Friday, August 18, 2017

Peeping out again

Poor blog, so sorry for neglecting you. This has been a very challenging year so far in so many ways that I just haven't felt like blogging and each time I've thought things were settling down something else bad happened. I have pulled out of nearly as many marathons as I've completed this year but thankfully Mike's health issues have now calmed somewhat and we are starting to relax again (which means I can now start planning my next challenge for Alzheimer's Research UK).

Hey ho, onwards and upwards as they say and I finally feel as if I can get back into it.

I have so many things to write about with hundreds of photos which I'll probably never have time to share so I'll have to pick and choose which to show whenever I get a moment. For now here are some photos from my 60th birthday a couple of months ago (yep, I am now officially an old biddy!) which was a lovely day in the midst of hospital visits. I'll keep the words to a minimum or I'll never get it completed:

Birthday morning


Chatting with "Ill Bill", the little drake who we thought might not make it through having been trapped by poachers (we think 'cos he had a lot of damage to his neck). He made a remarkable recovery thank goodness and has flown off to pastures new.



Pretty Tullulah the pheasant who was attacked by a fox but survived and is now doing well although she's more timid now.



Looking over to the orchard I noticed this female pheasant with a chick......



.....so I took some grain over to her........


.....and they both came out to eat.....


.....and it turned out she had 5 chicks! What a lovely surprise and clever girl for managing to save them from the foxes etc.


Birthday surprise


I thought Mike was looking excited and when we went back inside he couldn't wait for me to open the fridge where I found this amazing cake and champagne. I immediately burst into tears of joy, as you do, 'cos Mike isn't really given to surprises or secrets so it was a genuine shock, albeit a very nice one.



I kept Rex rabbits for many years, my last 2 were Tango and Bluebelle



A very happy 60 year old



If you've read my blog before you may remember that I love bunnies, gardening is my passion and he asked the designer for her to be wearing a tiara just because she's a girl bunny and I love sparkly things!



The flowers were beautiful and the cake delicious - it was lemon drizzle and we took the first slice off the back because we couldn't bear to eat her face.




Of course I had to do my first run in my 60s and it was a beautiful day too. 6 miles felt just right.


That evening we went to the Mermaid Inn situated in the lovely town of Rye. The sun shone, we had a wonderful meal and it was just perfect.



Before champagne



After champagne (note my Houlland shawl which I've worn such a lot)



With the love of my life



When the time came to eat the bunny's face several days later we couldn't do it and so we put it out for the birds to enjoy:



All that remained was half her head, ears and nose!



It didn't take long before this cheeky jackdaw spotted her and was soon joined by his mates.



The next time we looked this was all that was left.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Going round and round - before I forget

Time moves so quickly doesn't it and it's already 3 days after the event and I still haven't written about it. My eyes are being wee bit tricksy this week, possibly because my drops have been reduced to twice a day from 4 times during the first week. I am soooooooooo envious of people with good eyesight but grateful for what I have and hope it will stay with me even though it's far from perfect. Knitting's been difficult as I'm still working on my bolero in laceweight yarn and I can't always see properly unless the light is just right so there's nothing exciting to show. I did chuckle the other day when one of the nurses in Mike's section of hozzie asked me how my knitting was coming along!

Right, time for a marathon update.

This time I headed right out of my comfort zone to complete the inaugural Eastbourne Trackstar marathon, brought to us by the team at weruntheyrunirun.co.uk with whom I ran 2 marathons last year in beautiful Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

As the name implies, this marathon was run completely on an athletics track which is 400 metres a lap which meant we had to run 105.5 laps for marathon distance - yep, we went round and round in circles!


At least the rain had stopped by the time I arrived


The unglamourous entrance


There's just nowhere to hide on a track!

Setting up the timing chip system

The beautiful South Downs in the distance (I'd have preferred to be running up there but told myself it was a new experience and to get on with it!)


Although there was an 80 entrant restriction, due to the space available on the track, there were quite a lot of people I knew there and it was nice to catch up with them beforehand and occasionally during the race itself. Linda, a fellow 100 Club member was completing her 500th marathon there - wow!

After the race briefing we lined up at the start and we ran off to the music of Yakety Sax which was highly appropriate. The organiser had put together a great playlist of songs with a running theme to keep our spirits up (eg Keep on Running/You spin me right round) and these 2 lovely ladies at the water station kept me amused with their dancing I only joined in by waving my arms as my legs didn't want to play for some reason!!!






The race etiquette on track marathons seems to vary from what I've heard. We were told that everyone should run on the inside lane and faster runners should overtake using lane 2. Anyone who was walking, was told to use the outer lanes so as not to obstruct the runners. I tried to stick to the line inbetween lanes 1 and 2 as the faster runners kept undertaking on the left which was a bit confusing. People said there were a few clashes but mostly it worked OK.

The one thing that lots of people complained about was the lap counting. We each wore a timing chip on our left ankle, which you can see in the photo below, which recorded a lap each time we crossed over the start line.


There's Brian behind me - nearly at 1300 marathons. He told me he hates track marathons and is never doing one again!

However, sometimes the machine didn't beep to show that it had read your chip and so everyone was worried that their laps hadn't been recorded. This of course caused a fair bit of consternation! What you might also have noticed in the photo above is a blue thing on my left hand. The organsiser had forewarned us that it might be hard to keep track (no pun intended!) of our laps as our GPS gadgets aren't always accurate when you're going round in circles. They suggested we use this little gadget below, a row counter (useful for knitting too), which I purchased on ebay and was worth its weight in gold. I pressed it each time I crossed the timing mat but even then I was a bit worried when my chip didn't register a beep.





There isn't much to say about the race - we ran round and round, end of! 

