Friday, 28 June 2013


Being a jazz lover I have listened to Charlie Parker since I “got into it”. Indeed I’d go as far as say that it was Parker who “got [me] into it” in the first place (Album: Charlie Parker: Compact Jazz. Track: My Little Suede Shoes. It blew me away – still does).

My copy - The real Bird.
I don’t have everything he did – but I do have a sizable “chunk” of his all-too-short output.

The largest part of his output is covered by the fantastic 10cd box set “Now’s The Time”. And a genuine bargin at £10 (or thereabouts). It’s on the “Documents” label.

I got my box set a couple of years ago.. It was a pretty basic affair. The packaging and design were “OK”, but no great shakes – it wasn’t going to win any awards. But it was acceptable.
New version - an actor.

But they’ve gone and changed it. Oh, dear Christ, What on earth are they thinking?

They’ve gone and replaced the picture of Bird with a picture from “Bird” (i.e. the film by Clint Eastwood).

That’s Forest-bloody-Whitaker on the cover! It’s akin to marketing a Glen Miller record with a  picture of James Stewart on the cover!

Shame on them.

Monday, 24 June 2013


A small local church.

Rafi's deli in York - where they make up really good curry sauces
to cook at home.

Spent Thursday and Friday (and some of Saturday) in York - a wee bit of a celebration-  and, to be honest, just an excuse for a wee bit of time off work (which is cause for celebration in it's self).

Always liked York - I'd be happy to live there. Did most of the usual "touristy" things while we were there, but still found time for one run. Out along by the river, early on Friday morning, before breakfast. Really nice. Don't know if one run was enough to negate all the cake eating that went on while I was away - but every now and then...who cares?

No trip to York would be complete without a visit to those we hold dear and think of a lot - so I popped into Rebound records and was delighted that the owner remembered me again and apologised for not, yet, sourcing a rare Tommy Smith record I'm after. Had a good look round and came away with a few treats and had a bit of a nice chat about the later recording careers of some bebop stars of the 50's.....

.... oh. Visited Anne's mum too.

Back on Saturday only to head back down the A1 on Sunday morning, but this time on a bus in the company of about 14 other Dunbar Runners.
The club had a bit of an outing down at Alnwick to take part in the trail races. A choice of half marathon, 10k or 5k were on offer and the club was represented in them all.

I had opted for the half.
I have it on good authority that the course was really nice. I couldn't honestly say. All I know is, it was tough, hilly and there were quite a few cattle grids to be crossed.
For about the first 3 mile or so the half and 10k runners were on the same route, then as we got towards the "top" of a climb we parted, only for the half runners to turn a corner to find ...another bloody climb.
For about the whole race (other than the first few miles) I had the same runner ahead of me. At times we were about 200m apart and at times I would "reel it in" a bit to about 50m. Just for him to pull away again.
The organisers had thrown in a couple of "there and back" sections to make up the distance and these also helped by giving me an indication of where those behind me were - and therefore the impetus to pick it up where needed.

It's almost useless on a trail run using a GPS as a pace guide - your splits are all over the place depending on the terrain.

Pleased though with my 1:21:31 time and well chuffed to be first in my [newly acquired] category.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Went a run again this morning at daft o’clock.
But unlike other runs at that time in the morning, from “that” place, today was a bit different.
The sun was out, but it wasn’t yet too warm. There was just the slightest hint of a breeze – nothing that would hamper you at all. All was well with the world and it was a beautiful morning – far too nice NOT to go for a bit of a longer run.
So I just kept on …. And on…
Started off doing one of my “usual” routes. But kept going when I was past Granton. Down onto the walkway/cycle path/call-it-what-you-will along by Silverknowes towards Cramond. Quite a few dog walkers who all seemed to be quite cheery and a couple of other runners who all passed good mornings. Beautiful along by there – not been in that neck of the woods for ages. It’s amazing how long you seem to run before Cramond Island finaly seems to be getting any closer.
From there it was a left turn up through Cramond itself, before heading onto the River Almond walkway and out to Cramond Old Bridge. First time I’ve been along by the River walkway, and I don’t think I could have picked a nicer morning for it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad it wasn’t – but why isn’t a place like that busy in Edinburgh? If you want to get away from the hurly-burly, then that’s the place to do it. Other than one section where steps led you up and then down a bit it was really good running as well, a nice undulating riverside path.

Sadly, by the time I got to the Bridge I felt despite how much I was enjoying it. I really did have an obligation to get back. Turned at the Cramond Bridge pub and made my way back.
So.. a nice early morning 14 miler.
It’s nice to do a run like that every now and then… though maybe 12 hours before you have a 5k race isn’t the ideal time!

Monday, 17 June 2013


Quite enjoying going out the door every now and then to see how Charlie and Chan are getting on building their nest (“yes” – I have named them). Their progress is quite impressive.
I don’t know hellish much about the subject – but I do like watching birds.

