High-Fiving Palm Trees

Running, and other aspect of my life.

Buster Ivory and The Cyprus 3 on Tour 2014 (part 2)

Having said our goodbyes, I put the next hotel, The Chateau de Maumont into the sat nav and we set off. It was just over 5 hours away which was what I’d anticipated, and with a couple of stops en route to get coffee and walk the dogs I estimated that we’d arrive at 17.00.

At 17.00 we drove up to the chateau! Perfect! Nice and early, time for a G&T, walk the dogs in the grounds and then dinner.

“Sorry, we do not have a reservation in your name. We also do not take dogs”

Not words we wanted to hear.

“I have the reservation on my laptop, I said we had 4 dogs and you said that was OK!”

They double checked but had nothing for us. I went back to the car to get the laptop to show them the confirmation. Searched for Chateau de Maumont and found…nothing!

I refined the search to ‘Chateau’. Bingo! There was my confirmation from the Chateau de Maulmont

Anybody see something different there? Just a little thing???

An ‘l’. But a fairly important ‘l’.

I apologised for the mix up, (I didn’t like it there anyway) and while Mike gave the dogs a bit of a walk I reprogrammed the sat nav.

Swear Words, many swear words, really bad ones!

The Chateau de Maulmont was 235miles, or in practical terms 4 HOURS DRIVE AWAY!

I cannot begin to adequately describe how furious I was, with myself. I hate being wrong, and in this instance there was only one person to blame, and that was ME!

We’d given our credit card for the reservation so if we cancelled that late we’d still have paid for the night’s accommodation, and so we decided to set off for the correct Chateau.

I drove! I was going to fix this. There’s no way I was letting this situation get any further out of my control

I drove in silence.  Seething, berating myself and being absolutely livid, inside my head.

I have to say that Mike was a complete gentleman. He didn’t tell me off, or get furious himself. He just said, “It doesn’t matter if we get there a bit late, I’ll ring ahead and tell them, and ask them to make up a cold meal and a bottle of wine for us to have in our room when we get there.” Why hadn’t I though of that?!

It took about 2 hours of driving before I felt calm enough to make light of the whole thing.

We were heading for the Auvergne. This is a region in Central France which used to be volcanic.

There are volcanoes everywhere if you know what you’re looking at. They actually look like very green hills, although there are one or two which do really look like the sort of volcano a child would draw.

There’s even a volcano theme park, Vulcania! www.vulcania.com/en

As I drove up and down lots of hills, I thought that the car was struggling a bit. I put it down to the load; this trip was the first journey we’d made with the roofbox so we were getting used to the drag and I just thought that was making a difference.   Going uphill it did seem to lose quite a lot of power, but I decided to ignore that and stop worrying. I was going to get us to the correct chateau if it killed me!!

I finally admitted defeat after 3 hours when we stopped to let the dogs have a walk and I let Mike do the last hour of the drive.

I sat back and checked my emails, and received an absolutely extraordinary piece of news, so extraordinary in fact that I’m keeping it to myself at the moment until I’ve decided what to do about it.

All I’ll say is that it’s about running.

It was getting dark and we were about 40 miles from our destination when 4 warning lights on the dashboard came on simultaneously.

One was the general engine light which could have meant anything, one was something to do with anti-slip, and the other two didn’t feature in the manual at all.

We decided not to stop in case we couldn’t start again, so as Mike drove on I Googled the other lights. It transpired that the particular combination of 4 lights that we had triggered could basically mean anything from “Stop the car immediately, get out and stand at a safe distance while calling the fire-brigade”, to “Ignore it all, it’s a meaningless error message which even Toyota do not understand.”

We soldiered on, we were about 29 miles away by now. The tension in the car was, let’s just say, high.

Watching the miles count down, I thought “Only 5 miles away, we can walk it from here if we have to.” Then I thought, “No we bloody well can’t, in the pitch darkness, with 4 mad dogs. We don’t even know the way. The only way we can get there is with the SatNav guiding us.”

I briefly fantasisted about harnessing the dogs to the front of the car, sitting up on the roof-box, and riding it chariot-style to our destination with the SatNav issuing its orders from below.

Even one mile away was a great distance under the circumstances and so I was greatly relieved when we “reached our destination” at about 10.00 p.m.

