Sunday, 30 March 2014


T'was a nasty grey foggy fecker of a day. I was working yesterday so went a wee run in the morning. I needed, or thought I needed, to get out a long run today, so despite the fog, the cold, the piercing east wind out I went. But I weighted things in my favour as much as possible. If the wind's coming from the east then fly west. So I got the train to North Berwick to run as far back as I could be bothered.

There was something just annoying about the conversations on the train around me, about mother's day and flowers and chocolates. It was already a mundane day and now it was becoming cloying. Thankfully my mum says mother's day is a commercial invention of the Americans. She is right of course. No chocolates and flowers for you then, "mom"!

Half way into my journey I knew I was going to have to go for coffee and a bun before even starting. I had that heavy can't be arsed-ness that just won't lift on its own.
So that's what I did in North Berwick, and then finally turned my attention to the business of running.
Ach it was alright. Nothing much to see. I enjoyed the 1st 8 or so miles just because it was nice to be outside.

By Aberlady, at 11 miles, I was fading. I got some sugary stuff to eat in the shop. It made me feel kind of sweaty but I don't think it helped. By Longniddry, a shameful 14 miles into it, I decided I was no longer enjoying myself and I was going to call it a day, so I did. 15.5 miles all together and it's possible I ate more calories than I burned.

I wish the sun would come back.

Sunday, 23 March 2014


nice skies above the links


new art in the gallery

These are going to be olive trees

Yesterday I had a good run but never took a photo of it. It felt so cold I didn't fancy going far from home so I did my "tough twelve miler". This incorporates 2 laps of Arthur's Seat, the innocent railway to duddingston and home via more hills. It was another post-op pb despite feeling pretty ho-hum when I started, so I was pleased.

Then I had a nap because I was tired from the week. Once I'd finished that I got started doing what I really was meaning to do which is clear the boards for the next part of my studying journey. Everything is done and out the way now except my dissertation and I feel I better make a proper and structured start on it.

But first of all I cleared away all the stuff I won't be needing any more, from courses I've finished now...So I never really made a start - more cleared a space where the studying can take place...
and then, unusually, I had to go out. Too lazy to take the bus I decided to stay sober and drive. I don't go out much so by 10pm I was seriously fading and took my leave. But I had a few things I was needing in the house so I decided to brave late night Tescos to see what that was like...

...What it was like was post-apocalyptic - but not immediately post-apocalypse - more like some time after the apocalypse when things had settled down again. Just a few people who had obviously survived, but not made a full recovery from, the plague  that came with the apocalypse, were wandering around. And me. The shelf-stackers were in too so there was stock all over the floor to be tip-toed over gingerly. And no-one was manning the tills. It was self-service only. All in all a good experience and I'd do it again. If I'm ever up that late again, which I doubt.

Peter is away running the Kintyre way over the course of 2 days so this weekend is the perfect time to get studying. So today surely I will make a start. Just a few things have got in the way. I needed to go a gentle recovery run, and while I was out I had the genius idea that I'd like to grow an olive tree. So when I finished my run I dropped in past Scotmid and got a jar of whole olives (doubling nicely as lunch) - and then went a trip to B & Q to get a pot and some compost. I googled how to do it, and first of all I have to get my olive pits to sprout. I hope it doesn't matter that they've been soaked in brine. Nature is hardy though, I'm sure it will be fine.

While I was in the shower I remembered my last two dissertations and I realised why maybe I am diddling around so much instead of just getting on with it.

The first one was on the the poetry of William Carlos Williams. It made sense to me at the time. We had to submit a title quite early on to be matched with a supervisor, so by the time it was time to really start my dissertation I had kind of gone off the boil with WCW and couldn't remember why I thought he was good. I tried to tough it out anyway. I think it is fair, and not slanderous, to say that my supervisor had a problem relationship with alcohol, and every time I went to see him he just laughed a lot. To be fair I was no star pupil. There had been a special lecture on doing the dissertation, which I had not attended, and we had been advised to look at previous student's dissertations, which I had not done. I had got through my previous years at university not attending lectures and I was quite convinced by my own opinion that in avoiding lectures I was taking care to take a fresh approach to the reading material. I had got by like that til then.
I fell seriously behind in doing anything at all about my dissertation, I had from February until June to write it. I think I had a series of mini-breaks to Edinburgh to see friends and tried to distract myself from the rising panic. In May, I think, I cracked and realised that I had to start writing something - anything - it didn't matter what - because if I didn't submit anything I would not have finished my course and would therefore owe that year's grant back - whereas if I at least submitted something I had some chance of passing and even if I didn't I wouldn't have to pay any money back. This was in 1988 so it was before students had type-writers let alone word-processing packages on computers. I enlisted the help of my poor mum, who was up in Orkney, to type up my untidy scrawlings and post them back to me. She made the mistake, once or twice, of querying what I actually meant by what I was writing, at which point I think I screamed at her "Never mind what it means just type the bastard!" (Or something like that.)  There was no time for that  kind of thinking. And so it was that I did manage to hand it in in time, and I scraped a pass. At the meeting thingy where the board meets you to talk about your dissertation they said that my dissertation was "brave" at which point I laughed and said did that mean rubbish, which set off my tipsy supervisor. There was some throat clearing in the room. Anyhow I had passed. The rest of my work was at a reasonable standard so maybe they just gave me the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe there was some sense in all those words, I don't know. I never read it again.

