Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Now where was I?

How do the days/weeks pass so quickly? Is it because I'm getting older? I really don't know how anyone can be bored when they retire as there truly are not enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do.

I'll start with a bit of knitting, although I'm sure I've missed something I've made recently and haven't shown but can't think what it is! Mike wanted a new cowl and I remembered a brioche stitch cowl which I thought would be appropriate.

I picked this book up in a secondhand bookshop and it's got some lovely patterns.

On flicking through this caught my eye and has now gone on "to do" list.

I rummaged through my stash and found 3 balls of this suitably manly-coloured wool which I must have bought to make  a scarf/mittens. It got the seal of approval so off I went.

I hadn't tried Brioche stitch in the round before but it was really easy and perfect TV knitting over a couple of evenings. I was very pleased with the colour progression and the yarn is lovely to work with. best of all, Mike was very happy with it and has requested some mittens to match.

Then it was my turn. "Do you really need another poncho?" asked Mike; I gave him the glare of disdain that such a question deserved - a girl can never have too many ponchos can she. I'd seen a knitted sample of this lovely poncho in Hoop a few months ago and I really loved it but it was knit in Rowan Valley Tweed and I've been trying not to buy any more yarn (yeah, that's going well!) so I resisted for a while. 

When all the "sale' deals appeared on-line recently I realised I could get the yarn with a  30% discount so the only decision was which colour to choose. After much deliberation between Litton and Malham I opted for the latter as I don't have a poncho in such a pale colour - it's a very pale grey/blue with little white flecks.

It's such a simple stitch but is worked on small needles. I swatched with 3.25mm needles as stated but found I was just over the size so decided to go down to 3mm as it's a very generous fit anyway.

Last night I wound the skeins into balls whilst watching "Fantastic Beasts and where to find them" (I love that film) and made a start on the body. It will probably take me a while on such small needles but at least I'll be able to do it whilst watching TV.

I've just signed up to Kate Davies latest knit club, West Highland Way, which marks the launch of her new yarn which looks beautiful. It starts early next year so it's something nice to look forward to.

Now for a bit of running stuff. I found myself without a marathon one weekend a few weeks ago and noticed that the local 10k was taking place on the Sunday. I've won my age category a couple of times in this but thought that it would make an excellent training run if I ran there, ran the race and then ran home. I did the same thing a few weeks ago with another local 10k and it's a great way to get your mileage in with something different in the middle.

This one was a bit further away than before though so I left myself plenty of time to get there as I had to go up quite a few hills and the 10k route itself is quite hilly too. It was 6.5 miles there which was  a bit less than I'd expected so as I had plenty of time before the start I headed off to do another 3.5 miles to make it up to 10 miles.

I met several people I knew at the start which was nice and chatted with quite a few people during the race. I held a good pace throughout but didn't push too much, finishing in 1:01:31 and was 2nd in my category, being only a few minutes behind the other lady. I usually manage around 55 minutes so was pleased with that.

After I'd had a drink and eaten some cake, which is obligatory, I headed for home with my final mileage being 21.5 so a jolly good long run.

Next were 2 ultra marathons which marked the start of the '10 in 10' Challenges organised by Traviss and Rachel. You can enter as many or as few of them as you like and run just one lap to get a medal, run a marathon or run an ultra marathon (that's anything over the standard 26.2 miles and on this route was 30.5 miles). 

Last year I ran 6 out of the 10 events as marathons but this year I'm preparing for my 2018 Challenge so needed to go ultra and opted to do the first 2 and the last 2 in the series. Both of them were held at Samphire Hoe which has appeared a lot on my blog and I made the unusual decision not to take my camera with me as I waste far too much time taking countless photos of the sea, the seawall, lichen, wildflowers etc. I also decided to be completely self-sufficient in my hydration/feed so that I didn't waste any time visiting the aid station for cake/crisps etc. I did bake my usual banana cake for day 1 though so nobody else missed out!

Now the weather can be pretty unforgiving at this venue with gale force winds and waves crashing over the seawall but on day 1, the Samphire Challenge, it was the best we've ever had; cool but with the slightest breeze ever.

I decided I was going to run it hard and with purpose and that's exactly what I did. I maintained my target pace all the way through, stopping only briefly to have my card punched (7 laps for a marathon, 8 laps or more for an ultra).

There was lots of catching up with chums to be done as I've missed them a lot this year, having had to pull out of many events due to hospital stuff, and everyone kept commenting on how strong I looked. I felt strong too but didn't want to get too cocky as pride comes before a fall doesn't it!

