Local parkruns including my first visit to Panshanger in 2023!

Handily Panshanger parkrun is around 2 miles from home, so if I do go there I can run/walk from home for a parkrun sandwich. I did get into doing this fairly regularly, but if Dad is around we tend to do Jersey Farm as it is less than a mile from theirs, and we’ve also been enjoying some tourism. Somehow I managed to go 6 months of 2023 without going to Panshanger at all.

I also went to Jersey Farm two weeks in a row (as Dad was around)- it’s on their summer course which I think technically is easier with less elevation, but I always find harder, maybe because I just run slower in the heat. It does look so pretty there with all the wildflowers at the moment.

Jersey Farm scenes- you can see the longer grass in the photo, and they had even mown around the flowers to leave them.

And another weekend at Jersey Farm- you can tell this was a while ago as I had on shorts so it was when we had the very hot spell around the end of June.

Once Dad was at Wimbledon I was back to deciding where I would go, and as I had to be home promptly, Panshanger seemed the best choice. Some of my club mates were running there too, so we met up at the start for a little catch up.

These are some photos of Panshanger park (and bottom left the view on my run there). It’s just such a beautiful park. When I arrived after running there, the start was slightly further down which meant the cow course. When the longhorn cattle as in one of the fields, they divert the course around the field, which means another hill (and a steep one at that). As I was running up the hill, a lady next to me was tripped over by a dog. The dog was on a lead and the owner was holding it, but the dog was running erratically and she really took a tumble. The guy with the dog was very friendly and apologetic (which dog owners often are after a dog had jumped up at you/ chased you etc I find), and luckily the lady seemed OK. I hope that she reported it as an incident, as I know parkrun are still looking into the impact of dogs at their events. I don’t mind dogs, but I am nervous of them off their leads, and it does surprise me that parkrun still allows them when their events are so busy.

Rain was forecast, but it stayed away during parkrun. I had to head home quickly as I needed to pick up my mum later on in the morning, and as I was around halfway home I got absolutely drenched in a sudden downpour, that ended as quickly as it started.

Then for some non-running news, I went to get my haircut. Now I don’t work on Mondays anymore I can get this sort of thing done in the week rather than the weekend, so it felt much more relaxed. I went for a cup of tea after in a little cafe (Herts Coffee Lab), did a few errands and then had time to chill in the garden.

(My hair will only look like this straight after the hairdresser has dried it- I cannot make it look that nice, so good to have a photo to prove that it can look good!)

My next post will be touring again, but this is the joy of parkrun to me- it can be whatever you want it to be- a solo run before heading back home, a social run with friends, a run exploring new places or a run in a familiar local park.

What do you like most about your local parkrun?

Bedford parkrun

Some of my club mates had been doing a “Stay in Beds” parkrun challenge- all the parkruns in Bedfordshire, so I joined in. When I looked, I only needed 2, Bedford being one of them. After we’d driven up there for the George Ezra concert and I’d seen that it wasn’t to bad of a journey, I decided to head there. The Cambridge and MK Vegan Runners were having a meet up there too, so another reason to head there.

parkrun were celebrating 75 years of the NHS, and had asked everyone to wear blue, so I wore my Ware 10k race top.

The drive up there was fine, apart from me going slightly wrong in the centre and then having a bit of a diversion, but I arrived with plenty of time, to find that the car park had free parking for 3 hours on a Saturday, you just had to get a ticket to display. I had a bit of a jog around the park first, and then got very confused as to where the start area was, as I found the finish area but could not work out for ages where it started. It turned out to be close to the car park, so when I had run past in my warm up, I hadn’t noticed it as not many people were there yet.

I saw a few of the vegan runners, so had a little chat with them. We asked someone to take our photo, and then the weirdest thing happened- after they had taken our photo with one of the VR’s phones, they got their own phone out and asked us to stand still while they took one with their phone. It’s a public place but that felt a little strange.

The RD at the start gave a wonderful little speech about the NHS, and pointed out a few of the team who were NHS workers. I saw a couple of people running in their paramedic gear which didn’t look like the most breathable fabric- kudos to them.