Then dissertation no.2 was for an MSc in Information Technology. It wasn't quite so much my fault that this one went a bit awry. Because I had a tenuous connection with archaeology,  I was matched up with a supervisor in the Religious Studies department, who had a data-base of sites through the ages in Israel and wanted a program that would show these sites on different maps. There was a special lecture to discuss the dissertation, but I didn't go. And we were advised to look at previous student's dissertations but...well I didn't. I did do a lot of work on the project though, and pretty soon had something up and running. I gave various versions of what I was writing to my supervisor, who didn't seem very keen to see me. Finally, one day, he said he wasn't sure why I was giving him things to read. It turned out he hadn't realised he was supposed to be my supervisor. In the meantime I'd written up the whole damn thing in the first person when it was meant to be in the third person or some dross. It was a troubling day or two. I did pass it though, and I deserved to.

So maybe that's why I'm avoiding my dissertation so frantically, ...but surely third time is lucky. And this time, I have not only attended the lecture, I went to 4 dissertation workshops. I haven't read any of the previous student's dissertations yet, but I've read the list of titles. Maybe I'll go for the burn this afternoon and read one. There's a first time for everything.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Hair by the Wild West Wind

All change on the bus of life. I found out on Friday my contract isn't getting renewed at the end of the month. Working on the nurse bank - which is my back up plan, you get paid at the end of the month after the month you worked. So I have to try to earn enough in my spare time this month to cover me for a wage-less month come April. That was why,  instead of doing my customary longish run on a Saturday,  I did a wee recovery run in the morning and then went to work. Because I was fresh it wasn't that easy to hold my pace back. Which is maybe why I felt a bit crap today.

I stacked everything in my favour anyway. There was to be a ferocious west wind today and so it proved. I thought I would get a train to Prestonpans, run to North Berwick, and get a train all the way back. I wanted to build on the long runs I've been doing and maybe do 17 or 18. I was awake early though - about half past 5 in the morning. I found out the first train wasn't until 10.33 and I played around with the idea of just setting off from here. But even on the road, it's 23 miles to North Berwick, and I was trying to be sensible and not do too big a jump in mileage all in one go. I've been enjoyably injury free, apart from the odd yoga thing, of late.

So I waited around for the train. But then, when I got the train, it was delayed because there was a tree on the line at Drem so the trains were queueing for the one track apparently. It was well after 11 by the time I got to the Pans. And I was starving. Three miles into my run I stopped for a big pastry and a bottle of cola.

Roly McCraw had a nasty experience running along the paths at Longniddry the other day. He stumbled across 3 men engaged in an act of love in the long grass. Actually I'm not sure it was love. He said there was two old geezers and a young guy in a hoodie who jumped up and ran away. I've cleaned this story up a fair bit. So I was keeping a weather eye out as I ran along the dunes there. Nothing much going on though. Three old ladies on a picnic blanket. It didn't have the same impact.

The kite-surfers were making the best of the high winds and were getting well up in the air. I stopped for a good while trying to get pictures of them up there, but it wasn't easy. I was too far away. It was a funny hot and cold kind of day. When I was running I got really hot but the minute I stopped the wind felt drafty and I got chilly.

Round Aberlady bay the scenery was spectacular. It kept me going though my legs were heavy. I'd planned to run the coast all the way to North Berwick from here but the wind was knocking merry hell out of me and the tide was far in so I was having to run in the dunes which was tiring out my already heavy legs. I wimped out and cut back up to the road at Archerfields. Then I didn't have to pick my feet up very high to get blown along the road all the way to the station. 20.5 miles. In retrospect I'm pleased about it.
I have to be up early tomorrow morning to go and do another bank shift. I'm trying not to feel sorry for myself but in fact I do.
The up-side is I've applied for another job I'd really like. Send me the vibes.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Gullane Run



Mary Shelley

Upside Down

Geese flying North

There were signs and portents. Shell collections on the beach. Geese flying North. Something is a-foot!
Another Thursday off. Another Gullane run. It was cold, but nice in the sun. I don't think I saw a soul from Aberlady to Gullane beach. Just me and the larks.The wind blew me along the beach, but then the tide came in so I went through the woods instead.
By the time I'd run through the woods at c. 7 miles I was starving hungry and I thought about turning back to Gullane from there...but I was loathe to stop as well, so I carried on.

