Tag Archives: lancashire

Sand, rain and fig rolls

Two race reports in one. The Crosby Beach 10k (did I say beach?? sure did!) from a fortnight ago, and yesterday’s Accrington 10k. With runs 2 and 3 now ticked off, I am now 20% of the way through my challenge. I am running 15 races in 2017 in memory of my son Ewan, and to highlight that 15 babies every day are stillborn, or die within the first 4 weeks of life. A link to my fundraising page for Sands is at the end if you have any spare spondoolies to sponsor me (smiley face, thumbs up!)

Ok let’s start with Race #2. Adam and I have been to Crosby beach in Liverpool a few times. I’ve written before about how it has special memories for us going back to when we visited a couple of weeks after Ewan died. A link to the run kept popping up on my Facebook feed, so I showed it to Adam. On the QT, Adam runs as well, but in direct contrast to me, doesn’t shout about it to the rest of the world. He clocks up a couple of 10k runs a week and on hearing about the Crosby run, said that he wanted to join me.

So having ditched the boys with their grandparents, we set off to Liverpool early Sunday morning with Bruce Springsteen blasting away in the car. Arriving at Crosby the weather was a bit miserable, grey and drizzly. The view of the beach with the wind turbines out to sea, and seemingly hundreds of statues in the sand, never fails to impress. We had the ‘keep the jacket, ditch the jacket’ debate and eventually went without. It was a good call seeing as the rain stopped as the race started. We were a bit surprised at the size of the field. I’m not even sure there were 100 runners. The worry of coming in last was a real possibility.

Off we went, heading along the field to the promenade. In my head I’d thought that about 4-5k of the run was on sand. WRONG. It was more like 8k. Thankfully the sand was pretty hard and well packed and I managed the first 5k in a reasonable time. I was playing Chariots of Fire and the Rocky ‘Flying High’ theme in my head and actually quite enjoying myself. Then as the second 5k kicked in, my body started to complain somewhat. I don’t think I realised the impact the movement of the sand was having on me. The course was a loop down the beach and back. I saw Adam running back towards me so there were big smiles, words of encouragement (from Adam at least) and a high 5 on the move. It didn’t twig how far ahead he was of me until I reached the end of the beach and had to turn back!!

Somehow I dragged myself to the end of the course. I won’t lie. It was painful. Despite it being almost 100% flat, I couldn’t believe how much harder I found it in comparison to the Blackburn race two weeks ago. Adam was waiting to cheer me on when I reached the finish. Afterwards he asked if I had enjoyed myself, because I hadn’t looked as though I did at the end! Yes, it was hard but I DID enjoy it. It was great having Adam there to share the experience with me. He got an absolutely brilliant time – 52 minutes. Mine was definitely nothing to shout about. I’ve hidden it away at the bottom!

Onto the most recent run yesterday and the completion of Race #3. Not as far to travel this time, Accrington is just 10 miles away. However with a 9.30 start, it still meant an early get up. And since this little cherub transferred from cot to bed a couple of nights before, we are back to disrupted nights and earlier than usual mornings (it’s a good job he’s so cute!). So I didn’t get quite as much sleep as I’d hoped.

The rain from Saturday managed to hold off for most of the morning, but it was still pretty damn cold. It’s funny to think that in about 3-4 months’ time, I’ll probably be complaining of the weather being too warm! I took the obligatory pre-race selfie (sheltering) in the car before collecting my race number and chip. I saw a couple of people I knew beforehand and thankfully the field was a lot bigger than Crosby.

The course wasn’t too bad. A few hills (this is Lancashire after all), but going uphill, means coming downhill as well. This was at the end so I managed to speed up for the last couple of kilometres. Strava told me afterwards that I recorded my fastest ever kilometre, mile and two miles, which I was suitably chuffed with. It started raining in the last 5 minutes or so, which was fine during the race but a bit miserable at the end when my body started to cool down.

My time in the end was the best of the 3 races. I’m edging closer to my PB of last summer. As you can imagine, one of my goals will be to beat it at some point this year. Perhaps on a flatter course…. without sand!

My only real disappointment was the lack of a medal at the end. I obviously overlooked the tick-box when booking, asking if I wanted to order one. Or I probably had my thrifty, penny pinching head on, didn’t want to pay the extra £4 and hadn’t thought about getting all 15 medals lined up together at the end of the year (sad face). Never mind. I’ll wrap the rest up in my new Ron Hill Accrington 10k head band instead!