I loved the wildflower meadows that were part of the park. It was a varied town centre park, with a little lake (featuring cygnets), a few wooded areas, a band stand and a cafe. It tipped with rain at the end!

The route was just under 3 laps (I think they said two and a half), starting lower down in the park and finishing in the centre. It felt like a well supported event with lots of marshals on the route, and loads at the finish area (reminding us to keep right as faster runners headed left into the finish). It was pretty flat, but as you went past the lake it then went gently uphill- all fine but the third time up there I was feeling more tired.

After I’d finished, I ran back over to the lake to see if I could spot the cygnets again, as I’d seen them while running, and while I was there is started tipping it down with rain. I had seen a nice vegan cafe in the town centre, and was originally planning on going there before driving home, but I was soaked through so quickly so decided to just head home instead.

I’m there in blue with the other VR’s. Plus cakes, matcha and pistachio butter.

The vegan market was in WGC, so in the afternoon I popped in. I got myself a strawberry matcha (so good), picked up some pistachio butter (I’ve not yet opened it) and bought some cakes from Kim’s Vegan Cakes as they were half price.

102nd parkrun visited, and only one left for the Beds challenge now (Great Denham)- that will be in the autumn I think.

Do you like different parkrun challenges? Did your parkrun do anything for the NHS 75?

Welwyn 10K and Ware 10K 2023

Last year I went to the Welwyn 10k for the first time, after having it recommended to me from some club mates. I did enjoy it, but it started in the middle of the day, on a super hot day, and was a very hilly route. This year it had relocated to Panshanger Park, so I was really happy to sign up. My original plan was to run there and back, but the cows were back which meant the direct route was out of question, and so it would mean quite a diversion. Thankfully a few of my club mates were going so I got picked up and we travelled together.

Before and after, plus a few views from the run.

It was such a baking hot day (I think still the hottest day of the year). We found some shade before the start but knew it would be a day to take it gently and enjoy the scenery. I ended up running with one of my club mates, chatting the whole way. I walked up the two big hills, made the most of the shade, had a drink at the water station and took a few photos. The route was a really good one, with the main two hills in the first 5k, and then the second 5k being mainly flat and then downhill to the finish. The scenery around there is always so good, and it went past some of the historic parts of the park such as the old orangery (from when there was a big house there) and the old oak tree, looping past the lakes, through ancient woodland and also past the new woodland (Queen’s Green Canopy) planted for the jubilee.

The medal was a wooden one with the old oak carved into it- really lovely. My time was 1:08:54, not bad on such a hot day.

At the finish area there were a few stands, including the fab Planted Coffee co- they are usually in Panshanger over the weekend and all their drinks and food are plant based. In the final mile the two of us were deciding what our cold drinks would be, and I went for the classic iced chai. We sat in the shade and chatted while we waited for other people to finish, get their bits from the car and get a drink. I bought a blueberry croissant too, but took that home as I didn’t fancy eating straight away, I think probably because of the heat.

Iced chai, blueberry croissant, dusty legs and the wooden medal.

I really enjoyed the route and I really hope that next year they keep the location and earlier start time. When I got home I had the most hilarious lines on my legs (see above)- all the dust sticking to the suncream on my legs made them so dark.

The following week was a bit stressful- I’d booked our car in for a service on the Monday, and it was meant to be ready to collect the same day, but it wasn’t. We didn’t get it back until Thursday in the end, so a combination of getting the bus, getting a lift from a friend and finally borrowing Andy’s parents car (as they were away) was how I sorted out commuting for the week. To reward ourselves we went out for dinner with some vouchers- I had miso ginger aubergine which was amazing, and then we had a nice walk around the park after.

(One day I had to get the bus into town so my reward was a chai latte from Pret).

The following week I had the Ware 10k (where? Yes, in Ware). This has been one of my favourite races for years- there is a 10 mile and 10K option, they do free kids races, it’s super relaxed with parking right by the start, you pick up your number on the morning, the club that organise it (Ware Joggers) are so friendly, there are loads of marshals and it’s just a great event. They raise money for the Herts Air Ambulance, and you get a nice t-shirt. I wore a previous one (the green one) as I really like the fit and fabric, so it’s good value.

