A parkrun far far away

20 July 2019

Sleeping in a tent in the rain isn’t easy. This year though, we’d dispensed with the, frankly, useless air beds that never seem to stay inflated for more than an hour or two and bought proper camp beds with us. They looked narrow and uncomfortable but were surprisingly good to sleep on. Because of the rain and the fading light we’d gone to bed quite early and I woke equally early. Commando was still sleeping but I sneaked out of the tent and went off for a wander. It was just after five in the morning.

As expected, there was a fair bit of mud but the rain had stopped. The sky told me this was probably just a brief interlude but everything looked beautifully green and fresh. Briefly I thought about walking the 10k course but then I remembered the ghostly mist in the woods last year and decided against it.

Much later, when everyone else was awake, there was talk of going off to the local parkrun. There are two parkruns nearby, Conkers and Rosliston but, in past years, we’ve visited neither because the men have been saving their legs for Thunder Run. The fact they were now discussing which parkrun to go to suggested they really did intend to take it easy this year. Kim and I were both shocked.

In the end they plumped for Rosliston, mostly because Rob had already been to Conkers years ago. So we got in the car and headed off into the unknown. We passed through the tiny village of Rosliston and, with no major mishaps, managed to find the Rosliston Forestry Centre.  The forestry centre is part of some two hundred square miles of trees planted in the 1990’s from Leicester to Burton upon Trent to create a new National Forest. Rosliston Manor, once called Redlauseton, once belonged to Earl Algar. He was the son of Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva, the one who rode naked through Coventry to try to persuade her husband to stop taxing the poor. 

Usually, Rosliston parkrun has around one hundred and eighty runners. Today, thanks to Thunder Runners, their numbers were swelled to three hundred and twenty seven. Kim was not amongst them because, not believing for one minute that the boys would really take it easy this year, she hadn’t brought her barcode with her to Thunder Run.

Together we watched everyone head for the start line. The sky looked heavy with rain as the runners set off and we looked gratefully towards the visitor centre with its nice dry cafe.

Once the last runners had passed us we headed towards the cafe but got slightly distracted by an interesting looking gate into a small sensory garden. It wasn’t actually raining so we went to have a look. This turned out to be a brilliant move. The garden was filled with interesting sculptures and scented plants.

Beside something that looked like an old stone fireplace we found a beacon, similar to the ones in Hatch Grange and on Netley Common. This, it turned out, was built to commemorate the queen’s diamond jubilee. There was a small stone pagoda commemorating the twinning link between South Derbyshire and Toyota City, a lovely sun dial dedicated to the local Women’s Institute, and a beautiful area of mosaic paving.

We wandered along the paths, crushing a leaf here and there trying to identify each scent and plant. We stumbled upon a mini beast lair under a trap door but there were no beasts, mini or otherwise, at home. A little further along we thought we’d found a beehive but it turned out to be a compost bin in disguise.

There were flowers everywhere, lavender, rosemary, chamomile, curry plant, mint, lemon balm, comfrey, evening primrose and many I couldn’t identify for sure. They brightened the dull day with their flowers and enchanted us with their scents. Not far from the false beehive we found a real one, safely behind a locked gate. If there were bees in it they were all asleep though, or maybe out foraging amongst all the flowers.

The little garden was filled with so many curiosities we hardly knew where to look. These included a whole array of interesting benches, mostly memorials to local folk. One looked just like an old leather sofa until we got closer and discovered it was carved from a large block of wood.

The rain held off and, with so much to see, it was hard to tear ourselves away from the garden. In the end though, we knew we needed to head back to the parkrun course and try to spot our runners.

Rather than go back to the finish line, we followed the course for a while, looking for a good spot to take photos. The woodland trail was beautiful and there were more curiosities along the way. We found a chainsaw sculpture of a badger, a wooden bench carved with a giant oak leaf and some kind of giant sundial we couldn’t quite work out. Maybe if there’d actually been some sun…

Then the runners began to come past, a trickle at first, then more and more of them. Rob was the first one we recognised and we both got our phones out and began to snap away as he ran up the hill we’d just walked down.

Commando wasn’t far behind. He powered up the hill, overtaking a couple of other runners as he went. Once he’d passed, Kim and I took a more sedate walk back up the hill and headed for the finish line to look for our runners.

The finish line volunteers did a great job considering there were nearly twice as many runners as they usually had to deal with. Once both barcodes had been scanned we finally went to the cafe for a coffee and a sit down.

If Rosliston parkrun was closer to home it might become a favourite for some parkrun tourism. The boys said the course was interesting and not too taxing and Kim and I thoroughly enjoyed the sensory garden. Sadly, it’s not likely we will be back anytime soon though as a drive of a hundred and fifty odd miles seems a bit excessive for a Saturday morning run.

