've been doing in my 90 day challenge will stand me in good stead - we've just passed the halfway point and it's amazing how quickly the time seems to have gone.

That's enough of that anyway so time for some photos starting with this fabulous fungus. You know you've trained your husband well when he comes back from a walk around the land clutching a stick and excitedly showing me the beautiful fungus he'd spotted!

The stick had some beautiful lichen and moss on it too

Isn't it gorgeous! It's Tremella mesenterica aka Yellow Brain or Witches' Butter.

We placed it carefully where he'd found it so it could set spores there for next year.

Walking in the Sunshine

Emboldened by my improvement we decided to take a walk up to Great Dixter as they had an open weekend and it's a nice 5.3 mile round trip. The weather was perfect with warm sun and no wind.

Awwwh, one my neighbours first lambs of the season

These crocuses were planted in the grass verges by the village bus stop when we were doing the Village in Bloom a few years ago. The mess of soil you can see behind has been left by contractors who've ripped up our lovely verges when laying new cables so most of the wildflowers we had established so well have been trashed. Some will make a comeback, but sadly some won't.

There weren't many people about when we arrived so we had a very pleasant wander although by the time were were leaving there were lots of people queueing to go in so we got our timing just right. I do love seeing a garden laid bare as you can appreciate the structure of it and you get to see some amazing shapes.

The mass of crocuses in the grass reminded me of when we first moved here and I planted hundreds of purple crocus in the orchard, all of which were dug up by the squirrels, little blighters. I think I might try again though as they did look beautiful.

I love the structural impact of the stems growing against a barn in the sunken garden

Mike took a break whilst I snapped away

This reminded me I need to resurrect my alpine trough - my plants were attacked by Vine weevil a few years ago so I need to start again

The scent of this Daphne was intoxicating on such a warm day

This is Exotic Garden all wrapped up in its Winter coat to protect the more tender species

It used to be the site of a rose garden and people were horrified when Christopher Lloyd dug it up and planted exotics. I much prefer it like this!

With Mike added to show the height of some of the plants

The daffodils in the wild area weren't in flower then but will be by now

Sadly, back in 2001, some of the topiary was vandalised so there are some empty sections.

Some of my favourites on a low roof - I love Sempervivums

This willow looked so beautiful in the sunshine as we headed for home.

It was a lovely walk and, even better, my foot didn't complain too much. Onwards and upwards - 8 weeks unitl the London marathon (gulp!).

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Best Laid Plans etc etc

Whilst I've been unable to run at the moment I've been pondering what I should do if I haven't recovered fully in time for the London marathon. I realise now that the likelihood of me achieving a PB (personal Best) time is slim but then who knows; if I can run then I will.

But what if I can't run? How on earth could I possibly miss it when my dream of dementia being the chosen charity is finally realised after all these years of campaigning? This is a one-off situation joining together Alzheimer's Research UK and the Alzheimer's Society to create the Dementia Revolution and raise money to create a Dementia Research Institute. The thought of not being there to support it is untenable, especially as some people have made donations to my fund-raising page already even though I haven't advertised it yet.

So I've decided I'll run as much as I'm able and then walk when I need to and if I still can't run at all then I'll walk the whole thing carrying a collecting bucket, chat with the crowd and soak up the atmosphere. Having made that decision I now feel so much better!

It really is going to be amazing, not least because Scott Harvey Mitchell, husband of the gorgeous Barbara Windsor, is taking part alongside some of his fellow actors from the EastEnders TV programme. He's been doing lots of interviews on TV/Radio and the Press and he's kindly allowed me to share this snippet from The Daily Mirror a few weeks ago:

There's a whole load of us linked together in a Facebook group and it's great to see how people are progressing and share in their highs and lows.

It's always wonderful when new people feel able to share their stories as it really helps to raise awareness about this devastating disease. When I first started speaking out about mum's story in 2005 there was just a handful of people trying to make their voices heard but now there are more and more speaking out about it and finally others are listening.

I have been invited to speak soon at a couple more venues so hopefully that will yield some more donations.

Injury News

So how's my injury progressing? Mary Massage Lady is doing a grand job of tweaking part of the problem area and I have far less pain than before but still daren't try a run for fear of aggravating it even more. Last week I visited a Podiatrist at the Podiatry and Chiropody Clinic in Hastings and he gave me a thorough examination, asked loads of questions, filmed me walking to check my gait and gave me lots of helpful advice.

I learnt that I supinate because I have very high arches, my hamstrings and glutes (in my bum!) are exceedingly good (he pressed down on my leg and I had to push him away using my leg/bum muscles) but my calves are very tight with my left being much bigger than my right. A riding accident from many years ago, which left me with a limp for many years, is probably to blame for that and he's given me some stretches to help. He also suggested I have an MRI scan of the whole foot in case I have developed a heel spur (I hope I haven't!) and I'm hoping to be able to get that done next week.

Anyway, what will be will be and I'll deal with things as and when necessary.

I'm just approaching Day 30 of my 90 day fitness challenge and still enjoying it although it is getting tougher as the days go by. Having said that, I'm working areas of my body that most likely need some work to get a bit more balance into my fitness routines. I deliberately haven't weighed myself but I know my body is changing shape as I managed to do up the zip on some size 8 jeans which I couldn't get into before! Still no alcohol too and not missing it as I'm completely focussed on my goals.

Knit News

Kate's Knitting Season Club is well underway and I'm enjoying it even more than the previous one. My kit for the Weel Riggit pullover is here and I've made a start on it.

When doing a test swatch for knitting in the round using a bulky yarn such as this I don't do a round swatch and adopt this method seen below. I cast on 4 stitches more than the stitch count required, on double-pointed needles, and at the end of each row just pushed all the stitches back to the beginning and left a loose loop across the back.

I didn't want it as oversized as the one Kate modelled in this colourway (in the link above) so I went for the size bigger than usual but am using slightly smaller needles to get the sort of fabric I want.

The corrugated rib (worked as K1tbl, Purl 1) is gloriously squidgy and stretchy

These little stitches are known as 'lice' (or 'lus' in Norwegian from whence the stitch originates)

I love the reverse too with all the strands of yarn being carried around.

Poor Mr Fox

Mike and I were sitting having our morning coffee in the music room when I spotted a big dog fox come stumbling from the orchard into the centre of the lawn. I noticed he was limping and looked rather shaken and he kept looking back at his hind quarters. We suspect he might have been hit by a car on the lane nearby and made his way across our neighbours field into our garden.

He spent a good 15 minutes licking and stretching and generally looking rather sorry for himself. We were worried about him as they rarely stay out in the open like this for so long.

Finally he stood up and to our amazement he headed towards the house, coming up the steps then right across the patio in front of the window:

I went outside to see where he went and he headed across the fields towards the woods where we know there's a foxhole. Poor boy, I hope he's OK.

Snow Time

There was much excitement here when we had a sprinkling of snow last week and I couldn't wait to get out there to play. I walked across the fields taking snaps of the foot/paw prints (simple pleasures!) and the patterns they made:


Badger - look at those claw prints!



It looks like a fabric design

Note the spur print on the heel of a cock pheasant

Badger and fox cross paths

Mine alongside those of a fox

Multiple footprints, including mine, outside the barn where I cleared a patch for their grain

Just a sprinkling for the pond as it's partly sheltered by the trees

A brave daffodil peeping out

This young squirrel was anxiously surveying his route to the nut feeder...........

.......but our valiant squirrel wasn't going to be stopped by that white stuff!