Amazing officials at the British Athletics Championships 30 June-01 July 2018


I wanted to share some images of the amazing staff and officials at the British Athletics Championships at the weekend: so dedicated and working so hard in the heat. I love their concentration and I was fascinated to see the work they do that you never get to see when you’re watching on the TV. I loved all the little tools and seeing all these people rush around to make things run smoothly. There are also officials visible judging in quite a few of the pictures I posted of the athletes yesterday.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing these posts. I’m definitely going to look at taking a Track and Field Officials qualification to add to my Endurance one, although I will also continue to work towards Endurance Level 2.

If you’ve spotted yourself in one of these photos, do feel free to ask me to send you a version or copy from here. Apart from this personal use, standard copyright remains but do ask if you’d like to use one of the images.

Sedate lady running 25 June to 01 July 2018 #amrunning #running


Oh dear, so I knew this would happen if I joined a running blog weekly wrap. Yes, I am going to have to admit I ran ONCE this week and only 7 miles. However, there were extenuating circumstances.

Monday – Because I’d not run long at the weekend, having run last on Saturday, I arranged to go out for a long run with my friend Claire. As well as being one for consuming egg sandwiches during marathons and having introduced me to pea protein crisps (well, the idea of them), she’s also keen on going off-road and doing all those amazing races where you climb up, over and through stuff. Fair play to her – not for me! Anyway, we wanted a shady run as it was HOT so set off to get onto the canals, which I now fear less – hooray (I have a horrible fear of getting tipped into the canal by a bike).

So off we went and it was lovely, so peaceful, just a few cyclist and walkers who said hello. We then came off the canals and started to trace a route through lots of shady and pleasant park and recreation ground bits, very nice. We reached an area that was grassy paths and Claire apologised for taking me off-road. “Oh, no, it’s FINE,” said I, “I’m not training for anything and I need to get used to traily stuff in case I ever do an ultra”.

And with that, I caught the rubber toe bit of my right trainer under some weird mesh/plastic stuff that was on the ground to keep it from getting slippy (oh, the irony). BAM I went down. And swore, a lot, and cried when I’d picked myself up a bit (are you a swearer or cryer when you fall? I swore when my friend Louise fell when she was with me and she didn’t even – oops!). I knew I wasn’t hurt badly but we couldn’t work out if I’d hit my head (I think I did, but on my arm), so Claire very kindly got me up, dusted me down and walked with me to the nearest bus route. We were right in the domain of our sister running club, Bournville Harriers, and I was hoping for a Bournvillian to magically appear and take me home, but we got the number 11.

I got off with a scraped and bruised left elbow and right forearm and a scraped and bruised left knee, and a bit of a twisted left ankle and a bruised left hip. I had a lot of lower back pain later in the week, I think from twisting. But falling on a grassy surface meant no gravel or dirt to clean out. I think Claire felt worse than me – it’s awful when someone falls on a run you’ve planned, isn’t it! But no blame attached: these things happen. Three falls in about 17 years of running isn’t bad …

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do yoga as I just was too sore and there were too many parts I didn’t want to press onto the ground. It’s been really HOT in the UK, so it’s not been a bad week not to run. I did rip my trainers irrevocably – why is it always fairly new trainers???

Saturday – I volunteered at parkrun (I was supposed to be leading Run and Talk afterwards but was still a bit sore. We had a special guest – the amazing Mr Fauja Singh, 107 years old and a record-breaking marathon runner. His marathon time aged 92 beat mine aged 46! He was attending parkrun today along with loads of lovely runners from the Ramgarhia Sikh Temple in central Birmingham who have completed a Couch to 5k programme and were running their first 5k today. What an honour to cheer them (and everyone else, of course) round!

After this I went over to the Alexander Stadium with Matthew to watch the British Athletics Championships over two days. What a marvellous two days this was, even though it was really hot. Here are some photos of the events.

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I’m feeling a lot better now and hoping to try a run early Monday morning as I’m tail-running for our running club’s 4-miler on Tuesday night … wish me luck!

Miles this week: 7.6

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year: 503 miles (yay – more than on track still!)

Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here.

State of the TBR July 2018 #amreading


It’s State of the TBR time and I think I’ve done rather well!

Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy, but you can hopefully see that the one with the half-pink spine (Thirkell, yay!) is the end of the front row and you can’t help but notice that the Pile has room to return to the TBR shelf (it was like this in June). I finished 12 books in June and half of them were from the actual TBR (the others were Kindle books or review books and my Iris Murdoch.

