My Beard is kept in Fine Fettle

I recently blogged about the beard care products I use (read about it here) and I thought I would give a short update. Fine Fettle has become my essential after swim beard conditioner. It smells great, goes on easy and keeps my beard nice and soft all day, which is no mean feat after 3 miles of swimming. Anyone who follows my blog will know that this year I’ve been swimming more than ever, with over 100 miles completed before the end of April.

A few weeks ago my tin of Pachamama was empty, so I ordered more. The people at Fine Fettle had a new scent, so I thought that I would give it a go. Unfortunately, Vanilla in Sevilla was only available in a small tin, so I ordered another large tin of Pachamama.


As a way of apologising for not having my order in stock, I was sent a small tin and another small tin with a completely new scent. The Wayfinder’s Odyssey immediately became my wife’s favourite, with it’s woody scent, nicknamed in our house as ‘shed’, as a tribute to Reginald Perrin.

IMG_20190421_100901_912.jpgFor those of you who have never heard of Reggie Perrin let me explain. The very talented comedy actor Leonard Rossiter stared in the TV sitcom ‘The rise and fall of Reginald Perrin’. In the sitcom he fakes his own death and sets up a company selling rubbish called ‘Grot’, and one of the items it sells is an aftershave called ‘shed’. One of the best TV shows of all time, and much darker than anything else from that era.

Anyway, back to beards, and if you want some good quality beard products, I would recommend the team at Fine Fettle.


Morecambe Prom Inaugural Parkrun

Today I ran the brand new parkrun along Morecambe Prom, and brilliant it was too. Potentially a very fast parkrun as it is completely flat, much like Fleetwood parkrun. It was nice and sunny as well, although very cold. I wasn’t particularly speedy as I had decided to make a long steady run out of it by running the 8km there and back as well. You can see by the photo below that the newly refurbished prom is nice and wide, and with ten minutes to the start there were plenty of people milling about. My beautiful wife and unruly dog were also there, but had sensibly opted to drive, giving a lift to a neighbour.


The run itself starts at the southern end of the prom and heads north past the famous Midland Hotel. It was funny seeing the blank faces of the guests eating breakfast as a couple of hundred runners went past, much like a dog being shown a card trick. There’s a short out and back on the Stone Jetty before continuing along the prom, and then turning around and coming back. As with out and back courses it’s great to see runners going in the opposite direction, whether it’s the speedy ones near to the front, or cheering on the slower runners nearer the back.

In the parkrunning community there is a ‘thing’ about completing inaugural parkruns, which can be a bit of a problem for the organisers. It can take time for a new team to become smooth, and it is therefore better if the first few parkruns are a little smaller and gradually build in size. It can also impact upon people who use a park (or prom) on a Saturday morning and aren’t expecting hundreds of runners to be there. Parkrun UK don’t overly advertise new parkruns for this reason. Morecambe Prom parkrun was on the UK parkrun website a week before the first event, but sometimes a new parkrun might only go ‘live’ the day before. My wife mentioned that there had been a few people in social media who hadn’t known about it. That’s the idea, and hopefully those people who missed out on the first event will come along in the next few weeks and months.

Today there were 264 finishers, with people from all over the place, including lots of friendly faces from Lancaster. Many of those people might make Morecambe their ‘home’ parkrun if it is closer. It might also impact upon Lancaster, which wouldn’t be a bad thing as the narrow paths make it a little crowded, especially with over 400 runners. History has shown, however, that whenever a new parkrun starts up, runners new to parkrun start running, and other parkruns nearby barely reduce in size.

Morecambe Prom parkrun has the potential to be able to accommodate many more runners, and hopefully it will attract many new runners from the immediate area. Overall it was a fantastic first event, and one that both me and my wife are looking forward to running probably once a month or so.

Book Review: John Lanchester – The Wall

A few months ago I was in our local branch of Waterstones looking for a book by Alex Hannold called Alone on the Wall (read my review here). The very helpful assistant thought that I had asked for The Wall by John Lanchester. Intrigued by the wrong book I had a look at some reviews and decided to give it a go. I’m very glad that I did.


It’s set in a dystopian future, very 1984, where there has been some cataclysmic climate change event, resulting in huge sea level rises, mass migration and a complete lack of beaches around the UK. The future in the book is like some kind of nightmare Brexit scenario designed by Farage and the Daily Mail. To keep out migrants from Europe and beyond which have become uninhabitable, a huge wall around the whole coast of the UK has been built. Added to this, every person once they reach 18 have to spend two years on the wall defending it. This causes great resentment between the younger generation, who are not responsible for the mess the world is in, and the older generation, who are responsible, but don’t have to live with their actions. Much like climate change or Brexit. On top of this, if someone successfully gets over the wall in the section that you are supposed to be defending, you get turfed out.

