24 August 2009


Just back from a long weekend in France - another trip involving freeloading with some very generous friends. I stayed in Martha and Matt's place once before (strictly speaking, Martha's parents' place) a couple of years ago and knew what to expect - a few days in a lovely old farmhouse hanging out with a couple of their friends and M&M's exceptionally cool kids, Hope (my very pretty god-daughter) and Ferdie. As anticipated, we also ended up eating and drinking like locals and, this time, with locals, since the village fete was on. This involved losing at boules to some grizzled pétanque veterans, followed by dinner in the school playground with a few hundred French types, who entertained themselves and us in truly inimitable fashion. God knows where they all came from - French Wikipedia suggests that Castéra-Lectourois only has a population of about 300!

Along with the other highlights, I went running. Unfortunately I was a couple of days late for the 40-degree heatwave that had just swept through the region and which had left the sunflowers looking somewhat dehydrated - though I think the flowers are so heavy this late in the season that they do tend to droop even in normal years. Still, my first sortie gave me some time running on the hills that I have been so sorely craving and my second, of about 10 miles, combined them with 35-degree temperatures. Suffice to say, the last 20 minutes or so were not an enormous pleasure but I managed roughly 9-minute miles so I was fairly satisfied.No more holidays planned for 2009, for anyone who's getting envious! It does seem as though I've been away a lot this year for some reason.

16 August 2009

Saturday lunch

I ran to Hannah and Fraser's house on Saturday, two great people who I don't see nearly often enough. They're out in West Ken, which involved crossing Hyde Park, which it turns out I don't really know too well. Presumably this is down to my North West London prejudice against anything that isn't within walking distance of the Northern Line. Anyhow, it was a fun run and carrying a pack didn't feel too bad at 9:30/mile pace. I got to go along the little bit of sand known as Rotten Row (below), which I always thought was a corruption of the French but Wikipedia informs me there may be other etymologies behind it. A delicious lunch involving some great lamb chops was followed by a fun afternoon that took in the delights of some rather unusual Polish flavoured vodkas before finishing up in the pub.
I also went for a run on Sunday, which took my total mileage for the weekend to around 18. Unfortunately, with only 7-and-a-bit months to go until the MdS, I'm going to have to start doing that kind of thing more often, though it was a beautiful day and a very pleasant run...

Finally, kudos to my mate Riz, who has pointed out that the flowers in a previous post are not in fact wisteria at all but are buddleja. Smart-ass.

09 August 2009

Kenwood House

Not a great deal to say about today's run. I ran back to my parents' for lunch, via Hampstead Heath. The pic is of Kenwood House, the well-proportioned Robert Adam building.

Now I'm back at home, two episodes into the third season of the Wire. Happy days.

03 August 2009


I am lucky to know someone as generous as my friend Refik, who invited a bunch of us out to his family's amazing place in Turkey, in between Urla Iskele and Çeşmealtı. It was a great week and, in marked contrast to my other trips this year (lots of skiing and a bit of walking), it involved doing nothing. Well, nothing except eating. He's a great host, proud of his country and keen to ensure that everyone enjoys the best it has to offer, which includes great fruit, veg, fish and beer. Turkish wine, however, is a bit less impressive.

I fitted in three runs, avoiding the hill behind the house where last year I attracted the attention of numerous working dogs who weren't too friendly. I ran along the coast instead, through Urla Iskele and beyond. The pic to the right is of Karantina (quarantine) island, past which my runs went. It's now a hospital rather than a place to send plague victims.

Things I learned: running in mid-30 degree heat is OK as long as it's not humid (it was much easier than Orlando) and there's a breeze. Oh, and P20 suncream really works and doesn't make you sweat as much as the normal ones - very impressive.