Tail running around the lake

So this weekend my car was being serviced (over in St Albans) so when I booked the date I had offered to tail run, as I had to drop it off at 8.30am, a mile from the parkrun start. Perfect. I thought I would potter around in town after (partly why I thought I would tail run as I didn’t fancy wandering around town all sweaty) but it turned out my parents were back from holiday the day before, so Dad said he would do that parkrun, the drive me home for breakfast at theirs. Even better.

It was a rather sticky morning, and by the time I arrived at the start my glasses were fogging up from the warmth- not sure why that happens as they are fine when I run, but as soon as I stop they fog up. Anyway, I collected my fitbit tail runner vest (more like a dress, you’ll see) and chatted to one of the scanners who I work with. Then over her shoulder I saw my dad- they had been in Namibia for over 3 weeks (before our house move) so it was great to see him. My brother had also come along for the run, so we had a chat before the run started. There was another tail runner (tomorrow is the St Albans half marathon so I think they had a lot of offers for volunteers)- I quite like that, it’s happened at Panshanger before and means you can chat and not impose on the last few runners as some of them don’t like you hovering behind them.

There was a big turnout (343 runners) including this person wearing a full on lion costume (in support of the remain campaign). Much respect in that heat!

From their facebook page.

As we started it occurred to me that it was going to be a bit harder, because this route goes along the path to the lake, three laps of the lake, then back along the park. I’ve only even done it at Panshanger which is one big loop. Keeping track of the back runners would be more challenging. One guy told us he had MS and that if he overheated his legs would go numb, so we were not to worry if he was on the ground so long as he was talking. Another guy (who is one of the RD’s) was coming back from a knee operation so wanted to walk it in under 50 minutes. He thought he would be with us for the whole time, but in fact he went a long way ahead as there was a lady with her eight year old son (we learnt he was eight as she was shouting at him after a few hundred metres things like “you are so unfit for an 8 year old, you should be able to run more than 100m/ if you don’t do any exercise you’ll get fat… later someone heard her say “no pudding for a week”-  that poor boy is not going to have fond memories of running…)- he was struggling and kept stopping, so we had to stop a bit of a way back because it was a little awkward.

We chatted to the marshals briefly on our way past (it was strange thinking “we will see you twice more”)- one guy was great and cheered on “the fitbits” each time we walked past!

On our first lap my dad and brother went past on their second (or possibly third). I did think then that perhaps a one lap course has advantages. It was nice to look around the lake and see a stream of runners, but as we started our second most of the runners were peeling off for the home straight. On the second lap we came across the guy with MS, who was sat down. He was worried he was at the back, but we reassured him we were only on our second, and soon after he overtook us and headed to the finish. Then the lady and her son decided to stop, so then we had to find the next final runner- he was right at the other end of the lake so in our final lap we had a bit of a speedy run to catch him up. We walked the rest of the way together, and he was very pleased to finish with 49.08- well under his 50 minute target.


See! Look at my vest- more like a dress!

After that we headed home for pancakes cooked by my mum (Andy drove around to meet us there), and a look at their amazing safari photos before I went to collect my car.

I was having a look and the last time I ran at St Albans was March 2015, when I was marathon training- Dad picked me up, we ran parkrun and then I ran home from there. It was the first parkrun I did, and it was my only one until Panshanger started up, so it was good to go back there. I think I should go in the autumn sometime and see if I can get close to my pb, as it is a faster course, but most weeks my local ones are going to win out I think.

(That was run number 71 for me, 21st time of volunteering)

Did you like exercising when you were a child? Do you have a junior parkrun near you? Apparently there is a group of people keen to set one up, but because of all the parks being used for football on Sunday mornings they are finding it hard to find a suitable location.

The house move

The house move feels like it has been in the works for so long. Before Christmas we said that in the new year we would talk about moving house, and at the start of January we put our house up for sale to see if it would sell, and go from there. It turned out that the housing market was very competitive (good for us as sellers, not so good for us as buyers). We sold very quickly, and then began the painful process of trying to find somewhere to buy. Around here all the estate agents host open house sessions (we did for our sale, as that was what they all said they would do)- a couple of hours, 15 minute slots, as many buyers in that time. Once we were looking, it turned out that often the slots would be full on the day of the house going on the market.  After a few open houses, one rejected offer, a day seeing lots of houses and none of them being quite what we were after, we struck lucky. In half term a house came up which looked perfect. We rang up and the owners weren’t doing an open house, and even better we could see it on the Friday- if it had not been half term I would not have been able to go. It was perfect, we put in our offer at about 2pm and then had a very nervous few hours before the call at 6.30 confirmed that our offer had been accepted!

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Our old house

Then of course came all the boring legal and logistical bits. Our chain was short (our buyers were first time buyers moving from home, and the people we were buying from were moving to an empty property) but of course things were not simple. Originally our moving date was the 12th of May (so we could then book our South Africa trip) but it got pushed back a few times. Anyway, it’s all done now!

As I mentioned before, I found Mary’s blog post very helpful. We had been given some boxes so we packed a lot of things away and left them in Andy’s parent’s spare room. I had a notebook to record what was in each box. We sorted out the internet so we knew we would be having only a few days without it, changed addresses on some things, and set up the mail re-direct (although I didn’t realise it took 5 working days, and only set it up the weekend before so a few things slipped through). We had hired a moving company, so they had given us many more boxes and we ended up stacking them in the garage (and me parking outside) because in our old house once a few boxes were packed there was no way to get around them.

