Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I thought it was about time I posted another sky photo. This beautiful sunset was about 5:30 this evening.

I'm starting this post on 29th February having consumed 2 glasses of a very nice red wine. This is the last alcohol to pass my lips until after the London marathon as I am really going to put every effort I can into achieving my goals.

My diet is vegan for the duration of Lent and although I already eat a healthy vegetarian diet I always find I have lots more energy when I manage to cut out all animal products (basically just dairy and eggs). By the time Lent is over though I am yearning for a chunk of cheese!

Today I ran one of the sessions JJ has given me. 1 mile warm-up, 3 miles @ 9 min miling then 1 mile cool down. Then I did my core work and stretches (my ITB is a bit tight again so I might need a trip to see Mary Massage Lady - ouch!). Rather than making me feel weary, the session had the effect of energising me for the whole day which was brilliant. Tomorrow will just be a 3 mile trot across the fields to loosen everything up.

Mike's scarf is finished and blocked, modelled here by me as he was being a diva and refused to model for me!

At least he took the photo so I can't complain too much.

I like the way the wool stripes and it feel really warm. Even better, it looks decidedly manly so hopefully Mike will wear it.

He's very pleased with it anyway.

The other thing I like is that the pattern looks good on the back as well as the front.

So many single thickness scarves look fab on the front but horrid on the back and it's always difficult to get a scarf to stay the way you want it to so you end up displaying the back as well.

This is how the sunset had developed at about 5:40 this evening.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tunbridge Wells - the return

I can hardly believe that the Tunbridge Wells 1/2 came around so quickly. I've been training so hard for my marathons that it just sort of sneaked up on me. Last year I ran my worst time ever for a 1/2 marathon there and I really didn't want to repeat that experience!

Before the start I was chatting to Mimi Anderson an amazing ultra runner whose progress I followed avidly when she completed a run from John O'Groats to Lands End gaining a Guinness World Record for the fastest time. As we chatted she marvelled at my own GWR for knitting whilst running the london marathon and it made me chuckle when she took a photo of me for her blog!

It was a glorious day; sunny and bright but not too hot and with no wind. Perfect running weather. I felt good at the start and settled into my pace well. I was aiming for an average of 9.5 minute miling which meant that on flat bits I had to run something beginning with a 9, on the downhills it was something beginning with an 8 so that on the uphills I could just dig in and plod up them.

I reached mile 6 in 57 minutes which was spot on with my pacing. Then came Spring Hill which is just a long slow upward drag for 1.5 miles. I probably must have lost a few more minutes there than I expected and didn't recover them because by the time I hit 10 miles my pace had slowed to 10 minute miling. How annoying. Then my mind started playing silly beggars with me and I failed to increase my pace so I decided to treat the last 3 miles as a marathon pace tester and not worry too much about it.

About that time I passed Tiger and Snoop Dog and Tiger shouted that they were just trotting around slowly. I grunted something about their 'trot' was my sprint and said we'd meet up at the finish.

I finished in 2:10:54 which again was slow but at least it was 2 minutes faster than last year. I did manage to sprint the last 100m as a woman came alongside me as if to overtake and I thought "no way lady" and just took off with a big smile on my face.

Now being a slower runner I am quite used to the crowd having dwindled at the finish and the 'celebrity' having disappeared so it was a lovely surprise to have a good crowd cheering me home and then as I crossed the finish line to be greeted by the warm and friendly smile of a nice young man whose face I recognised but couldn't put a name to straightaway.

He beamed at me and said "well done" and put the medal around my neck, then he said "no, really well done" and shook my hand. His warmth and generous praise made me feel so special that I completely forgot that actually I was quite cross to only have knocked 2 minutes off my time rather than the 4 minutes I'd planned.

I toddled off wondering who he was and just happened to turn round and on looking back I saw he was a double amputee, wearing racing blades - it was Richard Whitehead an amazing and inspirational athlete!

The most interesting thing about that encounter for me was that I simply didn't notice that he didn't have lower legs. All I saw was a warm and friendly face who was genuinely pleased at my own personal achievement.

On his website he says "My aim is to use London 2012 as platform to inspire people from all walks of life. This includes not only disabled athletes, but able-bodied ones too – anyone who may want to get out there and run. I am living proof, that with enough desire and determination, any obstacle can be overcome." He truly is a great ambassador for the sport and I hope he achieves great things at the Olympics, though sadly I believe he won't be allowed to take part in the marathon.

Why am I making so much of this encounter? Well, it's because I understand his frustration at being referred to as 'disabled' rather than as the athlete that he clearly is. He does not feel less able-bodied and he has proved time and time again what a tremendous athlete he is. In my own little world I am a 'fun runner' because I run marathons for charity. My frustration with this soubriquet, which is used to define anyone other than the speedier runners, is that it does not give any credit to the amount of training that we slower runners do and seems to denigrate our achievements. Do we not also complete the 26.2 miles of the marathon? Yes, we jolly well do. Rant over!

Thank you Richard, you will inspire me to achieve my goals this year.

I also saw the wonderful Johnny J who I chat to on the Runner's World forum and who gives me lots of advice. When I told him that I was disappointed with my time and really wanted a pb at Paddock Wood in 5 weeks he went home and wrote me a schedule that I could incorporate into my marathon plan. He also said that if he decided to run it that he will pace me for part of the way. Thanks JJ.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Snow, Tiles & Training

The weather forecasters said that it wouldn't snow on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

They said it wouldn't freeze.

I believed them.


No sooner had I put the horses feed outside on Sunday morning than it started to snow and I had to dash out and move it into their shelters. As for it not freezing, well I had to stand on their water butt and jump as the ice was so thick!

