Thursday, 28 June 2012


Quite strange when we were down in York...I went into Rebound Records twice - and only came away with one CD. Alan Barnes "Here Comes Trouble". A quartet offering from the great man from 1996, that sees him on alto and baritone sax - and includes a wonderful version of the standard "Never Let Me Go" that is just over 13 minutes long (and none of them are wasted).
I can usually part with a wadge of cash when I'm in there. Sadly though, I think the recession is forcing him to put his prices up a bit....sad. Unless it is REALLY rare, or something I've been looking for for a while I kind of draw the line at £10 for a secondhand disc. Its the sort of shop you really WANT to support though. The guys so friendly and helpful. Bryan Spring is on drums on the disc I got and the chap was telling me about hearing him with Stan Tracey a few years ago.
Its also probably got something to do with my new found willingness to go for downloads that made me reluctant to spend much. Which in a way is a shame - half thefun of shops like that is the actual shopping experiance.
Got some vouchers recently, and I've downloaded quite a few from Amazon  This week. Greatest find so far? It has to be from the new Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra's offering - their rendition of The Flintstone's Theme tune. Magic.
Luckily (????) the weather has been shit this week since we got home, so at least I'm getting some quality "listening"  time.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Not long back from York.
Really good long weekend. Weather was surprisingly good. However, the torrential rain they had before we got there meant that one of our runs that goes along by the river had to be rerouted on Sunday - we'd forgotten to pack our flippers.
Only did a couple of short(ish) runs while we were away but probably still enough just to keep "ticking over".
But now that I'm back (and still off work) I'm going to try and increase the mileage a bit. Undo some of the damage from all the cake I ate when I was away - tried a couple of really nice coffee shops when we were there - thought we'd try and keep away from the usual haunts.

On Sunday we probably could have chosen our eating establishment a bit more carefully - an Italian restaurant.... at about 8pm on Sunday night.
Food was fantastic and the service was very quick. Though I suspect the speed of the service was due to the fact that the waitress and cooking staff wanted to get things out of the way so they could keep nipping round the back to watch the football on the telly.

This mornings run was an early affair - went out from the B&B about 6am and did a bit of a "town run". Early morning and late at night is probably the only times you can get out for a run in a place like York and find the street relatively quiet.
Absolutely beautiful summers morning with clear blue skys. We went past a renovated wind mill at Holgate. Anne's brother had told us about the day before and Anne wanted our route to go past it it. It does look amazing and is exactly as you would imagine a windmill to look - it's straight our of Camberwick Green.
As we slowly went round looking up at the sails a fairly low, red, hot air balloon sailed over. Why, oh why don't I ever take a camera running?

It would have mad a great picture. However, so as not to disappoint, I have recreated the scene here...enjoy.

Friday, 22 June 2012


Did the Portobello 4 mile race last night. Enjoyed it - as usual.
Sad to see the numbers down on previous years, but that was due to the weather. The sky was leaden and there was a pretty stiff breeze coming in off the sea.
It certainly did NOT look like the longest day..... the day of the year when we are supposed to get most light. Light was pretty much in short supply yesterday.
Anyway. There was a good turnout from Dunbar. Due inpart to the fact that this is a popular race anyway, in part to it being a club championship "counter", but mainly due to the fact that we were off for a curry afterwards.

I was nervous about this run. Afraid of how my leg would cope. But as the race started I just tried to pxut it to the back of my mind. Found myself running beside Ian Sills for most of the run. The first part wasn't too bad, it was really when you got onto the prom at about the 2mile mark that the wind started to hit you. l've run that route loads of times when I'm working in Leith, but yesterday that one mile along the prom, from 2 to 3 just went on and on and on.

Glad to turn back for the last mile, and I felt pretty good and was more or less keeping pace. But in the last half mile Ian just started to crank it up a bit and my left leg just wouldn't play along.

Still at 23:11 I shouldn't be too upset.

