Monthly Archives: September 2009


Definitely the former for the first two miles yesterday. It was hot and I was tired. The dog didn’t say how he was but reading his body language I suspect it was not his best day out ever.

Those people whizzing by in a cooling breeze on beautifully slender bikes were getting some serious green eye from this sweaty red-faced shuffler. I wear a red top sometimes – don’t think that really helps with the overall beetroot effect…

Anyway, somewhere in the unknown territory of 3 miles something happened. A sinewy cyclist whipped by in his head-to-clipped-in-toe “Trek” oufit and I thought

“What a wanker!”

I had re-connected (albeit in my own way) with the simplicity of running. No need for fancy (and expensive) equipment, no need for puncture kits, inner tubes and tools. No need to worry about the wind or the traffic or the holes in the road. The life of a runner is good to go at the drop of a cycle helmet, and for that I am thankful.

Image can be seen @

Image can be seen @

P.S. I only tripped over the dog the once, we managed to stay on our feet and completed the full 4 miles.

Taking myself for a run

I’ve hopped off my bike to train for the Southend 10K Classic two weeks tomorrow.  I’ve left the training a bit late and I haven’t run that far for over 6 years so I am not overflowing with enthusiasm.  Added to that I had a niggle in a calf for a week, some kind of virus and this morning I had a terrible pain in my shoulder blade, so the scant training is even scanter!

I love my bike, apart from when it’s really windy or hilly, and now I am comparing the running experience unfavourably with the joy of cycling, as I thud along the sea front.  I ran with the OH yesterday and he found my fartlek laughable.  He adopted a poker face when I out-kicked him at the finish, declaring that I was clearly a lazy cow who had been idling on the run and saving my effort to show off at the end!  In my defence, I can’t yet judge my pace so am probably running quite conservatively, plus I was “testing” the calf after the week off. 

Anyway, with 1500 runners on the sea-front in a fortnight it will be a 10K shuffle for me, and I can’t say I’m too sorry.  Roll on the triathlon in 2010!

No need for speed when you can have an ice-cream instead

No need for speed when you can have an ice-cream instead

Taking a dog for a run

My dog is multi-skilled but his great talent lies in running, bear fast (as the kids say), usually in an anti-clockwise oval shape at about 20 m.p.h. until he’s knackered – which doesn’t take very long.

The last time I ran a 10K I trained with my old dog (“the one true pet” as I like to call him now he is no longer alive to remind me constantly of all his troublesome ways) Senna.  Training with him kept me honest, it gives you the distraction I so badly need and he could lickety-split along with me until I collapsed, and then go again in his youth.  None of this comatose business on the sofa we get from mark 3.  (Mark 2 is marvellous veteran of a collie cross persuasion and he was a great running companion too but he didn’t like the kids – he now lives the life of a stockbroking dog with my one true friend).

Anyway, I can clearly track my stopping running to when Senna’s heart started to give out and we couldn’t run too far any more.  I didn’t like going out without him frankly, it was boring, somewhat disloyal and reminded me that we didn’t have him forever.  We had him for 12 and a half years (which was good for a dog of his size) and he has been gone for two now.  Rudi has not stepped into his paws in many ways – and rightly so – he is his own dog.  Just lately though the blonde one has appeared a little more sensible, a little more mindful of the bond between dog and mistress, a little more like the one true pet.

So, after a few disastrous attempts some while ago, I am planning today to give him another whirl in the runningwhilstonaleadattachedtoyourowner department.  Previous attempts have resembled me being attached to a dog in a giant catapult, hazardous and impossible to establish any cadence.  The reason for the renewed effort is that today I have to step up in trip – 4 miles in fact – and that will be both hard and boring and bringing along a flighty sort will be a livener.  Either that or I will trip over him and we will both look a pair of plonkers.

Senna in our old flat

Senna in our old flat

“Taking a line for a walk”

Twittering Machine Paul Klee

"Twittering Machine" Paul Klee


That was what the artist Paul Klee said his artistic process was like.

This morning in the 21st Century surrounded by twitters, blogs and machines he seems like a profound visionary.

Makemeadiva Misfits – the bottom quarter

Does anyone remember this game from the 1960s – I used to play it quite happily in my 1970s childhood.

This post is about shoes, apologies if you were hoping it was about a blogger’s bum! It sprung to mind this morning because in my misfit life my feet only seem to have two misfit cards – Brazilian flip-flops or Celtic boots – and the problem with that is it is in-betweeny weather down here.  Neither one thing or the other.  A hard-core sandal-wearing friend of mine got seriously caught out when it pissed it down all day on Tuesday.  I had gone for the boot option, but there is something very wrong with boots in mid-September.

So I want a new Misfit card for my feet – one with shoes.  Me and shoes don’t really get on too well.  Or is that shoes and I?  I could check but I am sure someone in my “family circle” (see the Misfits box) will set me straight (thanks in advance :-)).

