To Africa !

Day 267, Thursday 27 September 2012 โ€“ Leaving on a jet plane.

Today is my last day in England and I have just realised it is also the nine month anniversary of when I left NZ for SE Asia, so a good day to fly to Africa.

I had a truly dreadful night last night, dropped off to sleep quickly but woke about 12:30 and was restless for the rest of the night. I was very tired in the morning and for some weird reason my shoulders ached, – I am wondering if I was really tense and didnโ€™t realise it (I worked it out late in the day, my camera bag when full is heavy ๐Ÿ™‚ )

My first stop for the day was Monument, a tower built in the 1670’s to commemorate the great fire of London. Until I walked past it yesterday I did not realise that visitors could climb to the top, and I was really interested in the view. There are 311 steps to climb, the view is fantastic, but the platform is surrounded by wire so photos were tricky!

From Monument I spent the rest of the morning charging around London looking for a pair of long pants, a collared shirt and a pair of shorts. Though I dress like a colour blind, tasteless slob I am very fussy when it comes to clothes – subconciously it is probably just purchasing avoidance. I really struggled today and didnt get any shorts, wrong season apparently. I will look in Cape Town.

In the afternoon I took the train back out to my uncles house in Dartford, packed up all my stuff for Africa and was surprised when it all went in my pack – maybe I should have packed more stuff ! And I even have a sleeping bag in there!

My uncle dropped me off at Gatwick airport and I am now sitting in the bar waiting for my flight to be called.

So, it is a temporary farewell to England and tomorrow it will be hello Cape Town !

I am assuming internet access in CT, but not much for the next six weeks. I will update when I can ๐Ÿ™‚

Onwards to Africa !

Family, shopping, a cathedral and Africa tomorrow !

Day 263, Sunday-Wednesday 23-26 September 2012 – Dartford, Canterbury and London

I am rushing this post out as I have a burning head ache and I am not entirely sure what internet access I have once I get to Africa.

I am off tomorrow, my flight leaves at 9:15 PM Thursday – that is tomorrow, wahoo !!!

I stayed in Dartford over Sunday and Monday, good lie ins on both days and a general overall relax. On Sunday Jim took me down to the Dartford Conservative Club where he is a member and we had a couple of pints while watching the formula 1 and some football on TV. It was a good afternoon and we didn’t do a lot more than that, which was great as I finally caught up on blogs while waiting for the football highlights to come on TV.

I leave for Cape Town in South Africa on Thursday and I need to take a substantial sum of cash in USD. As my most of my money is in NZ I am going to have withdraw cash from ATM’s every day before I go to get enough. It seems that I will be getting most of it in 10 pound notes – almost 2 inches worth. Not exactly designed for a sneaky money belt!

On Monday I went to one of the local malls with my uncle, my English relations gave me a voucher for my birthday and I was off to use and start the big pre-Africa shopping spree. I am going to take my Canon 5dmk1 camera rather than the smaller GF1 and want to get a lens extender to try and get some of the animals closer and I need to get some legs for a tripod head I shipped out from New Zealand. I didn’t get any of those, but I did get a second memory card and a new nifty fifty – Canons awesome cheap 50mm lens that is a whole 99GBP, it is such a great lens.

After shopping I went around to see my late dads brother and sister in law. In was so nice to see them and it was very a pleasant couple of hours. I also got the address of my dad’s sister who lives in Canterbury as I am heading there tomorrow.

I have been suffering from a really sore ankle the past day or so, not uncommon in the cold and damp, but I didn’t think it was that cold, but it is quite painful.

I slept OK Monday night, I tried some herbal sleeping pills and they seem to work pretty well, lets hope that continues to be the case when I am the tour and sleeping in a tent for the first time in twenty five years! I did wake up feeling exhausted and with a sore lower back to add to the ache in my ankle, I am wondering, even hoping, it is just a side effect of the yellow fever immunisation I had last week. At least it would explain it all and mean I am not getting sick two days before getting on a long flight – I definitely do not want a repeat of Hong Kong !

