Tuesday, 31 August 2010


It's a strange thing with injuries, niggles, pains and what-nots, their arrival is often sudden, and painful, but their departure is slow and protracted (and "yes" that includes the "Duke of Argylls").
Still not fully rid of Mr Sorerib, but feeling better than I've felt for weeks now.

While we were in Dorset the runs we did were many, but they were relatively sedate. Enough to keep the metabolism in the old "cake burning" zone, but not likely to put any strain on anything. Probably just what I needed.
A strange sign that the rib might be getting better is that I've stopped getting out of bed with a sore back. I've obviously been running in a strange{er} way to ease pressure on the offending rib, and that's been having a "knock on" effect on my back. At least, that's what I think.

So, with the recovery on track I've gone and done what any idiot would do - I've entered the Loch Ness marathon!! We've been thinking about it for a while. Anne hasn't done a marathon this year yet and wants to do at least one.
Obviously, I'm not starting training "from scratch" and I've done a couple of longish runs, but little since my wee "set to" with the pathway in the DGP has been of any real "quality".
So. Four weeks to get into marathon shape?
For one thing the two week taper is getting knocked on the head - I'll just try and get by with one!
Three weeks with high mileage and at least two long runs a week (and one speed session) and one week of about 50% the usual mileage. Going to try a long run this Thursday.
Race day preparations? Likely to be a light breakfast, followed by a flap-jack on the bus to the start line, followed by 2 paracetamol and 2 or 3  brufen half an hour before the start!

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Well, that was a quiet week.
Been away in rural Dorset. Which, in many ways, is much like rural East Lothian - only with "added money"! Every where you look there are large, ostentatious, "cottages" for the well off. Each one seems to be complete with a large "fuck-off" fence and one, or even two, larger "fuck-off" guard dogs.
It has the appearance of a place where folks with a bit of cash go to retire. But then spend half their time  trying to protect what's theirs (nothing wrong there I suppose).
Strange thing is though, that once out of their well protected houses the people were really friendly (don't think we walked or ran past anyone who didn't say "hello").

The place we were in was small and quiet but did boast a very nice pub that sold 37 different types of beer, and god alone knows how many ciders!!
Now. It's a little known fact that Dante Alighieri was a piss head turned tee-toatler. It's an even lesser known fact that there is an often over looked stanza in "The Divine Comedy" that sees him and Virgil not in another circle of hell, as such, but more in a sort of "annex" to hell that closely resembles a real ale pub that sells thirty odd different beers - beers that he cant drink - but only one type of cola!! (to be fair, both these facts are "little known", because I just made them up!).

Did a fair bit of running when we were there. That was a bit strange too. Loads of nice, narrow, country lanes - but they all had hedges about 12 foot high all along either side. It got to the point where you felt as though you were running through a tunnel, or a maze for morons - with only one turn every mile or so. The countryside may have been stunning - I couldn't tell you, because I couldn't see over the hedge!

Thursday, 19 August 2010



Today’s workplace shower was [to my mind] a superb scat/vocalise rendition of “Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie.

No doubt some people look forward to the arrival of my post holiday blues and a return to morose, sullen, grumpy silence!



Did one of my favourite runs last night. Haddington and East Lothian Pacemakers annual Carfraemill to Gifford race (sorry run).

25, or so, runners boarded the bus in Gifford on a beautiful evening to be taken to the start line. Once we got off the bus, stretched the legs and offered up the traditional runners blessing to the local hedges and shrubs we were off..

The field split up fairly early on and, given the fact of my current “niggly rib”, I probably set off a wee bit too quick. Just before the start of the climb at Dodcleugh we had to duck under a one wire electric fence, and it was here that a sharp pain in the rib reminded me that I’m still not race fit.

To be honest though I felt that I was able to work fairly hard on the climb but one concession I made to my ribs was stopping at every gate to open it and go through rather than climb over and jump down. Though even that only cost me a few seconds.

For most of the first 4 miles or so I was at the front with Ian Sills (or to be honest I was near the front trying to keep up with Ian). However, he started to draw away and when I was passed by Ian Rowland and Brian Marshall I realised I was going to end up on my own.

Another concession to the rib was for me to take the downhill section even more gingerly than usual (which is usually “girly” at the best of times). This was in part due to fear of falling.

By the time we got to Long yester however and back onto tarmac roads I was able to open up a wee bit and even managed a sub 6 mile.

I keep saying this isn’t a race and the more I say it the more I try to race it! J However, one year I am determined just to go along for the fun and take a camera, because some of the views out over the East Lothian countryside and coast line from the top of the Three Law are really spectacular. Especially at that time of night (8ish) at this time of year – when the sun is starting to get low and the light just seems to wash over everything.

Managed to get round the 10.7 miles in 1:14:52 which was 40 seconds slower than last year – so all in all, I’m happy with that.