Driving up to the Chateau, I was so disappointed that it wasn’t daylight. The place looked amazing.

We parked out front and went in to announce ourselves. The owner is actually English, his wife Scandinavian, but brought up in England. He couldn’t have been more welcoming. Our first priority was to get the dogs out of the car, let them stretch their legs and get them into the room.

It was pretty chaotic. They were v excited to be on the move and to see where they were. We’d been upgraded to a courtyard suite, which was fab. We had to go through the reception area out the other side to the courtyard of the hotel, where the remains of the original building that was a 13th Century Knights Templar stronghold, were preserved.

Our room must have been the original kitchen as it had a huge fireplace with a roasting spit large enough for an ox, and a big brick bread oven.


Shutting me and the dogs in the room, Mike and Ian, the owner went to get our luggage. After they’d returned, I realised that they’d left a few things in the car, so I told Mike I’d go and get them.

He said we’d all go and that Buster, Toby and Molly didn’t need leads. Well this might have worked had we not encountered a family with children just as we reached reception.

Four Fluffy white dogs and two children in the dark make for quite a lot of chaos. Dogs everywhere, children everywhere. French people talking at us about the dogs. “Ooh les mignons, les mignons. Je les adore.”   “Je suis en amor.”   Etc etc.

Rather than disrupt the whole place I suggested to Mike that he go back to the room with the dogs and let me sort out what I wanted from the car on my own.

At this point things took yet another turn for the worse.

Mike took Bella’s’ lead and half turned to go back to the room. He had not noticed that he was at the top of 4 stone steps that lead down into the courtyard and so he failed to step down them, instead taking the faster option of falling.

British Army training being what it is, and once learned never forgotten, he twisted in mid-air like a dropped cat, and attempted a Commando-style shoulder-roll to standing.

Attempted but not achieved, and as he landed on his nose on the flagstones I was surprised how many thoughts flashed through my mind in a mere millisecond.

I am ashamed to admit that one of the first was “What the hell am I going to do, in the centre of France, with a broken-down car, 4 dogs and the mangled corpse of my husband?”

That was immediately followed by “I wonder, if I get him vacuumed-packed, will I be able to fit him in the roof-box?”

Happily these thoughts were banished by the voluble swearing rising from the courtyard, and as the French family went very quiet and rapidly dissolved into the darkness, I stepped down, grabbed Bella’s lead, and picked up Mike’s glasses, while he picked himself up and checked for breakages, blood pouring from his nose.

Anyone who takes Warfarin will know the dramatic effect it can add to even the most minor of injuries and as the blood gushed, it was difficult to see exactly what he had done. Fortunately once we’d overcome the bleeding with a lot of tissues, we could see that in fact he’d just grazed his nose. I’m not saying that was a minor injury, it looked like he’d rubbed it on a nutmeg grater, but it wasn’t broken and neither was anything else.   Over the next few days various aches and pains came out but nothing serious.

By the time I returned to the room our meal had arrived and it was perfect; cheese, French bread, smoked salmon, salad, pate, sausage, wine, and petits fours.

Dogs fed, us fed, time for bed!

In the morning we got to see the place in daylight and it really was quite spectacular. Mike took the dogs out for a walk and found 3 large Carp lakes from another of the chateau’s previous lives, as a Royal Hunting Lodge, although now apparently they only hold Catfish.


Door to our room


Carp Lake


We had a lovely breakfast in the Great Hall, which had wood panelling and a vaulted ceiling, then rather regretfully packed up and headed for the local Toyota Dealership which Ian had phoned and warned of our arrival.

While we were checking out, I told Maartje, Ian’s wife about what had happened the previous evening with the Chateau Maumont/Maulmont mix-up. She was absolutely astounded as she had no idea that there was another place with such a similar name. At least she knows now that if someone turns up who thinks they’ve booked but haven’t, they should probably be 4 hours away the other side of Limoges.


Chateau de Maulmont, in the Auvergne,
NOT the Chateau de Maumont in Poitou Charentes


Driving into Vichy, we located the Toyota dealership who were as helpful as can be, and even found the warranty details on their system.  They took the car away for about an hour and it came back fixed!  We and dogs sat in the showroom, putting potential Toyota buyers off as every time someone strolled past lost in a world of paint colours and optional extras, Miss Molly suddenly barked at the top of her voice sending the pauvre French person two feet off the ground, and running for the door.