Against predictions the day is glorious when I start walking down to the train station, though it is 18 degrees I am feeling quite cold, but turns to form later in the day with a few showers – I was glad I decided to chuck my raincoat into my bag, a very last minute decision.

It was a two change train ride from Dartford and Canterbury though only an hour and half ride. My main reason for visiting was of course the cathedral but I wanted to try and visit my aunt as well, though she was not answering her phone.

I really enjoyed the Cathedral and the town was pretty good apart from a lot of the old buildings have had their frontages changed into nice shiny new McDonalds, Starbucks or H&M. Guess that is progress.

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The Cathedral is stunning, under a bit of renovation – seems to the e trend every where. But I still loved it, home to the tombs of kings and bishops over hundreds of years.

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After the Cathedral I wandered up to the retirement home where my aunt is living and she had just arrived home with the other aunt i have not seen since the eighties so i got a two for the price of one deal. It was very cool to see them both, but soon enough it was time to get the train back to Dartford.

On Wednesday I went back into London to shop and change my pounds into USD. Shopping was only semi-successful, but I did get all the camera gear I wanted including some very groovy Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod legs, cool… Massive fail on clothes for Africa, but no surprises there – and I have the morning tomorrow. After shopping I stayed the night at Kevin’s flat, and here I am typing when I should be in bed resting my burning head.

 

 

 

A wee stroll in the sun – in London !

Day 262, Saturday 22 September 2012 – London

A much better sleep was had last night and I took the opportunity to doze for a little bit before having breakie in bed and a session on Skype with a friend back in NZ.

It is a lovely day today and with rain forecasted for the rest of the week ahead I took the opportunity to head out for the day with the intention to see some of London’s parks and meet Elias, an old friend from my Richmond days in the mid-eighties.

I walked down to Dartford town centre, past the local – I will try it out before I leave ๐Ÿ™‚

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And then strolled through the market, it was busy but uninspiring – maybe an unfair call on Dartford market as markets are not my thing anymore – I have seen too many! The highlight, which I did not take a photograph of, was a stall blasting out and selling reggae CD’s, in a seemingly white middle aged suburb it was rather incongruous – good luck to them!

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I took the train into London, I was going to pick up a tube to Tottenham Court Rd and check out some of the camera shops for some pricing for future reference. However, the line was closed from Charing Cross so I alighted there and went straight to Trafalgar Square – which was on the plan for the day anyway.

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What wasn’t on the plan was the National Gallery – it should have been ! I really enjoyed my time walking though the gallery – sadly no photos allowed, but I did sneak a quickie of Leonardo De Vinci’s “The virgin and child with St Anne and St John the Baptist” from 1500.

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Wow ! I have never been a De Vinci as an “artist” fan (ignorance ), much preferring art from the turn of the 20th century. However this drawing blew me away, the detail was stunning and I just loved it. Definitely my favourite piece from the gallery; a massive call given some of the works there. Another big call is – I enjoyed this more than the Louvre, it is smaller and simpler, but it does have a different focus so unfair to compare I guess.

What did I like? Seurat’s “Bathers at Asniers” – I love that painting, awesome to see it in the flesh. It was also great to see some nice Signac, Pissaro and Monet. My favourite Manet – “Execution of Maximilian” was here along with Renoirs “Umbrellas”. I am not a huge Renoir fan, but really like Umbrellas’. It is the same with Van Gogh, I have never been overly excited by his art, I do like “Van Gogh’s Chair” and Flowers is here as well, though that painting is all a bit ho hum IMHO.

I had an unexpected good time at the gallery – and it was a 4 pound donation, rather than a massive entry fee- good on you London!

This chewed up a chunk of my wandering around time, so I stopped for a sandwich and coffee in the sun on Trafalgar Square than walked through Admiralty Arch.

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Past the stature of James Cook.

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Round to the back of Horseguards Parade.

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Past Downing Street.