Yesterday morning, while out my run, I saw a van parked in a nearby field along by Thurston Mains. Three blokes were unloading large baskets from the back. Maybe had about half a dozen baskets in all.
I knew what they were doing so stopped to watch, and was just in time to watch about a hundred homing pigeons being released into a beautiful blue sky.
Fascinating to watch them as they flocked together and swooped and dived for a few loops overhead before heading off for their destination.
A quick chat with one of their “owners” revealed that they were headed back to the Larkhall area. Probably about 60 miles as the crow flies (or pigeon if you want to be pedantic).
Great sight.

Not every encounter with birds was as exciting at the weekend. While I admire their house building skills I’m not too sure about the house decorating skills of house martins. One flew in the bedroom on Sunday morning and got into the spare room.
By the time I went into the room it had flown down behind my computer desk and was cowering at the back. Managed to coax it out and get it back through a window.
Chuffed with my skills I went downstairs to tell Anne that all was well.
I fear that my eyes may not be as good as they used to be. God alone knows how I missed it, but the bird had redecorated our room in a style that was “inspired” by the Maze prisoners of the late 70’s…… shit everywhere. If it happens again - I'm doing the same to their house!!

Saturday, 15 June 2013


A pleasant twelve and a half trail run today.
Up and over by the wind farms, through the woods to Crichness ...and back (more or less).
Didn't even try to pick the speed or effort up. It was just a nice "take your time and smell the flowers" type run.
Only, smelling the flowers is the LAST thing I need right now. Don't know how other allergy sufferers are getting on at the moment - but I feel like I'm being engulfed in bloody pollen this year.
I don't know if there is one particular type of pollen that's going for me - or if it's just a heady mix of absolutely everything coming into flower/bloom at the same time.
I really don't want to ruin anyone's weekend - but the rain they keep forecasting might be a bit of a relief!
I'd probably be as well just sprinkling antihistamines on my breakfast cereal, instead of sugar, this summer.
Once I get into a run it's not too bad - but it seems to really hinder my breathing for about the first mile. After that? Tickety-boo. Well...I say "tickety-boo", it feels OK, but looks horrendous. I end up looking like some rabid lunatic with the lower half of my face covered in frothy, foaming, "nasal seepage". Awful.
But at least it clears my head. Then about half an hour after a run? Feel like my head is full of mush again.

Got new neighbors. Well. The next door neighbors are still there. This is a couple who have "moved in" between us and the next door neighbors. A couple of House Martins have started building a nest between our bathroom ventilation outlet and the guttering on our roof.
When I first noticed it this morning I thought it was a bit of mud that had somehow got lodged there (though god only knows how that would have happened).
But as I was watching, one of the House Martins came along with a bit of mud in its beak and added it.
We've watched the two of them flitting about.
Don't mind, as long as their building doesn't interfere with the extractor.
I will try to add a photo.

Sunday, 9 June 2013


Photo: James Addie

It's begging to look a lot like Summer.....
Three weekends in a row. Three races. And glorious weather for each one! What's going on?
I fear, however, that our run of good luck won't continue for much longer. So make the most of it while we can.

Yesterday's sunny outing was the Traprain Law race. If anyone is unfamiliar with the Traprain Law race, it could be a pleasant four and a half mile trail race that starts and ends at East Linton Gala grounds and takes in some really nice riverside paths along by the river Tyne.
However, this pleasant four and half mile race also includes a river crossing and the treacherous climb up and down a hulking great piece of rock that dominates a large part of the East Lothian skyline. This turns it into a "taxing" hill run that is just over six miles.

But, as it's almost on our doorstep it would be daft not to do it.

Got down and registered and had a little time to go for the obligatory warm up and toilet stop before the race. As well as having some time to chat to a few other runners and hook up with the fairly sizable Dunbar contingent.

A brief word from the starter (the river crossing was back in this year - cheers all round) and the record entry field was off....

The first bit of road, from the park down to the main street, is quite a nice downhill and there is always the temptation to go bombing off too quick.
As we were just going along the main road I heard a spectator shout "Go on Dunbar!".
I turned to look .... "oh. It's young Graeme Jones" my brain told me. Then, just as I turned, eyes-front, to get on with racing, my brain realised what I'd seen... he had a baby strapped to his chest!
If you are familiar with the work of the great James Finlayson (The "Pa Broon" lookalike actor from the Laurel and Hardy films), then you will know what I mean when I say I did a "double take" that threw me briefly off stride. "Jeeze - he kept that quiet"!!

The river crossing, this year, was relatively easy, with the water at no worse than knee depth.
The climb up the Law though - oh dear me. A rope is tied to the fence line so that runners can, if they wish, use it to pull themselves up. I do, and it still doesn't make it any easier.
Photo: Bob Marshall

But where I really lose time, and places, is on the descent. Jeeze - they were forming an orderly queue to get past me. I think I must have lost about four or five places on the way down.
Luckily though, once back onto the road I managed to reel a few of them back in.
On the way back, along by the river, I got into the middle of a wee "train" of three runners - a Bog Trotter in front, me in the middle and a Carnethy runner at the back. We ended up, pretty much for a mile or so, going at the pace of the Trotter, for no other reason than there were no passing opportunities.
However, just before the A1 bridge a gap opened up and I passed him.
I was interested to see the picture of this wee group on Mary Hunter's blog - a very strange picture indeed. The way the light has caught my head my hair doesn't look as bountiful and dark as it usually does (note to self: start wearing a cap for races again).

