Seaside sun

It was a beautiful day, so I drove down to my folks place, ran the lawnmower around the garden and then ran down to the sea.

But first I met lovely new neighbours who, out of a world of choice (they moved from Shanghai) had chosen this place to bring up their child.  I reflected on this as I ran.

I knew before I had even reached the ridge path that I was low on energy compared to normal… it was tough going even three minutes into the run!  But the views were glorious.

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I ran down to the bottom of the Ovingdean valley and then along the Undercliff Walk to Rottingdean.  Exhausted, with only the downhill and level bit completed, I then had to fight hard to make my way back up the hills without stopping.

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As I ran back up the ridge path an unusual thought occurred to me, prompted by my conversation with the new neighbours.  I’ve seen lots of beautiful villages, towns and cities in this country and around the world, but as places to come from (I was actually born in my parents house), this really is a rather lovely one.


According to Strava my 5.9 mile run took me 1 hour, the slowest time to date… though bizarrely the fastest time is only 2.5 minutes less.

Of course, when I got back home later, the first thing I did was not to sit & recover, but rather to get the lawnmower out and cut the grass and the green… doing my bit to keep the area lovely for those people who come from (or simply live) here.

Indian Summer

Working outside this morning at the bistro table, in bright warm sunlight (t-shirt temperature), was a real treat for late September.  It was a glorious Indian-summer day!

I have spent the last four days in scruffy clothes, helping Kim refurbish her rental flat.  I consider this work (cleaning & painting particularly) to be really good for the soul, not to mention good from a thinking perspective.  Its mundane, repetitive nature requires clear singular focus, leaving space in the background to process more important stuff, in this case preparing for a series of new (and typically unusual) L&D sessions that I’m running for clients over the next few weeks.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman describes the conscious in terms of a stowaway on a trans-Atlantic liner, claiming the credit for the journey and ignoring the vast machinations below that are actually doing the hard work.  The subconscious will have spent days, weeks or even months making connections between input material and everything else we already know and the result bubbles to the surface like methane from an old rubbish tip.  If the conscious has plenty of bandwidth available, then it is able to sense this virtual methane, claiming it as brilliant flashes of inspiration.

I chose my short local route to minimise the time out, opting for the sunny paths to make the most of the weather.  The greens were lush and the wooded sections delightfully dappled and all the while my conscious mind was whirring away, catching the ideas that bubbled up from my subconscious.


I was even surprised at one point by a memory from the seventies.  Ferns must create their own microclimate which is more humid and has a really distinctive smell.  Passing through a bank of ferns in the sun I experienced both the humidity and the smell and recalled the times that I had come across them in Walstead woods when I was a young Scout… happy days!


I was so enjoying the stuff going on in my head that I extended the run by running across the Common on my way back home, despite the fact that my body had probably already had enough!

So, according to Strava, 7 miles in 67 minutes, an average of 6.26mph.

The sky is still clear but the afternoon is already not so warm… with the Autumn equinox approaching fast, we’re unlikely to see many more Indian summer days this year.  At least I’ve really enjoyed this one!

Grey, green and pebble dash

It was a flat grey morning and I decided it would be a good day to drop in on my folks and run from there.  Sunny days are lovely on the coast, but there’s something about a grey sky and flat water that really appeals to me.

I ran down the ridge path from Woodingdean to Ovingdean and then down to the valley floor and out to the seafront.  At the top of the steps to the Undercliff Walk there’s a real vantage point, so I paused momentarily to take in the view.


Then I went down the stairs and along to Rottingdean, pausing to take photos each time something caught my eye.

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From Rottingdean I headed back to Ovingdean past the windmill.


And then, having got all the really steep climbs out of the way (and got a hearty ‘Well Done!’ from a lady who lives on the steepest section), I took the ridge path back to Woodingdean.


Despite the grey, it was a really lovely run and warm enough to be comfortable in t-shirt & shorts.  According to Strava, I completed 5.9 miles in 58 minutes, an average of 6.1 mph.  I’ve run this same route four times now with Strava since January and there is surprisingly little difference in the times… 30 seconds faster, 3 seconds faster and 69 seconds slower.

Life is good!

Big man Daren and I had agreed to meet at Jack & Jill windmills this morning for a run and it’s fair to say that the weather was very kind to us indeed!  It was a glorious day, with a slight mist making the place look nicely atmospheric and (since I’d forgotten my sunnies) usefully taking the edge off the bright sun.


Our runs together are infrequent enough that we tend to run the same route each time… but it’s a good one!  From Jack & Jill it drops down into Pyecombe ahead of a long slog up to the top of Wolstonbury, with it’s amazing views.

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Then there’s a big downhill to Clayton that has a steep vertical kink (a bank that is almost too steep to run up) in the middle… today this left me gasping for air!  Towards the bottom end of this path is a section that is notoriously muddy, even in summer, but not today… workmen had laid a new section of path which we ran down, despite it not yet being officially open.

