Running

In Memory of Roy

Roy, at last Spring’s fundraiser Challenge.

Last night we ran the first Chairman’s Challenge of the year. It has now been renamed the Roy Fisher Challenge in honour of our long-serving previous Chairman who sadly died last week.

It seemed ironic, that our first club meet, after he passed way, should be this race. Roy devised it over a decade ago and it has been held quarterly ever since. Nigel, the new Chair, made a small but poignant speech as he had known him over forty years. He ended by encouraging members to think of Roy as they were navigating the harder parts of the up-hills, and if any expletives came to mind, then his work was done!

The evening was also the inauguration of the Fisher-Lite Challenge, which asked only that we do the first two hills as opposed to all three. I chose to do this one, as I really didn’t want people to be waiting ages for me to finish the big one as I’m even slower in the dark. I have done the big one once, last year, when Roy was still with us and able to get out and about. And I will have another go when it gets lighter. But this slightly shorter version was a good way of keeping my hand (or feet) in. With me were 21 other people, many of whom were still running novices and building up their stamina towards the club’s Couch 2 10K programme. Novices they may have been, but apart from one DNF (Did Not Finish) due to injury, they all completed this tough course brilliantly. 

I ran alongside, and often behind, two of the newbies, Rachel and Stef. They had hardly run any hills at all before this, so it was a trial by fire and they stormed it. It just goes to show, that with a little consistency and determination, amazing things can be achieved. It also goes to show how much of a natural born runner I am not!

The full challenge had 25 participants and all of them got to the end. It was lovely to see so many people out on a cold, dark night to salute or to swear at the old chairman.

Life

A Room of One’s Own

I have always had a strange fantasy of being holed up in a nondescript motel room, with only basic amenities. And this was well before Schitt’s Creek made motel living chic. And it has finally came true.

Westbound M4 Heston Service Station – Our home from home
(https://motorwayservices.uk/Heston)

I know, as fantasies go, it is a bit of a weird one. It ties in with another idea of living in a nun-like cell with just a bed, and few possessions. 

What does that say about me?

I have a happy, unhurried life, and to be fair these dream scenarios haven’t been longed for in a few years. But I think it stems from the many, and mostly wonderful, but sometimes overwhelming, diversions and distractions we have around us.

I know I’m exceedingly lucky to have so much on offer in front of me (or should I say, had so much, now that I’ve seen the new energy bills!). I also know that I have the propensity to fritter away time and be distracted by nonsense that is forgotten moments after it has been consumed.

Virginia Woolf writes, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’. I think of that and feel guilty about having such freedoms and not making good use of them.

This afternoon, thanks to Storm Eunice, we have just come back from spending a full day and an extra night at a Travelodge on the M4 by London, and it was wonderful. There was zilch in the way of anything to do, other than read and write. Luckily Anne is also very self-contained if she has a good book on the go and I was able to spend the day cracking on with course work.

As I’ve said in a previous blog, I’ve embarked on a post-graduate certificate with the Open University, doing Creative Writing, and the past few months have been a revelation.

When I did my first degree, all those years ago, I was rubbish at doing the work required, and I scraped a 2:2 for my non-efforts. Since October this time, I’ve been determined to create a different narrative for myself. I have always used the line ‘I don’t have the self-discipline’ whenever I’ve come across things that need a bit of hard work and effort.

I’ve picked up writing in the past, and put it down again because to sustain it and develop my skills needed practice and perseverance. I have tried fitness regimes, joined gyms, and wasted good money on not keeping it up.

So why is this course different?

I have learnt, at a fundamental level, that writing requires a huge amount of practice and perseverance. There is a modicum of aptitude to begin with, but not many people would have chosen this course if they didn’t have a toe in the water. It makes sense. You can’t be a painter, without learning all the techniques that have come on before.

So this is the thing. Why haven’t I given up yet? I think, partly because I’ve handed in two pieces of work and got good marks. A pat on the back when you’re working on something always helps, even when you’re an adult. I’ve also got into the habit of writing a blog every few days for a year, so that has helped my flit-about mind settle sometimes. And thirdly, the biggest revelation, is that I’m enjoying it. Now that is the most shocking thing!

Because I find (and this lesson has been learnt very late by me) that the more I do, the more I do! There are still plenty of times when I’m chewing the proverbial pen tip ( as  mostly I type). But it quickly passes as I just change how I think about it, if I don’t know how the beginning will be, I’ll write a paragraph on a bit that will be in the middle. Of course I’ll still make another cup of tea, do round of sudoku or three every now and then, but less so.

