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.

Monsal Trail parkrun, Bakewell

As it’s my birthday in early May, we often have a weekend away for the Bank Holiday, and this year we opted for a weekend in Bakewell. We’ve been to the Peak District a few times, but only ever driven through Bakewell before, so I was looking forward to staying there. We drove up after work on the Friday night, and had an Air BnB right in the centre of the town.

Of course I was looking forward to some more parkrun tourism! Monsal Trail parkrun starts around 1.5 miles from the town centre. I ran the most direct route, but for a prettier route I could have found the end of the trail in the town and then ran that way.

It starts at an old railway station, and is an out and back route on an old railway line. I was there fairly early so opted to run the opposite direction of the railway line for a bit- plenty of runners were using it as their warm up.

The old railway line, a parkrun sign (yay), and the map.

I always feel a bit awkward asking someone to take my photo, but there were lots of tourists there and people were happy to do this, so after watching a few people pose for photos, I plucked up the courage to ask someone to take one for me. I am terrible at lining up the signs in the background when I attempt a selfie, so a photo taken by someone else is preferable. I ended up chatting to a mother and son who had travelled for his first parkrun (not hers)- he even asked “do you have to have a photo with the sign?”- that’s how many people were doing it!

The actual course is gently downhill for the first half, a u-turn and then gently uphill to the finish. Nothing really steep, but it did make the final mile feel a little tougher. Even with that, I somehow managed the elusive royal flush negative split (9:31, 9:27, 9:17 and 8:08). On the way back I had a guy right behind me who was breathing really heavily, which I am not a fan of. (I know people need to breathe hard when they run, but it just makes me focus on my own breathing and I find it off putting). I kept trying to overtake the person in front to make a bit of space, but he kept getting behind me and keeping there, even when I was overtaking. As it’s fairly narrow in places, with cyclists and walkers as well as parkrunners, so you had to be a bit careful when overtaking. At one point I was hanging behind a group of runners, with cyclists coming the other way. A voice behind me went “go now, before the next cyclist”, and I thought it was aimed at someone else, but then he said again “go now!”, and I realised he was talking to me. As we neared the end, the same guy told me to keep running faster, I told him I couldn’t go any faster (briefly) and told him to push to the end, so he overtook me right at the finish. Clearly for him he liked to have someone to pace him!

How good is their token sorting box?

After taking a few photos, I headed back for breakfast, as we were planning to come back to hire bikes later on in the weekend.

So that was event number 97 for me. Another really enjoyable event, such a pretty route, easy to find, everything you would need at the start/finish area. Perfect!

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 (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.

Celebrating IWD by parkwalking at Stevenage

For IWD I decided to volunteer as parkwalker. I’d not done the role since the launch weekend, so it felt about time to get the blue bib back on. It was a really cold day, so it was hard to work out what to wear as I would warm up while walking, but obviously not as much as if I was running. As a last minute thought I took my RU2C hat with me and was very glad of it- I kept it on the whole time.

Stevenage is a well resourced parkrun with a free car park, a cafe and toilets all there in the centre of the park. The start and finish area are in slightly different places, and at first I walked to the start before realising that the volunteers were collecting at the finish funnel.

Volunteer team photo, sunny views and my token- with 2 people behind me they were just shy of 300.

I loved the welcome chalk board close to the start.

When I arrived, there was another parkwalker (recovering from a hip operation) and we ended up chatting with the tail walker rather than being a big ahead. Just ahead of us were a couple who were walking it, but they were chatting to each other and so we just hung behind them.

Amazing brunch plate from Mildred’s, sticky toffee pudding, the tea chest and a latte.

When I finished I could not hang about for too long as I was off to London to meet with some friends. We were going to lunch at Mildred’s, and as I got there a little early I had time to pop into Bird and Blend.

I’ve been a member of their Brew Societea for ages, and one perk is that if you are in store, you can ask to see the tea chest and take a sample from it. I have been to the stores plenty of times, but never been brave enough to ask before. As they were preparing my drink, I plucked up the courage to ask. Of course they were fine, and I was very excited to find some mulled cider tea- usually a Christmas only drink (but a lovely apple and spiced fruity blend) and we had run out at home.

At Mildred’s I could have chosen so many things, but in the end went for one of their brunch plates with scrambled tofu, black bean mole, sweetcorn fritters, blue corn tortillas, pink pickled onions, avocado and salsa- so many delicious things. We chatted for so long that we even had space for dessert, so I had the sticky toffee pudding and it was amazing.

Sunday running through the woods to junior parkrun, vegan strawberry cheesecake doughnut from Crosstown and lunch at Caffe Nero- I really like that their vegan ‘sausage’ roll has lots of veggies in there rather than a fake meat filling.

Sunday was another parkrun themed day, this time meeting our niece and nephew at junior parkrun. I ran through the woods first which was lovely but also very muddy! I thought it would be better as the weather had been dry for a few days.

Andy had been into London too, and popped to Crosstown (he was after the St Patrick’s Day Guinness doughnut so got me a doughnut too), so I had that to enjoy on Sunday.