A piece of heaven in the Peak District

Last weekend ‘P’ and I took a trip to Hartington in the Peak District for a little weekend break.  The kids and dog were unceremoniously dropped off at Mom-in-laws and we headed off for a weekend of walking and relaxation.  Although we only live 90 minutes away this was the first time either ‘P’ or myself had visited the Peak District, but now we’ve been we can’t wait to go back.

We arrived in the small village of Hartington around 7.30pm on the Friday evening.  The Charles Cotton Hotel where we’d chosen to stay looked very welcoming and we thought the lanterns that had been lit and scattered on the outdoor tables was a lovely touch.  The reception staff were very friendly and we were shown to our room which was small but clean and comfortable.

We ate in the bistro, just off the bar area, on both nights and the food was to die for, both times served promptly and by friendly service staff.  We were also surprised that there was entertainment on both evenings which we didn’t expect in a small village hotel.  Friday nights entertainment far outweighed Saturday’s though, it has to be said.  After an hour of Alan ‘Shakin’ Dakin (aka Vic Reeves ‘in the style of a club singer’) we almost gave up the will to live and retired to our bedroom :).  The bar area is very ‘country’ and has a super open fire to sit by.  We found that not only were the hotel staff extremely pleasant but also the locals who would pass the time of day whilst propping up the bar.

“‘P’ and I in the Charles Cotton bar

Breakfast on both mornings was served in ‘The Cotton Room’ which had a beautiful hand painted mural around the top of the walls depicting a countryside scene.  Once again the food was delish and the lady that served us on both mornings was a treasure.

Saturday unfortunately started off foggy so we had a short stroll around the village and then back to the hotel for cappuccino’s and read of the paper.  The village itself is very small with just a couple of general stores, an antique shop, cheese shop (?) and another inn.  Luckily by lunchtime the fog cleared, the sun appeared and we headed off on a circular walk using a map purchased from the hotel.

The walk took us out of the village and onwards to Wolfcote and Beresford Dale which was very scenic and great for photographs.  Lots of little bridges over the River Dove and many unusual rock formations jutting out from the landscape.  Being fairly early in the season it wasn’t too busy either so all in all we had a lovely peaceful 5 mile walk.

Circular Walk from HartingtonBridge of the River Dove

Both ‘P’ and I returned thoroughly relaxed from our weekend in Hartington and have already enquired as to their availability for May so that we can visit again for our wedding anniversary.

A steady six

Another good month following the training plan although the last couple of days have seen a slight hiccup by way of a sore and achey knee.

Each weekend has seen me increase my ‘long run’ by 5 or 10 minutes and on Monday I finally reached the 6 mile mark with my longest run to date of 70 minutes.  The run itself felt great on the whole apart from a sudden niggly pain in my right knee that started around the 4 mile point.  This actually got a lot worse whilst running downhill so I decided to take it easy at this point and walk for a short spell.  I managed to carry on running again after but my knee has not been too good since.  I decided to give today’s training run a miss which was a bit disappointing as I’m really enjoying the new club runs with Cobra on Wednesday nights, but I did go for a half hour dog walk instead which freed things up a little bit.

I think that perhaps my new hill work on Wednesday nights plus the increased distance is not agreeing with my joints so I guess I just need to take it steady for a while.  I’ve entered the DK10K on the 2nd May so I have plenty of time yet.  I’m pleased that my breathing and stamina seem so much better so that’s a start a least.  My aim is to be able to run a steady 8 miles by the time my race comes around, that way, 10K should feel at least comfortable…..I hope :-/

Here’s this months results:

February 2012

Runs to date: 11
Walks to date: 11
Hikes to date: 0
Miles during Feb: 54.3 miles
Workout time during Feb: 12 hrs 30 mins
Calories burnt during Feb: 4892

Sister Act……Simply Fabulous, baby!

Last night the ladies choir went on a super trip to The Grand theatre in Wolverhampton to see the musical ‘Sister Act‘.  Being a massive fan of the films I couldn’t wait to see what the live show would be like.  Although, the musical possesses none of the songs from the original films (which I initially found a little disappointing) the new soundtrack written by Alan Menken more than makes up for this.  There are some great show-stopping and emotive songs and very witty lyrics written by Glenn Slater.

The show follows much of the story of the original first film with just some slight alterations to the Las Vegas ending.  I personally found that the show had even more humorous lines delivered with great timing not only by the lead characters but the entire cast.  One of my favourites for this being Jacqueline Clarke who played Sister Mary Lazarus, the grouchy and cynical nun within the order.