I’ve not yet posted about “Sacred Britannia” but will let you know when the review comes out on Shiny New Books. I’m currently reading Robert McFarllane’s “The Old Ways” (I was going to post a prettier, artier photo, but I quite like this in-progress one) and really, really enjoying it – I was enthusing about it yesterday and I’m still really liking it, so even though it’s quite substantial, I don’t think it will take that long to read. I am only up to Book 6 (this one) in my 20BooksofSummer project but am hoping I will have more time for the project this month, and also quite a lot of the books coming up are fiction or running books, which are fairly brisk reads. I also have a week off coming up (we’re not going anywhere, maybe some day-trips, but I needed a break from work) so that should help.

Talking of the books that are coming up, here’s the front end of the TBR, and all of these are books for 20BooksofSummer (I’ve added “Everything Was Good-Bye” to replace “The Accidental Apprentice” which was pretty well a Did Not Start. Also coming up this month I have Iris Murdoch’s only historical novel, “The Red and the Green”, set during Ireland’s Easter Rising (and not one of her most major novels, but still of interest: preview post here) for my IMreadalong project, and Claudia Gold’s “King of the North Wind” about Henry II to review for Shiny and Helen Cullen’s “The Lost Letters of William Woolf” to read for NetGalley (I have other NetGalley books but no others published in July). I’ll also be reading Amby Burfoot’s “Run Forever” which is Book of the Month in the Runners’ Bookshelf Facebook group I belong to.

What does your July of reading look like?

“The Italian Girl” round-up and “The Red and the Green” preview #IMReadalong @IrisMurdoch


Welcome back to my Iris Murdoch readalong and we’re fairly galloping through them, aren’t we. Today we review the small and not very much discussed “The Italian Girl” and preview another book considered “minor”, I think it’s fair to say (partly because Murdoch herself apparently changed her mind on it), “The Red and the Green”.

“The Italian Girl”

I reviewed this one nice and early in the month here and we’ve had a bit of discussion in the comments already. Bookish Beck reviewed it on her blog but did comment that she felt she got more out of my assessment than out of the book itself. Annabookbel read her late mum’s first edition and reviewed it here. Jo has written a very thoughtful review highlighting Edward’s use of female stereotypes here.

Bookish Beck also submitted this great cover image from the 60s – one of the pretty horrific series of covers they did for her, which I secretly really like.

Maria Peacock has the 1967 Penguin with a fairly disturbing cover (who is this supposed to be?) and interesting blurb:

8 Maria Peacock Italian Girl 1967 Penguin blurb8 Maria Peacock Italian Girl 1967 Penguin

Peter Rivenberg again steadfastly sent me his cover images, noting the art on them, too. This is the late 70s Penguin with Botticelli’s Primavera (who is that supposed to represent or can we read meaning from the picture):

And also the 2000 Vintage Classic before my edition, featuring The Fall by Hugo van der Goes, so a range of themes overall!

If you have comments to make or links to blog posts or Goodreads reviews to post, you can put them here or (better still) on the review.

“The Red and the Green”

Murdoch’s Irish historical novel is set in a very different Ireland to “The Unicorn”. It’s a mix of sexual farce and serious history which received mixed reviews on publication and I’m not sure is read much today (although I’m sure I met someone who said it was their favourite of her novels once).

I have the usual three copies: a first edition bought for this project, a 1990s Penguin (bought on 19 January 1995 when I was 23, presumably with a Christmas or early birthday book token; I had a habit of catching up with Murdoch purchases around January each year) and the new Vintage classic:

The cover image on the Penguin is Lady Lavery as Cathleen in Howihan by Sir John Lavery. I really don’t like the first edition image in the middle – what is that supposed to be? and I really like the gloomy and dread-filled new Vintage cover.

The blurbs: the first had a long description which you might not be able to make out, covering all the characters and themes. Perhaps they thought the book needed explaining:

There’s a lesson in first edition value, here, too, in the flyleaf:

I paid the very much lower of the two prices for it.

My Penguin is quite brief:

and then the new vintage takes its description of Millie (my favourite character, I remember) from the first edition, which is nice:

Are you going to be reading or re-reading “The Red and the Green” along with me? Are you catching up with the others or have you given up)? What’s your favourite so far?

You will find a page listing all of these blog posts here, updated as I go along.

Book review – Clare Balding – “Walking Home” plus @ShinyNewBooks news #amreading #20BooksOfSummer


I’ve been getting on really quite nicely with my reading this month, with twelve books read – it’s a shame only five of those have been 20BooksOfSummer project books, but I kind of knew that would happen. I only have one NetGalley book and one book for Shiny New Books that I absolutely HAVE to read next month (OK, plus my Murdoch A Month) so that should allow me to get through a few more, and I have some slim novels and running books coming up.

Clare Balding – “Walking Home”

(21 August 2017, Oxfam)

Not the second volume of her autobiography we’d really like, but a book based around her popular (but unheard by me) Ramblings radio programme, describing people she’s met and walks she’s walked along the course of presenting it, and weaving in tales of some family walks around her parents’ home village and bits of her life here and there.

