Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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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

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Flora group walk

Went out for the day with the county flora group,  surveying a rather lovely meadow.  Walked a bit over 2 miles at a very slow pace.  We found lots of lovely plants, including the very strange fern, Adderstongue.  We also found Pignut, Dropwort, Bugle and lots of all three common buttercups.  Despite the sunshine, I only saw one butterfly – a Small White, but I did see a small frog.

Drybank Meadow

Drybank Meadow near Shipston

DSC04962 Adderstongue Fern

Adderstongue Fern

Goatsbeard - a very pale one

A very pale Goatsbeard flower.

 

A soldier beetle

A soldier beetle reading the Flower Guide blurb


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Distracted by butterflies and damselflies

Any excuse.  I went to bed much too late last night, fiddling about with garden bioblitz stuff, so it was  a struggle to wake up this morning, and I really didn’t feel much like any form of exercise.  However, another gloriously sunny day, so rather than go straight home, I went for run/walk round a nature reserve on the way home from work.

River Leam Cow Parsley along woodland path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a few butterflies and damselflies about, which kept stopping me from running…  I am a list-maker and can’t resist recording every butterfly I can identify.  (Warwickshire butterfly records here.)  However, they don’t always want to cooperate, so I had several bits where I ran backwards and forwards trying to take a photo so I could figure out whether they were Large Whites or Small Whites – or Green-veined Whites, or possibly female Orange-tips (which don’t have any orange).

But didn’t catch any of them, so those are all are now Unrecorded Whites.  But I did see several Peacock butterflies, one Comma and one Orange-tip male.  Plus several Banded Demoiselle males, which are really spectacular. Pictures are less than spectacular as they’re mobile phone ones.

Peacock butterflyBanded Demoiselle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I was active for about 45 minutes, almost 30 of which were slow running/stop/start/butterfly chasing.  Grand total of…  3.7km, including the walking which is not at all impressive, but it was hot, and I was tired.  Better than nothing anyway.


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Thinking about Juneathon 2013

dsc03933-me-in-disguise-from-the-wind.jpg IMG-20130521-00055 rape field beyond parkrun route c

I’ve just completed the 5×50 challenge and want to keep up doing exercise every day, although not necessarily for 5k/30 minutes.  So the Juneathon seems like a good idea.  Keeping a record of the exercise I do every day does help to motivate me to do something, and it would be good to have some photos with it too.

So I think I’ll do it.

Background: I was pretty much PE-phobic at school, always very slow and lacking coordination, except for swimming.  I don’t think I’d run for longer than a minute or so since I was at primary school (where I was the slowest in my class).  I do enjoy walking in the countryside, though only fairly short distances in more recent years.  A long time ago I did a bit of yoga, and I used to enjoy cycling, but I hadn’t done either of those for ten or twenty years.

For some reason, that I can’t remember, I started the NHS Couch to 5k (c25k) programme on 15th December 2012, with eight lots of 1 minute runs, with walks in between.  I commented:

…even if I don’t get to 5k running, it has got me outside and exercising again, so that’s good – and this seems a very friendly and supportive community too.

The community is here – brilliant support for anyone new to running.

I completed the programme on 13th February 2013, and found this quote that sums up running for me:

 Being allowed to do something really badly without anybody being upset is a joy.

I ran just over 3k in 30 minutes in my final week (4.1k in 40 minutes on my final run) – so I am seriously a tortoise runner, as this is slower than my brisk walk.  I was overtaken by a man walking his dog on my ‘graduation’ run.  🙂  I have since run 5k and I have once run 10k (in 100 minutes).

In most weeks recently I’ve done two or three runs, and from 31st March to 19th May I did the 5×50 challenge, as mentioned above, which got me starting to doing yoga again, and cycling – including several 10k+ cycle rides, and one of 26km, on the final day of the challenge.  In total, over the 50 days, I ran 54k, walked 95k, cycled 92k and did 75 hours of yoga or other exercise.  So it would be  a pity to lose that fitness.

I’ve also challenged myself to do a little bit of faster running – I’ve once run a mile in ten and a half minutes, and today I ran for a minute and a half at average speed of 11kph (5:26 min/km).  Maybe one day I’ll be able to keep that up for 30 minutes for a parkrun.  Hmmm.

And sometimes I take myself a bit too seriously.  🙂