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The movers were meant to arrive “from 8am”- so of course we had a late night and an early start frantically doing the last few things (including finding late on Monday night that the plumber who had fixed a small issue with the heating the previous week had knocked all of the Christmas decorations our of reach in the little attic space- we only have a small ladder so in the end had to move a chest of drawers for Andy to stand on so he could get up there and reach them down), but then they actually turned up at 9am. They were really good- they had to carry all the furniture downstairs, plus any boxes we had left up there. They took apart the bed but somehow managed to keep our wardrobe together and got it down the stairs without any of them falling to their deaths- there were some tense moments!). I hovered about with the hoover- I was shocked at how much dust there was behind some of our furniture! Once it was all in the van we had to hang about a bit as they were ready but we could not collect the keys straight away. We headed off to get the keys and they met us at our new house- when we arrived they had already unloaded the plants which was very efficient.

Then the fun of deciding where things were to go started. We had decided all boxes for downstairs could go in the dining room, and all the upstairs boxes went into one of the spare rooms. The movers put the bed back together which was brilliant- when we moved into our first place we had a lot of Ikea furniture to build and one of my main memories of that day was us building the bed late at night so we had somewhere to sleep. At one point Andy was sorting the garden and I was just waiting, so I went around and checked that all the lights worked (another Mary tip)- I found that 1- they love their colour changing bulbs, and 2- there was no switch for the bathroom (and we hunted high and low, in the hall, in the airing cupboard…). It turned out that the bathroom has a sensor, only activated when it is dark, which is rather annoying as it switches off after a couple of minutes- not great when you are having a shower and not near the sensor! The bathroom lights are also multicoloured and colour changing- something we will change quite soon.

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Our dining room- looking much better now as most of the boxes are behind and at least we can sit at the table.

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The movers finally left at 4pm- we had not stopped all day so had a break for some belated lunch, before trying to unpack the essentials. I had sorted an “open first” box but then with the movers unloading everything it took us a while to find it!  I had packed some teabags to last us the first few days, and I am very glad I did as we didn’t find the tea straight away. We went out for dinner later, as we did not fancy cooking!

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Our back garden! It’s been lovely to come back from a run and cool down here- our old place had a garden but you had to go through the garage so we didn’t use it much.

The next couple of days were not very productive as I had meetings after work both days, and then we were off on holiday, but the Sunday when we came home was brilliant (only one hour time difference so no jet lag)- we unpacked so many boxes, put the Christmas decorations in the loft, emptied our suitcases, set up my desk in my office and arranged the kitchen. I’ve been ticking off the boxes as we unpack them (I get huge satisfaction from ticking off lists) but we sometimes do forget.

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There are many boxes still to unpack here too, but at least I can get to my desk now.

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I love the willow tree in our garden. But we also have two (including one massive) leylandii  trees which will need to go as they block out so much light.

I now have a whole host of new running routes too, but that is for another post!

How many times have to had to move house? We moved once when I was 12, then when Andy and I moved in together we moved out of our parents homes so that was fairly easy. I lived at home during uni so I really did not have much experience of it.

Cape Town!

So we had a bit of a stressful week- moving house on a Tuesday is not the easiest of days, needing work things right up to the last minute, and the day after. It was made a bit more stressful because on Friday night after work we were flying to Cape Town! It was a bit of a last minute trip, as Andy needed to go there to meet some colleagues. As our move was meant to be the 12th of May, and he was able to combine the trip with some leave (if he wanted to, so I could join him), we booked it for half term (only at the end of April I think- very last minute for us!). Then our move was moved back one week (20th), and then again to the following Tuesday. We could not have moved much later! It meant we packed as much of our holiday suitcases before we moved, so we were not frantically trying to find things in boxes. Although my little tube of germoline went missing, and at Heathrow my bag was not accepted in the x-ray machine as there was something there. Turns out the tube was right in the bottom of my rucksack- no idea when I put it there!

Anyway, the flight was really good – it was 12 hours overnight but we had the exit rows which meant lots of leg room. It didn’t take off until 10pm, and after a busy week we were both shattered and went to sleep straight away. It is only one hour time difference which really helped- no jet lag!

After a quick change in our B&B, we were off to Table Mountain. You could hike, but it looked steep and we didn’t have that long, so we got the cable car. We had a long walk around at the top, admiring the views.

After heading back down we were being picked up by Andy’s boss, who was taking us (along with other people from his company) out to dinner at a vineyard. We arrived just as the sun was setting- it was stunning.

On Sunday morning we had booked a tour because I really wanted to see the penguins, having never seen them in the wild before. The tour went to a few places along the coast, including the Cape of Good Hope. The coastline was beautiful and dramatic- a bit like Big Sur in California.

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Before finally getting to Boulder’s Beach and the penguins!

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I could have watched them for hours- I love how they waddle along. Our tour then took us back to Cape Town, where after a little rest we headed out for some dinner. I did wonder about veggie options as they do seem to love their meat, but we found a nice burger bar that had a few homemade veggie patties, and lots of salad options too. We shared guacamole for starter which was freshly made and mashed at our table in front of us.

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We shared this brownie for dessert- it was very good!

On Monday Andy was popping in to work so I went on the Big Red Bus tour. It is a hop on hop off bus, and one route was a loop around the bottom of Table Mountain, along the coast and to the waterfront.

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I got off at one of the beautiful beaches, but I got a bit accosted by people trying to sell me their artwork (which was impressive, but I wasn’t going to buy any of it)- it reminded me a bit of Turkey as the people were a bit more pushy than I am used to. I rode the bus the rest of the way, looking for where we should get off later when Andy joined me.

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I had a lovely wander around the V&A waterfront, and a very good lunch.

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Veggie and hummus sandwich, and rooibos tea of course! I then headed back, as Andy was on his way back from meeting people at work (they had been out for lunch) and so we did the bus tour again, this time getting off at a later beach and walking along as the sun was setting.

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The next morning we were up early to catch a flight to Jo’burg, but I will save that for another post…