Category Archives: Clouds

Ah, the 80’s. So yesterday. Janathon 29.

Today has been spent inside a cloud.

Hawkinge (AKA village of doom, shittest place on earth, most depressing place to work ever. A couple were meant to look at one of the houses on the estate on Saturday. Not knowing the area they arrived an hour before the viewing to look around. Half an hour before they cancelled. They didn’t like it up there. Sensible people. It really is shit. Imagine, if you’ve never been to Hawkinge, putting your head inside a particularly fragrant, surprisingly loose cow’s arse. During bowel evacuation time. with another cow stood on your foot. It’s that shit.) has seen nothing but drifting water all day. The kind that makes you soaking wet in 30 seconds without any raindrops actually falling. Except that for most of the day rain has fallen, too. The grey material (mist? Nope – visibility less than 1000yards. Fog? Nope – no advection or any other vection present. I was quite vexed though. Just simply moisture droplets in cloud form scudding past at eye level and below) is the most depressing stuff ever. At least it was warmer.

Except that wasn’t much of a bonus. 15 minutes before I set off for the run I knocked a scaffold board off the pile I was walking past. Having just passed it, the board fell straight down onto my left outer rear knee bit, the sticky out bone on top of the calf. It hurt a surprising amount so I headed back to the office and got changed. But didn’t know what top to wear. A long sleeved running top was right for the heat. But I knew I’d get cold once soaked (around 8 seconds in) So I opted to overheat but stay dry in my fleece running top. Along with a rapidly stiffening knee, it wasn’t to be a promising run.

And exectations were lived up to. Uninspired, tired, left knee hurting on the inside as well on the newly hit bit, right heel playing up, right foot bridge making me roll my foot oddly. I wish Janathon was over.

Except around 2 miles in when I realised I was past my target 186 miles for the month. All done. Target acquired and executed. Tick (in a Justin Lee-Collins style). But 6.2 miles to the next target (10k a day). So on I plodded. No air punch involved.

Once back I changed and again reached for the computer to play some odd music. Today was a mix of Buzzcocks which inspired (don’t ask how my brain works) Fergal Sharkey’s A Good Heart. My god. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the video before. I wasn’t going to watch it today (I intended writing the diary with musical accompaniment) but couldn’t take my eyes off it. Are any 80’s cliches (musical, style, fashion, hair) not complete? Even the nasty moustache is fully represented. Shocking.

Then I realised I was out of the 80’s in mileage, too. Just inside 190 miles I now need fewer than 5 per day to reach 200, a mere mile per day to exceed 10k per day. My knee has stiffened enormously since I’ve been home but surely I can get out for at least a mile tomorrow?

Hopefully there isn’t that much of a sting in Janathon’s tail, is there? Maybe – when I got home, the rain gauge in the back garden is registering a mere 1mm for the day. Just 15 miles (as the crow flies) from site. Did I mention Hawkinge is shit?


Well, this evening I got another of those “don’t disturb me with pathetic rubbish again” looks as I dragged Cathy upstairs to witness one of the rarer cloud light effects I spotted while weight training. She humoured me a little bit and did actually look, seeing a sundog or parhelia effect of the light being diffracted by cirrostratus clouds to create the image of a fake sun. It’s the first time i’ve seen one, I was amazed to have spotted and identified it (my thought was “what’s the sun doing so far north?” before I realised it wasn’t), even more so when I looked it up in one of my cloud books to have it confirmed.

Yes, very sad. Right down to having more than one cloud book. But hey, I like it.

The rest of the day was a cycle to work, cycle home, little bit of weights before I got distracted, then a short 2.5 miles on my aching, tired, worn out, wanting a day off despite the mileage being pathetic legs. Guess the combination of 16 hilly miles a day on the bike and the runs is taking it out of me.

Still, the weekend excites me. Too much to do, but a day working with Geoff should be fun, then Sunday brings the collection of Cathy’s new bike. But not until i’ve jumped the temporary plane at Headcorn – they’re getting a Beech King Air for just over a week while the Caravan is in for checks. Not jumped one before, but 7 minutes to altitude should be fun! Can’t wait and it should be a real race to the ground on my huge canopy…

Itchy Juneathon

My arm’s itchy, at least. The bit that’s got a scab that’s disappearing after it struck the oak dishwasher front i’m making that was in the vice having a joint cut but helped save me a worse fate while overbalancing off my trestle while getting a bit of wood from the garage roof for another unrelated job. It’s only a small mark, but a disproportionate irritation.

Just like me.

After an evening out with old friends, today saw a brief motorbike ride, a trip to the shops and quite a lot of chainsaw action while Cathy was feeling poorly. The heat put my run off and off and off until, at 8.45, I went for a slow run. I wasn’t sure how far until, at the 2.5 turn-off, the crepuscular rays showing over the stratocumulus on the near horizon encouraged me to carry on for the 3.55 route.

