Autumn Reflections

Ten years on from running my first Cardiff Half Marathon, race day dawns. It’s still dark as we leave the house to make the two hour drive and it’s bitterly cold. Eventually, pink light tinges the sky, glinting on the frost in the frozen fields but there’s very little wind which suggests perfect racing conditions.

In Cardiff, I kiss Tom goodbye and make my way through the chilly streets where I pass a very well wrapped up Gaby Logan talking to a camera. She’s teeny-tiny, very glam and rather spray-tanned whereas I’m wearing a manky old jumper over my running kit and my white legs are covered in goosebumps! Soon, I’m in my running pen enjoying the camaraderie as we wait for our start. An announcer begins to introduce runners and some wag observes that it’s going to be a long wait if all 25,000 of us are going to be named. And then, we’re off and the 13.1 mile journey begins. My first six miles go really well; the crowds here are always wonderful and I’m buoyed up by the prospect of see…

No One Comes Last

In what feels, at times, like an increasingly troubled and divided world, discovering parkrun has been an utter joy. Although these free, weekly, timed 5k runs - organised entirely by volunteers - have formed an integral part of my half marathon training, I’m no different to anyone taking part for the first time because everyone runs or walks at their own pace. As the event director said at Banstead Woods parkrun, where I was a visitor recently, ‘No one comes last because there’s always a tail walker.’

I’ve always found the running community to be friendly and supportive, but the atmosphere at parkrun is especially uplifting and encouraging. Llanerchaeron, our ‘local’ parkrun (some 15 miles away) attracts participants of all ages from the over fours to the over seventy-fives and everyone is warmly applauded as they cross the finish line. Of course, I always hope to shave a few seconds off my time and achieve a new personal best, but it’s the kindness of the parkrun community, the wor…

Ages of Discovery

I’m walking round our sprawling garden with my daughter Lily talking about our plans for the future when suddenly I find myself falling, falling into goodness knows where. When - covered in grass cuttings and soaking wet - I pick myself up, I’m hooting with laughter but poor Lily’s face is etched with concern. Have I reached the age when I ‘have falls’? On a personal level, I’ve had a pretty rubbish time of it lately with a couple of old health problems coming back to bite me and wretched nights of broken sleep with raging hot flushes (thanks, I’ve exhausted the ‘cures’ but I’m still in danger of spontaneously combusting several times each night). This time, luckily, it’s not my body letting me down but an enormous burrow, partly hidden by vegetation. Bee, our granddaughter, who is also staying with us, goes out with her daddy and grandad to inspect the hole. ‘It was bery deep,’ she confirms. ‘I throwed an apple down it.’ Comforting to know there’ll be something for me to eat if I …

Ten Years On. Cardiff HM 2018

In ten weeks time - barring any disasters - I’ll be taking part in the Cardiff Half Marathon 2018, ten years since I ran my first half marathon which was also in Cardiff. I finished that race in floods of tears and begged everyone never to let me put myself through such a tough challenge ever again. And then I got home and completed the entry for my next half marathon.

Over the last ten years, our family has grown...

My writing dreams came true.

And like everyone else we’ve had the usual share of trials and tribulations.

But running, and racing, has become part of my life; it keeps me sane and keeps me fit. Lacing up a pair of running shoes and getting outside was probably the biggest favour I ever did for myself. Now I’m asking all of you to do a favour for someone else.

My dad would have been thrilled by the additions to the family - adults and babies - but he never got to meet them. He never knew that I became a published author. He wasn’t there to give me a hug and tell me thi…

A New Adventure

As my stepson, Tom, and his bride, Amey, turn for the first time as man and wife to face their guests in the register office, tears spring to my eyes yet again. What is it about such a happy occasion that makes me cry? I’ve already blubbed at the sight of my stepson nervously adjusting his tie as he holds his small daughter and chats to his best man. I’ve wiped away tears at the loving looks the couple exchange as they make their vows and now it’s the first few bars of ‘I know I’ll Never Find Another You’ by The Seekers, a band my dad loved, playing in the background that’s making me weep.

I guess I’m crying because every wedding represents the start of a new adventure in a new world, but it’s also the container of so many memories. We’ve been based with Ma in Epsom since travelling from west Wales and one of the regular runs I do when we stay there takes me up and over Epsom Downs, past three houses where I have lived. As I run past the Victorian house which was home to me and Tom and…

Blooming Marvellous

A trip to Bodnant Gardenin North Wales has been on our wish list since we began to reclaim our overgrown garden. After all, we reason, any plant that can thrive in the foothills of Snowdonia must stand a fair chance of surviving our hilly, windy site overlooking Cardigan Bay. My expectations aren’t high so the admission price makes me draw a sharp breath for what I’m guessing will be a line up of the usual floral suspects, but I very quickly realise what a magical garden Bodnant is. It’s true there are some wonderful and exotic specimen trees and shrubs, but as we wander round looking at some glorious planting I start to feel much more hopeful about what we can achieve in our very ordinary plot (albeit without a team of hard-working gardeners and volunteers). It’s a truly uplifting and inspiring visit and the weather is perfect too.

I’ve found a stonking Travelzoo bargain in the area but when we check into Carden Park Hotel, I’m dismayed to find a noisy conference in full swing just be…

Sailing By

It’s not unusual for me to wear five layers of clothing on the boat as we battle into the wind which always seems to be bang on Blue Nun’s nose so being on the water dressed only in - gasp! - shorts and a vest top is almost unheard of. We leave Neyland marina in glorious sunshine and head down Milford Haven to Longoar Bay where we pick up one of the two vacant visitors moorings. The seagrass beds here are a scarce and protected species, important for their role as fish ‘nurseries’ and in preventing coastal erosion, so anchoring is discouraged and today we have the bay to ourselves. It’s been a long time since we sailed in the Solent, but even then it was almost impossible to find a quiet mooring. In contrast there are no other yachts in sight; it’s just us and this stunning scenery.

After a peaceful night, we potter under sail back up the Haven and along the Cleddau river. It’s a busier afternoon and there are some interesting boats which have gathered for the 2018 Seafair Haven, but…