Club came away with quite a few prizes. And I was chuffed to be third counter in the team prize.

Anyway. After yesterdays shitty weather, today we got...? MORE shitty weather!!!
But that's me off work for a week and I refuse to let it get to me. So this Friday's coffee and cake was accompanied by Mr John Coltrane's 1963 spititual like "After The Rain". Recorded shortly before "A Love Supreme" but with signs of the same quest for inner peace...classic!

Thursday, 21 June 2012



Oh lordy what to do?

I’ve had a bit of an ongoing, and indeed “developing”, niggle with my left hamstring and glute and it’s getting worse.

To be precise the hamstring is as tight as a drum at times and I just can’t get the “stride” that I want (or need) when I’m running. As for the glute? Well to be quite honest I’m getting an awful pain in the @rse when I sit for any longer than about ten minutes.

I’ve been developing this pain for a while now and at first put it down to a lack of “cushioning” in the posterior – it feels as though I’m sitting directly on the pelvic bone – feckin’ sore! So I think it’s where the glute “joins” and attaches to the pelvis. Done a bit of research and it might be the Piriformis muscle. Certainly all the symptoms are there.

I’m ok walking (in fact its better when I’m up and moving around, and I’m ok when lying down. But sitting? Painful.

I’m pretty certain that the whole glute/hamstring muscle group are connected and one must be affecting the other. Running at about 7min pace is hunky-dory but as soon as I try to up the pace …well I can’t …or it hurts – certainly hurts more than it should.

Got the Portobello 4 mile race tonight and I want to do it. So I think some pain killers before and loads and loads of stretches might see me through. After that?

Well I’m off work for a week so a few long slow runs are in order and then see how I get on from there.

I think I might go to see a sports physio’ as well for a bit advise. I also need to get my gate analysis done ASAP.

Monday, 18 June 2012



It’s not often that I let the rain put me off going for a run – but it did on Saturday. Jeez what a crappy day that was – absolutely pissed it down from dawn till dusk. Didn’t let up at all.

Where we live (up in the hills) we were above the cloud level and that just seemed to add to the feeling of gloom and misery.

On the plus side the “semi-enforced” day indoors did allow me a bit of time to catch up on some quality [jazz] listening….nice!

I also used the time to check the Moorfoot web site a few times to double check that the Beltane 10k trail race was still on for the Sunday….I had visions of the Tweed bursting its banks.

It didn’t ….the race was still on …so we went.


Billed as a “trail 10k” this race is more of an extended cross country and actually takes in quite a bit of the Peebles leg of the Borders XC race. I knew that after a little rain it would be muddy…but after the amount we’ve had of late I expected it to be really MUDDY.

Strangely enough, the bit I thought would be worst – the bit that goes along by the river bank and past Neidpath castle wasn’t that bad at all. Boggy, but not much in the way of mud.

However, once we got over the river and into South Park Wood things changed.

I was trailing behind Mr Sills here and we came to a steep climb that saw us both walking up, hunched over, hands on knees style. This took it out of the legs and once we got back onto the level I felt a bit slow to start with. I was also suddenly aware that it was a lot muddier here. Right claggy, slippy, cloying stuff. Mud that was exactly the correct consistency to get into the tread of your trail shoes – clag them up – and transform the soles into useless, slippery flip flops. KM 6 to 7 was a complete nightmare of twisty descents,  with sharp corners, over narrow paths covered in mud and hidden rocks and tree roots.

By the time we got down onto the level Ian was quite a bit ahead.

The route has a 1km loop right at the end so I had the pleasure of watching winner Steve Cairns cross the line just as I got to the 9k marker.

At least the last km was on wet marshy grass and the shoes got a wee bit of a clean.

Everyone seemed to be a bit slower than previous years so I don’t feel too bad with my time of 40:33.

