Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


Look closely and weeds are jewels!

In our garden, weeds are allowed to flower, so the bees can visit them. This one is really pretty when you get close to it, with star-like calyx and white stripes on the dark purple petals. The leaves smell quite strongly, and look fairly similar to stinging nettle leaves.

Hedge Woundwort

Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica

This little shieldbug is pretty jewel-like too – it lives on the woundwort, and is called Woundwort Shieldbug…

Woundwort Shieldbug

Woundwort Shieldbug – about 1/3 the size of my little finger-nail.

Well, that was in response to the Daily Prompt – The Natural World which asked about early memories of nature.

I grew up on a farm, and I can’t remember the first time I was interested in nature, as it was so much a part of everyday life.  However, I do remember vividly the thrill of finding an orchid growing amongst scrubby bushes in a woodland. It wasn’t in my flower book, which made it even more exciting, and nobody had shown me where it grew; I’d found it all by myself.  On on of our occasional trips to London, we visited the Natural History Museum, and in some wall-mounted display-cases I found a picture of ‘my’ orchid – a Man Orchid.  The flowers are greenish-yellow, with red edges, and look like tiny little men.  Such an amazing plant.

They are fairly rare in the UK, and although they have been found in quite a few nearby sites to my one, I don’t know whether anyone else has ever seen the plants that I found.  So – that was a significant waymark on my journey to being a nature geek.

Race for Life report

The other news today is that I did my Race for Life – and I DIDN’T WALK!  It wasn’t fast (about 46 minutes – last time I did RfL I took 53 minutes to walk it) but it was mostly very sunny and warm, so I’m happy with that.  The first ten minutes were really hard work, and I wasn’t expecting to manage to run/jog it all at that point, but I just kept doing a bit more and a bit more, and got the whole way round.  Hurrah!

RfL shirt and medal

Race for Life shirt and medal

I don’t know how many women were there, but pretty sure it was well over a thousand.  I was fine though, didn’t even need to use the loos (sorry, if that’s too much info) which is most unusual – and a good thing, as the queues were about 30-deep.  Maybe that was the most significant acheivement of the day!  The running and walking didn’t get started until about twenty minutes after the official start time. Maybe that was to allow everyone to visit the loos?

It was a lovely day to be outside, mostly sunny and with a good breeze.  Uphill through the meadow was pretty warm, as the wind seemed to have dropped there, and there was no shade, but I kept plodding on, thinking I’d walk after the 3 km mark.  But then it was flat, and it seemed a pity to stop.

After 4 km it was pretty easy.  I almost missed getting a medal, as I was still jogging past the finish and had to stop and go back for it.  I was really pleased that I didn’t feel worn out at the end. After clapping some of the walkers in, I jogged part of the way back to the carpark.  I would have jogged it all, but suddenly felt as though I was showing off, so I walked the rest.

So, Juneathon may not have gone quite the way I’d envisaged, but I did manage to end it with a 5k run in the sun, and feeling good at the end. So I’m a happy bunny, and I’ve raised quite a bit for Cancer Research. 🙂

Race for Life hat

Sunhat with pink feathers – fallen from a tutu




My back was OK again today, hurrah!  Yoga rules.  I went for a walk to look for butterflies and dragonflies as it was sunny. I didn’t see many, and they were all camera-shy, so I ended up taking pictures of various other bugs instead. I used to be really scared of crane flies, or Daddy-long-legses (? dubious plural) but they can be quite pretty, rather like dragonflies.  Apparently there are loads of different UK species (hundreds!)  There was quite a range of colours in the insect world today.

I walked 2.5 km (in about 2 hours – taking photos is very time-consuming when bug-chasing) and ran a tiny bit, but it was on a sideways slope, and pretty uncomfortable, so when a moth distracted me, I stopped and didn’t start up again.

6-spot Burnet Moth

6-spot Burnet Moth

Bee-like fly

Bee-like fly – looks like a bee, but it has a fly’s eyes

Crane fly

A crane fly

Crane fly

A different crane fly with pretty wings

Red and black froghopper

Red and Black Froghopper – startling!


Blue-bottle – I have always hated flies with a passion, but have to admit that this is quite striking

This gallery contains 6 photos


Juneathon day 24

I’ve dared to put Juneathon in the title as I’ve actually done some exercise today.  I didn’t have  too good a start this morning though, as I ricked my back somehow, while sitting in a chair…  No idea what I did, but it was pretty painful, to the extent that I had to walk very gingerly or it made me yelp.

Large White butterfly on Knapweed

Large White butterfly feeding on Common Knapweed flower

Thankfully, it had eased off a bit by the time I left work, so I stopped off for a short butterfly hunt on the way home. I only saw one common butterfly, but it looked as though it was quite freshly hatched, without any wing damage. Very handsome, sitting on a Knapweed flower.

Home again, thirty minutes of gentle yoga stretches, and my back feels much better. Hopefully it will be fully recovered by the weekend for my Race for Life. I certainly wouldn’t have been running anywhere this morning.