All praise has to be given to Cynthia Erivo who played Deloris Van Cartier who, unlike her character in the film, has the majority of the musical performances within the show.  She had a real mix of songs and seemed to be able to adapt her voice accordingly between the rich soul diva and the sweet angelic style.  Along with Julie Atherton who plays Sister Mary Robert, these girls made my hairs stand on end.

The cast as a whole delivered the show with such energy and enthusiasm, my one regret is not taking ‘A’ with me as I think she would have loved it!  Sister Act is such an upbeat, feel good, family show I defy anyone to leave the theatre without a smile on their face, I know I did :).

And the running continues

Went for my first run last night with Cobra Running and Triathlon Club and had a great time.  ‘P’ already runs with them 2 or 3 times a week but I’m not quite up to his level…….yet. So when I heard they were starting up their beginners group again on Wednesday evenings I thought this was my chance to give it a try.

Although a little nervous, I was made to feel very welcome when I arrived.  The run started out from the local leisure centre where we headed out for about half a mile before doing some rather nasty hill sprints.  Hill sprints were a new thing to me and get this…..I actually quite enjoyed them, although my legs were quite jellified after!  (Yes I know that’s not a word, but I know what it means).  From here we continued our run, stopping every now and then for the slower ones, ie. me, to catch up.  In total we did just over 4 miles which included a pretty horrific incline for about a mile.  I was quite surprised how far we’d run and when I got back and checked my pace on Runkeeper I’d actually run quicker than normal too.

It makes such a difference running in a group environment.  Everyone was so encouraging and friendly and the mix of stops and starts, hills and sprints made it all the more  interesting.  It felt so much better than my long Sunday plods that just seem to go on forever and never end.

Really disappointed that I won’t be able to be there next week as I’m off to the theatre but can’t wait to take part again the week after.  I holding out high hopes that training with Cobra will bring my running on no end and help me to achieve better times for 5 and 10k along with increasing my stamina to allow me to run even greater distances.

The rest of my training is going well.  Still running with Jane twice a week and my weekend run this Sunday will hopefully be up to 60 – 65 mins.  My breathing and stamina seems to have improved a bit although due to a cough I’ve struggled a bit over the last week.  Things should be back to normal though soon.

The Gallery – Me Right Now

The Gallery theme this week is ‘Me Right Now’ so here I am, erm……..right now, courtesy of ‘A’ snapping away on my HTC. (Yes, she’s off school with the lurgy along with lovely son).  Sorry, picture quality’s not good!

Just been for a run, a rather crap one at that and analysing the results online with Runkeeper.  Now freezing cold, can’t get warm and trying to absorb the last bit of heat from my mug of tea. (Also, trying to stay as far away from the kids as possible to avoid contagion, don’t think I’ll be able to hold out much longer though!)

Finally……Four Miles!

Have done great work with my training plan this month.  All my hard work has been logged on Runkeeper and this month I’ve managed to accumulate 26 activities over 31 days.  These includes walking, skating, hiking and most importantly, running.

I’ve continued with my short runs twice a week accompanied by my friend Jane and my long weekend run is now up to just over 4 miles which I’m quite chuffed about.  Tomorrow night also see’s the start of the new beginners class at our local Cobra Running Club.  This will only be a couple miles but I thought it would be a great starting point for me to be able to work my way up to the clubs more advanced Tuesday and Thursday classes.

So far, I’ve managed to keep injuries at bay *touches wood* and just hoping with the gradual increase of 5 minutes per long run, I’ll be able to keep things this way.

Here’s my totals for the month:

January 2012

Runs to date: 10
Walks to date: 14
Hikes to date: 1
Skates to date: 1
Miles during Jan: 58.3 miles
Workout time during Jan: 16 hrs 15 mins
Calories burnt to date: 4907

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2012

This weekend saw ‘A’ and I taking part in the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch as we did last year.  This year’s attempt was, again, very successful probably due to the colder weather over the last few days.

Arnold was doing his best to get out in the garden to scare away any feathered visitors but we managed to keep him amused for the whole hour so they could chow down in peace.  Typically today, after the event, we had an even great number of birds and different varieties but that’s just the way it goes!

For more information on the purpose of the Big Garden Birdwatch visit my post from last year.

Here’s our results for 2012:

Blackbird – 3
Blue Tit – 3
Chaffinch – 2
Collared Dove – 1
Dunnock – 1
Goldfinch – 4
House Sparrow – 2
Magpie – 1
Robin – 1
Woodpigeon – 3
Wren – 1

A cold canal stroll

Last Saturday, as part of our new weekend regime, we headed over to Stourbridge.  Not very exciting you might think but we set off on the canal tow path from the Bonded Warehouse to the Red House Cone Museum at Wordsley.  It was a lovely, cold and frosty January afternoon and once on the tow path we were away from all the hustle and bustle of Stourbridge and could have almost been in countryside.

