Running

Scottish Half Marathon

So my running app says 13.20 miles was run today, which means a whole 10th of a mile of extra pain! I made it to the end though and it wasn’t all bad by any stretch. Just that last stretch. Never has a 5k felt so hard as when it is tacked on to the end of 10 miles.

Running app map and stats for race
My route along the Scottish waterfront

However everything seems better after a hot bath and fish finger butty so I can now put this day into context.

If you want a good time, this run is definitely one to consider. Mainly flat or downhill, with only a few gentle inclines. We did get some headwind along the water front but I’ve had stronger winds in Liverpool. Plus the organisation is really good with wide roads pretty much all the way and some gorgeous scenery to boot.

I didn’t quite realise when we booked our hotel in Leith, that it was on the right side of Edinburgh to get me to the starting line. They have a park and ride system where you can pre-purchase the bus ticket or buy it (slightly more expensive) on the day.

If you need your own personal support team then it’s a bit trickier as so many roads are closed for the race. Anne tried to catch me just before the 5 mile mark but she couldn’t get there in time because of this. So you either have to know the nook and cranny roads or camp out at a spot a lot earlier. I’m not bothered by having an entourage though as I just like to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

The start ‘village’ was very roomy and well organised, and I didn’t have to wait too long for the toilet  (the loo queue is obligatory pre-race however many times you’ve been before!). It was quite a bright and sometimes sunny morning which was very nice while we were standing around.

Lots of runners assembling for the start
Pre race assembly

The race starts at 11 am so there was quite a bit of standing around and as I was placed in blue band (it depends on your previous or guesstimate time) which was right at the back. But we shuffled forward quite quickly and set off at just after ten past. The sun kindly hid behind some clouds for the vast majority of the race which was perfect timing and there were only a few drops of rain at the end.

I wish I had taken more pics along the route as when we turned back towards Musselburgh the water front was gorgeous. I had managed a selfie along with this one, but my teeth were still covered in beetroot juice from the gel I’d just taken so that one had to be deleted!

Boats on the water side
Boats lolling around while we do our hard work!

I started to get a little tired around 8 miles but had another gel which they provided and that got me into double figures. At this point everything started to hurt all at once and although I had another gel in my pocket, I didn’t think more energy was what I needed. A hip replacement was more like it. There was now a bit of walking involved but I was not bothered, so long as I got to the end somehow.

Lots of people were cheering us on towards the end, and that final mile or so was run on pure adrenalin but I managed it and was very relieved to see that Finish line.

Plus points were that I didn’t get picked up by the sweeper bus and actually my average miles per minute were pretty spot on to what I hoped – just under 11 minute miles. So although that last part was really tough it was a pretty good day all in all and it will serve as a good base time for the next run!

Life, Running

Pre-race Jitters

This bib coming through the post this week makes it official. Sunday (tomorrow!) is my first half marathon in over two years.

No more pretending it isn’t going to happen!

I don’t know if climbing ladders is good preparation for a race, but that is what I was doing all day yesterday. And although I knocked my knees a couple of times coming down ( oh my goodness, why does that hurt so much!), no lasting injuries were sustained. I’m building a wooden gazebo in the back garden, with the very kind (and honestly I couldn’t do it without him) help of my mate Gary. So far we have spent two and half days in total. But getting the days back to back has been problematic over the summer with both of us busy at different times. It is coming together as you can see, and I think one more day will sort this bad boy out and we have ourselves a nice, if somewhat airy, room on the outside.

Wooden gazebo with roof tiling half done
Nearly done but not quite yet!

At least I did something physical as I’ve barely run all this week or last. It makes me a little nervous as I find that doing a gentle 5k or so a day or two before the race ‘wakes’ (technical term) my legs up.

It is what it is though. I could have gone this morning but I still need to pack and do a quick tidy up before we get going, and, of course, knock out a quick pre-run blog. This doesn’t count though, as we always try and have a couple of cups of tea in bed and have a bit of reading time, so I’m focused on this for a concentrated hour.

I am looking forward to the big day though, even though the butterflies are setting in already. The course is apparently very scenic as we will run along the estuary. I have to think of it as a nice day out and not worry about the time. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll take about 2 and a half hours but at least I’ll be well ahead of the sweeper bus, that will pick up people taking longer that 3 hours 15.

