Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A bit of light stitching

I realise that I haven't updated my eyesight issues so in brief; I had a follow-up visit which resulted in much angst because the man I saw didn't speak very good English, couldn't see one of the laser spots (in my good eye!!!), disappeared without explaining what he was doing (which resulted in Mike getting very worried as he was sitting outside the room watching as the man hunted around to find a Consultant to get a second opinion), couldn't find anyone, told me the laser treatment hadn't been done properly and referred me for another 'emergency' appointment. Great!

Went back a week later and saw the lovely lady who did the laser treatment who confirmed that everything was tickety-boo and the man I'd seen hadn't been looking in the right place. That really inspired confidence! I've now got a follow-up appointment with her in a few weeks time and then if all's still OK then I'll go back onto my usual 6 monthly check-ups for my pressures, cataracts and glaucoma.

All this mullarky made me think long and hard about my eyesight issues and how its decline will affect my numerous crafts, especially embroidery which used to be one of my favourite pastimes. I virtually stopped doing it when my career took off in my early 20s as I always need good light to be able to do it and work got in the way somewhat. I promised myself that when I left to have babies then I'd have more opportunities to do it. But then we found out we couldn't have children so that threw a spanner in the works and embroidery became associated with a sad time.

Enough of that thank you very much, time to get on with it again!

As I'm a tad rusty in my stitching skills I thought I'd start on something where I could just play around and refresh my memory. I remembered this lovely tea towel designed by Sarah Young I'd bought in Rye ages ago which fitted the bill perfectly. They are designed to be cut out, stuffed and used as doorstops but to me they screamed "embroider me before you stuff me!"

May I present Hester the hare.



I may embroider both sides. I'll see how it goes.


I just started doodling and played around with different stitches, long-ago forgotten. It's great fun looking back through my embroidery books for ideas.













I added beads on top of some French Knots














Oh my goodness, I need to practice my French Knots a bit more!!!


I do, of course, have a little helper at times:


See, I'm no trouble at all...........


.....until you want to choose some more thread!!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Rye Nature Reserve (a recce for the Twilight Chase marathon)

We don't know Winchelsea very well and as it is part of the beautiful Rye Harbour Nature Reserve we decided to take a walk there to check it out ahead of my marathon there (written about in a previous post as I'm still playing catch-up!).

We parked at the Rye end and walked along the tarmac track to Winchelsea and then walked back along the beach.  It was a glorious day and I'll let the photos tell the story:














Wind turbines from afar





The cerise pink of the beautiful willow-herb contrasted perfectly with the pebbles










I'm always fascinated by the patterns the tide makes






I felt a pang of jealousy when I saw these 2 horse riders as I used to love riding on the beach


I'm always trailing behind as I can't help picking up shells and driftwood!






It was a very happy day and I wanted a photo of us so we popped the camera onto a handy post and set the timer (with much hilarity as we tried to strike a pose!)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Big badda catch-up time part (ii)

Following on from my previous post where I mentioned Batemans, the house where Rudyard Kipling lived, we've just had a magical visit there and I took loads of photos to share so do pop back again and have a look after you've waded through the next batch of marathon photos.

Marathon 121, the White Cliffs Challenge (LDWA) 32 mile ultra


This was one heck of a day out with some wonderful running chums where we did about 20% running and the remaining 80% either walking or sometimes scrambling up steep slopes or steps. It was another LDWA event starting and finishing at St Margarets at Cliffe , a beautiful village just outside Dover.

It was another scorcher of a day but we were treated to some amazing views from high up on the white cliffs plus some fascinating bits of history. I hope the pictures will tell the story:



Heading to Registration I spotted 2 of my favourite people, Traviss and Rachel both sporting their Mega Marathoners shirts (MrT was modelling the half marathon version)


Group photo, left to right Rachel, Liz (kneeling), Garry, Rachel, Traviss, Debbie, Maryanne, Kirsty, me, Ross (with toddler Lex who kept popping up supporting with mum Kelly and new baby). Note that Maryanne and I are the only ones using "cheat poles" as some runners call them. Believe me, everyone wanted some after the hills that followed!!!


Our route took us towards Dover via South Foreland Lighthouse, famous for being the first lighthouse to use an electric light


Ponies grazing high up on the cliffs



It was quite grey and overcast first thing but that soon changed


Dover Castle looked magnificent. We've never visited so that needs to be remedied!


Heading down the cliffs to Dover and the first checkpoint





Part of the fascinating structures inside the cliffs under the Castle


The more I looked, the more things I spotted - apparently there was an underground hospital there during the second world war


Passing along the seafront in Dover






A Banksy showing someone removing a star from the EU flag (sadly only too topical)


After we'd walked alongside the Banksy we were sent up some steps which were nearly vertical, followed by more steps up, and up and up.......



