Yesterday saw me perform my first official stint as Run Director at Gravesend junior parkrun.

The day dawned grey but not too chilly and with no bracing riverside wind in evidence.  As the start time approached, adults and children began to congregate in front of the cafe where we meet.  But by 9.20am we were still a bit light on marshals and with junior parkrun, the event can’t go ahead without sufficient marshals.  By this point, any adult approaching me was greeted with a “yes please” as I assumed they were about to offer their volunteering services.  They could just have been about to ask what time the run started but they suddenly found themselves with a whistle, a foam hand and adorned in a yellow hi viz jacket.

I think I may have mentioned before my dread of “public speaking”.  So how do you face your fears?  Stand up in front of 49 children and associated adults with a megaphone – yeah!  In the end, the run brief wasn’t as tortuous as I’d expected and on reflection was probably the easiest part of my responsibilities that day.  So run brief, wristband distribution and warm up done, the children rushed to the start area and then they were off!

Getting down with the kids!

Getting down with the kids!

Ready, steady ....

Ready, steady ….





I didn’t actually see anyone cross the finish line as word got to me of a twisted ankle at the furthest point of the course.  So I abandoned the finish funnel and hot footed it across to the other side of the park, just stopping to pick up the first aid kit en route.  I like to think of this as my “Baywatch” moment, dropping everything to rescue a child.  Although Pamela Anderson I aint!  Middle aged woman in jeans and a hi viz jacket with no chest doesn’t quite fit the bill!  Although I do have a red swimsuit 🙂

Anyway, I dashed through the park, knocking runners left, right and centre (only joking!), I could see the marshal on the gates waving frantically.  Oh goodness, what was I going to find?

Well actually, nothing!  The runner with the twisted ankle had sat down for a few minutes, then seen his mate coming and decided to run off with him!  Grrrrh!  Being a responsible adult (?), I thought I’d better get back to the finish area as soon as possible to make sure he was alright.  I ran back, encouraging another small child in her attempts as I passed her by, only to find no sign of anybody limping when I scoured the area.  And nobody seemed to be aware of any problems when I made enquiries.  Oh well!!

But during my absence, another child had tripped and scrapped their knee at the finish area and would probably have benefited from the contents of the first aid kit.  Unfortunately, it was on its travels with me.  Apparently said runner was declared fine by his mother so all was seemingly well.

After the final finisher had crossed the line and as marshals started to arrive back from the far flung corners of the course, I discovered that only one of the timer watches was useable for results processing.  This is not a problem, and this is why you have a back up timer, so hopefully there is always one timer containing an accurate set of results.  I myself have been guilty on a number of occasions of pressing wrong buttons so I wasn’t unduly worried!

This is definitely not a problem, unless of course you are me!  To avoid confusion, the valid watch was hung around my neck for safe keeping.  However, during the walk back to my car, the watch must have got knocked and re-started itself!  OMG, time to panic.  Would this wipe out the only set of recorded results?  How would I explain away no results?  Would I have to make up times?

The three mile journey home to process the results was tortuous.  Made worse by the fact that when I eventually got home and turned on the laptop, Windows had decided it was time to “install updates”!  Aaaargh, it took FOREVER!  Fortunately, once everything was downloaded, the official results were still there and all was okay.  Hopefully the children were none the wiser.

But by the end of yesterday, I needed a lie down and next week I’ve put myself down to volunteer for an easier role!


A Postcard from Cornwall and A Brave New World!

Three weeks ago, I spent the weekend driving up and down the east coast of England to take part in the Great North Run.  The following weekend I drove along the south coast of England almost from one end to the other (Kent to Cornwall), when I went on my “holidays”. 🙂

This was my first holiday in nearly five years (as I didn’t tire of telling everyone!).  The last one was spent in the Maldives “celebrating” my rapidly approaching fiftieth birthday.  The Maldives – a series of islands in the Indian Ocean which are under threat from global warming and rising sea levels, and therefore a place to see “before you die” or they disappear.  Unfortunately, you have to take a plane to reach the Maldives and therefore contribute towards the same global warming.  (Let’s not get into the argument about whether or not global warming exists!)

It seems rather ironic therefore that I should spend my next holiday at a luxury eco hotel and spa where they do their utmost to reduce their impact on the environment.  The said hotel and spa, The Scarlet, was mentioned to me by a former client who’d stayed there several times.  Her tales of open plan bathrooms and the relaxed atmosphere obviously stayed with me because when I started to consider a spa break, this was the first place I thought of.  Perhaps because it’s built on the side of a cliff and has a fantastic view of Mawgan Porth Beach it would seem more like a holiday.  I wont mention the number of photos I have of this particular view, suffice it to say whether taken during the day or at sunset, it is certainly awe inspiring!  Little reading was done during this break, it seemed such a waste when I could just watch the sea in all its glory.  Shame to say I didn’t make any of the 8.00am yoga classes because I was too busy sitting in bed, bewitched by the movement of the tide!  It truly was mesmerising.





