Monday, 31 December 2012


It's getting close folks. It's that wonderful, magical time of the year again. Yes indeedy - it's time to celebrate the end of one temporal measuring unit with the start of another!! If you could only see how excited I get when I have to turn the page on my wall calender at the end of one month and the start of another - well, imagine that excitement, times twelve!!
It's also a time, apparently, for "resolutions". "Resolutions" are, as we all know, simply promises made in the knowledge that they will only be kept for a maximum of three weeks.
It's a great time for health clubs, gyms and sports shops. I would imagine that about 80% of their annual turnover could be made in the next few weeks, as they happily take membership fees from people who they know dam fine will, by Burns Night, have retreated into a life of loafing about the sofa, encased in elasticated sweat pants, filling their puddy faces with leftover Quality Street.
If you want to change/start something new/stop a bad habit etc. Then do it when the idea pops into your head!

Anyway. Don't let my negativity seep into your world. If you want to get caught up in the wake of the massive, steam powered, tartan, Leviathan that is "Hogmanay" then embrace it and have fun.

So. What of life away from "Planet-moaning-bastard"? Well. I'm Still keeping to the idea of runs every day that are 10 miles or more. Quite enjoying it. Although I think if I managed to get out for at least one run without getting battered by a gale I might enjoy it a little more. Out over by Spott way today, then along by Burnhead and Pitcox before heading back up Starvation Brae into a nice strong head wind. Keep telling myself it's doing me good.
What didn't help with todays run was the fact that the rubber "shoe goo" I had applied to the heel of an old pair of shoes decided to become frayed and loose half way round. I could hear it scuffing along for about two miles before I'd had enough. Sat down, got a firm hold and pulled. Bloody thing stretched to about two foot in length before it finally detached and snapped back - onto my thumb. Agony. Even when I got home it was sore. Stood with my thumb under the cold tap for a while to try and bring the swelling down.

The fifth of my top five? Well. I am a sucker for a good piano trio and they don't come much better than John Taylor's, and his last album "Giulia's Thursdays". An album of songs by Italian film composer Carlo Rustichelli.
This sounds more like a suite rather than a "collection" of individual pieces. Very romantic in feel and maybe a bit "old school" when taken in context with today's crop of post EST, Brad Mehldau trio and Bad Plus emulators. But that isn't a bad thing at all. I enjoy the new crop of trios. But I want to listen to them "as well as" more traditional formats - not "instead of".

Friday, 28 December 2012

C. C. C.

Been spending a very "traditional Christmas", like most people, by observing the three "C"s.....
Wallowing in the spoils of Consumerism, eating my own body weight in Chocolate and watching Crap on the telly.
So to offset this I'm trying to keep my daily training runs in the double figures.
Managed it so far. Though the wind and the rain are definitely doing their best to ruin it for me.
It had always been my intention to keep the mileage up but the effort down, by keeping the pace low. Sadly this isn't really happening. The pace is down a bit - but the effort is up - just to get through the wind!

The time off is giving me loads of opportunity to revisit some of my favourite jazz. And another of my top five from 2012 has to be Tom Bancroft Trio Red: "First Hello To Last Goodbye".
Tom Cawley on Piano (I love his own trio Curios) and  Norwegian Per Zanussi on bass join drummer Bancroft.
Some really good solos and improvisations here that just push the boundaries, while remaining on the safe side.

There are two versions of Bancroft's "Landa and Crawford's Theme" which appeared in an earlier Bancroft project with Orchestra Interupto. To me the more gentle treatment from the trio make this the better format.

A beautiful record and a great reminder of the talent we have here in Scotland.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


....But you've still got to get your arse out the door to go a run.
I would never want to be considered a "fair weather runner". But the weather, so far, during my Christmas holidays is really testing my resolve.
I don't mind the rain too much, and I don't mind the wind too much...but add them both together! Bloody awful.
Yesterday I could have quite happily not gone a run at all. But then as we were heading off to Knowes to buy the fruit and veg for the week we saw Theresa and Sheila, from the club, battling through the wind and rain along the A199 towards East Linton. Well, when you see someone else make the effort it's even harder to bail out of a run, isn't it?
Nice thing is once you've done your run you can loaf about guilt free (well, that's the theory).
Yesterday's run was a tough, tough, 8 miler. By the time I got home I was absolutely drenched. Soaked through to the skin.
In the shower afterwards I noticed what I though was lumps of mud stuck to my legs. I attempted to wash them off. Only to discover, to my dismay, that it wasn't mud - it was tar!! The council have this machine (a "jet packer") that they use in a  futile attempt to fill in the potholes in East Lothian. Basically it just shoots a mixture of small particles, bound with tar into the pothole.
All good and well in principle, but they don't know how to use it - we've seen them in the past blast this gunk into potholes that are already full of rain water. Obviously the roads should be dry before use! Net result? Well it would appear that all the tarry crap has been flushed out of the potholes by the rain water.
Anyway, I could not shift this stuff from my legs. Ended up getting a razor and shaving bits of my legs in an attempt to shift it (the tar would not budge from the hair). Much to Anne's dismay I also managed to get it sticking to the bath! Jesus, what a fuss she made...we're getting a new one soon anyway.

Luckily I avoided the tar today in my 11 mile battle through more wind and rain.
Forecast isn't looking too good for the rest of the holidays.

Next up in my top five? Keith Jarrett "Sleeper". Recorded in Tokyo in 1979, this is the same Jarrett group that recorded the albums "My Song" and "Nude Ants". Garbarek on sax, Palle Danielsson on bass and Jon Christensen on drums. Why this recording lay dormant for 33 years is any body's guess.
Sadly the wonderful "My Song" is not included and the material is mostly from "Nude Ants". But this live recording is so much better than the studio output. The near 15 minute long version of "Chant Of The Soil" is an absolute "lowdown and funky" joy!

Friday, 21 December 2012



The running is taking a pounding from the elements right now. Only a few of us were daft/committed enough last night to turn up for interval training (delete as appropriate).

However, as the grass track at Hallhill look as though it was more suited to the training needs of Matthew Pinsent and Steve Readgrave, normal interval training was shunned and we only went for a short run round the streets. Not exactly interval session effort, but it was nice just to get out for something, given that this was the last club night till after the holidays.

Hope the weather clears a bit for the holidays. While I will reluctantly go out in all weathers – I won’t always enjoy it – but I will do it.

Plans for 2013?? Got an email yesterday informing me that the Self Transcendence 50k is on again in Perth next March.


So what of jazz? Well, a nice blend of minimalist jazz and “modern” classical music is perhaps the best way to describe the music of Eberhard Weber.

A stalwart of the ECM stable for many years Weber, sadly, hasn’t recorded anything for a few years now, since a serious stroke left him unable to play.

However, for this interesting album “Resume”, he has contrived something unique (the next of my five). He has taken recordings of his bass “interludes” from various live performances over the last twenty years and “played” with them. These “interludes” are protracted solos that he improvises at live gigs as way of bridging between one piece to another. For the purposes of the CD the interludes have simply been named after the city they were recorded in.

For some of the recordings extra sections have been recorded by Jan Garbarek and added over the original.

Weber is certainly no stranger to this style of “sampling” (for want of a better word). For a long time now he has often utilised an “echo loop” – laying down a short bass “hook”, playing it on a continual loop – adding another small section – and so on and so on. In a way then, this is just a more relaxed “continuation” of what he was trying to achieve on the night.

The great thing about this album is it’s cohesiveness. It really does feel like the product of one live performance rather than the sum of twenty years worth of work.


Thursday, 20 December 2012



Matthew Halsall “Fletcher Moss Park” is the  first of my five albums that have grabbed me this year.

Though “grab” is probably a misnomer for this offering. It’s possibly one of the most relaxed and “chilled” albums I have heard in a long time.

A strange one to be reviewing in December. But if it’s your want to lie down somewhere in the grass on a hot summers day and listen to slow music while you drift off, then this is the one for you.

Halsall is a trumpet player and composer from Manchester and the album title is derived from a fairly well known oasis in Manchester.

Trumpet, sax, piano and strings – including harp, but this is by no means a “strings” album (though I do like a good “strings” album).

This is akin to what some call “ambient” music. But played on real instruments – with none of the awful electronic jiggery pokery that blighted ambient music in the 80’s and 90’s.

