Ally Pally parkrun!

Yes, that’s it’s actual name!

(It takes place in the grounds of Alexandra Palace but it really is called Ally Pally parkrun)

The train line from WGC to London goes through Alexandra Palace so quite often I’ve looked out of the window at the big TV aerial, but I’ve never been to it. I really enjoyed my mini parkrun tourism to Finsbury park (also on the same line) so I decided that I’d head to Ally Pally this summer. They were cancelled on many weekends, so my only option was 9th July, and I got chatting to two running friends who fancied heading there too, so a date was booked.

To get to Alexandra Palace train station means taking a slow train, as the fast ones don’t stop there. It also meant there was only one train every half an hour, and the last possible one was around 8am getting in just after 8.30, meaning that if that was cancelled or delayed, the train after that would be too late. Happily my co-tourists agreed that the 7.30 train was not ridiculous but sensible, so we met on the train (I ran to the station, they drove to Hatfield and got on there).

The park is right by the train station, so we had plenty of time to wander around, walk up to the palace, admire the views across London, look at the ducklings in the lake and find out that no toilets were open before 9am. (This is fine for me because I hate using public toilets, but could be useful info for others).

At around 8:45 we wandered down to the start line and there was hardly anyone around! I wondered if because they had been off for a few weeks people had gone elsewhere, but it was a proper flash-mob parkrun in that one the new runners welcome was finished, it was packed (274 runners in a fairly narrow start).

They told us it was their summer route, essentially two laps but starting in the centre. You ran out from the centre, did two laps, and then ran back in to the start/finish (in the opposite direction). It was really varied, with parts of it being through open meadows, with views up to the palace, and parts in woods which were lovely and cool. Some of it was on tarmac paths, but some were dirt paths where you had to watch out for tree roots. There were a couple of steep hills, but one of them had the most enthusiastic marshal at the bottom reminding everyone that they could do it. There was also one very steep downhill section which I just could not run down!

I did speed up a bit too soon for the final sprint as I didn’t realise quite how long we had run before joining the loop!

Scenes from the run, finish token and the 3 of us at the sign

Because the trains weren’t that frequent and I needed to get back (we had to pick up some medication from Watford hospital) we didn’t hang around for too long after, but of course we had the train journey home to chat together too.

It was such an enjoyable morning out- I would happily go back there, and I’d be interested to see their winter route too. I don’t mind hills (we don’t have that many flat parkruns in Herts) and it was very varied which made it interesting.

That was my 85th parkrun venue, for number 279. Slowly heading towards the big 100!

Which parkrun do you think has the best name?

Let’s go ride a bike! Plus marshalling at parkrun and Ellenbrook Field memories

In my marshal spot, plus scenes of the park on the walk there.

At the beginning of July I marshalled at Panshanger. I always remember how much I prefer to marshal in the summer as it’s so nice to stand around in the hot weather (nicer than running?). Coincidentally I had a memory pop up from marshalling at Ellenbrook Fields- pretty much the same date and same weather. Of course being able to run to and from Panshanger is great (now that the start has moved it’s much closer) but it is just not the same.

Breakfast of strawberries, granola and pb, me noticing that my nails matched the high vis and my trainers, and the EF marshal point (you can tell it’s old because the bib is yellow)

I’d ordered a new bike ages ago (April) and it finally arrived, so after breakfast I walked into town to collect it. I wasn’t brave enough to cycle home but had planned a ride on Sunday.

Sunday was busy, as I was meeting my niece and nephew at junior parkrun, plus I had a fair bit of work to do. I got up early and did a 10k run, ran the junior parkrun and then did another 3 miles on the way home. I powered through work and then decided to head out on my bike before it rained. I cycled to Panshanger to where the lovely Planted Coffee Co have their van (they are totally plant based and offer loads of gorgeous drinks and home-made goodies), and then had an iced tea. I then realised I was quite hungry as it was about 3pm and I’d not had lunch, so I bought one of their sausage rolls to have at home.

