It was a muggy morning after a night FULL of rain (the front lawn was a swimming pool when I went to bed), but it was too lovely to be inside so I opted for a seat in the tea house.  I was particularly glad that I had ignored Mark’s offer of an 8.30am pick-up to go run the Chichester marathon!

I had been sitting and reading for some time, enjoying the smell of the honeysuckle and chuckling at the sound of a bird who seemed intent on waking the neighbourhood, when I had a minor epiphany.  Joseph Jaworski might even class it as a ‘predictable miracle’.

Epiphanies are not actually an uncommon occurrence hereabouts and this one involved a connection between the fields of neurogenesis and change management: it turns out that one of the reasons that scientists have thought until recently that the human brain is unable to produce new neurons is because the primates used in experiments were stressed…. I’ve lost you, I can tell!

Suffice to say that this is a very useful connection to have made and it gave me plenty to think about… so I decided to go for a gentle run.  Gentle is important here, since it gets more difficult to think the more quickly you run.

My aim was 5 miles at an average of 7mph, but after a first half mile warming up at 6mph, I realised that I would need to ramp up the speed to make my intended average.

7.5mph is just too fast to think clearly, but it was necessary so I paused my brain until I reached the half way mark to ensure I was ahead of the game.  Then I dropped back to 7mph for the rest of the way completing the distance in 42.5 minutes.  Average 7.06mph.

I guess that I should also have drawn a connection between muggy morning and running at more than 7mph… I was still dripping with sweat half an hour later, even after a cold shower!

I wonder if Mark managed to stay dry in Chichester?

April showers

Kim decided to go swimming, thereby getting only slightly wetter than I did running.

It had been overcast & slightly blowy when I go up and I sat in the tea house, reading and supping a huge espresso from my oldest Kri-Kri cup.  in short, a lovely morning.  I walked back to the house, started to get my running kit on and glanced outside to see it chucking it down with rain.

Despite the best efforts of my Gore jacket, I was pretty wet by the time I reached the end of the road section, not even half a mile from the house.  I had already decided I was going to have a short run in the woods, where rain doesn’t cut into you so badly and so I squared up for my default weekday run.

Out to Wivelsfield via the Royal Oak, through West Wood, back down the Magical Path and across the common.  For some reason I was drenched (the rain must have been particularly wet, or something… oh, and of course I was wearing shorts) but as I stretched my legs out across the common on the homeward section, I felt a pang of guilt.  I had not run far enough for a Sunday.

So rather than take the path home, I continued on for a second loop.  It was kind of nice really, seeing the same scene twice in one morning, as you get to pick up on different things… and compare how wet you felt last time around.

The rain had ceased by the time I stretched out across the common for a second time and I stopped to take a couple of verdant, overcast pictures.

However, after ten minutes home and ten to stretch, there was not a cloud to be seen in the sky!

It was 0.8 miles to the start of my circuit and the loops were then 3.6 miles each making just over 8.8 miles in total.  The weird thing was that the first 4.4 miles took me about 39 minutes… and so did the second 4.4 miles.  One hour, 19 minutes in total, at a pretty consistent 6.72 mph.

I feel GOOD, la la la, la la, la laa…

I’ve been noticing that its harder work to run these days and having discounted thicker air, increased gravity and the earth tilting against me, I’ve decided it’s probably just because I need to run more.

As I fell out of bed this morning, there was an extended howl of wind from outside which was accompanied by rain drumming steadily on the roof.  I did my Chi Kung, put the coffee on and realised that somewhere in the back of my mind there lurked a desire to run.

It might have been raining, but it wasn’t cold outside and after sitting reading Edward de Bono’s Po for a while, I sprang into action.  Shorts, t-shirt, Gore jacket and a beanie… ready for anything.

The rain was lighter by the time I left and quickly desisted leaving me to enjoy a damp spring morning… particularly engaging was the beautiful smell of blossom which I periodically ran past.

The ground was firm and the mud flattened out so the rain had collected only in occasional shallow puddles making for easy running, with light mud splashing delicately onto my calves as I ran.

I did only a short circuit, out to the Royal Oak, Wivelsfield, West Wood, back via the Magical Path & across the Common.  It was a great morning for thinking, especially with Po still fresh in my mind and I made good time, completing the 5.2 miles in 45 minutes, five minutes faster than on the 8th March.  6.93mph and I wasn’t even pushing myself.

As I got back so the sun broke through the clouds, as if to accentuate just how GOOD I felt!

T-shirt & shorts

After working hard in the garden yesterday, I would not have been surprised if the last thing I relished was a run today.  However, yesterday’s hard work was a visual triumph, especially on such a bright spring morning and as I sat in the tea house circa 9am, I had the urge to run rather than read.

