Monday, 29 February 2016

Round the Track at Lee Valley

A tiring weekend. Self and two club mates had agreed to pull on an NI vest at the Masters Inter Regional Athletics Championships at Lee Valley, London. We flew to Stansted on Saturday evening, spent the night at one of the hotel airports and then drove to the track on Sunday morning.

Usually masters' races are run on the basis of five year categories. Unfortunately that is not the case with this competition. Competitors are forced to run as a V35, a V50 a V 60 or a V70. That does mean that you could be competing against someone who is almost ten years younger than you or even fifteen years in the case of the youngest category. All three of us were at least five years into our designated category. Five years, thirteen years and eight years were our race handicaps. None of us were escatic with our performances but none the less they were competent. We have probably retained our UK rankings on the Power of 10 website.

As you move through the age categories one gets to know your fellow competitors fairly well. My first track race as a vet athlete, that was before the term, "master," was adopted and indeed before the age was reduced from 40 to 35, was at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow in 1998. I did think that I was going to end up in second position in the 800m until the last three metres when one Kevin Archer clawed past me to snatch the silver medal at the Scottish Vets.

I have met Kevin on many occasions since then most recently this last weekend. He has has had somewhat more success than yours truly on the vet scene and has recently published a book chronicling his experiences and successes as a veteran athlete. Obviously this is a book that will only interest athletes and indeed those of a certain age. I am of that age and I did find it interesting. Like Kevin I have enjoyed a more successful career as a master athlete than as a senior athlete.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Mews Lanes Musings.

As with the rest of the United Kingdom mews lanes are a feature of terrace housing in Northern Ireland's towns and cities. Barely a week goes by without some local paper commenting on the state of these routes of passage. They seem to attract fly tipping. Perhaps this is because they tend to be rather unkempt and untidy.

Who then is responsible for keeping them in a safe and rubbish free state? Well it appears that neither local nor central government has any responsibility. In the case of Northern Ireland Housing Executive estates that entity would clearly have a responsibility but otherwise some Company or private individual has the legal responsibility or perhaps there is someone else who is in the firing line. Let us think of a situation where a limited liability company has developed an area of housing. True this is likely to be an oldish development if there is a mews lane involved but in such circumstances if the developing company goes into liquidation and the liquidator does nothing about the asset that is a mews lane then presumably title passes to the Crown under the principles of bona vacantia.





Sunday, 21 February 2016

Postal Rates Increase - Again.

Whilst paging through the papers this weekend I came upon a short article advising us dear readers that Royal Mail were increasing postal rates yet again. Both first and second class post will attract an additional penny (new) to the cost as and from 29th March. A first class stamp will cost 64p and a second class stamp will cost 55p. That equates to twelve and nine pence halfpenny and eleven shillings in proper money. From 1st October 1957 until 17th May 1966 it cost 3d to post a standard letter! I can remember the violet coloured 3d stamps being used. Comparing that cost to the new second class rate equates to an increase of 4400% over just under fifty years. That is a lot of inflation! Royal Mail has just commemorated its five hundredth anniversary. I wonder how much longer letters will continue to be posted? The pernicious email is inexorably killing the very idea of a letter. Instantaneous is now the watchword of communication.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Nut Year?

It is now three years since I planted four cob trees in the area that I have decreed will be an orchard. Perhaps this will be the year that I will have a crop of nuts. The trees seem healthy enough but despite the presence of both male and female flowers on all four trees no fruit have set in the years to date. There are quite a few hazel trees in the nearby hedgerows so on the face of things there is no shortage of pollinators whether from the cob trees themselves or their wild cousins.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

February Colour in the Garden

It may have been a cold weekend but at least it wasn't raining and the winter sun was present in the sky. Two bonuses! Maybe Spring will arrive after all. For the first time in nearly three months there was some degree of pleasure in ambling around the garden and heyho I didn't need to pull on the wellingtons to cross the lawns without ending up with wet socks. As well as the swathes of snowdrops the crocuses are flowering well. I espied a few wood anemones poking through the foliage of the soon to be flowering bluebells. Elsewhere the orange seeds of the iris and the berries of the pyracantha brought a warmth to the winter scene supported by the red flowered quince and the pink of the currant bush.





Saturday, 13 February 2016

On Track Again.

Although I have had two indoor races this year today was my first track session of the year. It was good to get back on the 400m track, good to get into the rhythm of track reps. We started off with a three mile warm up. Thereafter we spent some twenty minutes performing various drills and shuttle runs. That completed it was time for the main course. We ran an 800m followed by 4 X 400m and then another 800m to finish off.

To take account of our various abilities we were split up into three groups. I managed to avoid the cut for the slowest group! Between each of the reps we had a 200m jog by way of recovery. The instruction was to run the 800m reps at 3000m pace and the 400's at 1500m pace. I just about managed to adhere to this instruction although the last 800m at 2.32.was maybe a trifle quick. This session was in preparation for a 3k race in which we are participating on Thursday night, (weather permitting!). Hopefully I will be in the upper quartile of the V5's.






Sunday, 7 February 2016

Garlic Sunday

I should really have planted my garlic in November but I didn't. The weather and other circumstances conspired against me both before and after Christmas. I knew that it wouldn't be long before the garlic bulbs which I had stored in the cellar would begin to sprout. Accordingly I determined upon this afternoon as the day of planting.

It didn't take too long to prepare the soil. A light forking over to remove a few weeds, a firming of the soil with the old size tens and then a light raking to level off the soil. The area had had a liberal application of garden compost last spring but nothing this year. None of the aliums grow well in freshly manured soils. I planted three fifteen foot long rows of garlic, spacing the cloves about five or six inches apart. The cloves are approximately one and a half inches below the surface of the soil.

There were many more cloves than were needed for planting. The excess cloves have been skinned and trimmed and placed in the freezer for culinary use.



Saturday, 6 February 2016

Railway Run

This morning was most definitely the best portion of the day for running. The rain clouds and gusty winds held off until the afternoon. I met my training companions at the new Foyle Arena in the Waterside district of Londonderry at a smidgen after 10.30. After ten minutes of drills the running commenced. We ran through St Columb's Park to the Peace Bridge and crossed over it to the West Bank of the City. The session involved us running for thirty minutes from the bridge at a steady but easy pace and then retracing our steps at a faster but still sub race and even sub tempo pace. Being able to carry on a conversation was the determinative.

Our route took us up the West Bank of the River Foyle following what had been the course of the old GNR railway. I was the only one of the group to remember trains on the track and indeed travelling on them. It is rather frightening to think that that is now more than fifty one years ago.

We averaged some 4.50 per kilometre on the way out. The return journey was at a tad over 4.15. Running in a group, there were six of us, is so much easier and more enjoyable than plodding along on your lonesome. The time and the miles go in much more quickly aided of course by the continual banter.