Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Beautiful Bath

We visited Bath this weekend, and it was gorgeous.  Sunny and autumnal – my favourite weather.

The weir below Pulteney Bridge is mesmering, with the water above it like an infinity pool.

Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon

Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon

The tiny shops (not much more than a metre from front to back) on Pulteney Bridge have wonderful views out over the river. This photograph was taken right through the shop from outside.

The view through a shop window on Pulteney Bridge

The view through a shop window on Pulteney Bridge

This medlar tree was laden with fruit – we were looking down onto it from above.  They are very strange-looking – rather like gigantic hawthorn fruits.  I haven’t ever eaten one – you have to leave them to ‘blet’, which effectively means, to rot.  Which sounds rather dubious.

Medlar tree

A medlar tree

On Friday night we had an excellent meal at the Circus restaurant (spiced pumpkin soup followed by lemon sole – mmmmmm).  On Saturday morning, I was determined to go for a pre-breakfast run (ok, walk/jog) which was a bit of a challenge as I’d not slept too well from eating so much.  However, it was a beautiful sunny morning, and I ran a little way alongside the River Avon.

I found a lovely paved labyrinth to jog round.

Labyrinth

I didn’t quite complete the labyrinth, as I was distracted by the sight of this fine gentleman.

Centurion

Roman centurion in Bath – not sure where he was heading, but he was happy to have his photo taken.

After Bath, we stopped off at Westonbirt Arboretum to see the autumn foliage display.  The Acers (Japanese maples) were lovely, even though it wasn’t sunny when we were there.

Japanese maples

Japanese maples

Japanese maple

Japanese maple

It was £9 per person to get into the arboretum, but I think we had our money’s worth for the wonderful colours. I have seen reviews on Trip Advisor saying that it was expensive, and more or less complaining that an arboretum only had trees in, which seemed a bit unreasonable. Though, admittedly, when we visited Westonbirt once before, many years ago, there were sculptures in amongst the trees, and it did add to the interest.

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Talk of the Devil

Bit of a gap over the summer. Like Red Hen here: http://redhenrun.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/so-many-blog-posts-so-little-time/#comments (links don’t seem to be working properly for me at the moment), I’ve been writing blog posts in my head, but haven’t quite got round to getting them online.

My themes included butterflies, running on a beach, Welsh gardens (including a labyrinth), dolphins, seals, jellyfish, cliff top walks, Henry Moore and Rodin. I’ve got all the pictures sorted out (good ones too!), it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

Anyway. Maybe I’ll get round to it next week.

Meanwhile, I got up early this morning and went out for a walk/run (more walk than run, but better some than none). The fields had been ploughed, so I kept my eyes peeled (weird phrase) for fossils, as this area was once a huge Jurassic lake.

Edge Hill

View towards Edge Hill where the first battle of the English Civil War took place in 1642

I found this Gryphaea, aka Devil’s toe-nail.

Devil's toe-nail

Jurassic fossil oyster – Gryphaea

Mind-boggling to think about when it lived – more than a hundred million years ago. Some nice folklore about them here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/earth/fossils/fossil-folklore/fossil_types/bivalves.htm

I can’t resist picking up smooth stones. As far as I can remember, we get all sorts of different stones round here because they were brought in by the glaciers way back when. It’s a lovely colour, and feels good too.

Heart-shaped stone

Heart-shaped stone (if you’re imaginative)

There are still some wild flowers around. Hogweed has an unattractive name, rather ugly leaves and it doesn’t smell too good, but the flowers are really very pretty.  Usually they are white, but this one had a pink tinge on the outer petals.

Hogweed - Heracleum sphondylium

Hogweed – Heracleum sphondylium

As I’d got out early, the sun was still quite low in the sky, and I liked the way the light caught on the trees and sheep.

Sheep grazing

Sheep grazing in early morning light

So – which of my missed posts should I aim for first?


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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


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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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Damselflies

Sunny afternoon in the garden, and I’ve seen a pair of Large Red Damselflies by our pond.  They kindly sat very still for their photos to be taken.  Despite the name, they are not that big – 4 or 5 cm long.  I was even able to get one to walk onto my finger for a moment or two – they are not nearly as flighty as butterflies.

I was surprised to see two huge tadpoles in the pond too; I haven’t seen them since they’d just hatched out of the frogspawn weeks ago.  I’m glad some of them haven’t been eaten by the newts.

It’s too hot to run. Maybe I’ll go out later on… or maybe not.   🙂

male Large Red Damselfly

A male Large Red Damselfly.

pair of Large Red Damselflies

A pair of Large Red Damselflies. Female, with black and yellow stripes, is below, and male above.

tadpole

Monster tadpole – about 3 cm long.  Really quite pretty.


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Running mojo goes walkabout

Well I did run, so that’s something, I suppose, and for half an hour – though it was slow even by my standards, so I only covered 2 miles (3.2km). Garmin tells me it was 19 C, which seems about right – pretty warm in the sunshine, as there wasn’t much shade.

Earlier on, I went for a short amble on my way home from walk (must have covered all of 200m in 20 minutes), which was really lovely – some less-common wild flowers, such as Sanicle, Valerian and Hairy Violet, lots of birds singing and a hairy caterpillar too.

Cow Parsley in a country lane

It was lovely out, but on my run, I just kept thinking about my calves being tired, being hot and sticky, and wondering why I was doing it. I wanted to stop and look at butterflies, beetles, flowers and birds. Maybe when it’s sunny I need to just do very short runs, and longer walks, and enjoy the scenery more.

So… Should I keep running, so my legs don’t forget how, or ease off in warm weather, and enjoy the wildlife?


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A three hour walk in bluebell woods, recording plants and one butterfly (a peacock – and a very tatty one too).  That took me about 3.5 km, just over 2 miles.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, with lots of birdsong, including a buzzard ‘mewing’ overhead.  Then I ran back along the road, about a mile, which was pretty slow – 14 minutes, but I was carrying binoculars, notebook and my fleece and it was pretty warm too.

I have yet to figure out how to layout pictures properly in here – seem to be getting one of them twice…  Maybe I’ll work it out soon.

Muddy path at Edge Hill woods

Squelchy and slippery!

Flowery meadow down to Radway

Bugle and Buttercups in an almost alpine view

A huge Jelly Ear fungus

The biggest Jelly Ear fungus I’ve ever seen. Must have liked all the rain.

Moschatel, Edge Hill woods

Moschatel, or Town-hall Clock
An uncommon woodland spring plant with green flowers.