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Misread the calendar

Hmm.  Went off to a grass identification workshop this morning (I like my plants).  However, when I arrived, I found out that I’d misread the calendar (another senior moment), and it isn’t until next week.  So, as I’d driven all the way to the nature reserve, I thought I might as well learn about dragonflies instead…

Very interesting they were too, with beautiful photographs, but as it was overcast by lunchtime, I didn’t stay for the dragonfly hunting, but went for a walk round on my own.  I didn’t see any butterflies or dragonflies, but I did see some good birds, and I walked 2.6 miles, so good exercise.  I wore my running trainers, so my feet felt ok.  I even jogged a little bit.

I heard a cuckoo, which was great; that’s the third time I’ve heard them this year.  As I went into the first bird-hide, I was told that a kingfisher had been around earlier, but they’d been waiting about twenty minutes and it hadn’t come back – but I was lucky enough that it returned while I was there.  Just a fast flash of blue – stunning.  There was a reed bunting there too.

At another hide I saw a reed warbler, and then on a different lake, with a mudflat, there was a wonderful range of birds, including two I don’t think I’ve seen before – teal and little ringed plover.  All quite a long way away – and the plovers ran around really fast, like little mice!   Sixteen species altogether.  So, even though I didn’t get to the grasses, I had a good day out.


Lapwing and reflection

male Teal

A male Teal duck. Gorgeous patterning on the feathers on its side.

Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover staring at me.


Half way through Juneathon…

… and I still have a bruised-feeling on the ball of my foot, which started when I did star jumps for Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred (which I did one day of).  Tried surfing to find out what might be causing it, and it looks as though it may be the deadly serious turf toe.  Or it may not, but I like the sound of it.

Anyway, it’s still a bit tender when I’m walking (though didn’t notice it when running yesterday, so maybe my padded running shoes, which I do sometimes wear for running, are actually not such a bad idea after all).  So resting it seems the best idea, though that doesn’t fit too well with training for a 5k in two weeks.

Speckled Wood butterfly on my aunt's garden fence

Speckled Wood butterfly on my aunt’s garden fence

So… today’s exercise amounted to half an hour of gardening, removing brambles and willowherb from my aunt’s garden, and a bit of wandering round the shops.

I bought two pairs of trousers and a couple of t-shirts – all in a size larger than usual, as I have definitely put a bit of weight on over the past few months.  Not really what you’d expect with an improved exercise regime, but probably more to do with having been underweight before, perhaps because I was undiagnosed coeliac, and then discovering lots of very tasty coeliac-friendly treats.  And treating myself because of all that exercise I was doing.

Is two treacle tarts and two sugar-based chewy-bars perhaps more than a girl should eat in one day?  If I’m not careful, the new clothes won’t fit either!  I’ve never had to watch my weight before – a whole new experience.  Maybe I’ll start to feel like a normal woman?  Ha!


Daily Prompt: Person of the Year – Josh Clark – designer of the c25k running programme

I needed a bit of a push to get me going again, so went over to the NHS c25k support website

It was so inspiring reading about other people’s running successes, that I stopped in the middle of reading a new runner’s blog (who had just completed the big scary week 5 run) and went upstairs, put my running kit on, got outside for a warmup walk and then did a 32 minute run.  The first one for a week.  It was pretty slow, but not as difficult as the last one.

Anyway, one of the other things I’d been reading before I went out running was The Daily Prompt
and the prompt was – who would you make Person of the Year?   For me, the biggest change this year has been doing regular (relatively speaking) exercise, and it really got going with the NHS Couch to 5K programme, which is, as far as I know, based on Josh Clark’s programme.

When I went off on a hunt to find out his name, I came across this page, based on an interview with him about the programme, which was very interesting – not least that he designed it with his mum in mind, who was then 50.  No wonder it works so well for us oldies!  Though I do rather wish he’d called it c230, couch to 30 minutes, instead of couch to 5k, as 5k is a long, long way for many beginners, not to mention not-so-beginners like myself.

Well, two weeks and a couple of days until my 5k Race for Life, so I’d better get practising again.

Race for Life t-shirt

T-shirt is ready, but what about the legs?



Yesterday was Day 11 of Juneathon – and the 21st birthday of my youngest child.  So now I don’t technically have children anymore – though I’m well aware I’m still a mum!  Felt old and cranky.  Didn’t do any exercise beyond walking to a friend’s house and back, which hardly counts (less than half a mile).  I think that’s the first day I’ve missed being active since I started 5×50, way back on 31st March, which I think is 73 days.

Still, that’s not such a bad effort.  Maybe doing Juneathon right on top of 5×50 wasn’t such a clever idea.  Anyway, I’ve done 15 minutes of yoga today and will do some more later on, after taxiing the other daughter to her archery – so still a mum.  (Skiing and taxiing and Hawaii – any more double ii words out there?)

‘Yoga’ included a bit of balancing on this silver ball.

Balancing ball🙂