Plus Anne and I will have a lovely weekend in Edinburgh. We’ll be meeting up with family and have tickets to explore Holyrood Palace, erstwhile residence of Mary Queen of Scots, amongst other Scottish royals.

So, there is fun to be had this weekend. I will do okay on the day, and it can be my new baseline from which hopefully I will improve. Watch this space!

Running

Sweetness and Light

No word of a lie: Adriene’s yoga theme for this month is called ‘RESET”!

What??!!

I didn’t know that when I wrote my last piece and of course, she knows diddly squat about me…or does she?!!!

Errr, no. But the synchronicity of the intentions has fired me up to be a little more resolute and follow her classes every day, for at least this month.

Also hit a little milestone on my running app last night. I completed the Chairman’s Challenge with the running club, which is 7.5 miles of hardcore Heswall hills as described in the blog I wrote when I ran it the first time. Despite still bringing up the rear with Sue and Janine, I actually did feel a tiny bit stronger than last time, taking just over 3 minutes off my PB.

But that 7.5 miles took me to just over a century of mileage for the month of August which is very pleasing. Plus, it took me just over the mileage that I managed in the whole of last year which is somewhat marvellous and makes me feel all super motivated to keep going, as I sit on my bed here typing this. This is the place that the motivation is at its highest!

My Year stats for running

During my run last night I tried out a new gel. I have always used SIS gels before but have always disliked taking artificial sweeteners.

The new gels compared to the old
Size matters, especially when you’re carrying these babies on your run!

The one I tried last night was Velaforte ‘Tempo’. It’s the one with a date on the front. All the recipes for this brand use natural sugars, so your sugar content is much higher than one with sweeteners. I don’t mind that at all as I need all the extra energy I can get when running. Plus, these little packets are so much smaller than my old SIS one, with the same amount of carbohydrates.

This is very different from the usual sugary sweetness I was used to. It does actually taste of date, predominantly, and is less sweeter than the SIS, ironically. But, once I’d got my head around that, it was nice, and it went down easily.

I would normally have felt a dip in energy, often just after the hour mark, if I didn’t take a gel. I didn’t experience that and I felt pretty good all the way around.

It is more expensive than the SIS; each gel in this pack works out to £1.60. I don’t mind that to get something a little more natural. I have to try out the other flavours of course, but it looks like I will be making the switch based on this first one.

And finally, the cat is being sent packing tomorrow to its real family down in London, so I thought I’d give you some final shots.

Life, Running

Remember the Yoga?

We are well into the second half of 2021 and far enough away from January past, as to quite forget our (or should I hold my hands up and say ‘my’) intentions set at the beginning of the year!

This is one of the several resolutions I made at the time:

·  New 30 Day Yoga with Adriene – followed by more yoga (5 times a week – or at the very least 3)

Back in January I did do that 30 day programme while getting a 100 miles run for the month. I felt great and my calves did not feel like the hard tight blocks that they would normally be with that amount of running.

Some people say that it takes a month to create a habit. Sadly, for me, unless it’s a bad habit, it hasn’t stuck so well even with the extra wiggle room I gave myself. The yoga has been happening off and on, but increasingly more off and there has been many a week recently when I have done nothing at all. However, I am back to running a fair bit.

And as I found out during the long run this weekend, it’s all tightening up again.

On Sunday I managed to get just over 11 miles. That was after stopping my app at just under 10 miles with a strong sudden tightening in my leg, probably cramp. I thought I wouldn’t be able to run any more that day but after a 100 yards or so of walking it seemed to calm down and I managed to do another mile before I called it a day.

Moral of the story?

Get back on the Yoga train.

I know it’s not just a simple balancing equation as  –  running shortens : yoga lengthens.

But, what I’ve found with Yoga (when I’m doing it regularly) is that it really starts helping me with my core, and I’m strengthening myself as well as giving myself a little more flexibility. Those three-legged dogs and single leg poses will eventually (once I get past the wobbling and collapsing stage) build the strength up in my arms and legs. Plus I know, from experience, that my lower back pain niggles disappear with regular practice.

And the other thing I have to remind myself of, every now and then, is that if I don’t look like the instructor, it’s completely okay. As Adriene constantly reminds people, it’s the process not the outcome that you’re looking for. For example, I can barely touch my toes but the act of gently trying regularly, will increase what flexibility I have in that area.

