Friday, 29 February 2008

Old Woman rules the day.

As the storm rages against the house (making me slightly nervous that the electricity will ‘go’ at any point) I can reflect on the last two days.

I was due to see my Gran on Thursday (28th) but when I turned up she’s been in hospital overnight as her angina was playing-up*. She was far too tired to do much so we just had a simple lunch and then I high-tailed it to Newcastle.

TheO saved my mental health and sent me shopping (confirming my belief that I am the luckiest girl in the world). Newcastle had moments of great joy (Yo! Sushi) and moments of great tiredness. The first 2 ½ hours of shopping were sadly fruitless - there was just nothing I really wanted; nothing that was either special enough to splash out on, or great enough to wear all the time. I tried on some great boots - but they had nothing below a 6, same with some shoes in a different shop… are the ladies of Newcastle blessed with tiny feet, or are there only giant clod-hoppers sold to the lovely (if slightly over made-up, straightened, highlighted and teased) Geordie lasses?

Finally I found a huge Fat Face and went craaaaazy - the staff were wonderful and brought me loads of things in different sizes and colours, a bulging bag of wonderfulness was the result. Then there was a shop-wide discussion of quite how stunning Ewan McGreagor is… this lasted quite some time and women of all ages were left looking slightly misty eyed.

A pretty stunning day was topped off with a Starbucks as I waited on my efficient and cheap train. (I swear, I’m not making this up.)

Today was devoted to my Gran - she needed it. We had the most perfectly formed “old woman” day that could be imagined:
- We went to the building society (not Northern Rock thank god) to withdraw money with “the book” as cash cards aren’t to be trusted.
-We went to a garden centre for a ‘nice look round’ and some lunch in their cafĂ©.
- We popped into a factory shop to look for some nice “Marksies slacks“ - during this time I had to say nice things about items Gran liked whilst simultaneously making it clear that: I would not wear a heavily embroidered white shirt with gold lurex panels, just because she thought it was ‘young’.
- We paid by counting out (what felt like) hundreds of pieces of change - can there be a more stereotyped image?
This was topped off by a nice cup of tea and a sit down, with her own homemade drop scones.

I’m now prepared for my final night here. The car is half packed, the food has dwindled to some scraps, the cat is beginning to like me … must be time to go.
*Do not think I am in any way heartless. She is going to live forever and has always been a hypochondriac; she's only happy when she has something to complain about. She openly tells anyone who will listed: I'm not an old woman yet! This is said with great indignity. She will be 83 in 2 months time. Her mother lived to 102.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

A nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Another day - another run.

8 mile - 1.21.23 (2min 19sec faster than my last 8 mile best)
Avg 10.11

I never really settled and spent too much time thinking “only 0.x miles until I can turn round”; “only 2.x min off the pace”. It was just too rolling, too hilly, AND too windy to relax.

10.53 - gentle uphill / 10.54 - uphill / 9.22 - felt flat / 9.44 - gently rolling / 10.22 - gently rolling into the wind / 11.04 - the ‘felt flat’ portion was pretty much a 3-4% gradient going UP, also into the frinkin’ wind / 9.56 - rolling with a nice little down hill / 9.03 all downhill - yippeeeee

The run was designed to take my mind off the fact that the electric went out for 20min this morning. The ‘phone line was also down … the idea of being stuck here without internet was definitely a thought that needed to be run away from.

Luckily on my return the lovely men from BT were in the field - all was fixed.

It’s really very boring here (you may already have guessed from the blandness of the postings). I went through the tourist guides to the area and discovered that everything was shut. It’s an area full of castles, houses, stately homes etc - and there is nothing open - nothing until Easter. I could go into Newcastle but I just end up wandering round trying not to spend money, all becomes a bit pointless and depressing.

Wow - I’ve depressed myself.

Off to make a restorative cup of tea and have a nice sit down.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Art and Life

Yesterday the final news came through regarding the house. Someone else had a huge offer 22% over the asking price accepted! Well, better to know now than wait for months and then lose out anyway. A mental line is drawn under that property. Let it never be spoken of again!

Today I was going to go for a run - but it’s far too windy. The 60ft trees beside the house are bending like sunflowers and we’ve already had at least one power cut. Let’s hope there aren’t any more - that level of boredom might KILL ME.

