Rushmere parkrun for the gong of glory!

So this weekend was time for more parkrun tourism, as both Jersey Farm and St Albans were off due to events taking place. As it was Dad’s 200th parkrun, it was his choice, and he chose Rushmere.

Partly because it’s a beautiful woodland trail run, and partly because they have a gong! My brother was also coming too- he sometimes plays football on Saturdays so doesn’t go to parkrun as often, so it was perfect timing that he could make it too.

We arrived at around 8:45, and Dad revealed his “special t-shirt”. He’d made a 2 with “200th today” written on it, and safety pinned it over the 1.

The run brief was observed in silence, and then we walked around to the start. I’d remembered it as one and a bit laps, but it’s really just shy of 2 laps. It’s through woodland, past bike trails and bridleways (no dogs allowed because of this)- we did see a horse on our second lap.

The route is just beautiful and so peaceful. The pine trees are so tall, and it’s shaded and cool, filled with birds singing and then the gentle sound of runners feet on the soft earth. The three of us ran together and just enjoyed chatting, thanking the marshals, waving at the photographers and saying good  morning to the other park users. Andy always asks me why we do this when we could just run a 5k around near home, but I just feel we are so lucky to have places like this nearby and we can experience such a range of parks and places while enjoying running.

On the second lap one of the marshals called out to Dad, and it turned out to be the headteacher from my first school (Dad was also a headteacher in the same town, so they knew each other a bit, and his wife who was also a head). As Disney say, it’s a small world! When we finished we saw his wife and chatted to her too.

Then of course we had to visit the gong of glory. There was hand sanitiser to use first (of course) and then as he hit the gong, lots of people clapped. It was a really nice way to mark the occasion. (Yes we know 200 isn’t an official milestone, but it’s a long way between 100 and 250 even without the long pause, so we are going to celebrate these things).

Then it was time to head home for breakfast cooked by Mum. Our next milestone will probably be my 250th (I’m on 241 now)- Uncle Brian is on 97 but he is injured at the moment so I’m not sure when his 100th will be. I’m not sure what I am going to do about it though, as Ellenbrook Fields is still closed. I did my 50th at Panshanger, which I loved, but that was before EF started, and I don’t feel such a part of that community any more. EF was where I celebrated my 100th and it feels like my parkrun home, so I can’t decide if I’ll go to another local event (I could go back to St Albans where it started for me?) or do a bit of tourism?

What milestone are you working towards?

Finishing the summer holidays (and a bit more)

After getting back from Alwnick on Saturday night, I headed out on a long run on the Sunday, going over to Panshanger.

The cows were back in the big field but I managed to get through without panicking- phew. I am trying to go through the field instead of avoiding it as I know that the cows should be fine- they are a gentle species and used to the public walking through. I am still not keen when they are close to the path!

On the Monday we were having our pod point fitted (to charge our car at home- we could charge it with a wire dangled out of the window, but that was very slow, so we tended to take it to a local charging point). Anyway, I could get on with work until they had to turn the electricity off. It took a lot longer than we had thought, due to our electrics being set up in a weird way, but by 6.30pm it was done.

Wood running, autumn flowers in the garden including the Japanese anemones and an actual fig on our fig tree!

The rest of the week I tended to go on a run in the morning, head into work to set up my classroom, and then come home in the afternoon. Our garden is starting to be filled with autumn colour- it starts me looking forward to cosy evenings in, chai lattes, scented candles, fairy lights…

Our weekend in DLP started on the Thursday evening as that’s when we drove down to Kent, and then we were back on Sunday night.

I’ve been living in my Stitch hoodie!

We spent the Monday pottering around, having a nice walk , unpacking and getting sorted for the week ahead.

After seeing that Cruella was on regular Disney+, we decided to watch that. I quite enjoyed it, although I couldn’t remember a lot of 101 Dalmatians and so a few things I couldn’t quite match up.