When Storm Eunice reached her full strength, our brief overnighter in the service station Travelodge turned into that slightly longer stint. And it may have appalled most people to find themselves stranded with just a few food shops, but our room had unlimited teas and coffee sachets, and a bath. I had my notebook and Anne had her kindle. Bliss.

Running

Aintree 10K

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks as the charger of my laptop gave up the ghost. I had to go into the Apple shop in Liverpool to choose between buying one off-the-shelf for a lot of money, or getting talked at by an engineer who checked and verified that my charger was indeed broke before giving me one for slightly less money. I don’t get it either.

So, today, instead of being all luvvy-dovey and romantic for only day in the entire calendar, I’m writing a blog about my race yesterday. But don’t worry, there’s a nice pot of tea brewing and Anne’s picking up the Fish ‘n’ Chips soon.

A very un-centred picture of the eventual race medal

Because the cost of entering official races are often so extortionate these days I only justify it if I’m working towards a Half Marathon. Yesterday’s Aintree 10K was a freebie, courtesy of a win in the lucky dip at the Pensby Runners Christmas party – I also probably won a dose of Covid at that do, but that’s another story!

 I haven’t done a 10K race in a long while and I wasn’t sure how I’d do. When I do 6 miles in training it can take 1 hour 10, sometimes 1 hour 15. So between 11 and 12 minute miles. There never seems much more in the tank when I’m done so I didn’t expect to go much faster in the race, but a teeny bit of me hoped to get close to 1 hour 5.

I’ve never actually been to the race course here, and it wasn’t exactly a day that showed it off to its finest. A dreary, damp and windy Sunday morning, and I could think of better ways I could be spending my time than going there. But I put my big girl’s pants on and didn’t wimp out, and got to the place just after the Half Marathon people had set off.

I’m very glad I didn’t opt for the Half Marathon place. Partly because I’ve not been further than 7 miles for ages, and partly because the course was 5K loops around the race course. For the Half you needed to go round at least 4 times which looked a bit soul-destroying and the scenery ain’t all that. I caught up with Mike later, a fellow Pensby runner who had done it. But he was a pro, and said he just got his head down and got it done. I could do with a bit of that mentality sometimes!

Mine was 2 laps, and the saving grace was that the course was fairly flat. Because I had got there early enough, I decided to do something that I almost never do before, in a race. I warmed up properly. I started jogging around. A little bit self-consciously at first ( only other people doing that were way more athletically built) then with a little more oomph. After ten minutes I stopped and was about to have a rest when the organisers gathered everyone round to do a few minutes of on-the-spot drills. Star jumps, fast feet etc.

Well that wore me right out, but perhaps it didn’t, because my final time was 1 hour 3 minutes which was more than I hoped. And to be honest, if it wasn’t so windy I might have even gone faster, so I was very pleased.

I have some friends doing another 10K at the beginning of May, and I’m tempted to join them. This run was definitely a nice confidence boost, and has shown me that all those slow runs are adding up to the occasional speedy one, and it pays to warm up.

Running

Game, Set and Match

Tennis balls on a court
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve just had a nail-biting time listening to the tennis on BBC 5 Live today. What a gargantuan match, and although I’ve got nothing against Medvedev, I am exceedingly pleased that Rafael Nadal was the first of the three male GOATs (Greatest Of All Time) to get past the 20 Grand Slam deadlock. (I’m not including Serena Williams in this as she’s in a league of her own).

I never, normally, speak on this blog about anybody else but myself, which is a terribly egotistical thing I grant you. But every now and then, you have to stand back and applaud absolute super-duperness when you see it.

I look at the grit, determination and astounding longevity of players like Rafa and I’m just in awe. You have to be a very special type of person who can be up at that level, for such a long time. Probably slightly bordering on obsessive – part of me wonders what their partners think of them – and phenomenally disciplined.

I know that I have nothing of that kind of personality in me, and I wouldn’t actually want it, if I’m being honest, but I would like just a teeny tiny bit more self-discipline than what I’ve got now.

It’s not at level zero, so that’s good, but there have been many days, where I could have just gone out for even a couple of miles and felt better for it, but actually did squat. Of my hoped for 100 miles this month I managed just over 70, and also just 21 of the 30 days of Yoga with Adriene.

So that was alright, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it, but I definitely have peaks and troughs with my exercise, and I occasionally wallow in mini sloughs of despond. I think that I’m not progressing, or worse, that I’m going backwards in my fitness. Sometimes that thinking gets me started again, but mainly it doesn’t help. And actually, unless I have taken a huge break, as I did the year before last, the going backwards thing is just not true.

