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Chasing Lost Time

  Two years and more have passed since Tom was awarded his PhD, so when his degree ceremony is finally able to take place, it’s a poignant reminder that during the months when our lives were on hold, time did not stand still. Besides me, Tom had chosen our surviving parents to be his guests, but his dad, Ken, is no longer with us, so my stepson - Tom’s younger son - is here in his place and to pick up the lost threads. Lockdown wasn’t kind to either of our parents; it’s my 88-year-old Ma’s first outing in a large crowd and although she’s bursting with pride for Tom and relishing all the people-watching, she’s struggling with physical challenges. Ma, once a head-turning, tall, redhead is severely afflicted by osteoporosis and scoliosis; every step she takes is slow and careful and she’s now so small that whenever we have to move, I have to protect her from all the flying elbows and swinging handbags which threaten to knock her off her feet. Once seated, we can relax and enjoy the occasi
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Spring Forward

Despite my firm belief that running doesn’t have to hurt, I admit that there have been a couple of half marathons when I’ve emptied the tank to the point of feeling sick. I was forced to withdraw from my last Llanelli half marathon with a knee injury. And this year, illness - three weeks of vertigo and sinusitis, then a pulled back muscle - has thrown my training plans into disarray. So, as Tom drops me off for the return of Cardiff Half Marathon, deferred from 2020, I have one aim only; to enjoy every moment of this wonderful occasion. I’m not setting a pace, I don’t have a finish time in mind, I’d simply like to get round and soak up the wonderful atmosphere along the way. It’s a bright but very chilly morning. I walk through the castle grounds and I’m delighted to catch up with the She Runs Cardiff runners and speak to friends there. I meet my dear running buddy Helen and we head to our starting pen where we are amused to be complimented by a young man for still running at our gre

Sailing Kind

Sailing Kind, my new book, has gone out into a different world to the one that was familiar when I last posted a blog. Nothing lasts forever, I wrote then, bad and good times alike. All we can do is find joy in the small moments and make the most of every hour. That’s also the thinking behind Sailing Kind, a book that was lying becalmed in a ‘work in progress’ file until I picked up a fresh breeze and sailed the manuscript into harbour. The book’s about the adventures Tom and I - sometimes, with my daughters - had in our small wooden boat, Veryan . What surprises me is the sheer number of sea miles I’ve clocked up considering I’m horribly seasick - and I still continue to sail. Why? I feel a bit like Roy Batty delivering his ‘Tears in the Rain’ monologue at the end of Blade Runner writing this, but it’s the wonder, the beauty and - occasionally - the acute fear which being at sea in a small boat brings, the extraordinary sights and the sharp sense that life is for living.  Some of t

System Not Responding

  'It doesn’t owe us anything,’ we told each other, when our teenaged tumble drier conked out earlier this year. We said the same about the very cheap and very old toaster which gave up the ghost after many years of faithful service, but we weren’t best pleased when a relatively youthful coffee machine ground to a roaring, spitting halt. When, one by one, the appliances we purchased when we moved here ten years ago - including a couple of big ticket items - mutinied and left us for good, it started to feel personal. But on a brighter note, we’re new best friends with the delivery men from ao.com  as they’re such regular visitors here. Three weeks ago, I was having the time of my life at my ninth Llanelli Half Marathon. I love this challenging course which which leads down to and follows along the scenic waterfront. It was cold, it was wet and a hail storm almost flattened me, but it’s always so exhilarating to be out there in such wild elements. The exceptionally windy conditions,

The Thrill of the Chill

  ‘Let’s buy a paddling pool for the grandchildren this summer,’ we decide. And this is how it begins. Here, on this thinly populated edge of the west Wales coast, we are fortunate to have a large garden which wraps itself around the house so that even a large paddling pool doesn’t make much of an impact on the lawn. We set it up and rather than wait for the grandchildren, who do arrive, and a summer that lasts one week, we try the pool out just to see how it feels.  The water’s unheated so my first few attempts are torture as I ease in millimetre by millimetre whilst Tom - who takes the short sharp plunge approach - shouts, ‘In! In! In!’. I quickly realise that the shock of the cold is almost instantly followed by pure bliss; there’s the silkiness of the water, the novelty of the frog’s eye view of the garden and the sheer silliness of lying in a giant paddling pool which makes us both laugh. I’m not known for my love of the cold - I have Raynaud’s, for a start - so Tom is a bit sur

A Bump in the Night. And Beyond.

  Bedtime. I turn on my side to switch off my bedside light and the underside of my right forearm presses against something solid, something to do with my left breast. Something odd. I lie back and reluctantly prod at my breast. My fingers immediately find a large, solid mass. I explore the other breast, looking for its twin. Nothing. I return to the lump. Still there. Not true, surely?  Tom leans in for a goodnight kiss. Then he sees my face.  ‘What’s up?’ ‘Can you just,’ I ask, lightly, ‘see if you can feel a lump here?’ ‘They’re different,’ he confirms. We lie there in shocked silence. In my case, hoping that the next time I put my fingers to my breast, I won’t be able to find anything. Surely I would have noticed a solid lump sooner? Still there. I spend most of the night awake wondering something or nothing? Typically, with Covid regulations beginning to ease, we’ve made arrangements to catch up with family, but my trip to the GP the next day means these plans will now have to be

Fly Me to the Zoom Book Club

I have to admit to feeling a teeny bit nervous when I’m invited to join She Runs: Cardiff for their Zoom book club to chat to them about my running memoir/guide, Running Kind. This brilliantly supportive women-only social running group based in Cardiff deservedly won the Run Wales Group of the Year in December 2020 for their fantastic efforts to encourage and engage their 1.1k followers. Their lockdown activities, with a strong emphasis on health and well-being, have included virtual couch to 5k, themed runs, monthly challenges and a book club which has attracted great runners, popular authors and now, gulp, me. Zoom’s new to me so my daughters break me in gently with a rousing game of family unicorn bingo. Tom and I wear our unicorn headbands and there are tantrums - bingo cards upturned, a sin-binning - laughter and tears, not least mine when it’s over because it’s both so lovely to see the family and so painful wondering when we’ll see them for real. So I’ve Zoomed, I’ve prepare