Normandy

For some of the Easter holidays, we headed over to France. Andy was keen to visit Normandy, so we stayed there first, and then headed to DLP for a few days on the way home.

√Čtretat was our first stop (we drove to the channel tunnel in the evening, crossed over and stayed in a hotel right by the tunnel (handily had car chargers in the car park) and then drove down here the next day. It was amazing, with all of these arches in the water and a fantastic clifftop walk to do.

We then stayed in Honfleur for one night (another little town fab for a wander, even with a little sculpture park by the water), before driving to our Air BnB for the next 5 ish days.

There were so many memorials to visit. We went in a few of the museums, and visited lots of the memorials, although there were lots more. History isn’t such a big interest of mine, but actually visiting the places did put things into context (for example, seeing the cliffs the soldiers had to climb up). It was a strange contrast as we had amazing weather, the beaches were beautiful, but we were reading horiffic stories.

One day we went into Bayeaux to see the tapestry, and also the amazing cathedral. One of the windows looked purple from the outside (see below), but when you went inside it was mainly yellow.

At our Air BnB the owner recommended a walk to us, around 45 minutes to a local church. I had packed my running things, so we thought we’d walk it one evening and then I might run it later. As we walked, two dogs came out of a farm, barking and jumping up at us. It was quite scary, as neither of us are really fans of dogs (especially not dogs that jump up at you)- there were no owners around and we were just on a small country lane. Eventually they settled down and just ran ahead of us, but later on a huge dog, that was barking at us from behind a fence, somehow got out and ran after us too. Luckily it didn’t follow us far, and didn’t come too close, whereas the two other dogs walked all the way back to where we were staying. Hopefully they found their way home. I decided after that to not go on a run as I didn’t fancy being on my own and being chased by those dogs, or other ones. It seems that people just let their dogs wander freely about (which seemed crazy due to the big tractors driving around the country roads with some regularity).

We had a very relaxing few days there anyway, with plenty of walks but also plenty of reading and relaxing. And of course lots of baguettes!

Not Pocket parkrun (yet) and a vegan market visit

The 1st April was the start of the Easter holidays- usually a good opportunity for parkrun tourism due to the weather, lighter mornings etc. The original plan was for my parents to be up in St Neots for the Friday, and I would drive up on Saturday and meet my dad at Pocket parkrun, and then we’d have a wander around St Neots together after before coming home. It didn’t happen in the end due to illness, but it’s still on our list for the future.

We ended up at Jersey Farm instead, for a very enjoyable run together (far less flooding that I had expected after the rain we had in the week), and then breakfast at home.

parkrun number 312 for me

On the Sunday I was off to junior parkrun (via a run through the woods first) as my niece had completed her 11th junior parkrun the time before, so it was time for her to collect her wristband- how exciting!

Then I had to drop Andy off in St Albans, and noticed that the vegan market (that travels around) was going to be there too. I decided I would pop there for a wander around as I’d not been to St Albans for ages.

There were loads of stalls- the vegan hot dog stall was doing a roaring trade with such a huge line. I wandered around for ages before choosing us a couple of cakes to take home for later. My favourite, the Planted Coffee Co (usually in Panshanger park) were there too, so I picked up a chai latte for the walk back to the car. The lady even recognised me so we had a little chat. I am sure all the dog walkers from Panshanger would have missed them as they are always so busy.
Easter holiday running scenes and the website

I was also super chuffed to see that my blog was on a list of the 70 best running blogs here https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_running_blogs/ (is that because there are only 70?). I was looking to see if there were any new ones I fancied following (although I need to find a better system as I used to use Bloglovin but that never seems to work any more), so it was a really lovely surprise.

I was off to France shortly, but I’ll save that for another post.

Leavesden Country parkrun for my Wilson Index

The gap between official parkrun milestones is now a long one- having achieved my 250 in 2022, it’s going to be a good few years before the big 500, so I like having other challenges in the meantime to occupy my time and to help me decide where to go.

