Canons Park parkrun

Not to be confused with Cannon Hill in Birmingham (which I went to earlier this year), Canons Park is close to Stanmore, so when it was suggested by a club mate as a little road trip I decided to join in.

It was also Christmas in July, as celebrated by the parkrun adventurers pod, and a time to wear my ugly (not ugly) Christmas singlet. Normally I wear it in the winter over long sleeves, but it was actually OK wearing it on its own. I did suggest Christmas running gear but no-one else joined in- ah well!

Seriously- how cute is the koala design? It’s hugging a pineapple and even has on a little Santa hat. Adorable.

We arrived nice and early- one of our club members (Mel) was keen to run here as it was close to where she used to work, so she knew where there would be parking. We parked in the road right by the park entrance, but others parked in the tube car park and walked through, so I think there are lots of options. There was one toilet open before the start which a few people queued at.

There didn’t seem to be many people there even a quarter to, but by the time we’d taken photos by the sign and then listened to the wonderful new runners welcome (so very welcoming) there were more- around 150 I think.

The course was three laps, and lots of it was through woods so it would be good on a hotter day too, although a few roots to look out for as you came out (maybe harder to spot going into the glare of the sun). Three of us ended up running together which was lovely- it’s always nice to chat and run.

There wasn’t a cafe (it’s being renovated according to the course page) but the volunteers had tea and coffee at the finish, which was such a nice touch and meant that lots of people hung around at the end. We had chatted to a few tourists at the start (one of them had Panhanger as his NENDY so he was asking about it), and we chatted to more at the end. One person was very confused by my Christmas top- when I said it was Christmas in July, he said something about the football in Australia (women’s world cup) so I don’t think it was quite clear the link.

So that was my 103rd location and a very enjoyable one at that. After finishing it was time to head home and watch England’s first match, so a good start to the weekend all round.

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?

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!