Sorry, I’d forgotten there was another disappointment. I randomly (and stupidly) decided to give up chocolate until Easter, mainly to see if I have the willpower to do it. So, at the end when what I really wanted to do was stuff my face with a Snickers, I had to settle for fig rolls from the pound shop instead!

I’ve got a bit of a break now until my next race, so don’t worry, I won’t be boring you for a while. In the meantime, click the link below to go to my Justgiving page to spur me on with training (winking, smiling face).

10k results so far…

Race #1 Blackburn – 1 hr 4 mins 3 sec

Race #2 Crosby Beach – 1 hr 6 mins 11 sec

Race #3 Accrington – 1 hr 1 min 57 sec

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Happy Happy Half Term

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I’ve decided a happy post is way overdue. Although the memory of half term is already fading, I wanted to share with you a couple of the fun things we got up to. Half terms are always particularly welcome for me seeing as I work in education. The first half term is always the hardest in my line of work, so by the time the break in October arrives, I am ready for some time off.

It was Dylan’s first school holiday, which was exciting for him, although given that he has absolutely LOVED his first half term at school, I think he was a tad disappointed not to be donning his uniform as normal. Thankfully the weather gods were beaming down on us for the first few days. I was off work Monday to Wednesday and the sun shone every day. No rainy day activities needed….. hurray!

Bolton Abbey

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We visited Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire, about a 30 minute journey for us. My parents brought me here a lot when I was younger, but it was our first visit with the boys. I wished we’d brought them sooner because they absolutely loved it. It is a huge estate on the banks of the River Wharfe with a ruined abbey, woods, waterfalls, open fields and picnic areas. We only explored a little bit with them so plenty of reasons to return.

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We took part in the Halloween Pumpkin walk, which was a trail through the woods counting sparkly pumpkins suspended from the trees and finding ‘coffins’ with Halloween related things inside e.g. spiders, toads, ghouls etc. There was a quiz which we had to complete and for the first time, Dylan carried the worksheet and (with our help with spellings), wrote down some of the answers. It was a real ‘wow, he is growing up’ moment. Jude had been asleep in the car so took a while to get going, but eventually perked up and loved opening all the coffin doors and running after his older brother.

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Afterwards we had a picnic by the river. Picnics definitely rate highly in the list of Dylan’s most favourite things to do. Winter picnics are often better, with no wasps or flies to spoil the fun. It was so warm that even in the shade we sat with our coats off. The colour of the trees was stunning. It reaffirmed why Autumn is my favourite season by far.

Pendle Hill

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Anyone who lives in, or has visited our beautiful corner of East Lancashire knows the local landmark hill, Pendle. We see it every day on the drive to school and Dylan loves being able to name it (although he shouts out that every other hill in the area is also Pendle, so we have a bit of work to do there). Jude went up last year in the baby carrier, but Dylan has never ventured up. A couple of his friends have climbed it, so he was keen to give it a shot.

We had decided to keep Jude in nursery for one of his scheduled days. He was in the process of moving from the baby room up to Toddlers, so we didn’t want to break his routine. After we dropped him off we drove straight to Barley, the village at the bottom of the hill.

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To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Dylan would make it to the top. But he was an absolute star. Once we got on the steps on the path up, he was like a little mountain goat. I kept asking if he wanted to rest (not that I wanted to!?!) but he kept saying he was fine. We managed to get him to stop for a bit to have a drink.
Again being another beautiful, clear day, the views were amazing. You can see for miles and miles. Dylan made it to the top of the steps all by himself. We allowed him a bit of time on Adam’s shoulders whilst we made the final short walk from the stairs to the summit. A few homemade chocolate and banana buns at the top and we were ready to go back down. One of my favourite photos taken was of Dylan trying to play hide and seek at the top. It is pretty sparse up there, but he managed to find some long grass to cover him. Pity his hat was bright red and gave him away!!

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At the bottom, we treated ourselves to a pub lunch and sat by the log stove. I thought Dylan would be wiped out for the rest of the day but he wasn’t. Me? I was ready for bed by 3pm!

I’m hoping the weather will stay nice for us at the weekends to still get out over winter. I know we can still wrap up in waterproofs and wellies, but it is much nicer when the gloomy rain gives way to winter sun. Some more wonderful memories in the bank for us and hopefully for the boys, Dylan at least, to treasure. Happy days indeed.