So, I’ve reset my intention and, at least for the full month of September, I’ll get some Yoga done every day and see if I can’t nail that habit this time!


Running

New Shoes

I don’t recommend getting new running shoes every time you need pepping up, as it would become rather expensive, but once in a while it is nice to treat yourself.

New Brooks Ghost 14 on the bed
The only time shoes are allowed on the bed is when they’re fresh out of the box!

I normally do that self-love about once a year but what with the world being the way it’s been, my current trainers are nearly two years old and I’m definitely getting to that ‘things are starting to hurt’ stage. It’s actually a good job that I was a lazy sod for a big chunk of last year as I’m not great at picking trainers on-line.

I went to The Runners Hub in Heswall. It’s a great, real-life running shop where the staff (runners themselves) know what they’re talking about and, actually, it’s a good job I went there too. Somewhere between my last purchase and this, my foot gait or shape or something seems to have changed.

I’m not great at the science of these things but I have always used shoes with arch support in the past as it has hurt my feet when I’ve tried without them, but the neutral shoe this time felt surprisingly comfortable.

I know things have changed over the few short years that I’ve been running. When I first started, I often kicked the ankle of my other foot, which was a tad painful and probably looked bizarre to anyone going behind me. Apparently it’s a common thing, and although we think we walk or run in a straight line our legs and feet sometimes do it in a roundabout way.

Partly (possibly) because my leg and core muscles have gotten a bit stronger over time and partly (possibly) because I’ve really been focussing on not landing on my heels first and using those chi running principles, this doesn’t happen anymore. Like I said, I’m not a science person so I don’t really understand the mechanics of it but it is good to know that this, at least, is going in the right direction.

Brooks Ghost 14 are the shoes I’ve gone for.  I had a little look at reviews (after I’d bought them) and one said that they were like the Margherita Pizza of running shoes, i.e. the blandest thing on the menu, yet one of the most popular shoes going! Wow, who knew there were people out there that paid so much attention to trainers!

The reviewer, to be fair, seemed to be very thorough, talking about sole types and uppers, and whether it gives you good propulsion etc. I’m sure there are people who will want to know these details but my main concerns are comfort and longevity.

My normal shoe size is 3.5 (36 in EU, 5.5 in US) but I go for about a 5 (38 in EU, 7 in US) in trainers. That gives me ‘spreading’ room. Not only to let my feet expand with all that pounding but to let my toes spread out as they land.  It has worked as I’ve only once had a toe nail turn black (that is also a common thing).

So these pristine, gleaming shoes have had a couple of short runs out to break them in. And they have been great, apart from a slight rub underneath my big toe, which I’m not too worried as I think that has happened with new trainers before and it quickly settles down.

The long run, or this week’s attempt at it, was going to be this morning but the rain looks constant and it’s just too soon to subject these shiny babies to a torrent. So it will be tomorrow morning that I try it out. Which also gives me another day to recover from trying to keep up with Anne’s family members’ drinking abilities, but that’s another story!

Life, Running

A Cat-astrophe

We have been minding a cat for the last few weeks and whenever I try and get the laptop out he insists on sprawling himself on me. I thought cats would be more aloof and keep themselves to themselves most of the time, but this moggy seems excessively social and has a thing about plonking himself on my lap or chest depending on how horizontal I am.

So I have now perfected the art of stretch typing. Laptop all the way down to my knees and fingers just about reaching to the keyboard while said cat drapes himself around my middle.

Cat, sitting on me, between me and my laptop
Yes, I’m very comfortable here thank you very much!

Ironically it keeps me focussed on the job in hand, instead of getting side-tracked by news stories or Instagram etc, as it’s not the most comfortable of positions to write in.

It has also, by dint of the cat not being human and not giving a fig about my disappointment, been a little bit cathartic (cat-hartic??!).

I had planned a long and steady 10 (or, if I could manage it, 12) mile run this morning and everything that could be prepared, was. Oats were consumed at the right time, Vaseline was applied appropriately, gels were packed and the weather was pleasantly cool.

First slightly off sign was a forced double-back three-quarters of a mile out because I knew I needed the loo. It happens, especially for runners, but I didn’t let it get me down and just thought that I had the advantage of being over a mile up before I’d even set out the door (this second time).