Finished in 45:04. Not my best time at this race, but I'm pleased enough with that.

Nice after the race to hang about and chat with folk and have a welcome ice cream. Chatted for some time with Pete Buchanan about the various pros and cons of hill running v's road running etc.
As we were chatting, news started to filter back to the finish line that a runner had collapsed on the way back, somewhere on the riverside path.
A few other runners had stopped to offer assistance - as did Mary. And, when he got to the incident, Neil Jones was able to assist too. From what I heard it sounds like a case of heat stroke/over exertion. Quite scary for those involved though.

The prize giving was a nice informal "open air" event (last couple of years it's been in the tea tent while the rain battered down). Pete B won 1st supervet, Rhona was first lady vet, while Anne managed to time her return from the tea tent at just the moment she got called up as first lady supervet.
Me? I got chuff all... except wet shoes, lungs full of fresh air, a bit of a top-up for my tan and the joy of being a forty-odd year old man with an excuse to be "out playing" for a wee while.

Oh - and Graeme Jones turned up at the end. He'd been looking after his niece.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Last night saw us head off on a bit of on one of our longer/tougher club runs.
Through John Muir, up the Tynninghame road, down by Tynninghame Links then out on to the beach. Down the beach for a bit before having to wade over the Tyne and then across the muddy muscle beds at the other side before heading back through John Muir and back to Hallhill.
A “testing” 12 miles at a relatively brisk pace. Again, the run was actually just under 12 - so Ian and me just ran round the track at Hallhill till the GPS tipped over to 12.
A stunning summers night though. Exactly the sort of weather you want for a run like that. Saw a few other runners out and about as well as loads of dog walkers and families out for a stroll.
We always try to do that run once a year, and this is the earliest I can remember us attempting it. Conditions were perfect as well for the river crossing as the water barely made it to knee level – more often than not it’s lapping about your waist.

Had a premonition though that last night’s run was going to be something like that and the old shoes got packed in the kit bag before I went out.
Could be that the idea of a river crossing in a training run, a few days before the Traprain Law race just appealed to everyone. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it immensely.
Tyne Sands
The run obviously took its toll though. Went out today for a bit of a five miler. Oh dear…the fuel tank was empty and the legs were just not playing by the rules at all. Obviously my small bowl of pasta last night when I got back and my two Weetabix this morning for breakfast were insufficient fuel. Felt crap today.

Monday, 3 June 2013


It's been 160 days since last Christmas.
It's now 205 days till next Christmas...
See? We're not even half way yet.
Which can mean only one thing. yes indeedy..... the [un]civil servants are emailing round the lunch menu for their Christmas "do".
F.F.S. - endless weeks of "I'm starting with praws, then having slamon"etc. etc. and countless discussions about what party frock they are going to wear (and that's just the blokes).
Feck off!!! Not even got my holidays sorted out yet.


Did the Haddington 10k on Saturday.
First time I’ve ever done it – but then again it’s only been going for a few years. I’ve done the previous incarnation a few times (the “Haddington 5” as was) and always enjoyed it.
In fact, it’s very similar to the old five mile race. But where that used to do a loop in an anti-clockwise direction the loop has been slightly extended and now goes clockwise.
As often is the case at Haddington races the weather was really good – nice and sunny but, thankfully, not too hot (this time).
Trying to stop the 2 Edinburgh AC guys catching me!(didn't work)
Photo: Steve Pattison
Started off with a loop and a bit of the park before heading out to the short sharp shock that is the climb over Waterloo Bridge.  Your just starting to get a bit of breath back after the climb up to and over the bridge and your onto Cockmilane Brae – nothing too steep, but just enough to keep you working over your comfort level.
Get to the top and turn right onto a long, long straight that takes you past Colston Mains and over Colston Bridge. Had a couple of runners ahead of me at this point – but no matter how I tried I just couldn’t reel them in. Sadly the two boys, from Edinburgh AC, behind me managed to reel me in no bother! Tried to hang on tto them as they passed me but they slowly pulled away.
Back via Grant’s Brae’s towards Waterloo Bridge again. At the end and you get a nice slight downhill to try and pick the speed up again. Though the turn into the park and the last couple of hundred meters can be a bit cruel.

It was eyeballs out the whole way for me. Never felt comfortable and just tried to push it as hard as I could.
Chuffed with my time (36:08).

Not got a marathon till October this year, so I’ll start to worry about the really long training runs in July or so. Decided yesterday just to do 12 or so on the “trails” through the wind farms and then a bit of a detour through High Wood. The High Wood section was probably a bit of a mistake – jeeze you could just about see the bloody pollen clouds – never mind smell or taste them.