Saturday, 28 November 2009

Week off training

We were both off colour this week - either a lurgie which we managed to fight off or a result of the wind being in the wrong direction and blowing the boiler fumes back into the house... either way the nausea didn't make for a good week on the training front. I'm 99% now so back to the running tomorrow. Mertz is away on one of his walks this weekend, so the girls and I can go off for an adventure in the morning.

I'm missing the huskies - I must try to find a day when I can join them soon.

Mother found another balaclava today and also bought a brilliant beanie at an Aplaca farm - it's very, very warm. In fact it has been very cold on the coast today due to wind chill, so I test drove the merino thermals and yes, they do do what it says on the box, they are WARM.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Fundraising update

I'm delighted to say that I've hit the £2000 mark, 60% of the way there - THANK YOU!

My Mother has been amazingly generous in my Father's name and I am so very touched that the money that she has raised from selling his engineering equipment has helped me to reach this target, he's still supporting me and/or bailing me out, even though he's been dead for a year now...

Also thanks so much to Harry and Inga Edwards, John Ormerod and my dear friend Lindsey Gray, who has always felt the need to set a good example to her kids, our godsons: 

I still think you're fucking mad. I paid extra so I could swear.Donation by Lindsey Gray 23/11/09 
£50.00+ £14.10 Gift Aid

Now the task of sourcing all the equipment starts. Underwear I'm buying, but everything else is beg, steal or borrow. The outdoor shop in Norwich is having a sale so I snapped up some merino wool undies - not attractive in any way whatsoever, but very, very warm, even the fact that the box says WARM on the front fills me with reassurance. No-one I am likely to see at any time outside the Arctic shall see me in them however.
I couldn't believe my luck when I met someone at a party on Saturday night who had been to Iceland recently and had to buy some  -60 kit, which she is going to lend me, in return for my knitting one of my strange neck garments for her. This is a relief as I tried on some neoprene face masks (on my kit list) in the outdoor shop and they are the most uncomfortable things I've ever worn, so I don't really relish splashing out on one.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


The stored heat is being depleted already. Tuesday wasn't too bad, so I managed 2 short runs and a keep fit class before teaching in the afternoon but then yesterday I foolishly ran against the wind and nearly knocked myself out. It's amazing the difference it can make, today I ran in reverse and covered twice as much ground.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


A week in the warmth can do wonders for the soul, mine's been well and truly simmered in the Canarian sun for long enough for me still to be well thawed. This will be the warmest I'll feel for some time, and now I have a thermometer in my head the mercury will soon start to fall steadily towards the coldest February of my life so far, but I suspect I may get a taste for it. I am still feeling verywarmclaire

Day 1
It didn't start well. We arrived to be picked up by our 'VIP collection service' which turned out to be a shared people carrier with the owner of our Finca on speaker phone having a heated discussion with his wife about who had payed what and who should have been responsible for what, but sadly not what the status of the accommodation was. A bottle of £2.50 Cava was handed round the truck but its benefits didn't last as having been up from 4am, the last thing we needed to find was that our yurt was still occupied by a family who had ended up in hospital overnight and had not been able to check out. We felt for them as they had not even been able to get back to pack and gather they things, but being told that we'd have to go and wait on the beach because 'check in wasn't till 4pm' (even though we had been collected by the owner at 12) wasn't really what we wanted to hear.

Tila, our host, did everything he could to get the situation sorted and once he had stopped panicking and being told to fob us off, the  yurt was blitzed and we were taken back from the beach to our home for the next 6 days. It was love at first sight.

Yolanda the yurt - our haven with views of the stars, a comfortable bed and cool marble floor for lying on after a run. She's a bit like a tardis, looks like a little tent on the outside but the space inside is wonderful.

By the time our host had taken us to the supermarket to make up for the fiasco and we had poured our respective glasses, everything seemed to fall into place. Before I knew it Mertz was scheduling the whole week, planning meals, working out where he could get fresh bread and wine each day and to my surprise and delight, promising to cycle with me on my run in the morning. We feasted on home made tapas and paella with the left over Cava before collecting our solar powered lights, Moroccan storm candles and retiring to the womblike structure which was going to be our haven. She looked even more gorgeous at night.

