Friday, 31 December 2010


Well. Just over half way through the Christmas holidays and I'm pretty much stuck in a groove. But a "groove" that I am all too happy to sit in.
Get up. Long slow breakfast while watching an old episode of Northern Exposure. Run. Coffee, cake and jazz. Watch crap on the telly. Read.....
And on and on it goes. Wonderful stuff.
Other than a wee trip the other day to stock up on fruit and veg we haven't been anywhere since Christmas day (other than out running).

The running is coming along.... slowly. Knee is still not 100% but it's much better than I had hoped it would be. Haven't gone over the ten mile mark in distance (yet) and I can't really push the pace much over about 7min/mile pace.
So. While I think I will go to the Portobello New Years Day race tomorrow it'll be more of a gesture than a serious effort.

Jazz wise, all is well right now. Managed to listen to each of my new albums a few times now. Couple of real finds in amongst Santa's bag this year...
"Old And New Dreams" - got two albums by this group. The two albums formed part of the five CD Charlie Haden box set. Made up of alumni of various Ornette Coleman groups this quartet, consisting of Haden, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell bring a real sharp free-jazz edge to the tradition of acoustic quartets. Not easy listening - but rewarding. A sign that my tastes in jazz are widening. A few years ago I would have run a mile from any "free jazz" and, while I still find some of it daunting I do kinda "get it" now.
The other three CDs in the box show a much more laid back and melodic side to Haden; two in much more traditional acoustic trio settings (piano, bass and drums) and one where the trio is joined by Chet Baker in what was to prove to be his last ever recording session. The knowledge that this was Chet's last session adds poignancy for the listener (or at least - for this one). Baker's trumpet was always cool and mellow and here it's even more so. But it's the broken, off-key vocals to "My Funny Valentine" that make the listener aware of how badly his life style had affected him. That's the only vocal on the album (thankfully). The rest of the set is made up of a couple of originals and a couple of standards from the bop era that are rendered into late night ballads - the version of Round Midnight is one of the classiest I've heard in a long time.

Monday, 27 December 2010


Well. Hope everyone had a good Christmas.
Looks like Santa has brought us all a bit of a belated Christmas gift - a bit of a thaw! Not before time.
I like the snow as much as anyone, but enough is enough. With a bit of luck some of the cross country races early in the new year might actually go ahead!

Anyway, three days into my holidays now and its time to "wind down" the eating a wee bit and try to get into shape. Christmas day and Boxing day is a bit of a two day food fest. Very enjoyable for a wee while, but I couldn't go on like that!

The old knee is still not 100% but its good enough to get out for a couple of "easy" runs - with my new Garmin that Santa brought! Don't intend to do too much while I'm off - just enough to keep ticking over. And while I would like to do the race at Portobello on New Years day I'll wait a bit before I make my mind up. I was out for about 8 miles earlier today and it was the first time in ages that I've been able to run on clear, snow/slush/ice free roads.

Anyway Christmas also saw me come into possession of a "shit-load" of new jazz records (11 new albums) so much time will be taken up between now and the unhappy return to work just getting into them. But remember, please, if Santa brought you any jazz this year - "jazz is a way of life ... it's not just for Christmas".

Just away to start ploughing my way through my new Charlie Haden box set......

Friday, 24 December 2010


It doesn't seem that long ago, but in 2001 Andy Sheppard brought out the album "Nocturnal Tourist", his most adventurous project up to then (and probably since).
Anyway. It saw him use tapes and mixers etc. and play all the instrumental parts himself. As well as "dubbing" sounds recorded from various street scenes.
It worked very well indeed and the technique was "revisited" to an extent when he and Northumbrian Pipe playing folky Kathryn Tickell recorded the album "Music For A New Crossing".

And he's at it again! This time as a free Christmas gift.
His promoters "Serious Music" have put on t'internet a 12 track sampler "The 12 Songs Of Serious" (link: ).
Loads of good stuff here, including the Portico Quartet, The Bad Plus and Yaron Herman.

But it's Sheppard's version of "Silent Night" that interests me most. All the other tracks are lifted from albums I either have or intend to get. This though is unique to this web site.

It's mainly solo soprano sax minimally doodling along to the well known melody (bit of guitar at one point as well). No, fancy solos or flights of fancy. The tune just flows along nicely.
All the time in the background there are children's voices at play. The frantic pace of the squeals, laughs and shouts shouldn't fit this music - but it does. I don't know why, but it gives the feeling of an isolated outsider lookin in on others Christmas cheer.
Might not be every ones cup of tea but it's a welcome change to the usual bunch of festive toons that are getting on your wick by about now (quite frankly, never mind murder - Phil Specter deserved to be locked up for that bloody Christmas album).

Only problem is you cant download it. You have to listen to it online (but then again it is free).
Although theoretically - if you had an output from a half decent sound card with a "line-out" and an old MP3 player that had a "line-in" then you could maybe copy it in real time.
Who would do that?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Life on planet recovery is going well.
Knee feeling kinda better every day. I'm "using" swimming as part of my recovery plan/fattness damage limitation strategy.

These guys went pantless
for your freedom
 I've "discovered" Victoria Swimming Pool in Leith is open at 6 am. So with a bit of a mad dash I can get in there do a few lengths and then still get back to the office in a reasonable time.

I've been trying to "be clever". By that I mean go prepared ... have the old trunks on under the normal gear. Get in pay.. whip off the toggs and away I go. Reception desk to pool in about three minutes.
As plans go it's not too bad....
Until ... today. Did my wee routine (36 lengths)... showered... got my gear out of the locker....
And then realised I hadn't packed a pair of pants to change into !!!

Just have to go commando at work till the trunks can dry out on the radiator. Then I'll change into them.

I't like the start of some truly awful work related nightmare.
It's also a bit bloody cauld to be out and about "sans pants".

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Couple of new discs managed to find their way into my collection this week, and both have proved to be pretty rewarding contributions.
One in particular: Stan Getz "Live at Midem 1980".  "Midem" being a recording industry "get together" in Cannes. According to the pretty sparse sleeve notes this was a one off gig. Every year at the Midem convention there is a "guest artist" who does a gig in front of peers and contemporaries (which may explain why the producer of this album is Lionel Hampton). Getz flew in, did the gig... and flew home again (a 72 hour round trip). Apparently problems with the 24 bit recorder almost meant this concert wasn't captured, but luckily, the problems were resolved at the last minute.
Bit of a different Getz outing this one. It sees him with a younger band than usual, and sees him "dabble" in a bit of near fusion-like jazz. Though for me the eleven and a half minute cover of Parker's Billie's Bounce, with guest appearances by Paul Horn on flute and a harmonica player called "Sugar Blue"(?) who, apparently plays/played with the Rolling Stones, really hits the spot.
Many, many people (me included) talk about Getz's distinct "velvety" sound. But the truth is, like most jazz musicians, with any longevity he had numerous "sounds". I've never really heard a Getz sound that I didn't like. Even his brief forays into fusion, like this, or "soul/pop" (Apasionado) offer the listener something to "think about" and work at. Even at his "coolest" or most laid back his recordings always seem to offer a little more than just pretty musical wallpapers. For me the work he did that gets closest to being "bland" is his Bossa Nova period which ironically is his best known and most commercial stuff.
This particular CD only has 5 numbers on it weighing in at a mere 44 minutes. Though a wee trawl through the murky depths of t'internet suggests that this concert was fairly extensive and other, fuller CD releases of it are out there somewhere.
Something to keep an eye out for.