 .......until we looked back down on it from way up high. I think this photo gives some idea of how high up we were.



Looking back over the town to Dover Castle




We carried on climbing, past the remains of more secret buildings, camouflaged by a covering of grass so they couldn't be spotted from the air



Then we seemed to be more or less level with the castle again



By then the sun had come out as we walked along the clifftop towards Samphire Hoe. That's the A20 continuation of the M20 motorway you can see on the right.



Oooh, I recognise that stretch of concrete!


As we got closer to Samphire Hoe we had to have a group photo (I'm one of the few people who actually enjoy running there - the concrete section is a nightmare but I just love the sea views and the flora/fauna)



Looking down towards the entrance to Samphire Hoe which is via a tunnel and has appeared on here many times before.



A well-worn track along the clifftop



Nearly there.......




It was fascinating seeing it from above - it looked so tiny from up on high



Some of the ventilation shafts for the channel tunnel




A look-out shelter from WW2



The overgrown entrance



It was still quite misty over the sea



Continuing along the clifftop


This dirt-track for motorbikes was unexpected






We marched single-file and it made me chuckle as that's what the sheep do! Kirsty's outfit was nice and bright and could have served as a beacon in an emergency.











I was excited to see this 'sound mirror' from the First World War which I'd heard about.


Sound mirrors gave advance notice of approaching enemy aircraft but became obsolete with the invention of radar technology







Next we headed towards Capel which is just before Folkestone


It was starting to get very hot by then



Still hazy though - we were heading high up on the ridge on the right of the photo


Can you see the narrow bridge over the railway line? After the turnaround point we headed back along the seashore for a while before crossing back over that to climb back up to the top of the cliff (you get an idea of what a nightmare that was just from seeing this photo!!!)


I think this gives a better idea of the climb (gulp!). Thankfully, when I took this photo I was blissfully unaware of quite how tough it was going to be.


Soon we went past the Battle of Britain memorial which was opened not long ago:













Then we headed down towards Folkestone to the next checkpoint. The Folkestone Triennial was imminent and we spotted one of the exhibits after the turnaround point:



This is Holiday Home by Richard Woods and you can read more about it in the link.



Then we found ourselves passing alongside a sandy beach



This doggy was digging his own channel tunnel or perhaps he was creating another art installation? He was certainly enjoying himself.



I loved being down by the sea for this section and tried to ignore the nagging thought that we might need to get back on top of the cliffs somehow, but we did!



All smiles when we'd managed to scramble up what we thought was the worst bit (ha!)



Oh yes, what a jolly time was had by all. You can't see the HILL but it was nearby. 


As we climbed up the hill one of our team was struggling so Rachel and I stayed behind to make sure he was OK. Poor Ross, the heat had really got to him and that climb was wicked and near vertical so he'd manage a few steps and then slump down. We gave him water, doused his head to cool him down and somehow he managed to find the strength to get up to the top. It took a long time though (which Rachel and I didn't mind as there was a plentiful supply of blackberries for us to guzzle whilst we waited!). We didn't really expect everyone to have waited for us but they did. We wondered if Ross would pull out at the next checkpoint as the delay meant that we were getting tight for time - he didn't.

Then we were back at ground level in Dover and started heading out towards Deal. When I saw the next hill I was really glad I'd got my walking poles. Oh my goodness that was a lungbuster.



This photos doesn't really show how steep it was but you can see that Traviss is leaning well forward to get up the slope. Not only was it steep but it seemed to go on forever.



Traviss looking out for Ross



We waited and waited for Ross to catch up but he was still struggling. Liz had stayed with him and was instructing him how to make the best use of his walking poles. There is a knack and I was lucky to have someone show me how to do it properly so I showed him what I do. We were all starting to get anxious about the cut-off at the next checkpoint but thankfully we made it in time.



That yacht looked mighty small from up there!




Another wartime relic - possibly a gun site?



Heading away from the coastline we had some different terrain which made a welcome change. A nice bit of shady woodland was followed by open fields.





















As we passed this windmill we took a break to allow Ross to catch up a bit but we couldn't afford to wait too long and miss the cut-off at the finish. When he and Liz came into view he seemed to be moving much better and so we all pushed on again.  Time was marching on and so were we!



Thirsty Kirsty!



When we spotted the sea again I knew we'd be OK for time, phew!



Dusk was falling and the memorial at the top of the hill served as a measure of our progress












By the time we passed the memorial we had only got a few miles to go and we got back to HQ with plenty of time to spare.






There was still some food left but I just had a quick slurp of coffee and a piece of cheesecake (oh yes, that really hit the spot!) as I wanted to get going asap as I had a 1.5-2 hour journey home.