I am progressing, but very, very slowly. That’s partly do with my stop/start approach to running, and partly because, I think, some folk have a more natural ability. It’s like when one group of people, if they decide to go on a diet, can lose weight really easily, whereas others struggle. So this concept of progress has to be internal to each of us, unless we’re one of the Rafas.

So I’ve thought of two things that will hopefully keep me going, especially during these winter months.

Firstly, I’ve put myself on the Pensby Runners committee, which is quite impressive considering I was a glass of brandy away from not going to the AGM last week at all. It’s a way to be part of the conversation to encourage people, and keep them interested, and that will hopefully then inspire me to stay motivated.

Secondly, I’ve got another Half Marathon booked in June. Although I’ve got a couple of 10Ks  and things in between, this Half will be the first one I’ve done with my mate Salena since I don’t know when. Both of us completed our first HMs in March 2014, in Liverpool. I beat her in that one. We’ve done a few since, but not for a long time, and looking at her Runkeeper stats, she’ll wipe the floor with me in this one, but there is still time for a little improvement and who knows what will happen. Perhaps the inner Serena in me will burst out! There’s nothing like a bit of rivalry to get the juices going!

Running

Runcorn Cross-Country Race

I don’t think I have cared for a pair of trainers as much as I have cared for these trail shoes. Okay, this is only my second official XC race, but I am fairly certain that this process of scrubbing the several layers of grime and grass after each time may turn into a ritual. It would be quite a therapeutic exercise, if it weren’t so very cold outside. However, there is some satisfaction to, slowly, uncovering the patches of neon pink until they join up.

Town Park, in Runcorn, seems like a rather lovely country park, or it did before we came and churned it up. I’ve never actually been to Runcorn, even though it’s only twenty minutes away by car. I’ve driven over the lovely arch bridge many a time, on my way to or from Liverpool, when I lived there, but never stopped because I had no reason to, until now.

Having finally succumbed to the dreaded disease over Christmas, this was the first time I would be giving it some welly and I was a bit nervous. I know a few runners now, that have suffered, or are still suffering from Long Covid, and it sounds pretty horrible, so, for once, I was a bit relieved that I am a very slow runner, and wasn’t going to push my lungs to their limit.

The course was a little less muddy than my first race, but there were still plenty of places where I nearly left my shoes behind, to be sucked in to the squelch. Luckily I had made sure the laces were tight, and triple-knotted, and tucked out of the way. I carried my phone this time, in a little plastic bag in case I fell. One of these days I will get a fancy watch, but for now this will have to do.

It was two laps, like the last time, which meant I had to get up two hills twice. The first hill of the lap was manageable, and I felt quietly pleased, as, I think, a year ago I would have struggled. The second, which has been dubbed the ‘ski slope’ (think ‘Black route’ as opposed to nursery slope) was a swine. As well as the steep gradient, it got increasingly slippery, and by the time I heaved myself up it the second time, I was going backwards almost as much as I was going forwards.

It did seem to take me a good two miles to get my breathing feeling more comfortable, but I think (hope) that’s because I was pulled along too fast at the beginning, and nothing untoward on the lurgy front.

Again, I was the last Pensby Runner to come in, but that didn’t matter, so much as finally seeing that Finish line. I was welcomed in warmly by the rest of the gang, and I didn’t fall, I didn’t twist my ankle, and I didn’t lose my trainers, so, for me, it was a win.

Life, Running, Walking

Marathons – never say never again…

During the walk on Sunday, I managed to first convince myself to run another marathon, and then convince myself not to.

The walk took just over 3 hours and gave me ample time for vacillating. Just over 7.5 miles (12.25 km), so it was leisurely, with a couple of stops for using the facilities, or opening a coffee flask. Our group gets together periodically, and there is often a little venture out sometime around the New Year.

I actually got into this walking for pleasure lark with these very people, or some of them, when they decided to embark upon the challenge of doing the Coast to Coast walk in 2015. We did about 200 miles (as we got lost a couple of times) over two weeks, from St Bees in the North West to Robin Hood’s Bay in the North East. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, when I wasn’t knackered, but it’s still something that I don’t do much of, except when someone asks ‘shall we do a walk?’. More often than not, it’s these guys.

This Sunday, we took in a chunk of West Wirral, starting at Thurstaston, along the beach towards West Kirby, and then back along the Wirral Way taking in the Dungeon (not actually a prison cell). The weather was cool but brilliantly sunny and dry; a perfect walking day.