So. Saturday’s extra day of rest, then yesterdays 10k (rather than some LSD) means it’s going to be a low mileage week for me this week (got the Porty 4 mile race on Thursday). Maybe no bad thing – I’m getting a bit of “jip” in my left leg.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


For somebody who doesn't like running up and over hills, they seem to be featuring as a sort of "theme" to this weeks training..
Last night's club run was a merry jaunt up through Spott, towards Burnhead and Halls. Followed by a climb up over and round Watch Law.

Apparently there is a relatively well defined path on the way down. But me and Mr Sills threw convention to the wind and opted for the more "scenic" descent through tussocky grass and well camouflaged rabbit holes.
A slightly longer club run than usual, but good fun - and also one of the best evenings weather we've had for a while.

And today? Well, a wee climb up and around the wind farm was the order of the day. Strange today though. A run that usually supplies complete solitude was today altered by about six transit vans scooting around. All with their windows rolled down and all playing different variations of "Radio-Feck-Wit" at full volume.
I don't know if it's preventative maintenance, or what, but they appear to be painting most of the electricity pylons in our part of the Lammermuirs. I think, and hope, it's just an undercoat but it's strange to see these giant structures painted yellow.
It's been a long week this week already (58 miles since Saturday).

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Yesterday saw us pop down the road to East Linton for the Traprain Law race.
Now. I've said before, but it's worth saying again, hill running really isn't my cup of java. If the "Creator" had meant for man to run up and down hills over tussocks of grass, gorse and heather and the like, then he wouldn't have endowed us with the free-will, the intelligence and the raw materials to develop tarmac. Would he?
I appreciate that "running" is a broad church that encompasses many different "disciplines" however, so every now and then I like to, at least, keep on nodding terms with hill running and off road racing.
The Traparain Law race is one of my few annual "nods" then towards hill running.
That said..... I do get some degree of masochistic pleasure out of the Law Race. The dash along the slippery muddy paths by the side of the Tyne...the wade through the murky waters of the Tyne...the climb up the slippery slopes of the Law..and the hell-for-leather run down the other side.
So, it was with a little disappointment we were informed that because of the previous few days heavy rainfall the river crossing was off. The route was detoured along to the wooden bridge out and back (an additional mile apparently).
There was a good turnout of Dunbar runners as someone had seen fit to make this a club championship race.
In fact, the good weather had ensured a good turnout in general - 96 runners I heard.
As per usual with this race we were told to get into the starting enclosure, given brief instructions and then told we still had three minutes to go!
Finally we were off.
The riverside pathway wasn't too bad on the way out though I did feel myself slip a few times.
The path at this point is pretty narrow, so whatever position you are in, you know your more or less going to stay there.
Once over the bridge we "doubled back" until we got to the climb through the side of a couple of fields that brings you out near the foot of the Law.
Didn't feel too bad going up here. It was near the top, just before we crossed the road to the entry of the footpath onto the Law itself, that Ian passed me.
Photo from Sandy Wallace
The climb up actually went quite well this year. The guys in front of me all seemed to be ignoring the rope dangling down, but I used it to haul myself up.
It's when you get to the top though and start to run again that you suddenly realise how much the climb has taken out of you!
As expected my descent was absolute pants!! Not only did Ian pull away at this point, as I knew he would, but runners were queueing up behind me. In fact, after the race, I incurred disapproving looks and comments from one of the elder statesmen of running in East Lothian when he overheard me tell a club mate that I had pulled into the side at one point to let a couple of Carnethy guys past me (sorry George)!
I lost count of the runners who passed me! Leading lady Charlotte Morgan of Carnethy who was just behind me on the climb went tanking past.