Oh F.F.S.
This snowy weather is a real bugger when it comes to trying to organise any athletics events. That's the third round of the Borders XC series in a row cancelled.
We were just about set to leave the house when info came through from the organising club. Well done to Moorfoot for trying, and I think the final decision to cancel was the right one. Travel to the event, and travel back for that matter, may have been a bit difficult.
I had no intention of running anyway (knee still iffy), but I was going down to watch/take photos/shout abuse etc. Then I was supposed to collect the results for processing etc.

Who knows? By the time we can actually have a XC race my knee might be fully recovered! Or perhaps, the way this winter is panning out, the whole series will be decided on the outcome of a single race hastily reorganised some time in May!!

Sadly, the snow also means I can't really get out on old [T]rusty either. Opportunities for swimming and visits to the gym are going to be curtailed this week as well, for various other reasons, so not much at all in the line of exercise!
Normally this wouldn't bother me, but Anne appears to be gripped by some demonic baking frenzy at the moment and the house is full of various cakes, sponges, bowls of melted chocolate and biscuits etc!! Aaarrgghhh.

Thursday, 16 December 2010



Things are ticking over nicely here on “planet recovery”. Discovered on Tuesday that swimming is OK with the dodgy knee and so is cycling and the cross-trainer/Nordic skier thingummy at the gym. So… been swimming a couple of times, plan my second visit to the gym in three days tonight and I tapped out a brisk 17 miles or so yesterday on old [T]rusty – all the while trying to keep the heart rate up in the cake and mars bar burning zone. I’m ashamed to say that over the last 12 years or so I’ve neglected my bike. It really could do with some new bits and pieces. Like a new group set, a new bottom bracket, a new saddle, new wheels and maybe some new handlebars. Put another way …. It needs a new “everything”. But I’m loathe to get rid of it.

I’ve always been of the belief that money should be no option when it comes to health care etc. So I have splashed out and bought myself a  neoprene knee support from “Poundland” to assist in the recovery process. And you know, it seems to be working.

Well. I say “working”, what I think is actually happening is that the insufferable itch caused by the constant flow of sweat is detracting my mind away from the pain in my knee

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Lets take a piece of folklore, or “folk wisdom” if you prefer, and put it to the test.

Statement: People say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
Test: First commute through to the DGP in about five weeks.
Findings: “People” really do talk shite, don’t they?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I'M DREAMING OF A ........

Altogether now..... No?
Ah well, as the snow finally vanishes perhaps we can start to think about the impending season of over eating and gorging.
I like this time of year. It's a time of tradition, both societal and family ones.
It's the time of year to put up my tree (do that on Monday), it's the time of year to dust off my collection of festive tunes and, believe it or not, I'm pretty sure somewhere I do have a copy of old Bing "Bong" Crosby singing the titular smash (as well as one by the saintly Ella). It's the time of year that I "traditionally" steal Anne's supply of marzipan left over from the Christmas cakes.
It's also time for a bit of a "new" tradition of mine (is there a statute of limitations on when something can be called "traditional"). Anyway I'm now calling it a tradition.
Yes. Its the traditional festive injury!! Well whoop-de-feckin-do.
It's the knee this time (the left one).
I'd like to say I don't know what caused it - but I do. It was caused by me being an arse.
It's been "iffy"/"niggly" for a couple of weeks now, but it's not really been getting any worse (not been getting any better truth be told). And all this time I've adopted the ostrich approach and buried my head in the sand in the hope that it will go away. Until Thursday night - when it went... big time! Did a five mile run round Dunbar and it was a bit sore. Then after the run, in the changing room, soreness left and made way for bloody agony.
Now. Not being a medical man I'm pretty clueless as to what exactly it is, and trawls through the murks of t'internet have left me none the wiser, other than reinforcing what I already knew. The knee is like "central junction" for all manner of tendons, ligaments, muscles and blue, red and purple fibrous what-nots. And one of those has gone "ping".
I've only my self to blame as a look back at my training log reveals that even on a  "quiet week" I've been doing about 50 miles. In the snow! When I'm not even training for anything!!
It had been my hope that in 2010 I was going to do 365 runs. This self appointed "target" was not to include interval sessions.
By Thursday night (day 343) I had managed 347 runs. IF I did take into account interval training it goes up to 368.

A "knee". Not my knee, but a knee none the less.
 Bottom line? A bit of a painful reminder of the importance of REST. Normally I rest one day a week (but then again I often run twice a day).
So. What now? Well on Thursday night I could hardly walk. By Friday I could hobble but stairs were problematic. Today I can manage stairs a bit. So, progress is being made.
Loads of anti-inflammatory pills and rest. Then next week. I might try a bit "damage limitation" and try a swim or a visit to a gym for some low/no impact cardio work. I might even dig out old [t]rusty, but I'm not sure on the wisdom of cycling with a knee injury? Depends on the type of injury I suppose (might just have to "suck it and see").

Yesterday saw me make regular visits out to the car park at work, armed with a plastic bag. I filled the bag with slush and then sat behind my desk with my home made "ice-pack" on the sore knee. Seemed to work.
Apparently, and I don't know the truth of this, ice packs should only be applied for ten minutes, as after that the tissue trys to adapt to the cold by increasing the blood flow (the very thing your trying to slow down). So the tip is ten minutes a go, maybe every two hours. It also saw me being forced into the lifts to go up all of two stories! I could feel the eyes of the wheezy-fatties on me as I stood there in the lift. "Your one of us now!"

Forward thinking? Well, I want to see how the recovery goes, then I might try to get out on Christmas for a four mile bimble.

Thursday, 9 December 2010



Does Bad Weather + so called “austerity” + massive hikes in electricity bills all add up to a much more tasteful Scotland?

Don’t know if it’s just me. Admittedly all my runs of late have been rural rather than urban and we haven’t been “out” that often (or journeys this week have been limited from home to work and back). BUT there does seem to be, thankfully, a lot fewer houses infested with tasteless bling this Christmas. And long may it continue.

Of course it may simply be that the bad weather has put Christmas “on hold” for a few weeks for some people. This weekends promised thaw might see them emerge, after hauling their fat butts off the sofa, from the warm brain-melting glow of x-factor or some such crap, and out of their nests of “slankets”, empty crisp bags and sweetie wrappers, to once more festoon their house in electronic crap and put strain on the national grid and their neighbours patience.



“Live and let live” – that’s my motto J

Tuesday, 7 December 2010



Enjoying running in the snow. Especially at night with a head torch. However, I’m going to try and wear my road shoes for a wee bit, rather than trails. My knee is still “iffy” and I think I could do with that wee bit extra support and cushioning.

Sadly though it’s not all fun and games in the snow. That’s the second leg of the Borders Cross Country series cancelled. Well, I say “cancelled” it’s actually postponed as there is talk of rescheduling it, and the first race, perhaps in March (bit late for my liking – thoughts are turning to road races by then).

And it’s not only running that’s getting affected by this weather. Oh no. For about ten days now we’ve not seen a postie up our way. Looks like we might have to make a trip to the sorting office to collect our post ourselves. Especially as Anne is due a delivery of contact lenses or some such nonsense while I’m waiting on a deliver of a much more important Julian Joseph CD. Optical health is neither here nor there, but the feeding of a jazz habit must go on!!