Waiting at the Toyota Dealership for the car to be fixed.


On leaving the dealership, I VERY CAREFULLY loaded our next destination.  Again approximately 5 hours driving time away…..or was it???

To be continued in Part 3…


End of Juneathon NOT a TOTAL fail !

Sooooooo.  I’ve just noticed that I haven’t blogged Juneathon since 7th June.  OK Fail at the blogging part of it this year……BUT……..SUCCESS at the exercising!!!!!! YES YES YES!!!!

I actually did something EVERY single DAY!

Because I’m doing Julia Buckley’s 12 week Fatbusting Course which I am sticking to rigorously, I have had to exercise nearly every day (we do get rest days) and because of Juneathon I’ve even done a little something on the Fatbusting rest days.  How about that then!!!

I am definitely stronger now than when I started, I can even manage a few proper press-ups, which I’ve NEVER been able to do in my life.

We’re entering Phase 3 of the fatbusting today.  One of the sessions is called “Belly Shred”  What??????!!!!

I also managed to do a couple of runs.  My Hamstring injury has completely healed up and my Achilles seems OK, but I”m not pushing it, so just doing short runs 5k, and building up again.


Earlier this month I took my Mum on a cupcake decorating day.  We went to the lovely Victoria Gadsdon’s house in Woking and did the Vintage Cupcakes Class. I’ve previously been to another of Victoria’s classes at her other location in Norwich, where I learned Cupcake Decorating for Beginners.

Both classes are a delight.  They’re completely about decorating and technique and I have learned SO much from them.

Mum thoroughly enjoyed herself, and Victoria seemed to take a bit of a shine to her (Teacher’s Pet!) because Mum reminded Victoria of Mary Berry.

Here are some pics of the cakes I did.










Crabs and Seagulls

The fat-busting continues.  I have religiously done all the prescribed workouts, and I AM getting better at them.  Some exercises continue to defeat me though.

Back extensions:  To do these you lie face down on the floor and then either lift your arms and chest off the ground or lift your legs off the ground.   Well I can barely move.  You try it!

In her instructional video Julia Buckley bows her back upwards in an alarming and unnatural fashion, and one’s first thought is “Phone an Exorcist, the woman’s been possessed!”

If however, anyone walked in on me attempting these moves they’d be more likely to think that I’d overdone the exercise, collapsed and was lying on the floor just twitching.  Their first thought would be “Paramedic!” rather than Paranormal.

I’ve been quite alarmed at my lack of bendiness, and so I decided to try to do a ‘Crab’.  Not being a follower of the Kama Sutra, this is a position my body has not been in since I was about 10 years old.

As I recalled, I used to lie on my back, feet on floor, and hands on floor behind my head and…… LIFT.  Nothing! No movement.  My spindly arms do not have the strength to lift my upper body. Something needs to be done.

To this end, we also use weights.  I started with 2kg dumbbells which was difficult, but 2 weeks in I was proud to move up to 2.5kg dumbbells.  I was devastated then to read a query on our secret Facebook page from another participant who is currently lifting 12.5 kg and needs a heavier set of weights because that’s too easy!

So, I have another goal.

By the end of this torture programme, my back needs to be bendy enough, and my arms strong enough to do a Crab!

In the meantime and on the very positive side, I’ve lost half an inch from my bust, my waist and my hips since I started, and although I haven’t lost much weight, that’s fine because I’m building muscle instead.  Even I can see that I look slimmer round the middle, the muffin top is shrinking which is excellent, I really hate that bit!!

Last week, I went to Brighton with Mum and her Ladies Lunch Club.  We went on a Coach!  I have only been to Brighton once about 20 years ago, so I was looking forward to the trip.

After we arrived Mum and I went on the Brighton Ferris Wheel.  It was a lovely sunny day and we could see for miles and there was an interesting commentary giving facts about Brighton.  So, after finding out all we needed to know, we set off for a spot of shopping.

Something a visitor needs to know about Brighton which was not mentioned on the commentary is that along the pavement part of the promenade, between the sea wall, and the road, there is a painted-on bike lane.