On Tuesday I did a longer run – past the cows again. I was a bit annoyed as I didn’t check Strava until September, but I did 99 miles in August! I would definitely have added an extra mile to round it up!

How perfect is this t-shirt? Magic Moon Club did a Christmas in July secret Santa thing where you signed up to buy something for someone else, and then filled in a little tick list of your likes (colours/ characters/ parks). A perfect top to wear between now and the next visit! I opened my Christmas Lebkuchen hearts as I had saved them for Christmas in July.

Keeping the Disney theme going with a “monorail peach” candle from Dole Wicks Candle Co, my new Disney bowl and a classic Olaf mug.

Then it was back to work, and back to the early morning runs. It’s already so dark in the mornings which has surprised me. I need to find my torch and charge it. It’s fine after a few minutes as the sun comes up, but I need it for the beginning and it’s only going to get darker!

As a first week back treat I booked in for a massage- the lovely lady I see has recently gone independent and created an amazing treatment room next to her house (she used to rent out a room in a beauty place in town). It was perfect and such a nice end to the week.

Saturday was filled with family time- after our Luton parkrun trip, my mum made us vegan pancakes for breakfast (I really love how much my parents are embracing this for me) and then we visited my sister who was back from the hospital after having her second baby. It was so lovely to see her and my niece (who started school this week too- what a busy week for her) and spend some time catching up.

Once home, I watched the original 101 Dalmatians, and then in the evening we bought the Jungle Cruise as I was very keen to watch it – I love all the puns on the ride, and the film was fairly light hearted and good fun (could have done with more puns though).

I’ve been happy doing solo runs for a long time, but in the club group they posted about running to Ellenbrook Fields on Sunday (either meeting there for a lap, or meeting at the station and running there first), so I decided to run to the the station, (which is around 2.5 miles away), run with them to EF (another couple of miles), run around EF (a couple more) and then run home through the fields (4-5 miles ish). I loved it! The club runs just fly by, and it breaks up the long run into chunks which make it seem easier too. It was a bit sad running around EF and knowing that the parkrun is not there, because it is so perfect. But at least we can visit it any time.

It started off cool but got very warm once the sun came out- I should have worn my sunglasses. Of course my maths did not add up, and so by the time I got home I’d run a half marathon as opposed to the 11 ish miles I thought it would be. All good training although I felt quite shattered in the afternoon.

I’d bought tickets for the London Podcast festival- Two Mr P’s did a show on Friday night and you could watch it later, so I sat in the shade in the garden (in my new garden chair) and watched it. A very good way to spend an afternoon.

In this past week it’s been warm (for September) and so I was very glad of my morning runs while it was still feeling fresh. I was even treated to some beautiful sunrises early on, although one morning was super misty.

In the evenings we were still catching up on the Paralympics (being away for a few days meant we got behind) and then as we’ve finished the final series of Bosch (based on the books- a police drama)  we started on The White Lotus, a dark drama set in a hotel in Hawaii (lockdown meant no tourists so I think the filming basically took over the hotel). Weirdly the hotel that we stayed in for one night on Maui was right next door, and we walked along the coastline to it in the evening. It’s compelling and I want to find out what happens, but it’s also very tense and stressful to watch so I could not take more than one episode at a time!

Podcast festival, misty morning run, homemade sourdough bread, and watching The White Lotus and missing Hawaii. 

We had another podcast booked for Thursday evening- this one we watched live- The Judge John Hodgman podcast (it’s a comedy podcast where people bring their cases and discuss them before he gives his verdict).

And then it was Friday!

What have you been watching recently? I am excited about the new series of Bake Off and Taskmaster coming, and I think The Morning Show is coming back soon too.

Unpacking the ears I took with me. I was very restrained and didn’t buy another pair in the park, although I had said that if I saw the deep green ones then I would have bought those.