Sunday, 5 December 2010


Well. I'm getting used to running in the snow and ice. Which may be just as well, because it looks as though it's going to be around for a bit yet.
Although last week was a bit of a low mileage week I still managed to get out every day. My left knee which has been a bit "iffy" since my last run in with the tarmac has remained ..."iffy". I'm pretty sure that this is down to a couple of snow related factors. "A" trail shoes: much better grip in the snow, but not much cushioning, also they are "neutral" and while that's ok for the odd run, if you need a bit of support I do think it starts to have an effect after nine days or so. "B" the nature of the snowy terrain. It makes every run like cross country. Your for ever up and down and into hidden dips and ruts etc. puts a bit more pressure on the knees. "C" you run like a big Jessy in the snow .... well I do anyway. Don't think its a conscious thing, but I'm aware that I run a bit "tensed up", perhaps that's not helping.
Anyway a few anti-inflammatory pills before a run and slathering the knee in Tiger Balm seems to be helping.

Did the "Festive Half" with the club today. A half marathon through John Muir, out onto the North Berwick road, up to Law Head, past Knowes Farm shop, before retracing your path through John Muir and finishing at Hallhill.
Quite a bit slower than the last time (1:35 today), but given the conditions and the terrain I happy enough.
Ran most of the way with Ian S until about the last four miles, when his competative streak kicked in and he started pulling away.

Been listening to a lot of new music while I've been off. Highlights have included a couple of "bootlegs" that I have acquired. Rita Marcotulli and Andy Sheppard recorded live at Bonn in June 2010 - wonderful stuff this. Only four tracks long, but who cares? Andy Sheppard has always been one of my favourite saxophonists and I tend to get disappointed that his own releases have been so few and far between in later years (though I thinks that's more a problem with labels etc). He seems to be more of a "serial collaborator" than a recording artist in his own right these days. But his duets with the Italian pianist Marcotulli are really wonderful.

Another "live" recording that's really hit the spot for me is one by the Portico Quartet recorded in Salzau in July of this year. Bit a danger that the Portico Quartet turn into a "one trick pony". They feature (a bit too heavily??) an instrument called the "hang" that's a cross between a steel band type drum and a xylophone.
Anyway. I like the sound, but worry if it will be enough to carry them beyond the two albums they already have out that feature it.
Well, if this live set is anything to go by they should be ok, as here they still feature the hang, but it seems to be taking more of a back seat role to Jack Wyllie's saxophone. The hang is used as a rhythm piece while Wyllie weaves wonderful almost free style solos through and around it.
Not everyone's cup of tea perhaps, but well worth trying.

The other thing I've enjoyed while off work has been reliving part of my childhood. To wit... watching Colditz on the telly. Brilliant stuff! Though I suspect that Anne was not quite as enthused as I was.
I've not seen this since I was eleven when this was first on. And this is the first time I've seen it in colour! I was glued to the telly on Friday for the last episode (even though I knew the end).
A 36 year old TV series and it's still head and shoulders above the dross they try to feed us now.

Friday, 3 December 2010


It's bloody cauld. On the plus side, other than a few flakes we haven't had a lot of snow today - but it IS bloody cauld.

This week, which I have enjoyed, has been a strange one.
Started last weekend with basically getting snowed in for a couple of days. Not too problematic as we were not planning on going anywhere. And, just because cars couldn't get out or in - we could still don our trail shoes and get out running.
But we were supposed to be going to York on Tuesday morning. By Monday afternoon it looked very much like we were going to have to cancel. But then ... a life line. Well, it wasn't a life line. It was a JCB with a bloody big shovel on the front and he had dug all the way from Innerwick to Woodhall. But past experience has shown that once the road is ploughed and "cleared" it can be blocked again in 24 hours or less. So what to do?
Should we risk the journey? The telly and those awfully smart chaps in Transport Scotland were telling people not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary.... Well Anne wanted to see her mum and I wanted to visit "Rebound Records" that IS necessary.
So, almost as soon as the JCB was away we packed our bags and put them in the car ... then got into our running gear. Drove the car to Ian's (closer to the A1 see) parked the car there and then ran home (in the dark - with head torches). The run home on Monday night was surreal. Really heavy snow and frequent flashes of lightening. The whole landscape would just suddenly shine. It happened a few times as we were running through the woods - for a brief second or so I'm convinced that there was more light in the woods than you normally get on a summers day!
Then on Tuesday morning all we had to do was run down to Ian's pick up the car and away we went. It was quite strange The start of a couple of days "holiday" and we were starting the journey with a three mile run. We left Woodhall at the same time as some of the neighbours left in their cars - and we still got down to the A1 before them.
Was there a "down side" to this cunning plan? Yes! Having to sit in a car for three and a half hours in smelly running gear after a run.
Also. It has to be admitted - you do look like a bit of a diddy turning up at a B&B in your running gear - especially when everyone else is walking about like Eskimos!
Anyway. Got down to York - and it wasn't too bad. A bit of snow yes - but nothing like what we had.
Until - Wednesday morning. Yes. Yet another "shit-load" of snow.
Quite enjoyed going round York in the snow to be honest. And it didn't stop us going for a six mile run up by the river either, before breakfast.
There was a bit of a feeling of York being a "city under siege" on the Wednesday though, and it soon became apparent that all the shops etc were closing early.
Thank God then that I had paid my respects to Rebound Records on the Tuesday afternoon. Though the slight rise in prices meant that I didn't unburden the chap from quite as much of his stock as I would have liked to.
Thursday saw us leave York a bit earlier than we would normally have done, and to be honest the journey home was a bit slower than normal, but uneventful and certainly not as bad as the press/telly/radio would have you believe.
Till the last three miles from the A1 to the house! That was like a bob-sleigh run. Hard compact snow and ice on the road and massive banks of snow either side of the single lane where its been ploughed.
One of the few times I've ever had to dig my way IN!
Spent quite a bit of yesterday afternoon helping one of the neighbours dig the road in front of the cottages. I quite enjoy doing stuff like that every now and then. Probably just as well, because I think it may be a bit of a "theme" this winter.
Out for a bit of a run this morning and, while we haven't had any significant snowfall today I notice that it is drifting over the road. Bollocks.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


Oh deary me. If I thought we had a lot of snow yesterday I was in for one hell of a surprise this morning.
It came as no surprise at all that we got no paper this morning. Must be over a foot of snow out there - more where it's been drifting.... and it has been drifting.
Oh well. If I wasn't going down to Gala for the cross country I was still determined to get out for a run. So, regardless of the cold, the wind, the dark threatening skies and the threat of more snow, I decided to don a couple of extra layers, my trail shoes (for a more aggressive sole) and head on out....
Decided though today not to try the hills, but just stick to the roads. A good run, though obviously a bit slower than I'd expect. I'll maybe try for a bit of a hill run tomorrow.

Fundamentalist? Perhaps. Mental? Yes.