Reasonably, the cyclists whizz up and down this as they’re allowed to do and stay safe from the traffic.

However, if you are a pedestrian and new to Brighton, and you are walking down the Prom on the pavement looking around you and at the sea, you do not know or see the painted cycle lane and so you innocently step onto it, in front of a cyclist on a racing bike sprinting down the Prom.  If you are lucky like my mother, you have your darling daughter at your side, who yanks you out of harm’s way with a whisker to spare.  If you are not, there must be accidents daily.  It is not well thought out.

Another thing that visitors to Brighton need to know is that it is wise to always carry and use an umbrella even on the sunniest of days.

As we were crossing the main road, at a Pelican crossing something that must have been the size of a flaming Pelican pooped on me from out of the sky!!! My audience was three lanes of static traffic.

People say it is lucky if a bird poops on you. Idiots!

The only lucky thing about this was that I was wearing a leather jacket and I had wet wipes in my bag.

Poor Mum was given the task of wiping me down whilst I demanded that she check scrupulously that nothing had gone in my hair.

After this we finally hit the shops! Brighton has good shops.  They also have a little area called The Lanes, which does actually comprise lots of little lanes with tiny boutiques and cafes.  It’s not quite as quaint as I remember, but we found a fab little seafood restaurant for a snack as we hadn’t had breakfast and treated ourselves to Avocado with Prawns – Mum, and Crab – me, and of course a glass of crisp white wine to recover from the Pelican incident.   (Someone said it might have been a Seagull, but a Seagull must be entirely filled with poop to pour that much out of the sky!)

Looking at the shops, many of them were second-hand jewellery shops.  I have a particular aversion to second-hand jewellery.

To my mind, there can only be 5 reasons why jewellery has been sold and none of them are good.

1)   A broken engagement

2)   Divorce

3)   Death

4)   Someone is in such a bad way financially that they have to sell their jewellery because they need the money

5)   It’s been stolen.

So as far as I’m concerned, unless it’s been passed down in the family. second-hand jewellery comes with bad luck and I don’t want any of it.

We did find a fab Kitchen gadgets shop called Steamer and spent probably an hour in there browsing the gadgets and yes, buying stuff we didn’t know we needed.  I have secretly assimilated it into my kitchen at home without Mike noticing and giving me the “For Christ’s sake haven’t you got enough crap?” lecture.

We also found a super dress shop called Dollydagger selling retro 50’s dresses. They had the most beautiful red polka dot dress in the window which I don’t think I could get away with, but was a very cheery thing to see.

Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel finished the afternoon before we got on the coach for home.

An added bonus was that there were so many roadworks on the M25 on the way down, that the coach driver decided to go the other way round on the way back so we had a complete tour of the M25 thrown in for free. What Luck!

Slightly less lucky was that the junction for the M1 was closed due to an accident and the air ambulance being called.

I discovered later that this was because the idiot known as George Michael had fallen out of the passenger door of the car that he was travelling in and landed in the middle lane of the motorway in rush hour traffic.

How do you do that??????

I’m typing this on the plane on the way down to Alicante.  (No, not online)  We’ve left Buster at home with Frances his dog-sitter and are taking another week or so in the sun and to try to deal with our increasingly irritating, business interests in Spain.

As I’m typing this we’re actually just going over the Pyrenees.  It’s quite fascinating to see the weather down below change from one side of the mountains to the other.  It was cloudy down below when we were over France, now I can see down to the snow-capped mountains and looking ahead into Spain it’s just plain clear blue sky!





Yesterday was fab.  I absolutely loved marshalling at the Marathon. Unusually for a Bank Holiday Monday the weather was very warm and sunny, even at 08.00 when we had to meet up to be issued with our equipment and our positions on the course.

This was in complete contrast with last year’s race when it rained so much that parts of the course were flooded, it also snowed, and people were being taken off the course with hypothermia.

I was stationed relatively early in the race at 8.75 miles, but as the runners started to come past red-faced and drenched in sweat it was clear to see that hypothermia was not going to be a problem this year; no-one was going to have an easy time of it for completely the opposite reason.  The lead runner came past me at about 55 mins and was way ahead of the pack and did in fact win the race.  The last girl to pass me was  at about 2hrs 10 minutes but was still gamely pushing on.  In a field of nearly 2200 runners, there were over 100 DNFs and I should imagine that a lot of them were due to the warm weather.

