Last week was mainly spent obsessively watching the weather. Enviously admiring others snow photos and doing the snow dance hoping that we too here in Devon would be able to enjoy some white stuff. We have been living down here for 5 years and in that time have only had a sprinkle, I was feeling snow deprived!

Thursday was the day it was all meant to be happen. I was up at 2 am to check. Nothing. Would it all come to nothing, all those weather warnings? Finally at 6:30 the snow began to fall. Hooray. Shortly after schools started to close. I was off work anyway with two days Annual Leave to use up before 1 April so snow day it was then for Madam and I. But by 9:30 it had stopped. Noooooooo. I didn’t just want some snow, I wanted loads, cutting off chaos causing snow. I know greedy.

Finally after lunch, big flakes started to fall and the wind started to blow, we were soon in the middle of a red weather warning. Hubby was home by 2:30 pm, we had bread, milk and electricity so happy to hibernate.

Friday morning dawned and we had a decent amount of snow. I contained myself till 9 am then dragged hubby out for a winter wonderland walk.

Everything was magical. Having had freezing rain at some point in the night the snow was covered in a layer of us and was very crunchy to walk on. All the trees were covered in ice also like they had been touched by the Ice Queen. The wind had created some very odd snow shapes on the bushes. It was truly wonderful. I even managed a bit of sledding. Oh yes I love the snow and refuse to be grumpy about it, just relished having it whilst it was here. Enough photos taken to create next years Christmas Card, what more could I want?

36 hours of snow and then it started to melt. See you in 5 years.

(No running since Tuesday night, tried today but seems my back had other ideas am hoping it eases soon or life this week will be very unpleasant for me and everyone close to me!)

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Up Hill Starts

Who wants to start a race in to an immediate up hill? Any takers? Me neither! Looking at my last three events you would think I love them.

And then there was todays event which really takes the biscuit to be fair! This is the elevation profile for that run

yep the first three miles up hill. We started at 860ft elevation and at three miles were at 1.702ft. Safe to say it was not a fast start. Of course as you can see the rest of the run was not really flat, but we did have some nice downs including one on the road and the last two miles were down hill to the finish. The last mile was my fastest so am claiming this as a negative split.

Now I know you are all desperate to enter this run now with the fantastic start so let me tell you more about it. It was the Hameldown Hammer Half marathon (the Devon race organisers love a bit of alliteration!) The start was from Widddicombe on the Moor, on Dartmoor. This is why it is called The Hammer…..(well that and the need for a word beginning with H of course!)

Today in Devon, like most of the UK it was bright but very cold, seems Siberia has sent their cold front this way. I love winter days with bright blue skies so really wasn’t terribly worried by the cold temperatures.

Whats not to love?

The run started at 11, we stayed in the car till 10:56, it was THAT cold.

After we got the first miles out of the way (that was a never ending up!) we of course had some stunning views. Dartmoor is truly beautiful especially on a day like today and for a pleasant change the ground underfoot was hard and for the most part dry, no knee deep mud today, but frozen ankle jarring terrain but least you can run on that albeit with some caution.

As you can imagine up on the top with no shelter whatsoever, it was very breezy and very cold. At one point I lost all feeling in my chin and lip, I daren’t talk for risk of slurring my words, it really felt like I had been to the dentist, fortunately I had a Buff round my neck that I soon pulled up over my face.

I tried really hard to run as much as I could just to keep warm, also concerned for my running buddy as he is very much a cold-blooded creature who runs most times resembling Scott of the Antarctic, and it would be my fault if he got cold as A) I am slow B) I gave fashion advice on what to wear before we left the car, but I did reprieve things a bit by giving him my gloves to wear on top of his ones, AND I had pre heated them for him by running 8 miles with them stuffed in my bra!

I loved the run (maybe not the first part) and will certainly add it to my to do list for next year.

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Dursley Dozen the second edition

Last Sunday I travelled north up the M5 to partake in a 12 mile run up and down and up and down and up and down the countryside around Dursley. Unlike the year before when the weather was dull and miserable, this year it was a lovely winter’s morning with clear blue skies and sunshine.

The plan was to get a PB, but I knew this was going to be tough given two factors, 1) I’m not as fit as I would like 2) Conditions underfoot are horrendous when off road at the moment due to a wet winter

Its funny what you remember about a route from one year to another. I remembered the up hill start and the rope you needed to use to get up the last hill at mile 10, but I did not recall much else in between which is why I was at the start line again! Maybe it would be an idea to record each run on a Go Pro but there again if I did that I would probably never do any run twice!