At one point the snow was belting into my face from the left had side, and I ended up having to run along with my hat pulled low and my buff pulled up - I looked like some lunatic "running fundamentalist".
Not too far from Woodhall I passed an abandoned car. I had expected to see that right enough.
The roads were very, very quiet though. At one point I did get a four wheel drive coming steadily up behind me. I jumped into the side of the road to let him past. Ended up jumping up onto the verge at the side of the road - where the snow had drifted and ended up up to my dangly bits in snow! Then a couple of minutes later I had to repeat the process of jumping out of the way to allow the snowplough past who was coming towards me. I don't mind this to be honest - after all they're working and I'm just out playing.
Couple of minutes later... there's the four wheel drive, stuck at the side of the road. With the driver out with a shovel digging the snow out from under the wheels, complaining that the plough had "forced him off the road and then wouldn't stop to help him out"!
I stopped to see if there was anything I could do, but to be honest a 9 1/2 stone runner trying to push a 4X4 out of a snow drift was never going to be a winner was it? Luckily a minute or so later a farmer came past on a tractor and offered to help tow the guy back onto the road. I just ran on at this point.
The tractor must have got him out because he passed me a little later.
Ended up being quite a slow run and was a bit "stop/start", but at least it's something to put in the training log.

Supposed to be going down to York on Tuesday for a couple of days. Hmmm... we'll see about that.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


What a "shit-load" looks like.

Awoke this morning a happy man. A man enjoying the first morning of a week off work. Oh yes. Life is good.

Then I looked out the window. "F.F.S"....
It would appear that like a hell of a lot of the country we've finally had "proper" snow. Not just a light dusting like the other day, but a "shit load" as it's know in meteorological circles.
Anyhoo. Can't let a wee bit snow spoil my holiday. Had a leisurely breakfast and enjoyed another episode of Northern Exposure from my DVD selection - somehow this show really fits the bill during the winter!
A bit later, out paper arrived. Always a good sign - the thought process being, "if the van delivering the paper can get in - we can get out"!
So, out we went to Dunbar to drop stuff off at the recycling place - then headed off to Knowes Farm shop for the weekly fruit and veg. The A1 was damn near deserted. But it was at least moving.
While we were out, getting the veg the sky was darkening all the while and the snow was coming down heavier and heavier. We were keen to get back.
As it was, other than one little point on an uphill section, where I had to get the shovel out and dig a little in front of the wheels so that the car could get a grip we got back OK.

Then. As any right minded person would do... we went a run. Up the back into the hills! Great fun.
Not a run for pace or getting the old heart rate up this one. In fact truth be told even using a stopwatch was a bit pointless.
Just an excuse to get out and play in the snow for a bit.
The only problem was it was so dark and the snow was coming down so fast, a couple of times we missed the track or the road all together and ended up running off into the ditch at the side of the road.
Out for just under an hour.

It's very strange, it's only late November, but what with the weather and being on holiday I'm almost getting into Christmas holiday mode... get up, go a run, then spend the rest of the day slobbed out reading, catching up on some jazz and watching crap TV. And why not?

Sadly, it's not all fun and games. The first leg of the Borders XC series due to be held at Gala' tomorrow has been postponed. I'm not surprised to be honest, but I'm still disappointed.

Ah well. I'll just try to get out for a bit of a long un' in the hills.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Strange combination of weather this morning at 5 when I woke up. Snow, thunder and lightning! Very strange.
Threats of more snow on the way. Bring it on! I enjoy heading off for a wee run in the snow (especially at night with a head torch). It's also natures way of slowing the pace a wee bit.
Whether I'll still be as keen when we are trying to travel down to Gala for the cross country on Sunday remains to be seen.

Anyhoo. Snow. In November. Not exactly unheard of, but still a bit earlier than usual. Signs of a cold winter ahead?
Which is why I'm keen to get our fire seen to by the engineer. It "blew up" last week.

My "stove" - hand drawn by me.

It's a converted cast iron wood burning stove that now runs on gas. Anyway. A week past Tuesday when we got back from the running club I went to turn it up. Not "on" but "up". We had left it on low while we were out so that it wouldn't be too cold when we got in.
On turning it up however, there was an almighty blue flash... a hell of a bang... and the cast iron lid came shooting off (luckily it didn't come fully off as it would have broken something - probably my head).
Now. The fire has been on (I could see the pilot light), so it was not a build up of gas that suddenly ignited.
Anyhow. I got over the shock. Turned off the gas. Let it cool down, then put it all back together.
It worked.
Then.... I saw a bit I has missed when reassembling it. I hate when that happens. You take something apart...put it back together...then find a bit you've forgotten or left out.
What to do? Just accept, "ah well it's working", or try to start all over again? I'm an option "a" man myself.
Anne is pretty much option "b" with the added condition that we get an expert in.

However, not to be beaten, I've done a little bit of digging about in that goldmine of trivia and dross "google".
Turns out the "bit" is a "choke plate" and comes from the flue. It's probably been a "blow back" of stoor or dust from the flue into the fire that's caused the bang (according to the engineer not common but not unheard of). If you are old enough to remember the days when schools actually offered an education, I think it's the same principal as that experiment we did in science that involved blowing custard powder into a tin that had a candle in it!
The fire will work fine for a few weeks till he can come out to look at it, suck air in through his teeth in a semi-professional manner and state "Oooh, this is going to cost...", and then hopefully fix it. It will work for now, but because the flue is now fully open it might not be quite as efficient as usual (long as it warms the room I don't care).

Monday, 22 November 2010



Strange thing, post-fall. My left knee is sore when walking – but ok to run on. Weird. Don’t know what the fall did to it – maybe just a bit of internal bruising?

Anyway. Despite the generally appalling weather I managed a couple of half decent runs over the weekend. So my pitifully low moral of the end of last week was raised from “pitiful” to it’s default setting of  “feck-me I cannae go on like this”.

On Saturday I went out with Ian “S” for just over 16 miles on a hilly route that took in Crowhill, Cocklaw and Oldhamstocks. We managed round in a steady 7min/mile pace or so.

Then yesterday it was a shorter 11 mile run. Strange for me to do the longer of my two weekend runs on the Saturday but, I suppose, a change is as good as a rest. Quite a fast pace yesterday, but I think it was driven more by a desire to get home and get out of the driving rain and hail than anything else.

Got back from my run and spent the rest of the day in front of the [non-exploding] fire reading and listening to the “lords music” (aka Jazz).

I had been full of good intentions to spend a bit of time going through all my running gear at the weekend and throwing some of it out. I’ve lost count of how many long sleeve tops and tee-shirts I’ve got. But I only ever seem to wear the same one or two all the time! I’ve a red long sleeve top that I’ve had for years now – but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. It’s a form of “running log” for the nose – it carries the odour from every winter training run I’ve done for about the last seven years.

Even after a wash this thing could be classed as a WMD. I’ve had to stop brining it to work – not because it offends my co-workers, but because its presence in my bag is tainting my lunch!! Even rolls with peanut butter on smell like stilton!

I’m off work next week, so I might try to sort my stuff out then.


I’ve had advance notification from Santa that a replacement Garmin might be getting built for me, as we speak, up at the north pole. Good man. I’m just going to stick to tried and tested (and more importantly per-measured) training runs till then.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Jazz of the decidedly “smooth” variety has it’s place and time – but not here and now.
Occasions often demand that the jazz should “swing” (often coupled with times when the band should be “big”) – again though, not here and now.

