It’s a rushing around sort of day today so I will stick to the facts of the matter.

Nick arrived late and changed out of his (still unused?) sparkling clean runners in favour of his old and battered yet still sparkling pair as it looked like it might rain.  There’s a word for people like that, but I can’t think of it right at this moment!

We pretty much duplicated our route from last week except that the first mile or so was interrupted by Nick shaking his watch, exclaiming frustration and making general sounds of disbelief.  I agreed that our moderate pace did not feel like a five minute mile pace and eventually the issue was cleared up.  The watch had decided, of its own accord, to have a kilometer day!  There’s a name for that kind of behaviour!

The rest of the route was pretty uneventful (apart from when Nick tried to kiss a bull… it quite sensibly ran off) and we ended by sprinting down the road to keep the time sub-one-hour.

59 minutes then, covering 6.64 miles.  No rain.  The only mud was on my trainers (how does he do that?).  Good fun had by all!


I knew it was a mistake to tell Clive about the recent article I had read, which said that being stung by stinging nettles cures hayfever.

Anyway, it is fair to say that after the late night before, there was a groggy start to the morning after.  Still, despite the forecast of rain for the weekend, it was a beautiful & sunny day, so after the usual banana and quadruple espresso, I donned my ailing runners and got with it.

Aware that it was the day of the London to Brighton Bike Ride, I had devised a rough route that would enable me to enjoy the day, see the cyclists and get back without any real drama.  Thus I headed out to Oldlands Mill and down towards Ditchling, hooking a right before I got there and dropping down to Keymer.  From there I went straight across the fields to Clayton, arriving by a different path and thus discovering a new way up to the windmills.

Having run up the hill the whole way without stopping, I allowed myself a break to walk through the car park, before resuming my run up the track towards the Beacon.  There were lots of walkers, but it was so far just another Sunday. I reached the Beacon in about one hour fifteen and the view was so beautiful that I stopped to take this video.


The London to Brighton Bike Ride crew had set up camp in the car park so I availed myself of the facilities before standing to watch the cyclists mount the last rise.  I have a video of this too, but I can’t upload it.

I then set off down the track that I normally come up.  An unusual noise alerted me to a cyclist coming down fast behind me and I stood out of the way to let him pass (he wouldn’t have been able to stop at the speed he was going!) and then I loosed off the brakes myself and hammered down.  Suprisingly I caught him at the bottom where he had paused momentarily and we had a drag race up the road – I think we were both surprised how hearty my challenge was, although he kept accelerating when I had reached ‘sprint’.

Then it was down to Sporting Cars of Brighton, up East End Lane and north along the Sussex Border Path… where the conversation with Clive came back to haunt me.  Waist high stinging nettles mixed with slippery mud and tricky styles soon had whatever hayfever I had left on the run… my legs are still itchy, but it’s not so bad really Clive.  You should try it again!

I should mention that last night he recounted a tale of being flung, wearing only shorts, into a large nettle patch when he was young… ugh!

The Border Path is a really tiresome stretch, with its myriad gates and styles and as the two-hour marker passed my energy suddenly waned, like a light going out.  I found myself thinking about not peanut butter on toast, but peanut butter and jam sandwiches… serious sugar craving!

I walked, then ran, walked then ran, walked then ran, each time getting nearer to home.  I crossed the stream of cyclists again, feeling pretty sorry for these folk who had several miles to go before they even reached the bottom of the killer Beacon hill!

Then I was across the Common and crashing through the front door snarling for food!  Not a spectacular time, but the distance was a whiff over a half marathon and out of the two hours 25 minutes, I had spent at least some time looking at the view and watching the cyclists.

The run did take its toll though.  Having eaten and quenched my thirst, I fell asleep in a chair for a couple of hours and now, having washed the car (the only other thing I’ve managed to do all day), I’m ready for an early night.

An Adams Family Gathering

Kim, Cliff and I squeezed into the car and hotfooted it down to Southampton last night for Nicky’s 40th celebration (well, one of them, anyway).  We quickly realised that Andy had omitted to tell us it was a hat party, but that was probably a good thing!

Clive and Nat, on the other hand, arrived in their excellent hats to a dark & empty house, A&N having moved from it some five or six years ago!  That may not have been such an issue had they not walked there from the hotel at the bottom of the road that the party was in…  Nat was in an evil mood, as you can clearly see.

Kim & Nat sat under the patio heater all night as the party goers ebbed and flowed to them, while the boys took up residence in the kitchen doing much the same, albeit much nearer to the pavlova, strawberry cheesecake and chocolate tart.