This also meant that a run along the lanes was impossible and Mike wasn't happy at the thought of me going across the fields and so I ended up doing my 15 mile run on the treadmill. I'd already done 7 miles on it the day before as the lanes had been too slippery so it was really hard to make myself keep on with it; but I did. At least I have the option so I mustn't complain too much about it being boring (but it is!!!).

As a break from weaving in ends on Oregon I decided to make Mike a scarf using some Rowan Tapestry yarn in shades of grey.

I knew he wouldn't like anything too fancy so I searched through my stitch library and found this simple tile pattern which met with his approval.

I'm using the yarn double to make it nice and warm and I'm pleased with the way it's coming on. I'm now about 18" inches into it and have just done 4 rows garter stitch to start and added a row of garter stitches at each side to give it definition. It's looking quite manly so I think he'll like it.

Later on Sunday the snow stopped and the sun came out and I noticed how beautiful this succulent looked in the porch.

It's a Rhipsalis pilocarpa and I love its growth habit and the way its stems are covered in hairs.

At this time of year it has the added bonus of these pretty little flowers.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oregon at last

At last, the knitting part of Oregon is finished.


I've just trimmed one side of the steek along the front band. I know Alice Starmore says to trim it to 2 stitches but I'm not that brave and have opted for 3 stitches.

The beauty of steeking is that there aren't any ends to weave in afterwards. Just imagine if this had been knitted flat; there would have been 6 lots of ends to weave in on the body alone (2 x either side of the 2 front pieces and then 2 for the back) plus those for the sleeves but this way the ends get cut off and all you have to do is stitch the steeks flat.

However, there are still plenty of ends to weave in on the sleeves so I shall do them gradually over the next few days.

My long-suffering horses waiting for their feed last night.

Kizzy's saying "I do wish she'd just feed us and forget the photos!"

"I shall paw the ground to attract her attention and show my dismay at this disgraceful treatment".

I loved the colour of the setting sun on these trees last night. What a beautiful glow.

Mike took this for me this morning on the way back from his walk across the land.

It's looking towards the house from the bottom of Holm field.

Very arty!

I'm just off out for my run now. 7 miles at marathon pace. I was going to head across the fields but the snow is still very thick and there was a heavy frost last night so I'm opting for the lanes instead.

I've got 15 to do tomorrow too - the high mileage weeks are starting to kick in!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Well not if you're 7 years old!

I crocheted this twirly-whirly scarf for Emma, Mike's niece who will be 7 this week, modelled here by Lady V, my trusty dressform.

When you're that age you love anything pink and girly so I think it fits the bill perfectly as an extra birthday prezzie. It's a mixture of several novelty yarns I had tucked away for this very purpose.

Here we have a gratuitous photo of Cornus 'Midwinter Fire'.

Still very small but managing to live up to its name and glowing in the sun, showing up nicely against the snow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More snowy happenings

OK, OK, so the snow looks lovely and the icicles glisten as they melt in the sun but I still can't run outside!

Why not, you might ask?

Because it's hilly in these parts and the snow that melted yesterday and ran down the lanes, zigzagging its way ever downwards, froze overnight creating massive rivers of ice.

I did try to run down the lane around lunchtime because I really couldn't face the treadmill again. I thought the sun would have made the lanes passable but I only got about 200m from home and I realised that I was picking my way around these ice waterfalls rather than running which was not good at all.

So inside I went and 2 miles into the boredom that is treadmill running my brain said "NO!" and that was that. I'd lost my focus and let the gremlins inside my head. Undeterred I took myself off for a good 3 mile trek across the fields instead, wearing my sensible walking boots, and counted it as a cross-training day. When I got home I did some core strengthening exercises so felt quite virtuous in the end!

If it's like this again tomorrow I shall have to adopt a run/walk strategy and go along the lanes a bit and then cut across the fields wearing my cross-country running shoes.

Icy patterns edging the horses water trough.

A wintry sunrise through the trees.

The mounds covered in snow are piles of horse poo which are rotting down. After 2 years they turn into an amazing soil conditioner.

Some of the ducks sat patiently beneath the bird feeding tree whilst they waited for me to throw them some grain. The ponds are all still completely frozen and covered in snow so I put some water in an old trough for them to play around in.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snow and other happenings

Last night they forecast snow to start at 10pm and so it did!

It carried on throughout the night and when we got up on Sunday morning it was a complete white-out with everywhere looking beautiful.

Looking back towards the garden from the horses field.

The oak tree looks magnificent covered in snow.

Here's Mike's footprint next to another.

Any ideas?

It's actually a rabbit track, not some gigantic clawed beastie!

When you see them hop they put their 2 front paws down almost together followed by their 2 back paws.

At the edge of the woods.

Esther all wrapped up in her snuggy rug.

Not surprisingly, the pair of them hardly ventured out all day except for a quick roll in the snow first thing.

Part of the pond all covered in a mixture of snow and ice.

The ducks have been skating!

I love seeing the snow on the wrought iron gates.

On the knitting front I am onto the button band of my Oregon cardigan so the end is in sight at last. I also started a scarf to use up some odd balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze.

I thought it would be a good project for the long train journey to Cambridge the other day when I went to talk to some of the ARUK staff.

The colours look great with my seahorse mittens but I hated the pinkness of the pink en-masse so have ripped it back and will take a different approach using the pink as a highlight colour.

The really dark purple is a beautiful colour in real life and is flecked with silver sparkly bits.

Running today was on the treadmill for obvious reasons!