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A Lancashire Lass

So I’m a real Lancashire lass, born and bred. Although I spent the first years of my life near St Helens, Merseyside, I was actually born across the border in Ormskirk, Lancashire. We moved to Burnley when I was three, and aside from this, a three-year spell at Loughborough University and a 14 month round the world backpacking trip, I have always lived within a 5 miles of Burnley, the place I class as my hometown.

As a teenager, like a lot people, I didn’t think much about where I lived. I thought living in a city would be far more exciting, or by the sea even (influenced by an intense diet of The Famous Five and Mallory Towers!). An old cotton mill and coal mining town in the ‘grim’ North of England was quite boring in comparison.

On the West Coast of Australia

On the West Coast of Australia

My long-term plans did not involve living in East Lancashire. Whilst I didn’t quite look down my nose at friends who hadn’t moved away, I was superior enough to think that I would fly the nest and see the world. I left to go to university, and it was there I caught the travelling bug. On my return from backpacking, I had grand ideas of another long-term trip abroad again (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have that dream crushed by reality!). But also on my return, I started to look at my surroundings with different eyes. I had visited some amazing places. Blazing sunsets on the west coast of Australia.

Flores, Indonesia

Flores, Indonesia

Lush, green rice fields in Indonesia. Volcanic mountains in Hawaii. The first dewy sunrises of the day in New Zealand. Surely my hometown couldn’t compete with these? Ok not exactly, but I suddenly had an appreciation of how beautiful the Lancashire landscape was. I took notice of the rolling, vivid green fields and hills, the clean air and how the sunrises and sunsets, whilst maybe not as spectacular, could still compete with those abroad.

Anyway in the short-term, I decided I wanted to move down to London. I had quite a few friends in the capital from both university and travelling, so decided it would be the ideal place. What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? My move to London never materialised. Because of a boy. Yes love (well at the time I thought it was love!) got in the way. So as I result I stayed in East Lancashire. We broke up 18 months later but by that point I was ‘stuck’. Stuck because I’d bought a house.

Now (without the bitterness of a newly ended relationship) I appreciate how lucky I was. I had my own house at the age of 25. I wasn’t sharing. It wasn’t rented. It was my own. Well, mine and the Nationwide Building Society. I had also started working in Further Education at a local college, supporting young people in their education, lives and careers, and realised I had found a job which I had a passion for. I then went onto find real love, got married and properly ‘settled down’. Things started to fall into place.

Adam and I decided we wanted a bigger home. Although our two bedroomed terrace was sufficient for the two of us and our two kittens, we knew we wanted to start a family in the not too distance future. However putting the house on the market in the middle of a recession meant that it took well over a year to find a buyer. But thankfully we did and we found our perfect home in a nearby village.

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The Sold sign outside our terraced house

Adam and I moved in February 2011, less than 3 weeks after Ewan died. I should have been 35 weeks pregnant struggling to pack a box let alone lift one. We didn’t expect to start our new life in our new home as grieving parents. It turned out to be a positive step for us. A fresh new start. We were able to decorate (which we hadn’t initially planned on with a new baby) and I spent those early days in painting therapy! We were also able to explore our new village and surroundings. Although we were familiar with the area, we didn’t know it awfully well. We could put on our walking boots, set off from our front door and head off over the nearby fields. It was so refreshing.

Now, four years on I think we would struggle to live anywhere else. We are only a mile from the nearest motorway, yet half a mile from glorious countryside. The village is perfect for raising our rainbows. Our favourite place is the park, which I would say is 300m from our front door. It is so easy not to have to get in the car, but instead roll down our hill with the pram (pushing it back up the hill is definitely more of a challenge… but helps with losing the baby weight!). There is a river (perfect for throwing stones), playground, duck pond, picnic benches, waterfall and big open spaces. There is even a bear! Perfect for going on a Bear Hunt. I sat down last night to pick out some photographs of the park to include. It was so difficult because I have so many! Dylan would probably go every day if we let him and even though Jude has been plenty of times already, albeit asleep, we can’t wait for him to discover it for himself.

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If there are days when life gets hard, I look around and I am thankful for our lovely surroundings. Despite any hardships we may have, we are lucky beyond belief to live in a beautiful village, in a beautiful county, in the beautiful North of England. There is nowhere else I would rather be.