Then I listened to my running app training plan, which suggested I do the middle 6 miles at a slightly faster pace than my usual slow plod.

Perhaps that was the reason? But I’ve managed doing similar tempo runs before. Perhaps it was just my head going Pfffffuuuh, or words to that affect, but whatever it was, I stopped at 7.5 miles and I just couldn’t will myself to get going again. I was tired but I could have carried on, albeit slowly. I just decided to stop the app, stop my running and walk the last bit back (nearly 2 miles going the shortest route).

So now I’m very annoyed and I’m not sure if I can reason it away or whether I just have to wait, stroke the cat a bit more, and let the feeling pass.

Cat on my lap looking at me.
Talk to the paw as the ear ain’t listenin’

It could just be the culmination of a slightly unusual week.

Anne had a run-in with a hidden tree stump on the edge of a kerb a few days ago and pranged the front of our car. Our lovely, hybrid automatic has been replaced by a little, petrol, manual Skoda courtesy car. I haven’t driven a manual in years. It has been strange, trying to co-ordinate my left foot and hand to do so much, but I can report that, after the initial abject terror, it does come back to you pretty quickly.

I also went to a funeral this week as sadly, Peter, one of our fellow River Park volunteers, had died. I didn’t know him all that well but he was a friendly chap, especially to dog walkers who frequently went past us as we worked.

A few of us went, to represent this aspect of his life, and I realised, when I heard his brother’s eulogy, that it was a very small aspect.

It is rather strange and moving to hear about the life of someone that you only know a little. I knew that he was autistic but didn’t know that he lived a pretty independent life. That he had travelled all over the world including places like Hawaii and India. That he had a strong Catholic faith, and that his parents were part of a group of parents who refused to pay their rates as the Council could not find provision for autistic children in the 60s and who went on to create The Wirral Society for Autistic Children, which still runs today (renamed Autism Together) and supports a huge number of autistic people on the Wirral.

Thinking and writing about Peter has put my little run-fail into context a bit more. I still feel like it will be an uphill struggle getting fit for my half, but if I don’t worry about times and just enjoy getting out there it will be okay. I think.

Running

Seven Weeks to Race Day!!

It seems like an age since I’ve talked about running and it has been an age, or at least a good three months since I’ve run in any systematic way.

But the beginning of this week was officially the ‘seven weeks to go’ mark of my half marathon race in Scotland. That run that I’d talked about all the way back in March is actually, well, ‘racing’ towards me at an alarmingly fast rate and I need to knuckle down to something a little less piecemeal and a little more precise in my training for it.

I had hoped, when the going was really good in the first part of the year, to write some technical notes on ‘base training’. This is kind of the underlying body conditioning that you may see in the first four weeks of a sixteen week training plan. Perhaps I’ll get around to it in the build-up to another race.

However, for this race we are way past that point but I’m hoping that there is some ‘muscle memory’ from those early months. Plus, my body did get a jolly good workout during the Lincoln to Liverpool cycle ride. So all is hopefully not lost.

I gave myself a great confidence boost last Saturday when I managed a 9 mile run without too much pain and that was by far the longest run I had managed since April. I was exhausted for the rest of the day though so there is definitely still a lot of work to do.

Today I put my fair-weather runner predilection aside and went out in the cold drizzle for 10 miles.

The drizzle developed, after 30 seconds of running, into a heavier drenching. Knowing I would be out for about two hours gave me a few moments of panic. Then I breathed through it and reminded myself that I’ve been through worse. The Norwich Half in 2014 comes to mind for wettest race conditions ever and I survived that, so 10 miles here would be a cinch! It’s a good job though that the later iPhone models are waterproof as everything got a good soaking.

Muddy wet trainers and socks on the floor
Muddy and soaked

My aim is to try and do that 80/20 rule that I learnt on my Chi running course so this run needed to be slow. That is a little hard to gauge sometimes when you’re running on your own, as you can feel quite bouncy and energetic at the beginning. In fact I think that running deliberately slower than you can is almost as hard as going hell for leather.

This week I had already picked up the pace with the running club on Tuesday with a 7 mile handicap. Pensby Runners holds a mini race on the first Tuesday of every month, with the route alternating between 5 and 7 miles. It’s a handicap because you set off in the order of how long you would take to complete the route with slower runners going off first.