Some of the group are runners, so I wasn’t fully boring them with my contemplations. I think Brian was the main recipient. He has done a number of marathons in the past, and, having required the assistance of a medical tent at the end of his last two, he has knocked it on the head, at least for a while. I have no idea why I suddenly felt like I wanted to try one again, given that my only previous two attempts were back in 2015 (they sandwiched the walk – it was a busy year).

Reflecting on the good second experience in Athens (November), as opposed to the bad first one in London (April), I know that I enjoyed it because I was, for me, extremely fit. I had bagged a Half Marathon that September in just under 2 hours. So with all my London training, and with all that walking under my belt, Athens felt like fun. I ended up doing them both in about five and a half hours, but I was running with a friend for the second one, and we ran at her pace.

Perhaps there is a part of me that wants to get under five hours, because I know I could have done in Athens. Perhaps the pain of training is so far away that I’ve forgotten that I hated it (not at all like childbirth – but you get my drift). At a couple points, during our perambulations, I was seriously close to going home and signing up for something this September.

But, as the walk progressed, and we climbed up a hill, and my right hip started to twinge a bit, I realised that, before I even start contemplating crazy things like that, I need to get myself to a level of fitness that hasn’t been in my body in over six years. It’s not unachievable, but I’m going to give it more than a few months.

Still, September 2023 in Berlin, around my 50th birthday, may be calling to me?

Life

Week 1

And whoosh! A whole week of the year has gone in the blink of an eye!

Not quite; I did have my eyes open but, after all the festivities and anticipations of the new year, it does seem to have come to this point very fast.

I think it has something to do with the previous 10 day isolation. That long ago time of glorious relaxation. Nobody to see, nowhere to go, and, luckily, no real symptoms to manage. Plenty of nice food and wine. For an anti-social sod like me it was heaven!

Although, to be fair, we were completely and totally ready to leave the house on New Year’s Eve  to spend a delayed Christmas/New Year with Anne’s eldest in London. But, after a couple of days there, a night in Leicester at my big sister’s, two days babysitting of our grandson, who, despite my fitness, can run the legs off me, and a trek into the wilds of Sheffield today, to see our new nephew, I’m ready for a warm flannel and a lie down again.

There was one day at home in that list above, but it was spent getting a bit of running done and batch cooking a chili for my brother’s freezer, as they will be busy enough over the next few weeks without having to cook.

It was so lovely to see them all, but getting there was a tad hair-raising, given the snowfall en route in the Peak District. Anne tells me it was quite breath taking. I had no idea as I didn’t dare take my eyes off the road ahead!

Snowy hills on the way to Sheffield.
Travelling to Sheffield, or is it the Alps?!

I know that I hadn’t set any official resolutions this year, but I need to pull myself out of the December lard, so I thought the two challenges I completed in January last year feel like good place to start. Adriene, my personal YouTube yoga teacher, does a new 30 day challenge each year and very kindly she begins it on the 2nd of the month for those who may have imbibed too much. I’ve managed to get on the mat every day so far, and already my lower back twinges less and my calves feel less tight. The other challenge is running 100 miles. Currently, I’m quite behind where I’d like to be, but hopefully, I can build it up as the month continues. And what better motivation to get out early doors when I can see skies like this as dawn comes in.

Blue and purple skies in the morning during my run
Morning Glory

Happy New Year!

Life

A Time of Reckoning

Well! What a year that nearly has been.

I’m sitting in the liminal space between Christmas and 2022, eating chocolate. Not just any chocolate. Not even M&S Chocolate. But home-crafted orange chocolate fudge courtesy of my wife.

Dreaded double line

To be fair there’s not a lot else to do given that we’re in the back end of isolation. Having finally been caught by Covid a few days before Christmas after it has ebbed and flowed in this country all year, our festive plans had to be radically changed, and instead of taking a sizeable section of a pig down to London to carve with Anne’s eldest and his family, we had to plead mitigating circumstances with the butcher and stay put.

Luckily, with our boosters, we’ve had not much more than light colds and Christmas was not fully cancelled. The two of us were well-stocked and once we had broken the bad news and other peoples plans were re-made, we have settled ourselves to a bit of a chilled out ten days, with fine food and liberal libations. Our trip to London is only postponed as we’ll be allowed out by New Year’s Eve so all is good.

A scrummy Christmas lunch even if it is just the two of us.

But while I have this time I’ve been pondering on the roller-coaster that has been 2021.