It turned into a rather hot day as the morning progressed. One section of the track we had to run into a rather strong wind which sapped your strength a bit. My knee behaved very well and I was running a really good pace until about mile 15 when the wind finally started to affect my breathing and I could feel my chest start to tighten and my lungs filling with gunk (stupid asthma!) which slowed me a down a bit.


Looking focussed!


Debbie kept writing silly signs to make us laugh! There was another which read "Just think, you actually PAID to do this!"


My penultimate lap. By that time the speedy club runners had all finished and there was lots of room for everyone.


Heading towards the finish line

My time? A surprisingly good 4:49:39 which was great considering how much I slowed down in the last 10 miles and my 3rd sub 5 hour finish of the year.

Would I do a track marathon again? I doubt it, although I won't say "never again" as we runners often change our minds, but it's another type of marathon ticked off my list.


I loved the medal

Monday, May 15, 2017

Aye Eye!

Well hello blog! Been a bit busy with lots of things going on at the moment.

Thanks for the good wishes about my eye operation which went fine - follow-up appointment next week to check its done the trick in lowering the pressure on my optic nerves. The procedure itself wasn't painful, just an odd and very hard to describe sensation. The worst part was the 8 different types of drops that had to go into my eyes beforehand.

We had a surreal experience on the day we went to the hozzie. We had to leave home early as Mike's appointment was earlier than mine and that was a blessing (you'll understand why later). So we arrived with enough time for a leisurely coffee before Mike headed into his area and I toddled off to mine to find a small group of people sitting around grumbling about not knowing what was going on and having been waiting for a couple of hours already without being seen.

That did not bode well. I took out my knitting but couldn't concentrate as I was feeling anxious so I put it away again and just watched the proceedings. It was then that I realised that this normally bustling department was like a ghost town with no nurses or Consultants in sight. After about 30 minutes a nurse appeared and 2 of my fellow patients pounced on her and complained that they hadn't been seen.

I prepared myself for a long wait.

Finally those who'd been waiting when I arrived started to be taken away but as I hadn't even been registered I became anxious so caught a passing nurse who checked their list and my name wasn't on it. Uh oh! She went off to check the afternoon list and that's when we discovered that 3 nurses and 2 Consultants hadn't arrived for work and so they had been phoning round to cancel all appointments  A lovely and very harassed nurse came to apologies and explain that she had tried to phone me but because we'd left home at about 8am they hadn't caught us. Although we still had a bit of a wait this worked in my favour as I was fortunate enough to get my laser treatment done that day. Result!

I've not been online much this last week as I've been getting used to my new glasses which is always rather tricky due to the nature and strength of my rather complicated prescription. My eye test was nearly 8 weeks ago but twice the lenses were sent but had to be returned because they weren't correct (once the varifocal lenses were misaligned and the next time the coating failed). Thankfully my Optician is brilliant and so eventually it was sorted out.


Noo glasses!

I was thinking back to what my lenses were like 30 years ago before the lightweight, slimline lenses were introduced - my lenses were so thick that my eyelashes used to brush against them and I spent all my time cleaning the lenses to get rid of streaks! I've been wearing varifocals for about 25 years now and, thanks to the advances in optics, my complicated prescription allows me to have lovely thin lenses.

When I look back at all the photos I've taken this last week I find it hard to know where to start so I'll just dive in with some birdie action:


The lost cause


I really do despair with this duck. She just drops her eggs wherever she's standing at the time with no pretense at making a nest.


Mr Duck keeps watch whilst she has a nap!


Yep, that's nice and safe - NOT!


Here we go (Magpie)


Yum, brekkie!


My turn! (Jackdaw, aka Hooded Crow)





I'll pop back for more later.....


Uh oh! Who did that?


Meeeeeeeeeee!


YUM

Nature doesn't waste anything.


On a happier note


Whilst Mike was working on the pond I noticed a couple of Blue Tits going in and out of this tree and
suspected they were building a nest in the hollow:









A few days later I spent ages hanging around trying to capture them flitting back and forth with food for their offspring:
















Gosh they work hard. I took the photos in the morning and they were still at it at 8pm.


In the Garden 


I can hardly keep on top of the weeds now. We've had so little rain that the ground is hard as rock and it's impossible to dig so I haven't managed to split up any clumps which need dividing so that will have to wait until autumn.

There's plenty of colour around now and it's a joy to watch the blossom appear:


Apple blossom


Bright orange poppies against the deep purple/blue of the Aquilegias and shocking pink Rhododendron


The striking burnt orange blooms of this deciduous Azalea have the most glorious scent too.

Tilly's been helping me so needed a well-earned nap after nibbling the Catnip


Indoors one of my cacti is putting on a beautiful display



One of many beautiful Aquilegias


The vibrant flowers of Berberis Darwinii. This is one of my desert island shrubs as it provides such an uplifting display to brighten the day in early Spring and is a useful food source for bees.



Pretty pink Deutzia Mont Rose set against the dark leaves of Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' (the blue polythene is an area I'm clearing and will be planted in the autumn.



Close-up of the Deutzia flowers


More bright pink from this massive rhododendron flowerhead






Flowerhead from above


Buds before the flowers burst open. I was delighted that this looked so good this year as I thought we'd lost it to a virus a few years ago so I chopped it right back to clean wood in the hope it would survive and so far it's doing really well.


I spotted this little bunny in one of the herb beds but was saddened to see that it's suffering from myxomatosis


Poor little mite


Finally, here's a beautiful Ermine Moth we found resting in the grass when we went to feed the horses one evening. I'd never seen one before and it was truly beautiful:



Ermine moth


Why's she lying on the grass now then?


To get a close-up from the side Mr and Mrs Duck!


Next up, another marathon which was rather different from those I've done before!