Look out for Milton Keynes Marathon Day next year, there’ll probably be a plague of locusts.

Everybody was so good-natured.  Lots of runners actually bothered to gasp out “Thank you marshall.” which I thought was exceptionally nice of them as I was just standing there clapping, they were doing all the hard work.

I’ll definitely volunteer again.

So…The fat-busting!

That started yesterday as well.  When I arrived home, Mike was in the garden lying in the sun with a beer.  it was v. tempting to just join him, but instead, I headed up to the spare room which I have commandeered as my temporary workout area and did the first workout of the course.  It was an upper body workout with weights.

My arms are really my weakest thing, they’re like cooked spaghetti, so I just started with 2kg weights. Julia stresses that the workouts are supposed to be difficult and if they’re not then you should be doing more. At first, I thought I’d chosen weights that were a little too easy, but by the end of the session my arms were shaking and I couldn’t hold anything.

(Fortunately, by the time I’d got changed and went down to the garden, i was able to clutch hold of a glass of Prosecco without spilling a drop!)

We also had to do ab crunches which I can usually do quite easily, but today I can really notice the ache, which is I think because I actually concentrated on what I was doing instead of just knocking out as many crunches as possible, I made each one count.

Buster enjoyed doing the workout with me.  I had to hold a particular pose which involved my arm being stretched out  in front of me at dog height, so after high-fiving me a couple of times,  he helpfully positioned himself under my hand in order that I could fuss him while I worked.

He rolled around on his back while I was doing the crunches, didn’t really get the hang of the proper exercise, but showed willing.

My arms seemed OK this morning until I started to do the ironing, by the time I’d finished the pile It felt like I’d done a whole new workout.

Furnace…… That was today’s workout, which is short sharp bursts of intense exercise  interspersed with rest periods. I did it on the treadmill, which is in the conservatory, which was already like a furnace before I started.    After opening all the doors to let some air in, I did the workout and it was actually good to be running again and listening to my running music.

Achilles was fine doing the running so I’m going to do some proper stretches on it now and see if I can keep it at bay.

I haven’t looked to see what tomorrow’s torture  workout session consists of.  I think I’ll leave it as a lovely surprise…..IMG_5390


Don’t ask me why…..

I have a busy day tomorrow.  

Firstly, I am going to be a marshall at the Milton Keynes Marathon. This will be my first experience of marshalling.  

I get a t-shirt and a hi-vis jacket, plus a baguette a bottle of water, and a recyclable bag!

A (t)wit (you know who you are xxx)  asked if as a marshall I get a gun!  I would quite like to have had a gun.  It would certainly motivate some of the slower runners to up their game, but no, no guns are being issued tomorrow.

I have to report at 08.00 to be allocated my position.  All know at the moment it that it will be somewhere between miles 1 and 9.  I’d really like to have been somewhere in the last few miles where runners need lots of support and encouragement, but as tomorrow is predicted to be the warmest day of the year so far, I think they’ll need cheers and claps all the way round. 

The race starts at 10.00 and I’m really looking forward to being on the other side of the fence and helping rather than running.

The other thing I’m doing tomorrow is starting a 12 week fat busting course!!!

Before everyone starts, I know that I’m not the fattest person in the world, but I’m doing this so I don’t BECOME the fattest person in the world! 

Underneath the clothes there is a layer of flab that is not pretty and I want it gone. I’m dress size 12, and I want to be 10. 

I haven’t been able to run much since Christmas when I mucked my Achilles tendon up in a shopping-related incident, and the tone that I had has disappeared under what I think of as a layer of Pork Belly! My jeans are all uncomfortably tight, and Summer is nearly upon us.

OK I’m 52, but frankly I’m just not prepared to give in and go middle-aged. I still want to have the choice of buying my clothes in Top-Shop and Jane Norman, as well as John Lewis and House of Fraser.

I WILL still wear bikinis and not one-piece swimsuits. 

If this means a bit of hard work, then so what?  I trained for and ran a MARATHON!  I can do ANYTHING!!!