It began with mighty fine intentions and a resolution list that actually got publicly declared, so we’ll see how I did on that below.

January also gave us the very sad and all too sudden news that one of Anne’s brothers had passed away. Mark had Motor Neurone Disease but none of us were expecting him to go so soon.

At the end of March and into April, there were the beginnings of an inkling that my dad was poorly, and then several crazy months as things developed unbelievably quickly, culminating in his death, at the beginning of July. Intense times, but in the midst of those months, I spent a lot of time with my siblings. We always knew we had each other’s backs but it was good to know we got on so well during the stressful times, able to laugh together and cry.

Plus somewhere along the way, while my dad was sick, that little nervous Pomeranian, Rocco, who was spending his retirement with us, got suddenly ill and had to shuffle off this mortal coil too!

On a happier and momentous note, my amazing grandma turned 100 this year in May. We managed to pop down to see her for lunch at the beginning of this month, and as I asked her about her youth, she told me, with a glint in her eye, that she did go to school but she didn’t learn anything!

At the back end of July, I managed to stay in the tail-wind of two of my brothers-in-law as we cycled, over four days, from Lincoln to Liverpool to raise money for an MND charity.

In September we had a family holiday, a smaller version of the one we’d all planned at the beginning of the year, where we released our dad’s ashes to the sea, and toasted his life.

I also began a part-time Post Graduate course in September with the Open University, on Creative Writing. It will be for one or, if I do well and carry it on to a Masters, two years, and I’m very excited by it so far. I’ve no idea what it will do to me, or what it will open up for me, if anything. For a long time, I’ve thought that I liked the idea of writing, but was too much of a lazy sod to do anything about it. My regular blogging this year gave me that opportunity to begin practising the craft, perhaps developing a bit of a voice, and this course is my reward to myself. It’s a little bit very scary, because I’ll be putting myself out there to be judged by other people and I don’t know if I will pass muster. I also don’t know if I’ll give up, because it’s really hard work, and I know I can be a shirker. But for the moment, despite it being tough, I’m enjoying it immensely, and that will do for now.

Finally, this year has ended with a birth, to balance out some of the deaths. My brother and his wife (but mainly his wife) have just had another little addition to their family, and when we’re fully better, we are hotfooting it to Sheffield, to meet the little tot! Cannot wait!

So how did I do with my list.

Yoga
Well, I’ve done pretty well on the Yoga front although it still comes and goes in waves of effort. I can say that there has hardly been a week where I’ve done nowt of it, and quite a few weeks where I’ve practised four times or more. It is still a habit I’m trying to form and with the extra sitting on my buttocks that I’m doing for my course, I will need to try and keep the attempt going. Adriene will be doing another 30 day bobbins in January, and I’ve signed up for it yet again!

Running
I have run nearly 200 more miles this year than last year (842 miles), and actually, looking at my stats for all the years I’ve been running since 2013, it’s my second best mileage ever, so I’m fairly pleased. But given that’s included some busy off-months over the spring and summer, and a lazy arse December, I know I can do better. So I’m going to kick into the new year with another 100 miles attempt and work it from there.

WordPress
I still only know the basics, but that will suffice for now. I do need to try and push my ‘followers’ numbers up by remembering to advertise the fact that people can follow me.
Work in Progress.

Short Story Writing
That went out the window from dot, but I realised that I’m a bit pants at making stuff up. No. That’s not completely true. I find it really, really hard to do fiction and I’m much better at real life. This section of my course is fiction writing, and I have had a go at three first drafts just in this month alone. So I know it’s possible, if I give myself brain-ache.

Growing Vegetables
I grew nothing but Anne managed a pretty good crop in her first year. The Good Life beckons!

Learning Italian
I kept this up for three months. Which was quite good for me. Forgotten it all now.

Finally, as the small tips of muscles, I’d started to excavate, slide back into the folds of my skin while I demolish the chocolate, I won’t set up another list for next year as it feels like I’ve got a lot on my plate as it is. I’m pleased to have kept up the blogging though, as a mini record of this year, and that will definitely continue.

Fingers crossed it’s a calmer and more joyful year!



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Life

‘Tis the Season

So after my last post, all the way back at the beginning of December when I was feeling focused and energised and full of the joys of the festive season, I can report that I have since done almost diddly squat in the way of running. And the ‘almost’ is only in that sentence because of one piddly 3 miler that I did on Wednesday.

