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.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012



Couple of runs under my belt so far this [working] week. Not been too bad either.

However, the last stubborn vestiges of the lurgy have been affecting me a bit. I’ve been a lot better than I was on Sunday, but still not up to par.

This has resulted in the old ticker getting a bit of a blootering as I attempt to do my normal runs in my normal times.

Yesterday, for example, saw my rate shoot up to 220 at one point…and a quick two fingers placed on the side of the neck convinced me that my monitor wasn’t playing up!! Needless to say I slowed the pace quite considerably for a bit!

Today wasn’t too bad, but a bit of a look back at the records suggests that  my heart rate should have been about 10% lower for the pace I did. It was an interval session for my heart coupled to a steady run for my legs.

Then again, don’t know if it’s the illness that’s causing the abnormalities, or my approach to over the counter drugs. If a tablespoon of Benolyine is beneficial then surely it stands to reason that a half pint will be that much better. If I thought it would help I’d quite happily snort LemSip powder up my nose, off a mirror, through a rolled up ten pound note!

Sunday, 9 September 2012


A bit of  a grotty weekend.
Head and chest full of gunge.
Strange thing is though, I went out fo a 19 mile run yesterday, with Ian, and felt fine. Well, I say "fine", but in reality my heart rate was way too high for the sort of effort I was putting in and I think I somehow managed to expell my own body weight in snot and phlegm. Other than that though I felt OK.

Today? Well, today I woke thinking I would head off on my own for another 19. ....
By the time I'd had breakfast the target was down to 15.......
By the time I'd got changed and went out it was down to about 13.....
By the time I'd got about 4.5 mile into it, I thought "feck this"........

Sat about the rest of today feeling grotty and sorry for myself.

Still, it's given me a bit of time to catch up on some reading and listening to some new [to me] jazz.

Better this weekend than next though.... as well as it being a holiday weekend I'm down for the Stirling 10k.

Thursday, 6 September 2012



Got a new album that’s “doing it for me” right now. Ben Webster & Stan Tracey “Soho Nights Vol2”. A live concert of Webster’s first visit to Ronnie Scott’s in 1964 (Vol1 is from a later visit in ’68).

While I love Ben Webster’s swingin’, breathy, smooth tenor sound it’s Tracey’s input on this album that was the bait for me (Stan can do no wrong that I know of).

Apparently this is the second volume it what will be a trilogy of concerts that have remained unheard in 40+ years. Got 1 and 2 – bring on 3 – quickly!!

“Chelsea Bridge” a perennial Webster ballad is beautiful, though on this track Tracey appears to fade into the background somewhat.

However, on other more upbeat numbers such as “Cotton Tail” and “Poutin’” we are treated to the now familiar slapped-down thunking chords that can give Tracey’s playing a Monkish feel. All the while Webster’s tenor floats over this. It’s like layering a really smooth sweet jam over crunchy peanut butter – it really does work, and it makes the sum equal to more than the total of the singles.

But Stan isn’t just a Monk disciple, his sound is his own though he openly admits two main influences and “Over The Rainbow” sees the Ellington side of Tracey emerge and the piano provides the breeze for Webster’s soft tones to drift along on.

For an unreleased tape that’s 44 years old the quality is superb (even when dumbed down to “tinnitus friendly” mono).

The closing “track” is an announcement by Ronnie Scott thanking the players. Then telling the punters that next up is Jimmy Deuchar while the next night sees Stan return with Ronnie and Bobby Wellins …. Jeez, I hope somebody taped those!!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


I love this time of year.
Early Autumn I suppose you'd call it. The light just seems better, natures colour pallet is better (still a wide range but a hell of a lot less garish than the overrated "summer"), you get just the right balance of night and day, and the temperature is, to me, usually just right. It's as though after a completely shambolic farce of a "summer" nature has at last got itself balanced and it's house in order.
Pity it can't be like this for about 11 months of the year.

Even last night's club run was well balanced. An 11.5 mile mix of road and country path - something for everyone (though little in the way of hills)!
Pace was high but I really enjoyed it, and it's all adding up to what is going to be a fairly high mileage week for me.

Sadly not everything in the garden is rosey and my world is not populated by little cartoon bluebirds. As ever, just when things are going well, even for a short while, somebody or something comes along to piss on my chips.
And here it is....I appear to be coming down with some sort of post-holiday/late-summer cold or lurgy-type-thingumy.
The back of my throat feels like its coated in very hot sandpaper?! Not nice at all.
Still, by the critera of the old "neck-check" it's still ok to run - so I will. Also, better to get things like this out the way before the long weekend next week (yes...another reason to like September).

Sunday, 2 September 2012


..... not only a superb album by Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges. It also describes my approach to running this weekend.
Because we were still off work on Friday, we managed to do the usual stuff that we do on a Saturday then (shopping for groceries, taking stuff to the recycling centre etc.).
This has meant two complete days at home with very little that we have to do.
As such, there's been very little left to define what's a "typical" Saturday and what's a "typical" Sunday. So I've just sort of merged the two days together.
I've also taken advantage and decided to do two sessions of LSD "back to back".
Yesterday was a solo affair and I went off for 16 miles out by Crowhill, Cocklaw and Oldhamstocks.
Today, however, I joined Ian R and George for a twenty miler out by Biel and then back via the Chicken Farm and cycle way by the cement works. I met Ian and George about half a mile from the house just after nine and the weather was still a bit dull and grey. However, as the run went on and the sun came out the heat built up quite a bit and perhaps started to affect the pace a wee bit.
The advantage though of going out in a small group like that is that you do tend to keep to a more even pace, or at least a slightly quicker pace than you might if you are out on your own (well.... for me at least). Too easy when your out on solo runs, if you start to feel a bit tired, to either cut the run short or simply to drop the pace too much.

So. A good weekend with a fairly high mileage.
Better tootle off now and start to get stuff ready for my return to the arsehole factory tomorrow. Oh how I'm looking forward to those five o'clock starts!!