There’s a lovely chapter on the London 2012 Olympics (why does even reading about the opening ceremony still make me cry?) and her torch-bearing exploits and reporting on the swimming, and also a great chapter on the Walking Cure where she explores research and practical examples of the mental health benefits of walking (something I care about sharing deeply, as I help support a local Run and Talk initiative which encourages people to walk, jog or run and have a chat). She goes to Cornwall and doesn’t walk in areas I know but does talk about the Minack Theatre, where a friend of mine works, and she generally meets inspiring and fun people and has a good old walk. There are nice maps and photos, too. There is a very sad section about the loss of her puppy which I had to skip, but otherwise sweet and engaging and a fun, pretty light read with some serious messages.

This was Book 5 in my 20BooksOfSummer project.

Shiny goodness!

I reviewed Benjamin Zephaniah’s new autobiography on here recently, but I also submitted a less personal and more measured review to Shiny New Books, which was published this week. Do click through and use it as a springboard to find more fun new books to read!

I’ve now started reading Robert McFarlane’s “The Old Ways”. When I posted my original 20 Books Pile, a few people told me they’d been a bit disappointed by this, and to be fair, I set its bulk aside for the lighter Clare Balding book when I was having a slightly taxing week. But I’ve now started it (and discovered it’s almost like a heavier, more serious version of “Walking Home” anyway, being about, well, walking, the history of walking and people he meets along the way) and I’m finding it just marvellous, lyrical, full of lovely terminology and birds and landscape. I was a bit worried it was going to be the kind of book you have to immerse yourself in with swathes of time to read it, like on holiday, but actually I’m finding dipping in at mealtimes gives a lovely escape into a different world for a moment.

Book review – David Weir – “Weirwolf” #20BooksOfSummer #amreading


Look at me getting on with my 20 Books of Summer list like a pro. OK, it is 26 June as we speak and I’ve only read four of them, but I’m sure I’ll catch up. Certainly having worked on my work schedule, I’m finding more time for reading at the weekends at least, and some more time during the week.

It’s also been lovely to get some reading in the GARDEN done – outdoors, in the sunshine, soaking up that Vitamin D. We have managed to get the garden reasonably tidy, too, keeping on top of the lawn, weeding and deadheading – there isn’t much to our garden and gardening isn’t a joy to me, but it’s nice to keep it tidy. At the moment, the hedges in the back are large and fuzzy, but we have birds nesting in them and I’d rather have lovely birds than neat hedges and no birds! Would you like a bonus bird picture? I’ll pop one at the end.

Oh, and look at the date of acquisition of this book – I’m only 11 months behind at the moment!

David Weir – “Weirwolf”

(31 July 2017 – Poundland)

Poundland do have a shelf of books and you never know what you might find – the slightly out-of-date autobiography of the UK’s most decorated wheelchair athlete for starters!

This is an honest and open autobiography (written with David Bond, who gets a credit on the title page and a bio at the back) full of exciting race report but also reflecting on disability, disability sports and training regimes. It was published in 2013 so is a bit out of date, but also positive, pretty well ending on the high of his London 2012 triumphs.

We open, as all London 2012-based sports biographies do, with him preparing to race in the Paralympics. He explains exactly how he gets into and stays in his racing chair and I appreciate the level of detail throughout the book on the technical details of steering, etc., which adds a good level of depth to the narrative. We’re then back to a chronological telling of his story, from his father’s uncanny ability to recover from effort when in the Army, which he shares, through is early life fitting in with the other kids and not considering himself disabled.

Weir, who went to a special school, speaks of changes in attitudes towards disabled people since mainstream schooling as a default came in, however I was pretty shocked to read him state he would consider terminating a pregnancy if a child of his was disabled themselves: “… because I was brought up disabled, I wouldn’t want a child to be brought up in the same situation as me” (p. 147). I suppose he has the right to his opinions, and it’s great that he’s honest, but I was still shocked.

Moving on, it’s a book full of respect and praise for his coach, Jenny Archer – whose advice he prioritises over that of UK Athletics even when that gets him into trouble – and mentor Tanni Grey-Thompson. He’s pretty scathing about the different treatment given to disabled athletes in comparison to able-bodied ones, but at least he has sought to address that by setting up the Weir-Archer Academy to help young disabled athletes, including people who want to take part in sport for fun and to keep fit (I particularly liked that bit).

Weir is open and honest even about less positive aspects of his own life, such as his long-past recreational drug use and his debilitating fear of flying. He’s obviously an anxious man and it’s refreshing to see him share this, as well as his concerns about and for his children. In the end, I enjoyed most the bits about the technicalities of racing, shouting across to his friend Josh Cassidy about getting boxed in (I never knew they could call out to each other during races), etc. A good read.