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And on to Waterloo station to meet my old friend Elias. It was great to catch up with him, haven’t seen him since 1987 when I left England. We walked along the South Bank of the Thames for a couple of hours and chatted about our lives in the past 25 years. We headed over to Embankment and had a drink before wandering back to Waterloo so Elias could make his next appointment. I strolled back over the Thames.

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And got the train back to Dartford.

It was a really good day, the gallery was fabulous, the walk refreshing and enjoyable and it was great to catch up with Elias, we will meet again when I return from Africa for sure.

 

 

 

Yay – Castles !

Day 261, Friday 21 September 2012 – Rochester

Comfortable as my bed is here I had an awful sleep and ended up not dragging myself reluctantly out until almost nine am. Pretty much when we left to go to the supermarket for the weekly shop. I picked up a few things for my Africa trip as well as a couple of bottles of cheap red to sup on over the week. Back at Jim’s I had a late breakfast, soon followed by lunch – I so love eating!

It was a nice day in Kent, cool but clear and I was keen to visit castles so Jim and I visited the town of Rochester a few miles away. I am reasonably sure I have never been there before, though I am sure mum will correct me if I am wrong!

The castle was started in Roman times and was built on extensively until Norman times in the early 11th century until it was involved in a series of sieges and rebuilds up until the early 14th century. Being quite close to London it was the scene of a number of minor historical events until it fell into disrepair late in the 18th century.

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It is quite cool that it has not seen much restoration.

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From the battlements there was a great view of Rochester Cathedral.

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The old part of Rochester town was quite nice as well and well worth a visit. Jim and I stopped for a cup of coffee, or in my case a hot chocolate as I am not a coffee drinker in the afternoon (or it seemed to my complete ignorance in the morning ) .

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I was deeply tired with a cracking headache and yawned my way back to Dartford and had to go and have a lie down when we got home.

I cooked a basic pasta meal for dinner and we watched a bit of TV before I went to bed.

it was nice to get out into the Kentish countryside.

 

 

 

Back to London

Days 258/260, Tuesday – Thursday 18-20 September 2012 – London and Dartford.

I was a wee bit jaded when I got up on Tuesday morning, another early start as I wanted to say goodbye to Mel and Richard before they went to work and I was on the 9:30 bus to London again. I did enjoy the coffee and bacon sandwich at the bus station before though and, as always, uneventful journey into Victoria bus station.

The good news is I am not feeling any ill effects from my run, I do not have any aches and pains and apart from running out of puff halfway up stairs with my pack on my back I almost feel like I could nip out for a run. I was expecting day two or three to be quite sore as it is usually the case after a decent run. It must be a sign I should have gone harder!

For the next two nights I am staying with a friend near London Bridge station in Borough – about two hundred metres from the Shard, the latest tallest building in London. I met Kevin at Dan and Van’s wedding in Da Nang, Vietnam way back in April, Kevin is an old friend of Dan’s and has been living in London for many years. I arranged to meet him at McDonalds which gave me a good excuse to trough a couple of chicken cheese burgers!

Kevin lives on the twelfth floor of a twenty storey tower block and the views over Tower Bridge are stunning, especially at night.

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Kevin and I spent the afternoon catching up and then went round the corner to a local pub for a pint or three, it was quite cool out of the sun, but a glorious day to be sitting in a garden bar. This area of London has really gone up-market since I worked around here in the mid-1980’s, lots of young white collar workers striding home from work, young hipsters with beards on single speed bikes, in the pub there was an actor who I have seen recently on TV or in movie, but I could not place his name damnit!

Early evening Kevin and I caught the tube to his partner Phil’s place in Kensington. Kari, a young Norwegian woman they met in India a while back is staying the night and cooking dinner. It was a good night, Kari cooked a good risotto and talked almost non-stop the entire time, it was very hard to get a word in, a very passionate woman.

On Wednesday, after a monster lie in and a massive breakfast Kevin cooked, I went for a walk out along the Thames for a bit. I had intended to walk down to Greenwich and back up again, but did start to notice the effects of the run, no soreness – just tired legs. I also planned on going to visit the Tower of London, which is one of my favourite places in London so needed to save some leg for that as there can be a bit of walking involved.