However, while we were having a post race meal in the Goblin Ha’ my ribs and back started to hurt quite badly – so perhaps I was being a bit adventurous (and perhaps the brufen and paracetamal were wearing off).

As for the meal.. Well it’s always nice to sit and blether with everyone after this type of event and I was certainly hungry after the run. I had pasta which I have to say was a work of art! Though, given that I suspect the “mushroom sauce” was actually condensed soup with some spinach added, then poured over the pasta I’m in agreement with Ian R, who stated that it was probably inspired by Andy Warhol.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010



Today’s workplace run was a gentle trot down to Portobello beach and back. Nothing too strenuous as;  “a” I’m at the club tonight and “b” I’m going to try and do the Caerfraemill to Gifford run tomorrow.

Anyway, other than the fact that the “art” has been removed from the beach it was a nice run. All was well with the world.

That and the happy fact that this is the second week in a  row that I haven’t been through in the D.G.P. resulted in what can best be described as a state of “contentment” settling over me (two weeks working in Edinburgh! No train journeys and no “selection ramp” at Queens Street – fantastic). Impending holidays might be adding to the feeling of well being as well to be honest.

Quite a strange feeling though, this brief oasis of joy in another wise miserable desert of existence. I know it may come as a surprise to some, but I’m usually one of life’s malcontents. I’m a “glass half empty” type of a bloke (could that be one of the reasons I gave up drinking? Remove the half empty glass and there’s one less thing to moan about! Could be – but it wasn’t).

Anyhow, the mood of good cheer found me post run belting out what I thought was a blinding rendition of “I Remember You” a la Chet Baker while in the shower. A rendition that, to my mind, captures the soft fragile quality of the young Chet’s voice quite well.

Now… It could be my imagination, or it could be my bad ear playing tricks on me, but I’m pretty sure that just as I was getting to the bit where “the angels ask me to recall…” I could hear a voice in the distance calling “shut the F*** up”!

Not very angelic language that! But it did remind me that the shower is located in a little walk in cupboard type area just off the corridor that runs through a vast open plan office.

I came out of the shower (after changing obviously) determined to face my critic – but the looks on the five or so faces that greeted me suggested it could have been any one of them.

That’s the last time I share my joy through the medium of song in the workplace (I might even go up or down a floor for my showers for the next few days).

Monday, 16 August 2010


Influenced, as were most of his generation, by Charlie Parker, Lou Donaldson started playing bebop, but digressed from the bebop movement and really made a mark for himself with a string of hits for the Blue Note label that showed off his real bluesy/funky sound.
Always a little tongue in cheek there is a real sense of fun in his playing.
Saw him live a few years ago and even then, when he was approaching 80, he played with the enthusiasm of a man a quarter of that age. His live performance was liberally sprinkled with humour and showmanship but managed to steer clear of overstepping the mark and ending up in vaudeville territory (with the possible exception of his vocal rendition of "Whisky Drinkin' Woman").
This album is one of his later offerings (from 92) and has a reworking of the theme from one of his most famous Blue Note albums "Blues Walk" - here reworked as "Walkin' Again".
Old Blue Note stablemate Kenny Dorham also gets a nod with a cover of his "Blue Bossa".
While Donaldson's made his own mark with the alto sax and moved on from those bebop days, when everyone wanted to sound like Parker, the uptempo "Birdseed" offers a sense of tribute and aknowledgement of where it all started.
I think this is pretty much the quintet line up I saw Lou with, though sadly without Dr Lonnie Smith on Organ (here the organ is by David Braham).
A lovely, sunny, happy wee album - made all the better for finding it for £1.99 in a charity shop.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


The "thwacked" rib still isn't 100%. To be honest I still don't really know if I've cracked it or just bruised it.
It's OK(ish) if I don't push the pace too much and it's certainly a lot better if I remember to "pop" a couple of brufen before the run.
I did 16 miles yesterday and felt tickety boo. But then did 11 today (without brufen) and definitely felt a twinge.
I'm sure proper advice would be to do nothing at all for a few weeks - but I just cant bring myself to do that. I'm just going to try and find a nice balance between doing enough and not doing that much that I risk exacerbating the injury or prolonging complete recovery. Probably a "choice" that's faced loads of injured runners:
Option "A" Do absolutely nothing for 4 weeks followed by 2 weeks or so "recovery" and back to race fitness in 6 OR Option "B" start running after 1 week, but prolong the full recovery to about 10 weeks. (these figures are not precise - it's just an example).
I know which one I'd go for.

Looked back at my training log and was surprised to see that the mileage I did last week was pretty high by my standards even when I'm not nursing an injury. So perhaps I should at least try and have a couple of easier weeks. Nice in theory, but I'm off work for two weeks soon and would hate to miss out on quality time.