Hot, 20 seconds slower than the same run on Friday, 6 seconds slower than yesterday, but Juneathon done again.

A shower of rain last night and back to work tomorrow. Hey, ho.

Juneathon III is on!

Well, the day has arrived. A bit earlier than i’d hoped, what with waking up at 4am and being unable to get back to sleep. Not even a little bit. Not good.

Still, the actual get up went well, the cycle was dragged out of the garage at 6.30 and off I set. Just a fraction under 8 miles and 35 minutes later (nasty, nasty headwind), I arrived a sweating heap at work.

So, 10 hours later, I closed down the computer, got changed and pedalled home. All just under 8 miles of it in 28 minutes. Yep, it’s amazing what a following wind and lots of downhill can do.

But it’s June.

That means Juneathon. Do something different in the way of exercise.

So, on arriving home, I was loath to simply marvel at my splendid girlfriend making pizza. I didn’t want to sit down with a cold drink and recover. Well, yes, I did. But that’s not what it’s about. So I simply changed shorts, pulled on my trusty and knackered Asics gel cumulus 10’s (ps. has anyone else seen that Gavin Pretor-Pinney is attempting to name a new species of cloud? Mmm, interesting.), got a signal on my Garmin and set off for my 2.6 miles loop.

And no, my legs don’t transition from pedalling to running very well. Not when it’s this hot, anyway. Still, after about a mile I settled into a pace, passed Cathy’s ankle twisting corner, said hello to her cows, baa’d at some sheep, couldn’t believe how many flies a dead rabbit can accumulate and turned up the road to head home. All at an average 7.40 pace.

I’ll do some press and sit-ups later, but will add them to the roll tomorrow. Until then:

Day 1; 15.5 miles cycled. 2.6 miles run. Success!

Time to stretch, I think.

3 peaks, part 2

So, having arrived at Gosforth, it was with some worry that the owners of the B&B answered the phone, only to deny it was them! An undeterred traveller wasn’t to be outsmarted, though, so I shouted down a man on a Cannondale Prophet (well, he was cycling on the path!) for directions and as he rode alongside us, inch perfect info. found us at Hermons Hill B&B, all ready for a shower and bed. But what a place the accomodation was. Like a dream house. The owner turned out to be amazing, the room was gorgeous – all low beams, character and charm with an adjacent bathroom as nice as you like (if only they’d out the bidet and move the pan to avoid head banging on the beams, it’d be perfect!). So with Cathy happy for the free wine and chocolate (I promise not to mention the bottle going in half an hour, honest!), we decided it was time to move! But not before a good night  asleep, an early morning (for a Sunday) and at least one more mountain.

So, breakfast being done, we set off for Wasdale Head, through the cloud, thinking it was really low when all of a sudden, a slight lift in the level revealed a dirty great mountain emerging from the lake. Spectacular it certainly was. Unfortunately, for the rest of the day, this was about as good as the views got.

Avoiding running over sheep seemed to be the order of the morning – they just lay in the road and grudgingly looked over a shoulder as we went past, but unlike my ugly specimens in the field behind me, these are the prettiest sheep in the world. Honest. And i’ve got a girlfriend now, so i’m allowed to say such a sentence without feeling guilty!

It turned out we were amongst only 6 people to escape Scotland without getting stuck in traffic, so the start was a bit late, but with low cloud and wet trails, it didn’t seem to matter all that much. Getting a bit lost on the way up added to the fun, Cathy having second, third and fourth thoughts about the folly of the adventure added a touch of trepidation to the ascent, but having got over that, the climb was good. Proper steep, a bit challenging, it turned out to be the one mountain i’d not be confident I could run up and down without severe risk of injury.

We slowed right up near the top, as I say visibility was rubbish, but getting bored and jumping rock to rock isn’t, it turns out, the best way to relax nervous walking companions, so I tried to resist but didn’t have much joy. The stop at the summit was fine but the walk back down was hellish. My knee needed to be stretched by a smooth pace for a bit but some of the group were struggling and as much as it would have been nice to go on, I couldn’t let myself so got frustrated instead. Again. The relentless heavy rain didn’t help, but eventually we were at the car, changed on the back seat and without further ado headed for Wales.

Via a load more sheep in the road and a filthy car thanks to someone spinning mud all up the drivers side. Nice. Whereupon we encountered the only traffic jam of our weekend around Blackpool. Still, this passed and soon we headed into wet Wales (apart from one bit of low sun blocking the view of the one set of diversion road signs we could have done with being able to read…Grrr, Wales!) and again stumbled upon our hotel as soon as we entered the town. What luck. And what a disappointment!