So, that was what I did next. The new quarter between London and Tower Bridges is quite stunning, all new glass and chrome buildings, but tasteful and heaps of open space. I really liked it, plus of course they left the access to the river bank.

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It cost 20 pounds to get into the Tower, outrageously expensive IMHO, but it is a great place to visit if you are into castles and the old English history of kings and queens and battles and plots, which of course I am.

I visited the white tower and its massive collection of arms and armour – I have fond childhood memories of walking round the armour.

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And then the crown jewels, my memory of this is massive crowds – not so bad today!

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And a general walk around the site for a couple of hours.

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Needless to say, I really enjoyed the afternoon, though I was disturbed by the amount of people who voted yes to this!

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After the Tower I took a slow walk back along the bank of the Thames and snapped a few shots of the Shard – I just cannot help it, it does dominate, but it is a stunning building.

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I had dinner with Kevin and Phil in the flat and for a change watched a bit of TV.

Thursday was a not quite so long lie, but I still didn’t rush out of bed. Today was shot day and I was off to the London Travel Clinic, for what turned out to be two rather than one shot. I was expecting Yellow Fever but I also need a booster for hep A and B, those along with 100 anti-malaria tabs meant it was an expensive morning. But better than being really ill in Zambia I expect.

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I took a short walk around Borough market before heading back to Kevin’s and saying my farewells before heading off to my uncle Jim’s house in Dartford. It was great to catch up with Kevin and Phil again, I will probably stay there again the night before I fly out to Africa as well.

Dartford is 35 minutes away by train, conveniently from London Bridge station so no faffing about catching tubes between stations. Both my parents are from Dartford and I have visited numerous times over the years and have pleasant memories of Jim’s. Jim lives in the house he was raised in and I haven’t been here since my nana passed away many years ago. All my stuff had been moved there from my other uncle and aunts house so I spent the afternoon and evening chatting to Jim and sorting my stuff – there is more than I remember!

Fifty !

Day 257, Monday 17 September 2012, Bristol

Yay (not) I am fifty years old today!

Though, I will confess that, to my utter surprise I am not actually bothered by it at all. I have been dreading this anniversary for a while now, not so much the turning fifty, more the – what will I do to celebrate the end of half a century of life. I have realised I am not alone away from home, and that even home is not that far away, so have not been overly worried about it recently.

From the start of “first birthday” (A private joke sorry ! ) last Tuesday when I had dinner with extended family in Essex I have had a great week that has seen me doing many of the things I love, seeing bands, doing an awesome run and hanging out with lovely, wonderful people.

I was up early, disgusting ! 7:30, earlier enough to make Richard a cup of tea before he went to work as I made my own coffee. But it was all worth it, Skype session with my mum, my boys Dom and Aiden and my sister and her family in NZ. It was very nice to see everyone and such a great start to my day and over the next couple of hours I had a couple of Skype sessions, lovely.

Once I had made the effort to haul my butt out of bed I went down to a new laundromat up in Stokes Croft. I am going to say it was not like anything I had experienced before !

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Wifi, coffee, nice food as well as laundry. Fantastic, almost worth doing on a birthday!

After the laundromat I met Meliesha at St Nicks market in town for lunch, though after a bacon sarnie as a late breakfast i wasn’t up to much more than a very nice berry smoothie. We wandered the market a bit and Meliesha bought me a t-shirt for my birthday before going back to work. I then bought another t-shirt of the album cover from the Descendants great old punk LP “everything sucks”, is 50 to old to wear an everything sucks t-shirt ?

After lunch I walked past this guy with the longest window cleaning pole I have ever seen !

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Down to Nelson St for the street art. I was pretty disappointed to be honest, firstly because some of the great art from lat year has been painted over and I was expecting new walls to be painted in the festival this year and secondly because the standard of art was not as good (IMHO of course).

The art below is not all from Nelson St.