Anyway. Yesterday was the Haddington Half and just because I couldn't run it that was no excuse not to go down and will on the rest of the club to do well. And well they did...with Rhona and the two Ian's picking up East District "masters" medals and Brian slicing a good couple of minutes off his PB time.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010



Went for a bit of a run along by Portobello. Started at the office, went down to the Cat & Dog Home then more or less followed the route of the Portobello 4 mile race, before heading back to work.

Not my normal route of choice when I’m in Leith but I fancied something a bit different. Also, I think because I do the same route so often I have a tendency to get “hung up” on the time and there is a real danger that every run turns into a time trial – and that isn’t always a good thing.

So, thought a slightly different route with none of the usual landmarks that act as “split time” points and new things to look at might encourage me to take it easy. And it did, just took it at a nice relaxed pace.

I also knew that there was currently some “installation” art on display on the beach and I was keen to get a look.

It’s called “Black Swan” by Miles Thurlow and consists of 13 fruit machines sitting on the sand and (apparently) flashing and whirring away. Now, I don’t know what it looks like at night but I didn’t see much evidence of flashing and whirring when I went by, but I have to admit it did look very striking. Something about the shape of the machines reminded me of the heads on Easter Island. Perhaps I’m not reading enough into it, but it seems to “borrow” from Anthony Gormley’s works with the fruit machines replacing the iron figures.

Does the act of looking at something “out of context” also, conversely, force you to look in greater detail than you might normally at the landscape that it is out of context from??

Whatever – to quote the oft used phrase “I dont know much about art but I know what I like”… and I do like this!

I don’t know how long it’s going to be there, but if I get a chance I’d quite like to see it at night.

Monday, 9 August 2010



Back in January I took part in an experiment that involved keeping a note of the colour of my water.

Since then I’ve had a passing interest in the colour of the water that I’m passing. Not obsessive or anything.. just an interest.

Well, sod me I damn near passed out with fright this morning. I don’t know what shade it would be on the Dulux colour chart but “crimson” is about the best  word I can find to describe it! That or “for-fs-sake-it-shoulnt-be-that-colour red

Hells teeth I didn’t know who I should call first – a doctor or, in a strange and sudden vanishing of my atheist principles, a priest!

The icy cold grip of fear was clutching my heart all the way back to my desk from the cludgie… “God help me, my insides were turning to liquid and finding the quickest way out”..

The it slowly dawned on me…. Last nights tea.

Braised Beetroot Salad.

Very tasty but not worth it for the fear factor!

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Where are all the flies coming from this year?
Millions of the buggers. All shapes and sizes.
The other night I was out a wee run round John Muir and ran through a swarm of greenfly - at first I thought it was a shower of rain hitting my face. A bit confusing since it was a lovely blue sky at the time. Horrible.

Then today I was out over by Spott and down to the bridle path that run parallel to the A1. I was out for about 1 hour 40 and I think I was accompanied the entire run by a crack squadron of big bloody bluebottles who's sole aim in life was to fly in close formation to my head and see who could land in my ears!!
At first I thought the "white noise" in my ears had got really bad!
I've been buzzed by squadrons like this in the past and the only thing that seems to get rid of them is when you run into a slight headwind, sadly there wasn't one today. It also seemed to be that every few minutes a few more of these little blighters would join their chums so by the time I was half way round my run I had my own little black cloud following me.
I ran past fields of manky looking cows. You'd think that would be heaven for a bluebottle! Did they leave me alone to go and worry the coo? Did they f...
I even ran past a field that had a pile of manure in it. Surely they'd prefer that to me! No way... by this time I was really getting a complex. Perhaps its the hat?? I've not washed it for a few runs... maybe that's attracting them.
I took the hat off and held it away from me at arms length.... it just gave them the chance to get in my hair as well as my ears!
I decided that if there wasn't a head wind the next best thing might be to try and outpace them .... didn't work. Though it did result in me running a bit quicker and harder than I have for a few weeks so at least some good came of it. Could even be a new tactic - deliberately entice them to speed me along. Might add a dollop of jam to the top of my hat next time I race!!

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Been quite a busy week one way or another. Though I still seem to have found time to fit in a fair bit of training miles.
The rib is still giving me a bit of grief but improvement is there. Looking back at my training log all the miles have been at a slower pace and lower heart rate than previous - but perhaps that's no bad thing for a wee while.