Some prefer their jazz “free”. I’m happy enough with “cheap”.
However, after a troubled week like mine it can only be-bop. A weekend of Bird, Diz and Monk awaits.
Troubled thoughts of sore knees, broken garmins and blown up gas fires (oh yes indeedy…but that’s another story) have all contributed to a week without apparent end. Working for a bunch of servants of the uncivil variety hasn't helped much.
But end it most thankfully has and the end is here and “Now’s The Time” - let the dissonant harmonies of Bird’s soaring song bring order and peace. Let the angular twists of Monk’s melodies straighten out my twisted thoughts.."Well You Needn't", but yes he does.  And let Dizzy’s effervescence bring sparkle to the end of a gloomy lacklustre week.
It may not be everyone’s beverage of choice but it’s just my cup of java.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010



It’s a funny old thing this running malarkey. When it’s going well – it’s great. You get on a nice wee roll. All is well with the world. PB’s are there for the taking.

And then? Well… it turns to crap.

And that is exactly what has happened – again.

To quote that great wordsmith of our time, Ms Britney Spears, “Woops I did it again”.

Not as spectacular, or quite as painful – physically, as my last wee run in with the tarmac. Twixt Granton and the office this time. Brought down when I failed to notice a bit of that plastic binding stuff that they use on boxes etc. (the really tough ribbon stuff).

Blooter. Hands, knees, chest, and thigh all skinned and road rashed. Helly Hansen top – now with added ventilation. And worst of all my beloved Garmin completely f***ed L L

Feeling a bit sore and stiff at the moment. Including, worryingly, my chest (the same side as before). With luck it’s just cuts, grazes and bruises this time.

Left knee is sore when walking, but again hope that might just be the knock I gave it and it will wear off.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

LET IT SNOW ........

A few of us from the club set off this morning to join HELP for their annual "Goat's Gallop" run.
A multi terrain romp that starts and ends at Longyester that takes in the climb up Lammer Law then sees you drop down to Hopes Reservoir before heading back on fast, quiet country roads.

Got up fairly early so that we could have a relaxed breakfast before the race and it was when I went through to the kitchen to wash the dishes that I noticed it had started to rain ... a lot!
However, by the time we got ready to leave the house and went to meet Ian, it had cleared up quite a bit.
But as luck would have it the only sign of good weather we saw on the way to the start was in the rear view mirror, and the view in front of us was become increasingly bleak...

When we got to the start at the cottages at Longyester we were probably the first there and started to wonder if it would be cancelled in these conditions (I've since been assured by a few HELP stalwarts that it's never cancelled).
Anyway, before long there was quite a crowd of HELP Musselburgh and Dunbar runners. All milling about in various degrees of eagerness that ranged from "I just want to start now" through to "f*** this for a laugh".
The rain was battering down right into our faces and the wind was simply displaying it's contempt for the inadequacy of my HellyHansen top and jacket.
Gordon Eadie wasn't really helping either by confidently predicting "there'll be snow on the hill"...
The start was a "staggered" affair and I found myself off at the back, along with Ian, Brian Marshall, Eddie Balfour and Callum Reid.
The start of this race is usually a fairly pleasant affair with the first mile or so spent in the running equivalent of a cycle race's "neutral roll out". Where everyone just plods along together, getting into their stride before the race proper begins.
Not today. Oh no..
After about the first 200m it was obvious that Callum had a plan.... get to the front as quick as possible and stay there. Brian Marshall reacted and was soon hot on his heels. The three of us obviously felt obliged to play along (even although there was no way we were going to catch them) and within the first half mile I was pechin' like an old horse and felt I was really working. Not an ideal situation when I still had the climb up Lammer Law to come.
Just before the first mile. Soaked and freezing already we passed Ray Harris who cheerily told me that "it's sunny in Innerwick". Cheers Ray.
The climb came sooner than expected and I must say wasn't quite as bad as I remembered. Thing is, I had the head down against the wind and driving rain, so I don't quite know when it happened.... but suddenly Mr Eadie was proved correct and I found that we were trudging through slush and icy, muddy, bogs.
Eddie passed me just before the turn at the top of the Law and I thought I was doing a fairly good job of catching him up. Then we came to my least favourite part of this run. The bloody drop down to the valley that leads along to the reservoir. I looked down and saw that Eddie was already at the bottom. Jeeze - he must have jumped down in about three steps.
I on the other had adopted my usual manly, limp wristed, hands out to the sides approach while I skippity hopped my way down.
By the time I got to the bottom he was nowhere to be seen.
From there its about three miles of just steady down hill (mostly on well defined tracks or roads). So I knuckled down and tried to catch him up. Sadly, despite catching up some of the early starters I never managed it.
Finished in 1:00:54. Slower than last year but not too bad given the conditions.
Couldn't get out of my wet gear quick enough when I got back. Soaked through to the skin and absolutely frozen to the bone. Great fun!! I loved it.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I look like a fool.
But at least I look like a fool ...on medical advice.

While talking to the tinnitus specialist the other day I was advised that if I really, really must listen to music on an mp3 player (and yes...I must), then I was best to do it with "open" style headphones.
Apparently, the in ear type that I have favoured are manufactured by the devil himself.
So it was a wee trip to the shops for me to get kitted out......
Technically I'm quite happy with them the sound quality is good.
On the "con" side however they do not cancel out as much "ambient background noise" as the in ear type do. They still allow quite a lot of seepage of noise. Noise, the type of which can equally be described as "the banter" or "incessant weegie shite" (depending on whether one resides on the east or west side of the Falkirk meridian -that invisible divided twixt the DGP and civilisation).
Ner the less. If they are to help my lug then I will just have to put up with it.
However. I have been confronted by a "fashion dilema" (yes. there is a first for everything). Namely, when wearing headphones and a wooly hat? Does one wear the headphones under or over the hat?

Earphones: by Sennheiser
Hat: by "George" at ASDA
Scowl: model's own.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Beautiful day for a run again at lunchtime.
Clear as a bell, the wind had died down and it was biting cold. Wonderful stuff.
Anyway. Felt really good as I knocked out my usual 6.7 miles along by the mighty Clyde.
Picked it up at one point - when I was being chased by a big dog! I always live in the hope that with all mankind's scientific and technological advances that at some point in the not to distant future we may be able to develop some form of physical restraint to keep dogs "under the control" of their owners.
Until that far-off day I'll just have to run faster! While I took exception to the owners instructions to the dog to ... "leave 'it' Barney" I decided on this occasion to let it pass. It's a sort of rule of mine not to get into debates with men with tattoos on their faces.

We were out last night and stayed over night at my Mum's and she made up my lunchbox today. See if you can spot the difference:

"Normal" day: Roll (cheese): 1 off. Fruit (apple): 1 off.
Today: Roll (cheese): 1 off. Fruit (apple): 1 off. "Elevenses" (kitkat) 2 off. "Afters" (Mars Bar) 2 off.

Mind you, if I'd known I was going to meet "Barney" I might have taken one of the Mars Bar with me - dropped it to distract him while I got away.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Beautiful running weather again this weekend - though it is getting a tad chilly (quite a bit of ice and frost about this morning).
Decided today to try and get in a bit of a long un'. Just to try and keep the old mileage up.
But for whatever reason I just didn't enjoy it. Started off with freezing cold hands, then within a couple of miles realised that a long sleeve top and a tee shirt was probably too much and I was getting too hot!
I felt slow and sluggish all the way round. Just couldn't seem to settle into a decent pace or rhythm at all! And every time I time I tried to pick up the pace I seemed to be rewarded by my GPS "beeping" another mile at me telling me I had actually slowed down! It was like one of those dreams you have where the faster you try to run towards something the further away it gets!
Felt quite despondent when I got back.
Until.. I looked at my log. Turns out it was more or less what it always is for that particular run.
Strange how your perception of a run can affect things though. Not really that keyed up on the old sports psychology malarkey, but I think once you get a negative thought stuck in there it just doesn't budge.