3 peaks, part 1

Man, it seems an epic task to document even a tiny portion of the weekend’s mysteries, but i’ll try. Who knows how many parts it will take, but here goes. Oh, and hopefully i’ll gloss over the bits Cathy picks up on in her far more amusing, witty, entertaining style. She was the idea behind the trip, the reason for it and, it should be said, a massive part of the fun. So thanks to her for…well, everything, really!

So, Friday morning and with a car full of walking bits, far too much dodgy food for mountain energy and driving cravings, off we set for Fort William. Every mapping site in the world reckoned on 9.5 hours for the journey, so setting off at 8.45 seemed reasonable, hoping for a reasonably clear run and a bit of luck. Well, Cathy thought her luck had run out when, nearing Birmingham, a bit of avoidance was needed to dodge the two inner lanes of stationary traffic. It’s odd, but on my only other Scotland trip for a wedding (my brother…Gretna Green) a similar manoeuvre was required, outside lane to inside, on the M25, caused by excessive glove box fiddling when the traffic had stopped. Must be something in the route…or my devil may care driving style.

Anyhow, we missed everyone, cleared Manchester, stopped for a sandwich, got lost (ish) around Glasgow, had a nice run up the A82 and arrived, 9.75 hours later, finding our hotel right at the entrance to the town. By pure fluke, all our hotels were so handy it seemed unreal. It wasn’t bad. Certainly nothing special, but hey.

So at 8pm, we were in the allotted bar to meet the fellow trippers only to be alone until the phone went, telling us the meeting place had changed, we were late and were about to be struck by lightning or similar. So we found the others, settled for a briefing of the coming days, went to bed and slept. Until all of ooh, 5.30ish.

Nasty. So, we got to the mountain for 7 only for one of the guides to be late, which set the tone for a fun walk, really. Not taking it too seriously, we set off, stopped and atarted as the groups found their own pace, realised that mountains are in fact quite rocky (to be expected, odd how some thought they’d be quite friendly places!), sweated to death, cooled down, got annoyed at the wind, wondered how much further it would be, marvelled at the runner who looked so fresh considering he’d just run it, got embedded in cloud, took some photos at the top, annoyed people around me by telling fellow walkers still on the way up how crap it was at the top, got pissed off how long it was taking to come down, realised I may not really be patient enough for this walking malarky, threatened to go home since it was crap and I wasn’t up for two more days of this, got to the bottom, got fuel, bought a paper, found a restaurant, ate, drove, drove some more, didn’t get lost and arrived in Gosforth about 8.30pm.

Ben Nevis is, it must be said, quite pretty. I did enjoy it, the day was long, Scotland isn’t my favourite country (it’s too far away) even though I really liked Fort William but all in, I was ready for Scafell.

Time to walk

Not really a post to be proud of but hey.

I haven’t run, just been out on the motorbike every day and caught up on all the jobs around the house I seem unable to get around to in a normal week.

Cathy seems rather ill, I hope it won’t stop her walking up the mountains. I’ll get a gauge on how bad she is tonight but the trip to Scotland won’t be happening if she isn’t going to make it – i’m not spending 15  hours (combined there and on to Scafell) out of 36 in a car to go for a walk on my own, that’s most of the reason I haven’t got round to it in my previous 37 years. But now i’ve got this far, I somehow really want to do all 3. If I was running or cycling, it might feel different owing to the special challenge but to look forward to 3 long walks (possibly in the rain…joy) is certainly a change of direction.

So today will consist of gardening, packing and wondering what i’ve forgotten to pack. Probably allsorts, but hey.

150 cars, no rain (but shitloads of stratus style cloud cover, so no skydiving either. Bah.)


After my excitement on Wednesday, proving I can fall towards the ground at 120mph and move in a co-ordinated fashion whilst doing so, i’ve been quite happily enjoying my holiday with a bit of gardening, a coordinated effort to visit every style of restaurant in London and generally being supremely happy.

I can tick off Chinese, South Indian, Italian and Turkish just from the last week, so it’s probably for the best that today I went for a bit of a run. Unfortunately i’ve also been introduced to a pub that has 4 taps on one portion of the bar alone, starting from the left; St. Austell Brewery Best, Sussex Best, Timothy Taylor Landlord and London Pride. All would be included in a list of my 5 favourite pints. So that means 8 visits before I even start on the promised Belgian fruit beer varieties. Happy evenings, more running to prevent beer bloat awareness!

The run itself was uneventful. The backs of my thighs were hurting before I set off, my calves were tight all the way around, I only set off for 4 miles anyway and it passed without drama. Felt really really hungry about 3 miles in, though, so fried off some beansprouts, carrot and cabbage as soon as I got in before devouring a steak and trimmings about half hour later. And if i’m still 9 stone bloody 9 tomorrow, i’ll be calling whichever dietician I can find and offer them my metabolism for research into skinniness in the face of adversity!