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I wandered around Bristol for a while before heading back to Mels place for a rest prior to going out for dinner. Mel and Richard and a few of their friends are going to take me to a Moroccan restaurant in Easton, about a 15 minute walk away. We had a couple of beers before we left and one on the way and picked up some cheap red at the local offie. Dinner was great, food was excellent and I had a lot of fun. After dinner some of us stopped for some bad darts a closing pub on the way back to Mels, where we had a cup of tea or two, ate some chocolates and talked way too late !

It was a fabbo day, full of good things and I had a nice birthday. Great to spend time again with Mel and Richard and as always enjoyed time with their friends too.

Thanks to all for the birthday wishes.

Heres to the next decade ! Cheers

 

 

 

Go ! 50 for 50

Days 255/256, Saturday/Sunday 15/16 September 2012, Axmouth and Bristol

It has finally arrived, the day I been both excited about and dreading in equal measures. It is 50for50 day, the day I plan to run 55.6km of the South West Coast Path from Budleigh-Salterton (B-S) in east Devon to West Bay in Dorset. This is the furthest I have ever run by a significant margin, though I will say up front there will be some walking!

As forecasted the weather was good, clear skies and not too hot throughout the day, though it definitely did get warm in the middle of the afternoon – as you will see in some of the photos.

It may surprise those who have witnessed me hoover down a massive cooked breakfast that I normally only have a couple of slices of toast in the mornings, even on run days, and today was no exception. Though I regretted this later in the day as I started running out of steam and didn’t feel like eating anything.

Garry has kindly offered to run with me, making sure I do not get lost and keeping me company on the way. I met Garry when he ran a few sections of Tom and Mal’s epic run of the whole South West Coast Path back in June. He is running mad, knows this section of the coast extremely well and is a top bloke. It was great to have him on the trail with me. Garry arrived at 7:00 and we bundled all our gear and food into Tom’s car, added Tom’s four year old son Finlay and set off for the thirty minute drive to B-S and the start line.

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Ah, I love running…

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Garry and I set off at 7:53 on the first leg, B-S to Sidmouth with the number one aim of finding some where to stop for a wee once we were clear of the car park.! The run to Sidmouth is 11.4 k and one I had done with Mal – though at least today we were not running in fog bound drizzle. It was a good section to start on as there are less of the steep ascents and descents that will feature later in the day -it certainly was not flat though. There was a 10km race here later on and the preparation work was under way as well left.

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Fin had some fun too !

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Taking a photo

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This photo!

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The day warmed quickly so the jackets were not on for long!

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I wish, it was still a long way to Beer and even further to beer.

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It took us 1;17 to get to Sidmouth, which I was very happy with and I was feeling pretty good, though had gone the usual cycle of niggles in ankles, knees and hips. Fortunately most of those went away as normal after forty or so minutes of warming up, however my right knee bugged me for most of the day – especially climbing some of the innumerable steps. This is one of the few times I was ahead of Garry.

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When I took my Camelbak off I noticed my jacket was missing from the back, crap ! I was very appreciative of Garry who volunteered to go back and see if he could find it. I reckon he really thought he had just been handed a good excuse to up the pace and get a decent run in, but luckily for me and sadly for him the jacket was not that far away ! After a ten minute stop to fuel and load up on more water we were off through Sidmouth

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Then into one of the more up and down sections of coast to Berry Barton, none of the climbs were massive, but there was a few of them and they were steep, not allowing a lot of easy running to happen. I wasn’t drinking enough on this leg given that it was quite warm now and this would make things a little unpleasant further into the day.

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We had another 10 minute stop on the hill tops and were off to Seaton. This was another hilly section of coast and I started to develop a small blister one of my toes, fortunately and band aid at Seaton was all it took to fix. This leg had us up “The stairway to Heaven” (not) steps

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And though the historic coastal town of Beer – had to take the photo of course.

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From Beer we had to take a small detour on the road as the cliff had fallen away and the path section was closed. The run along Seaton waterfront was nice though I was looking forward to a sit down and a snack. We arrived at the rest stop after just over four hours on the road. A little bit behind schedule but I was still feeling OK.