This was Book 4 in my 20 Books of Summer project.

I’m currently reading “Sacred Britannia” which is excellent on the mixing of religions in Roman Britain, absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to write up my review of it for Shiny New Books. Then it’s on to the next 20Books book …

Oh, bonus bird pic. HOW many sparrows?

Sedate lady running 18-24 June 2018 #amrunning #running


Determined lady is determined

Welcome to my second running round-up. I might have a little note on a topic in these as well as the round-ups, so …

A note on speed. I am not a fast runner. I never have been, and I’ve been through my horribles about this, but felt much better once I’d run (yes, run – someone said in a Facebook group it’s not possible to be running and get these times: erm, yes it is) some marathons. I might not go fast, but I do go far. Aaaaanyway. I used to get scared doing speed work and track sessions, worried about trailing in last with everyone waiting for me. But my lovely supportive club (Kings Heath Running Club) and the great coaches have made me more confident and I do try to do one of the coaching sessions on offer every week. They try to make it as inclusive as possible which I know is hard work, but I appreciate the opportunity.

Tuesday – I did club run the right way around, although we had to swap routes as there’d been a car accident at the start of the route we were supposed to do – we came past the aftermath at the end but anyone involved had been taken to hospital and the police were clearing up (and cheered us up the hill). A gentle and careful one as I was saving myself for track on Wednesday, but wanted to get out there: I ran with various friends who are rehabbing various injuries or just wanted a gentle one, too. I ran up with my friend Trudie, who was taking the beginners’ group and thought she was late, so got a turn of speed on there, so we took it gently on the way home. 5.4 miles in total.

Wednesday – Dave yoga in the morning, notable for me trying and giggling at trying to do the other extension of the twisted side angle which involved me trying to get my hand to the floor while squishing my stomach/side against my leg, and managing to get into a shoulder stand for 3 breaths before subsiding – my longest go at that since the 90s. Only doing 20-25 miles a week running is allowing me to develop my yoga practice, I think.

Fastest I’m ever likely to go – for a millisecond – marked

In the evening, a track session at our local council-run track and leisure centre, about 20 of us there. We did some long intervals, so after warming up and doing some out and backs, we did one, two and four loops of the track at speed with recovery. We finished off with a negative splits game where we had to run for 2 minutes clutching a cone with a number on it, drop the cone and come back, then run to our cone in 1:48, so 90% less time. I have to admit to having guessed what was going on and dropped the pace a little for the first effort, as you can see from the pink line (cadence) on the record, but I was amazed to apparently hit under 8:00 mm pace in the second bit. I also got my 1st, 2nd and 3rd fastest loops of the track (I’ve been once before; nice to see I’ve “improved”) and my fastest mile (10:17) on the flat, I think ever. Hard work but fun. Lots of stretching at the end means it was only really calves and fatigue on Thursday.

Suburban streets, early morning

Friday – I continued my theme this week of running on days I don’t normally run and had a lovely early morning run with my friend Jen – as usual, I ran up to our meeting point near her house, taking the long way around, and then we ran a customary 3 miles, then I followed her back towards our meeting point to get 5.7 miles in total – not bad and about my limit before breakfast. We were also a bit more brisk than usual, with an average pace for me of 11:49 mm. It was sunny but cool and got hot later. For those who run in the US, this is a typical Edwardian suburban street, with terraced houses and atypical blue skies.

I went to Claire yoga which was a really slow session, very hard work on the arms and shoulders but it was fun to mix it up a bit. We did a different sun salutation involving standing with legs bent, sitting back, with our arms straight forward, for AGES. Fun times!

The skies were blue actually!

Saturday – I am on the rota to support our running club’s beginner and run sessions on a Saturday morning and today was my duty. I didn’t have any beginners to support, so helped Afshin to run the 4-mile half-marathon training run (we usually offer 4 miles on a Saturday but this will be gently increasing in the run-up to the Birmingham Half). It’s billed as being 12-13 mm, to attract and reassure newer and slower runners, with faster people being welcomed but asked to buddy up. I ran with Ursula, who I run with quite a lot and was a bit jet-lagged after a recent trip and Chris, returning to the distance we were attempting – we had a nice discussion about Henry II (as you do) and managed the route in 12.15 mm with some walking on the hills. We all did some stretches afterwards and I caught this pic while lying on my back under a tree in the local park. I’d run 2 miles there and ran the 0.6 miles back to give me a total of 6.7 for the day – I suppose today and yesterday added up to my long slow run for the week.

I then weeded and tidied the two small flowerbeds in our back garden for about 45 minutes; a nice bit of squatting to finish off my exercise week!

Miles this week: 21

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year: 495 miles (on track)

Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here.

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