Perhaps I need something to aim for. Other than the cross country I've not really got anything lined up.
Time to check out the fixture lists.


Picked up a real bargain the other week. A 3 CD set of Dexter Gordon tunes for £5 (including P&P).
Now. I've been a bit of a Dexter "fan" for a good while. Pretty much since I got into jazz to be honest, and certainly the first CD I picked up was one of his Blue Note albums.
Anyway. This "box set" (actually it's a gate fold sleeve - but lets not quibble) is all stuff culled from his discs on Prestige, Jazzland and Galaxy Recordings, and is billed as being stuff from 1950-1977.
Now, the "1950-1977" part is slightly misleading as out of the 25 tunes presented, only 3 are pre 1969.
What the collection mostly represents is the later years that Dexter spent living in Europe as well as the very early stuff after his return to the states in 1976.
This has opened my eyes (ears?) to quite a "gap" in the stuff that I already had in my collection. I already had quite a lot of his early bebop stuff from the 40's, all of his Blue Note output and quite a bit of his later work that came out about the time of the movie "Round Midnight".

Long Tall Dexter

A few years ago I was given an "evaluation" copy of a CD by the George Cables Trio of music by, and made famous by Dexter (George and his trio accompanied Dexter on many of his later recordings). It was such a good CD that I salved my conscience by replacing the "evaluation" copy with a ligit' one at the first opportunity. Anyway,  on that album the trio do a wonderful version of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams". Before they start playing Cables very slowly and in a drawn out lazy sounding voice recites the first few lines of the lyrics.... "a country dance was being held in a garden... I felt a bump, and 'Oh. I beg your pardon'. Suddenly it seemed that polka dots and moonbeams.....". In the sleeve notes Cables says how this is how Dexter would introduce many songs when giving live performances. He would "speak" the opening few lines of a tune in that low, quiet, alcohol and nicotine marinaded voice of his.
It's always been a favourite of mine, so I was delighted that a "live" ten and a half minute version is on this CD set.
Beautiful stuff.

Years ago I had a photograph of Dexter. It was one that had been taken in the early 60's in London. In the picture he looks every bit the 60's jazz musician - short hair, sharp suit and the obligatory cigarette. But he's standing with one foot up on a stand having his shoes shined with a look of incredible joy on his face. Which given that, at that time, in his own country, the thought of an African American having his shoes shined by a white man, would have been almost unthinkable, isn't too surprising.
I always liked that photo but lost it about 12 years ago in a house move.
So yesterday acquiring another copy really made my day. Sadly the source that I acquired it from has asked me not to publish or share it... so I wont.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Off to see the tinnitus nurse yesterday. Or should that be "off to hear the tinnitus nurse yesterday"? My hopes were not high.... “There’s good news and bad news Mr Hay. The good news is that your hearing loss isn’t severe enough, yet, to warrant a hearing aid. The bad news is that without a hearing aid your tinnitus will still bother you.”

Well, I know I’m a negative “glass half empty” type, but I was buggered if I could find the good news tucked away there. Oh. and thanks for the "yet".
Apparently. I have reverse “cookie-bite” hearing loss. What?? It was on the tip of my tongue to inform the nurse that “a” in this country we refer to them as “biscuits” and “b” other than ramming a rich-tea, a jaffa-cake, or some such into my lug, how the hell can biscuits cause hearing loss?

Not a Biscuit
But no. It simply refers to the shape of the wee graph produced from your hearing test.
Sadly I have full hearing in the “mid range”. That, apparently, covers most “normal” conversation. I say “normal” because I can’t really make out high pitched sounds, so quite often that hideous high pitched nasally whine that passes for speech in the DGP goes right past me (oh – there’s the good news).
Anyhoo. This biscuit induced form of loss means that bass sounds and high sounds are lost and replaced by the static hiss of tinnitus. So, as I pointed out to the nurse I’m twice dammed as I can’t really hear Arild Anderson bass solos or Andy Sheppard soprano sax solos, BUT I can make out my colleagues talking shite?
Strangely, silence makes the tinnitus worse (seldom a problem when working for civil servants). So it’s been suggested that having noise in the background can help. Now, this means noise that you don’t want to concentrate on as such. You don’t want to be distracted by it. Something bland…. Michael-bloody-Buble for example.
Sadly, for me, actively listening to music (i.e. concentrating on it) can heighten awareness of the dreaded hisssssssss as well. In general, having music on in the background is OK, but concentrating on it sparks it off. Bollocks. That's why I buy music ... to actively listen to it. If I just wanted background music I'd probably be able to get away with about a quarter of what I've got.
Now. I don't know what sort of "vibes" I give off, or indeed if the nurse had already spoken to someone who knows me, but apparently tinnitus can be aggravated by tension and stress (oh...goody). So it might not be a bad idea if I were to "try and lighten up a bit". Well, lets not hold our breath waiting on that one.

I was so despondent that when I came out I immediately headed down the royal mile to one of my favourite second hand CD shops ("Unknown Pleasures"). There I purchased five albums from my Jedburgh winnings that I shall now try to listen to "inactively".

I'm also going to fiddle about with my equalizer - see if I can't increase (slightly) the frequencies that I'm having problems with.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


As much as I like little dogs I feel the time is long overdue for “Nipper” to be taken on a one-way journey to the vet for a few kindly words, a little scratch from a needle and so to begin a long and never ending sleep…….

Talking metaphorically of course. “Nipper” being the little dog who for years was the face of HMV “music”. I can’t recall when HMV actually stopped using images or likenesses of Nipper but then again I can’t recall the last time HMV could, with any degree of honesty or self respect, refer to themselves as a “music” shop.
A trip to their premises is, at least for a grumpy middle aged jazz collector, a feckin’ awful experience these days.
Not only has jazz been ghettoised into a hideous coral amongst other “specialist music” it has been systematically and brutally ethnically cleansed until only a select few recordings deemed fit to be “jazz” are allowed. And “deemed fit” by some moron who’s never actually listened to jazz, never mind “got” it. Their stocking policy is probably “planned” by one of the sullen-faced, multi-pierced, colour-haired, acne covered, feck-wits who lurk behind their tills
I do not mind the following (indeed in some case I’m very keen on them): Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole, Bix Beiderbecke, Ella Fitzgerald. However, while their canon of work, collectively, is vast. It can not be summarised into seven or eight “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of” compilations. Neither is it the B-all and end-all of “jazz”.
Anyway jazz is a vibrant, organic and evolving art form, but do any new jazz artists warrant any shelf space in HMV’s bland new world? Do they feck. And it’s not only new and up and coming artists who are excluded. Go into any HMV (possibly with the exception of London) and try to find the latest Charles Lloyd offering, the new one from Yaron Herman, anything by Alan Barnes, the re-release of almost anything by Stan Tracey or Kenny Wheeler……. Hopeless.
HMV is nowadays little more than a toy shop for gutbucket, lard-butts to go to buy their soddin’ kiddy “video games”. They even sell sweeties at the counter? What next? A burger franchise in Waterstones??
I buy almost all my “new” jazz purchases these days from the internet. Not because I want to, but because I have to. I didn’t kill off music shops (I’m more than happy to support them) – they simply excluded me from their world. And to be honest a “world” of Cherly Coles and Nadine “what’s-her-name”s and soddin’ various “X” Thingummy rejects is, quite frankly, a world I do not wish to be part of.
I honestly get more enjoyment going into specialist second hand shops. It’s like stepping back in time to when shops were there to tempt, to assist and cater for their clientele. Go into one of these places with the thought of spending a fiver, you’re likely to come out about forty quid lighter.

