Sunday, 30 March 2008

Running around Bancroft - photo blog

Inspired by RLSoccerMom over at forum, I finally got my finger out and took some photos while out for a run...

This is my house and where the run started from. It was an unusually sunny Sunday lunchtime and I didn't have plans to run but it was so nice out that I thought - why not?

The run took me mainly along the redways which are the pride and joy of Milton Keynes: cycle or walk ways (some are even red!) that criss-cross the entire city. It is possible to get from anywhere to anywhere on these routes and sometimes you don't see any cars! This is the redway that goes along the front of my house and where I started first with a brisk walk to warm up.

Not long after I started I got to one of the infamous overpasses in MK. They can be a little scary at night but they keep walkers and cars separate so I don't mind them much.

Milton Keynes is pretty flat so this is one of the few 'hills' I have to negotiate on the route. It is hard to tell from the photo but the end of it can be quite steep. It takes me around 30 seconds to blast up this hill and around a minute to jog down. I do this a few times to complete the warmup.

I then ran up towards Bradwell Mill...
... and took this photo on the way down, with the Mill behind me. The bridge you can see is the Grand Union Canal which goes over a road (the V6 if you must know). Next to it (but not in the photo) is another bridge for pedestrians that goes over the V6 and on this bridge I've had the best running experience ever - probably the closest I've ever been to the runners' high. I had great music on and felt on top of the world while going over the bridge. Not today though, this was just an easy jog. It was a pretty day out and by now there were quite a few people out in their bikes or walking. I was even starting to sweat.
This redway used to be a railway line so it's a long, straight path. I've run down it before but not today - at least not in this direction!

I decided to take the canal bridge rather than the pedestrian bridge today, as it was so pretty out, so here is the canal...
... and this is what the canal behind me looks like.

I followed the canal for a bit and then cut into the old railway run, in the direction of Wolverton. It's generally a long straight run with trees all around (and mud). It's pretty quiet here so I usually do crazy things like sprint or skip or anything else I don't dare to do while others may see me. I followed it until the road bears left and onto a residential area.

Hey - my self-timer works! It took me only two shots to get this one of me running along the redway in Blue Bridge. I was getting a little warm in my jacket by now but it was a breezy so I was glad I was wearing it whenever I ducked into shade.

This is downhill now - notice just how muddy it all is and how green the grass is from all the rain. The sky is blue but don't let that deceive you, it was fairly cool out there.

Eventually I arrive at Bancroft Park and here it is in all it's glory - can you see the patch of daffodils on the left hand side?

Bancroft Park holds the remains of an ancient Roman villa and I love running past and imagining what this house would have looked like way back when... It's also slightly downhill at this point so it's a nice break.

Here I am running (well, pretending to run!) across the bridge from Bancroft Park and into Bancroft proper. The little stream below the bridge is pretty high from all the rain and there is quite a bit of flooding around. Good job the bridge is pretty wide.

Here is the redway as it follows the little stream in Bancroft park. It is lovely out by now and I had some great music on so I was truly pounding the ground and enjoying the run.

Milton Keynes's most famous inhabitants - the Concrete Cows! They are the butt of many jokes about MK but most people here are quite proud of them. I like living near them and keep an eye on the cows, because they have been vandalized quite a bit. But here they are, looking quite peaceful in their field. I say goodbye to the cows and move on... take on the last 'hill' before I get home. It may not be very steep but it's quite long and is a takes a good effort to get to the top.

The street where I live! All those trees will be covered with cherry blossom in the next month or so and it looks so lovely then. As it is now the trees look a bit sad but I can see my house from here!

Made it back! A good stretch before going in for a shower and a well-earned chocolate milk. After measuring the distance on MapMyRun I work out that this loop was just short of 5k, which was very easy and pleasant. It's so nice to be running outside again and hopefully the spring is on it's way...

Hope you enjoyed my little tour of my neighborhood! I didn't go very far at all from my house, the run is like two loops one inside of the other. I'll do some more photos next time I do a different route!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Later that day I got to thinking…

Is it just me or does everyone think about Carrie in Sex and the City when they hear (or write) those words? Gosh, how long has it been that this finished? I sure do miss it!

Fortunately it’s been running almost constantly on cable and I’ve been able to catch some of the earlier episodes that I missed in the original run and of course I’ve been also able to watch the whole series all the way to the end… and in true Carrie style, it made me think about why do I miss this show quite this much?