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Lymington, parkrunning and fairy doors

25 August

For three whole days after my last Running School session, I could barely walk. On day one, Commando laughed every time I groaned and winced as I tried to get out of the chair. It was slightly better on day two but I still looked like an elderly lady who had lost her walking frame. Yesterday I managed to get up the big hill without stopping, but it was slow, painful progress. Oddly, my Achilles hadn’t hurt at all, throughout this epic DOMS extravaganza, my calves were the problem. Today, apart from a little residual calf tenderness, normal service was more or less resumed and we were off to Lymington for another spot of parkrun tourism.   Continue reading Lymington, parkrunning and fairy doors

Dean Garnier’s Garden

3 September 2017

Standing on Colebrook Street behind the River Cottage Canteen the temptation to go to Costa and sit in the dry with a cup of coffee was strong. By now I’d been walking around Winchester in the rain for almost two hours and there is only so much dampness even I can stand. Abbey Passageway to my right would take me along the side of Abbey Gardens and back to the High Street. This was where Mitch and I found the Nunnaminster graves the other week. The passageway and gardens are said to be haunted by a ghostly nun and this dismal day seemed just right for meeting ghosts.  Continue reading Dean Garnier’s Garden

Birthday number two, a pleasure dome, an ancient forest and a garden

2 May 2017

My real birthday began at two in the morning Vancouver time when I woke starving and sure it must be far later in the day. My Garmin chose this moment to inform me the battery was running low. Not the best of timing but I always had the feeling it would choose the worst possible moment. Commando was still sleeping soundly so I tried, with limited success, to ignore my grumbling stomach and go back to sleep. The morning began again at five with a Happy Birthday and a present from Commando. The time difference leant a strange dreamlike feeling to everything.  In a daze we wandered down West Broadway to Starbucks where we beat the morning rush and had breakfast.  Continue reading Birthday number two, a pleasure dome, an ancient forest and a garden

Coral Bay, searching for a shipwreck

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23 November 2016

Although we had another day before the first of the running events, Commando went for another social run this morning. There was no chance for me to laze in the hotel room or sit dreaming on the balcony though. Eddie had invited me out on a walk. It was a challenge I couldn’t resist. I think he was trying to test my mettle.  Continue reading Coral Bay, searching for a shipwreck

Another secret garden, an author and a bishop

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29 May 2016

After a great deal of dithering, I’d somehow found myself in a passageway heading for Cathedral Close. There was a door in the side of the passage leading directly into the cathedral. It was closed but the walls were etched with ancient graffiti, along with some that looked more modern. The passageway came out beside a walled courtyard with a manicured lawn. Later I discovered this was part of the great medieval priory of St Swithun. Perhaps the monks used this door to get from the priory to the cathedral? Continue reading Another secret garden, an author and a bishop

Winchester, abbeys, gardens. a celebrity chef and a king

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29 May 2016

When Commando said he was thinking of volunteering as a pacer for the Winchester Half Marathon I was pleased. It would give me a couple of hours to wander around the city while he ran. Early this morning there was a practice run for the would be pacers and, of course, it was too good an opportunity for me to miss so I tagged along.  We arrived in Winchester before the sun had had a chance to chase away the last of the morning mist.  Continue reading Winchester, abbeys, gardens. a celebrity chef and a king

Paradise and cold hard reality – first published 22 October 2013

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The trouble with holidays is they’re always way too short, and cold, hard reality is always there at the end of them. Commando and I had come to the last full day of our 2013 Lanzarote adventure and it was almost time to say goodbye to the  volcanic paradise where the sun always shines. For some reason I’d woken every morning at around seven, later than I would at home but earlier than I normally would on holiday. Each morning I crept out onto the balcony as quietly as I could and sat, listening to the pigeons cooing, the birds waking up and the sea crashing against the rocks below my window. Slowly the sky would turn from dark, inky blue to white clouds tinged with pink. It was nice to have the time to sit and watch the dawn. Continue reading Paradise and cold hard reality – first published 22 October 2013

Out of bounds

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19 March 2013

My social calendar is usually a rather sparsley populated thing but this weekend was jam packed. Along with the Saturday Care For A Walk and the Sunday morning Eastleigh 10k there was a rather special open day I really didn’t want to miss on Sunday afternoon. For a long time now I’ve known there is a boundary stone hiding in the grounds of what used to be Townhill Park House, in fact I’ve even glimpsed it through the thick holly hedge. The problem is the stone is out of bounds behind large, locked gates. Continue reading Out of bounds

a very old house – first published 4 August 2013

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The first Sunday in August 2013 and, as usual Commando was out on a run and I was cleaning the bathroom, washing clothes and pegging them on the line. When he came home we went to town, just for a mooch around. It’s something we do once in a while on a Sunday afternoon. Then Commando asked if I fancied a coffee in Tudor House. This was not something at all normal and I jumped at the chance. For all the times I’d walked past it I had never been inside. Continue reading a very old house – first published 4 August 2013