There was a nice patch but I was in such a rush to get home I didn't collect mine!


Marathon 122,  Kent Coastal marathon, 5:36:22


I must admit that this is not my favourite marathon route but it is an event that I have run twice as part of my Challenges for ARUK, once for my 50th birthday and again for my 55th birthday and so as another 5 years had passed it would have been rude not to do it again.

It's a well-organised event over in Cliftonville, just outside Margate so it's quite a hike for me. This meant I left home at silly-o'clock to make sure I beat the traffic which was going to be heavy on such a glorious weekend. It was hot when I arrived at 7:30am and it just got hotter and hotter throughout the day.

As I pulled into the car park I spotted 2 running chums then headed off to registration and found Traviss and Rachel both sporting their Mega Marathoners tee shirts. We'd all made a pact to wear  either that or any other of their tee shirts (there's been some unpleasantness towards them and we were showing solidarity!).


Traviss, back in training and looking trim



Maryanne, not running that day but providing massage in her new role (she's been training to become a professional 'soft tissue therapist'.


I hate standing around beforehand and so I wandered off to soak up the atmosphere and watch the stands being set up etc.

















The drummers played at the start.

Group photo before the start (I seem to have gained some bunny ears thanks to Kirsty, cheeky little minx!)



I had thought that I might try to beat my time from 5 years ago (5:09) and James had offered to pace me to a sub-5 but I knew straightaway that wasn't going to happen in such heat so I told him to go off and get himself a podium place (speedy boy). It didn't work out as planned for either of us in the end.


When we started I felt absolutely fine but as it was already hot by that time I knew I shouldn't push too hard as the first half has a few long uphill drags. The fab views made up for the pain though. I tucked myself in behind the 2:15 pacer (there was a half marathon going on at the same time) as that felt like a nice pace to get some mile sunder my belt before it got too hot.


Kingsgate Castle, Broadstairs, which was converted into flats many years ago.



There are always brassicas growing in Thanet so the smell of cabbage prevails!



Still smiling at the top of the hill (well, not all of us!)


Mike and I have just watched a very good TV adaptation of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens so I took these snaps of his former home, now a hotel, and The Old Curiosity Shop, a bit further along the coast in Broadstairs.












I loved this quirky house and the friendly marshalls of course


One of the many beautiful sandy bays we went past.


I love that line of multi-coloured beach huts around the curve of the cliffs.


Those jet skis looked fun.

I got a bit confused when Martin, former Mayor of Folkestone, pulled alongside me as he was way ahead of me at the start. He confessed that the smell of bacon had lured him into a bakery in Broadstairs where he treated himself to a bacon butty. You can see how seriously we take these events can't you!

As I headed back from the first section the half marathoners finished and the field diminished dramatically. Several of my chums dropped down to the half 'cos they were overheating. I heard the RD wishing me a good second half and he then started explaining the sort of strategies long-distance runners use when we find ourselves alone for long stretches. In my case, I found an ice cream break and a phone chat with Mike worked well. Oh and having a walk and chatting with Neil and Jo for a while.

I saw the leading male runners powering along with the marshall cycling with him so I expected to see my favourite young man, James, to be along soon. I checked my watch and noted that the lead runners time was much slower than expected (he's usually a 2.5 hour or thereabouts marathoner but he seemed to be heading for around 3 hours) so wondered if James was OK. After a while I saw him coming towards me and he was in need of a big hug as things just hadn't gone to plan at all due to the heat. He'd done his fastest ever 3 miles (5.5 minute miling!) but just couldn't sustain the pace as it was too hot. No worries, there are plenty more marathons for him to train for and I'm sure he will win one very soon.

I didn't take any more photos after the halfway mark as I was either chatting or just grinding out the miles. I'd given up all ideas of getting a fast time and just slowed right down to keep my body temperature as low as possible.

As I approached the finish line I got a big cheer from my lovely running chums who were sitting down eating cake, as you do.


Still smiling at the finish!


I chuckled when I they printed out my finish time - it was 1 minute slower than my first one 10 years ago. Not bad for an old biddy (although technically it should have been much faster as I'm a much stronger runner nowadays). It's the 'chip time' which is important as there is always a delay getting over the start line (which activates your chip).



We got a nice technical tee shirt


They'd really upped their game on the medal this year too!


A massive well done to all the Thanet Roadrunners who did an excellent job of organising the event and looking after us.

Still to come: a visit to Batemans (home of Rudyard Kipling), Pashley Manor sculpture trail (and Sussex Guild craft show), walking along Winchelsea beach and Rye Harbour, nature watch (so much in the garden plus wildlife), embroidery, knitting/crochet catch-up, plus goodness knows how many others things I'll probably never get round to!