Simple bass hooks are built on by gentle spiritual trumpet and sax to create a truly beautiful hour of music.

Imagine Nils Petter Molvær “meets” Pharaoh Sanders or John Coltrane.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Managed to get out for a 14 mile run on Sunday. Which was nice.
In fact. I've been out every day now for about 12 days without a break and, while I might have a rest day this Friday, I'm now intent on being out every day while on Holiday, all the way through to the return after the hols'.
Even New Years Day is now "spoken for", as we've pre-entered the Promathon at Portobello.
Normally registration for this has been on the day and they've attracted in the region of 350 for it. But they've gone down the road of pre-entry, have capped it at 350 or so, and might "only" get 200 or so. I don't blame them one bit - from an organisational point of view pre-entry is much easier (I know it's not always popular with runners - but there you go). I've noticed that changes in the organisation of races are often most unpopular with runners who don't seem to actually get involved in much organisation (coincidence??)
Anyhoo. Like most runners I keep a "log". Mines is a pretty basic spreadsheet (time, distance, heart rate, comments etc). But it does have the advantage that I can tell very quickly how many runs I've done.
Last nights club run was my 353rd run this year. And yesterday was the 353rd day of the year.
Obviously I have had rest days, but some days where I do two runs obviously add up. All being well I could end this year (a leap year) with 366 runs under my belt.
The plan for the rest of December is to increase the mileage - while reducing the effort. Long(ish) runs at a nice steady pace.

Got to try and set myself some goals for the coming [running] year. Only did one marathon this year. Fancy doing two again next year. One in the Spring then maybe an Autumn one. I missed doing an Autumn marathon - I, personally, find that in the Autumn you are, hopefully, coming out of an injury free summer of long runs and races. It's probably when your at your best.

And what of "Planet-Everything-Else-Except-Running"?? Well. Apparently, "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" - or so I'm told. Things might "click into place" when I finish work on Friday - But it's not really "working for me" so far this year.
So... in an attempt to "get into the groove" I am going to try a wee experiment. I've really been enjoying the Jazz Breakfast's "Festive 50" (see link to the right). In an attempt to emulate this feel good factor I'm going to share with you my top 5 of 2012.
Here's the deal. They won't necessarily be albums produced in 2012. It will just be the five albums that have appeared on my jazzy radar this year, that have made an impact.

Thursday, 13 December 2012



Went my “usual” run from work today.

Up by the Water of Leith and towards Pilton. Beautiful biting cold weather and the path wasn’t too busy either.

A wonderful way to clear my head from all the work related sheeite that’s clogging it these days. “Clogging my head” may not be entirely true, as apparently there is a bit of foul mouthed “verbal spillage” of some of the angst and anger while I’m asleep – a sort of nocturnal tourette's.

Anyway. The run was cathartic. It helped clear the mind and soul….. so much so that I just kept on and on and on….I think I just went into autopilot. Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t really know where I was headed.

However, by the time I got to Murrayfield I did think it prudent to turn and retrace my route.

Nice to do an impromptu long run every now and then. Maybe not the smartest thing, though, when you’ve got an interval session coming up later in the day.

Monday, 10 December 2012



Bit of a “wardrobe malfunction” this morning.

Normally pride myself on being a bit of a Dandy in the workplace (the old “mod” ethos still resides in there somewhere – pretty well hidden, true, but it is still there.)

Anyway. My 30” waist belt broke, the buckle came off – and “no” not because of my recent flirtation with German Biscuits. It simply had seen better days and gave up the will to live.

This caused a problem. The problem being that my 30” waist belt was holding up a 32” waist pair of trousers. I had visions of having to walk about all day holding my trousers up by hand!

This also raised a question in my mind. If my belt has been 30” for about 5 years – how old are these trousers (pre on the wagon days probably)??? Anyhoo.

Ended up tying the buckle back onto the belt with some yellow nylon parcel string. Maybe not the best look in the world – but it did the trick. The yellow string also matched the yellow soles on the old Brooks Adrenaline I often shuffle about in.

It was enough, anyway, to get me safely to Lidl at lunchtime where a rather expensive £2.99 replacement could be bought. Yes I know it’s a lot to pay – but what the hell. I like to look my best. Anyone who has ever been to Lidl in Leith will confirm you can walk about there in an old pair of running shoes, with your trousers held up by yellow string and still be a bit of a natty dresser!!

Sadly upon my return to the office I discovered that the “small” belt was still a bit on the long side – so a pair of scissors were brought into action and a new hole cut.



On a slightly different note. Apparently Creative Scotland have just released funds in an attempt to “make jazz hip” and remove it from its tired old image of being a music for scruffy, bearded, beer-bellied, pale males. What a lot of crap…where do they get these ideas??

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Off to Meadowmill Sports Center today. First time I've seen and run on the new track - very nice it is too.
The occasion was Haddington and East Lothian Pacemaker's (HELP) 30th anniversary 10k.
A nice friendly event. 10k for the seniors and a 2k for kids.
The course was basically a lap of the new track, out of Meadowmill, along a path that took you under both the A1 and A199, turn right and onto a road that leads up to Faside Castle, turn where George Armstrong was marshaling - then retrace your steps.
Sounds simple? Well that didn't stop a couple of us taking the wrong turn at one point and ending up on the road that goes to Pencaitland! In my defense  - I was simply following Dave Wright at this point - it was him that went wrong! We dropped about 5 places because of our wee detour and the extra "wee kick" we had to put in to get these places back saw my effort level click over from "just about holding on" to "jeeze this hurts"!
If you know Faside (or have even just seen it from the A1) you know, that like many castles it's built on a hill, so you will also have guessed that the route was more or less uphill for just over three miles, then downhill on the way back. This simple geographic fact is reflected in my split times (at last - a race with "negative splits")!
I seldom take notice of features, or the landscape, when I'm in "race mode", I'm usually too caught up in mundane stuff - like trying to breathe, or spit without getting it all down my chin, but I was determined to have  a bit of a look at Faside as we went by. It must be over 35 years since I've been up close to it (maybe longer).
Certainly larger than I remember. I do remember, as a kid, out bramble picking with my dad and brother and we met the bloke who had bought it with a view to renovating. He'd "gone to the 'local school', don't you know"... well, Loretto. Which, to be fair was a school (still is) and it is local - it's just not the one that the locals went to.
In those days Faside was little more than three crumbling walls and no roof, so, to be fair to him, he did do a nice job of the renovation. Lucky he did it when he did. These days he'd have Kevin McCloud poking his nose in every two weeks moaning about the "unsympathetic steel joists" or what-not.
Sadly we didn't actually run round the castle - just turned in front of it.
A really nice spread had been laid on for us at Meadowmill, so a nice feed and a natter with others afterwards was a nice way to spend a Sunday lunchtime.
Instead of a traditional "entry fee" for a race. Everyone came along with a gift-wrapped prezzie and after the race a "raffle" of sorts was held.
I came away with a nice bottle of "chocolate lovers" wine. Handy.

Saddened by the news, last week, of the passing of Dave Brubeck. So, as well as catching up on new jazz this weekend, I've been having a wee bit of a "Brubeck tribute" going on in the house. Wonderful pianist who led a truly great quartet.
I do like "Take Five" but it's one of those tunes that has become so iconic it's over familiarity has slightly diminished it.
I'm really enjoying the "Private Brubeck Remembers" album - a solo piano collection of wartime songs, recorded in 2008. The playing is wonderful and you really get the sense that these tunes were very personal and meant a lot to him. If you want to remember hi as the leader of a great quartet - I recommend "Jazz: Red Hot and Cool". It does exactly what they say on the tin.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Quite a high mileage week last week, but once more made up of loads of wee bits and pieces (65 miles). Included one day where I managed 16 miles, but that was split over three runs in the same day!
Really looking forward to the time off between Christmas and the New Year in the hope that I can try and get a couple of long 'uns under my [ever tightening] belt.
Anne's off today to the cross country at Fife, while I settled for a 7 mile bimble round the muddy roads of Woodhall. Met Andrew Crichton while I was out - he was doing some hill-reps along by the Brunt.
My run today was followed by my other favourite pass time ... a serious session of trying to get my arse to take root to the sofa while I caught up on some new jazz and lost myself in the new Rebus book by Ian Rankin (Standing In Another Man's Grave).
Not finished it yet and I don't want to give anything away, but I'm really enjoying it.
I like the way he's woven together the characters from the Rebus series with those of his later "complaints" series of books (though to be fair the character of Rebus did get a brief nod in both the "complaints" novels - without being specifically named).
It's maybe not the best Rebus book, but there's great comfort to be had in reading an instalment in a series you are both familiar with and enjoy. A bit like a visit from a friend - you might have nothing new to say, but you still enjoy the company.
I've put off reading the last of Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe books. That's another series I really like - so maybe it's time to revisit them next.
I do enjoy, after a run, and while reading a good book a nice coffee and cake (or biscuit). Can't really explain what got into me earlier in the week, but I had a go at baking! German Biscuits to be specific. Maybe not the most professional looking, but pretty good if I say so myself. A couple of "deviations" from the recepie. Instead of raspberry jam I used bramble jelly and instead of glace cherries I opted for the "common touch"  jelly sweeties!!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