Luton Wardown parkrun

It was my turn to choose this week, and as Jersey Farm was not on due to another event taking place, I decided we should do some tourism and visit a different event. It wasn’t my NENDY (nearest event not done yet) as that is in London, but it is the easiest one to get to.

I picked up Dad and drove us there. We left plenty of time as I had read the car park was quite small, and we arrived just after 8.30 to a pretty empty car park. There was another car park through the other side of the park but that seemed to have access from a different road.

There were lots of decorated elephants around, so we had a nice wander around the park. We passed a sign for “corner corner” which on second reading was “conker corner”, and lots of volunteers setting up arrows. It seemed like a fairly small park, and it was hard to believe that it would fit in a parkrun in only 3 and a half laps, although it was filled with interesting parts- a lake, a play park, tennis courts and those outdoor exercise machines.

At around ten to 9 there were still only a few people stood around, but after the new runners briefing finished, we turned around to see a packed park. The run briefing was really clear due to the RD having a megaphone/ speaker system, and then we walked to the start. They had asked people to seed themselves, but the people with the signs were stood only a couple of metres apart- we were going to line up with the 30 minutes but we were not even half way back in the field so in the end we moved back. You’re only stood there for a few moments (and it really was- the RD said she had a whistle for the start and just as we had decided where to start, she blew it and everyone was off) but it feels better to have some space, not only now but anyway due to tripping etc.

In the run brief they emphasised “the hill” as you had to run up it 4 times- to help keep count (once in each lap and then once in the final “bit”). The hill was even marked out, but it wasn’t really a hill- more of a short slope. But it did make the lap counting easier.

We did excellent negative splits of 10:06, 9:28, 9:28 and 9:15. The marshals were amazing- cheering everyone on in each lap. It really felt like a wonderful community and so encouraging.

The weather was good- it was chilly when we first got there but as soon as we started running I took my long sleeved top off. The sun even came out as we were driving home.

So that was my 240th parkrun- the next milestone is ever closer. But next week it’s Dad’s 200th, so it’s his choice of where we go (Jersey Farm and St Albans are both cancelled).



At last a trip to DLP!!!

I was not even looking forward to this until we were actually there for fear of being disappointed again. We have had to cancel quite a few trips in the last year and a bit, and with travel traffic lights changing, test requirements and so on, it all felt uncertain.

But all went well and on Friday lunchtime we drove through the gates into Disneyland Paris!

As we walked down Main Street I did feel a bit teary- I think I was so stressed about all the testing and paperwork needed, and so getting there was a huge relief. I could start to enjoy myself!

The castle is undergoing maintenance but the covering was very clever. We could see parts of the towers poking out of the top. There were no parades or fireworks, but it still felt very magical. They had sort of mini parades, so you would hear the Frozen music and suddenly an amazing float would appear with the characters on them (and Olaf spinning around)-it was like a flash mob where suddenly lots of people would appear and follow the float. We saw a Stitch one, Cruella Deville, some Jungle Book characters and Alice in Wonderland.

We ended up being in the park until nearly closing time on the Friday, and then got up early on the Saturday and Sunday to make the most of it (and to charge the car, as there were only 4 charging points in the entire car park). The queues were not too bad- there were no paper maps so you just looked on the app to see wait times- I think the longest we did was 30 minutes. I’d imagine a normal August weekend would be busier.

They have just changed over from the fastpass system, so now if you want to skip the queue you have to pay, which I think is a bit cheeky (12 Euros for Peter Pan- I mean what???). I am not sure if this kept the queues shorter because they were not letting fastpass people on, but we saw lots of people paying so those fast track people were still holding up the normal queues.

This is me getting excited with the Frozen parade going past, and then Stitch going past in his car, plus some fun photo points in the studios.

