Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

As it's Easter Sunday I think it's appropriate to show some associated images first.

In the garden everything is bursting into life:

The beautiful Pasque Flower, aka Pulsatilla vulgaris, so-called because it flowers around Easter time

Its silky seedheads are as delightful as its flowers

The ducks and pheasants have been doing what they do (ahem!) at this time of year with a vengeance:

There's lots of stalking, shadowing and displaying from the cock pheasant whilst the hen tries to ignore him!

This young female duck still hasn't mastered the art of nest-building in an appropriate place and I keep finding broken eggs in pots and behind the wheelie bin, bless her.

"Waddya think Donald?"


"I wish she'd let me into the porch!"

But this female, a relative newcomer to us, managed to produce a brood of 8 teeny-weeny ducklings which she marched up from the pond to see us.

She's never brought them up when they are so small and it looked as if they'd only just hatched out because they didn't know what to do when I threw down some grain and they just huddled close to her.

There were lots of predators about (magpies, buzzards & crows) and she seemed very nervous and hardly ate anything before, horror of horrors, she started marching off in the wrong direction towards the horses' field. As it was feeding time the horses were waiting impatiently by the field gate as the ducklings were guided underneath it and into the field whereupon she lead them away towards our next field where there's a larger pond, over 500 metres away.

We kept everything crossed that they were OK and after tea we went down to the nearest pond to see if they'd returned whereupon there was more consternation as there were 3 tiny ducklings swimming around, all alone with no mum in sight. We guessed that they had hatched out after their mum had taken the other 8 away and we really didn't think they'd survive the night, poor wee mites.

The next morning the first thing I did was head down to check on them and was delighted to see that not only had mummy duck returned with her brood of 8, the 3 extra ducklings were there too. However, our joy was short-lived as when she came up for some feed there were only 9 ducklings and the next morning the brood had reduced to 8 again. Nature can be harsh and cruel.

The birds are busy nesting everywhere you look and Esther is providing her usual nest-lining material. The other day I counted 7 rooks on her back pecking away and she really doesn't mind as it's a symbiotic relationship; getting rid of her winter coat which is all itchy when she's moulting. I gave her a really good brushing and left the hair in a big plant pot for them to take.

We've been doing a lot of clearing around the nearest pond and whilst I was looking out of the window to check the bonfire was OK I spotted a pair of ears sticking up in the distance:

Mrs Bunny was busy gathering dried grass to line her nest inside a hole in the bank!

This being Easter weekend I made our traditional hot cross buns, spiced to our liking, full of dried fruit and really scrummy.

I had a couple of number-geek moments when I was dividing the dough (sorry, I can't help myself!):

The only bit I dread is icing the cross on the top as my piping skills are limited and there are usually lots of dribbles or thick lumps when I've pressed too hard on the bag. This time I was rather pleased with how they turned out:

My best ever attempt with only a few slight wiggles!

Yum! They freeze and keep really well and are great eaten both fresh or toasted.

Another marathon

Last weekend saw me return to the Brighton marathon after a break of a few years.  I'd left it until the last minute to decided if I would run it because of all the health issues we've got going on at present and ARUK very kindly gave me a charity place a few weeks beforehand which was great. The only downside was that all the nice cheap 'park and ride' spaces, where you leave your car outside the city and are transported to the start and back again by coach,  had been taken and so I had to park in central Brighton ("ouch", said my purse!) and had to leave home at silly o'clock because they closed loads of the city centre roads at 6am so I found myself sitting in a car park very, very early last Sunday morning. It was fine though as I'd had the foresight to make up a flask of coffee and bought a newspaper to read to while away the time before I headed off to the park where it starts.

Now, although I thought I'd been exceedingly organised I had a niggling feeling that I'd forgotten something which troubled me throughout my journey there. When I went to the car boot to gather my things I realised I hadn't got my sunglasses (I was sure I'd left them in there but had forgotten that I'd worn them for a training run a few days earlier, doh!). Never mind, I thought, and phoned Mike to tell him whereupon he told me off because the forecast was for wall-to-wall sunshine but as I had my peaked cap it wasn't a huge issue really. By this time I was walking along the road towards the start and I decided not to mention that I'd also forgotten to apply suncream even though I had that in the car (oh dear!) as I knew one of my more organised running chums would have some so I wasn't worried about that.

Good start hey?!

I'd arranged to meet some 100 Club member by the clock tower in the park and I looked at my GPS watch to check the time only to find.......I wasn't wearing it. OK so that's the 3 things gone wrong and it was actually very liberating to just run at whatever pace felt comfortable. I deliberately didn't take my camera with me (no, really, I didn't forget it!) as I didn't want any extra weight and I'm glad because it was hot, HoT, HOT.

First I met Sunny and Theresa. Look at all the rubbish on the ground behind us - there had been an event on the night before and the rubbish hadn't been cleared away.

More people arrived in dribs and drabs and Julia very kindly plastered me in sun cream although I did still get rather burnt as it was surprisingly hot all day.

Some of the motley crew - I wonder how many marathons were have completed between us?

ARUK had cheering groups all along the route but most sections were so crowded that it was really hard to spot people although I did spot 2 supporters at around mile 6. I have to say the crowd support was amazing all along the route and I thoroughly enjoyed it (although I know some of the slower runners had issues as they ran out of water at one point).

I saw so many running chums both at the start and en-route and had a fab time despite the heat (I have some great comedy tan-lines!

Here are my favourite bits in no particular order:

Getting shout-outs from supporters and spotting chums on the out-and-back sections. Being overtaken by someone in a badger costume and shouting "well done badger" and have him reply "is that you Susie?" then finding out it was Russell a running chum and Race Director (what a star he was for wearing such a massive costume in that heat). Chatting with Mike the Mod who was running inside a huge model scooter - his feet were hurting like heck and his arms were numb from holding onto the handlebars (brilliant effort for a great cause - Teenage Cancer Trust). Banter with the crowd (awesome support).

Sneaking in just under 5 hours (4:59:45) which was great considering how hot it had been.

We were given a useful size of cloth bag and a decent enough tee shirt (which will be useful for yoga) and some savoury nibbles which I devoured immediately as I needed the salt.

Tee shirt front

Tee shirt back

I had a good journey home and the day ended sharing a bottle of Prosecco with Mike whilst watching the sunset. Bliss.

I have another marathon next weekend (not the London marathon but the St George's Day marathon) but after that things are a bit up in the air as I have to have an operation on my eyes and I don't know how soon I'll be able to run after that so I'll have to get my updates done pdq in anticipation - there's a completed new jumper to show, some crochet and so many other things...........I'd better get my act together!


Anonymous said...

Good job! Looking forward to seeing the finished project, pics from next marathon. Good luck w the eye surgery

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks Julie