Wednesday, 30 November 2011




Oh lordy. Those “senior moments” seem to be coming thick and fast.

Forgot the shorts last night. No problem in that department today. Favourite pair of big baggy Nike shorts packed last night. BUT.

Just away to get changed at lunchtime and I got called back by a colleague “wouldn’t you be better off with your top?” I’d left it to “air” a bit on a hanger and was half way to the shower room without it.

Came back got the top. Got changed. Went out. Got a signal on the old Garmin… and had to come back in again! I’d forgotten the heart rate monitor.

But the worst has got to be, having chaffing and still forgetting my Vas’ !! God alone knows it’s a big enough tub. I think it’s actually marketed as a “Prison Party Pack Size”. So again I’ve had to “make do and mend”…

Ever been a run with your bits all slathered in Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream??

Quite nice J



Got down to the club last night to discover a lack of a vital piece of kit…..shorts!!

How the hell I forgot to pack shorts is beyond me, but there you go – I did.

Luckily, in the store cupboard at Hallhill there is a box full of “official” club shorts. The box has been there for years. For good reason; theyre crap.

Stylish, cut sides, tight, green, efforts; made from a strange material that’s a mix of polyester and emery paper! But “needs must” and all that – a pair were donned and the run was undertaken.

Any yet again, for a Tuesday, it was run at speed. For a few reasons.. It was “bloody cauld” and the theory was the quicker you went the sooner you’d be back in the warmth. And  the “embarrassment” of being seen in these shorts.

So. The run went well, “really well” if I’m honest, given the strong winds. Felt good while I was out.

Then got back to the changing room to have a shower… “cold weather”, “strange shorts” – I’m sure you can see where this is going!

“Intimate chaffing” doesn’t even begin to describe the injury!! L

Got my proper shorts today, but even so, today’s run might be a bit subdued more a sort of John Wayne-ish shuffle.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Galashiels this morning for the third leg in the Borders Cross Country series. And once more we were blessed with beautiful blue skys and nice weather. Howling a gale mind - but at least it was blue skys.
However, it had rained the night before and the going was "soft" (for "soft" read downright squelchy and mud up to your dangly bits).
Brilliant!! If I'm going to do cross country at all that's how I want it to be!

Now. This is not a criticism - it's an observation. There were a lot of runners from the host club running the race today. Probably more than were marshaling. Which is a shame, because if the ratio had been a bit different, with more marshaling, perhaps we wouldn't have all taken the wrong route and missed out a sizable chunk of what was an excellent course.
Luckily however, everyone went wrong so the results still stand. But is was a shame I was enjoying it and it did seem to be over all too quickly. A couple of climbs that are pretty energy sapping at the best of times, but when your trying to run up hill into a strong wind it just makes it all the more challenging.
At one point a flock of sheep took fright and darted across the runners, right in front of me! I don't think it's correct "shepherding" terminology and would have probably lost me points if I'd ever been on "one man and his dog" but I did bellow at them to "F**K Off!"
A nice fast descent down the side of a field and then along the bottom to the part where we all went wrong.
Runners are, when alls said and done, rather stupid creatures. If one goes astray its fair to say that the remainder will just follow. Which is my defense. I was just following the runner in front of me and the guy behind me was just following me. But when we got to the part where everyone was clambering over a rather wobbly, crumbly dry stone wall even I thought "hang on, this cant be right". I was and it wasn't...everyone ended up missing about a mile out of the course. I also heard, after the event, that by the time 160 runners went over it there was a little less of the dry stoone wall than there was at the start.
At the end when word got round someone suggested that they "make them all do it again". I was up for that.

