Friday, 16 April 2021

More Cornish Ramblings...


Yesterday started out in St Ives - a beautiful little town we always try to visit when we’re down this way. The best way to arrive is by train, it basically makes you feel as though you’re stepping into an Enid Blyton story  - not really doable this time sadly. This time we discovered a Farmers market - always a good thing, as they often sell things like beer, cheese and millionaires shortbread (guess what we bought?!) and also a rather wonderful off license which as well as some more nice beer, also turned out to stock one of my favourite gins - Curio. 

On the way back up the hill to the car we spotted this rather fabulous mural...

...and even more fabulously the owner of the building saw me photographing it and came out to tell us the story of it - what a treat! We then called in for a wander at RSPB Hayle Estuary - a reserve we visited briefly last time we were down this way but didn’t have time for more than a quick look. It is impacted quite badly by being dissected by a quite busy road but still we enjoyed it. 

From there it was on to an essential part of any Cornish visit, for us - 

Yes, Padstow and fish and chips from Steins chippy. My parents discovered quite how good this little gem  is many years ago when they were down here, and no Cornish adventure is complete without a visit there, now. Fractionally more expensive than the average, it’s well worth it  as invariably the quality is superb, and this time was no exception. Eaten, as ever, sitting on the harbour side - perfect! 

And finally a walk along the banks of the River Camel before heading off. Another lovely day, albeit another also with rather more walking than my poorly foot is entirely happy with. So far since Monday I have averaged about 11miles walking a day! Next week had better be considerably less active I think! 


Thursday, 15 April 2021

A room (house!) with a view...

 On Sunday we packed up the car and, early in the evening, left to drive the 300+ miles down to Cornwall where we had, several months previously, booked a stay in the hope that lockdown would be sufficiently eased by now to allow us to take it. Originally booked to start on the 10th, we had to cancel the first two days as the easing to allow stays away from home wasn’t in place until Monday, however the chap we’re letting the house from kindly agreed that we could get in here for just after 00.00hrs on Monday in order to maximise the time we still had while still staying firmly within what the law allows. 

Obviously we arrived in the dark, but on getting up on Monday morning “proper” this was the view that greeted us...

Pretty stunning, eh? It’s SUCH an amazing view it’s actually quite hard to tear yourself away from it - and indeed that was one of the considerations when I booked, that if we did have dodgy weather and wanted to be outside less then at least we’d still have plenty to look at from the house. In fact the weather so far has been superb, and exploring aplenty has happened! 

We’ve been to Cornwall a few times before - I holidayed here as a child with Auntie D & Uncle B, and MrEH and I have camped at a rather glorious site near Camborne several times. I of course also spent a night at Lands End whenI took part in the inaugural LighthouseRun road rally back in 2004 (?) but one of my favourite spots in the county is undoubtedly even further south, at Lizard Point. The ruined boathouse in the picture above, and probability of seeing the lovely Cornish Chough, and the fact that it is the most southerly point on the U.K. mainland (and that it is generally FAR quieter than the better known Lands End with its hotel and “end to end” connections) all combine to make it somewhere that if down here I always try to visit. 

Tuesday saw a trip to Truro which included a walk along a disused railway line overlooking the river, and then a second walk at Goonhilly Downs NNR - a landscape almost Hebridean in type, with gorse, heather and heathland. Very familiar but also very different as it is almost completely flat, and also peppered with remains of old WWII buildings and installations. A really interesting place to explore! 

Right now breakfast beckons, so I’ll leave you with that taster of our first couple of days (and for those wondering, yes we most certainly HAVE made it back into a pub or two already!) and will post again later on or tomorrow with a few more pictures. For now though, I’ll leave you with another shot from the “House with a view” 


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

First steps...

 Couch to 5K - week one, run 2. Run 1 happened last week. The foot is...improving, but not yet fixed, however, I reached the conclusion that not running wasn’t actually making it improve any faster. Things that *were* making it improve faster were less total mileage, more foam rolling, and anti inflammatory gel. So a plan was formed. Reduce my walking on weekdays - I’d been doing anything up to 8 miles most days and even more sometimes, so that needed to come down. The foam rolling is painful but necessary. The anti inflammatory gel 3 times a day is by far the easiest part of this whole procedure! 