Stourbridge Canal
'P' & 'A' on the canal walk
Canada Geese on the Stourbridge canal

We stopped off at the Red House Cone Museum and ‘A’ and I had a quick look round while ‘P’ waited outside with Arnold.  There were some fab studios inside including a pottery workshop where you could actually ‘have a go’ but due to the fact ‘P’ was sitting outside on terrier duty we thought we’d leave it for another day.  We headed on through to the main cone section and watched a glass demonstration where the man made long thin pieces of glass that looked like spaghetti and then a demonstration of how the glass can be twisted with different colours.

Red House Cone Museum
'A' at the Red House Cone Museum

Arnold was so good on the trip out, passing lots of strange dogs, swans and geese and not getting drawn into a barking contest.  But unfortunately, on the trip back he’d obviously decided, no more Mr polite dog, and barked and growled at every passing canine (especially a poor border collie who jumped out of her skin!).

No more Mr Nice Dog!

The mojo is back

I’m what you’d call an irregular runner (plodder).

I see running as a means to an end, the end being a sleeker body and the opportunity to not look like a beached whale whilst on holiday.  But saying this, I do very occasionally actually get what is known as the ‘running bug’ – that buzz you get from continually improving and an urge to get out there for your next run.  I hasten to emphasize here that this ‘buzz’, for me, is infrequent and more often than not I require a bad result from the scales or a kick up the arse to actually get me out there.

This is kind of how 2011 panned out.  My best laid running plans went out of the window.  Races I’d intended to do, I didn’t and by September I could tell the jelly belly was making a return.  I felt that in order to progress I needed to change the way I trained.  Too often I was plagued with shin splints and achy knees which made me think I was going about it all in the wrong way.  My aim has been for a while now, that I get back to 10K races but the same thing happens every time.  I enter a race to give me ‘motivation’ then I put far too much pressure on myself to get across the finish line in a good time and by doing so end up knackering myself completely in the run up to the big day.

From October last year I decided to ask my friend Jane to come out with me twice a week. Although we spend far too much time talking, the commitment to get out there each week is there regardless of speed and distance.  In addition to running with Jane I also tried to add in a longer run each weekend which I sometimes do with ‘P’.  This time though, rather than increasing my distance I just run for an allotted time and try to keep my pace slow to steady,  I then increase my long run by around 5 minutes each weekend.

Now this was all going well until Christmas and New Year loomed.  Work commitments increased, Jane and I had other engagements (yes, yes, excuses I know!) but basically it all went kind of crappy for a while.  However, 2012 has seen me return with a vengeance.  I’ve not only been running regularly but also walking much more than I normally would.  My ‘time’ rather than ‘distance’ regime seems to be working well and wait for it……….I actually got up this morning aching to go for a run!  Yes, the BUZZ is back.

I opted in the end for a brisk dog walk rather than push myself on a rest day but at least I know the urge is there and hopefully will stay.

January 2012

Runs to date: 5
Walks to date: 8
Hikes to date: 1
Calories burnt to date: 2449

Welcome back weekends

We decided that 2012 would see us making a little more of our weekends.  It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of housework, DIY and general ‘vegging’ as the weekend passes by. Running our own business we also seem to spend a lot of time planning our workload for the coming week and before we know it, Sunday evening has arrived along with the ironing of school uniform and work shirts.

Arnold, for one, has been rather pleased by the new approach to our weekends as the last two have seen us taking him on a countryside ramble and a walk by the canal.  Last Saturday we headed to Abberley nr Great Witley in Worcestershire armed with a circular walk we’d downloaded from the web and our O&S map.  I will be the first to admit here, that our map reading skills aren’t the best and ‘P’ out and out refuses to look at the map at all due to his ‘inability’ in this area.  Now, you’ve probably guessed where I’m going with this, we did get kind of lost due to turning left instead of right at a very strategic point.  Never the less we had a lovely walk finding our way across country fields, past farms, animals and many, many (many) stiles.  The stiles themselves gave us a new challenge as most didn’t have Border Terrier sized access therefore leaving us to pass Arnold back and forth between ‘P’ and myself.  I think he was starting to get a little narked towards the end of our 90 minute walk, God knows how St Bernard owners get on?

One of the few stiles with Arnold access

At the end of our walk we stopped at the Manor Arms in Abberley village for a quick half.  Although it was January 7th and 5pm, we sat outside with our muddy boots and muddy dog and didn’t once feel the cold.  The landlord was extremely welcoming and we can’t wait to pop in again.

Try visiting Walking Britain to download details of the same walk.  Maybe you’ll have more luck at map reading :).