Philharmagic, one of my favourite rides/ shows, had a new section added from Coco, and I really enjoyed that part. The only other new ride was the Cars ride (basically upcycling Catastrophe Canyon) but this wasn’t great- I feel like they could have upped the theming a bit. I think you can tell that Disney has now taken over the running of the park, as a few years ago some of it was looking quite run down and it looks much better now, but compared to the Frozen ride in Epcot (where they basically changed the Norway log flume ride to a Frozen one, and it works really well) it wasn’t anywhere near as good.

I took a photo of the goodbye sign, hoping it would mean good luck and that we can see them again real soon.

I did treat myself to a few items. I’d seen these Stitch tops online, previously in the AP shop (which we didn’t go in in the end) but when we got there they were in all the main shops.

I can’t resist new mugs either, especially if there is a Christmas one! I did however resist new ears. I’d packed 3 pairs, one for each day, and had said that if they had the deep green ones that I’d seen online, then I would get them, but they didn’t have them.  Before our cancelled trip last year I’d persuaded Andy to get matching t-shirts (same design but different colours- the monorail with “please stand clear of the closing doors” plus the Spanish version) and we actually wore them together on the Saturday! The first time I went to Florida was with Andy’s family and we saw so man groups of people with matching tops so it has been a goal of mine for nearly 20 years!

A Starbucks from Disney Village and of course my Minnie cup cosy had to come along- from Enchanted Cosy Co.

We didn’t do any of the characters meets (if we ever get to go with our niece and nephew then I imagine it will be top of the list) but they had quite a lot of that, you just had to stand on a spot so you were not too close to the character.

On the Sunday we had to drive back to the tunnel, so left the parks in the afternoon. We could charge the car at the tunnel before driving onto the train, and that was enough to get us home. A busy but really enjoyable weekend- hopefully it won’t be another 20 months until the next visit.

Testing etc.

We drove down to Kent the night before, then in the morning took our LF tests, emailed the results and then drove onto the tunnel. You can take your return test 72 hours before, and on the Gov website it states that this can be in England, so this was the only way I was going as I did not want to risk testing positive while out there.  This was simple enough, but the small window of waiting to see the line appear on the LF kit was a bit stressful (plus the wait for the email, although that took only a few hours to come through).

The Day 2 test (on return) was ridiculous as we both posted ours at the same time, but mine arrived a day later than Andy’s and took ages to be processed. Thankfully both negative but it was a bit frustrating to have to wait.

I wasn’t sure how Disney would feel with all of the extra precautions in place, but it was fine. You always have to go through security/ bag check to get into the Disney Village and parks, and so here someone stood at the front of the queue and checked your vaccine passport before you could go on. France were very strict on this. We stayed in a hotel close to a shopping centre, and you had to show your vaccine passport to get into the shopping centre, and they were scanning them to check they were valid.  In Disney, if you wanted to buy food from an indoor place (even counter service) someone would check you scanning your phone on the French Anti Covid app. You had to wear masks all the time, inside and outside once in Disney, unless eating. We would try to find a quiet space to stand to the side to have a drink, but we both noticed that we probably didn’t drink enough water as usually if in a queue you might have a quick sip but it didn’t seem right to do that. Lots of the queues had been moved outdoors, and they all had these stickers with “do not stand here” on them. Some people paid attention to this, and others didn’t. We always left space in front of it, and some people behind would leave space too, but as they were mainly outside and everyone had masks (including children over 6) it felt OK. They had put up perspex barriers between the rows so if the rows double back you had a barrier too, and when getting on the rides they would leave spaces/ rows. Some of them had plastic screens between rows too.  If there was a pre-show waiting area (eg Haunted Mansion) you were directed to a taped box on the floor so you were kept away from other groups, and there was no queue inside once you were past that. There was hand sanitiser everywhere- all the way through ride queues, in the shops and all around. If you were buying something you could ask for the same item from the back if you wanted something that other people hadn’t handled. We saw a few people with masks under their chins, but then you always see a few people breaking other rules (eg smoking in the queues) so overall it was good, and as someone who has not really been in many crowded places, I felt comfortable with all of the things in place.