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The “Under cliff” leg to Lyme Regis was tough, not so much of the heavy climbing, but a long section of small pinches on some lovely single track which I would normally have enjoyed. There was not much to see as we were enclosed for most of the section and I think this impacted on my moral a bit as i could not see progress. I really struggled through here, had a bad headache and was quite nauseous – I think this was dehydration related, and my left hip started seizing up as well. We stopped for a break at the approximate half way and I popped a couple of pain killers. I was not looking my finest !

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Through here I moved into the longest run ever territory, going past 5:01 which was my previous longest from the Kauri Classic event last October. I was pretty low for a while and was glad for Garrys company and the occasional gee up on pace. Dropping down into Lyme was a relief.

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I had a few slugs of ginger beer and a small bag of chips (crisps) and almost immediately started feeling better. The first section of the approx 12k to Seatown was along the waterfront and then rock hopping across the beach and it was nice to ease into a section that includes the highest point on the coast, the 191 metre Golden Cap. I was surprised at how many people were at Lyme, and a wee bit frustrated at the foot traffic !

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There was a couple of “lumps” to climb before Golden Cap.

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By the time we got there I was feeling it, I was Ok walking up the grass sections, but the steps at the top were hard work. In fact I had been struggling with the steps for a while, they are very uneven and it was hard to maintain a rhythm going up them, the grass was so much easier, head down, “one foot in front of the other” mantra going in my head and the climbs were “easy”!

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The run down the other side of Golden Cap saw into the small hamlet of Seatown – and according to my internet research this was 50km, but not the end, I wanted to nudge a bit further into West Bay to make doubly sure I had covered a full 50k. We arrived in seatown after just over eight and half hours on the road and I was feeling a lot better. Tired but good.

Naturally the last leg, about 5k to West Bay, started with a climb!

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And of course there was another one in it ! but I was still running the flats and descents and Garry knew of a couple of sections of trail that by-passed the steeper uphill and downhill sections, with one of these being one my favourite sections on the pass, a nice long gradual downhill bit of single track – or maybe it was just close to the end ! About 500 metres from the finish I started getting a lot of pain in the tendons on the bag of my left knee, it only hurt on the downhill and I was glad when there was a final small climb just before the end !

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And then it was done !!!

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55.6km ! and I was still running, albeit slowly, at the end. It took me 9.5 hours which was more than I really really wanted but inside my 10 hour guesstimate. I was immensely happy to sit down, knowing I did not have to get up again -and even happier when Tom gave me a can of beer ๐Ÿ™‚

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It was a great run and I am sure I could have done more if my knee was not tender, though that went away within an hour.

We drove back to Toms for a shower and a rest before Tom’s parents Shiela and Richard joined us for dinner. I spent a bit of time with Shiela during the coast path run as she was supporting Tom as I was supporting Mal, so it was really good to see them again. Dinner was great and I certainly enjoyed a couple of red wines in celebration.

Sunday morning was a slow start, I had slept much better than expected and apart from a bit of tightness going down the stairs I felt pretty good – remarkably so really. After breakfast Tom took me back into Seaton so I could get the bus to Exeter and then on to Bristol.

I really appreciated staying at Tom and Tash’s place, the big day Tom took out to support me on the run and having Garry along with me on the way. When I first decided to do this I was planning on just doing it solo, stopping at shops on the way for food and water – but I would not have made it. Goal achieved due to the fantastic help of friends in the global trail running community.

The buses to Bristol were a none event, at Exeter I had planned on going to Maccas for lunch but once I through my pack on when I got off the bus with seized up legs i could barely walk, I had coffee and chips in the bus station instead.

I walked to Mel’s place as I couldn’t find a cab, so was knackered when I got there and relieved to basically sit down and not move much for the rest of the day. Richard had made a great lunch and we all sat around eating and drinking tea/coffee and beer till the early evening when we sat around drank beer, ate pizza and watched The Hunger Games, an excellent post run day.

Mal – Thanks for the idea, it was a great one and I am so pleased I celebrated my 50th by doing a 50+km run. And secondly, I now know about bleeding hydration pack bladders….. I have used them for about 12 years and never knew to bleed them, next time !