Riding my bike, those clouds, iced tea stop

I really enjoyed the ride- it was just under 9 miles there and back which was far enough to get used to changing the gears but not so far that I was exhausted.

Once home I had the sausage roll and made an iced tea (I had some left over peach cobbler tea which I’d left to cool, so topped it with a little oat milk and ice) and watched Wimbledon. I knew my dad was on and managed to spot him.  Later I was still a bit hungry so made some scones to have with fruit and jam. It felt like a sort of Wimbledon snack!

Do you like cycling? 

Summer song season and other June happenings

I do like alliteration for a title!

I love going to see live music, and what with one thing and another we suddenly had lots of gigs. The day we got back from France we were off to Knebworth for Liam Gallagher and Kasabian, and the next evening The Killers (which had been my birthday present from Andy in 2020- we heard one person walking in saying that it was a present from her ex and she had to get back in touch with him to get the tickets! Shows how much time has passed). I like Oasis and LG did lots of those songs, but the crowd are not “my people” (letting off flares, taking all sorts of drugs, throwing cups of beer over the crowd…). The stage was in a dip so I could not see at all- I much prefer to see a tiny person in real life rather than a big screen as it feels more real, plus I love watching all the musicians play. So it was good but not as good as the other shows we went to.

I’d not seen The Killers before and absolutely loved it. It was a proper stadium rock show, with lights, fireworks, lasers, confetti, different videos on the big screens for each song, and just such an uplifting feeling. Whereas with LG there was that “attitude”, Brandon Flowers (lead singer) just seemed to love being there. At one point they got someone out of the crowd to drum for them- yes this happened at each of their shows but it was exciting to see.

Glasto on the TV, outdoor yoga, watching Bohemian Rhapsody and reading Dave Grohl.

Later on we went to see Queen with Adam Lambert (another meant-to-be-in-2020 gig), which was brilliant- I loved all the outfit changes and the fact that everyone in the audience was just so full of joy. Finally we had an evening at Hyde Park to see Elton John- a slight tone shift from the other shows but still so impressive. Although this was the day of our school trip so I was slightly shattered and had to sit on the grass for several songs because I just did not have the energy to even stand.

After all the shows, it was fab to see Glastonbury on the TV and to enjoy seeing various bands- Wolf Alice were a particular highlight and reminded me of when we saw them at Latitude last year. Watching Bohemian Rhapsody was great to see all the songs, and I still need to watch Rocketman again after seeing Elton John.

Another June highlight was an in-person yoga class! Often we have had a special one on the summer solstice, and this year we could use the little community centre garden. The weather was perfect and we managed to spend the entire class outside, including a 30 minute meditation at the end. The garden was decorated with bunting, we had candles everywhere (keep those midgies away) and it was so good to meet in person rather than on Zoom. Although the bonus with zoom is that there is no need to drive home after!

Yes they had a hill called The Stinger- just when you thought all the hills were done, this was around 8 or 9k in and around the bend there was more hill!

Finally I did an actual race! I was hoping to do one of the Ware Ten races (10k or 10 miles) but it was the same day as the Grand Prix which Andy had tickets to, so he was already using the car. A few weeks ago I was given a leaflet at parkrun for the Welwyn 10k, in the village close to here, so I decided to sign up. I knew it was hilly, but didn’t actually know how hard it would be. Lovely scenery, and at one point I could see about 15 red kites all circling above the road, but so hilly. It didn’t start until 11am so I ran there first (4 miles) but it was super warm by the time we started running. I walked a couple of the hills but I was doing it to enjoy it and not to worry about the time.

The best bit? When you finished you could help yourself to fruit (bananas, apples or satsumas)- a juicy satsuma/ orange is just what I fancy when I finish running in the heat- perfect.

I got Andy to pick me up as I didn’t fancy another 4 miles (plus we had jobs to do like going to the library so we did those on the way back).

The main negative of June was Andy getting covid. Thankfully he was just really unwell for one day, and then not too bad after, but in a bid to try and not catch it I slept on the sofa and we kept as separate as possible (I’d make tea, bring it up and leave it on the landing and he’d come out of his office to get it).  I did manage to steer clear of it so I suppose it was worth the week of hardly any sleep?