The only negative about this holiday was having to come home!

Rather than bore you with a blow by blow account of my holiday, these are a few of my favourite moments/thoughts/experiences.

  • Luxury hotel/spa – definitely, but never “in your face” luxury that made you feel uncomfortable or with staff who looked down their noses at you. The hotel staff/therapists could not have been more welcoming, helpful or approachable.  Never did you feel that they were just “doing their jobs”.  I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of the spa staff wandered around in bare feet which I loved.  Fancy being able to go about your job without shoes – bliss!
  • Food – delicious and I ate so much crab I shall be running all my races sideways in future.
  • Drink – yes, I did have alcohol on my spa break and I’m really looking forward to imbibing another “Taste of the Sea Martini” (with seaweed infused gin) at some point in the future. Also, Cornish white wine, Madeleine Angevine 2013/14 from the Knightor Winery near St Austell was unlike any other English wine I’ve ever tasted (in a good way!).
  • I loved the fact the hotel has its own dog, Jasper. (Guests dogs are also allowed to stay.) His photo suggested Jasper was possibly of greyhound extraction (I’m not very good with dog breeds!) but as he has a “walkies” rota whereby guests can put their names down to take him out, it could be that Jasper started the season as a Labrador and has been walked to within an inch of his life 😉


  • When laying on the heated marble table during my Hammam treatment, all I could see was a mortuary table with its plug hole at one end and draining ridge around the edge (been watching Silent Witness for too long – other murder mysteries are available). This did not, however, detract from the experience!
So, I have a vivid imagination!

So, I have a vivid imagination!

  • Sitting in a cliff top hot tub sipping champagne as I saw the rain coming in across the Atlantic! Fortunately, it didn’t reach us until just before the end of our hot tub session and an hour later I was sunbathing on my balcony!
View from a cliff top hot tub ;-)

View from a cliff top hot tub 😉

The more appropriate view!

The more appropriate view!

  • There is no television service at The Scarlet. There is of course wifi and you can borrow DVDs from reception but no television and I didn’t miss that at all.  (There’s also no mobile signal unless you go and stand at the top of the cliff or as I discovered one morning, walk out to the sea at low tide!)

These are just a few of the highs from my holiday but there were plenty more!

As a result of all this relaxation, very little exercise was performed during my break apart from a 4 mile coastal walk to see the Bedruthan Steps.  I was quite impressed by the fact I managed this feat.  Not the distance of course but because I don’t like heights and this was a cliff top stroll!

Bedruthan Steps

Bedruthan Steps

So in conclusion, if you were to offer me two weeks at the most exclusive Maldivian resort or four days at The Scarlet, I’d be heading back to Cornwall!

(Anyone wishing to read The Scarlet’s sustainability policy can find it here )

As with most holidays, coming back to normality was a struggle.  Not a lot of running has been done since, which is a bit of a worry because I have my next run in less than a week’s time – the Givaudan Ashford 10k.  This will be my fifth participation and fingers are crossed that it wont be raining as much as in 2013 when I last partook, although the forecast was not too promising when I last looked!  To that end, yesterday morning I decided to get in the right mindset and possibly for the first time ever, I actually left my house for a run when it was raining.  Okay, it was only a light drizzle and fortunately it didn’t fulfill the forecaster’s predictions (quelle surprise!) but it was a first, which could be just as well.

Because you see, this month marks a momentous occasion.  At the end of the month, my gym membership will expire and for the first time in over 15 years I will be gym-less!  The timing isn’t particularly great as we enter the winter months.  I wont be able to retire to the “safety” of a dry, air conditioned gym if the weather outside is not exactly enticing.  But perhaps if I can get through the cold and wet, it will mean the summer will be a breeze!?  My decision was principally made because at best I was using the gym once, maybe twice a week, some weeks not at all and this made it an extremely expensive luxury.

So the decision has been made and alternative plans are in hand.  I just need to make them part of a structured routine.  Aerobic/cardiovascular exercise should initially be covered by my running, with flexibility and strength through my yoga class attendance.  Resistance/weight training will hopefully be met by the fact I have brought some of my “work” dumbbells into the house and I am planning on putting them to good use.  In fact I started yesterday after my run to make sure this becomes part of my routine before I have no choice.  I’m not sure what other plans I’ll make but I do have Cyclopark up the road so I can use their cycle/elliptigo facilities if I get bored.  They also do various drop in gym classes so that’s another option.  Outdoor swimming, alas, is going to have to wait until next spring.  One thing I did learn in Cornwall, it’s far too cold for me to go back in the lake this side of Christmas, even with a wetsuit.

It’s going to be a brave new world in terms of my exercise routine but let’s see how it goes!

And just a few more shots from my holiday 😉