So, instead I hightailed it 20miles to Hexham (voted prettiest country town 2006 by Country Living - their standards are not that high, it kind of sucks whilst having some pretty bits). Its main attraction for me was the arts centre. Jehsus! Arts Centre - I don’t think that one room with 4 bits of modern tat (and I’m a BIG fan of modern art) makes for a “gallery”. However, the place was saved by also being the public library. Free fast internet connection was mine, all mine *rubs hands with glee*. After checking my email I decided to get on with the business of house hunting. I spent ovar an hour searching all the usual sites (11 property agents and 3 more collective sites) and found one house, a pretty great house too. I emailed TheO, we discussed it, she called the private seller and discovered it had been sold - LAST JUNE. I was not impressed; my desire to not ‘waste’ a morning had just resulted in even more frustration and it was also the only possible house out there at the moment. How utterly fucking pointless.

Ah well - moving on to lunch; a real highlight of my day when having so little to do. I decided to be relatively circumspect and ordered the Caesar Salad. I am in the North of England, I ordered a salad; past experience should have told me to beware. It was lovely chicken, lovely ham (!), crispy bacon, good dressing, cucumber, tomato, giant croutons and all covered in dried packet parmesan. I’m not a complete food snob, I’ll eat all sorts of crap with joy in my heart, but DRIED PACKET PARMESAN - seriously! Luckily it was still edible. Also, do you notice th elack of salad? - it wasn't really edible salad more the sort of thing that just lined the bowl. There was also some potato salad which honestly tasted as if it has been made by whipping butter until it was runny then adding a tiny amount of mayo. All in all, not the healthy option I’d been looking for.

A pottering drive home sees me here, with an old episode of Grand Designs wittering away in the background and the trees rumbling in the wind .

Tomorrow I must run…

Monday, 25 February 2008

Ramble On

So - this being alone thing is rather strange. I have too much time to think, to ponder on the world. But more of that later…

Delighted to awake without pain this morning. It’s so nice that a good long run doesn’t leave the limbs shredded anymore. I was asleep before midnight last night. V unlike me, even after a run. It seems that tedium causes sleep.

Back here by 11am this morning. I’d been up; fed the cat, fed the birds (wild, outdoor birds, the most luscious looking pheasant you ever did see), gone into “town” and had my lovely Costa coffee, put cheque into the bank, shopped at M&S Food (again!!!); and returned before I am usually caffeine-d when at home.

Ah well, the email is checked; the essentials of the internet have been digested. Today those essentials were pretty much only the BBC news images of Oscar dresses (never one to avoid the shallow) ; and check the Scotland news, just in case they shut the border whilst I’ve been gone. ;-)

In town (a good 10 miles away) I glimpsed a magazine which really freaked me out: YOUR DREAM WEDDING CAKE - wtf I mean, how, in what world, is this a title that can publish monthly?? I understand there are a lot of wedding mags out there, and some that specialise in particular aspects. It’s all such hokum, such unmitigated crap designed for people with no ideas of their own. It’s such a huge industry of just trying to sell stuff.

It’s this “selling of stuff” that leads me into the depth of my thoughts. I was wondering if the incredibly materialistic and consumptive (if that could please be a word, and not in the TB sense) society we both find ourselves surrounded by, and participate in; is really a new form of shackles for women-kind. This is NOT to imply that men do not also feel the urge to “buy” - but just that they are not targeted as unremittingly.

Everywhere we go adverts and shops are desperate to get us to consume. Is the desire to fulfil a certain life and style (exclusively and in combination) becomes such an all encompassing thought that more important issues are driven out. Women’s magazines are full of fluff - all sorts of fluff - and we are distracted from politics; from social reform; from issues of sexuality and violence. We are cocooned from/against society in its more raw forms. I am not suggesting that all women fall for this, I am not suggesting that all women are uninterested in politics and social reform; I am merely suggesting that the media interest in selling “stuff” and in promoting consumption (whether it be shiny new designer brands, or tiny boutique-y eco-green canvas bags) provides a comfortable duvet under which we can hide. It’s the comfy bed that no one wants to be dragged from of a morning.

More mad ramblings to follow. I’m off to put myself back into the straight-jacket.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Blogging on dialup - I must be desperate!

