Sunday, 29 March 2015

Queen's 5k


Wednesday evening just past was cold, not really an inviting environment in which to strip down to shorts and singlet and attempt to race. Despite the negative weather conditions I attended the Queen's 5k along with various of my club colleagues and forced myself to toe the starting line.

Due to the numbers of participants, (entries were closed at 750), I was some distance back from the actual start line. However there was chip timing so to some extent that downside was answered. I say to some extent because you still have to force your way through the individuals who have positioned themselves in the first few rows of runners although their pbs would warrant a start position much further back. The members of one particular running club were very visibly guilty of this breach of running etiquette. Despite the temptation to do so I will refrain from naming and shaming the club concerned. I won't even mention the predominant colour of their singlets. Tempting mind you!

This was my first running of this particular event. I don't know whether I will race it again. The corners are very tight and there really were too many participants. I didn't run quite as fast as I had hoped but I suppose you could describe it as a stolid performance. In any event it was sufficent to get me in to the prize list with a second position in my age category.



Saturday, 28 March 2015

Potato Chitting Containers.


Usually I just buy fresh seed potatoes each year. However this time I have my own seed potatoes to plant, having set aside appropriate specimens from the crop of 2014. Another little financial saving. The earlies have been planted already and I would hope that I will be able to start digging the first tops by the beginning of July.

The main crop varieties are presently being chitted in egg boxes and they should be ready for planting in another ten days. I have a friend who is a wholesale purveyor of eggs. I think that I will extract a few egg trays from him. That would enable me to have all of the seed potatoes of a particular variety chitting away on the same receptacle.


Friday, 27 March 2015



It has been some time, well probably two months, since I went for a run at Benone Beach. For no particular reason I determined that I would drive there on Monday. I checked in advance that I would not be running on soft sand due to a high tide. It was close to a low tide. Result!


Occasionally I come upon another runner during my solo runs. If they are markedly slower or faster than I am then it is preferable to ignore them save for a curt nod and a grunt of acknowledgement. If they do happen to be running at or about my pace then the old competitive instincts can come to the fore and what was to have been a recovery run can metamorphose into an AT run or quicker. That was not the situation on Monday. I had the beach to myself save for one dog walker and his canine pal and a grandfather supervising the sandcastle abilities of his young grandson. As I was to be racing two days later I clocked up a modest five miles. With the aid of the trusted Garmin I completed the first mile in just over eight minutes with each subsequent mile speeding up by thirty seconds per mile.


When departing the beach I noted from a sign on a fenced off area that Mr Farage's bestest friend, the European Union are funding the construction of what is described as a Beach Activity Centre. The completion date for this development is scheduled for, "Summer 2015." Perhaps a few months late for what is jokingly referred to as Northern Ireland's summer.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Springtime for Daffodils, (and other bulbs).

Springtime is definitely here. The perennials in the herbaceous borders are budding up or beginning to poke above ground level. There is even a little warmth in the noonday sun and the daffodils are eager to get into the act.

Daffodils can I think be just a bit brash, particularly the tall yellow only varieties. I much prefer miniature daffodils. They provide a welcome burst of colour to a rockery and their height means that they are not prone to being broken or blown over by strong winds. Methinks that I will consult Mr Blom's autumn catalogue in due course and select a small white flowering specimen for planting in the rockery which surrounds the well.




Friday, 20 March 2015

Pink Primroses.

I have several pink flowering primroses around the garden. Folklore has it that the traditional yellow flowering primula vulgaris can be stimulated into producing pink flowers by planting in ground which is rich in cow manure. There does not appear to be any substantive scientific support for this. The likely explanation for the appearance of pink flowering plants is much more prosaic. What we are seeing are in all probability hybrid plants, a genetic amalgam of wild primroses and garden planted polyanthuses.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Gas and Gaiters

Last weekend I was flitting through the freeview channels, television and radio. Suddenly I heard a voice from the past, that of the actor Robertson Hare, (Archdeacon Henry Blount.) I was taken back some fifty years, back to the initial showings of All Gas and Gaiters on the BBC. I really enjoyed the programme then and the radio versions which are now being broadcast brought back happy memories of a time when worry didn't exist.

The first couple of series were definitely from the days of black and white television. The George Mitchell Singers were just about at their apogee when Rev. Noote, (pronounced Newt.) was ambling around the close of St Ogg's Cathedral. I suppose Derek Nimo was the star of the show. This was to be the first of his bumbling clerical roles and I would rate it as his most successful.


Monday, 16 March 2015

Augherea House - a running visit.


This past weekend I made my third trip of the year to Athlone and its indoor athletic arena. Rather than tackle a one day return trip as on the the first two occasions I decided to treat myself to an overnight stay. The establishment selected goes under the name of Augherea House and it is situated on the outskirts of Longford.