Day 2

Started well. I could really get quite used to this personal trainer lark. I ran, he cycled, it worked really well till it came to the deep sand and hills when I usually came off best. Although the bikes provided were of the All Terrain shape, they were not really capable of coping with all terrains, as they couldn't all change gear. The first day he got lucky, but that wasn't always the case. Having been told, 2 weeks ago by a bike salesman in Suffolk, that we shouldn't buy a mountain bike because we were obviously over 28, and no-one over that age should have a mountain bike, Mertz seemed to manage quite well. There was one problem though - the seat wasn't padded and nor were the tracks, so he sought alternative solutions and shoved a cushion down his trousers (see photo best viewed full screen...).

We did discover, on this holiday, that Mertz and I have  been on a food
motorway, traveling in different directions for the last 15 years. When we met he didn't have any interest in food, and consumed very little other than Consulate menthols and Barcardi and coke, and I was obsessed with eating and cooking. Now we meet in the motorway service station, but how long for, I wonder. I feel the drag of the other carriage-way and feel sure that his interest may soon become an obsession, how that will leave us I don't know. It bodes well for my weight, as he weighed less than me when we met (he's over 6ft), but planning our new kitchen is down to me - perhaps I should hand over the reigns?

He promised he couldn't find a smaller glass.

I ran slowly to start with as the sand was quite tough, but once I had a feel for it it was quite thrilling as going down the slopes was a bit like treading water. When we got back, having stopped for a stretch for me and some fresh bread for him, Mertz had to have a bit of a lie down. After breakfast we found 2 bikes and set of to explore. I was quite nervous to start with, especially coming down the tracks, but was great to be able to go across the lava rocks and get to the cliffs.

We had a quick dip and as the waves were up and the sea was full of surfers Mertz decided to bring the boogie board down tomorrow. He said he would check with Josh, the resident surf expert about tides or rips or whatever they are and I wished him luck with that, as although he's ranked 4th on the island, Josh is only 14 and already has the blond tousled long hair and the blonde tousled look in his faraway eyes.

Day 3 etc.
It just got better and better, I fell into a routine of run (with personal trainer Mertz), yoga, breakfast, cycle, swim, eat, read, eat, drink, read, with various trips, activities and pleasures as the week wore on. Each day we met a wonderful old boy and his dog, he shouted amusing anecdotes at us, at least we assume that's what they were as he assumed we were German, but he seemed to be suggesting that I might have left my bike behind, and on the third day he offered me his. One one occasion we had to hand over our track to the boys though.

Inspired by their speed and ability to get up the mountains, we hired a car to discover Cesar Manrique's houses, gardens and art. It was quite humbling to see what in impact he has made on the island, in fact impact is probably the wrong word as he has managed to work with the island to produce work that can only be from the island, as well as laying down guidelines for what can and can't be done, architecturally.

Jameos del Agua

The Cactus Garden staircase

It was awe inspiring and although Brian, my wonderful architect friend, recommended we went, I think he might regret it when I start planning a white swimming pool with black and white rocks.

By the end of the week I was running down the hill, past the first stop of the fresh bread and around the village, where the local police hang out, watching surfers and polishing their ambulance, trying to look cool in their Raybans and uniforms. On the last day one of them finally said hola. The last day was certainly our hottest and I was grateful for the marble floor to lie on after the run, and for the pool just below our yurt, which I hadn't felt the need for till then. It was really, really bloody cold. Apparently it is fed from the well, which would explain it.

The shape of the pool was actually perfect, why are private pools usually so big? They don't need to be, this was great for lengths, but also parties - which there was one of on our last night, but we were just too happy, tired and wanted to have our last night in out wonderful yurt. It may also have had something to do with the fact that I had started the second Stieg Larsson in the trilogy that morning and had got to page 356 by supper time....

Having had a rocky start we left the island planning a return. The Finca is wonderful and Tila's charm won us over after the first day, regardless of the glitches its a fabulous experience; sleeping in a yurt, open to the stars and cooking outside either on the barbeque or the outdoor kitchen - just like posh camping really...

On my return I found that I had had some very generous sponsorship for the trip, thank you so much:

The Salmon Family, Warwick and Caroline Comer-Stone, Lizzie Whittenbury, Barney Andrews, Neo Stefanou, Julie Button, Anna Coleman, The Hamilton Family, Christine AGAIN!, John and Chris Fernihough, Dayami Amador-Espinosa and Anna Swann. I shall be running for you all tomorrow!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Grey day

A good long run today through grey skies and puddles. The temperature was good for a long run but I did have to cut it short and only did 45 minutes today, I was aiming for an hour but I felt quite unwell halfway across the common and had to stop. This hasn't happened before and could have something to do with the fact that I had 2 glasses of red wine last night, I haven't been drinking red wine for a long time, but we tried to get into a holiday mood with a bottle. A mistake not to be repeated and a great shame that I can not longer tolerate it.

