St Patrick’s Chapel

On the coast just south of Morecambe lies Heysham Village. A couple of days ago me and my lovely wife went for a walk there, not to the nuclear power station or even the Isle of Man ferry. Instead we took our silly old pointer for a run along the beach and to have a look at St Patrick’s Chapel. Before we reached it we had to pass the 8th century St peter’s church. With views across the Bay and towards the fells you can imagine how popular it is for weddings.

We continued on past the church and came to the derelict chapel.

Most famously are the small stone cut graves, as featured on Black Sabbath’s best of album cover.

It is unlikely that the graves would have been used for the recently deceased, although archaeologists still don’t really know who or why the chapel was built, or what the purpose was. Definitely one spot in the north west you should visit.

New Record Player

Me and my lovely wife are of that generation when the only way to listen to music at home was with a record player. I am purposefully ignoring cassette tapes as they were only used to ‘borrow’ music from friends. Anyway, over the years we’ve both lost many of our treasured albums. Either they’ve been stolen, given away, sold, lost or taken to charity shops, plus, neither of us own a record player. The end result is that our smaller record collection remained in the attic, until this last week.

It was my 52nd birthday and my amazing wife bought me (us) a record player. She also purchased a stylish record cabinet from etsy. To celebrate our new device we’ve been playing old favourites that we’ve not heard for years. Mainly Saxon for me, and Genesis or Rush for Helen. Also, the mighty Iron Maiden have a new album out, which I bought as a limited 3 disc special edition.

The record player is brilliant and the cabinet looks perfect in our front room. Senjutsu is also a magnificent album, although it will take a few listens to fully appreciate it.

Lockdown Weight

I’ve put on a bit of weight during lockdown. Mentally I have struggle with not being able to go on adventures with my lovely wife Helen and our silly pooch. Last summer when the lockdown eased we went on loads of mini-adventures and even had a brilliant week staying at Helen’s brother’s caravan in the south Lakes.

Since Christmas I’ve got myself into a bit of a habit of buying biscuits and chocolate. Helen doesn’t start work until 1pm and then works late, so I would walk with her on her way to work and buy myself some diet coke or pepsi, and sometimes a small bar of chocolate. This soon became biscuits as well. This didn’t help me mentally and I started to spiral downwards, feeling worse and then eating even more rubbish. However, getting my first vaccine jab seems to have helped. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Lockdown restrictions are due to ease in a few weeks with swimming pools opening again, and hopefully we’ll be able to go for run/walks in different counties as well.

Anyway I weighed myself for the first time in a couple of years and I was 83kg (13 stone 3 lbs). I would like to drop down to 75kg. I have eased off the biscuits and chocolate, and I plan to alternate Fridays with a long run or a long bike ride. The long run being at least 2 hours and the bike ride at least 100km, with the aim of completing a couple of 100 milers later this summer. I also want to do another ultra run, although exactly where and when is yet to be decided, possibly Panther takes the hindmost in October again.

We do have some adventures planned, with Helen and her friends having another go at the Bay Limestone Round, with each of them taking a different leg. We’ll have to recce the route a few times which I’m looking forward to. We also have the Castle to Coast Triathlon in July to look forward to, and I have a 5 mile swim in Coniston in September as well. That’s all though. Like most people we’ve not entered anything as we’re waiting to see what the summer brings, but with over 40% of the UK population already having one jab the future is looking brighter.

Astra Zeneca Vaccine

Yesterday afternoon I had my first vaccine jab, and it was the Astra Zeneca variety. I arrived at the vaccine centre, had my name ticked off and followed the signs down to the basement, using hand sanitiser a couple of times. I answered a few routine questions and had my jab, all very quick and painless. I was also given a leaflet detailing possible side effects. My brother in law had his first jab earlier in the week and he felt sick all night. I was warned that I might feel tired, which I definitely did when I took Nelly for a walk around the park, although that could have been because of the 100km bike ride I’d done that morning.

