Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A fine weekend

Ben and Sam experience their new wheels

Friday night after work, I ran with mike from Greenway Lane, over Crickley Hill and Birdlip (with its sinister gathering of doggers) and then along the Cotswold Way to Coopers Hill, venue of the world famous Cheese Rolling event:


We went up the main slope, touched the pole at the top and then made a descent around the side - you would certainly need to have a screw or two loose to want to run down that slope. The views from the top were great, I could see out over the orange lights of Cheltenham and Gloucester as I watched Mike's headtorch as he made his way up.

It was quite a pacy run and I finished with a bit of a burst through the final section of woodland. It felt like about 16 miles, but MIke's Garmin spoke otherwise - just under 12.

Felt quite stiff about the legs afterwards.

I looked after the boys the next morning whilst Rachel had a lie in and sorted out wedding stuff. Then we took a family walk up to the Bath Road to buy a birthday present for dad but also to just spend some time together. The Bath Road is great because corporateness hasn't yet made significant inroads into the place. Small businesses, shops, pubs all seem to thrive and there is a sense of community encompassing locals and students that gives a sense of character that is often lacking in other parts of the town. We made a circuitous approach along cycleways and through The Park, which is where the university campus is. Nice to take the time to take a step back and enjoy the place.

After lunch and a bit of a snooze, I did some housework whilst Rachel went to buy some beer. I don't know what her father must have been like but when England are playing rugby it seems that i have carte blanche to lounge on the sofa a shout at the television. I must learn the rules of the game so that I can appreciate its finer points.

My bottles of black sheep and I enjoyed the game despite a poor England performance - but then mayber ireland were just better?

A nice evening with a meal and a DVD. I know it's my age, but every time a DVD finishes, I still automatically think that I need to press rewind!

Sunday, I dragged my protesting limbs out for a run. Mike was marshalling at some ultra event in the Forest of Dean so I was on my own and decided to try a new route.

Headed out of the town of Winchcombe to the north east of Cheltenham, past Sudley Castle, across fields...
...and up to Spoonley Wood to have a look at the mosaic.

Bill Bryson describes this place touchingly in 'Notes from a Small Island' and it truly is profound that here is something so old, that has been so permanent through Dark Ages, Civil Wars, World Wars, that just sits here beneath some plastic sheeting and a wriggly tin roof. Quietly visited, uncovered and contemplated, by ramblers over and over again. It has survived so far, protected only by the respect of those who know about it.

At the mosaic - note use of the bananarama-style "buff" wristband (a useful expenditure)

Close up

The run went on through a lovely clear morning. The kind of morning the deceives you into believing that it is warmer than it is.

I made my way across high wold landscape to Guiting Wood. I had been execting something ancient semi-natural but got a plantation (possibly on a ancient site) that had recently been subject to substantial extraction works. The footpath into the wood was unmanaged and giving way to blackthorn, and the route through the wood was 12" deep in tractor-quagmired clay. I would not recommend visiting this woodland although there is a nicer footpath along the northern boundary.

I followed the Wardens Way back down into Winch. A run of about 8 miles through lovely scenery for the main part. Legs felt achey - I wonder if i might be doing too much trying to keep up with Mike who as a background of ultra-marathoning.

After I got back, we went to check out a local hotel where we're going to have a meal after our wedding. The place got full marks - affordable, oak pannelled room and nice grounds for picture taking. And it's got a bar.

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