Ah, the ole blog. My connection to the outside world. I’m trapped, cat-sitting a cat who doesn’t care. (Should I be surprised - it’s a cat!) Any real shops are 10 miles away. I’ve rearranged the house (in a way I can easily put back) so that I can live in the kitchen with the Aga - and therefore keep warm!

My new best friends are the TV - with crappy dig box, what more do I need than reruns of anything with Phil & Kirsty; and the radio. Feels like company.

I’ve stocked up on healthy (boo hiss) food and drink. I’ve got the Sunday papers, a few new books, and all my work stuff to work through over the next week.

Now it’s comfier (squashy chair and good TV in the kitchen) I can just chill out. I might have a small nap due to the following:

Went out for my run this morning. Plan was for 12 fast miles - 10min/miles for that distance would have been a good aim. After 3 miles I stopped (both the timer and my legs); it was just really hard for no apparent reason. I’d had my huge coffee, 3 slices of toast with peanut butter, and ½ a Lucozade Sport. My first mile was quite fast and the next was all uphill - I think those two combined factors really did me in. But hell, sometimes these things happen. I took 4min (exactly) to take off my jacket, drink some water and reassess. I decided I was just being a pussy. I could do 1 more mile then turn and go home. 8 miles would be good enough?! After mile 5 everything picked up and I did some ½ mile out/ ½ mile back runs to build up my mileage. 11 miles was the total. (I should have done 12 - but hell, it was so much better than I expected - I’m happy anyway.)

11 miles 1h 54 min
Avg speed 10.22
1558 calories burnt

I was so pleased at the end when I checked my last long run (about 2 weeks ago - eeeek) I was 30 seconds a mile faster! This really feels like a result, I’m chuffed.

I wondered if the hills would be easier this time (I’d never done any real hill work before staying her last time) … not really, just long rolling stretches, end up climbing for what feels like miles.
Right - off to rest my stomach (had a great lunch of Cumberland sausage and onion relish pannini then lemon meringue pie - YUM) and my knackered legs.
ps/ We didn't get the house ...

Friday, 22 February 2008


Can hardly breathe with anticipation.

Offer in on house - have to wait.

Feel sick.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Fast, faster, fastest.

Not only are things moving apace with the house. (Surveyor is there as we speak/type/read ...) But yesterday I managed to confound my body by using the running machine set in Kilometres.

I thought around 11k/h would be a good pace. By the time I worked out what it really as I couldn't possibly 'back down'.

Incredible run 10k in 54.30! A full 4 min faster than my fastest ever.
3 gentle rises - building up and down on basic aerobic setting.

A total of:
13 min at 3%
13 min at 2%
12 min at 1%

Avg 8.48 a mile - never done this many sub 9 min miles before. Just left the machine on 11kph or upped it slightly for the flat sections. Felt really dead last night, but it was a stonking run. Legs aren't too achy today.

I tried to pay a little attention to my heart rate too. Even though those machines are NOT accurate I was fairly pleased to see my heart rate remain relatively constant at 3, 5 and 6 miles. Once it's built up to speed it seems to remain quite steady - only the hills/gentle rises made it go up a little.

Right -off to work now.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


Found it - now we just have to get it!

(And I do mean a great house!)


Running and, not surprisingly, thinking.

I did manage to get a run in on Valentine's day. A delightful 7 miles. The 10K was at a great pace - completed in 58.30 which pleased me no end. The last mile was in 10.50 - a gentle warm down.

Valentine' night meal was wonderful. Really good chat with the girls. Ruth brought us flowers, Helen chocolates, TheO made lemon cookies, and Teech had bought us a collective card! (I felt ashamed at my lack of participation in the gifted goodness.) Cafe Marlene was a real find.

The next morning (after a lovely sleep at HH & Teech's) we pegged it to Carluke to see a horrible house. It was entirely clear why it had been on the market for almost a year. Too much work; they'd sold the garage and someone had made it a tiny house; they didn't own the bottom bit of their own drive! A huge list of stuff to be done inside... just a bit horrid. We played nice with the owners then scarpered.

We scarpered as far as Staffordshire to see Bro and Sis in law's new house. It's a stunning old farm house in the Peak District National Park. We stayed for the w/end chilling out, going out for some scrummy food in the vast array of pubs and bistros availably locally, and playing an obscene amount of backgammon.