I can’t do shoes with heels for long and cheap shoes are crippling.  So I end up looking at European leather numbers that verge dangerously towards the Mrs Pepperpot school of footwear.  If I get it wrong, I know I will be roundly condemned by the in-house family circle with the question :

“And what’ve you come dressed as?” 

I have a beloved pair of Spanish pumps that I still wear, despite the  holes.  However, even literacy tutors (especially literacy tutors!) can’t turn up more than once or twice in flip-flops (Monday evening) or Spanish holed leather (desperately tempted Wednesday).

I blame the “Raggle-Taggle Gypsies” myself.

Sensible shoes

Sensible shoes

Old Bags

To keep me company whilst I work on becoming one myself (my children may have a different take on my progression) I keep a selection of old bags all over the house. I have them in the kitchen, the dining room, the garden shed, the landing, the porch and in the car. All in aid of not being unmasked as a heretic in the placky bag department when at a checkout.

“Do you want a bag with that?”

“No” I can say brightly “I’ve brought my own”

Except for a long time I didn’t. I would forget. I would shop on the spur of the moment and get caught short, bagless and be forced to accept and/or pay for a new bag to join the colony back at the crib. As a result, I have bags with ladybirds, flowers, “Roys” which enjoys a certain rep in the Broads (don’t ask if you’ve not been to Wroxham), a tree of life bag, rather a lot of Co-op bottle bags, Recycle for Southend bags, Waitrose bags for life which look knackered after a shop, a bag with elephants on (Indian, British Museum exhibition), a Morrisons bag with rosy apples, a Tesco bag in blue (I forget the motif) – I could go on but I won’t. Thank me later.

So when the kids came home (real thanks to Mary :-))with a string bag for me I did not hold out great hopes for it, but it has been a revelation.

It dwells without demur in my real handbag (I had taken to going out with only a black Tesco “Finest” number in desperation) and pops out eagerly to contain vast quantities of heavy shopping. I love it. Buy one!!!

Not this small, but perfectly formed

Not this small, but perfectly formed

He’s gonna “say the words”


I love you!
That the world is flat
That God doesn’t exist
That oil is going to run out next week…
or perhaps
Marry Me?

No, apparently, and according to the news last night and this morning Gordon Brown, Labour Prime Minister, is going to say the words:- “public spending cuts”.

We are also told today, the first anniversary of Lehman Brothers collapse, that we must never let another bank fail. Maybe I am simple folk but we will be taking money away from our services in the future having propped up the banking system last year and although I have listened to a lot of explanations as to why this had to be so – I am still not feeling it.

Allowing such a powerful section of society to fall on its knees at the temple of Mammon and our fundamentally not understanding how it works (and why should we, as they sliced and diced to minimise their risk which they weren’t underwriting themselves anyway!) has come round to bite us badly in our collective bum.

Reportedly first to go is the extension of maternity pay from 9 months to a year, although parents may now have a choice as to who can take the leave (and pay). What will be next is anyone’s guess although the benefit bill will surely be re-crunched. I’m not saying that all cuts are necessarily bad, being a lean and mean governing machine is in all our interests surely given the mind-boggling amount of UK debt. I will confess though to a selfish thought as I wonder what impact it might have on our good ship as we work respectively in housing and adult education…

The Lib Dems reckon they can make the necessary savings without cutting front line services – that’s going to be interesting. I don’t know why I have bothered mentioning them though, if David Cameron is not nailed on to end up in No. 10 at the next election, then I am going to eat my laptop; possibly a more palatable meal than the “words” Gordon will be eating this afternoon.

The Worship of Mammon - Evelyn de Morgan

"The Worship of Mammon" - Evelyn de Morgan

A Ride of Foulness

Actually, it wasn’t all foul, although the cross headwind on the way out was. I was cycling on Foulness Island this morning, the fourth largest island off England (yes) and the largest of the Essex Islands (yes there are others!). It’s bleak place for sure, very flat and completely windswept with few trees or hedges. Not that this bothers QinetiQ, the contractors who manage the munitions testing facility for the MOD, who still own most of the land. You can’t get on the island normally, this was only my second visit, the first was for a ploughing match a few years ago. Access is tightly controlled by QinetiQ and there about 200 residents of whom some must farm and others, well there’s no polite way of putting this, must slowly be dying of boredom.

So mysterious is Foulness that if you try to work out your mileage from your house to the village of Churchend on the island, you won’t be able to. You won’t be able to view a snap on Google Earth either… Suspicions have been aired that the powers that be want, eventually, to have the whole place to themselves to make merry with munitions on Maplin Sands amongst the avocets and Brent Geese. I don’t know about that but I can tell you there will be no pictures of today’s ride due to tight security.