An excellent evening had by all, rounded off by a post-midnight drive back along the coast… with Cliff trumping that by driving onwards from our place at about 2am!

Thanks Andy & Nicky!

A Bok day

This morning dawned bright and slightly cool, but for once I had no problem getting started.  Unlike Nick’s car which was suffering from a garmin-esque loss of battery power.  Not a man to let such a small detail stand in his way, he duly arrived and we set out at a slow pace down the road.

The Bok didn’t get his name for no reason and whilst I have occasionally managed to develop tactics to slow him down to my pace, or unsettle him, he usually figures out what I’m up to.  Alas. 

Except that he’s been tres busy, and the easy way to catch up with his news was to chat during a run.  Why don’t you bring me up to speed, Nick?

Whilst he talked, we headed out to the Royal Oak and up through Hundred Acre Wood where, despite the rain that we’ve had recently, the going was not too muddy.  Not that this was a problem as he was wearing his old trainers again… although he did tease me by showing me his sparkling new ones in his gym bag before we left!

Shame really, because I’m sure that I could have found a lot more mud if he’d been wearing them!

Deep into the wood, it finally dawned on him that he was puffing away between words while I was coasting along uttering ‘uh-huh’ in the appropriate places.  He zipped up and I zipped off ahead for a few minutes before eventually having to stop for, er… a drink of water. 

And some oxygen.

We crossed the Common chased by a herd of bullocks (sorry, that’s a load of bo’ks actually, but it did make him look round sharpish for a moment) and then on through to Wellhouse Lane. 

It was odd that someone had stolen almost all the puddles along the track and had also filled in some of the resulting empty hollows with road aggregate.  As we ran, I tried to figure out whether travellers had done this in preparation for some neat summer quarters, or that the owners had got fed up with someone stealing their puddles.  Either might help to explain the car that was jammed up against the gate, sideways, designed presumably to block all but the most intrepid of entrances.

The front runner changed a couple of times in the valley past the water tower, with the Bok streaming ahead into the dip and me overtaking him up the other side… the real moment of glory (for me) was not that I reached the top first, but that his heart-rate monitor finally cracked under the pressure and emitted a solitary beep-beep-beep-beep, before he gagged it with a deft right-hander.

Despite his heart-rate maxxing out, I am sad to report that it was I who then had to pause for air while the Bok continued ahead.

He graciously paused for me to catch up and I then stayed with him for the sprint up past the station, but he stretched ahead once again for most of the way down the hill the other side. 

Alas for the Bok, my coup-de-grace was the application of some differentiated strategic planning.  We always stop on the same corner, which is what he did.  But I unilaterally decided to move the goalposts right up to the house and by the time he’d twigged that I’d sprinted on past, it was too late and victory (pyrrhic, of course) was mine!

We covered a satisfying 6.7 miles in 59 minutes and celebrated by eating toast with espresso in the garden.

Six-thirty start

I woke up at six-thirty yesterday with the sun streaming through the bedroom window and staggered down to where Kim was sitting on the deck, enjoying the last rays of the afternoon sun.

Saturday had been a long day as we had driven up to meet M&D, Debbie & John at Wimpole Hall near Cambridge.  I remember when I was younger being bored stiff by this kind of place, but now I find myself interested on any number of levels.  We were also fortunate to have Julian, the Curator, follow us around and answering our many questions and he was even more fascinating than the Hall in many ways!

After a delicious bowl of soup and a cream tea in the restaurant, we headed back to D&J’s place for dinner and we eventually tore ourselves away from the conversation to drive home way too close to midnight.

It was pretty amazing then that I was in my runners and leaving the door just after half-nine the next hot and sunny morning.  It was a sluggish start, but I just focused on a steady pace and soon got into the swing of it.

Out to Oldlands Mill and through Ditchling where I decided to take an untried path… only in the pretty village of Ditchling could a public footpath be grassed and closely mown like the lawn of a manor-house.

I soon found myself on the familiar route to the Beacon, but with unfamiliar energy levels as I pounded up the steep path.  Maybe it was just because the ground was dry, so all my energy was pushing me forwards for a change.  Either way, I was surprised to reach the trig point in a mere 52 minutes… although the reason was that I had finally discovered the optimal route at only five miles.

From the Beacon I ran to Jack & Jill where I careered down the hill to Clayton, trying to emulate Richard Askwith’s fell running style without breaking anything!  From Clayton there is a path that runs along the railway to Hassocks and I went straight through and out onto the dangerous Keymer Road back home.  I’m not a great fan of running on country roads, but it was Sunday and the road was dry so I figured I had a reasonable chance of survival!