Anyway. Wednesday saw the running of the North Berwick Law Race. A mental "eyes on stalks" lung busting dash from North Berwick harbour, through the town and park, up the Law, then for those brave enough, a mad dash back down the way you came. About 3 miles in all - but it feel like 6!!
Obviously, I wasn't taking part this year, but went along as a spectator.
It's a real community event this one and the runners get a cheer when they come back into the town that would probably not be out of place at the London Marathon - very enthusiastic crowds!
Went for a wee bit of a stroll with the old box-brownie before the race. Went down to the harbour and the shore to see if there was anything that I could take a snap of. Got a few of the boats etc, and the obligatory snap of the Bass Rock.
But as I was standing on the end of the harbour wall I noticed three swimmers walking down from the beach into the sea. Not your normal "I'll swim 50m out then back" types. These looked like serious swimmers with wet suits and what looked for all the world like webbed gloves!? Last I saw of them they appeared to be heading over to Fife (I'm sure they weren't).
Anyhow. Went, with Theresa, who was also spectating out to the park to try and get some pictures of the runners coming through the gate (I'll try and post them later). Quite a good place to spectate as most of the runners have to slow slightly to get through the narrow gate. Though I'm sure, given the amount of seagulls, Theresa would disagree (it's supposed to be "lucky"!).

My jazz of choice this week has been a bit "Trad". In fact in the history of British jazz it comes from the man who embodies "trad". Mr Acker Bilk! Yes he of the stupid waistcoats and the silly bowler.
An album he did back in 1968. And "yes" it does have his signature tune on it "Stranger On the Shore"!
Apparently when this album was first released it wasn't terribly well received and the "Trad" bubble had well and truly burst a few years earlier with audiences getting more attuned to bop and more modern sounds.
Mr Bilk, however, never really let that bother him and carved out a very nice wee career for himself churning out albums and playing gigs that as the Penguin Guide To Jazz puts it "appealed to the 'chicken-in-a-basket' set".
Anyway, other than a secret liking of the aforementioned "signature tune" it was the band "supporting" that really got me wired up for this CD. The Stan Tracey Big Brass!
Actually the CD is a composite of two original albums. "Blue Bilk" and Stan's own "We Love You Madly" his big band tribute to Duke Ellington.
Lovely stuff.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010



Went out a wee trot today at lunchtime. Just me and my sore rib.

Relatively sedate and uneventful – up along the banks of the mighty Clyde.

Passed the site of the “rib thwacking incident” of two weeks ago (all the time being mindful of tree roots of course). There is, quite visibly, still a dark patch on the path made by my blood.

Cool J

Sunday, 1 August 2010


The "thwaked" rib is still not 100%, but progress is being made.
I can now go out and run... though I'm still a long way off "running". If that makes sense.
I can probably train to about 80% of the effort of what I would normally do, but I cant see myself racing for a while.
I feel "discomfort" but not "pain" (well most of the time). I also think the strange way I run actually helps for once. I have a kind of exagerated "shoulders back, chest out" sort of style that would make Windsor Davis proud, and I think it holds the ribs "open" (some might argue that the shorts gives the overall effect a bit more of the "Don Estelle" look).

Anyway. I don't really have anything lined up, race wise, for a while now. Certainly this weeks North Berwick Law race and the upcoming Haddington Half have been scratched off my dance card.
Strange though that last night, after being out a 7 mile run during the day with no bother at all, I got a hell of a sharp pain just when I turned in bed! Just have to be careful.

Anyway. As I say, at least I'm out there doing something, and that helps me feel better psychologically at least.
Been enjoying this week the coverage of the European Championships on the BBC. It's never been "must see" telly, but if I am in, and it's on, I'll probably end up watching it (though usually with the sound off, subtitles on and jazz playing in the background). Saw Mo Farrah winning the 5k last night to get the double (10k and 5k) - fantastic stuff.

I've also been enjoying reading reports about the Tour of Fife.


Some you win and some you don't...
Rummaging through countless charity and second hand shops doesn't always throw up winners. Take the other week for example. I found a CD (sans cover) by a band I'd never heard of called "Corduroy" on the AcidJazz label. Now, Alan Barnes and Steve White's band The Jazz Renegades were on AcidJazz and their albums were good. Perhaps for the princely sum of £1.99 this would be more of the same...
Utter crap. Upbeat cheesy "pop" from a bunch of watered down soul boys that made Haircut 100 sound "cutting edge". It now resides in some wheelie bin in Leith.

Still. The determined collector can not let such horrible experiences deter them. The hunt goes on...
And so it was yesterday in Perth that I stumbled across a CD by the Michal Gera Band from the Prague Castle Jazz fest of 2007.
I decided that for £1.99 I'd take another leap of faith. Though to be honest at least this CD had the cover and despite the "English" translation of the sleeve notes being firmly of the Pigeon variety at least I knew this would be "Jazz".
And very fine jazz it is too. A tone and style not unlikely Enrico Rava. The quartet is made up of Gera on Trumpet, Vitek Svec on double bass, Pavel Razim on drums and Petr Zeman on electric guitar who on occasion gives the whole thing a sort of jazz/rock/"prog" rock edge to it, though never straying too far from the jazz side to lose my interest.
I'd never heard of any of these musicians until yesterday ... but I'm more than happy that I've heard them now. This one is NOT going into the bin... it's a keeper.