Last Tuesday morning I put on my comfiest, most cushioned running shoes (yes, of course I have several different pairs - ask another runner, they’ll explain!) started the C25K app, and reminded myself that the plan here relies on me sticking to the plan. That means only running when the app tells me to run, and keeping the pace slow on those intervals. It also, at the moment, means slowing things down rather overall - the programme usually relies on 3 runs per week but at the moment I plan to cap it at a maximum of 2. Eventually I’d like to get back to a more consistent, regular pattern, but for now it’s about building things back slowly and being prepared to step back again if things with my foot seem to be getting any worse again. 

This morning I walked three miles with MrEH, then came back, switched shoes and got out there for run 2. I opted for trail shoes this time as I was planning my route to be through the woods and round the field - but those are also less cushioned and proved to be a bit of a mistake. I also assumed that the more uneven paths through the woods would help with the slower pace thing. Ummm. No, not so much - that still needs work. It WAS way more fun than just running round the roads though, so until I can get a bit further afield a bit of mud clogging up my road shoes and needing to keep a close eye on my watch for pace is stuff I’ll happily put up with. 

At the moment, it’s hard work. Really hard. You lose running level cardio fitness quite fast when you can’t run, and my last run was Christmas Day. It also builds back again quite fast though, so I know it will get better. I’ve also run the programme before of course, so I know that if you stick to it it works - although my reduced number of runs are very likely going to mean some repeated weeks, but that’s fine too. Slow and steady - no speedwork, no long runs, stay patient and do the work. Just being back out there again is beyond brilliant though - being injured sucks, particularly at a point where you REALLY need running for it’s mental health benefits. And even when it feels tough, those benefits are still very much there. And THAT is why doing the work will be worth it! 


Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Signs of a new optimism...

Something we have realised just recently is that over the last year we seem to have seen a lot more wildflowers - during the first lockdown last year of course areas that would usually be mown regularly were left to grow meaning things like the Speedwell in the lawn outside suddenly made its presence felt far more than usual. 

This time of year is always beautiful with the vibrant green of spring appearing everywhere - the willows in particular are looking wonderful just now, giving an almost lime-green tinge to great areas of the countryside.

Everywhere you look too, buds are breaking. The Blackthorn near here having been a riot of frothy white blossom just a week or so ago is now dropping the petals in great drifts, while all the tree’s energy seems to suddenly be going to producing leaves instead - and incredible metamorphosis!

We saw the first bluebells of the year at the weekend - native ones too rather than the pervasive Spanish invaders. It always feels like spring has properly arrived when the bluebells appear - although the sub-zero temperatures overnight and the snow flurries we’ve had do seem to suggest otherwise! The Hebrides had quite a sprinkling of snow this morning and while it didn’t last long I gather it did leave the landscape looking more winter than springlike!

One plant that seems to have thoroughly taken off around here over the past few years are these beautiful little violets - always seen occasionally, there are now great carpets of them on many of our road verges, in every colour from a deep, rich purple right through varying degrees of paleness to pure white. 

 Are there actually more wildflowers this year than usual or are we just seeing them more because we’re looking for the bright cheerful signs of optimism - confirmation that the changing seasons might hopefully bring a bit more of a return to normal? I’m sure someone knows the answer - I just hope that in future years we remember to notice them just as much! 


Monday, 5 April 2021

Long weekends and good news..

 Four lovely days of feeling absolutely no pressure to be productive - it doesn’t get much better than that right now! I’ve never been someone who lives for weekends and has a sinking feeling of impending doom on Sunday nights, well aside from a couple of years in a truly toxic job shortly before I got out of the construction industry anyway. Recently though I’ve really started to empathise with the people for who that is just standard, as it has got increasingly harder to fill weekdays. The good news from today though - notably that English lockdown easing continues as scheduled - means that our upcoming planned trip to Cornwall  can definitely now go ahead which is great news for us! 

