Thursday, 18 September 2014

My First Half Marathon

I'm writing this a few hours after completing a half-marathon in Creston, B.C.  The run actually felt great and the weather was perfect for it.  I chose this particular run because of the time of year (cooler), and the fact that it is flat.  In the Kootenays, flat places are rare.  I have some arthritis things going on in my left knee and it complains a lot during steep downhills, so I thought a flat run would be best for my first "big" run.  For the first time I carried and ran with an ipod playing music.  I knew that I'd be running alone and thought it would be good to have some amusement.  Usually, I like to listen to the birds, the rushing rivers, and the forest sounds, but this run is partly through a large agricultural area.  By km 3, I had to take the ipod out of my small pack because the shuffle kept getting pushed by something in my pack and it was very distracting.  I then carried the ipod in my zip up pocket in my shorts.  At about km 14 Annie Lennox was singing about "being 17 again" and I laughed because there is no way I could have run this far at 17.  I would have refused!  Training took place on a slightly more difficult course so it really paid off in the run today.  I felt tired at km 19, but not exhausted,  and the hard work paid off. My ankles felt a little wonky.  They recovered.   A big thank you to Rick, my running partner this summer.  I was able to relax enough to simply enjoy the scenery and the sunshine.  Miro, I managed to avoid stepping on a snake while running along the gravel shoulder, although I did see one that a car had driven over.  It was so good to have my coach Janis out there running as well. She is such an amazing cheerleader for ALL runners!  Thanks to Janis for getting me started.  Look what she has created!  Thank you to Dave as my driving support and bike rider who came by to cheer me on.  Even though I was one of the last finishers, I felt good that I more than met my goal (goal was 2 hours 30 minutes) and I was the second oldest participant in the run.  Not sure what my future plans are, but I do notice that I titled this my "first" half marathon!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Kew Gardens: London

Our final day in London was cool, but sunny and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Kew Gardens via London Underground.  I can't say enough good about Kew so if you want to "do the tour" via Wikipedia, here is a link:,_Kew

I enjoyed revisiting the gardens via this link.  I loved this sculpture, entitled "The Sower".  Other highlights of Kew for me were the Waterlily House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.  It was a fine way to end our Spring Garden Tour of England, 2014.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Constable Walk: Manningtree to Dedham

One of our very favourite days in England, and nearing the end of our time in Essex, was the day we walked from Manningtree Train Station to Flatford and Dedham.  We were a bit concerned about getting there because we had to "look for the trail" from the train as it passed through Manningtree on its way from Colchester to Ipswich.  We'd been down this rail twice.  Guide books kept indicating that having a car was necessary.  We didn't believe it!  When we arrived at Manningtree Station, we walked out of the train station and immediately saw a sign for Flatford.  It was a beautiful day and a very fine 4 km walk to Flatford, mostly following the Stour River.  
We loved the NT site at Flatford and it also housed a very nice wildlife garden and since one of our main reasons for spending 3 weeks in England was to look at gardens, it was very fitting.  I wish we had discovered this place a little earlier in our journey because there were plenty of public footpaths to follow in the area.  It is true that the place where John Constable painted "The Haywain" is very much unchanged.

From Flatford, we carried on to the village of Dedham, famous for its creamed teas.  The route was over pastoral countryside and we were accompanied by lots of cattle.  The creamed tea (tea with scones and clotted cream and jam) was a perfect fix for our two hour walk back to Manningtree Station.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Colchester: Britain's Oldest Recorded Town

This is the site of the Balkerne Gate, built by the Romans around 49 AD.  I believe that the original gate was razed by that sassy Bodacia, Queen of the Britons.  However, there is still a really old looking arch here, and the Romans built a lot of walls in the city of Colchester.  I did really feel, often, that I was in an "old" town.  Near this gate, is the old Victorian water tower, used by the city of Colchester until the 1980s.  
We really enjoyed walking in this town and it was a bit ironic that the old Colchester Castle was about to reopen on the day we were returning to Canada.  The public gardens at the Castle were "formal" but the tulips were lovely, and we wandered through old cemeteries and new playgrounds.  A good place to visit.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Secret Garden: Essex

This garden I discovered because I'm a runner!  It was located in Holland-on-Sea and I was only able to find one footpath that didn't seem to be paved.  I was happy to discover it, and near the "sea end" of the trail, I found this little garden outside of the owner's fence.  The "good" garden was entirely enclosed with a locked gate so I never did get to see what it might have to offer.  I suspect that these were the leftovers.  I enjoyed it every day after its discovery and made a short journey over to this area to see it change as the two weeks went by.  The tulips were replaced with the beginning of iris.  How I love spring!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Cambridge: Bike Capital of England!

One of my sisters had never visited Cambridge, so while in England, we made the train journey from Clacton to Cambridge.  We had a wonderful day!  It started with a visit to the Cambridge Botanical Garden, a walk over to Queens College and the Mathematical Bridge, a walk along "the Backs" and  a visit to King's College Chapel.  We also visited Emmanuel College, designed by Christopher Wren, and were delighted to find another lovely small garden behind the quad.  Bicycles abound in Cambridge.  I can certainly understand why, and it was interesting to see how many fences, railings, and walls had "No Cycles" posted on them.  The fence or gate is considered to be private property and I guess they can't accommodate all those bikes.  I noticed that often the signs were ignored.  This was my favourite bike that I spotted in Cambridge and there were many to chose from.  The racks at the train station were a sea of bikes!  Ride on!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Visiting Norwich

During my Sister Act in Essex, we spent one day travelling to East Anglia and the city of Norwich.  The three of us loved it.  It is a city of old churches and cathedrals and we visited on a particularly misty and fog laden day.  It added to the atmosphere.  This garden, called Plantation Garden, is located in Norwich and is an old Victorian style garden with an upper level for viewing and paths to wander at "plant level".  The stone work and brick work were decorative and whimsical.  The plantings were thoroughly delightful and it ended up being one of our favourite places to visit.  We also loved the "honesty box" at the garden entrance.  Sometimes, a small garden is such a treat.