However, once we got back onto "the level" I just tried to pick people off one by one. I caught up with Charlotte just before the style that takes you back onto the road (aahhhh ..."tarmac") and was surprised when she pulled over at this point (I later discovered she had taken a tumble earlier on and was running with a knee injury).
On the road I did manage to get past the two Carnethy guys I'd pulled in for.
The riverside path on the way back though appeared to be a bit more slippy than it had been on the way out. Either 96 pairs of shoes over it earlier had mashed it up a bit, or the soles of mt shoes were so packed with mud and crap the grip was non existent.
Whatever the reason I took a wee tumble about a mile from the end. Luckily all that was hurt was my dignity (and I don't even have much of that).
Got in in 49:26 - which for a 6.6 mile cross country type hill run is OK for me.

After standing about at the end for a bit a group of us tootled off to the tea tent. Fantastic spread of cakes!! And the ladies in charge just kept coming up and forcing more and more onto us. Fantastic.
Popped out of the tea tent just in time to see Megan get her first lady prize and Rhona get 2nd.
Dunbar ladies also took away the ladies team prize.

All in all a good day out and a great race.

I thought we had missed all the "gala fun" (my views on that are already documented).
However, just as we were leaving the gala field we did manage to see a fine last minute display by the young ladies of the combined East Lothian Slappers Synchronised Fighting Team. The subject of their performance appeared to be a discourse into the futility of territorial disputes and was expressed through the combined media of shouting, swearing, kicking and punching. I'm not really sure I understood all the subtle nuances of the language used, but the sheer skill involved in some of the footwork was breath taking (kicking people in the head as performance art - who'd have thought it?) And, as it's very much a family gala and children are there, the slappers like to add a sort of "Seasame Street" style of learning element to their performance. Yesterday's fight was brought to you by the letters "F" and "C" and the words "hoor" and "bitch".

Today? Well today saw me head out for a bit of LSD - 17 mile and all of it on tarmac. Lovely.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


Something was wrong on today’s run up by the Water Of Leith.
Either: “a” my Garmin was broken and the miles simply were not “beeping” by fast enough….or “b” I felt like “sheeeite” and just didn’t have the energy in the tank or the legs.
In hindsight…it was “b”. A truly awful run, but for once I know why. I’ve been doing too much and eating too little. Probably more of the later.
Did quite a bit over the long holiday weekend, then did two runs on Tuesday and two runs yesterday, while yesterdays calorie intake amounted to little more than a couple of weetabix, a cheese roll, a cheese sandwich and a bag of crisps. Not exactly a “balanced diet”.
So, it’s little wonder that today’s run was crap – I was running on empty! Training is all good and well (obviously), but I need to take a bit more notice of rest and refuelling.
Not going to go to the club’s interval session tonight. I shall instead spend the time making some risotto. Really got into making that these last few weeks. I like spending time slowly adding a wee bit here and there and taking time stirring it – it’s quite cathartic.

You know you own too much music when…..
I was rooting around in a drawer yesterday and found a “wadge” of CDs I forgot I had!! Maybe about 12? I haven’t ripped them to CD yet and haven’t put them onto my Brennan yet. I think they may be about a year old. God knows what I was thinking when I put them there.
Among them is one by Liam Noble and Stan Sulzmann. I can’t believe I’ve not listened to it!
Another that I came across is a wee gem – the Lionel Hampton Quintet. A Verve album from about 1954; and this beauty swings with a capital SWING! Buddy DeFranco on clarinet is on fire on a  17 minute version of the classic “Flying Home”. DeFranco was one of the few clarinet players to survive the transition from swing to Bebop, but this is him firmly in swing mode. Joyous, toe-tapping, foot-stomping, smiley-faced stuff!! Can’t believe I’ve left it hidden for so long. A wonderful cover as well by the artist David Stone Martin who did so many of the early Verve albums.
Music to cook by!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


We popped down to Berwick yesterday for a bit of a "morning out". We had to do our fortnightly supermarket shop anyway, so we thought we might as well go down there to do it - have a wee walk around the walls while we were at it.
It was a very nice day for it. In fact this [extra] long weekend has been pretty good weather wise.
The good weather had certainly brought the crowds out - but as appears to be the way these days the crowds appeared to stick to the shops rather than travel any distance. So the walk around by the town walls was peaceful.

