Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Birds and blue skies

We’ve had some lovely bird-watching weather this week. I’ve also managed to do a bit of running every other day – this morning even running halfway up a steep hill. Very slowly, and not for long, but I’m back running again, and that’s good.

On Wednesday I saw this grey heron stalking fish. His (or her? how do you tell?) long streamer feathers blew about in the wind rather beautifully.

Grey heron

Grey heron

This starling was eyeing up the fat balls in our garden. The sheen on his feathers goes well with the shiny bark. We saw a flock of about a hundred starlings wheeling round over the village today. I hope they don’t decide to visit for fat-balls all at once. I need to remember to look out for them doing their evening murmuration acrobatics – though maybe they fly off somewhere else to do that.

Starling

Starling

The clear blue sky set off these hawthorn berries rather well. There is quite a glut of hedgerow fruit- I haven’t yet seen any redwings or fieldfares, but they are apparently already around this area, according to my BirdTrack app.  You can put in the name of a bird, and find out where it has been spotted in the past few days.  Earlier in the week, I thought I’d heard a raven fly over our house, but as I’ve never seen one here before, I was dubious whether I’d misinterpreted the sound.  But the app showed that they have been spotted recently nearby – and today we spoke to a farmer who said he’d seen ravens round here.  It sounded really rather like a sick duck.  You can listen to one on the RSPB site here.

Hawthorn berries

Hawthorn berries


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ilike my iphone

I’ve finally caved in and bought myself an iphone, after years of having an extremely basic mobile.  Oh, what fun I’ve had this weekend!  Photos taken, messages and emails flying, web pages read and apps downloaded.  Time wasted.  🙂

I am very pleased with the camera so far.  It can’t get quite as close up as my main camera, and won’t zoom so far away – but it’s pretty good.  The lighting was lovely this weekend – very autumnal with alternating sun and heavy showers plus some mist.

Stag's-horn sumach (Rhus typhina) in its autumn glory

Stag’s-horn sumach (Rhus typhina) in its autumn glory

Village church in golden Horton stone

Village church in golden Horton stone

Rainy street and a rainbow

Rainy street and a rainbow – and the old village pump

Misty morning

Misty morning

Minute toadstools, about 1 cm tall, amongst moss

Minute toadstools, about 1 cm tall, amongst moss

I’ve only tried out a few apps so far. A couple of weeks ago, I have to confess to not being entirely sure what an ‘app’ was, but now I know. I like being able to record birds, butterflies, ladybirds and mammals out ‘in the field’ so those are handy, and seem to work pretty well.  I was lucky enough to spot a kingfisher on Saturday, and a jay on Sunday, so the bird recording got off to a very good start, as I don’t often see either of those.  It must have been blue-feathered bird weekend.

A pulse rate app (cardiio) that works by detecting minute changes in face colour (or by a finger over the camera lens) is amazing, and surprisingly accurate too.  It is free, but I’ve just noticed it’s only free ‘for a limited time’. Having the phone even got me out walking/running, so I could try out ‘map my walk‘ – I need a bit more practice to deserve ‘map my run‘ I think though.

So, a busy weekend.


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Ceredigion Coast

I was in the middle of uploading this last night when all our electrical sockets suddenly stopped working…  I’ve just had an electrician out to sort out a fault on the fuse board (one of the circuit breakers seems to be faulty, and had tripped everything out on one half of the fuse board even though it didn’t need to) and I’m back online.

So now I need to see what I can salvage from the freezer, which has been off (unopened) for 18 hours. Ah well, it needed a sort out anyway. At least the lights, the boiler and the cooker were still working last night.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures from our holiday on the north coast of South Wales. Definitely an area worth visiting. I hope you enjoy them.


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Spring is sprung and I have run 2 miles

Quite a few flowers are getting going in the garden. Doubtless if/when we get some ice and snow they’ll be knocked back a bit, but I enjoyed them this morning in glorious sunshine.  Several of them are scented, and there’s something rather wonderful about perfume outdoors on a sunny winter’s day.

The birds were busy too.  I didn’t start at dawn this time – most of these arrived between 10 and 11.