They'd worked really hard and managed to get beds and bed linen there before our arrival - despite only moving in 3 days before hand - so we were the first guests to appreciate the new beds. Nothing like a new mattress to make you realise what is wrong with yours!

16th - After a big meal I managed to get myself out of bed and into the great (and bloody freezing - I got a chance to try out my new running headband with ear protectors) outdoors for a run. I think being 500m up makes a difference. I was a bit shit. I was merrily running along admiring all the peaks and the mist in the valleys, thinking: lucky me, I appear to have found the only undulating rather than hilly, part of the peak district. I then had the misfortune to turn the corner. Running down was no problem, running up was deemed an impossibility. I had to walk, much to my chagrin. Pah! What is it about feckin hills that means I can run a long way relatively happily but can be defeated by 0.3miles of a steep slope? So - it was 5k in 33min.

After a great day antique-ing and pottering around the countryside (with our dogs, they came into the place for lunch and for tea - it was revolutionary) we went out again. I tried to be sensible thinking about the run the next day ...

The morning of the 17th dawned bright and much warmer than before. I drove to our lunch destination and started my run back. 3.3 miles took me 38min. It was about 2 miles up hill. I still had to walk for 0.25 miles. It was so tough, but a really spectacular view, being greeted by cheery walkers, climbers and boulderers; wonderful to see so many people enjoying the great outdoors. (But by gum it really was busy - the opposite side of the hill from Bro & Sis -in law's new place is walker heaven/hell.)

We all walked to the cafe for lunch - we went across "the roaches" - really getting to appreciate the enormous boulders that form the idiosyncratic peaks. It was a very pleasant hour's walk that made me ready to appreciate my lunch.

We were sad to drive up as it had been such a lovely wee break. Sunday night saw us back at home chilling barely able to believe we'd be to Staffordshire and back in such little time.

Thursday, 14 February 2008


I could give you a full update of all that's happened in the last week. But you might pass out from boredom and crack your head off the table, I don't want the responsibility.

7th - 5K (31min) with pooches through the woods.
8th - Massive gym session weights only.
9th - Wonderful long run. Decided to really make an effort to go sloooow. 12 miles @ 10.50 pace - good and hilly with some bits of a new route. It was a perfect day - crisp but sunny... if only the headwind on the way out had given me a push home instead of dying away - it would have been spectacular.

That day 4 great friends came up ad we all went out for a lovely dinner. It was a good night - great food, good chat, happiness abounding. Plethora of flowers now fills the house - makes me smile.

10th - Having done my long run Sunday became everything a Sunday really should be: long walks with pooches on the beach, picnicy lunch, gentle relaxation.

11th - Highheels and Teech arrived (we're never one for a quiet life) full of the joys of Spring so we headed out to The Seafood Restaurant for a lovely leisurely lunch. We watched the fog advance and retreat from our little glass box and whiled away a considerable number of hours. We then divided into two camps - golf and shopping (god help the predictability). HH and I managed to find a fantastic top to go with a dress - it was perfect!

The last few days have been a little strange. I haven't wanted to run - so I haven't. I always assume my body is telling me something. But this has been a bit weird. I'll go for a run today as I can't imagine not running for more than 4 days at this point in my training ... who knows why I feel so disinclined.

You know that life has taken a slightly strange turn when you find your self in an Asda car park drinking champagne ... from the bottle. That was my Wednesday(13th).

Manic couple of days coming up. Off to see the Cheeseboard tonight as we're all going out for a Valentine's meal - to be silly rather than romantic. Luckily there are some understanding partners out there - and some who have headed for the hills... sensible choice.
Then we high tail it to Staffordshire to see Bro-in-law's new place - this should be a fun w/end as long as we remember to pack all the pooch stuff - and the inflatible bed! Oh, and en route we go and see a house which obviously has something wrong with it (been on the market 8 months - now fixed price) and isn't in the right place. I swear - there is logic in here somewhere.