I managed, during that first week of December, a mighty fine 22 miles. Then Storm Barra brought more rain and winds and I’m only ever going to be a fair weather runner. So I battened down the proverbial hatches, laid the fire, and supped generously on the Baileys.

It wasn’t just the weather. I think that this is a thing that I do. Once I roll off the wagon at this time of year, regardless of how well it’s been going already, I subconsciously decide that I’m not getting back on again, until the beginning of January. I know it’s all psychological nonsense, but now that I have come to this decision, and because it’s only fifteen days until the New Year, I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much.

And yes, I know, it’s all about ‘little and often’ and ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’ but, for now, while I’m drinking the Christmas fizz and exploring my Hotel Chocolat advent calendar (thank you so much Karen!), I’ve thrown the schedule out of the window and having a bit of a break.

Middle section of a chocolate roulade with cream and jam.
Mary Berry’s recipe – a Christmas winner every time!

And frankly, with all these storms recently hitting our shores, both literally and virally, now seems a good time to keep the chocolate cake coming and stay in a semi-permanent state of inebriation. We may as well drink it all at home as the number of party invites is dwindling, unless you’re a Tory cabinet minister.

Oh who am I kidding? I’m just not wired that way, thankfully. I can lard it with the best of them for a couple of days and then I start feeling antsy. And to be honest, my tolerance for alcohol is pants. Anything more than a few glasses and I’m rolling around in pain the next day feeling utterly sorry for myself.

So instead of running, I did manage one little cycle ride with some of the Pensby Runners cycling off shoot (PROBs) last week. And this week I have rediscovered the gym.

As Wirral Council are now taking the subs from my account for my gym membership after nearly two years of closure, I need to get my money’s worth. I did visit a couple of times this week and used some of their weight machines but I think I need to gen up again on what to do, to make this strength training useful to me.

I do occasionally harp on about strength training for women, especially older women, to ward off the likelihood of osteoporosis after menopause. But I am a bit rubbish at walking the walk, myself, on a regular basis. So while there are limits on the number of people allowed into the gym and I’m not up close and personal to too many oversized sweaty grunts, I shall look at several YouTube videos on how to do deadlifts without putting your back out, and the like, and start pumping some small bits of iron. In between eating my orange matchmakers.

Life, Running

Deck the Halls

Candle table dressing with holly, pine cones surrounding the candle.
Anne’s table dressing

Today is the first Saturday of December and every year that means only one thing. Wine in the fridge, fire laid for the evening, free Spotify playing random Christmas tunes in between the adverts, and finally, the boxes of assorted, accumulated decorations down from the attic.

This year, in a rare departure from tradition, we are not having a tree! I know, shocking, right? Normally, the two of us can be seen half carrying, half dragging a suitable specimen from the grocers at the top of the road. Then we have a cup of tea and a little lie down before dressing it with a cornucopia of baubles, bells and fairies. But this year, because we are spending Christmas down in London with Anne’s eldest, we thought we’d just decorate the house and splash some lights around the window and job’s a goodun.

Oh, if only life were so simple. How can a set of lights that we only bought last year, just stop working? And then, where are the ribbons that tied the long faux evergreen branch to the banisters? Plus, how on earth can Baby Jesus just disappear from the Nativity set when it’s all been wrapped carefully and put away so well?? Hmmm, not the kind of miracle I was hoping for.

The day has turned cold, rainy and really rather windy. Perfect for justifying an indoor fire, and a little glass of Christmas Baileys maybe sooner rather than later at this rate. At least I can feel smug about getting my run done this morning.

In between the rain showers, I got out for a rather nice 10K, but I ran it a good two minutes slower than my previous run, a couple of days ago. I spotted quite a few arboreal casualties of last weekend’s Storm Arwen on my canter out. As we were in London, we didn’t realise how strong it was here. My last run felt tough and I was exhausted all day after. This time my legs felt very comfortable and I didn’t feel tired at all by the end, a brilliant feeling and a good reminder to me that going slow and building up the mileage is the key. If I do just a little one tomorrow, I’ll get easily over twenty miles this week which will be a mental boost.

But back to the decorations. Neither of us is now going to venture out on this squally afternoon just to buy lights, so that will have to wait a while. In the meantime maybe we’ll put up some good old fashioned candles. We’ve found all the other bits and Anne has done a fine job of tastefully bedecking our downstairs.

I don’t know how much of it will remain so tasteful, given that we have the grandson on Monday and Tuesday but for now it’s all looking lovely and festive. The wind can holler outside as much as Maria Carey is hollering inside, but it really is starting to feel a lot like Christmas now.