The route turned out to be 11.75 miles and I completed it in one hour 55 minutes… back to my normal 6mph speed.

Before collapsing in a heap, I managed to cut the grass, clip the hedge and read for a while in the baking hot sun, but then the weekend caught up with me and the next thing I knew it was six-thirty.

Mud pluggin’

Well it sure is beautiful out there this morning, like a proper summer morning.  Except that the recent rain has left the place really wet & muddy!

I wasn’t sure how long I would run for as I didn’t have meetings first thing, but I didn’t fancy running on the road again so soon, which meant that I was stuck in the local mud.  I quickly realised it was wetter than Sunday had been.  And there were way more stinging nettles.

I headed out past Ditchling Common and paused to say good morning to Mrs Lew, who probably didn’t recognise me as it’s been such a long time.  I then got stuck into Hundred Acre Wood, which was hilarious with its wall to wall mud.  The contrast of the sunlight filtering through the otherwise dark canopy made it almost impossible to see and I slid along more on guesswork than any rational ability, mud splatting liberally against my calves.

At the other end I crossed the road by the Royal Oak and went past the gorgeous church – it looks more like a very old and private house, which probably means that it’s very old… and not too C of E.  Just past this the path narrows, with barbed wire on one side and with the bushes grown right out on the other side it was quite a squeeze to get down.  Added to which there was a three or four inch deep puddle most of the way along.

My runners were already muddy so I just waded in, emerging at the other end to the sound of squelchsteps, which stayed with me for the next mile or so!

After Ote Hall I headed back the direct way, adding more mud to the backs of my legs and made it home in an hour and four minutes, the route being just over 6 miles.  Washed kit and muddy runners now drying outside in the sun and the mactop has just expressed an interest in my working outside today.  We’ll see.

Splatter calves

I had a lovely lunch with Cliff the other day and he mentioned that it was the Seaford Half Marathon today… and that you could enter on the day. I don’t suppose he will be surprised that I wasn’t there though. It’s not the fact that it takes £10 of fuel and 1000 carbon airmiles just to start my car. Nor that it would be two 45 minute journeys for a two-hour run. Only that I’m finding it hard to get out of bed at the moment. It’s like my head is full of iron… and my pillow has a magnet in it. Kim eventually successfully threatened me with an origami move.

Once perpendicular (great pictionary word) I downed a banana and a double espresso and headed out the door. It had rained overnight, but was now warm enough for shorts & t-shirt and my goal was to run about a half marathon distance, so that Cliff could only call me a lazy git, rather than a full-blown wuss.

As I ran through to Ditchling Common I realised from the surface mud that the rain must have been heavy and knowing that the route I had considered is tres muddy at the best of times, I went a different way… down Spatham Lane and right into Ditchling.

At the assembled MX5’s of Sporting Cars of Brighton I hung a left and ran up a little stream of water to the base of the Downs… and then upward. A walker that I passed kindly pointed out that there were slower ways for me to reach to top, but though my retort was ‘and easier’, I was actually rather enjoying it. I was reminded of the uphills in the Via Marenca Half… this scarp slope is a small step against that staircase of a climb and if I want to return to make a substantial dent in my previous time, I had better keep going now.

I reached the top of the Beacon almost exactly on the hour mark, not bad for just over six miles, but I was hot and tired. As I stood there, so a rather lively and nervous horse passed by on the path and not wanting to spook it further, I ran the other way towards Clayton. I quickly realised that I was following another runner… game on! Alas, this runner was going at my pace and I didn’t have the energy to close the gap. Eventually she paused to close a gate and I caught up, running on with her for a mile or so to Jack & Jill.

Working for the Health Trust in East Grinstead, she had recently finished her PhD in Pharmacology (or some such) and was training back to fitness… and for a 10k run from Clayton on Wednesday. Rudely, I forgot to ask her name, but good luck with that first hill if you ever read this!

As I left her in the car park, I ran easily down that hill and then opted for the dryer route back… along the pavement! Alas, it’s a long pavement, but eventually it brought me to the outskirts of Burgess Hill where I hung a right to the railway and then took the muddy path to the Station.

Almost home, I had to push hard to keep the time under two hours, but when I got here, there was one minute to spare. I might have finished in under 2 hours, but I had also missed the half marathon distance by 750m, having covered just 12.65 miles. Hey ho! At least I felt better than I have done after the last couple of runs, although I rather think that my legs needed a wash.