The mud was as expected, I tried to adopt a new approach and that was a role of ‘mud slayer’ and instead of avoiding it trying to find my way around the edge, I waded through the middle, swearing and sliding as I went.

The Precipice with the rope at mile 10 was so much harder than recalled, my legs, arms and lungs were screaming by the time I got to the top and the photography who wanted me to run so he could take my photo got a terse but polite response (the desire to say **** off at this point was great!) Fortunately at this point it is pretty much all down hill to the end and I tried to leg it to make up some time.

My time was two minutes slower than last year, but I was fine with that, after all who could not be fine with this as a finishing time…..

another great event, with another great t-shirt

Last year it snowed whilst I was running and this year snowed when I had finished and as this is pretty much the only time I have seen snow since moving to the South West I can only assume it always snows in Dursley, going to return next year just to check!


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That four letter word

Yep there are many

  • work
  • kids
  • rest
  • hill
  • cook
  • cash
  • £@%&

these are a few of the four letter words but this blog is about the four letter word ‘only’. This week I read something on social media, written by a runner and when referring to a new pair of trainers (that she had no doubt been sent free to review) she used the phrase ‘only £100’

Personally I would not use the word ‘only’ in front of £100 at any point, unless of course it was referring to maybe a car and then I would want it followed by the phrase ‘and it had four tyres’!

My beloved Invo8 Trailtalons have sprung two large ventilation holes,

handy to help with the stench but can be draughty. I have spent a lot of time this week surfing the net trying to avoid spending ‘only £100‘, granted this pair cost this much but it was my birthday gift from the hubby (I am sure he would not like me to point out that he ‘only’ spent £100 on my birthday gift) but I am keen not to spend ‘only’ this much again, especially as they have not lasted a year!

Buying off road trainers is a nightmare, some are good on mud, others on rocks, some can go on road and trail, some are cushioned and others like glorified flip flops. Seriously I think I need four pairs to cope with all terrains but no way am I going to get that past the trainer police AKA Madam! I know my feet pretty well by now,  they have been with me for a while and we have had a few adventures together. If you have been a long time reader you will also know my feet are wide (think flattened by a steam roller) so a wide toe box is the most important thing, after the cost of course! It is no exaggeration to say I have spent hours googling, perusing on line auction sites, reading reviews and comparing prices. Finally I settled on a pair of New Balance wide fit trainers, not pretty but they were ONLY £40!

Tomorrow I am running a dozen (A Dursley Dozen) miles round the Gloucestershire countryside and these babies will stay at home, instead I will wear my well ventilated Inov8’s with my waterproof socks, these I will save for when the trails dry up a bit which at the rate things are going is likely to be July!

Friday my back went, not sure where it went but it has definitely gone, so the aim tomorrow is to medicate, stay upright before during and after the run and enjoy.


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Back on it!

This week I got back out there making the most of my last weeks of unemployment (yes good news on the job front-at last)

Monday – I headed up to the coastal path for a 10 mile jolly. The conditions under foot were not great and after the 16 miles two days before most of which were off road in mud and other nasty stuff I soon became fed up with the strain of trying to stay upright so adjusted the route to take in more road.

Great views

A peacock

and a sign of spring, what more could you want except maybe less mud!

Wednesday– club pub run. Run to pub, place dinner order, run, return to pub, eat and drink a cider. Pretty much a perfect scenario, oh and we had the super moon as company. 8 miles

Thursday-my legs demanded flat and mud free so off to the Exe Estuary Trail I went. 10 miles done and only one pic, not sure why he looks blue but do love his reflection!

Saturday– Parkrun sandwich at Seaton. Damp drizzly 4 miles pre parkrun, 3 miles of parkrun followed by 1.5 miles back up the hill to the car.

Sunday– A nice trot round the Green Circle path in Exeter with my running buddy. It was cold in the wind but least the sun was out and it was dry, a rarity of late here in Devon!


So that brings me to 50 miles this week, the body is creaking a bit, but thats to be expected and this week I shall be treating it to less miles, but I am pleased I’ve done it and can do it, the fitness is there lurking beneath, now I just need to work on the speed.