Rant over……

Sunday, 31 October 2010


Today was a beautiful day - weather wise and season wise. You just can't get any better than Scotland in the Autumn, and today was just a perfect day. Next to no wind (unlike the previous week). Sunny but not too warm. And the light really brought out the colours that cheer me up this time of year.
It was a good day for doing a race. Or at least a run in the country...
Luckily I had a race to do! And it was one in a nice part of the country -  the Jedburgh Half.
Not too sure, but I think this might be the fourth time I've done this race and I really do like it. A nice sort of elongated figure of eight type route that takes you out of Jedburgh and onto some really nice [closed] country roads.
The day now boasts three events and it really does have a "festival of running" feel about it. There's the half, there's now a 10k (2nd year I think?) and there's also a wheelchair race.
Anyway. I was also feeling a lot healthier today than I felt all week. I put this down to three consecutive days of "proper" food (aka "Italian"). My digestive system needs pasta, tomato, basil and olives on a regular basis.
I digress. Back to the race. As I say, I felt good and, while I didn't have a time in mind, I had decided that I was going for it today.
I'd actually forgotten that the 10k and the half start at the same time so I was surprised to see upwards of a thousand runners at the start.
Didn't hear a gun or a hooter.... I was just aware of someone shouting "GO" we did.
I know there's a bit of a climb at about ten miles in this race, but I always forget that there is a bit of a climb at one to two miles as you leave Jedburgh and it can feel a bit tough when your trying to settle into a pace (my woeful lack of warm up didn't help).
Found myself in and around a group of runners that included a few faces I knew. Willie Jarvie of Portobello, Alistair MacDonald of Dundee and a couple of Moorfeet (is that the plural?). However, when we got to the 5k mark most of the group peeled off to go onto the 10k route while I suddenly found myself up near the front and a hell of a lot lonelier.. One of the Moorfeet's was doing the half but even by this point though he had pulled away never to be seen again (probably back and showered by the time I got in).
Still, I realised I was "up there" so just got the brim of the cap pulled down, the eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead and got on with the job in hand.
At eight mile or so you find yourself retracing your earlier steps and I was passing loads of runners going in the opposite direction. As I passed Anne she shouted over the road that I was sixth. The pressure was on.
My main aim was to keep the distance between me and seventh and just try to get sixth place. However, at the start of the hill near the end I managed to catch the bloke in front and pull away.
The last mile and half is fairly quick (downhill) and I just pushed as hard as I could. Crossed the line in 1:18:05 for fifth place, a new PB, and was over the moon to discover it was good enough for first vet.
Favourite type of prize vouchers as well (money)..... John Fordham's has been making a lot of recommendations in the Guardian's jazz reviews lately, so no excuse not to check some of them out!

IF I'd remembered my camera I would have posted a nice picture. This will have to do. Though to be fair Jedburgh probably hasn't changed much....

Did anything disapoint me? Well yes... where was the brass band?? Every other time I've done this race there's been a brass band at about the four mile mark playing either the theme from Rocky or the theme from The Great Escape. They were sadly missing this year.

Friday, 29 October 2010


Stomach is still a bit “iffy” – has been all week. Luckily it hasn’t stopped me running and I haven’t had any more “Paula moments”.
But it has caused other strange side effects – it’s given me one of the worst cases of “dandruff” I have ever seen!
Yesterday, being in Leith, I decided to go for a “hard” 7.5 miles up the Water Of Leith, down towards Granton and back to the office. Now, going for a run at full pelt was, I knew, going to be a strain on the old stomach. Strangely the pessimism about my stomachs capabilities were coupled by a naive optimism about my abilities to find a “private spot” en-route should the need arise.
Anyway. Best go prepared. So before I set off for my run I went into the lavvy at work and took an ample supply of loo paper (just in case). Where to put it? Didn’t want to run along carrying it in my hand and the one and only pocket I had (in my shorts) was already full with my works pass and inhaler. Inspiration struck… “I’ll bung it under my running cap”!
Went for the run. The stomach held out. The old HRM read a steady 165 all the way round. Good run.. a good workout… a lot of sweat.
Got back to the desk and sat for ten minutes or so checking emails etc while I cooled down before I went of for my shower. Then I took my cap off….
Oh deary me. One of the basic properties of loo roll is that it breaks down when wet. One of the most basic things about sweat is … it’s wet……… be honest it was less like dandruff and more like leprosy of the scalp.
Thing about [very] short hair is that it acts like the jaggy half of Velcro for stuff like that. Took me ages to get it all out.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010



A rare visit to my old office yesterday gave me the chance to go for what used to be my lunchtime run from the lovely “Cowcaddens” district, along by the tow path at the canal before turning just after the Lock gates at the beautiful residential area of Maryhill.

It’s been 18 months since I’ve done that run, so although it very quickly became “familiar” once more, it was still a nice change. Once I leave the office I have about two roads to cross and the M8 to go under, but within about half a mile the route is onto the canal path and traffic free (until the last half mile of the return journey obviously). Quite a few other runners out yesterday. In fact a few of them were familiar faces from when I used to pound this route twice a week or so.

I felt good all the way round and was pleased to see, upon my return, that the old HRM had remained well in my comfort zone, but I’d still managed to get round a bit quicker than I used to.

Realised that all my “work” or lunch time runs are a bit “samey”. Leith = Path up by the Water of Leith. DGP = Path along by the banks of the Majestic Clyde. “Old” DGP = Path along by the canal. There’s a sort of pathway/waterway theme that runs through them all.

I need a change….. wonder if there’s any nice farm roads or forest trails through in the DGP??

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Not a happy run today... And it all started last night .... in my dreams.
Don't want to go into too much detail about what goes on in my head. Just on the off chance there's any would-be Jung's or Freud's out there.
I had a strange dream where I was in a house with people I used to know and I was eating a rather revolting meal.. Anyway. Woke up feeling sick.
Now. Did the disgusting meal make me feel sick? Or, was my stomach already upset and my mind weaved it into the narrative so to speak.
Anyway. The feeling of queasiness did not pass (still there to be honest). Can't think that its too do with anything I've eaten. Though perhaps yesterdays 8 mile run in wind, rain and hail has given me a bit of a chill.
Whatever. I do know that I didn't enjoy my 13 mile run into the hills and woods quite as much as I should have.
It was a beautiful, though somewhat cold, day. Just the sort of day that I usually thrive on, but all the way round the contents of my stomach just kept bubbling away... horrible. Suffice to say my time was somewhat slower than I would have liked. But, just like the bears, the woods at least offered me a bit more privacy than poor Paula had a few years ago!!

Hope it doesn't happen again. Never want a dream about food again.

Well. Unless Kylie's cooking me a big bowl of pasta!!