I’ve actually really enjoyed this weekend - it’s a rare year when we are at home over Easter, and last year lockdown was still too new and raw, alongside the fact that we would otherwise  have been on Lundy celebrating a pal’s birthday - to truly appreciate the novelty of 4 days empty to fill as we wish. 

Among other things done, we’ve bought the plants for the pots that live on the two balconies, and got those planted up - still a few things to find homes for, but first we need to hope they will all survive the frost expected tonight! 

We also got some nice views of the Thames from the RSPB reserve at Rainham - the reserve still has the one way system in place so instead of going right round we opted to dive out onto the river path via the handy one way turnstile gate part way round, and walked up to the hill at the old landfill site with its great views across to that bit of Kent that likes to pretend it’s London. 

More exploring at Amwell too - just a handful of miles up the road but of course very off limits from here for the past few months so it was lovely to be back. Not a long walk, but a stretch of the Amwell Walkway  which is along the line of a former railway, hence the bridge...

...and then more views  - this time from the new-to-us Widbury Hill. Not massively high but a nice short sharp climb up and then the reward from the top of the panorama of the Lea Valley stretching out ahead of you. One to return to for sure.  

Then today a nice 4 mile loop out at Norton Mandeville - starting of course with the train, rather more graffitied than the last time we saw it sadly, and with more of the interior pulled out too. It is still entirely baffling why someone would go to the trouble of buying the thing, and having it hauled to it’s current position, and then just leave it to rot. 

Underlining that spring is very definitely now with us is the fact that the oil seed rape is bursting into its full yellow glory - and THAT in turn means I’ve been sneezing for the rest of the evening, ho hum! 

For various reasons all our walks this weekend have been relatively short but also all really nice - we’ve deliberately still stayed fairly close to home, it’s nice exploring areas that we’ve been unable to visit for a while, apart from anything else, and we do after all have plenty of further afield exploring planned for the not too distant future, too! 


Saturday, 3 April 2021

First taste of freedom...!

Monday 29th March saw the much awaited first significant easing of Lockdown in England, with the “Stay Home” rule being dropped, and recreational travel allowed once more. As always, word of mouth reporting and “he said/she said” rhetoric has caused some confusion, with individuals claiming that there is still a rule in place that people must stay local and that this is not due to change until early April. In fact the government website makes it clear that further to Monday there is no further easing of travel restrictions to be made - the only further significant change of this type being the ruling that you can stay away from home with your household from 12th April - something we are planning to make good use of, but more on that another time! 

“The Jurors” artwork - Runnymede

The rule change meant that Wednesday saw me able to head down to Runnymede in Surrey. The Red Arrows were making a flypast over the Air Forces Memorial to commemorate the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force and I decided that the National Trust parkland down there would be nice to combine a bit of a walk and an explore of an area I’d not visited in years, with a sighting of my favourite little red jets! The weather sadly wasn’t the best, but I had a thoroughly enjoyable few hours wandering round, looking at artworks and memorials, climbing hills and finally getting a quick look at the jets as they roared overhead. 

Thursday was another trip out - this time my first visit to a Scampton in almost 6 months. Thinking about it, I reckon this is my longest gap between visits since February 2014! The weather, again, didn’t quite play ball, although the third flying slot in the afternoon did finally deliver a snippet of blue sky here and there... 

“Flat heart” - spot the 3 jets! fully flat and two at least part rolling displays though, and frankly I was just delighted to be out in the open (and it must be said, quite cold!) air, to see Claire for the first time in an age, and actually get some quality time with my camera, too! 

And of course, this view just NEVER gets old! I’m trying to work on some new techniques for shooting the individual jets like this - but it will require a bit more time to really work on I think - hopefully might lead to some different perspectives from the shots I have got previously once I’ve spent some time working through angles and methods though!

It feels so nice just to be back to actively planning things again - after a full year and more of having been reluctant to really plan much because of the near certainty of disappointment when cancellations happen, starting to get some dates in the diary again feels great!