Anyway, that evening I started to feel very tired and as suggested I took a couple of Paracetamols. In bed in the wee small hours I started to have the chills and couldn’t get warm, even though I was burning up. In the morning my temperature was 37.8 and I had a banging headache.

It is now 11am the morning after and my temperature has dropped and I’m starting to feel a little more human, but I am not planning on doing anything strenuous today. In fact a day on the sofa reading is my plan.

Edit: Update a couple of days later and it took almost 48 hours for me to feel human again, but I was back out running again on the Monday morning so the side effects are very short term, which is good. Mentally I feel much better. I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that me and Helen (not forgetting Nelly) will be able to go on mini-adventures once again, up to the Lakes or even further afield. This last lockdown has been tough, especially seeing so many people ignoring it and just heading off for long walks or runs in different counties. On a brighter note, swimming pools will be open in a few weeks and then in early June parkrun will hopefully be back again.

Have you had your vaccine jab yet and did you experience any side effects? Apparently one in ten people will suffer from some kind of side effects.

Advent Avenues and Alcohol Free Beer

Advent Avenue

One of the few good things to come out of Covid was greater interactions with neighbours and trying to ensure that everyone is OK. The Whatsapp group for our street decided to have a go at an Advent Avenue (I have my lovely wife to thank for the phrase Advent Avenue). Each house that takes part is allocated a number from 1 to 24, and then on the date reveal a window display featuring their number, much like an advent calendar. This has proved to be incredibly popular and I have to say that our next door neighbours out did themselves with 15.

Hopefully the postman hasn’t become too confused with house number 24 displaying a large 2 in the window. Today when I went for a little walk to drop off some books at the Free Little Library I noticed that the two nearest streets to us are also doing their own advent avenues. I absolutely love it and it brings some much needed cheer to brighten up what will be a very tough Christmas.

Alcohol Free Beer

When the first lock down began it was very easy to slide into drinking a little too much. Me and Helen were guilty of this as it became rare for us not to have a drink most evenings. One solution to cutting back was to try some alcohol free beers. Helen tried a couple of alcohol free wines and vowed never again. There is however, some very large discrepancies between brewery’s and their beers.

The good stuff includes Brew Dogs two options, Punk AF and Nanny State. Both of these taste like real beers. Top of the picks is Flat Tyre from Pistonhead (available in Asda). I like all of the regular beers from Pistonhead but was pleasantly surprised by just how good their alcohol free variety was.

There is a great deal bad stuff out there. Own brand alcohol free wheat beer from Aldi (possibly Lidl) was undrinkable. Sharp’s have recently released an alcohol free version of their popular Doom Bar. Again one sip and the rest of the bottle was poured down the sink. The only way to describe either of these beers is sweet gravy. A brewery like Sharp’s surely has someone in charge of quality control. At some point someone must have raised the point that their new beer was undrinkable.

Zombie High Street

My lovely wife has started an online writing course, and assignment 1 has already been sent off. Helen had to write a 500 word descriptive piece, and I have to say it was better than anything I have ever written or probably ever will. Part of assignment 2 is to write a ‘filler’.

Magazines and newspapers are always hungry for ‘fillers’, which generally run between 300 and 500 words. These short pieces are used to plug the spaces left in the overall design of a newspaper or magazine after positioning the main pieces on the page. Apparently they can be a good source in extra income for writers and journalists.

What does any of this have to do with the Zombie High Street. I had an idea for a short blog entry, which could, in theory, be used as a filler, if it’s any good, although I wouldn’t have a clue how or where to submit it.

Zombie High Street

For many people, after the hustle and bustle of a busy working week, Saturdays can become an easy going and pleasant routine. Lie in, walk the dog, have a coffee and then wander into town for some retail therapy, a skinny latte and a large slice of carrot cake.

Lockdown 2.0 has hit the UK, just as the shops would be gearing up for the festive bonaza. Only essential shops are open. In our medium sized market town this would be Marks & Spencers, Boots and Wilkinsons. Cafes, pubs, bookstores, charity shops, Lush, WH Smiths, etc, etc, all closed, their staff once again on furlough, worrying if they’ll have a job to go back to.