Friday, 22 October 2010


I picked up a Charles Mingus CD last week (Charles Mingus "In A Soulful Mood").
And I just can't get enough of it!
It's a strange wee confection. First of. I was a bit wary of the term "Soulful" - too many "smooth" connotations. Charles Mingus was, if anything, a troubled soul, a revolutionary one: musically and politically (with a small "p") and he was a bit of an "angry" soul. So what would a collection of Mingus "soulful" sounds be like?
Well. Not quite as angry as normal, but this is no "late night relaxing" CD. It's still pretty charged stuff.
The CD is culled from two sessions he did for the Candid label in 1960 and actually seems to be stuff that was omitted from the first two albums for Candid.
The opener "Bugs (take 3)" is pure bebop. It's the sort of music that very seldom fails to bring a smile to my face and make me feel that much better. It's full of colour and speed, but the colours are the ones reflected in wet pavements on a busy street at night and the speed is the speed of people going to and fro about their lives. Paul Bley on piano on this one, and it's a side of him I've seldom heard. Joy.

There's also a wonderful 13 minute take on the old standard "Stormy Weather". This starts with about one bar of solo bass, before Eric Dolphy comes in for about a four minute solo on alto sax that is one of the most minimalist and heartfelt I've ever heard. Dolphy doesn't paint a picture of "stormy weather" and misery ahead - he just provides the dots for the listener to slowly join together to get their own picture. I've got to be honest and say I don't like Eric Dolphy's later "free" jazz, but this is fantastic stuff. After his solo the boss takes over for an equally minimal bass solo before the trumpet and drum join them to round it off.
Recorded in 1960 this track is pure 1930's depression America - dole queues and soup kitchens. Given the current climate the BBC could use this as background music for the news when Robert Prseton's on giving us the details of the latest cuts!
Best 50p I've spent in ages.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

"THIS IS NOT THE END"............

"THIS IS NOT THE END"............

“……It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Two nights of mouse free [in]activity in the kitchen. Can it last?

Haven’t got rid of it/them as such, but I think I did find the “point of entry”. It looks as though a gap left in our [ill]fitted kitchen was providing their raiding parties with an open door. I couldn’t understand why the food that was stolen was being dragged back to a particular corner until I lay on the floor for a “mouse-eye-view” and saw the gap.

Liberal use of foil and duct tape has blocked the offending gap.

So, as I say, no activity. So why am I not wholly happy? Well, for one thing the outer perimeter remains insecure. For them to even get as far as this breach in security, they have to get through the outside walls.

This small victory has at least made our veg’ secure – but the fight goes on!!!

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Did a nice steady 8 mile run yesterday.
Then today I ended up doing a 17 miler with Ian. Over by Harehead, then by Bothwell farm before heading back through the woods to the wind farm and back via Weatherly. Mostly on quiet roads, but a wee bit on forest trail and little used "works access roads"
Probably a wee bit slower than Ian would have gone at (though it was a hilly route and windy), but I was happy just to get out there and do a bit of a longer run again. Legs felt not exactly "race fit", but definitely getting better and the old "cardio-vascular-lung-what-nots" felt tickety-boo and I was able to chat quite comfortably all the way round. I felt a bit guilty as I was still a bit in "recovery mode" while Ian is still firmly fixed in "training mode" (he might have a mara' soon) and I didn't want to hinder his training, but he was able to add a bit on, when I ended back at my house, to take his total up to 23 and drop his average pace a bit as well.
I fancy going for the Jedburgh half at the end of October and then it's into cross country season, so I've nothing "big" lined up that I really need to train for. But I just want to try and get through the winter ideally maintaining my present level of fitness or at the very least not letting it slip too far. So I really don't want to let my weekly mileage drop too much.
That said. The dark nights are upon us so opportunities for long runs are diminishing, and while I enjoy doing the cross country on a Sunday it reduces the options for doing distance at the weekends.

Never happy. Or not for long anyway.


Oh sweet Jesus!!
The "war", or to be more accurate the "arms race" against our little visitor has escalated.
We got back from Fridays gig to the sight of more gnawed veg in the rack, so Saturday morning saw us off to see our local "arms dealer" in the little hardware shop in Dunbar.
We came home fully equipped with the latest technology.... An electric "gizzmo" that emanates not only ultra sonic "noise" to scare the little buggers half to death, but also gives out pulses of "electro magnetic what-not" to disorientate them.
Anne also spent ages on Saturday with peppermint essential oil dabbing it here and there, as that's supposed to give the little sods the heeby-jeebies.
As for the "humane" trap??? Well that now has bait that consists of home made chocolate cake and peanut butter! Hells teeth, I fancy that myself!
Did any of it work? Did it F........
Came down the morning to find another avocado, two carrots and another spud had been got at. Probably used the oil to sooth their little feet after spending the night dancing away under the groovy lights of the useless piece of electro-junk.
The war goes on!!
I've added poison to our arsenal (sod "humane" traps - I'd happily thump it with a lump hammer if I saw it!!), and Anne spent ages in the cupboard under the stairs, cramped up like a Chilean miner, armed with duct tape, tin foil and wire wool, trying to block of all possible entry points.
This war ain't over yet!


Friday was a really good day "jazz wise".
Out at a gig on Friday night at the Queens Hall to see the SNJO with guest Arild Anderson playing a selection of music to celebrate 40 years of ECM. Very fitting in a way that Europe's leading jazz label should be celebrated by Europe's finest "jazz orchestra".
Really like the SNJO and I really like Arild Anderson, so it was going to be a winner from the start this one. But it exceeded my already high expectations.
I've always viewed ECM music as being predominately jazz tinged with a Northern European influence (both classical and folk), and there was certainly some fine examples of that at the gig - Garbarek's "Molde Canticle" and Andersons own "Hyperborean" and "Independcy IV". But, it is also home to an awful lot of more "mainstream"/American influenced jazz and there were a few rousing examples of that as well with Pat Metheny's "Bright Size Life" and Dave Holland's "May Dance" really giving the trumpet and sax sections a chance to let it rip.
Interesting to hear so many pieces I'm familiar with "done large" in a big band setting. Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence", originally for piano and vibes is completely changed when done for a big band. Likewise Garbarek's piece, originally for a quintet, has a real "ethereal" quality - the saxophone sighs rather than sings, but with a big band setting the work opens up. The work remains the same but the "feeling" of the work is "re-imagined" to borrow a term. 
As is always the case with the SNJO, "guest" performers are given a bit more time "up front" than most of the other musicians, but never too much to bore the listener. Anderson however, could have played for the entire two hours solo, and I don't think the audience would have grown bored of watching him, pluck, slap, bow or caress the bass.
Over the moon that one of my favourite tunes of all time, Keith Jarrett's "My Song" was used for the encore.

Outstanding solo of the evening? Alyn Cosker ditching the sticks and playing a stunning accompaniment for Anderson that evolved into a solo using his hands on the drums and cymbals. Though Ryan Quigley's trumpet solo must have been a close second.

Heard that this concert (and the other three in the "tour") might be getting recorded and might eventually get released by ECM. Really hope that they do.

Why else was Friday a good jazz day? Well at lunchtime I picked up a CD by the Pete Letanka trio, then on the way to meet Anne at night I went into a shop and found a Charlie Mingus album I fancied - for "ten bob"!! Love a bit of Mingus - jazz tinged with "anger". Good edgy stuff.