The clouds put paid to any dreams of a jump this afternoon, so I did a briefing at the club to convert myself from ripcord (reliable method of canopy deployment, but depends on a sprung pilot chute to pull the main canopy) to throw away whereby you physically throw the pilot chute into the wind (has no chance of coming over the nose of the main canopy after deployment so is more reliable still and most rigs are configured that way), so the afternoon was all good.

Seems life is fine at the moment…guess work next week will bring me back down with a thump. Got a great weekend planned, so i’ll suspend panic about what I don’t know until the last second on Monday morning!

Trace of rain. 248 cars.

A quick, disappointing, Sunday

An odd day. I awoke reasonably early, thought i’d sack off skydiving, had breakfast then changed my mind. So I toddled off to the club, put my name down for my practice qualifying jump and waited. Got in the air about half 10, jump went perfectly, the cloud rolled in so I left to have some lunch and predictably couldn’t settle, so went back.

Now the pattern seems to be I mess up jumps in the afternoon. And today was no different.

Feeling slightly subdued now.

The first points went perfectly. Stable on exit, 360 right turn followed by 360 left, all complete by 6500ft. Backloop was ever so crisp and sharp, stable, alti on just under 6000. Waved off, turned 180 perfectly, went into the track position and started going in circles instead. Balls. So, adjusted my shoulders to no avail, knew time was passing so came out, stabilised and pulled, glimpsing my alti just under 3000ft. Too low, but not a real crime.

I thought.

I was putting turns under canopy at 2250ft, landed nicely, then the grief began. I’m being pilloried from all quarters for opening late, the lowest guess was pulling at just above 2000ft and, with me not being in the mood to argue (well, i’d once again proved to myself that when something matters to me I mess it up and fail. Can’t seem to achieve success at any of the things that would really improve my life, so I was already wondering how long my state of dejection would take to clear), I stated my case, apologised to those that matter, looked on in bemusement at the faces of those that didn’t while they made their noises, and looked forward to getting home.

So, if I can summon the spirit to face more grief, next week will be another attempt. Takes the shine off a good weekend jumping, really, as though it’s a serious thing i’m meant to be so intense about it’s beyond enjoyment until i’m an expert. Balls. When it gets that dear to me, please remind me and i’ll give up.

Oh well, exercise has just been completed, i’m going for my mile run now (legs feel a touch freer, i’ll still do just a mile, though).

Probably won’t blog tomorrow as i’ll be leaving work early to go out until late…will have to tie in Juneathon with a run to the station (0.7 miles each way…is that 0.7 miles twice, or 1.4miles that takes 6 hours?!) and a jog to catch trains…unless I run between the pubs to the restaurant. Would carrying someone between pubs count extra?

326 cars. 1 messed up QJ. 1 exciting night out to look forward to.

Not done yet…

After yesterday’s pathetic token of a Juneathon run, I thought i’d keep up the style in an attempt to repair the leg damage without messing up the run a day theory. So I got up unnecessarily early for a Saturday, put out the washing, jogged down the road and back for a mile’s effort and had breakfast.

Then left on the mountainbike for the parachute club, arriving at 8.30. Still, it’s only 2 miles away and buying the paper on the way there didn’t take long. Noticing the girl in the shop’s top appearing even tighter occupied my brain for a few minutes though, and possibly cost a minute on the journey…I wouldn’t normally comment on a young ladies’ attributes, honest, but over the past year or so they’ve come to so closely resemble a dead heat in a zepplin race it’s soon going to get difficult to get near the counter, I shouldn’t be surprised. Still, after slapping myself about the face, calling myself all sorts of wrongs and a quick pedal, it was throwing away the plane time, and what fun.

A good exit, an instant of error to spin me upside down for a bit, (when i’m a sky god i’ll practice this all the time, I reckon, it’s simply ace…who needs formations? Just spin, tumble and act like a cretin, I reckon!) a good recovery, good forward motion including turns and a textbook flight under canopy and landing mean i’m theoretically ready for qualification. But there’s a lot to pack into a Qualifying Jump (everything i’ve learnt so far, compressed into a 25 second freefall, basically), so i’m opting for a practice QJ and if that goes well, 1 jump and i’m there. Which I ought to have done this afternoon, but the clouds rolled in and as they looked settled, I came home. There’s always another day, I reckon, rather than wait too long, get a jump when i’m tired and mess it up. Don’t really want to mess them up too badly, 12000ft. is along way down after all!

All followed by the ride home (I popped back at lunch too, so 8 miles total…can I claim this as my bit of cross training?!) which included much wheelieing, many hops, two worthwhile manuals and a skid. Got to end on a skid…

Which left the lawn to mow and greenhouse to water. Nice.

A trace of rain. 1 Juneathon mile. 8 cycled miles. 333 cars.