Mike phoned me after I'd passed the halfway mark and at that stage I knew I was on track to beat my course record of 5:28:33 but also for a distance pb if I could maintain my pace and so I jolly well did. I passed marathon distance in 5:05:31 and came home in 5:58:04 which is a good 30 minutes faster than usual. Hoorah!

Of course I had to go back the next day to do it all over again and this time the weather was back to normal. Day 2 was the Fudgeathon so I'd made my special chocolate and roasted hazelnut fudge to share (leaving some for home-alone-husband of course!).

We'd had the first really heavy frost when I left home the next day and it was jolly cold too. Even worse, the wind that had left us alone the day before was back with a vengeance which meant that we were running into it on the return section of the seawall. Lots of us spent the whole time with a buff pulled over our face to help warm the air before it hit our lungs. Being asthmatic, my chest was quite gunky to begin with but eased off as the day progressed. I knew right from the start that it would be back to my usual time so didn't push hard and pootled home in 6:23:05.

2 lovely medals and a trophy for 'Best Fudge'

Next up I have another 2 events at the weekend and am hoping to go for ultras on both days again. Fingers crossed........

Friday, November 10, 2017

Fabulous Fungi

This year has been amazing for the number and variety of fungi appearing in the last few months. As a result, my runs have been taking much longer than usual as I keep spotting amazing new ones every time I go for a run! I'm no expert and only know the names of a small number for certain but I really want you to see some of them in all their glory.

Warning, this is a very photo-heavy post!

This one fascinated me as there were twigs growing through it so it must have been there for a while.

There were several of the next one growing in our orchard grass and one was caught by the mower so we got to see the underside of it:

What an amazing structure!

A Shaggy Inkcap

And again a few days later as it starts to deliquesce

It's wonderful to see the gills on the underside of the cap

This one looks rather like a large seashell!

Spotted along Lordine Lane

Spotted alongside Lordine Lane (I had to climb through a patch of brambles to get to it!)

I found this growing on one of our piles of woodchips. It has the rather unattractive common name of 'Dog Vomit Slime Mould'!

The next few are all Parasols and we've had them throughout both our fields. I've never seen so many!

Spotted in the grass behind our barn

This one looked as if it was bleeding!

Here are some beauties taken in Sempstead Wood over a few days:

In Sempstead Wood there were loads of Parasols but unfortunately my photo didn't show them off well enough.


I think they look like Sea Urchins

Growing on a rotting log 

I absolutely adore this pure white bracket

This log was fascinating as it with covered in beautiful moss with a frilly bracket fungus plus a white mould which looked rather like cauliflower florets.

The next few are from Stumblotts wood which is partly deciduous partly pine and has been logged heavily this year leaving lots of open spaces. Nature abhors a vacuum so I'm excited to see what comes to life next year now the tree canopy has been thinned out. Seed can lie dormant for many years so I'm anticipating a good show in Spring/Summer 2018.

Perfect 'Puffballs'!

I love the different shades of red/orange of this Fly Agaric which has been nibbled by something!

I've never seen so many Fly Agaric in one place before.

This one was attracting a lot of interest from small flies

I photographed this next one over the course of a few days to see how it developed. It was growing near a large Oak tree in our garden but was quite different from the Boletus which usually grow along the line of its roots.

It made a tasty snack for a slug and some small flies!

The woodman's pile of logs in the village always provides lots of photo opportunities throughout the winter months but he's just added more new logs so I've only spotted one so far:

Road verges are always a good hunting ground and these were spotted just outside the village:

This bracket fungus has been appearing at the same time each year for at least 7 years. With Mike's hand for scale.

The structure is amazing in close-up.

This beauty only lasted a few days before dying back. It looks like the petals of a flower! With my running shoe for scale.

Honey anyone? These next photos will strike fear into the heart of a gardener but Honey Fungus is just doing what it's supposed to do - help the rotting process!

The rotting stump of a dying Cherry tree which was cut down 14 years ago.

There were lots of small flies crawling all over them.

This is a beautiful example of decay in action! This is the remains of a diseased pear tree we cut down about 10 years ago. Mike attached some brackets to the tall stump and we hang bird feeders from them.

The whole tree trunk is teaming with insect life.

The next ones were found behind the barn either in mown grass or along the field margin:

This beauty was about 3" across

These next ones were really tiny, no bigger than my thumbnail and I had to lie on the ground to get close-ups.

These conical ones reminded me of the counters in Coppit. I've still got the game from my childhood!

I can't remember where I took this next photo but I think it might have been on the verge near the woodsman's yard.

If you've made it this far, well done for your perseverance and I hope you enjoyed the photos!