A very welcome cup of soup and a roll at the end before the journey home and the fun of trying to scrub all the mud off my legs.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Don't watch much in the way of crime fiction on the telly but I do read a fair bit of it. I know I should watch it and I might invest in the Killing Series 1 on DVD to see what all the fuss is about (though I've probably heard more about the main characters bloody pullover than any actual "crime").
And like just about everyone else at the moment I'm getting into a lot of Scandanavian crime novels.
I enjoy (or am still enjoying to be precise) the Stig Larsson books and I really enjoyed the first book by Jo Nesbo. Camilla Lackberg's "Ice Princess"was an enjoyable read as well.
I've read a lot, though not all, of the Wallander books by  Henning Mankell and have enjoyed those. I did find the first couple a bit "dry" but couldn't make up my mind if it was the way Mankell wrote or if the translator had been a bit too literal. There appeared to be very little in the way of descriptive "flourish" in his books. Rather everything was described quite coldly and clinically.

Anyhoo.. A new series of books has been brought to my attention. The Martin Beck books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.
A Swedish Detective who like 99.99% of all fictitous detectives has not only murders to deal with but personal "issues".
If the first book in the series, "Roseanna", is anything to go by I think they'll be pretty good. Written in 1965 it's probably a bit "slow" for some peoples tastes. Certainly there's nothing in the way of car chases, shoot outs and they don't have "24 hours to save the president/world/whatever".
Rather; what there is, right at the beginning, is the discovery of a body in strange circumstances. There then follows a long description of the painstaking routine that has to be undertaken to identify the victim, establish motive and then track down a killer.
That maybe sounds a bit boring but it's the way this routine is described and the effect it has on the main characters that make it both plausile and enjoyable. If you like UK crime fiction I'd say that this is between Morse and Rebus (but probably gravitating closer to Morse).
Only another nine books in the series to look forward to. It'll be interesting to see how some of the minor characters develop as well.

Good thing about Scandanavian crime books is that I've a pretty large collection of Scandanavian jazz to listen to while I read it.
My next book I'm reading is set in Tzarist Russia. God alone knows what I'll listen to with that - Oscar Peterson in Moscow??

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Yet another beautiful day - even through here in the DGP.
So a brisk 6.8 miles up by the sparkling, azure, crystal waters of the majestic Clyde were in order. Wonderful. I could have happily just stayed out all afternoon.
Late November and the trees are still full of leaves - all shades of red, brown and yellow. So much better than green!
Not a cloud in the sky, no wind to talk of and, while it's not "scorching", still enough heat in the sun to warm your bones.
Quite a few other runners were out, as well as cyclists and rowers. I think everyone is just taking as much advantage as possible of this nice spell - and who can blame them? This weather's got to break at some point, might as well make the most of it.

Got the Gala leg of the Border's XC on Sunday - what's the betting is piddling down for that?

Sunday, 20 November 2011


I am loving this weather.
I'm a fan of the Autumn - best season of the year by far. And this year it just seems to be going on and on and on.
Can't help feel though that when winter finally does decide to show up it really comes along with a vengeance.
I did a 13 mile route yesterday that I haven't done since late May/early June. And I swear that yesterdays run was nicer. Other than the shadows being a bit longer, for early afternoon, you would never have known it was mid November.

Didn't get a  run in during daylight hours today because I was helping out at our clubs leg of the Borders XC, and even that was more akin to a summer's race than a traditional  cross country. Where's the ice and the hail and the biting cold wind that strips the skin off your flesh that we should be getting by this time of year? Cross country races should be characterised by groups of miserable looking runners all huddled together and wrapped up in layers of gortex and fleece trying to keep warm as much as possible before the off. Today everyone seemed to be in vests and shorts right from the start.
At one point today I looked down onto White Sands beach to be greeted by the sight of dozens of runners paddling in the sea after the race! Now, I'm not saying that a few dozen runners daft enough to go paddling in the Forth is a sign of global warming - but it's still not right, is it?
We should have got an ice cream van down for the day. Could have made a packet.

The route had a couple of changes this year. Some I knew about - some I didn't. We took the runners out along the beach a bit further this year (just for fun). That I knew about (the slippery rocks I didn't).