Don’t stand here signs, taped squares to stand in, and the perspex screens.

The Pastures parkrun- three quarters of a Cowell!

If you are not familiar with the parkrun tourist term, a Cowell is 100 different events. The Pastures was my 75th, so I am 3/4 of the way there now. This seems crazy to me. Yes, I do love parkrun, and I do love going to a new one if we are away for the weekend, but still, 75 different ones- it seems like a lot. I have not even got my 250 shirt yet, and I have been to my local ones (St Albans, Panshanger, Ellenbrook Fields, and more recently Jersey Farm) regularly. But then, when I start to think about it, I’ve been doing lots of little challenges – completing all of the parkruns in Herts, doing things like the Compass Club (parkrun names containing North, South, East and West), the alphabet challenge, the name challenge (all the letters in my name), Pirates (7 C’s and one R). All of that adds up!

So this was on our way back home from Scotland- we drove from Edinburgh on the Friday, stopping at a few Northumberland beaches on the way, and having a nice wander around the town in the evening.

Our hotel was less than a mile from the start (the start is just outside the castle) so it was a leisurely start for me.  It isn’t a big parkrun (100 people did it on that morning) and it had such a lovely feel with people catching up with each other. The field did have a “beware of the bull” sign on the gate, but I didn’t see it- hopefully the sign is there all the time but the bull isn’t. There were lots of cows in the  adjacent field, and plenty of cow pats to dodge during the run! Just before the run brief, someone dressed in a kilt stood near the sign and began playing bagpipes. He played Chariots of Fire and the theme tune of Star Wars, which answered a question that Andy and I had had in Edinburgh- are there other tunes that you can play on the bagpipes?

When he finished playing, everyone clapped, and then the RD did the briefing (no explanation of the bagpiper though). This course was the kind that I love- totally simple (2 and a bit laps of the field) with easy instructions- run to the tree, then turn right and run to the river, then back up to the start.

The marshal by the tree was trying to keep count, saying to everyone “One lap to go/ I think it’s your last lap now?”. The people manning the finish funnel were so enthusiastic, cheering us on each lap, commenting on the dog that was running, or the big smiles of the runners, or encouraging you to do a final sprint at the end.

It really felt as if this parkrun had minimum impact on the surroundings – not many cones or flags or signs to put out, the use of one field, a few cars parked in the street next to it but most people seemed to walk over from the town. In a good way, you could have walked to the field just after 10 and seen no evidence of parkrun being there- they went to a café in town to process the results.

My legs were feeling quite heavy, and the uneven ground (mole hills, tussocks of grass) meant I took my time. This was not a course for a pb, but it was my 75th different parkrun course so I was going to enjoy it. I took a few photos as I ran around, and just enjoyed looking at the castle, the river and the cows in the field next door.

I finished in 31:07, and took a few photos at the finish but then the drizzle got harder so I didn’t hang about. I did briefly chat to someone heading back to her car, but it was time for a quick shower and breakfast before the long drive home. So there we go, 3/4 of the way to a Cowell!

(One thing that did throw me a bit was as I was coming in to the finish I could hear some people charging up behind me. I was speeding up at this point, and never mind a sort of race to the finish, but these 2 guys ran past me literally at the finish line- they were going so fast they carried on straight through the funnel without getting a token. When the person handing out the tokens looked confused at them, pointing at me with the tokens and looking at them (maybe they thought we knew each other?). I pointed to the 2 guys and asked if they needed one, and the volunteers were trying to sort it out, counting out the tokens for the missing people, but then the guys came back again and grabbed some tokens. I do not at all mind which token I get, but this sort of thing makes it harder for the volunteers. I am not quite sure why they had to sprint by right at the end and confuse everyone. When I looked at the results, there are two unknown runners, one just before me and one after me, so maybe they were new to parkrun?)

How many parkrun courses have you visited? Are you working through any challenges at the moment?