It was a good distance to test my ‘race pace’ for the half, which I hope will be around 11 mins per mile. A race, however informal it is, will always make you step up. Invariably you will want to keep the person in front within your sight so they will pull you along for a while. But you have to work out how much you can take without losing all your reserves to complete the full distance. My final average turned out to be 10.40 mins per mile which I was very pleased with as that included a sizeable hill at the end.

I didn’t feel dead on my feet at the end of that, but the following day when I managed half a mile instead of three I realised it had taken a lot out of me. So the rest of the week’s runs needed to be slow and purely about mileage.

Today, to stop me going off too fast I kept myself distracted with my favourite film review podcast, and periodically checking my body for any tightness. I have a bad habit of scrunching my toes until I focus on them and make them relax. And I’m very adept at slouching which is not great for your back.

I finished my ten miles in slightly over two hours which was fine: 12.07 minute miles, and now I’ve put my feet up to watch the Olympics which always blows me away! It’s not that you feel inadequate watching these people, it’s that they’re on a completely different planet.

Which is good because I don’t want to give up my trainers just yet. As I will never be one of the elite, the race will never be about competing against other people. It is all about me and how well I can improve and compete against myself.

Life, Running

Father’s Day

A bunch of flowers in a vase with Father's Day Cards

About a month ago I was happily looking at training plans for my September Half Marathon and seeing which ones I might actually manage to stick to for more than a couple of weeks.

Running to train though has slightly gone out the window for now.

Running for my own sense of wellbeing has replaced it.

Last week we learned that my dad’s treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a type of cancer) was deemed by the consultant, to be not working. It had been a bit of a punt, but one we all thought, especially my dad, was worth taking. The alternative, which is where we are now, was ‘palliative care’.

The gentlest of phrases that means the biggest thing.

I laced up this morning and got out for my first run in nearly two weeks and had no other objective than to breathe.

My usual short but hilly 3 and a bit miler, so no decisions on which way to turn. Not fast, but steady and gradually my lungs opened up.

Dad had been in hospital for a week with his second infection, and we’d managed to get him back home on the afternoon before Father’s Day. He did enjoy the day with three of us kids and half his grandchildren coming to see him, but he was very tired. By the evening my big sis and I who were staying with him, seriously wondered if things were imminent as she spoon-fed him some pudding while his eyes could barely stay open.

We called the other siblings to come the following day, just in case, but the night’s sleep created an amazing transformation. He was attentive, chatty, alert, ate his food himself and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the rest of the family.

There are five of us children and we’re similar to each other but different enough to squabble about the best way to make carrot and coriander soup. Well, we all have an opinion! We’ve been coming, on rotation, to stay with our dad, for the last couple of months.

We probably all deal with this in different ways and there will be peaks like Monday, and troughs, but I am extremely grateful to be part of a large family so that we can all share the caring but have a bit of time out as well.

It doesn’t matter that I was as slow as a snail but today’s running has helped me relax a bit and ease my mind a little from the intensity of the last few days. I may give it another try tomorrow.

Running

Cycling, not running

Signpost - left to Chester, right to Hope
What does this say about Chester?

I didn’t run yesterday as I spent a lovely day cycling into Wales with compadres from the running club.

Pensby Runners spawned a non-running child some years back, called PROBs (Pensby Runners On Bikes). They have been meeting, barring Covid lockdowns, once a week on Thursday. As it’s a day time, most of the riders are retired, but they’re not a sedate bunch. Their usual routes are between 50 and 70 miles, and include the odd hill or five. 

Luckily for me this week, a breakaway group decided to do a shorter route, around 30 miles, and so, knowing that I had a charity bike ride coming up, I joined them.

My ride is at the end of July. It’s a family thing, set up by my brother-in-law John, in memory of Mark, who had Motor Neurone Disease. We’re cycling from Lincoln to Liverpool over the course of a few days with each day being around 30 – 35 miles, so my trip with PROBs was a good test of whether I’d reach the end of, at least, day 1 intact.

Cycling by myself to the meeting point in Neston was a little strange, as recently I’ve always had my mate Gary to accompany me whenever I’d gone out. Still, I put my big girl’s pants on and got there just a few minutes before they were setting off, albeit adding a mile or so to my journey as I got a bit lost on the way.