Another big day tomorrow !

2, 1….

Days 253/254, Thursday/Friday 13/14 September 2012, Exeter and Axmouth

I woke up with ringing ear drums and a need for some food. The room came with breakfast, but sadly not a large “Full English”, but muesli and toast seemed to fill the gap. I ordered a taxi for 10:45 and hung around in my room, editing photos from the night before. Naturally the taxi never showed so I started walking towards Brighton Pier in the hope I would find a taxi to take me to the station as I had left it too late to walk – and really I had no idea where it was! I am glad I did as when I did eventually get a cab the station was further away than I thought and I got there with ten minutes to spare before the train left.

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When I booked the train to Exeter which is on the same bit of coast as Brighton I expected a scenic route through all the coastal towns – how wrong was I, this train went all the way in Clapham Junction in south London, where I changed and then all the way back out to the coast. Apparently there are no trains across the south coast, oh well ! both train rides were fine, we left on time, the seats and carriages were comfortable and they sold coffee and snacks, I for one have no complaints so far about the standard of the trains – just the price, this was expensive.

I arrived in Exeter in the mid-afternoon and thanks to Google Maps found my hotel, The Georgian Lodge quite easily. I had chosen one that was walking distance to both the bus and train stations.

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I had a wee walk around Exeter, down past the old city walls to the River Exe, past the Quay and back up to the cathedral and castle areas before stopping for a pasta meal and a wine that was way too expensive – OK I had dessert as well : The light sucked for photography, overcast and quite glary so I didn’t take many photos.

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Friday morning I was up at a reasonable hour for a far better breakfast than Brighton, eggs, bacon, beans and hash browns -YUMBO ! coffee sucked mind : I left the hotel at kicking out time-10:30 but left my backpack there as the bus to Seaton was not until 2:45. The day was flat overcast again so I was not really feeling like wandering and photographing, and to be honest , Exeter was not overly exciting from a photographic perspective. I did walk the past the county prison.

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And paid a visit to the cathedral, which was interesting.

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I really liked the fact that a lot of the carvings on the outside of the cathedral have been left alone and not repaired, I guess they will all be done in time though.

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The roof is the longest vault in the UK and was completed in the early 1300s.

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The clock was first installed in the 1400s with the final look being completed in the 1700s, it is supposed to be the clock from the nursery rhyme ‘hickory dickory dock”.

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I loved all the hand knitted prayer stool covers under all the seats, a real labour of love.

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After the cathedral I wandered down to the remains of the old Roman bridge, the river has moved about a hundred metres in the last couple of thousand years!

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After lunch I visited the Exeter museum, which was full of children so I ran away !

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Before heading up to the bus station for the hour long ride to Seaton.

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I spent thirty minutes in Seaton Tescos buying food and drink for the big day tomorrow (gulp!) before Tom came and picked me up and we went to his place in the hamlet of Axmouth about five minutes away by car.

Tom and his wife Tash have kindly offered to put me up for the two nights before and after my big run 50km run tomorrow. Tom is also going to drive a car round and support me on the run which is just fabbo. I had a good evening with Tom and Tash and the kids, great home made pizza and an early night…

Tomorrow tomorrow, nervous as heck !

 

 

 

A place to bury strangers @ Komedia in Brighton

A place to bury strangers are a band from New York and have been a favourite for a while now. It was great their UK tour coincided with my birthday week so I nipped down to Brighton to see their show at Komedia.

The venue holds about 400 but disappointingly it was only half full, but I did get to take my camera in and as I was not really getting in anyone’s way I shot off and on through the set. The lighting was really no friend to any photographer, totally back and side lit and for virtually all the show it was strobing. Very hard conditions, I took a lot of photos, deleted loads and kept the rest, this is the best of a bad bunch.

The show was great, sound was good for the first three quarters and then for some reason vocals were dropped so low in the mix as to be virtually inaudible. They did play a bunch of my favourite tracks including a great version of “I live my life to stand in the shadow of your heart”, though not the full 20 minute noise fest version which I was hoping for !

