Xmas Time

Well I’ve not done a lot over the Xmas break so far and I’m not planning on doing much with my remaining week off work. I seem to be tired – as in don’t want to get out of bed before 8am tired – and suspect body and mind are doing some healthy catch-up on sleep lost to my frozen shoulder and early work start over the year.

With the Brighton Half less than 2 months away and it being a targeted Vegan Runners UK event I thought it about time I made myself a training plan. All things considered I’ll be happy with a reasonably dignified finish under 2 hours but I do need to build up the distance a bit to even manage that. Yesterday’s attempt at a decent parkrun – no beer the night before and up at 6:30 for breakfast – was a total flop as my determination gave way under the strain of a chilly breeze and a moaning shoulder. 27:29, 63rd of 101, is my worst for a while but at least I didn’t put a lot of effort in so hopefully will be able to struggle round todays planned 10 miler ok. I did receive my red 50 parkrun shirt so was worth turning up for that 🙂

parkrun 50 shirtI rashly entered myself for the Oxfordshire Cross Country Championships first weekend of January again as part of a club effort to target various ones across the country. Oddly ours is just over the Warwickshire border in Warmington near Banbury. Maybe I’ll be last this year – I’ve no idea what the course will be like but at least by driving there I get a chance to warm-up probable wet feet instead of taking them home on the bike.

What else have I done? A couple of very short spins out on the road bike which feels very precarious but doesn’t seem too uncomfy shoulderwise so something to build on. Lots of food and beer. Too much playing with the computer and websites – I now seem to be looking after both VRUK and VC&AC websites which is not a problem but I have to avoid getting obsessed with detail and stuck in this chair too long.

Oh and entertaining the cats who are not so keen on going outside for exercise at the moment. Mostly I sit about with them while Jane indulges them with sessions of string play (or is that the other way round).

Honey String Dec 2013 Molly String Dec 2013


OX5 Run 2013

It was a sign of my diminishing fitness that I wasn’t much looking forward to cycling all the way out to Woodstock and back – a round trip of 24 miles – to run the OX5 Run at Blenhiem Palace. A few years ago I would happily cycle there just to the start of a 200k Audax, 12 years ago my 4 times a week commute was longer than that. Oh well!

Anyway the forecast said it would be cold and what with an increasing 15 mph north-easterly wind gusting to 30+ it would feel even colder. I wrapped up well for the ride out, getting quite toasty with the effort and all my layers and overshoes and winter hat and gloves on. The traffic was backed up to the Bladon roundabout and struggling to park in muddy fields so I congratulated myself for bothering to cycle. I’d allowed 30 minutes to orientate myself, peel off my layers and have a warm-up jog. I watched the official Zumba warm-up again but wasn’t tempted though a bit of music was nice.

It was so cold in that wind though. Soon enough I was back at my bike putting everything back on again I was that cold. My frozen shoulder throbbed through the layers of painkillers as it doesn’t like being double frozen. I wandered further into the Blenhiem estate to shelter behind a hedge and found Stuart, Phil and a couple of other IWCA members also tucking themselves away out of the wind. I chatted with other familiar local faces then wandered back towards my bike in time to hear the start had been delayed 30 minutes to allow the cars to park. The forecast had said it would feel even colder as the wind increased and it was dead right. I considered just getting on my bike and riding home, why I didn’t go in the cafe and have a cuppa I don’t know.

11am and at last we were off at last to the sound of an air-horn wielded by Raymond Blanc. My VRUK vest invisible beneath a fleece I decided to keep wearing though I did strip down to shorts. It was great to get going but the start was total chaos as many first timers were understandably confused which direction we were to start in and their efforts to get near the back put them right near the front. I started halfway down the field and spent much of the first, and consequently slowest, mile passing walkers and runners while faster runners passed me in turn.

There was some great fancy dress and teams of charity runners and the course is through some pretty parkland so soon enough I was warming up and glad to be there. I felt slow though and didn’t plan to push myself so just enjoyed the run, I was far enough back not to be passed by all and sundry. We went north round the lake then turned south for a bit of tailwind back towards the palace. Then continued round the lake past a gate with a ‘Please Close Gate’ notice we had laughed at when walking here at Xmas, the message made more sense now as it was attached to fencing.