Ran 11 miles in the end, having taken a few wrong turns.
No cheese tongues at Falko's during the week so I made do with a pretzl. Actually it was delicious. The sugary looking stuff is salt and hit the spot. I washed it down with some old car water that had been sitting in the glove compartment for some time.

I think my radiator hose has a slow leak, well it might be that, I'm having to top up with coolant about every third trip in the car. I don't dare go near a garage until pay day though. I'll just have to apologise to the environment for dripping fluorescent pink fluid into it.

Still no word on whether my job is extending past the end of the month or not, but I saw another job I'd like, so I applied for it yesterday. Nice to have a plan B. Our house-hold is all about the job uncertainty at the moment so I'm concentrating on just enjoying the present as much as possible. The future is only notional after all. No sense in worrying about it at all. Anyway, my running's getting better. I ran round Arthur's Seat in a new post-op PB yesterday of 8.32 average pace. That would have been UNTHINKABLE a year ago. Yay!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Water of Leith 15 miler and Bridesmaids

I had a great run yesterday. I wanted to do 15 miles because I did 13 last weekend and I have a half notion about building up to do the E2NB 20 miler. The forecast said dry but very windy, but not so windy earlier, so I set off as soon as I felt able. The weather forecast was all wrong. I think the met office team consists of someone looking out the window these days. It'll be part of the cuts. It was drizzly, and quite warm, and not particularly windy.

I thought 15 miles was a bit too long to run without anything to drink, but I didn't want any baggage with me or a bottle belt round my waist. I took a pound coin with me so I could buy some water if I needed to. I had worn a couple of tops because the forecast had said  it would feel cold in the wind. It felt warm in the drizzle, and pretty soon my buff and gloves were off and my toppest top soon followed suit.

I figured 15 miles would need 8 miles up the Water of Leith. This takes me to the long cycle tunnel on the cycle path down from Balerno. I'd been going well anyway and the next bit was great as it's downhill and what wind there was was behind me. The canal route isn't as much fun since they tarmacked it all over, but it's relatively fast and there are things to see. There was a women's rowing team rather floundering about in the reeds and there was a girl's football team looking good to my left. I was enjoying myself and was tempted to shout "go on the girls!" or something stupid like that, but I kept my lip buttoned. A bit further along the canal I bumped into old friend Liz, who I have not seen for quite some time (the day of the 2012 Musselburgh 10K in fact). She was going to pick up her daughter who was playing football...probably one of the girls I'd seen.

Coming into Tollcross would have been the time to stop to buy some water but I was feeling fine, my legs still felt springy and I couldn't be bothered with stopping and change and all that so I just kept going. The last few miles I was a bit tired and thirsty but less than you'd expect. The total route was 15 and a half miles and I was pleased to knock it out at 8.50 pace. The route includes some deep mud and some hilly bits so that isn't bad. The best I've done for a 15 miler in quite some time anyway.

I got home, and Peter, who had said he might set off later and try to catch me, was just up.
Spent the rest of the day eating and reading course work stuff.

I took no pictures today so I've put up a clip from the film Bridesmaids. Like most things in the public domain, people have probably known about Bridesmaids for ages, but I just saw it for the first time on Friday night and even though it's a Rom Com, possibly even a chick flick, it was laugh hard out loud funny at times, I was very surprised. Peter better get used to the pep talk in the clip above, as he's going to hear it from time to time when he's sulking.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Into the grey

a small boat or a big clog?

I've got some annual leave to take before the end of March so I took the day off today. I've been far too busy and needing some time out.
It was a grey morning and looked set to be grey all day but it's been too long since I've been down the coast so I headed there anyway. As I was nearing Gullane big spots of rain were falling on the windscreen and I was trying to hold the rain off by will-power alone. It seemed to work. By the time I got to Gullane it had cleared up.

There's nothing I can tell you about it you don't already know. Lovely to get down onto the beach and feel the spaciousness and see the big skies. There was practically no-one about. I saw maybe 4 people and two dogs on an 11 mile run.

I'm in a strange state of suspended animation at work. My contract was due to run out on February the 28th, but they're trying to see if they can keep me - and it was extended until the end of March at the 11th hour. So they're still trying to see if they can keep it may be extended again - and that's what I would like to happen, but I just don't know. There's a meeting next week. Maybe I'll find out then. Makes it difficult to plan.

I've been thinking about races to do. Not well formed thoughts. I'd quite like to do Edinburgh to North Berwick but I don't want to do that much training on the roads. But maybe if my job gets extended I'll splash out and buy a pair of road Hokas to soak up some of the pounding.

There you have it.