Posted in cross country, Devon, Photography, trail running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Doynton Hard Half Third Edition

Sunday morning I headed up the M5 in the pouring rain, the Norther I went the colder it got. I left Devon with a balmy 8 degrees and arrived in Doynton just over 90 minutes later in a flipping cold 2 degrees. Two scenarios worry me when driving 1) flooded roads where you can’t make out if the puddle is passable 2) getting stuck in mud. By 10 am I had encountered both stresses and the wet conditions looked set to stay so I knew I would have tackle both again to get home! Aaaahhhhh

This is the third time I have done this Half, (here are the first two accounts 1 2 ) this year they had made it harder, hillier and muddier, oh joy, like I thought that was even possible. This took the pressure off me trying to do a faster time which was just as well really, because in all honesty I had no business doing this event, generally unfitedness (!) and a lingering virus meant it was going to be a struggle. A sensible person would have stayed clear, but what can I say I love this event and was not going to miss out.

Why do I love this run so much, after all there is plenty to hate about it, mud and great big hills mostly?

I love it because in my eyes it represents all that is good in the  ‘running community’………..

  • Whats not to love about an event that has an Order of Service
  • Amazing organisation, marshals, signage, water stations
  • A cake stall, hot drinks, hot food for afterwards
  • Runners who don’t take the event too seriously, this guy came prepared with his flotation device!
  • Participants who look after each other, I was checked on after I fell and during the water crossings where the water was flowing very fast, I was offered a helping hand as we crossed both helping each other to stay upright
  • Designated marshals to push your car out of the mud at the end of the day, so grateful for this!

Despite this being my third time at this event for me there were many firsts

  • First time Ive lingered in a portoloo to keep warm and dry a bit longer
  • First time I have fallen twice on the same run
  • First time I have run with a long sleeve and a rain coat and not felt the need to remove either
  • First time wearing a Buff on my ears AND a cap on my head
  • First time Garmin seized up (his days might be numbered)
  • First time I have taken my wellies to a run to get from car to start (seriously a smart move on my part, Shaz you genius)
  • First time I have waded through water so deep that my knickers got wet

I had a great trot round the countryside. My time is embarrassingly Sloooooooowwwww but thats fine, next year I hope to be fitter. Edition 4 I can’t wait!




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London Trip

Madam and I headed East last week for a couple of days, a trip to London was something we did yearly to see the lights when in Essex but since moving to Devon this is obviously trickier. When travelling with a 15 year old girl there is only one thing to do whilst in the City and that obviously is SHOP and as said child has designs way above her station there was only one place to start……….


Yep thats Harrods and the reason Brompton Road is deserted is NOTHING to do with us! We spent some time wandering round and round and round (we got lost) the designer clothes and Madam even tried on a dress which fortunately didn’t fit! I was glad to get out of there to be honest not just because the £3000 price tags scare me but because it was so warm.

Pleased to be out in the fresh air we headed up over Hyde Park to Oxford Street where the shop fest began! We didn’t shop till we dropped but it was darn close! Oxford Street (with detour to Bond Street) to Oxford Circus then down Regents Street where we jumped on the tube to Covent Garden. Now I know that we could have walked instead of going underground but seriously by this time I was already two inches shorter that I had been when I set out and had no desire to shrink anymore, besides which the Covent Garden underground station is an experience, as unlike other stations it does not have an escalator to get to the surface but a rather dodgy lift! We spent some time in CG wandering around, checking out the lights and me showing Madam places her Great Grandfather is connected to. The Mistletoe Lights were amazing and the tree on par with the one at the Rockefeller Centre in New York so well done Covent Garden.

From there we cut down to The Strand


and along to Trafalgar Square to see The tree. The trouble with having taken Madam to New York last year is that she was totally underwhelmed by The Tree, as a child I would have been overwhelmed as it is massive but I can see her point that the one in NY was better, fatter and prettier, but the sky was beautiful. Magical.


The final slog was up to Regents Street to see the lights there which were amazing!

It was a great day if a tad tiring! It included some major stresses due to the complexities of travelling on public transport (a whole blog on this to come!) and some big laughs………

  • Whilst at a well know sandwich shop ordering lunch Madam was given the choice of 1 foot or 6 inch but asked for the alternative 6ft sub!
  • After finishing serving us and probably still recovering from this the employee turned to the person behind us and asked “what can I get you Sir?” to which the reply came “I’m not a Sir I’m a woman“. Suffice to say it was an awkward moment but I can totally understand how the mistake was made!
  • A lovely young man with impeccable English offered me a seat on the tube, don’t let the white hair fool you sir I run Ultra Marathons for fun! Next time I shall wear a big hat!



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