This Saturday, town was busy, and busy for no reason. Nothing was open, there was nowhere to go. The ‘essential’ shops weren’t unduly busy either, so why were there so many people?

The 1978 classic George Romero zombie film was set in a shopping mall. The place is full of zombies milling around. The undead were drawn to a place that had meant so much to them when they were alive. Have we become living zombies, drawn to town centres because they used to be alive? Is Covid-19 the beginning of the apocalypse?

Many High Streets had almost become ghost towns before the global pandemic hit. I for one hope that the High Street endures, thrives, becomes better with a greater array of diverse smaller shops. Use Amazon if you must (other online retail giants are not available), but the shopping local mantra should guarantee the survival of our towns and prevent us becoming living zombies, searching for what was there, but has gone.

Garmin 920 Route Fix

Me and my lovely wife own Garmin 920 watches, both second hand, and we agree that they are a brilliant piece of kit, especially if you’re a triathlete. However, the one fault we have is the difficulty in uploading routes to follow. The 920 doesn’t have map capability so any route will be a ‘breadcrumb’ trail, which is generally all that we require. With my Garmin 500 bike computer all I need to do is create a route, (Strava routes, Bike and Hike, etc) save it as a .tcx file and upload it. This doesn’t work with a 920. It would appear that the only way to upload routes is to connect with Garmin connect and Garmin Express, neither of which I particularly like. For me, Garmin hardware is amazing, and Garmin software is a bit rubbish.

So, how to upload a route to a Garmin 920 without using Garmin software. Create your route using your preferred website, save it as a .tcx file, upload this file to your bike computer (it works with a Garmin 500 and 800), open the route, giving the computer chance to convert it to a file type that Garmin likes, and then transfer the converted route onto your 920. It is a little bit of a faff, but it works and at the weekend me and my wife went for a couple of runs in places that we didn’t know without a worry.

Random Wednesday

More random ‘things’ from the past week.

Pebble Painting

My amazing wife, Helen, has started painting pebbles. We cycled out to Morecambe last Sunday to pick up a few likely pebbles, which apparently is illegal, although if you’re only taking a handful I doubt anyone will say anything, but if you were to remove them by the truck load it might be different. So far Helen has finished two brilliantly artistic cacti pebbles, with more to follow.



COBR, not to be confused with the below average Stallone film, Cobra, is the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, set up to deal with regional or national emergencies. Gordon Brown, when he was Prime Minister, didn’t miss a single meeting. Boris Johnson missed the first five meetings set up to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Maybe if Boris had been a little more focused from the start he wouldn’t have ended up in intensive care and maybe we wouldn’t be looking at well over 40,000 deaths. That’s not to be too critical, the furlough scheme is a life saver for thousands of people. Here in Lancaster, one of the worst hit cities in the UK, the lock down feels well and truly over. There are people everywhere. Lancaster, Barrow and Kendal are the three worst hit places in the UK, and what they have in common is the Hospital Trust. This particular trust has been far more active in testing than any where else in the UK, even London. The results would probably be similar across the rest of the country if the same level of testing had been performed.


A month ago I mentioned that we have subscribed to the Disney+ channel.  Many of the classic films haven’t aged too well and many of the newer films don’t really appeal to us. We have therefore cancelled it, at least until we have grandchildren to enjoy it with. Disney will more than likely manage to survive without our £5.99 a month.


Apparently 4% of the global cheese market is stolen. Cheese is the most shoplifted item from supermarkets and it’s even liberated from wholesalers. Maybe because meat and alcohol have security tags, making these item harder to pilfer. Beware if a dodgy looking person sidles up to you, they might be selling cheese instead of drugs.

Random Wednesday

It’s that time again. Another set of random Wednesday thoughts and deeds.