Shame really, as I roasted all the sunday cyclists on my beast 😉

Time trials here we come…

Avocet on Another (Accessible) Essex Island

Avocet on Another (Accessible) Essex Island

Another St Leger Preview – because they’ve been watering and I’m wavering!

Apparently Town Moor was riding firm with a loose top yesterday, loose ground is my pet hate.  It gives the impression of one thing but the horses are feeling quite another.  Presumably the clerk is watering to keep the Classic field intact.  He is certainly not putting enough on to effect any change in the going.  Some trainers hate courses watering, believing it to be to the detriment of the turf in the long run.  The thinking is that light, regular watering (unlike rain deluges) encourage short root growth eventually compromising the durability of the grass.  Sounds plausible to me, but I am no expert.  I only know I don’t much like the top coming off.

I watched the Morning Line this morning, I’ve not watched in months but I needed some insight for the Ledge.  I didn’t get any really 😦  We did have Peter Chapple-Hyam on though and he was pretty interesting.  He still doesn’t seem convinced about his horse, Monitor Closely.  He also seemed pretty nervous and admitted as much.  That said, he looks to live on his nerves.  I stood next to him a few seasons back at the Craven meeting where he had nice little 2yo colt running.  He was fagging it like a good ‘un and twitching like a villain (which he isn’t!).  In the end the horse didn’t load which may have accounted for his nerves but he does look like he suffers.  Which would make you more nervous though; appearing on the Morning Line, fielding a horse that might win, or running a horse that won’t?

I also like Monitor Closely!  I like his white face (apparently the owner’s prerequisite for purchase!).  I like his sire, Oasis Dream, and having seen again his last win I like his style.  There is also the issue of sire stats.  Oasis Dream’s progeny actually post their highest win to run ratio between 12-13f where the figure is a staggering 25%.  At the sprint distances, where he is anecdotally prepotent, his progeny post a (still impressive) 17%.  Fair enough, we are going 14f today but Monitor Closely didn’t look like he was stopping “that day” (to borrow from Emma Spencer) and he led from 1f out, which most of us would consider is doing it the hard way.

I wonder if the white face wins it?

So, that’s it.  Mastery already backed e/w and soon to be joined by Monitor Closely.

Monitor Closely @ York (Mastery behind)

Monitor Closely @ York (Mastery behind)

I also need to wish Yeats all the best for his turn round the soggy Curragh in the St Leger this afternoon.  The trip and ground are all against him but there will never be a more popular winner welcomed back if he wins this afternoon in his last Irish race.  I hope he wins, but there are dangers lurking in the royal blue, the Aga’s green and red and in the mare going to Melbourne.

Good luck Yeats!

Yeats @ Ascot

Yeats @ Ascot

St Leger Preview

As there are so few in the field for tomorrow’s oldest classic race I can indulge myself by listing them in market order.

Kite Wood – nice horse, as Lester would say, but they are concerned about the ground for him and I would agree with them. A furlong further than he went at Newbury on fast ground might be his undoing.

ChangingoftheGuard  – as I type the AOB runner is joint favourite with Kite Wood.  Not keen on this son of Montjeu personally but money may talk… 

Monitor Closely – don’t forget to do just that with Changingoftheguard’s price!  Of this Oasis Dream’s colts chances I am not entirely convinced and I don’t think the trainer is either.  Supplemented at a cost of £45,000 at the 5 day stage, one gets the feeling that although the owner has readily coughed up, the trainer would not have been so hasty.

Father Time – I respect Henry’s runners wherever, whenever they run but the stable has said they are concerned about the ground.  On a line of form through the non-runner who headed the ante-post market, Age of Aquarius, it would be a foolish punter who dismissed his chances entirely.  Available at 5/1 now.

Mourayan – another who would like a softer playing field.  He should get this new trip alright, but the concern about fast going should temper too much enthusiasm.

Mastery – I have got a liking for this one.  The only one who has his ground and not acres to find on the principals but a bit, granted.  Simon Crisford, Godolphin’s racing manager, says he has a good each-way chance and although he has now stolen MY thunder I will agree 😉  When I began this he was available with at least one firm at 20/1, now a best-priced 14/1.   I think there will be a lot of e/w money on this tomorrow so I will be after backing it now!!!

Above Average – this Hills runner is probably below the average ability needed to win this race.

Von Jawlensky – who?

My main interests are in Mastery, Kite Wood and Father Time.  I will back Mastery e/w tonight and sleep on the rest. 

I presume that the last horse Von Jawlensky will make the pace so they won’t dawdle which won’t benefit Monitor Closely.  Both the Ballydoyle’s entrants are by Montjeu who often like a bit of juice, this doesn’t mean they won’t go on the ground (remember Hurricane Run) but I couldn’t have it tomorrow.

The great Nijinsky, our last Triple Crown winner

The great Nijinsky, our last Triple Crown winner