Up at 4am tomorrow to fly to Lanzarote, to stay in a yurt, run on the black beaches and read.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Postcards arrived

Postcards designed by my official sponsor arrived today, via MOO cards, they are really efficient and Rob's done a fantastic job, made me feel quite proud when I saw them.

In an effort to keep the training up and deliver cards I did so at a run, around the village, and distributed the first pack in about 40 minutes. In a village like this it's often hard to know which houses are holiday homes and so I asked a couple of local oracles and worked on Hazel's maxim that if there is a car outside, then someone's there. Slightly embarrassingly I bumped into people I knew, but was able to help one couple load a bookshelf into a truck, which made me feel less guilty about handing them a 'begging card'. Another couple, who are raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis charity were keen to take books, which I had not sold at the boot sale - they have a really good bookstall which is on the road down to the river in Walberswick, if ever you are passing and the weather is fine, you are bound to find something interesting there.

The village shop team have been wonderful and the governors have already, very kindly, made a donation as well as allowing me to have a collection envelope behind the counter. The staff have been so encouraging too, and have displayed one of the cards in pride of place. The Anchor Pub has also offered to display a poster and I hope they will take a collecting envelope too.

I'm getting carried away with the whole idea and thinking t-shirts, flags, hats, mittens - all branded verycold, perhaps that's over doing it... stop me please

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Lionel Guilt

There will be no more 'It's raining, no training' entries in my blog.

I read Lionel Shiver's article on her nocturnal runs and was wracked with guilt. How can I wimp out and not go for a run because it's raining, when I live by the sea and have the day time to run in?

I did actually end up doing some training yesterday as I remembered that there was a circuit training/keep fit class going on so I ran across the green, so as to keep dry - not for the health benefits, and joined Mark and the team. It was a good way to get back into the swing after a particularly food and drink filled weekend.

This morning I set off, with Lionel's word's ringing in my ears "The round trip is roughly nine miles and how I'd like to claim that over the years that distance has started to seem shorter. That it's got easier. But then exercise being hard is, you know, the point." And so now I have even more of an incentive than: the Dog's Trust, my health, my good and generous friends, who have sponsored me and the fact that I am going to be leaving for the Arctic in roughly 14 weeks, thanks Lionel.

Running on a good day here is a privilege. My route through the lanes, onto the common and down the river tow path onto the beach is remarkable and this morning it seemed to offer me more that the usual beauty, I'd like to think this was the result of my Lionel epiphany, and Mother Nature giving me one more reason to get out there.

The sky was clear, blue and the full moon hung low over the fields, the dogs were completely energised from an early night and the change in the weather, and of course Luna always responds to the moon. As I ran along the tow path the sun was blinding from the sky and from its reflection in the puddles that regularly span the whole path. We must look slightly batty from the other side of the river, running along a seemingly flat path but every 3 strides jumping a meter, one after each other; small dog, larger dog, human. It certainly upset the local white Ibis, who flew straight over our heads as we dropped down to the lower section of the path and squelched through the mud. The sand was hard work as usual but we kept going and took the longer circuit, increasing the time to 45 minutes. Tomorrow an hour.

My hard work was rewarded on my return when logged on to my sponsorship site at to find that I'd hit the £1000 mark, so THANK YOU ALL! Just another £2500 to go now...

Monday, 2 November 2009


Thank you to all the lovely people who have already sponsored me:

Christine Howell
Dominic Gothard
Jo King (Mbili)
Pete and Ali Mayne
Gill and Becky Jones
Rob Bevan
Lise Bevan
Barbara Priestman
Kevin Avison
Mark Umfreville
Ute Towriss
Hazel Church
Terry Boase
Victoria and Nicholas Muers-Raby
June Bellis
Christa Partington

Fundraising starting in earnest

Last weekend the fundraising began in earnest with a car boot sale, raising £155, lots of lovely people just came and gave me a quid once they knew that it was all going to the Dog's Trust, but I really must get myself organised with a proper t-shirt, poster etc next time. It was interesting to see what sold and I was most surprised about selling a load of old gauges from my Father's workshop, as I was unpacking the Landrover. A couple of people asked if the Landrover was for sale - probably would have raised the total if I had sold her.

This weekend my official sponsor helped me to design a postcard and buy the domain name so now I feel ready to start asking for support to get the necessary funds in for Christmas, otherwise it'll be no presents for anyone...

Lots of people have been very generous so far and will be getting big thanks.