People were just leisurely finishing their coffees as I arrived to an impressive row of bikes, lined up neatly against the walls. There is something kind of cool about cycling in a group. You feel safer (apparently Liverpool and the Wirral are some of the UK’s worst areas for cycle accidents and fatalities) and you are I am less likely to get lost. Plus if you get a puncture, there are people to stay with you to help fix it.

There were 14 of us on this trip, which split into two groups of 7 to keep it manageable, and we took off, once the drinks were drunk, to our lunchtime destination of Higher Kinnerton.

What do you call a group of cyclists? I suppose the obvious is a Pelaton, but it would be nice to have something a little more fun. Birds have ace ones, like a ‘conspiracy’ of ravens, or a ‘murder’ of crows. I’m all for adding a completely new definition, for example, a ‘scandal’ of cyclists! However, I’m no influencer, and it would be less likely to gain traction than the profane epithets occasionally hurled by irate car drivers.

We didn’t have 5 hills today but we did have a couple of toughies heading around Buckley. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. It’s a mantra that I gasped near the top of the second hill to give myself a bit of encouragement. I was encouraged that I didn’t have to get off my bike and push, so that was something.

Luckily there was some excellent route planning to make all the hills happen before lunch so that I could justify my triple chocolate brownie at the café in Higher Kinnerton. There was also time for one of the crew, Jenny, to get a little surprise cake for her birthday.

In a slight variation to the original route back, we stopped to see very cute donkeys chewing the cud in a field. Who knows what things these beasts had to tolerate in their former homes, but, in this sanctuary, they looked very happy.

A donkey in a field
Little Donkey, waiting for me to pull up more grass for it to eat

Then we rode back along the river and through Burton marshes and had a final group stop at the Harp Inn in Neston. There were loads of tables outside which was nice. I looked at my tracking thingy and it told me I had cycled just over 38.5 miles up to that point. I really intended to do the final 7 miles back to home when I sat down for my lime and tonic, but then, as the sun came out a little more, and I got a little more relaxed, I ended up ordering a beer and calling Anne to pick me up. Rome wasn’t built in a day you know!

Running

Bouncing Back

This may be a blip in the continuum, so I’m treating it very cautiously.

However…

Both on Monday and last night, during my first club run in about 18 months, I felt … stronger.

Could my week of squats, plus a random array of other, non-scientifically generated, strength training exercises, already start to be paying off?

I know! It’s crazy talk.

If such results could be got from less than seven days of 10 minute efforts, it would be front page news. So, probably not.

However…

My Monday run was in the evening when I’m not at my best. With looking after Alf all day, I’m usually ker-nackered and, more often than not, likely to recline on the sofa with a glass of wine. But to get my mileage back up after a few weeks of down time, I reasoned that my small, standard but hilly 3+ mile loop was attainable and would mean less panic by Thursday.

I realised, a mile in, that I hadn’t laboured breathlessly in that first few minutes, but I wasn’t crawling either. I felt quite ‘bouncy’ generally, and although it didn’t translate to a huge time reduction, it was quite spritely for me, and I wasn’t even trying.

Tuesday night, feeling a little anxious having not been club running for an age, I let virtually everyone shoot past me and settled in with the back group of injured or relaxed runners. I actually went on ahead and then circled back one or two times as I again felt ‘bouncy’. I circled back, partly because I like to chat sometimes with people and partly because I didn’t know the route. What I thought was going to be a 5+ miler turned into nearly 7 so I’m not quite sure if they knew the route either.

An old windmill, without sails.
An ex-windmill in Neston, now probably serving as posh lodgings.

Still it meant I could take today off from running and just do a cycle. Gary took me on a local, shorter but hillier than usual route, which was nice of him. But, good for me in the long run I suppose! The hot choc and cake in our break by the boat graveyard at Sheldrakes, certainly tasted good anyway, and the local robins took a few morsels to feed their fledgelings, which probably wasn’t the healthiest, but very cute.

I will be continuing with these strength exercises and monitoring my progress. If nothing else, it will be good to have some more indoor moves up my sleeves if I’m back in Leicester next week. My dad is still in hospital but he has his diagnosis at least and begun treatment. So, fingers crossed, it’s the start of an upward curve for his health and he can get back home soon.

The sun is making a bid for freedom this weekend after getting a pummelling from May’s rough winds and some lashings of rain, so I shall see if I can keep bouncing, or at the very least, feel the warmth and the start of summer.