Right - must get some work/packing/running done.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Frustration = Speed

Last night we decided to hit the gym. We turned up at 5:30 (yes, yes, a really crap time) and I heard the receptionist say to her lacky (about the couple in front of us) "Is it ok to have 11 in the gym?" Now, let me describe this gym. It's tiny! There's barely room to walk between the cardio machines - you have to be seriously careful. If you're using the total hip machine no one can open the door. There is about enough space for one or two adults to lie down on the floor in the middle of the machines - but people would have to step over you as there'd be no room to walk round. Oh, and there are no windows.
TheO nipped along the corridor - declared the gym "packed" - so we left to go and get the shopping done. We returned at 6:30 to be told by a dead pan receptionist that: "the gym is ALWAYS closed on a Tuesday night from 6:15 - 7pm". Now, this may be the case but why we should know their feckin' timetable is beyond me. Why she couldn't phrase it something like: "Unfortunately the gym won't be open again until 7pm due to a regular class, but we do have a cafe area where you'd be welcome to wait if you wish," is my question? I get seriously cheesed off with bad service but why do all our council gyms seem to hire po faced auld hags with a serious case of authorit-itis? Everywhere we go - no matter how polite we are, it's the same crap.
So I had 30min in which to calm my rage. This passed painfully slowly in the warm and child infested 'cafe' (vending machine hell) area; we then raced to the gym door and queued for entry. Damn glad we did as apparently everyone in a 20mile radius turns up at 7pm on the dot. Having secured a running machine (I'd happily have scythed people down by this point) I decided to see what I could do. Maybe, just maybe, a sub25min 5k was possible.

1st mile in 8.10 @ 1.5% (for fun)
2nd mile in 8.00 @ 1.5%
0.1 of a mile still at 1.5%
Last mile at 1% (because I'm weak) - and I did have to slow for 0.1 of a mile to 8.20 pace instead of 8.

5K total time 24.55

A new best. A best I'm really pleased with. A best that hurt like hell. 12min faster than my first ever 5k. My only other thought - well, that's this weeks speed session take care of!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Long Run and other matters.

Decided, for no apparent reason, to do my long, 10 Mile, run on Saturday.
9.49 - 9.57 - 10.12 - 10.17 - 9.53 - 10.02 - 10.18 - 10.32 - 10.48 - 10.39

avg - 10.15

Was really hard - tough run - ended up being fastest ever training 10 miler though - always good; made some of the horrible straight roads seem worth it.
My 9 miles was 1.31.49 - 3 1/2 minutes faster than my last 9 miles - but there were fewer hills too.

After a shower and a bit of R&R TheO decided that we were going out to The Cellar in Anstruther with Prof and Rockgod. It was a lovely meal - really chilled and good craic. Was a perfik way to spend a Saturday and knowing that Sunday could be a day of rest really perked me up.

After some hideous destruction we finally got rid of our paying lodger pooches on Monday. Over the course of a week they managed to eat or destroy:
A 1m square patch of kitchen lino.
A small patch of kitchen wall.
A lovely pair of deerskin gloves.
2 Cds
1 pairs expensive running socks.
A bottle of lucozade sport - only mentioned as it was so messy - and looked like pee!

Apart from the destruction they were really lovely dogs. Ah well, that's what happens when you look after strange hounds. They gave the heart a good work out with the constant rising of blood pressure; the lungs also had a work out as they were yelled at - frequently.

Just been getting back into the swing of things with work - it's always satisfying making stuff - even when you mnage to bang your finger and get a blood blister. Think we're about to head out to the gym - need the run around.

Friday, 1 February 2008


Hmm - had a nagging realisation yesterday that Yasso's might really only be designed for people aiming for a sub-4 marathon. They might not be quite as effective for the slow like me.

As hormones are in full rage at present TheO very gently encouraged me to go to the gym this evening. She needs me to 'take the edge off' sometimes; luckily exercise does this, she hasn't had to resort to the horse tranquilizers (yet).

(As the running machines were full) I did fast, circuit style weights work:

Tummy machine on weight12
12 x 1
20 x 1 (side obliques)
12 x 1
Tricept pull on weight 4
3 x 12
Lateral/Trapez. pull on 5
3 x 12
Pectoral push on 6
3 x 12 - vv hard
Leg push on 8
3 x 12

(This gave me jelly legs when I started to run.)
2 miles in 18:45
On aerobic setting so 3 small hills of a 0-3 on incline and back each time, managed to keep up a good pace.

A rather dull round up for a rather dull day.
I've set a personal embargo on house-hunting tomorrow - so the work must get done!
Fingers' crossed for some sunny (at least not storms, rain or snow) weather for the long run this w/end.