Blenheim gate

‘Please Close Gate’ sometime around Xmas

Then up a short hill which felt like a big hill followed by a good descent through woodland, all on smooth paths, and a last down then up to cross the Glyme – this last bit straight into that wind. I was glad to finish and my 44:43 was as good as expected despite being almost 7 minutes slower than last time I ran the OX5 in 2011. I was 309th of 958 runners – the great thing about these fun runs is you can be slow and still finish in the first half. The ride back was exhausting and I foolishly failed to refuel properly so bonked pretty thoroughly. Glad I did it though and have just entered yet another March charity run – The Resolution Run 10k trail race up Shotover where I’d no doubt have been running anyway on the 24th 🙂

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Honey and Molly

11am Saturday 12th January and I was in Jane’s car on my way to the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary to pick up the new girls. Jane was off on an Isis bike ride for the morning but I had one cat basket and the promise of a loan of another, the sitting room was all set up to be their home while they acclimatised – Jane had got various toys and mats and boxes to hide in for them to ignore – so I wasn’t expecting too much trouble.

I waited in the sanctuary office for them to be brought round from their pen to be micro-chipped. It was a beautiful chaos in there with 2 of the cutest puppies rolling about the floor and an older dog who seemed in danger of falling off the table complete with bedding. Honey and Molly arrived sharing a basket while I handed over the required donation and signed forms saying we’d look after them well. Just before the chap who injects the chips did the deed he decided to give Honey a quick scan ‘just in case’ – sure enough she was already chipped, the records were wrong, we just needed to be registered as the new owners. I was also given their ‘health record’ cards and a quick look at Molly’s suggested she was 8 years old not 6 as thought. Meanwhile Molly decided to make a dash for the back of some shelving resulting in a lot of furniture moving to get her in the basket.

So Molly in our wicker basket, Honey in a plastic one, both strapped to the back-seat with the seatbelts, and we were on our way to their new home with us. Molly made a lot of fuss, I think she really didn’t like the noise and vibration, while Honey just sat patiently. All went quiet on the way into Blackbird Leys and I looked in the rear view mirror to see escapee Molly standing on the back of the rear seat looking wide-eyed, she got in the boot so I carried on but then she appeared in the front passenger foot-well so I turned into a side road and stopped. She got up on the dashboard and gave me a dirty look. I decided to give her a few minutes to calm down then got her back in the basket securing the bit of door she’d squeezed out of with the carry strap from my phone case. We continued safely home with her basket in the passenger foot-well from which a paw would emerge every now again to have a swipe at the gear lever.

  Dashboard Molly 2At home I left them alone in the sitting room for a bit to sniff around and unwind. Another look at their cards revealed that Honey was in fact Charlie, at least it said she was a neutered female. A phone call came early the next week to explain we’d been given the wrong cards, someone kindly came and swapped them so now Honey and Molly turn out to be just turned 6 years old.

Honey settled in quickly and was eating and demanding fuss not long after arriving. Molly was frightened and probably stressed out by her 2 failed breaks for freedom and hid under the sideboard and later behind the speaker in the corner. Honey, out of sisterly affection, or maybe because she didn’t want to be left out, joined her for some of the time.

Molly's CaveShy SistersLater on Saturday, as Jane was cooking, there was a smell – a bad smell. Molly darted out from behind the speaker and went back under the sideboard. I got the job of cleaning up the cat diarrhoea from the skirting board and, fortunately ancient, carpet. The extension lead was beyond hope – I threw it away and replaced it after wiping the mess from the plugs. I’m glad she didn’t pee on it and electrocute herself, not an eventuality we’d planned for. Since that one incident they have both been the cleanest cats imaginable using their trays and not throwing spare litter all over the place.

Ten days later and Molly is still very timid but a very pushy side of her character is beginning to show itself. She doesn’t want to sit on a lap but likes to wander on the back of the chair behind Jane rubbing heads, demanding strokes and trying to steal food and drink. Then she’ll panic at a noise and run upstairs to hide under the bed (or it’s covers). I think she’s coming round, she’s certainly developed a healthy appetite after a couple of days of not eating.

Molly ExploresMolly gets out of bedHoney is much more forward. Always after a knee to sit on, following me round to perch on my keyboard, sleeping on the bed, and generally being a people cat. We put a bit of catnip on a scratching mat and she was playing with the attached mouse like an excited kitten. Jane’s given them a pot with some grass from the garden planted in as they are supposed to need it to help their digestion and prevent fur-balls, they both enjoy a nibble of that. They’re lovely – the house has seemed a bit empty without a cat since we lost Lala and we’re pleased to be able to give the sisters a home and I think they’re pleased to be here.

Playing Catnip MouseyHoney being CuteCats on Knees


Honey and Molly’s Photos

Honey Pot.jpg
Rolling In The Sun.jpg
Molly in her Bush.jpg
Sunny Honey.jpg