But I'd been busy telling runners that it was all pretty flat. So it came as a surprise when some of them came back talking about the "hills". Turns out Ian just added a few wee hills into the course to add a bit variety to the mix. Seems to have worked a treat.

Went my own wee run at 5pm and even then it was cool - but not cold. Shorts and tee-shirt weather.
Got a feeling it wont be like this for much longer though.

Friday, 18 November 2011


Today is going to be my first rest day in two weeks (running wise). More than happy.
Decided after last weeks relatively low mileage week to try and up it a wee bit this week; so Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday saw me out twice a day.
Probably too much. Last nights interval session was bliddy tough going. I was absolutely knackered when I got home.

The last couple of weeks have seen me with a bit of a swollen foot. Just at the front of the ankle. You know the pain you sometimes get if you have shoes too tight over the top of the foot? That's the one.
Bit of swelling and redness just below the cuff of my running socks at the front and, possibly more tellingly, a sort of "squeaky-rusty-hinge" sensation when the foot was moved.
A quick impromptu examination from Dunbars resident GP confirmed what I'd suspected from a bit of Google assisted self diagnosis - tendonitis (or "Anterior Tibial Tendonitis" to give it it's Sunday name).
So, loads of Brufen and lashings of Ibruphen gel for me last week and this. I have also been doing some mobility exercises, which involve me sitting at my desk with the left foot pointing out and using the ankle to manipulate the pointy foot to write the alphabet in the air! This, for whatever reason, appears to work. However, it does get a bit boring so I've adapted it to include "pointy foot" sky-writing of profane messages about civil servants! It's a bit sort of Tourette Syndrome meets St. Vitus's Dance.  Draws some funny looks but it seems to have done the trick.

Going to try and do a bit LSD tomorrow then try and get a short run in on Sunday at some point. Might head off into the hills tomorrow - bit of solitude.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Cant really explain what got into me last night, but last nights club run went off like a race. Harder than a race probably.
Needless to say a "pb" was got for that route.

Madness indeed, because this morning I had to be up and about at "stupid o'clock" to do a recce of White Sands prior to Sunday's Borders Series XC race.
Got a message yesterday from the council to say that "travellers" had moved onto the sight (after cutting down the large metal barrier erected to stop them).
Apparently the council and the police had payed our travelling "chums" a visit and requested that they may wish to "move along".

A typical clothes peg seller.
Why, oh why, can't people just let them be?
 Now. Normally this would be a bit like asking the Greeks if  "they'd consider being good enough to pay back some of their debts. Or at least spending a little less" - i.e. fecking wasting your time.
However, this time the council had repaired the large metal barrier and informed them that if they didn't move then they would be getting locked in within 24 hours.
Obviously, being locked in would deprive them of the opportunity to take their brightly coloured horse drawn wagons onto the country lanes where they would sell their hand carved clothes pegs and hand made pots and pans.
Its worked! They've gone! Thank god.
Didn't fancy holding a race that started and ended in a tinkers camp!

Anyway. After last nights exertions doing another 8.5 mile this morning was a bit daunting. So I took it very easy (8.5 minute pace). First time this winter I've used a head torch as well. Quite enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Not satisfied with trying to dig up every road in Edinburgh, the cooncil have now moved on to pavements. Specifically the pavement along by Seafield Road.
This is a bit annoying as it effectively blocks off two of the runs that I often do from my office in Leith.
The first is a 5.5 mile route that goes down towards the Seafield junction (formally the Seafield Roundabout) then down Kings Road and back along by the back of the Cat & Dog home. The other route is basically the first route plus a loop of Portobello prom and Joppa added (making 8 miles).
As I say though, this is off limits for the foreseeable future. I probably could still go along but it now involves a couple of busy road crossings and fannying about.
So. Got a choice of one run. My 7 mile route up the Water Of Leith and back via Granton. I do like this run…but 4 days a week? Gets a bit “samey” to say the least.
Also, I find that if I do the same run too often I end up concentrating on time and getting round quicker than the last time. Every training run turns into a  sort of time trial – not ideal.
Still. Getting out anywhere at lunchtime is good. Put’s me in a good mood (or as close an approximation as I can manage).
Speaking of good moods …I thought it was a lovely version of the Johnny Hodges classic “Squatty Roo” as it happens. The lights in the shower going out on me again however leads me to think that not every one thought so L
Hope they don’t look to me for support when they are striking for their gold plated pensions. Civil Servants? Worthless b@stards to a man!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