The B & B business is operated from a converted stable block behind and to the right of the Georgian house. It isn't a huge venture, four bedrooms all on the first floor of the conversion. On the ground floor there is a large and airy breakfast room/sitting area as well as the necessary domestic offices. Mine host informed me that he had raised the height of the building by some four feet so that he could make maximum use of the first floor.

I had read a few laudatory reviews of the breakfasts. These proved to be totally accurate. I succumbed to fresh fruits followed by scrambled egg with salmon and wild mushrooms garnished with fresh herbs and a baby tomato.

The access to the first floor is via an open tread staircase. Slightly disconcertingly the single bannister is on the wall side. I suppose this feature is a nod to the original use of the first floor as a hay store, but it is perhaps something that would not be over appealing to crumblies and families with young children.

Adjoining the stable yard there is a walled garden with impressively tall walls. Unfortunately this is lying fallow. It cries out to be brought back into production.


The Georgian house was constructed circa 1785 and is a five bay two storey residence over basement.




Monday, 9 March 2015

The Propagator called The Vitopod

Northern Ireland is not the best climatic area within the UK to grow vegetables. Average temperatures are lower than most of England and Wales, the risk of frost continues longer and starts earlier and then there is the rain.

If I could warrant the expense I would have a large heated greenhouse that would allow me to have a much longer growing season. That said my unheated version still helps and for several years I have used a small heated propogator to get seeds germinating earlier and quicker than the greenhouse permits. The problem was that it was just too small. Accordingly I have now invested in a much larger propogator which will allow me to have several seed trays on the go at the same time. There is a thermostat incorporated in it so I am able to regulate the temperature with some degree of accuracy. The propogator was made by a company called Greenhouse Sensation. They have christened their product, "the Vitopod."





Saturday, 7 March 2015

Musings of an older Athlete.

Photo courtesy of NIRunning

As you become older it has to be accepted that, all things being equal, you are not going to be able to run as quickly as you might have been able to in the past. Cadence may remain the same, but the length of stride will inexorably decrease.

A smarter training regime can however help to ensure that all things are not equal and that the brakes of age are not applied with the full strength of longevity. That for me is one of the greatest incentives to keep training. Over the last few years and with the assistance of club mates and coaching I have managed to improve my times for my favoured event, - the 800m. The time reduction hasn't been huge but with age factored in, Mr Grubb's tables tell me that I am now running at a pace which equates to a senior athlete running at under 1min 50. Oh that I had managed that during what passed for my athletic prime! It probably indicates that I didn't train hard enough when I had the benefit of youth.



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sir William Athlestane Meredith Goode KBE

William Athlestane Meredith Goode was born at Channel, Newfoundland on 10th June 1875 the younger son of Rev. Thomas Allmond Goode and his wife Jane Harriet, (nee Meredith). His father was a missionary with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and died in 1887. It is likely that his mother died in childbirth or as a consequence of the travails of same, records showing her to have died in 1875.

Young William attended various educational establishments including Foyle College, Winchester and Doncaster Grammar School. He went to sea in 1889 and served as a purser. Three years later he enlisted in the 4th United States Cavalry and upon his discharge he entered upon a career in journalism. From 1896 until 1904 he was with the Associated Press of America, (APA), and was their representative on Admiral Sampson's flagship during the currency of the Spanish- American War. He subsequently wrote an account of his time on board Sampson's vessel throughout the conflict. Secretary of State John Hay was to describe it as a, "splendid little war."

In I904 after six years as APA's special correspondent in London he became managing editor of the Standard. In 1911 he was to become joint news editor of the Daily Mail. Thereafter he entered into public affairs. He served as honorary secretary of the British committe for the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1913-14 and the years of the Great War saw him as the secretary and organiser of the national committee for relief in Belgium; a member of the Newfoundland and West Indian military contingents committees as well as holding positions at the Ministry of Food. Following the ending of hostilities he was to serve as a member of the British delegation at the peace conference and at the Supreme Economic Council. In 1920 he presented a report on economic conditions in Central Europe to Parliament based on the work that had been carried out by the relief missions.

His next appointment was as British delegate and president of the Austrian section of the Reparation Commission. He was to report that the recovery of reparations from Austria was impossible and that a reconstruction programme was required. Prevented from acting as financial advisor to the Austrian government by the intervention of the League of Nations he was to spend most of the interwar years as the London financial agent of Hungary.. In 1939, upon the outbreak of war, he joined the Ministry of Food as chief security officer and director of communications. The year 1942 saw him become chairman of the Council of British Societies for Relief Abroad. He died on 14th December 1944. During the last year of his life he was elected president of Foyle College Old Boys Association.