Found a new ("new" to us) art gallery. Couple of nice things in it. Though I felt that some of the works looked as though the artist was trying too hard to give his work "meaning".
I regretted not having my MP3 player with me - I quite like a bit modern jazz when looking at modern art.

Still. All good things come to an end. Work tomorrow. But first up there is the excitement of the running clubs AGM to look forward to.
"Art"... I'm getting a John Coltrane sort of vibe.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


I am not getting into the Jubilee. Neither am I celebrating it.
I am however a bit of a hypocrite and therefore perfectly happy to accept the extra day away from work, and like the majority of the folk in the country happy enough at the extra-long weekend.
It (the "jubilee") has thrown up the odd moment of unexpected happiness as well.
We were in Perth on Friday - shopping. At one point Anne was in a shop trying something or other on, and I decided to stand outside.
As I stood there I could hear, above me, a distinctive mechanical thrumming from an engine. I looked up into the narrow strip of bright blue sky between the tall buildings either side of me ... just in time to see a Spitfire flyng low overhead!!
By the time I'd blurted out "Feck me! Look!!" to any passers by who cared to listen, they must have wondered what I was on about and what I was pointing at.
Don't know if it was heading for Scone Airport but I assume it was in the area for some celebratory event this weekend.
And "yes" it was a Spitfire - not a hurricane. It had the distinctive wing shape.
A fantastic sight!


It's that time of year again....
The musty bunting is unravelled and hung up. The "burgers" that look, smell (and probably taste) like discs of carpet underlay marinaded in beef dripping are thrown onto a manky grill. And warm fizzy beer is poured into flimsy plastic cups.
No. It's nothing to do with the "jubilee". It's simply that hideous time of year when various hamlets, villages, towns and other settlements "celebrate" their gala days. Images of coconut shys, tea tents, vicars in white linen jackets and straw hats etc. are sadly dashed when you walk in on the reality..
Gala Days are days when well meaning folks who are, probably, already strapped for free time waste their efforts and their valuable time laying on "events" that simply seem to attract a bunch of indifferent, beer swilling dole scum. Plebs who a few hundred years ago would have been enthralled by the antics of a man with a bladder on a stick.
I would avoid these events like the plague....if it wasn't for the fact that many of the best races share calendar space.
And so yesterday we were of to Neilson Park in Haddington. Anne to race the Haddington 10k and me to help out.
A great race. Well organised and well planned out. But it appears to start in a field populated by village oafs and their oafish offspring.
Anyway. Thankfully, not everyone is afflicted by my slightly jaded and less than rosy view of the world.
Good turn out of Dunbar runners and a few good results.

I'd been out earlier in the day for a 7.5 mile off road run, so didn't feel too bad about sitting this one out.
Managed 15 this morning and felt quite good. Off work for another couple of days so I might try a couple of 12+ runs then as well. My left leg has been giving me a bit jip (hamstring), but that seems to have eased off a bit now. However, I'll take it a bit easy for a week or so and see how it goes.

Got some new jazz to acquaint myself with this weekend as well. One of which I'm especially excited about - oh yes. Arild Andersen, Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra "Celebration" - a recording of a gig they did in October 2010 to celebrate the music of ECM.
The fact that ECM chose Smith and the SNJO to head this tribute to their music over the years is an indication of the standing that Smith and the SNJO have, not only in Europe, but in global jazz circles. At the gig I was ecstatic that they finished with a version of Keith Jarrett's "My Song", so I'm over the moon that it's made it onto this recording. It's one of those songs that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up - I've never (yet) heard a version of it I didn't like.

Sad then that this album should come out at the same time as it's announced that the SNJO are having their funding cut in Scotland.
When Stephen Graham, writing in Jazzwise, likens Tommy Smith to Wynton Marsalis it really isn't an exaggeration.