(Am I convincing you yet? Am I convincing myself…..?) 

Yesterday I had to have a set of “before” pictures taken, wearing a bikini.  It is a shocking sight.  You can see the outline of where my body ought to be, but shrouded in a coat of lard.  As the coat does not have buttons or a zip, the only way of taking it off is going to be melting it with hard work and exercise.

I’m not doing it on my own.  I have signed up with Julia Buckley for her 12-week fitness programme. 

So far it looks great.  We have our own secret Facebook page that no-one else is allowed on, where all the people who have done the course before are being very helpful and encouraging. Julia has set us all up with private Dropbox folders where she has put the instructions for everything that we have to do, and where we have to upload our ‘before pictures’. I’m v. enthusiastic about all the Facebooking and Admin. One small problem will be the actual exercising…….





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I’m Garmin to get you Tom Tom

OK That was a really bad title.

I’d like some advice though.  I’ve lost my Garmin 610.  Completely.

I haven’t run for ages due to a niggling achilles, and the last time I did go out, in February, was only a couple of miles to see if it would hurt or not.  It did hurt, a lot, because I slipped over.

I was running around the park near where I grew up in Luton.  In the park is a museum, and other interesting relics of  ‘Old Luton’.  One of these is a Donkey Wheel. It’s in a shed, and you can’t get in you can only look at it.  I only went to look at it because it used to be a ritual that we always did whenever we went to the park as children.

I was running along the tarmac paths, then I swerved over to look in at the donkey wheel, and ran onto the flagstones outside the shed.  The flagstones were covered in invisible slime and I just went flying, at top speed.  I landed on my side and sort of bounced straight up again, looking around furtively and embarrassed, to see if anyone had noticed.

When I realised that no-one had, I had a little sniffle to myself because it had REALLY HURT!!!!!

I was decorated in slime all the way down one side and I was shaking.

Ran back to the car, wiped off the slime as much as possible and drove home.

I don’t really remember it properly, I think I was actually quite shaken up.

I haven’t seen my Garmin since.

When I come in from a run, I ALWAYS put it next to the laptop so I can download my run onto the website. (No fun running unless you have lots of statistics to mull over) but it’s not there and it’s nowhere else in the house either.

After a few weeks of searching I’ve put in an insurance claim and should get most of the cost of the watch back quite soon.

SO, the advice I’m after is.  Should I replace my Garmin Forefunner 610 with the same thing, (maybe in the new more girly White Limited Edition) or shall I wait for a month or two until the new TOMTOM Runner is released. ?

What I really like about the Garmin 610 is the vibrate alert so you don’t have to listen out for beeps.

What I have not liked about it is that the display is sometimes quite hard to read as you’re going along.


forerunner-610 HEADER_1_v2[1]_1



Hoorah!!!  Got up this morning and just decided to get it over with, so I put on my running gear before anything else.  Then I pottered about for a while until I really felt like doing something else which I wasn’t allowed to do until I’d been running and off I set!

5.51k along the riverbank.  Lovely weather sun shining excellent tunes being shuffled on my Running Playlist. It was a breeze!

Tunes that I listened to

Mr. Blue Sky – ELO

Wake up Boo – Boo Radleys

Come on Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Shang-a-Lang – Bay City Rollers

Bat out of Hell – Meatloaf

I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas

I Knew the Bride – Dave Edmunds

Hey Baby – Bruce Channel  (just the right time for something a little slower)

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen.

Finished off with a quick burst of AudioFuel to get me back to the car!

Arrived home, husband and dog out, so decided to go in the hot tub to ease any aches and pains. Lovely and relaxing. (Well we are on holiday)

Then decided to be be healthy and take plunge in freezing swimming pool. Walked down the steps to mid thigh.  Told myself to imagine that I was in a Spa.  I was talking out loud to myself at this point as I felt my legs begin to turn blue.  “You’re at Champneys, you wouldn’t scream if you were at Champneys, you’d be a grown-up and brave and sophisticated. Aaaaaand PLUNGE!! SWEAR WORDS SWEAR WORDS SWEAR WORDS, MANY MANY SWEAR WORDS. Aaaaannndddd OUT!

Bring on Day 5!