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The support band was Sealings, ย I had never heard of them but liked their set.

Brighton

Day 252, Wednesday 12 September 2012 โ€“ Brighton

I am using another laptop this week and thought the last blog post I was writing in MS Word had been saved to Dropbox but it hadnโ€™t, so missing a post, for now anyway. Not that it was particularly exciting of course, but for the sake of my records I will post it later.

Another highlight of my birthday week; heading to Brighton to see (and hopefully photograph) my current favourite band, New Yorkers (by way of Auckland for the bass player) A place to bury strangers.

It seems that going anywhere in the southern part of the UK by public transport means a trip through one of the main transport hubs in London, and the ride from Brentwood to Brighton was no exception. The bus I was taking left Brentwood at 9:45 and went all the way into central London to Victoria bus station before heading back out again to the coast โ€“ not that I was in any particular rush, just needing to be there before the gig tonight.

The journey was OK, a wee bit tedious, though it is always good to see a bit more of the English countryside. The bus got us to Brighton on time in the early afternoon. It was sunny but with a very strong wind โ€“ which was naturally a head wind for the longer than anticipated walk along the water front to my hotel for the night โ€“ the Brunswick Square Hotel, which funnily enough was on Brunswick Square.

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I decided to mooch for a while and leave the hotel a couple of hours before the doors opened and do my waterfront sightseeing on the way. I am conscious that I have a massive run in four days time and I need to be doing some decent resting rather than hours of sightseeing. Naturally while I rested the weather turned to crap ๐Ÿ™‚

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The cloudy and windy skies made for quite a good walk along the front, at least I got some decent photos โ€“ I was getting sick of all those clear blue skies in Spain ! As I was going to a gig I decided to take the big Canon rather than the little Panasonic GF1 I have been using. I am so glad I did, I love that Canon and I think it loves me back, I was pretty happy with the images I got this afternoon, though it is a lot more to lug around than the GF1!

The hotel is probably a mile up the road from Brighton Pier and it is a pretty good walk from a photographic perspective, I should probably have taken a bit more time than I did, but I wanted to eat before the show and with doors opening at 7:30 I couldnโ€™t muck around too much.

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The Pier is an interesting beast, so typically English, I donโ€™t think there is any other country in the world who could do this as well, I arrived too late to see any fun fairaction but I did like the almost closed feel to it as well.

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Helter Skelter โ€“ I am not sure if I have ever seen one of these in New Zealand!

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And a double rainbow !

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I had pizza and a couple of reds at a local Italian restaurant before heading up to Komedia Brighton to see what was happening at the A place to bury strangers (APTBS) gig. I wanted to see if there was a support act โ€“ there was a band called Sealings, what time the bands came on โ€“ and most importantly, if I could take my camera in- I could โ€“ Yes !

I went to a local bar and had a drink before heading back to the venue for 8:00 just before Sealings came on. The venue is pretty cool, small, low ceiling, good size bar and good view of the low stage, it would be a favourite if I lived here. Sealings were pretty good, a young trio โ€“ made a lot of noise, which is always good. The lighting was very dim with most of it being back lit, a nightmare to photo and not having shot a band for a while it took a bit of experimentation to get back into the groove, though I was happyish with the results.

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APTBS came on about 9:30 โ€“ I love noise restrictions ! they played for an hour or so and were pretty loud, though not as bad as I expected. They were also fabulously awesome, playing most of my favourites, with a good chunk from Exploding Head, definitely my favourite album, with a searing version of โ€œI lived my life to stand in the shadow of your heartโ€ which is such an awesome track. The whole show was lit from the back and side of the stage and mostly by strobes, it was a brutal to shoot, a lot of the shots I did get were shooting bursts and hoping to get exposure and timing to coincide. I was also shooting wide open and at max ISO so it was never going to be pretty, especially as Dion (bass ) and Oliver (guitar) barely stood still for half a second the whole show.IMG 1693

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I will post some more gig shots in another post.

It was a good night ๐Ÿ™‚