The best thing about working from home is...well, working from home.
I'm not a "people person" really and I like the solitude (certainly not a "civil-service-type-people person" at the moment).
It also affords me the opportunity, when on the phone, to look out my back window and view the comings and goings in the back garden and beyond - birds, cats, coos, sheep etc.
However, that in itself can be problematic.
On the phone this morning; to my boss of all people. He must have wondered what was going on when I interrupted him, mid flow, with a sudden cry of "Oh. You bad bastard!!".
I quickly explained it wasn't him (this time). I'd just seen a sparrow hawk swoop down and lift a wee blue tit from my bird feeder....honest.
Spent the rest of that particular phone call with my back to the window!

More feathery friends. About five times now in the last week or so, we've come across a wee tawny owl sitting in the road. Just up the top of Starvation Brae.
See it either in the morning going to work, or in the evenings coming home.
Just sits if its pondering something. Then, as Anne draws the car slowly up towards it, it just sort of slowly turns its us a bit of a stare for a few seconds, then flys away.
Same owl, same bit of road, same times of day. Cracking.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


Woke up today to discover that Jack Frost had really done his stuff.
Beautiful blue skies, biting cold, and there was a hard, hard frost covering everything. Fairs fair - it is December!
Just the ticket for a nice cross country run.

It was off to Peebles for round 3 of the Borders Series. Always a good one.
Got down in loads of time and chatted to some folk then hooked up with most of the Dunbar team.
Sadly, I felt the need to remonstrate with some of my own club for breaking with etiquette and not being turned out in proper attire (vest and shorts). When the ice is one inch thick then, and only then, should tee-shirts and long sleeve tops be worn under vests!
Anyway. I think there was a slight change to the start of the race this year and the loop of the park seemed to go the other way around from previous years. This saw quite a steep climb thrown in right at the start.
The path along by the river was a wee bit slippy, but once on to the flat section that takes you under the viaduct and then onto the path over the viaduct I was able to pick up the pace a wee bit and managed to pass a couple of guys. I know, from warm ups, that along here you pass a cliff that has a converted castle on it. Looks fantastic - but I never register it when I'm racing
By the time we got to "heart attack hill" (Moorfoot's name - not mine) I was just behind Mr Sills and, that was pretty much how it stayed till the end.
Another change this year saw us double back on ourselves through a couple of fields and through a large patch of mud that Moorfoot had kindly thawed out just for the race!
The last stretch was over a muddy path that had been churned up and then frozen over. Rutted and hard it was incredibly difficult to run on.
Came in just behind Ian and just before James Addie.

I'd forgotten about keeping my Inov8 shoes "soft"!! So...this morning I just gave them a quick rinse under the hot tap for a bit and put them in a plastic bag. When we got down to Peebles and I went to put them on they were lovely and soft. I was able to get them nice and tight (feet are wet soon enough anyway).

I'd made up a flask of Hot Chocolate before we set off and even packed a couple of German Biscuits. Just the ticket.

The non running section of society sometimes looks upon what we do with amusement or even derision. And yet, as we were coming home we got kind of held up in traffic at the big Sainsbury's/Ikea/Hell-on-earth shopping centre as car after car after car flooded in. I know how I'd rather spend my Sunday.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


  1. Go to laundry basket.
  2. Separate stuff into "types" of wash (i.e. "running gear" or "stuff that gets a boiling")
  3. Take one of the piles.
  4. Place in machine and turn on.
  5. Once machine has ceased chuntering away and filling the house with its awful cacophony of dissonance - remove wet stuff.
  6. Place stuff carefully on drier.
  7. Stand and look at wee blue plastic measuring cup full of liquid still sitting on the draining board.
  8. Curse loudly
  9. Wonder if you "could get away with it".
  10. Decide "no".
  11. Take stuff back ofF clothes horse and return to 4.....(remembering the liquid).

Monday, 26 November 2012


God alone knows how many pairs of running shoes are hanging about the house just now - and none of them dry! Think the only "running injury" anyone is likely to get in this weather is trench foot.
I quite enjoy being out and then it starting to rain....but I hate setting off for a run when it's tipping it down.
A wet summer followed by a crappy wet winter? Oh joy.
We were off to York for a few days over the weekend. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
We went down on Friday and the day was beautiful. Sunny but bitterly cold, with clear blue skies. Sort of day I love. However, by the time we got down, had a bit of a wander round, went to visit Anne's mum, booked into our hotel etc. , there wasn't really time for a run (Friday's our traditional "rest day" anyway).
Then on Saturday the day loomed Baltic cauld and foggy. Dank and dreech all day. However, we did try to set off on our "usual" riverside run.... only to be forced to turn at about 1.5 miles. I don't think the ground has dried out since we were last there in June, to be honest. So we ended up doing a pretty uninspiring 6.5 mile run along by the main York - Thirsk road.
The plan on Sunday had been to go for a bit of a run early doors, before breakfast, but as we lay in bed in the hotel, listening to the rain battering of the window that plan was soon altered to "just stay here till the breakfast room opens". Ended up doing about 8.5 miles yesterday when we got home. Conditions were probably even worse by then, but at least when you've been on the go for a few hours your resolve is a bit more tougher and focused.
Then this morning? Chucking it down again so just the small 8.5 miler. Nearly fell at one point when I tried to run through what I thought was a wee puddle and it turned out to be quite a sizable pot hole!

Best thing about a run in this weather is often a nice long, hot shower when you get back.
Thing is out bathroom hasn't really had much done to it since we moved in. Our "shower" is just one of those efforts that runs off the mixer taps and it takes ages to heat a tank of water for a shower.
So. We're in the market for a new bathroom and today we were off looking at a bathroom showroom for ideas and inspiration. Got a "designer"/salesperson coming out next week.
I just want a shower with a bit of "oomph" that'll get rid of some of the XC mud I get covered in.

No trip to York would be complete without, at least, one visit to Rebound Records. One of the best second jazz CD shops that I know of. I could happily spend a day in there.
Since my shift to downloads I haven't had as many opportunities to spend time going through rows and rows of CDs (realised how much I missed it).
Anyway. Got one - Monty Alexander "Trio".
Got chatting to the owner and I asked him if he wouldn't mind keeping an eye out for an album I've been after for many a long year - Forward Motion "The Berklee Tapes". It's one of Tommy Smith's first recordings and I'm keen to hear it. It's on the "Hep" label. If, by any chance, you see this and you have a copy..............
Now. I've not been in the shop since June. I've only been in the shop about five times in four years and haven't spoken to the guy for about three.... But as soon as I gave him my name and phone number, he remembered straight off who I was, where I lived and what I had bought three years ago ("yes, you phoned up for the live Enrico Rava album")! You don't get service like that from 'tinternet!!
Ended up having quite a long chat about how many former jazz bootlegs are making their way into the legitimate market place.
Probably be Spring next year when we're back in York...but I'll definitely be back there.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Hate it when so called "real life" gets in the way of my running.
Got to go through to the DGP tomorrow for an "interview". Not anything as exciting as an interview for a new job - hell no, this is only for the job I've already been doing for 18 years (which might explain why I'm sick of it). As if that was bad enough then the location for the interview isn't even "neutral" - it's in the "client's" offices. Right in the heart of the "Fuck-Wits Lair".
Anyway. Can't very well turn up complete with smelly kit-bag, then cut the interview short because I have to "nip out and do a quick six miles up by the majestic Clyde" (nice as that would be).
I shall try instead tomorrow to get in a brief 5k or so after the interval session.