Do you like seeing live music?

June parkruns including a pilgrimage to Bushy!

How is it July? I am sure I say this all the time but time is speeding up somehow!

After our trip to The Netherlands and DLP, we were back on Friday, and then off to Knebworth for a gig (more on that later…), but I was happy to get up early the next morning to head to Bushy. I’ve been before, back in 2017, but Dad had not and was keen. We had pencilled it in a while back but then couldn’t go, so decided to take the opportunity. It’s easier to tour in the summer with the light mornings.

Bushy funnel, selfie frame, token and the magazine

We drove to the car park near the café (Pheasantry) and at 8:30 there was plenty of space. It was a short walk to the start and we did have to ask some other runners where to go, but it was fine.

The start is something else. Seeing everyone line up next to each other, using the entire width of the field just shows how many people run there. It’s one lap but didn’t particularly thin out. Just before the RD did the briefing they called for any doctors or nurses as someone had collapsed by the side, and ambulances were called. Thankfully when they posted the run report they  mentioned that the gentleman was recovering well, which was a relief as it was worrying to know that it was happening but that we could not help.

The double funnel was in action as we finished, and we had to wait for a while before getting our tokens- good to carry on our chat and again just emphasised the huge size of the event. Of course we got to use the selfie frame, and then saw they were handing out copies of the new magazine, so we each took one home.

The second weekend in June I was at Panshanger, and so I ran there first as I like a parkrun sandwich. Happily at the start line I met quite a few OH ladies and one ex OH (she relocated), and we ended up running together and having a good catch up. I love that side of parkrun!

Panshanger finish area, tokens and my new pink shoes!

The third weekend was a Jersey Farm parkrun trip, followed by a long breakfast with my parents. I wore my new pink shoes (I really like Brooks Ghost, so just go with whichever colour they come in, but the last pair were black so I quite like having a summery bright pink colour)

The pink shoes show up well in the photos!- at Jersey Farm

I even wore shorts as it was so warm- the Friday before it had been over 30 degrees and after being so hot at work all day and all evening I felt like I was still cooling off the next day! Although each time I put them on I hear myself think that I’m being brave wearing shorts, and then have to reframe my thoughts because no, it should not be brave to wear something, I should just wear them if I feel hot. They are usually reserved for morning runs where I won’t see anyone, but I am trying to get used to wearing them where I’ll see people too.

At this point I had noticed that my dad was on 49 different events, and with him about go to work at Wimbledon our touring would be curtailed for the next month or so, so I suggested Cassiobury, as I’d been there but he hadn’t. While having breakfast we planned the following weeks trip, and Mum decided she would come along too and we’d have breakfast in the park together after. Cassiobury is a fairly flat two (and a bit) laps of a park. We parked in the car park away from the start line and had a bit of a walk (not that far) to find the start line. I hadn’t appreciated how big the park actually was when I’d been before, as the parkrun uses a small section of it. It’s lovely and shaded, well supported, and busy (400 runners on that day), and there were plenty of people about for Mum to chat to while we ran.

Cassiobury token, the bandstand at the finish, the view walking back to the café and the massive breakfast.

The café by the start/finish area had a big queue, so we walked back to the café where we had parked (Daisy’s) and walked right in. They had plenty of vegan options and my dad decided to go for the vegan breakfast, so I joined him. It was massive and not something I’d normally go for, but I really enjoyed  it. My parents were so impressed with the vegan sausages that they asked which brand they were (regular vegan Quorn ones). We sat outside in the sunshine, with a cool breeze, and chatted away. A great way to celebrate Dad’s Cow (half a Cowell, which is 100 events).

So there we have it, all the parkruns in June. Now you see why I haven’t got the Groundhog Day badge!

June did hold some other lovely things including a yoga in person for the summer solstice and a 10K race, but I’ll save those for another post.

How was June for you?