For lots of people it was about the clothes or the “adult situations” but I think that for me it was always about friends. We all have (or should have) friends that have been with us through it all, through the good days and good times, friends that told us when we were wearing the wrong thing or dating the wrong man, friends that you could count on to minutely dissect every little aspect of your love life and give an opinion. I certainly have friends like that, and they know me SO well! They also happen to live an ocean away and I sure do miss them.

So watching SATC is a little like remembering the good times with my friends, when we could just meet for lunch and chat about nothing and everything and have a great time. I do have friends here of course, but somehow it isn’t the same – these people here know me as an adult and the shared experiences we have are much more sedate… whether that is because people in the UK are generally less emotional than people in Mexico will be the subject of a future blog post! The net result is that most of my friends in the UK have never seen me drunk, have never seen me smoke and have certainly never seen me going out with the wrong guy. I’m actually probably quite boring for them.

On the other hand, my friends back home have some great stories on me and if any of them wanted to totally embarrass me they could easily do so (it’s not an invitation by the way, ok ladies?) They have seen me at my worst and my best and it’s strengthened our bonds. It also means that if I ever become famous they could probably all become quite rich by selling their “kiss and tell” stories! But I love them all dearly and wouldn’t change anything.

I’m actually quite looking forward to the SATC movie coming out this summer. Not only will it be a chance to catch up with some of my favourite TV characters but it’s also a chance to, once again, remember what it was like when I lived near my best friends.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

I think he's a future engineer...

Today is Easter Sunday and of course everything is closed, which means it can be hard work to entertain a 4-year-old when the weather is not very nice. So I suggested to my little boy that maybe we could take a drive around town while he took photographs of things he thought were interesting... here's a sample of his photos.

Have you noticed the common thread running through all these photos? The boy REALLY likes street lights! Why? I really have no idea - he's been obsessed with them for so long that we think it's weird when little boys don't like street lights. Not only does he like looking at them, he will notice the ones that are different, the ones that are broken or the ones that changed from the last time he saw them... and believe me, you have never noticed just HOW many different types of street lights there are in the world until you've taken a drive with my son in the car.

Friday, 14 March 2008


While it’s not exactly super obscure, not many people outside of Disney fans have truly heard “Destiny”, one of those pop songs that feature in Epcot. I think it’s the theme tune to Mission:Space which I can’t really figure out (why does a ride need a theme tune?) but in any case it really is a truly lovely song.

I know it mainly because it’s included in The Official Album of Walt Disney World which I own and do listen to a lot (I’m telling you, I really DO like obscure theme park music!) I've never actually heard it in the parks, at least not that I remember. I believe it's played in the exit corridor of the attraction which must be grating to the cast there, if it's true! In any case, there is just something about this girl’s voice though, that makes the lyrics seem especially inspiring:

…Destiny begins with you and me
Through all space and time

The achievement of mankind
As we sail the sea
Of discovery

On heroes' wings we fly

Flying high we're soaring to tomorrow
Reaching out the future's in our hands
The journey starts, the adventure never-ending
The new frontier we face is the mystery of space…

The singer’s name is Louise Warren. I don’t know anything else about her other than this song but isn’t it nice that Disney now release the names of artists? I remember a time when not only music but some books would be simply credited “The Walt Disney co” and not recognize the talents of individuals that contributed.

Anyway, it’s just a lovely song and a good example of the kinds of songs I like to "collect".

Thursday, 13 March 2008


There are too many things in me that I don't like (physically) but I do love my feet!

Aren't they cute??

(photo taken in Ft Myers Beach, Florida, to remind me of just how wonderful it is to sit in such cool sand on a sunny day and just let life pass me by...)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Some may call it planning...

I’m pretty much finished on the marathon album I was working on – I just need a page or two at the end as a conclusion but I’m waiting on a couple of photos before I can put these together. So I should be able to pretty much move on to the next project, right?

Well, I thought so but I’d been kinda procrastinating about starting on the main Florida vacation album and last weekend it suddenly hit me. I have been reluctant to start because I hadn’t yet “planned” it.

Now, don’t be scared – I am definitely not one of those scrappers that plans an entire album before starting, lovingly crafting sketches and putting together materials lists and color themes. No, it’s nothing like that. My planning mainly consists of putting stuff all together in one box.

Before I start on any large project (ie, a vacation album) I like to know that I have the things I need to hand. I also know that at some point I will be taking the lot down with me to some crop, so it needs to be available to grab in the 5 minutes I usually have to prepare for crops. I also like to narrow my stash down to a few sensible choices so that I don’t have to wade through all my cardstock every time I create a new layout for the album. I also want to keep all those brochures and tickets and leaflets and flyers and other papers that I collected, and make sure that I don’t forget I have them.