Then at the weekend. We're off to York. Looking forward to that - but it'll still curtail the old running a bit.

Tried to compensate for what will be a low mileage week, today, by going our for a steady 11 at lunchtime. Very nice.

Speaking of "nice".... got yet another "strings" album. Blue Mitchell "Smooth As The Wind". Only Blue Mitchell stuff I've had previous to this are a couple of his Blue Note offerings ("Thing to Do" and "Down With It"). Though he played with Horace Silver on a lot of his dates as well, which I've also got. His playing was always in the Hard Bop idiom, but tinged with a hint of soul. And he seems to bring both these elements to this session.
It's a tiny bit different from a lot of strings numbers. He takes a few Blue Note standards, slows them right down, then lays the strings on top (not exclusively Blue Note though). Like most "strings" offerings, it can get a bit cloying and melancholy, but the overall feel is "nice" (not every album can be great and there's nothing wrong with a bit of "nice").
His treatment of Horace Silver's "Peace" deserves a listen.
Have to load it to my MP3 player..... just the thing for calming the nerves as I alight onto the Queen Street selection ramp tomorrow.

Monday, 19 November 2012



There’s nowt like a cross country race to get you all sweaty, snotty and grubby feeling…. And sometimes you don’t even have to run it.

Dunbar’s leg of the Borders XC yesterday and I was on duty to help out. Trouble was I’d been struck by the lurgy. One of those “smart” lurgy virus’s that’s been developed. The ones that linger, linger, linger all bloody week – and then strike fast at 4:30 pm on Friday L

Knew it was going to be a grotty day when I broke into a sweat simply climbing into the shower in the morning.

Anyhoo. Getting out on such a beautiful day with nice crisp cold air was probably the tonic I needed.

We got down there pretty sharp and I was soon out with the two Andys and Stuart S marking out our section of the course that the Über Führer had designated to us (out towards the lighthouse). It didn’t take too long and I was soon jogging my way back to the start.

Bleedin’ hell. Where there had been about three cars when I left there were now about fifty times that and the place was absolutely buzzing with runners. The Borders XC series has really taken off these past few years (deservedly so).

I always worry that the Dunbar race in the series is a bit flat and monotonous in comparison with some of the others. But, you can only work with what you’ve got, and the runners seemed to find it OK. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of runners registering, we had to delay the start of both the junior and senior race. By the time we were starting the senior race I was starting to worry, as the tide had turned and was starting to encroach on some of the markers that had been put out. A quick dash out by Brian to move the stakes “inland”, and all was well.


By the time I got home and did a first draft of the results it was pretty dark. The cold wasn’t any better and I still had that clammy, manky, sweaty feel that the cold brings with it. All sensible indicators that a run should be the last thing on my mind……


So there I was. Six o’clock at night, head torch on out for a wee five mile bimble.

Discovered a wee game to play. Now admittedly given that you need a bit of a chest cold and be out running in the dark with a head torch, opportunities to play this are going to be a bit limited. Basically, the cold offers loads of chances for really throaty, hefty, phlegmy, gobbing, and I was running round amusing myself trying to “follow” the trajectory of the gob in the beam of my head torch. At one point I was following one particularly heavy gob as it soared majestically over a hedge…as I lost sight of it and turned my head forwards again my beam of light suddenly reflected back at me from six really bright orbs.

FECK!! My first thought was something on the road that was coming towards me and I jumped to the verge at the side to let it/them/whatever pass (that’ll teach me to play stupid games and not keep an eye on where I’m going).

I stood and waited…and waited..and waited. The glowing discs still shone back at me, with the odd flicker and bit of movement.

This was no vehicle (or if it was it was VERY slow moveing). And then ….”moo”.

I edged forward.  Jeeze three coos that had go out their field and were standing three abreast across the narrow road. Don’t know who got the bigger fright, me or them. Though judging by what I slipped in at one point, I’ll say them (or at least one of them). Took quite a while of very slow progress before I managed to get by them and was able to get home.

Not a fast run, by any means, but a strange one.

Thursday, 15 November 2012



I do love a bit of cake.

Strangely enough, our house has been “awash” with cake these past few weeks. Muckle big Christmas Cakes (3 off), big choclaty birthday cakes (2 off) and all manner of “other” cakes, tray bakes, cupcakes and whatnots (including one fairly large gingerbread house).

Only problem is …. Most of it is spoken for and ear marked for occasions and events, other than simply satisfying my immediate greed L.

But at least I’ve not been completely cake-less. Yes, the forthcoming festive season, Anne’s birthday and Pudsey Bear have a lot to answer for!! All that cake and none of it for me.

Not to worry. Came across a new album. Larry Vuckovich, “Something Special”. I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t heard of Larry before I got this, and it was the inclusion of “special guest” Scott Hamilton on tenor sax that drew me in. But I’m glad I saw it and I’m glad that it did draw me in.

A very, very fine pianist in the Horace Silver mode. The whole album has a distinctly 60’s Blue Note feel to it. No more so than their cover of the Dexter Gordon tune “Cheesecake”. A long time favourite of mine, this tune, that I first heard about 25 years ago (one of the last vinyl jazz records I ever had if I remember correctly). On this track Vuckovich has twice the topping on his cake, as he uses both Hamilton and his regular sax player Noel Jewkes. To be fair, bearing in mind I listen in mono, I don’t think having two saxes really adds anything (I’m not saying either that it detracts). Hamilton’s tone is so distinctive that it’s the dominant sound. On some tracks the two players trade solos and this works really well… but when they play duets Jewkes seems to float along just below the surface of the sound. Not really adding much. Anyway, despite that, it’s  very nice cheesecake indeed. And I can just keep going back for more and more without worrying about it.

Turns out Larry was born in Yugoslavia but his family moved to the States in the late 50’s as asylum seekers. Larry doesn’t have a massive discography in his own right but has been a sideman for many others. He toured with Dexter in the 60’s, but I don’t think they recorded together – might be wrong – hope I am (I’d like to hear it).

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Most who know me will comment on what a little ray of sunshine I usually am....
Well, maybe not. But I'm not normally this bad.

My work situation (normally just shite) is "utter shite" at the moment.
Since we heard that we had lost the contract and were getting TUPEd morale has, understandably, been lower than it is these days in the offices of the Jimmy Savile Fan Club.

Anyhoo... It's leaving yours truly like a seething little knot of perpetual contempt, loathing and anger which might be spilling into other parts of my life (i.e. the non-work - normally "fun" parts). I feel like a little clockwork robot... get up...go to work...go a run....have tea....go to bed ....repeat ad-infinitum (only stuck in angry mode).
I need a break.

On the plus side (if there is one) I seem to be able to channel my anger into my running. Got round the Tuesday night town run in no time last night.
Though I don't know if that was anger-fuelled or if it was maybe due to the fact that Andrew Crichton turned up last night for a bit of a run and pretty much dragged us all round in his wake.
Quite enjoyed it - once my heart rate had come down a bit from the "jeeze that's no healthy for a man of your age" zone.
Though today's 8 miler was a much more sedate pace. Mind you I have been spending the morning "self medicating" with Kenny Wheeler, John Coltrane and Miles Davis records......"nice".

"Calm...Calm"..Deep breaths....

Monday, 12 November 2012


Bit of a disjointed LSD run this weekend.
Up fairly early on Sunday and ran down to Whitesands (about 5.5 miles), had a quick recce of the XC course for next weekend (about 4.5) then ran back (another 5.5). Beautiful day and the lighthouse, as usual, looked very striking.
Problem was it didn’t feel like a 15.5 mile run because the 4.5 mile section in the middle was a bit stop/start as I had to check out the route. A couple of changes since last time. For some reason they’ve fenced bits off down there and put livestock in to graze (sheep).
Luckily they (the “cooncil”) have put in various gates and stiles so the fencing isn’t too problematic – in truth a couple of gates and/or stiles only adds to the “cross country” feel!. They’ve also given us the all clear to run the races through the livestock enclosures.
The gates and stiles aren’t that obvious and easily missed. I saw one couple out on mountain bikes, simply give up looking, lift their bikes over then climb over the fence. Can’t see a wire fence lasting that long with that sort of treatment.

