Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Now where was I?

Oh crikey, I've just checked back and the last marathon I wrote about was back in May and I've done 6 more since then. I'll keep the marathon updates to a minimum or this could be a very boring post. There was a flurry of them after things settled down a bit for us and I did chuckle when I told a friend yesterday that I'd "only" done 11 marathons so far this year - I may have lost the plot somewhat but I blame the company I keep 'cos I am a mere lightweight compared to some of them!

During my time out of the marathon scene I have of course started to hatch a plan for my next fund-raising venture for Alzheimer's Research UK to be completed whilst I'm still 60 years old but I can't announce it yet as I haven't quite got my head around the enormity of what I'm thinking about (well, having done 52 marathons in 52 weeks I can't just ask people to make donations if I say I'm going to run 2 or 3 marathons during my 60th year now can I?!!!!!).

First I think we need a bit of a crochet update so here's something I finished recently. It's the Lost in Time shawl by Johanna Lindhal. I chose it because it has a very easy and repetitive sequence of stitches/rows and was easily transportable for sitting around in hospital waiting rooms. I found a combination of a variety of newspapers, crosswords, several novels and crochet/knitting helped to while away the hours quite nicely.

I was really naughty though and didn't use yarn from my stash. In my defence, I blame Scheepjes for bringing out their 'Whirl' yarn cakes in some scrumptious colourways. I chose 'Melting Macaron' (767) because it matches the colours in one of my summer frocks.

I don't usually choose triangular shawl crochet patterns as they remind me to the gigantic crocheted things we all used to make in the 1970s to go with our maxi dresses (shudder!) but I ignored my prejudices and just got stuck in.

For the border I wanted a contrast and so used some off-white 4ply cotton yarn I had already. Some people have added tassels which I thought was a nice idea.

Vaughan Williams provided just the right length of wraps for my tassels

Then I just had to choose the number of wraps to get the right thickness of tassel (from left to right, 30, 50, 40). I settled on 50 as it looked more generous.

I liked the idea of embellishing them with beads and so hunted around for some in the right colour and size.

I experimented with both colour and placement....

....finally settling on this arrangement

Although I'm still not keen on triangular shawls I'm very pleased with how it came out and it looks fab with my dress (an end of sale bargain last year).

Now for a couple of marathons - Kent Circuit (116)

Yikes, this is going to stretch my memory for sure and I've had to go back to my 100 Club spreadsheet to remind me of them! I can't do all of them at once so I'll split them into a few posts.

First there was the Kent Circuit marathon. I've run this before several times when it was organised by a different Race Director and I did say I wouldn't do it when it was taken over by someone else simply because I don't like doing such short laps. Then Ruth (aka Plodding Hippo for whom I crocheted Happy the Hippo for her 300th marathon back in 2014) announced that it would be her 500th marathon and so I just had to enter it.

Me, Tinu & Ruth with Pam and Tim in the background

Look at Ruth's special number, a lovely touch. But why is she dressed like that? Aha, the Kent Circuit is in Gravesend where Pocahontas lived and died. She is buried in St. George's Church and there is a beautiful statue of her there. When there's a theme to a race people often dress up but as she was the only person who'd bothered she soon changed (next photo).

Ian, the former RD, presented her with a special vest in 100 club colours.

The masses gathering at the start. Can you spot me having a conversation with James right at the front? I soon left him there and headed off to find my place nearer the back!

The weather forecast was not good with thunder/lightning and rain forecast and we watched it rolling in during the first hour.

We got wet!

Chatting with Scotty

Although there were plenty of chums running and supporting I tried to remain focused and not stop to chat as when the rain abated the sun came out and it was HOT!

The lovely Dee was out there snapping away and said she kept trying to catch me under the word 'stunning', bless her. I certainly didn't feel remotely stunning in that heat and I slowed right down in the last few laps!

I finished in 5:12:24 which is my slowest time for the route but I just couldn't push on in that heat.

A nice Pocahontas themed medal

The event seemed to lack the fun we've always had there previously and the new organisers got quite a few negative complaints, especially as the aid stations didn't have adequate supplies of water for a while which is inexcusable on  a hot day. I doubt I'll go back there again even if they do stage another event (famous last words?!).

The next day I was due to run the Jeskyns Challenge but although I turned up and ran a few laps I didn't stay for marathon distance as Mike was a bit poorly and I wanted to get home. I just treated it as  a mid-distance training run with friends and then headed home.

Walking up an incline with Costas. he was picking my brains about a repair to his favourite woolly jumper (which reminds me I need to get on with it!)

I can't remember if I've shown photos of the fab tee shirts Traviss had designed to celebrate completing 52 marathons in 52 weeks so here they are:



They really are gorgeous and very comfy to wear and Ive worn mine more often than my 100 club vest!

The Kent 50 Challenge (117)

Next up was a 'challenge' event from Traviss and Rachel so it always going to be fun and well organised. As a 'challenge' event you could run one lap or as many as you liked within the time limit and I had hummed and haa'd about whether to do it as Mike had been under the weather during the week. Of course he said I should do it as I'd already pulled out of several other marathons but I found that I was just worrying about him all the time I was running.

Heading through the farmyard to the checkpoint (thanks for the photo Nunky Paul)

Each time I reached the checkpoint I eyed up the medals and I really, really loved the Viking Challenge ones, which you got for completing at least 1 lap, more than the one for 50 miles. Having passed marathon distance I gave Mike a ring to see how he was and although he said he was OK I could tell he was a bit down so that was it, I did one more lap and called it a day.

I finished in 5:53:40 after 28.6 miles so a nice gentle ultra marathon, my first as a 60 year old!

