Tuesday, 28 September 2010


St Albans Half Marathon, June 2010.  Recovering after an enjoyable run, finishing 365th out of 1,975 runners with a time of 1hour 44 mins.

After the last couple of days taken as sick leave, I'm reminding myself of a commitment I've already made.  I am going to stay fit to stay healthy in body and mind.

I truly believe that it was God's hand at work in 2008 when I was led to experience much stress at work.  There was such a range of solutions that became apparent as I talked it over with Rachel and the HR Manager at work. I could have quit work altogether, taken an unpaid sabbatical, reduced my hours, go to the Doctor and so on.  I then remembered that in the past - in my twenties - I had derived such a thrill from running, I decided to give it a go, even though I couldn't really explain it.  Probably the nearest rational way of explaining it was knowing I needed to lose some weight.

Since then I have largely achieved what I set out to achieve but have that nagging feeling of "what next?".  I need a challenge as so many friends will know (as I have fished for ideas, suggestions and inspiration).  While I haven't quite decided, it will almost certainly be either running or cycling.

So, it's late September, the days are becoming noticeably shorter and cooler.  Soon it will be dark at the time I leave the office to come home - that is one of all kinds of "excuses" that I can come up with to justify not cycling to and from work.  I have reactivated my DW Sports Fitness membership after the summer break so on days when I don't cycle I can at least go to the gym (after family commitments, of course).  I probably need to stock up on some gear from Wiggle and having CTC membership gets a discount there and also at Cotswold Camping (very handy near the St Albans office!).

My commitment - improve my fitness through the winter!  Why, well that's easy: staying healthy physically and mentally.  Being a husband, father and pushing things along in my work.  So help me.

Our summer holiday, before I forget!

Samuel, Justine, Hannah McR, Becky, Rachel, Ruth, Hannah, Bethany, Kate and me. We'd all been on holiday with each other (plus others who left early) somewhere in Warwickshire. It was late July, 2010.

We like going on holiday with friends and this time it included friends of friends and their friends! The last few days was down to the ten of us, spread over three families.

The three bits that I remember best are perhaps the bits that just do not cost anything at all.

  1. The weather wasn't brilliant and we did have some rain. One morning Rachel and I sat in our tent listening to the rain drops and enjoying each other's company when we were joined by Ruth and Justine, swapping places with our girls who'd just disappeared into another tent to be with the other kids (and howls of laughter and many giggles could be heard across the campsite). We sat there drinking endless mugs of tea and putting the world to right. Lovely company and all like minded - we all enjoy that kind of holiday, they're Christians too and we enjoyed getting to know each other.

2. It was also Becky's 12th birthday while we there and the celebrations included "afternoon tea" at the campsite's tea garden. Real china was used and all the tea pots had individually knitted tea cosies for that "previous generation" look. All very charming.

Some of us had been for a bike ride around the local area for an hour or so. The kids came too. Really nice ambling through quiet country lanes, followed by going single file along a canal towpath and back to the campsite.

3. The other part that I did enjoy was the journey home - I decided to cycle! Riding from Warwickshire to Bedfordshire sounds like a long way, especially as it was via a little bit of Northamptonshire and a corner of Buckinghamshire. In fact it was about 50 miles and there was a helpful tail wind that made it so easy. For most of the ride I was on unclassified roads, often freewheeling through villages. Nice gentle hills, I only used a low gear once for a short slope between Tottenhoe and Dunstable.

Now we're starting to think about another trip away with one of the families - we've already booked some accommodation near Snowdon for the half term break. Sorting out walking gear on Friday!

Dad's birthday

Dad, with Becky and Hannah just before his 82nd birthday.

I really love my Dad. My love for him - and Mum - grows deeper, perhaps through being a parent myself. I hope I'll grow to be more like Dad in terms of his patient gentle approach to life. His faithfulness and humility is such a good example for me.

He really appreciated us taking him to the Horse & Jockey for a meal with us all around him. He enjoyed the food and our company, plus we were in one of their little rooms, so fairly private. Earlier that day, we'd go to Ashridge for a stroll but Dad not only wanted to use one of the National Trust's electric buggies but wanted Mum to drive it for him. Bless him, just not feeling up to handling the buggy himself but he was a gracious passenger.

Next update....

Here we are, Becky, Hannah and myself at the 2010 London Skyride event. Quite a fantastic event with central London being taken over by cyclists for a day. If only it could be like that all the time.

I really like the odd trip into London, though Rachel doesn't care too much for it. I enjoy pointing out various Westminster buildings, hotels and so on that I've been to in connection with my work but B&H never quite get the drift of what I get up to.

As I write this, I'm enjoying a sick leave day, the first for many years. An early dose of flu hasn't been too bad (and I've been to work with far worse) but I thought I was going to recover quicker by having time at home. No great pressures at work right now although there is a kind of under-lying stress I cannot quite put my finger on. It has worked and I've gained from the de-stressing nature of an armchair travel book (Take a seat, Dominic Gill) and time to reflect and watch the summer colours fade away in the garden.

I like all the seasons nowadays, although I sometimes mourn one season fading in to another, especially as it seems to be speeding up. I said to my Dad earlier this month, that he chose well in having his birthday in September; such a beautiful month for us.

Our garden pond is the source of some really nice organic watercress (aka pond weed, an essential ingredient of my compost sandwiches). It's also a source of endless enjoyment for the girls as they terrorise the frogs, much to the amusement of the other kids in the neighbourhood. Well, most of them.