Friday, 9 November 2012



I’m a regular patron of the movie industry. In fact, I was there only two years ago. However, as it was Anne’s birthday yesterday, as a special treat I let her take me to our local  “picture palace” to see the latest offering starring Mr Daniel Craig.

I wont go into the details of the plot for two reasons. One: I have no wish to ruin the enjoyment of anyone else who may be thinking of nipping along to their local flea-pit to view, and “two” there wasn’t much of one anyway (plot that is).

Mr Bond appears to live in a world that is fast, colourful, violent and loud. But predominantly loud. Very, very loud. Oh yes. Loud enough to set off my tinnitus anyway L.

Perhaps the ringing will have stopped by the time I go to see something a few years from now.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Because we were at Lauder on Sunday, for the cross country, my opportunities to do LSD have been limited this week (Sunday being one of my two days where a long run is a possibility).
I keep reminding myself that it doesn't really matter if my weekly mileage drops a bit - nothing long planned anyway over the winter, but it still doesn't feel right.
Daft thing is, the mileage drops every year round about now - and every year I go through exactly the same feelings.
Problem is, and much as I enjoy them, the cross country races seem to come along all at once - a bit like buses.

Still. Did nine mile today at lunchtime but the legs were already heavy after a hard "two-run-Tuesday". On top of that today was one of those days where I felt as though the wind was coming at me from every direction. There was no respite from it at all.

Much like on the telly... where there seems to be no respite from the American elections. "Jesus-H-Christ-on-a-bike". I know it's of global importance, but not 24hour coverage.

Monday, 5 November 2012



Sunday….The sky was clear and blue. The sun was out and its was a tad on the chilly side. It was, in short, a beautiful – almost perfect, late autumn day. There couldn’t have been a better start to the Borders XC series.

The first race this year was in Lauder. Same route and start location as previous years, but Lauder now have the use of a shiny new club house. Cross country? With changing and showering facilities about 20m from the start line?? Flippin’ Eck.

It was a real pity that some of the runners disregarded the simple request to remove muddy shoes before entering the new club house. Shame on you.

Anyway, what of the race itself. Well it was a record turnout for the first leg with about 215 seniors and about 80 juniors.

A quick recce of the part of the route showed that mud was to be the recurring theme of the day – lots of it.

Same route as before. A lap of the football park before heading out to do a lap of a wooded walk that includes some old WW I style duckboard paths (luckily covered in chicken wire – so not a real slip hazard). Quite narrow at this part, so if the runner in front is going a  bit slower than you’d like just accept it and enjoy the opportunity to save your energy.

Then its over a bridge and the long, slow, lung bustin’ climb up by Chester Hill on the Southern Upland Way, then down into the valley and a nice muddy/boggy section that probably claimed a few badly tied shoes yesterday. An awful climb, up a very steep, slippery, muddy path, before a rapid descent back into the football park. A descent that took in a  short cobbled section that I don’t recall being as slippy as it was yesterday.

Me and James Addie had our own race-within-a-race going on yesterday and kept passing each other regularly. Thought I’d nailed it when he had to stop briefly to sort his shoe, but he caught me just as we came back into the park L.

Pace and time are pretty meaningless on a XC race, but I was happy enough with the way I felt during and after.



Shoes: Got a good tip from Ian R’ that I’ve tried. Put my Inov8 XC shoes outside to get wet before the day of the race. Then when you put them on [slightly] damp you can not only get them nice and tight, but they feel a bit softer and more comfortable. Sounds a bit strange, choosing to put on wet shoes – but it does work.

Thursday, 1 November 2012



When do songs, or tunes, officially become “standards”? I have no idea, and a search of the vast wind swept expanses of the inetrweb has left me none the wiser.

Is it when it’s covered by three different people? Four? Five?

It would appear there is no agreement. It just seems, to me, to be a song that is reprised, redone and revisited so often that it becomes familiar without becoming boring (or, god forbid to use today’s awful parlance “re-imagined”).

Got a couple of new (to me) Frank Morgan releases lately. Frank was very much a product of the 40’s bop revolution. He even took that well trodden, stereotypical, jazz musicians path into a life of drug addiction before emerging clean in the 80’s and bringing out a raft of wonderful albums, that while new and exciting still harked back to a time that many jazz fans longed to return to (“the past is another country they do things differently there” and all that).

One of the reasons that Frank put forward for his misuse of drugs was the burden he felt being cited as the new “Bird”. And yet, once clean he managed to face up to this challenge and quite a lot of his output is Parker influenced.

Anyway. One of the albums, “Yardbird Suite” contains wonderful covers of some of my favourite, Parker penned or associated, standards. A beautiful “Skylark”, a song so beautiful you’d have to be really ham fisted to ruin. A cracking “Scrapple From The Apple” that flows at breakneck speed, the titular “Yardbird Suite” that jumps out of your speakers, grabs you by the neck and takes you a walk down a busy New York street at night in the company of Mulgrew Millers machine gun rapid, staccato, piano and Ron Carter’s languid bass.

Anyway. Back to the notion of “standards”.. I have to confess an over familiarisation with “Night In Tunisia”. Dizzy’s anthem is so often covered, it no longer does it for me. But this version takes the tune so closely back to it’s original bebop roots that I could grew to love it again. Out of the twenty odd versions I have, this is up there in the top three (I’ve about 15 versions of Skylark, and I love them all).

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Bit of a busy weekend.
We were off to the National XC Relays at Cumbernauld yesterday, so the morning was spent shopping etc, before we dashed back, got our gear and headed off.
We get our fruit and veg from Knowes Farm Shop (have done for some time now). It's a fantastic place that's won a barrow load of awards over the years. Recently it's changed hands as the original owners have decided to retire and a couple of young blokes have bought it.
I hoped they wouldn't change things.
There appears to be some sort of hippy construction called a "yurt" that has been erected to the front of the premises..... Oh dear. That tells me all I need to know.

Anyhoo. The relays? A tough, twisty turny, hilly route that followed a bit of red and white ribbon as it meandered it's was for 4000m round a large park. I honestly don't know what else to say.
Physically very demanding, but rather uninspiring if I'm honest. Best thing about it was catching up with other runners.
I was sent off as first runner, which was a wee bitty daunting to be honest. It's too much like the start of a "normal" race. Your performance can be judged right away from the moment the gun goes. Anyone can see how far you've progressed or how far you've dropped through field. Anyway, none of the team appeared to be too disappointed with my performance so it must have been pretty much "as expected".
Haven't seen any results yet, so I don't know how we did. But lets just say that we didn't set the heather ablaze (anyway, there wasn't any heather to set ablaze).

Then today it was off down to Jedburgh for the half marathon. At one point I had toyed with the idea of doing the 38 mile ultra today, but my nightmare at the Two Breweries has left me completely scunnered with the whole idea of hills and stuff like that.
So 13.1 miles. On tarmac. Now yer talkin'.
Luckily, Dunbar Running Club has not, as yet, taken a sort of "Team Sky" approach and asked its members to sign a pledge that they do not/have never doped. So I popped a couple of bruphen beforehand to "ease" my sore legs from the day before. Also, I didn't rest on Friday last week - so today was also my 11th run in 9 days without a rest.
As in previous years, the first 3 miles are ran at an alarming pace as you get caught up with the guys at the front who are "only" doing the 10k. But if you can use this as a "launch pad" and then just hang in there for dear life, it can get you a quick time.
Again the wind was against us this year on the way back and my mile time did drop a bit, but still happy with my 1:20:08 when I crossed the line. Slightly quicker than last year.
Anne's had a bit of a hip niggle recently but had quite a good run, so hopefully that's on the mend.
It had been threatening rain all morning, so I made the decision to run today without my specs (I can still "just about" see enough for running). A shame really as it didn't rain and the route goes through some really nice countryside.
Is it just me, or are the trees looking even better this Autumn? Maybe it was the crap summer that did something to them but there just seems to be so much more colour this year.
Better stop now...starting to sound like a tree hugger. I'll be building an "eco yurt" next.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Had asthma all my life. Doesn't bother me and it certainly doesn't stop me from doing what I want to do.
Been on inhalers of one sort or another for as long as I can remember (probably take more drugs than Mr L Armstrong of Texas).
The vast majority of time - I'm OK. Until...... I discover that I don't have an inhaler with me. Then, and this is completely psychosomatic, I suddenly start to sound like Darth Vader.