The mist provided us with a nice view of the Windmills on the hill from Clayton Rec.


The route then takes us along Underhill Lane to the bottom of a section we call the Tank Tracks… the path goes directly up the scarp slope to the top of Home Hill.  We have a rule that pausing is not permitted, so we have to run the whole way and I really suffered on this today!  We’re never speedy, but I note that on Strava this section took us 11.25, putting us way down the leaderboard compared to the ‘course record’ of 6.16!

At the top we did pause!


Then there’s a gentle run back down to the Windmills.  Our run was 6.4 miles and according to Strava, our running time was 71 minutes, giving an average of 5.4 mph… not bad considering the 1082 feet height gain and the fact that we were deep in conversation the whole way round, even on the steepest sections..

For all the challenges that we each face, I think it’s fair to say that (especially on a day like today) life is good!

Racing bicycles

Before my good friends at the Framed Bicycle Company in Snowdonia get excited… no, I haven’t bought a bike!  You would have seen it already… before I had picked it up from you!

Rather, I have been racing cyclists, rather successfully as it turns out!

Kim and I have had the pleasure of Karen’s company this weekend and I capitalised on this by getting her to take some new photos of me for my various on-line personas… chief amongst which is the relaunched Rally Strategic site.  What was funny was that she really liked the photo that I have used as a placeholder on there… not realising that it was one that she had taken five years ago with a little extra background added in by my good friend and website designer Simon!  The updated photo won’t appear there straight away, but I welcome any comments on the site itself.

The recent wet weather has finally returned the brown summer stubble to green grass, such that I spent yesterday cutting & edging the green and the verge in the Close, sweeping the roadside etc… the grass was long despite me cutting it only last weekend!  A quick glance today at the other local green spaces, which are looked after by the either Burgess Hill or West Sussex County Council (which involves neither of them cutting, let alone edging them!) reminded me why my neighbours are so happy that I make the effort.

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It was a beautiful morning, but with a chilly edge, so I didn’t hurry to get out for a run.  When I did finally get out, I wasn’t really sure where to go or how far and this was exacerbated when I went to take my first picture of the day… the iPhone was FULL, despite deleting more than half the photos from it a couple of days ago.  Since part of the reason for running & blogging is to keep my folks looking at places they’ve not been lately, this put a considerable dampener on proceedings.  As a result I meandered and eventually stopped at a stile to sort the phone out.  The temporary fix was a brutal cull of apps, though later I realised that when you delete photos from the iPhone, it assumes that you don’t mean it and keeps it around for another 25 or so days just in case.


The stile was out by Ridgeview and thus it was natural to head in the general direction of Ditchling, even if I didn’t have the energy for a Beacon run.  As I crossed the Ditchling Road I had to wait for a load of cyclists to pass… it was strange to see so many outside of the middle of June.


I was expecting it to be really muddy going this way, but it was just soft… the parched ground had clearly mopped up all the water that the weather had thrown at it.  All the meadows were lush and the various livestock (mainly sheep & chickens) looked well-fed.  As I reached Ditchling I took a path that led me out onto the High Street and found a lot more cyclists.  I asked a couple of cyclists what was going on… it was a second London to Brighton bike ride, focused on raising money for charity.

I followed the cyclists up towards the bottom of the Beacon and decided that, in view of the comparatively low numbers, it would be safe to run up the road for a change.  This is a rare treat and I think I’ve only done it once before… it’s normally too dangerous and even during the normal London to Brighton there are too many cyclists on the road.

I started to climb and quickly realised that most people were walking rather than cycling… I should have counted how many I passed, but it was easier to count the number of cyclists who passed me.  One.  A second one (number 705, I think) caught up with me near the top and we chatted as we finished off the ascent.

I then ran the short distance to to top of the Beacon.

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On a whim I chose to descend the really steep way (Cliff’s route) which basically drops down a steep spur and then goes straight down the rest of the scarp slope.  I then followed the road back through Ditchling, smiling at all the cyclists as they chatted about stopping at the top of the Beacon.


Towards the end of the village I turned left and ran up to the ridge and then along to Oldlands Mill, where they clearly had an open day… the smell of food cooking was amazing and made me want to stop, but I had no money with me so I would need to have done a runner afterwards!


My legs were starting to complain towards the end of the run… quite fair really, given that I didn’t plan to have a long run, nor to race so many cyclists!  According to Strava I completed 10.5 miles in 108 minutes, an average of 5.83 mph… not quite as quick as last week, but not bad Foster.

Since then I’ve had a cold shower & a hearty breakfast, said goodbye to Karen and washed Kim’s car… I can still smell the food from Oldlands Mill so it MUST be time for dinner soon!