Start arch, banana and medal at the finish, run scenes and the medal.

The 10 mile route is sort of two laps of the 10k (slightly different of course as that would make the 10 mile too long), and this year I decided that the 10k would be sensible as it was hot and I had not completed many long runs. One of my club mates was doing the 10 mile, so we met at the start and I cheered her off, as they started about 15 mins before the 10k race.

As always, I loved the route and run. They had changed the route to make it less hilly, but there are still some hills, although mainly in the first few miles, as the final section is back along the canal/river. They had a steel pan band playing, so after I finished I went around and watched them for a bit as I love that summery sound. My time was 1:01:32- much quicker than last week but it was much cooler so I was not surprised. But these races aren’t about times for me, they are about enjoying running somewhere else and supporting local causes.

On the way home I stopped off at Panshanger (I had to drive right past it) to get a drink and pastry (vanilla and hazelnut- so good).

Here’s to more local races with my lovely club mates!

Summer Song Season- 2023 edition

This time of year is just the best for outdoor music. Sometimes we head off to a festival, but this year we went to separate gigs instead.

First up, George Ezra in Bedford. This was a Friday night and just had such a great feel, relaxed and friendly (and the most little kids I’d ever seen at a concert). We just drove up after work and didn’t even get home too late either (although later than planned due to getting a long diversion after a road closure).

Saturday was another one, this time Pulp at Finsbury Park. I went to Jersey Farm parkrun in the morning with Dad, and then we went into London in the afternoon, of course visiting Bird and Blend (and a dinner at Leon- their vegan burger is so good). Pulp were supported by Wet Leg who were good too, and then Pulp were just brilliant- it had such a celebratory feel.

The following weekend on the Saturday we were back in London again, this time going to Wembley for Blur.

This was just amazing. Self Esteem was the support act, and she was brilliant, and then Blur were just fantastic, classic after classic. The only slightly disappointing thing for me was that I could not really see the stage- there were big screens and sometimes if the crowd parted in the right way I could glimpse one of them, but I like to actually see the stage, particularly when they have additional artists on stage (they had the London gospel choir for Tender). But anyway, it was such a great night.

For the antidote of being in loud and crowded spaces, on the Sunday we went for a walk around Panshanger, getting a matcha from the coffee van for the walk (and for the energy after all those late nights!). Then time to watch Disney You Tube videos (with my Orange Bird mug)!

Do you like going to see live bands?

Dunstable Downs to celebrate a 100th parkrun

Someone in my club (Helen) had chosen to celebrate her 100th parkrun at Dunstable Downs, and of course I was happy to tour. I’d been there once before, on 2nd March 2019 (for my 58th different location), so I was looking forward to the beautiful views.

It was an overcast day, but the views across the downs were still stunning. It’s on National Trust property, so if you are a member, remember to bring your card for free parking (as you need to scan your card in the payment machines). I left my bag in the boot as the car park is very close to the start, but there was a “tarpaulin of trust” so you could have left bags at the start/finish area also.

The route starts off fairly hilly, with a steep drop down the side of the hill before heading steeply back up again towards the start/finish area. You then head off along the side of the hill, still with some undulations but I think the worst is out of the way at the start. It’s one lap and there are just gorgeous views the whole way around.

The cafe had vegan options clearly marked, so I went for a scone and jam, plus Earl Grey tea of course. It rained a bit when we had finished, but the cafe inside had loads of tables so there were no worries about space. It’s a good one for a celebration because they tend to have a small turnout and the cafe is spacious.

I couldn’t hang about for long as I had to get back to meet a friend in town, and then had a massage appointment after that- a busy Saturday for me!

On the Sunday I went along to the club run- the first I’d been to one of those for ages. We met at Hatfield station and at the end ran through some underpasses with this wonderful artwork (the bird and butterfly above)- I love things like this.

Where do you like to have milestone celebrations? I feel like I always say this, but since Ellenbrook Fields is no more, I don’t feel like I have a proper home event, so I like to be a tourist for milestones.