When I'm running I always prefer Nike shorts that have the zip pocket at the back. I find an inhaler fits in there quite well.
I seldom need my inhaler during a run - but it's nice to know it's there - a sort of comfort blanket for hypochondriacs, if you will.

I didn't need my inhaler last night as we were tanking round the town run. The run was going really well and I was happy with how I was coping. So why did I suddenly, at the four mile mark, feel the need to check my pocket?? I certainly didn't need my inhaler. BUT within about thirty seconds of realising it wasn't there I could feel my bronchial tubes starting to close up on me.
Ended up pulling out of the run and just jogging back to Hallhill, where the offending inhaler was sitting in the changing room. One wee skoosh and I was hunky dory again.
I did think about going immediately back out for another couple of miles ..... but didn't bother.

I hate cutting a training run short though. It screws up my "goals" for the week.
So today's run was closer to 12 miles than the original 10 that I had planned.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


I can't explain it - but I can describe it.
Today's LSD was utter crap. Just felt empty, tired, unispired, and void of "mojo".
Weather was beautiful and the conditions were ideal. I really can't put my finger on an explanation.

Still did 14 mile - but other than getting home and getting my shoes off, I can't think of one part I enjoyed. happens from time to time.

Thursday, 18 October 2012



Not a “morning person”. Used to be, when I was younger (and happier). But somehow …. it’s just not there anymore.

I “need” to get up just after 5:00, but nine times out of ten I’m awake about 4:00. When I say “need” it’s not through any physical or spiritual commitment, you understand, it’s a “work” thing.

Unlike the local partridges, who all seem to enjoy a bit of a lie-in in the mornings.! Strange wee birds, partridges. They just seem to sleep where they stop (obviously not mid flight). Quite often we see them sitting there, at the side of the road, dead to the world. Seem to be at peace with everything – blissfully unaware that some day soon some “tweedy sort” in hunter wellies and a  flat cap is going to blow their little head off with a shotgun! In fact – it won’t even have the dignity of getting it’s head blown off by a “tweedy sort” – it’s more likely to be some well-to-do townie-tit with more money than sense playing at being a tweedy sort!

Anyway. This morning, as we headed up by the Brunt at about 6:15 Anne had to stop the car as one was just sitting there sleeping – bang in the middle of the road. Now, you’d think the approach of a car, with headlights blazing, would wake it up. Did it hell.

I got out and walked towards it going “shoo” and telling it, rather loudly, to “feck off”. That didn’t work.

I gave it a little prod with my hand and its stirred but just gave me a sleepy little look and then settled back down.

Ended up just getting back in the car and Anne drove slowly “over” it (as opposed to “drove over it” – if you get my drift). The clearance on our car should allow for the safe passage of a wee partridge.

Pretty sure it was OK.



Wish I could sleep that soundly.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


When using "tiger balm" on a sore rib it's worth remembering that you can buy "white" or "red" tiger balm (I thought we always bought "white" - the "cooling one).

As I say, best to check.

Oh....and NEVER slather it all over your nipple ......
....unless your seriously weird.

Sore :-(

Tuesday, 16 October 2012



Slightly different run today. Went down towards Seafield, as per…, but on the way back I dodged up the road that used to lead to the old Eastern General Hospital and from there joined the cycleway that goes to Leith Links.

From there is was along by the high flats then down to Shore Place, before heading back to the *rsehole factory. The weather has taken a decidedly “wintery” twist – so to be honest I probably wasn’t experiencing these new surroundings at their best (too many road crossings for my liking too).

Not the nicest of runs if I’m honest, but I wanted to change my routine slightly so that I don’t get too caught up in pace and speed and the whole checking-the-watch-at-every-bloody-“landmark” type thing.

My few days rest/cycling really seems to have helped the sore rib, but I’m determined to keep the pace on the “low” side for the next week or so just to make sure.

To that end… while I will go down to the club tonight I’m really not wanting to get wound up in the whole “bombing round at eyeballs-out pace” that seems to define most of our winter training. If your fit - it’s the business….but if your getting over an injury or suchlike it can be a one way ticket to relapse.

A look back at my log for last week revealed that the last three training runs, before the rib became too painful, were all in my “blue” zone (“green” = easy, “blue” = hard, “red” = interval/race pace). Stupid, to say the least.


Saturday, 13 October 2012


Been out on old [t]rusty these last three days.
Going out on the bike is always a good "alternative"...but I'd much rather be out there running.
Still, 90 minutes a day hauling my sorry arse and my cast-iron bicycle around the wee hilly roads is at least keeping me active and, the old rib, appears to be getting a bit better.
However, cycling isn't 100% pain free... as I discovered yesterday when I was out of the saddle "honking" up a hill just outside Oldhamstocks. So today's ascent of the same hill was taken in a much lower the saddle!!

We were out last night at a gig. Fred Hersch, solo, at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh.
To be honest it wasn't a gig that I had planned on going to - till I found out late on Wednesday that I'd won two tickets in an email competition from the Queen's Hall web site!

Anyhow. It turned out to be well worth the ticket price I didn't have to pay anyway. The gig was split into two sets. The first being made up of Hersch originals and the second being made up of covers and standards.
Set one was a strangely "classical" affair that was, to me, reminiscent of one of Ketil Bjornstad's solo offerings. Fantastic music, wonderfully executed....but is it "jazz"?
I don't know, but no matter, it was excellent.
The one which did stand out, for me, and the one that definitely was jazz was the tune "Dream Of Monk". An obvious homage to one of his hero's.
Set two was much more my cup of java (and I suspect most of the audience's) with a real mixed bag of standard's and styles.
At one point the folk song "Black Is The Colour (Of My True Loves Hair)" segued into the "Love Theme From Spartacus" (bit of a favourite of mine) and sounded very Bill Evans-ish.
Quite a lively rendition of Benny Golson's classic "Whisper Not" was added into the mix.

Very good acoustics in the Queen's Hall and absolutely no amplification was used. Just a stage with a piano on it.
Every note was crystal clear - and I got to go home without the dreaded tinnitus kicking in.


Well "heavens to Bettsy". That really IS the most unexpected thing!!
It would appear that those awfully clever chaps in the Scottish civil service may have fecked-up with a major contract that they were tendering......
Oh dear me. I really hope this is wrong. Otherwise my faith and trust in all that I hold dear may crumble before my very eyes.

This is awful ... it would be like finding out that your sporting hero's a drugs cheat!!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


I mentioned the other day that I'd cracked/knocked/hurt a rib when fixing my sceptic tank?
Well, it's not getting any better. Though, to be honest, it wasn't really getting any worse ... till today.
Tried to go a wee run today and ended up only doing about half a mile it was so sore.
I don't know if I've been lying on it while I've been sleeping or something but it's pretty sore today. So far this past week it's been OK running. Coughing, laughing, sneezing or bending to tie shoes? Sore. But running? No problems.
Ribs ...(it's the only picture I could find)
But today it's been sore. So, as I said, other than a half hearted effort at lunchtime - no running.
Another thing that just might have exacerbated the problem has been the types of runs I've done lately. The last three have all been pretty quick paced (6:30ish). Including last night's club run that was run at the usual daft pace.
I'll give it a day or so and then get back to "bimbling" for a little while rather than full-on "tonking along". I think the extra work on the lungs has probably put a bit pressure on the rib cage (or maybe its just all the jolting up and down).
Don't want to share too much ...but ...the pain today has been the sort that just won't budge with Ibuprofen and/or paracetamol. Time to dig out the pharmaceutical "big guns" - my "expires January 2011" packet of Co-Dydramol (a good hypochondriac never throws out drugs).
The problem with these is that they seem to work by sending you to sleep.
Not ideal. I'm usually dead on my feet by the time the ten o'clock news comes on without chemical assistance!!

Off work tomorrow. If it's still sore I might dig out old [t]rusty and go for a cycle raher than a run see how I get on with that.