Brooks Run Happy at Home

I’ve been running in Brooks shoes for many years, although not exclusively a my trail shoes and racing flats are both made by Saucony. Brooks have been using the hashtag Run Happy (#runhappy) for a few years now, and with this virus around at the moment, they have altered it slightly to #runhappyathome. Each week there is a different medal, available for a whole range of distances from 1km up to a full marathon. All you need to do is upload a screenshot of your activity, add in your details, along with the nearest Brooks retailer. Here’s the good bit for the small independent running shops, the medal doesn’t get sent to your home, it goes to the shop, so once the lock down is over if you want your medal(s) you have to go and visit your friendly Brooks dealer. A real win win scenario. Anyway, I’ve just uploaded my 5km run from this morning, and here is this weeks medal.


Last weeks medal was in the shape of a pair of oven gloves. You’ll have to be quick though, as this is the last week.

Air pollution

One of the best things about the lock down is the huge reduction in road traffic, and subsequently an improvement in air quality. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of the Himalayas, generally never seen from India, but now viewed in all their glory, or downtown Los Angeles, usually one of the smoggiest city in the world. Here in Lancaster, on a good day we can see the hills of the southern Lake District, but at the moment we can make out individual houses in the town of Grange-over-Sands. Not everything during the lock down period is bad news.

Coffee and Tea

The company I work for generally treat their staff fairly well, including providing tea and coffee. Don’t laugh, when I worked for a local authority everyone had their own jar of coffee or box of tea bags on their desk. However, working from home has significantly increased the volume of coffee consumption. It hasn’t actually, all that’s happened is that the volume of coffee consumed that we buy has increased.

Icelandic Horses

Me and my amazing wife had a few days in Iceland earlier in the year, and one day we stopped to see some Icelandic horses.


They are a hardy old breed, smaller and hairier than your usual horse. They are also in danger of regular horse viruses, so there is a strict no importing horses policy in the country. Game of Thrones was filmed in Iceland, and whenever there was a horse in the scene they had to use clever camera angles to make the horses look bigger.

Here concludes another random Wednesday.

Random Wednesday

Another week and another random Wednesday, although last weekend didn’t start off too well.


I went out for a two hour bike ride, and when I came home I noticed that our front window box had been stolen, probably over night and I hadn’t noticed when I set off. It was old and cheap, and the plants needed to be replaced, but even so, why would anyone steal a window box. Sad little muppets.


Many years ago I read about the concept of ‘Everesting’, where you find a hill, cycle (or run) up and down continuously until you have climbed the equivalent of Everest (8848m). Back in August 2014 I managed my own ‘Everest’ (Strava here and  Blog here). The Everesting website has recently introduced a half Everest, or Base Camp, which this morning I submitted my two failed Everesting attempts (Strava here and here, and Blog here). There is also a Virtual Everesting challenge for those of you who Zwift, which looks even less fun than doing it out on the road.

What I’m Missing

With this lock down there are a few things that I’m missing. In the short term it is swimming and parkrun. My last swim was on the 16th March. At the time I thought missing two or three weeks wouldn’t be so bad, but now it’s looking like two to three months. My last parkrun was on the 14th March, and who knows when we’ll all be parkrunning again. We’re also missing not being able to jump in the car and go for a run or ride somewhere completely different. The Howgills are calling us!

In the long term, my wife had entered the great big Bala swim, which was going to be awesome as Helen would have to ride a train to get to the start. My amazing wife had also bought tickets for us to go and see the Back to the Future musical in Manchester. The Bala swim has been postponed, so ultimately we won’t miss out, but the musical hasn’t yet been re-scheduled.


Like many people, I’m reading a whole lot more during these strange times. Currently I have got into the habit of reading three different books simultaneously, reading a chapter of one and then swapping to the next book. At the moment I am reading a very dark thriller by Will Carver, an ultra running European adventure by David Byrne and a modern day urban fantasy romp by Amelia Hutchins, featuring Witches, Vampires and evil Fairies. Diverse to say the least.

What have you been up to?