There are still more marathons to write about, plus craft stuff, but I think that's enough for now.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bye-bye old friend and companion

It was with heavy hearts and great sadness that we had to bid farewell to our lovely rescue pony Kizzy a few weeks ago. Followers of my blog may remember that she came to us from the Blue Cross as a companion to one of my other horses many years ago. They had an arrangement whereby their horses were loaned out but still owned by them and they'd come and check they were OK every so often. At first they came every 6 months, then 12 months but because she'd done well with us we eventually became trusted enough to just have a conversation by phone each year and send photos of her so they could check her weight was OK.

Kizzy, looking good last year

When we first got her they had around 200 horses on their books but in the last few years, partly because of the financial crisis, they have over 1500 and they do not have the manpower to keep checking up on them all. She was always a delight to care for and when they approached us last year to ask if we'd like to adopt her of course we were happy to do it. It was a massive operation for them because they had to contact all the previous owners to get their permission (except of course when they had been taken into their care because of ill-treatment as in Kizzy's case).

The last time we had a visit was over 4 years ago and it was suggested that it might be her time to pass away because we were having trouble keeping weight on her as she had no grinding teeth left and could no longer eat grass or hay, bless her.

Well, there was no way we were letting her go without a fight and so I devised a complicated feeding regime involving chopped and dried grass/chaff/multivitamins/oil/molasses and something called 'Fast Fibre' which I mixed up 4 times a day into a sloppy porridge. I discussed it with the vet who said that what often happens is that they go on to develop tummy issues because of the unnatural feeding routine. She also told me that not many people keep their horses to a ripe old age (ie when they can no longer ride them) which I found quite shocking as she was part of our family!

Thankfully this worked wonders for 3 more years until one morning when I went out to feed her and she refused her feed and looked rather listless. I wondered if it was some form of colic but she wasn't showing any of the other signs (lying down then getting up again, rolling around, sweating, staring at the water bucket etc). When she still hadn't touched her feed by midday I called the vet who came and gave her an injection which perked her up, she ate her feed and seemed much better. She also ate her evening meal.

The next morning though she looked much worse and I just knew in my heart that it was time. I phoned the vet and had a long conversation but we both knew instinctively what the outcome was going to be. I won't go into the details, suffice to say it was quick and painless. She was 37 years old which is a good age and I hope she had a good life with us.

Then of course there was Esther to worry about and I phoned around trying to find a companion for her but was unsuccessful. We decided to keep an eye on her for a few days and see if she was distressed at being alone and to our surprise she actually seemed glad to be on her own. I'd always believed that being herd animals they preferred the company of others. However, having spoken to several people about this I learned that not all horses do like company!

She's been on her own now for nearly 8 weeks and she seems perfectly happy. I know she's always been last in the pecking order at the stud she lived at previously and was always bullied by my eventing horse and indeed by Kizzy so it must suit her. We've developed a new routine and she certainly seems to be thriving. She's no spring chicken herself having celebrated her 28th birthday this year but I'm hoping she has a few more years with us.

There's lots to catch up with on the dementia front, knitting, sewing, crochet, gardening,  walks, running/fund-raising....oh so many things!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Peeping out again

Poor blog, so sorry for neglecting you. This has been a very challenging year so far in so many ways that I just haven't felt like blogging and each time I've thought things were settling down something else bad happened. I have pulled out of nearly as many marathons as I've completed this year but thankfully Mike's health issues have now calmed somewhat and we are starting to relax again (which means I can now start planning my next challenge for Alzheimer's Research UK).

Hey ho, onwards and upwards as they say and I finally feel as if I can get back into it.

I have so many things to write about with hundreds of photos which I'll probably never have time to share so I'll have to pick and choose which to show whenever I get a moment. For now here are some photos from my 60th birthday a couple of months ago (yep, I am now officially an old biddy!) which was a lovely day in the midst of hospital visits. I'll keep the words to a minimum or I'll never get it completed:

Birthday morning

Chatting with "Ill Bill", the little drake who we thought might not make it through having been trapped by poachers (we think 'cos he had a lot of damage to his neck). He made a remarkable recovery thank goodness and has flown off to pastures new.

Pretty Tullulah the pheasant who was attacked by a fox but survived and is now doing well although she's more timid now.

Looking over to the orchard I noticed this female pheasant with a chick......

.....so I took some grain over to her........

.....and they both came out to eat.....

.....and it turned out she had 5 chicks! What a lovely surprise and clever girl for managing to save them from the foxes etc.

Birthday surprise

I thought Mike was looking excited and when we went back inside he couldn't wait for me to open the fridge where I found this amazing cake and champagne. I immediately burst into tears of joy, as you do, 'cos Mike isn't really given to surprises or secrets so it was a genuine shock, albeit a very nice one.

I kept Rex rabbits for many years, my last 2 were Tango and Bluebelle

A very happy 60 year old

If you've read my blog before you may remember that I love bunnies, gardening is my passion and he asked the designer for her to be wearing a tiara just because she's a girl bunny and I love sparkly things!

The flowers were beautiful and the cake delicious - it was lemon drizzle and we took the first slice off the back because we couldn't bear to eat her face.

Of course I had to do my first run in my 60s and it was a beautiful day too. 6 miles felt just right.

That evening we went to the Mermaid Inn situated in the lovely town of Rye. The sun shone, we had a wonderful meal and it was just perfect.

Before champagne

After champagne (note my Houlland shawl which I've worn such a lot)

With the love of my life

When the time came to eat the bunny's face several days later we couldn't do it and so we put it out for the birds to enjoy:

All that remained was half her head, ears and nose!

It didn't take long before this cheeky jackdaw spotted her and was soon joined by his mates.

The next time we looked this was all that was left.