This also stems from feeling slightly parkrun homeless as Ellenbrook Fields is still not back- I do like volunteering and visiting other local events, but they just do not feel like home like EF did.

The 5k parkrunner app (purple icon) is great for organising and locating parkruns. However, it also has loads of other challenges that are not from the original Chrome extension, so I try to track the main ones through the app.

The Wilson Index links to the event numbers that you have been to, working at event 1 and working consecutively. If you have been to event numbers 1,2,3 and 5, your Wilson Index would be 3. It can be a bit contentious as it can be seen to encourage people to go to inaugurals, whereas that is discouraged now. I’d been lucky enough to go to both Panshanger and Ellenbrook Fields first events when they were encouraged (there was a poster up in the Sweatshop about Panshanger), so I had bigger numbers that needed filling in. The app also tracks your floating Wilson Index, which is the largest amount of consecutive events, not needing to begin at 1, so if you had been to event numbers 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, then you would have a floating Wilson index of 7 as you have 7 in a row.

I’d filled in number 9 by visiting Bartley Park (Southampton), and 10, 15 and 18 at Henlow Bridge Lakes. My next gaps were 21 and 22, and with the newest local one at Leavesden only starting in the autumn, I was keeping an eye to see when their events 21 and 22 would be.

Happily they were both on weekends that I was around, and my dad agreed to humour me and come along. When we had visited before, we’d headed home as Mum was making us breakfast, but we liked the look of the cafe, so for event 21 we arranged that I’d pick up my dad and we’d drive there and run together, and then my brother would pick up my mum and meet us in the cafe after.

It was raining hard and we both got soaked, but loved it. Dad does like the cross country style runs, and I think Leavesden is great as there is a mixture of terrain- it’s basically 3 laps, with each lap going through woodland on hard paths for a bit, and then looping around a football pitch on muddy grass. Trail shoes are ideal, and thankfully the cafe didn’t mind muddy shoes!

We got chatting to one lady who was also coming for event 21, although it transpired that she was doing the Fibonacci challenge (not an original one). It would have been a coincidence if she was hunting the same numbers as me.

Blueberry croissant and tea in the cafe, soaking wet at the finish, muddy shoes and finish token.

We were so soaked through when we finished! The sound of everyone running across the wet muddy grass was quite something. The cafe was lovely- I was very impressed with the vegan options and had quite a few things to choose from. I went for a blueberry croissant in the end which was really good.

I cleaned my trail shoes after the first revisit to Leavesden! They were so stiff from the dried mud.

The following week we were back again, but this time Mum was making us breakfast at home, so it was just a parkrun and then coming home. It had rained loads in the week, but the course was drier than the previous week.

Wood and field section of the course, and the two of us at the finish. Eyes closed in my photo of course!

The RD mentioned that it would be quieter this week as the previous week was a Fibonacci number- it’s funny how these challenges are permeating parkrun gradually.

I took a few photos mid run of the course to show my club mates as some of them as rather opposed to any sort of mud! Stevenage gets a lot of visits from us in the winter as it’s all on hard paths. As we were coming towards the finish, Dad mentioned that he felt like we were running faster than last week, and wondered if we were on for course pbs. I hadn’t looked at that point, but we ended up being about a minute quicker than the previous week, and only about 6 seconds slower than our course pbs- we shall have to revisit when it’s even drier!

So here we go- screenshots from the 5k app. (Bottom right is where I started, bottom left after I had been to event 21, and then the top one once I had ticked off number 22. The purple bit is called the floating index, which is the longest amount of consecutive events visited that does not need to begin at 1, so now I have filled in so many, the purple and green ones match for me if that makes sense).

So next up is event 29. I was wondering about a different event (eg Lordship Rec) but I am not sure I am around for that date, whereas I will be around for Leavesden 29. We shall see. My attention is turning back to my cowell, as I am on 95 events, so only 5 to go.

Do you have one event that you always go to, or several local events to choose from?