So my solution is to stick all the stuff I think I’ll need in one box (sometimes it takes two boxes). I can then select the cardstock, the papers (usually I get a whole collection, it’s easier that way), stickers, stamps, embellishments and whatever else may be useful and stuff it all in the box.

Voila – I’ve now planned my album.

While it doesn’t feel as organized as those that can draw sketches for all the pages in their planned album, it is still pretty organized. In effect I’ve made all the same decisions, I just didn’t call it “selecting a scheme” rather “narrowing down my choices”. So whenever I get a minute or two I can drag the box out, quickly put together a bunch of layouts and then tidy the lot back up when I’m done. No problem.

I didn’t consciously do this as a way of planning but more of a way of narrowing my choices and making the process a bit quicker. It served a more practical purpose but in the end I’ve discovered that it also makes the creative process flow better and ensures a more cohesive album. In effect I’ve made my own “kit” where it all goes and I can just grab something and plonk it on a page and it goes, no thinking required.

I hadn’t done any of this for my Florida album and that is why I just couldn’t start – I hadn’t made all those design choices (ie, stuff things in my box) and subconsciously I wasn’t ready to start. So last weekend I grabbed an empty box, stuffed a load of papers and cardstock and whatnot in it, threw the photos in and guess what?

Last night I made two layouts for the album. I’ve started!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Break from the routine

It will be just me and Samuel for the next few days while David is off skiing. Why didn't we go along? Well, for one I just don't like skiing (any vacation that takes me somewhere colder than where I already live sounds crazy). Also, Samuel has never done it so we don't know if he'll like it or not, but it seemed a little pointless to take him along before he's at least tried it on our amazing indoor skiing piste in Milton Keynes.

I figured that I'd end up doing the childcare while David goes off and does his thing so it's best to just stay at home and do the childcare anyway without having to pay flights and hotel. Besides, it's good to get away once in a while! I'm sure he'll have a great time and so will we.

So this week I may end up having a very tidy house, lots of layouts, lots of necklaces and bracelets and great progress in my course. Of course, I might do none of the above if I spend all my time surfing the net instead.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

It's only words, and words are all I have...

What is it about me and writing these days? It’s almost as if I can’t help it, all these words are just dying to come out of me and make their way into printed paper or journals or emails or whatever…

A few days ago I read a quote on my daily quotes thingie in the iGoogle desktop:

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it. (Leo Rosten)

That’s what it feels like lately. I just can’t help it. I can’t call myself a professional writer but, let’s face it, it’s what I always wanted to do. Sometimes I called it Journalism, then it became Communications, these days it is Marketing or a blog, but what it means is that I just want to write stuff all day.

Why? Even today when I don’t have such a thing as a story to tell I just have to get it down on paper. I’ve spent a couple of evenings now just writing away in my journal, trying to get all these words out. My last few runs – boring as they were on the treadmill – I passed the time by “writing” stuff in my head that I then typed out as emails.

Truth is, my head is full of things at the moment and writing is a way of trying to get these things identified and organized. It’s nothing terribly important or life-changing but I like to get my thoughts on paper. That way they don’t hang around in my head and dance around in it, making me think that they are actually important.

So thoughts become words and here I am. So far I’ve written five paragraphs and have said practically nothing!

Or have I?

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Perfect pairs

Peanut butter and jelly. Pencil and paper. Movies and popcorn. There are so many things that just go together and it’s sometimes hard to imagine one without the other.

For a while now I’ve loved hummus. It’s just such a lovely, tasty and delicious treat: I can eat tub after tub of the stuff. Who could have imagined that chickpeas – so mundane – could produce such a yummy spread? On the other hand there is pesto – another one of those foods that I totally identify with: full of flavour, surprising and very versatile. I don’t just add it to pasta but I sometimes just spread it on toast because it’s yummy.

Imagine my delight when a few days ago I tried a dip that was hummus with pesto… OMG. I couldn’t stop eating it, it was just AMAZING. I’d never thought of putting these two together and in fact if I thought about it they probably wouldn’t work together but they do. Oh boy do they ever! The gritty nuttiness of the hummus just loves the melty creaminess of pesto… it was unforgettable. These two foods just have an amazing chemistry that makes the combination of them much more than the sum of their parts.

Sometimes life is just like that: things are considered apart as a matter of course and when convention is broken and they are placed together – it’s magic. This should be done in moderation of course, too much of a good thing and it becomes mundane. But every once in a while it’s very pleasurable and almost sinful…


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