Sunday, 7 October 2012


Absolutely beautiful morning this morning.
Just the sort of day I like - a crisp, clear, autumn morning. Bit of a nip in the air and a touch of frost at the side of the road. it time for a long sleeve top? Decided against it, and quite happy that I did as within the first couple of miles I'd warmed up quite nicely.
Took the pace up a little bit today. Decided that if the mileage was going to be curtailed a bit this weekend I might as well make the miles that I do manage count!!
Ended up doing 11, so ...not too bad.
My rib that I "knocked" when fixing the septic tank still hurts like hell when I cough, sneeze or laugh (so...not often then). But it appears to be completely hunky-dory when I'm running. Must be my completely natural and elegant chest-out back-curved style that I have. Knew it would come in handy one day.

Got home and had a coffee and a bit cake before heading out again. Bramble picking!
We thought we'd maybe left it too late this year, but luckily.....nature's left it late as well, and there was an abundance (though now that we are getting frost they might not last much longer).
Picked quite a lot, and they are now in the process of being washed, boiled, sugared, bashed and whatever else is needed in the alchemic process that Anne puts them through before jam is obtained.

Through in the DGP tomorrow (not been there for many a happy week now). Sadly it's through there for a meeting, so the running gear won't be going with me :-(
Off to meet my new "owners". Maybe find out who I'll be working for and, more importantly, where I'll be based. What an enjoyable start to the week that'll be......Hope to hell they don't ask me what I think about our client.... remember what I was saying about stress and pressure cookers?

Saturday, 6 October 2012


My Hero......
A great/crap morning.
I loved/hated it.
The club's 10 Mile race today. "Doon Hill" as it's also known. Though, sadly, this year we actually had to miss out Doon Hill (the owner has seen fit to plough it up!) and had to divert the runners up "Brunt Hill" - a nicer run (IMHO) but perhaps slightly less of a "challenge".
Anyhoo... I was helping out. Registration and results (as per....).
Thing is...while I accept that I might have certain "skills" that make me capable of doing that and I can do it - I don't enjoy doing it. I find it quite stressful...and while I can work under stress I can't necessarily hide it too well.
I have s sort of "release mechanism" that's a bit like the old rattly tops you used to get on your mum's old prerssure cooker. But it sometime's manifests itself in a sort of Malcolm Tucker-esque  way.
So if I offended anyone - sorry. That was just me enjoying myself.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


And so it begins.....
Last night's club run was the first of the dark night's "toon runs". Yes. We did manage to tag a couple of miles or so onto the beginning while we still had some light and those first couple of miles were taken moderately. But once we were back into Dunbar and onto the usual route the pace picked up to "eyeballs-out".
Used to this by now and I usually try to adapt my Wednesday run to take this into account (i.e. I try for distance rather than speed), but today circumstances were against me and about the only free time I had for my run was between 6:15 and 7:15 (which strangely enough, in a day of blue skys was about the only hour when it piddled down non stop).
No street lighting at all round here - so it was head-torch, LED arm-band and reflective bib on. Quite enjoyed it, though the legs were a bit tired from yesterday.

Got back and had to make a couple of "fine adjustments" to my septic tank pump. This entailed me lying on the ground with my head, arms and chest in the chamber (lovely - smells a bit "gamey" but you do get used to it). Only - as I moved onto the lip of the manhole cover I caught a rib on the metal lip. Feckin' agony, and I'm not sure if I've managed to crack it or just given it a hefty knock. Bloody sore though when I cough, sneeze or laugh.

A shame then that I should do this on the day when the Civil Service are shown up for the bunch of incompetent, worthless, cretins they are. A mere £40million wasted. Watching the news has been fairly amusing.
And if anyone thinks that could never happen with a public tender in Scotland ..... dream on.

Sunday, 30 September 2012


Out for a bit of a long un' this morning.
Over by Crowhill and Cocklaw. Enjoyed it, but still feeling a bit "tenderness" in the quads after my shot at the two breweries.
My route was a circuit so I did get hammered by the wind at one point, but speed wasn't the name of today's game - so what the hell.
I did think of my club colleagues who were out at about the same time as me, up in Inverness. All being well they got the same stiff wind behind them for the vast majority of the run.
Kind of wish I had been up there too. I really enjoy running up in that neck of the woods and enjoy making a weekend out of it. Think I might try the Inverness Half next year.
I ordered new shoes about ten days ago. And, despite getting an email last Monday to say they've been dispatched, I haven't received them yet. Getting a bit concerned. I'll give the company a call tomorrow.
In the meantime another bit of remedial repair work with ShooGoo was called for.

Got a new CD yesterday. Well, I say "new", its actually  a release of a 1964 concert in Copenhagen by the Miles Davis Quintet. It was, by all accounts, one of the first gigs with the "new" line up for the quintet, with Wayne Shorter on sax (Shorter was actually Coltrane's suggestion as a replacement). This was to mark the start of the "second" classic quintet. The first classic quintet had Coltrane on sax, and there had been a few temporary incarnations before this line up was settled on. I've a recording of one of these short-lived quintets with George Coleman on sax and I think its brilliant.
Anyway, this quintet was to be the quintet that was to remain with Miles all the way through to the development of his "electric period" (a.k.a "utter crap" - IMHO).
But thankfully this CD is safely rooted in the traditional acoustic/hard bop/modal  tradition, but you do get the feeling that Shorter is perhaps a bit keen to push the boundaries a bit.
Usual Davis 60's selection for the play list "Autumn Leaves, So What, Stella By Starlight etc. Herbie Hancock, as ever, brilliant on piano.
A very nice, and fairly well recorded, addition to my collection. Sound isn't what you'd expect these days, but its adequate. Don't know if it's been edited out, but theres no introduction of the band and no introduction of the numbers, by the band. In fact other than some applause by the audience you'd be hard pushed to know its a live concert your listening to.
The linear notes don't really say why this gig was originally  recorded (TV, radio, private use??) and doesn't explain why it lay for the best part of 50 years before being released.
Strange that after all these years "undiscovered" tapes keep popping up (ECM have recently released a "new" Keith Jarrett recording from 1979). Quite pleased that they do though.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Got home last night to a phone message that had been left by Scottish Power. It confirmed what had been told to me yesterday afternoon when I called them....Power would be back on by midnight. Bollocks.
Strange thing though... the power was back on and had been on before they made the call!! Hooray - not "Bollocks" then.
Then I saw that the trip switch for the pump that services the overflow chamber for the sceptic tank had gone...... so, back to "Bollocks". Yes, everything was bollocks again, "normal service" had been resumed on planet Hay.
That was it then. No club run for me last night. I had to spend a large part of my evening with my head down a flooded shitty tank again.
I had to bale out the tank by hand (well...."bucket") to get the level below the power socket.
Did that and dried out the socket and plug. Pulled the switch...and it tripped again.
Took the plug apart and checked/changed the fuse and really dried it out with an old cloth...and it tripped again.
Took the pump out of the chamber and looked at it..... other than being covered in a coating of slime/sludge/use your imagination it looked OK. But I fiddled with the level of the float switch and basically exhausted the limit of my small cache of electrical/plumbing knowledge. Plugged it back in ...and it tripped again. So I gave it a kick. Which, if I'm honest, other than hurt my toe and get shit all over my shoes achieved absolutely nothing.

If you cant buy it don't need it.
And then I remembered .... I had a spare pump!! I bought a spare years back in Lidl (Yes - Lidl). It was a sort of cheap as chips "impulse buy". The pump that was buggered cost about £200 and the Lidl one cost about £25. It's not the best in the world...but this was just the emergency I must have anticipated.

And it's working a treat (sort of).... Sadly the hose that goes from the pump to the outlet is pretty small. The pump attachment on the old pump was on the top and on this one its on the bottom. It wasn't long enough......
... so, for the time being the pump is suspended about midway in the chamber. Fixed by a bit of nylon rope. Technically it should mean, that for the time being, it switches on twice as often, but only has to pump away half as much each time.

I will shop around for a new bit of hose tomorrow or Friday and sort it at the weekend.

Bloody good scrub with a brush in the shower afterwards and doused myself in aftershave to try and get rid of the smell.

Strange that yesterday was 14 years to the day since we moved into this house. A timely reminder of why I love country living so much.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012



The last vestiges of summer are well and truly gone  (for what it was worth).