I’ve not been out before 10am on a Sunday for months so to leave at 9.20am felt really good.  Especially as, despite the slightest of chills in the air, I ran out in a t-shirt, shorts & summer socks.  I ran out past Ote Hall and for the first 20 minutes I really missed my beanie hat… my ears were frozen.  There were no llamas in the llama field, but there was a yappy dog at Townings Place that chased after me.

The only people in Wivelsfield were those collecting their Sunday papers and I headed south down Hundred Acre Lane.  At the top of the hill, despite feeling like I really wanted to head back (I had intended to run for about an hour and so had not brought any water with me) I turned left down a path that I remember having seen on the map once.

This brought me out on the road to Hattons Green and I headed in that direction before turning south to St Helen’s Farm.  This dropped down to the road west to the Common and since the traffic was whistling past, I stopped at a stile to see whether the path would take me in the right direction.  A cyclist stopped to see if I needed directions & it turned out that she owned the land I was looking at.  It’s always so lovely to find out about places from locals so I stood & chatted to Karen, probably for ten minutes.

Some friends used to have a cat called Chester, which was a cross between a Tonkinese (or similar) show cat and a black Tom.  Chester, clad in grey fur, was a big cat with a low boredom threshold.  He would sit lovingly on your lap for a while before taking a swipe at your face or whatever else he could reach!  Karen had a black cow that had a similar story to tell, its mother having had a brief fling with an Aberdeen Angus (I think) in a neighboring field.  I don’t know about it’s temperament, but I’m guessing you’d not want it sitting on your lap anyway.

I ran onward, back across Hundred Acre Lane and stopped to talk to Lew as he was trying to figure out how to use one of his new toys… a wood trailer.  (mental note to self, remember to scrounge some wood for the wood-burner from Lew before next winter!).  A further ten minutes or so spent chatting, but this time not in full sun, and I suddenly felt a chill so headed for home.

I returned via the magical path & the Common, collapsing into a chair in a sun-soaked garden.  8.65 miles were covered but I have no idea how long I ran for.  My guess is one hour 25 minutes (I was out for 1:45), giving a speed of about 6mph.

More chores ensued (several not on the list again) and I shall undoubtedly feel as if I’ve been beaten up when I get up tomorrow morning, but WHAT a great weekend!

Next project please!

Summer gave us a really warm goodbye last weekend and I was determined to make the most of the fine weather by finishing the teahouse.  On went the sliding door that Kim had specified and up went the edging boards.  There are still a couple of internal tasks to do, but that’ll give me something to do while I ponder the next project.

There was just about enough time on Sunday to transfer my gardening junk from the garage to the teahouse and then tidy the garage ready to take my car back in time for autumn.  Kim’s car even got henry’d and washed, but the strength in my arms gave out before I had a chance to do mine!

I would like to thank all the folk who gave help and advice, but especially Andrew from Transformations who helped me make sense of my own design and understand what woodworking joints to use, Cliff who suggested less expensive solutions for my various crazy ideas, Nathan & his team from Upstairs Downstairs who kindly treated me as if I knew what I was doing and Kim for her invaluable design inputs.  And endless cups of tea!

taa-daa!  Cup of tea anyone? 
Taa-daa!  Cup of tea, anyone?

Almost teatime

You may struggle to see what I did today, since this photo was taken after I’d spent yesterday working on it, but the tea-house is slowly progressing.  And no, Cliff, I didn’t shun my run in favour of sitting around doing nought, despite the glorious weather!

The evolution of a Tea-House

Construction in the garden continued unabated this weekend, hampered only by the available hours before darkness.  It has started to take on a slight post-modernist Japanese Tea-House look, although across the whole weekend, the most enjoyable drink of the day was my morning coffee.  Although that might have been because the myriad cups of Twinings Earl Grey I consumed  were largely snatched whilst juggling tools & materials.  

By the way, Earl Grey is the post-modernist Japanese Tea-House builders tea in this house-hold!

Weekend off

I chose not to run this weekend, but I did start to prepare the ground for my new shed so I don’t feel as if I have been slacking.

This involved moving two railway sleepers that hold back the bank in one corner, replacing them level and on their sides and reducing and levelling the ground inside to be able to build a framework on top.

After filling 18 bags to a ‘can just carry’ level, I ran out of bags to take the surplus soil, but I’ve cleared enough to progress… next time I feel in the mood!

And hopefully it won’t be pouring down with rain again next time!!

Does anyone need some additional soil… and have a truck to take it away… ?

After the physical exercise of the day, it was great to relax in front of the cinema screen.  We saw The Dark Knight, which was actually anything but relaxing.  Tense and darker than both the first in this franchise and previous versions of Batman & the Joker, this was definitely not for the faint of heart!  Excellent though!