Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Adventures in Exercise

If anyone wonders, I’m still doing long runs – or rather, doing them again. When we got back from Australia I picked up my route up the coast where I’d left off in Blyth. I have to say that the next few runs weren’t particularly photogenic. In fact, some of it was quite ugly. Cambois beach is nice enough, though my main impression was that if I ever wanted to collect sea-smoothed rocks, this was the place. Unfortunately the rest of that run was down Dog Poo Lane and along a public footpath along a tall spiked fence with frequent threats to parents that any child en caught trespassing would be hung by their little toes, which is fair enough. The only attractive place I saw was a wooded area and I got so engrossed looking through the trees that I turned my ankle in a pothole. You can keep Cambois as far as I’m concerned.

The next week, I started at the bottom of the beach at Newbiggin-by-the-sea. That beach was also pleasant enough, though it wasn’t rocks but a whole new wardrobe one could collect there. I resisted the temptation for once and left the wet, sand encrusted articles. I stopped a man and his grandson to ask where was the library, as it would have a public toilet. He pointed to the loo I’d just passed, but I said I didn’t have any coins with me. He explained where I’d find the library, but while doing so fished a 20p coin out of his pocket and handed it to me. I thanked him profusely and thought he was setting a fine example for his grandson.

Once around the point at the top of the beach, I found a muddy trail that went past a “caravan” site on which I had to trespass to get past the ‘dangerous cliff’ area. (That’s “mobile home” in American, and they are generally located at seaside locations for use as vacation homes). For a mile or so beyond that I ran between a huge golf course and the cliffs over looking the sea. It didn’t look like a good idea to climb down the rocks to the beach, so I just kept going. Already I wasn't really keen to come back the way I'd come. I could see some sort of industrial site ahead and hoped the trail ended up in a nice friendly car park. No such luck. Instead I found myself behind another tall spiked fence, this one belonging to Alcan’s power station at Lynemouth. Fortunately, I managed to squeeze out between the gatepost and some big uneven blocks and escape out onto the road, thinking this wasn't a very dignified thing to do at my age. From there it was pleasant enough, if you like paths along the highway, which I did after what I’d been through.

The next week I was determined to stay on a recognizable road. I started at the south end of Lynemouth village, just beyond the power station, and ran north towards Cresswell, except that the road first went south and then curved around. Fine by me. I ran past fields full of horses, with glimpses of the sea between dunes.

Once into Cresswell village, I was seduced by the beach and it was gorgeous, with only one other person – and their dog – on the whole stretch that was visible. Sadly, I’ve watched too many scary movies and so I decided to leave the beach before I got down to the end where the other person was. There was no pavement and the road was only a two lanes so I ran facing the traffic and stepped onto the lumpy verge as the odd car passed. I passed a couple of road-side campers, a bird-watcher with binoculars and a sign warning that cows with calves could be aggressive.

As my hour out was finishing, I set my sights on a small house at the top of the next hill. It turned out to be only a stone hut with a chimney. It was possibly something to do with lambing season, though I didn’t see any sheep around. I still had another minute or two to go, and it turned out the next marker I could find was a big farming complex with a sign outside, which was good. It would be useful to track where I went on a map and measure the paltry distance I covered.

I turned around at the farm house which is also Calico Barn, open Tuesday through Saturday to sell quilting and patchwork supplies. The Cresswell area is pretty enough I wouldn’t mind driving up there sometime to see what they have and snapping a few pictures for you. In the meantime, we’ll just have to settle for the links I’ve found. On the way back I passed a field of cows, but with no calves in sight. The ones near the fence all seemed to take notice when I passed and one was particularly nervous. Having read the sign I was, too; I’m not sure which one of us jumped sideways the furthest.

Our neighbours across the street have a King Charles springer spaniel who isn’t really as old as he acts. When he is headed home from his walk, he could star in a dog food commercial, he runs so happily and carefree. Heading out is another matter. I’ve seen him sit on his fat rear and make the grandmother drag him down the street, he’s so lazy. I know just how he feels. I made it back to the car 14 minutes short of my two hours. However, years ago when I was training regularly with Bob, I learned that if you say you are going to do 2 hours, nothing less will really do. So, I trudged past my car through Lynemouth village long enough to turn around and end up at the car at 2 hours.

I just managed the drive home. The heating hadn’t come on in the house yet, so I had no choice but to hop right away into the shower. I was so trashed, that run was the only useful thing I did all day.

(Note: apologies to anyone who thought today was Pat's birthday. I scheduled it on the wrong date. He'll have to wait another couple of days to be yet another year older...)


Anonymous said...

You have a lot of sites to see as you run. Don't know I would be as brave as you and go out that far on my own. Saw a windmill in one of the pictures. Do you have many wind farms in England. We living in a windy area have a bunch and they are cropping up all over the country.

Shelley said...

I usually have a sense of how safe an area is; there are certainly places I wouldn't consider on my own or after dark. I think given that I'm out exercising your average mugger might look for a less fit target. Also, there are some real benefits to aging -- you become invisible!

There are an increasing number of wind farms here. A person can fuel their own homes and feed excess power into a national grid and get either money or credit, not sure which. I never heard about a national or even state 'grid' re: power supplies in the US. Not sure there is one.

I think the huge windmills in the farms are majestic. Not sure I'd like to live next door to one, though, I understand they are noisy. (How's that for classic NIMBY?)