Last night the greater Dunbar conurbation, much like the rest of Scotland, “took a bit of a doin’” off the wind. And, as ever, when the wind gets above the old  “bit of a breeze” level the ancient electrical infrastructure of Woodhall is proved inadequate.

At 9:15, just as Lionel Hampton was striking up the first few chords of Airmail Special he, like all the residents on my music system was silenced and the house was plunged into darkness.

With a resigned sigh head torches were donned, appliances were unplugged, alarms were set on watches for the morrow…and an early night was had.

Here’s a strange thing… I don’t sleep with the light on. So why do I find it so hard to settle down to sleep knowing the power is off??

Anyway this morning dawned …. Well it feckin’ dawned about 90 minutes after I had got up! Got up to a dark house, with no hot water and no cheery BBC newsreaders to welcome me to another bog-awful day on this poxy planet. The only voice (other than Anne’s) was the disembodied one on the phone who lies on behalf of Scottish Power, informing me that I should phone back if no power was on by 2pm (it had been 12:45 last night). It’s not so long ago that this service was free … you now have to pay a “local rate” to have Scottish Power lie to you.

As no hot water = no shower, a shower was had at work. And if your having a shower at work? Might as well go a run first!!

The Water of Leith, Granton and Newhaven this morning, just before 7, all looking decidedly “windswept and interesting”. No trees as such, but a lot of big branches and other debris littering the path. Only saw a couple of other runners and very few cyclists. Very tough going and pretty slow. It was also this seasons first outing for my yellow reflective bib. Quite enjoyed it though. Legs still sore from Saturday’s outing so it was nice to have the wind to use as an excuse for taking it easy.

Not doing Loch Ness this year (kinda’ wish I was). But looking at the forecast for Sunday it looks as though the runners will get a good tail wind most of the way.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


Yesterday I  *cough* "ran" what can only be described as the worst race in my life. I put my body through 4 hours 15 minutes of absolute hellish pain and have no intention of ever repeating the experience.

I am not built or "conditioned" to hill running. I've tried but I'm just no good (and I'll probably try again).
It's not that I don't appreciate the skills and determination and the training of those who do "get it" and are who are good at it. Honestly...good for them. It just isn't my "thing".
Break me in two and I'd be like a bit of Blackpool rock, but with the word "road" running through me. I will probably train in the hills, off road, and have the odd wee "flirt" with hill running - but the road is where it's at for me.

In retrospect the Two Breweries probably wasn't the one to go for. Even among hill runners it seems to have a pretty tough reputation.
I'd love to be able to take you through my experience but my brain appears to have blanked huge sections of it to save me from reliving it.

Despite my previous post I actually went into the race feeling quite good and, dare I say, looking forward to it.
Listening to the banter on the bus from Broughton to Traquair was good fun, and the setting for the start itself was beautiful (can't be many runs that have such as nice backdrop for the start).
We met up with the other runners from Dunbar and had a coffee and a natter. Maybe the jovial banter was simply everyone trying to mask their nerves (I don't know).
Anyway, we went through the kit check had a talking to.... and we were off.

First mile and a bit was lovely - all on the road.
In fact the first couple of climbs weren't too bad. It was probably when we got to Stob Law that my will to live started to ebb. There was one section - a sort of narrow sheep path that traversed the side of the hill where I would have expected to be able to "run". But thanks to the wet summer it was little more than a collection of peaty, boggy, swamps that you had to clamber through and stumble over.

The climb through the woods towards Whitelaw hill started fairly well but soon curved upwards into a gradient that I was never going to "run" up and I was again reduced to using my hands to try and exert a little more power to my legs as I walked/climbed up.
Graeme Henry had passed me before this hill and assured me that after Whitelaw there is a bit where you can run before the last climb. I assume he meant the section between Stobo and Tarcreish.
Wouldn't go as far as say I ran, but I could at least jog a wee bit of this. But all the while, lurking in the back of my mind there loomed ..... "Trahenna".

And there it was. No path or identifiable route up (that I could find), just an interminable, never ending, back breaking climb through gorse and heather. On and on and bloody on it went.
God knows why I chose to wear my Garmin, but when it beeped to inform me that I'd covered a mile in 21 minutes I could have wept.

The descent was always going to be tricky and it didn't help that me and a bloke from Carnethy took the wrong path at one point. By the time we doubled back we'd probably really only added about 400m on to our overall route, but when you feel as bad as I did that's more than enough.

When I did finally get to the end I would happily have thrown my shoes in a bin. But I was unable to bend down to untie them. I have never felt that disconsolate about a race in a long long time.

The organisation was fantastic. It might be one of the toughest things I've ever done, but it was also one of the friendliest. The food at the end in the village hall was fantastic and the prize giving was quick and efficient (that said. Dunbar couldn't even win a feckin' spot prize!)

I honestly do not want to be disparaging of hill running (or "dis" it as the yoof of today are want to say). It's just not for me.
I had at one point thought about the Jedburgh "ultra" at the end of October. Now? There is no way!
There's a half on the same day...might do that.

Did a four and a half mile recovery run this morning .... on the road.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Lets file that experience under "F" shall we.
"F" for "feckin shoot me if I ever even think of doing that again."

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Last nights club run was a bit of a brutal pace.
The first couple of miles through John Muir weren't too bad - probably slowed down a bit by the squishy, muddy conditions underfoot.
But after that it was "heads down" and the last six was run at near race pace.
No idea why the pace was so high, but I think it's maybe related to some sort of reluctance to accept that we are now losing light at nights and will soon by confined to the vibrant, bustling boulevards of downtown Dunbar. Unless of course we go for a head torch run - but they are generally a bit slower anyway. I'm sure we all know we only have a week or so left of getting out into the country and want to try and make the most of it.

Anyway - whatever the reason, last nights run was a bit of a tough one. Coupled with a quick six miler yesterday am and the race on Sunday, my legs feel a bit tender today.
So today's lunchtime run was a bit of a reduced mileage affair, run at what can best be described as "recovery pace".

I don't like hill running (hate it)....not too keen on running off roads....I've been teetotal for the best part of seven years.... So why in the name of arse have I entered the two breweries?? An 18 mile hill race with, I am led to believe, no discernible pathways at all (just loads and loads of thick, high, leg scratching heather) and it starts at one brewery and ends at another (where I believe beer is handed out??).

Sunday, 16 September 2012


About bloody time!
Got myself off my lazy arse and actually went out for a race today.
Feels like ages since I had a number pinned on to my vest. The Stirling 10k - not a race I've done before and not one I knew very much about, to be honest. But it was picked this year as a "counter" for the club championship, so I thought it best to have a go.
Our entries didn't go in until the last minute, so they didn't get posted out to us. We had to go through a wee bit earlier to collect our numbers and our compu-chips.
Numbered and chipped up we tootled off with Ian and Ian for a wee warm up.
We met up with Karen, Theresa and Brian prior to the race and had a bit of a natter as we made our way to the start.
Ian S and me probably started a bit too far back, but there was such a large crowd it was fairly difficult to squeeze through.
Anyway.... it was my first race for a bit, the cold hadn't really left my system and I still had doubts about the old leg/arse combo - expectations were fairly low.
As it was I felt fine and, by the time I finished, what little of the cold I had still been carrying was either splattered all over the back roads of Stirling or all down my chin and vest anyway!!
I didn't see Stirling Castle - so here's a picture of Colditz instead (they look the same anyway)

I've never been one of those who can recount every twist and turn of a race, and every sight and event no matter how minute. So, instead you will have to do with an "overall impression" of the race.
  1. Well organised.
  2. A bit too twisty, turny and technical for my taste (most of the route seemed to be through small residential roads - with speed bumps and a 90 degree turn every few meters!!).
  3. Not as windy as it might have been.
  4. At least the rain held off.
  5. And fookin' hard - definitely fookin' hard. By the time we got to the last km I was gasping for breath and most definitely had gone beyond my comfort zone!!
Got across the line in 36:42. So - happy enough with that.
Just glad to be back "out there", so to speak.

Off work tomorrow (Yeah!!). So I will, like the rest of the morally outraged majority, continue my vigil in front of the 24 hour rolling news reports to discover if there have been any more sightings of the Duchess of Cambridge's tits.