    2 Blue Tits
    3 Starlings
    4 Goldfinches
    2 Long-tailed Tits
    2 Woodpigeons
    1 Collared Dove
    2 Blackbirds (male and female)
    5 House Sparrows
    2 Dunnocks
    5 Jackdaws
    2 Chaffinches (male and female)
    1 Robin
    1 Great Tit
    5 Greenfinches
    1 Buzzard soaring overhead

A squirrel ran through the garden too.

I got rather cold outside, so went for a run to warm up.  I really pleased to manage to keep going for 30 minutes, without it being too difficult, and covered 2.25 miles.  🙂


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Frost fairies

Earlier this week we had a heavy frost in the morning, and my car windows were covered in beautiful frost feathers. I didn’t quite get the focus right, but you can get something of the effect here.  Amazing that water can do that all on its own.

Frost

Jack Frost had been at the window

January challenge (at least three mile runs a week) is coming on well.
1 mile run Sunday
1.2 mile run Tuesday
1.7 mile run this evening – this one was a bit slower, as my right knee objected to going up a bit of a slope near the start of the run
With some yoga / Tai Chi / stair circuits in between.


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A good start

First complete week of my January challenge to do at least three runs a week.  In December I ran a mile only half a dozen times, and haven’t done 5k since the end of October.

Saturday – mile run: 15 min 36 s

Monday – mile run 15 min 17 s

Wednesday – 15 minutes stair circuits (very, very tedious, but avoided the cold, dark and wet) – 40 times up and down, including the landing

Friday – 15 minutes stair circuits

Today (Sat) – two consecutive mile runs in glorious sunshine (took off fleece, coat, hat, gloves and binoculars after first mile): first mile 17 min 7 s, second mile 13 min 58 s, and feeling good at the end of it.  Very pleased with myself.  Now wondering whether the Garmin just malfunctioned, but it did feel a lot faster, and curiously, easier.  Beginning to remember that I do actually enjoy running once I’ve settled into it.

I ran in a city park, and it was lovely watching children learning to use their Christmas presents – several very wobbly in-line skaters, and new bicycles and scooters.  Only a handful of runners, but lots of walkers, which made me feel as though my slow running was really speedy.  🙂  I also enjoyed the sight of a wedding party having photos taken (men in white suits – very jazzy), and then seeing the hugely stretched limo in the car park.

There was a lovely technicolour sunset on the way home.  I took quite a few pictures with my phone, but overloaded it, with the result that it now won’t let me download them.  This one has arrived here via being sent to my daughter’s phone, and she then emailed it back to me.  My phone won’t let me email.  However, I do now have the internet working – a couple of hours ago that was refusing to cooperate too, and I was getting seriously fed up with technology.

Sunset

Sunset


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New Year’s baseline and floods

Back again after the Christmas break. Quite a few stair circuits done over the last couple of weeks, but barely any running, until today.

I got out and did a mile at a very gentle jog (15 min 36 s) and about a mile walking. Then I redid the 3-minute step test, but got a much less impressive recovery rate than last time – 102 instead of the seventies. But when I looked at the graph, I realised that I’d started at a much higher heart-rate rate (not long after I’d finished the mile run) so hardly surprising it was a slower recovery. Anyway, that’s my baseline for this year. It shouldn’t be too hard to improve on this.  And, just for the record, my resting heart-rate is about 68 first thing in the morning.

Step test

3 minute step test and one minute recovery

A quick edit (after reading this blog by fitfor365 ) – my Garmin-recorded runs for 2013 came to 68 runs, 116 miles in 28 hr 48 min, average speed 4 mph, average heart rate 147.  Which isn’t much by most runners standards, but is probably a lot more than most mid-50s women’s standards, so it’ll do me fine.  I wonder if I’ll manage more this year?  Plus, no injuries beyond occasional aches.  It would be good to do a Parkrun or two, but I’ll see how I go.  For now, improving my mile run pace will do, with the intention of upping my exercise time towards 30 minutes per day by the time the 5×50 challenge begins at the end of March.

Everywhere in England has had a lot of rain recently – here’s what our nearest stream looks like at the moment.  It’s usually only a metre or two wide.  Fortunately it hasn’t got high enough to get into anyone’s house this time.

Flooding under the bridge

Flooding under the bridge