This morning a group of us went down to Longyester to join HELP in their "Goat's Gallop" race. A beautiful  8 and a bit mile circuit that takes you up Lammer Law before heading down towards Hopes Reservoir and then back.
The first two miles is a steady climb up along a fairly well defined road/path before you head off onto the hill proper and make your way through the heather to the summit and turn around the trig point.
Then comes the bit I really don't like and can never get used to - the drop down to the reservoir. Bloody hell it's steep!
Ian, who I had set off with, had got a little ahead of me by the time we reached the top of the hill. However, by the time I had got about ten yards down the descent he was already at the bottom and galloping off into the distance.
Once down to the reservoir, and back onto road, I was OK and tried to put the foot down and catch Ian again. I was "eyeballs out" and managed a 5:50 mile at this point.... problem was -obviously so did Ian.
Got round a minute or so behind him, in 1:01:01 and was quite happy with that.
I couldn't understand though why we had passed so few runners (the runners set off in waves). Turns out that quite a few got a bit "disorientated" in the mist at the top of the hill and took an alternative route down.

No racing for me next weekend though. It's Dunbar's turn to host a leg of the Borders Cross Country. So I'll be on "running-about-with-a-clipboard-like-a-bad-tempered-old-git" duty.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


My early childhood was spent in the 60’s.
However, it wasn’t the “swinging”, psychedelic, “groovy” 60s of the contemporary, imagined, remembrance that seems to have got itself lodged into the collective psychie.
It was all dark mornings, short trousers, grey woolly socks that fell down your shins and damp duffle coats that smelled like wet dogs when they were drying on the school radiator. As an aside – anyone who longs for the clocks to stay on BST obviously cant remember walking to school between 1968 and 1971 when they tried that particular experiment before!!
My childhood was neither "swinging" nor indeed "groovy".
I think there had been a meeting in Musselburgh (where I was brung up) in the late 50’s and the town council decreed that the “swinging 60s were simply going to cost too much” and it was more fiscally prudent to simply recycle the 50s and go through another 10 years of austerity. Garish psychedelia was not for our town council who viewed anything that contained more than three hues of grey with suspicion anyway. *. Also, as anyone will tell you, the 50s in Musselburgh probably weren’t that much different from the 40s anyway!
Then; no sooner was this elongated age of austerity coming to an end than we were plunged full-on into the 3 day weeks and power cuts of the early 70s.

I only mention this to “set the scene” and explain why Dylan Thomas’s “A Childs Christmas” manages to strike a chord with me. I know it isn’t based in my “Christmas past” but, then again, my own private past always seems a bit more distant and long ago than it really is.

Anyway. The jazz event of the year occurred on Saturday and I got my grubby wee mitts Stan Tracey’s jazz suite “A Childs Christmas”. Fan-bloody-tastic.
The linear notes and the inside photography alone – never mind the source inspiration– make one issue quite clear. This is the follow up album to “Under Milk Wood”. And it’s every bit as good.
It follows a very simple structure. Tune, bit of narration, tune, bit of narration, tune etc. etc..
Now. The narration does really help here, and given that A Child's Christmas isn’t really a massive work the entire thing is delivered in 7 or so episodes, with each tune being a musical interpretation of the episode. The narration is, rather happily, set aside as separate tracks so that they can be included or excluded from your player or “playlist” as the young un’s put it. If the narration had simply been tagged onto the start or end of each track it may have been a bit more problematic.
The music is a lot cheerier and less brooding than Milk Wood (unsurprisingly), but Tracey still uses sparing piano solos to set the scene while childish capers and manic postmen are portrayed by frantic, fast flowing runs on the keyboard that replicate the playfulness of the narrative, while Simon Allen’s sax is as crisp as the snow that covers the town streets. While Andrew Cleyndert on bass and Clarke Tracey on drums get to stretch their legs on the track "Trolls".

