Tag Archives: london

City farm

We hocked it over to Surrey Quays City Farm on Saturday. It’s a great place to go for a family outing.

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Junior crowed back after a cockerel cock-a-doodle-dooed. He oinked at the pigs too.

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We bleated with the goats and watched the ducks.

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Junior liked the geese especially, but we tried to keep him apart from those dangerous looking beaks.

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This was Junior’s fourth visit to the farm.

Bargain Hunt

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In Bargain Hunt, the popular daytime TV programme on BBC, two teams of amateur collectors have a limited time to find the best bargain that they can. The rivalry is always fairly light but I imagine that bragging rights must go on for ever. 

From time-to-time I turn my lunchbreak into my own little version of Bargain Hunt. My stamping ground is always the same – the 3 or so charity shops of Bethnal Green, AyokaLama’s Pyjamas and the Spitalfields Crypt shop

Today, I had a walker, some books and some Xmas decorations to give away. Since they were bulky and heavy I took them to Ayoka, about 20 yards from my office. Then I set off with nowhere in particular in mind – I just wanted to get some light exercise for Janathon and I wanted to practise a bit of walking mindfulness. 

I found myself on the Roman Road and popped into the Lama’s Pyjamas where, hidden under the women’s dresses rack, I found a super little Biemme trike. Only £3.50! It’s only couple of weeks since Christmas but I couldn’t resist buying it for my son. As I paid, the woman at the counter asked if I wanted a bag. No, I replied, I’ll ride it home. On the way back to the office a woman suggested that I might need to find myself a larger bike. Carrying children’s toys around is a great way to gather quips from passers by! 

Janathon stats: Steps so far today, 3,536. 

Related posts

Tired of London, tired of life visits Ayoka

This is my England records graffiti around Bethnal Green

Living for the adventure’s weekend Janathon catch-up

Getting to the point at Parkrun

Parkrun on Saturday was a mixed affair. I’d started with running to the park as my warm up, which was a good idea. When the run proper started, I was feeling good and I made it around about 3/4 of the first lap pacing myself just behind someone who runs within my PB time but better than the times I’ve been running of late.

Unfortunately, as we came up the first of two significant hills I managed to persuade myself that I needed the loo. So I ducked into the toilet behind the cafe. I’m sure I could have waited, I’ve felt worse before and carried on. But I’ve also got into this habit where sometimes I stop mid-Parkrun and use the loo. Usually when I’m running much slower, so this was in itself a first.

When I re-emerged I was much further down the field. I set off and soon found a rhythm I could keep with, which was a little faster than those around me so I made up some ground. One thing that tends to keep me going is thinking of the men’s points table. I don’t have any chance of making it to the top, but a nice way of keeping my focus on a better time is to see the men ahead of me and think about the extra point I get for each man that I finish ahead of. The first placed person of each gender gets 100 points at Hilly Fields Parkrun, second gets 99 and so on down through the field. It doesn’t mean anything in the end really, but it is a helpful way to keep me motivated through the course.

As I ran I made a note of who was ahead of me and noted the men as extra points. There were mostly women immediately ahead of me so there weren’t many immediate points on offer. On the start of the third lap I saw one of the chaps ahead of me cutting off a bit of a corner. I don’t have a problem with this as Parkrun is all about our own integrity and I sometimes cut a corner off a bit if I’ve gone long somewhere else. And I recall some blog advice I read recently suggesting that if you take the tightest line you can through Parkrun you’ll run 5,000 metres and not 5,050 metres, which could help your time.

But there weren’t many points on offer ahead of me so I decided to pass this guy if I could. Only he was going at a decent pace himself. When I got to climbing Vicars Hill (the first of the two big hills, where I had persuaded myself to go to the loo 2 laps earlier) I put a lot of effort in and passed this guy. I decided to put enough distance between him and me that I could perhaps lay off the pace a little.

After the hill there’s some flat and then a big down hill. Sometimes I let my legs fly down there and other times I try and keep my pace together. This time I went for it. As I turned slightly at the bench at the bottom of the hill I looked back and the guy I had passed was not far behind me, also sprinting down the hill.

Usually, as I come to the last hill, it’s really hard and steep and I go relatively slow to save a little for the final stretch. But not this time. I decided to see off this guy properly. I charged up the hill. But as I turned off the grass and onto the tarmac path at the top of the hill the guy was right on my shoulder. He had caught up!

Again, by this time I would normally hold off before making a final sprint for the line but now all I cared about was this single bloody point. I pushed on again, sprinting to the right around the runners immediately ahead. My nemesis went left. After my first burst he was still there with me. So, from somewhere, I don’t really know where, I found the energy and effort to push on again.

When I next dared look round there was space between me and him. A guy who had already finished shouted encouragement from the bench. I wasn’t leaving this to chance. I ran my long legs as hard as I could all the way to the finish.

I came through about a couple of seconds ahead of the other guy and as he came through we briefly connected with handshake fist bump thing. In acknowledgment of the battle, perhaps. But what really mattered was that I had got the point. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I spent the next few minutes lying in the mud trying to get my breath back.

Later when I got my time from the Parkrun website I saw my time – 27:07. Still 2 minutes off my best. The other fellow came through in 27:12, some way off his best of 19:00. 19:00! No wonder he had the legs to push me all the way to the end.

Thanks to the other guy’s efforts I was only 4 seconds off my time from two weeks ago (when I didn’t stop for the loo part way round). Maybe next time I’ll forgo the comfort break and put the effort into a faster time of my own accord. I know I can get back to my PB time, I just need to keep on trying.

Passing on the running bug

On Saturday, I was all geared up for Parkrun. I had run on Thursday night and had recorded a great time so this was to be the day of my next Personal Best attempt. After recording 25:07 in August I had hardly got within 2 minutes of that time in the following 2 months. So I was ready to go. No, really. I had even been online reading tips about how to get a Parkrun 5k PB. 

But on the day, my friend texted me. Would I be going to Parkrun he enquired? I was, but I was going early to jog there and do my stretches first. I am determined. Okay, I’ll see you there. You might, but I’m going for my PB, I thought to myself. And so up to the Hilly Fields I jogged. I did my stretches. And just as we were about to walk over to the start, my friend turned up. 

And that was when I realised that I wasn’t going to go for my PB that day. It can wait for another day and for now I would just enjoy the pleasure of running with friends. So we ran together and I scored my second slowest time ever, 31:12. Only beaten in slowness by the run a few weeks ago when I stopped to use the loo part way round. But my friend got round the course and could put the stress of a busy week behind him for a while. We certainly weren’t the fastest. We were among the slowest.  The PB will wait for another day. 

When I started running, around 18 months ago, I went out in my lunchbreaks with a friend who is a more experienced runner. He told me that he often went out with a more experienced runner than him. And he was happy to help me get going. Now I feel like I have the opportunity to offer some encouragement to someone else. I’m passing on the running bug. 

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When a baby becomes a toddler

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My baby has just become a toddler! And the giraffe pictured here above has helped. We borrowed this rather lovely item from Lewisham Toy Library. Taking it out into the local parks and the streets has helped give toddler lots of practice walking and now he’s doing it unaided.

Meanwhile, I ran my NCT route last night in the rain, with a PB of approximately 31minutes. After a few weeks of not running in the week, a colleague told me she tried to get out for 15minutes. I tried it on Monday and ran for 18minutes. And last night I did it again. Nevermind that by the time I got out it was 2140. Nor that it was raining. I found a good rhythm early and had a lovely run. More please!