What actually caused the UK to become so insular is never explained, or how the wall came to be built, but I do hope that John Lanchester is busy writing a sequel. This book would be good for the Manchester post apocalypse book club to read.

Book Review: The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

You know it’s a good book when you finish it and immediately hand it to your wife to read, and then the moments she finishes it she hands it to her Mum to read. This book has everything. It will make you laugh and cry, but it will also make you think.


Raynor and her husband Moth lose everything, and I mean everything. A court decides that they are liable for a debt and then lose all of their savings their house and any form of income. The book starts with the pair hiding in their house before the bailiffs arrive. A box of books in front of them has 500 Mile Walkies by Mark Wallington on the top. In a moment of madness or brilliance, Raynor decides that as they are about to be made homeless, why don’t they walk the West Coast Path from Minehead to Poole, wild camping to save money.

Almost thirty years ago Mark Wallington’s book was recommended to me by a friend, and I remember that I really enjoyed it. So much in fact that many years later on holiday I walked most of the path around Cornwall.

One of the things in the book that will strike you is people’s attitude once they find out that the Winns are homeless, and not homeless through choice. Almost like lepers. Raynor doesn’t shy away from talking about the vast numbers of homeless people that exist in the UK, often slipping through the cracks. The sofa surfers, the summer workers living in tents and the alcoholics and drug addicts, all trying to survive on very little, living hand to mouth, week to week. They meet them all on their walk, and the situation is getting worse. To make things worse, Moth has a long term incurable illness.

Is there a happy ending? You would hope so, but life isn’t always that kind.

The pair of them are approximately the same ages as me and my beautiful wife, and I couldn’t imagine losing everything as I near 50. It made me realise just how lucky I am. I have a wife and dog who love me, and all three of us are fit and healthy. Quite simply you should read this book.


Book Review: The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

This was by far one of the best books that I’ve read for a very long time. I didn’t want it to end. Shaun Bythell owns and runs a second hand book shop in Wigtown, and started to write down what went on in his shop.


He writes about the staff who work from him, and their quirks, and the numerous customers and how books about trains are some of his biggest sellers. He notes down how many online orders there were each day, and how many of them could be found in the maze of his shop. It’s not unusual for a customer to put a book back in the wrong place, or for his staff to enter the location code into the computer incorrectly.

One theme that runs throughout the book is how Amazon have completely changed the business, and how they are squeezing every book shop in the country. Customers would even check Amazon prices when they were holding a book they wanted to buy while in full view of Shaun, or would say in a loud voice ‘it’s cheaper online’.

I also enjoyed reading about the process of buying used books. People would ring up and ask Shaun to visit and buy job lots. Often most of the books are old and not in a very good condition or are just unlikely to sell. Other times people wander into the shop with a couple of boxes or bags full of books to sell.

Opening the book at a random page;

orders online 5, books found 4. There was another invasion of lycra-clad septuagenarian cyclists this morning, most of whom bought a book or two, and who were flattering about both the shop and the stock.

The shop also had a Random Book Club, with approximately 160 members, who for ¬£59 a year would receive a good quality random book each month, mixed between fiction and non-fiction. Brilliant idea. However, when I looked online about joining, it was closed to new members, so I assume that the success of this book has helped with the physical shop. Let’s hope so.

I used to love browsing in a second hand book shop, and there used to be a good one in the Oxford covered market, but when I returned last year it had closed. There is a fairly recent second hand book opened in Lancaster, but I am sorry to say that I have never been in. This I will rectify, post haste.

As I said at the start, I loved this book and you will too.

Ride Every Tile – Cluster Potential

A couple of weeks ago I ran Canalathon, a 50km run from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge along the Rochdale Canal (read about it here). When I managed to upload it to Strava and then Veloviewer I found out that I had nabbed another 20 tiles, although none of them are added to my Maximum Cluster. This got me thinking about what the potential is, of the tiles that I added, to be added to my cluster.

cluster potential

The map above shows the bottom edge of my cluster, and the blue line is the route for Canalathon. As you can see I’m only a few tiles away from adding these new tiles to my cluster, in effect a high cluster potential, which is good.

The other extreme would be when me, my beautiful wife and unruly dog all went to Skye for a week. We managed a couple of rides (read about one of them here) and a few runs, and over the week notched up another 50 odd new tiles. However, it is over 400km from the my new tiles to the northern edge of my cluster in Carlisle, so the potential for adding these tiles to my cluster would obviously be very low. Never say never, there are some mighty large clusters out there.