The music is sentimental, but not overly Christmassy - if you get my [snow] drift, so this is one “Christmas” album that can be played 12 months of the year (no cheesy sleigh bells etc.). And I’m pretty sure it will be.

* NB: Some of the earlier parts of this post may be fictitious.

Monday, 7 November 2011


First leg of the Borders XC yesterday. At Lauder (hence the photo). And what a belter it was.
Unbelievably nice weather - a little frost and ice - just to remind us that winter's on its way. But the sun got up and the frost melted leaving quite a warm day and just enough moisture on the ground to keep the going good and "claggy"!!
I'd opted for trail shoes for this race, but I think I may have been better off with a more aggressive stud. I was skittering about quite a bit! After a long slow climb along part the Southern Upland Way, towards Chester Hill, you drop through the bracken into a wee valley. Then its along the bottom of the valley over numerous burns and boggy bits before another energy sapping climb up a muddy path (steep this time) and then a short fast dash back into the park and the finish line.
An amazing turnout: 184 runners. Good to see so many at this series (good turnout for Dunbar).
Only 4 and a bit miles but it always feels longer. The hardest run I've done in a long time.
A quick coffee and a bit of cake back in the registration hall before we headed home and I settled down to getting the results onto the interweb (the temptation to "adjust" my own result was always present - but ignored. Honest).

Saturday, 5 November 2011


The weather may be unseasonably mild, but winter is upon us.
This weekend sees a couple of "wintry" events...

First up was my annual flu jab at the doctors. They don't operate an appointment policy. Rather they have a couple of "open days" when all the wrinklies and those of us who are slightly younger but who are deemed to be sickly or to have "weak chests" and what-not turn up and form an orderly queue. Today was such a day.
It's a system that seems to work well and I don't think I've ever had to wait any longer than a couple of minutes to be seen. Today was no exception. In fact it was over that quick that I hardly noticed it had happened. I went in with jacket already off, sat in a chair and was asked by the doctor "left arm or right?". I was just about to say left when the needle was jabbed into my right - no time for mucking about here.
Anyway. Hopefully that's me flu free for another year.
I suppose I'm "lucky" to be one of the groupls who gets the flu jab free, but I think if I wasn't I would consider paying for it anyway. There's enough in the way of niggles and injuries to interupt my winter training anayway without having to take a couple of weeks off laid low with the flu.

Tomorrow sees another indicator of winter being upon us with the first leg of the Borders XC at Lauder. To get in the groove I went for a nine mile bimble round by the windfarm today. Really enjoyed it. A nice cool(ish), bright, calm day.
It really was just one of those days where everything "clicked". Really enjoyed it and felt good all the way round. The kind of feeling you always want on a race day (but seldom seem to get). Maybe there's something benifical in the flu jab?

Thursday, 3 November 2011



Bizarre as it may sound; the light switches for the showers in my office are outside (you have to turn the lights on before you go into the shower room). The shower room has no windows and no natural light whatsoever.

So it was a little disturbing today to have the lights go out mid shower!! I had to finish my shower, dry myself off and get dressed in complete darkness L

What was also upsetting was that I was half way through my blinding scat rendition of “Lullaby Of Birdland” at the time. Been practicing that for weeks now…. Still can’t quite manage some of the high notes yet, but I’m getting there.




Strange too that when I came out the switch was in the “off” position. I’d assumed a light or a fuse had gone faulty. You’d almost think someone had turned the lights off!!