Cumbria Tans, Black Cats, Green Scalps

Some people have REALLY black cats. It wouldn’t matter how black yours is, there’s WILL be blacker……….

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Charlie, looking beige on the beach in the early morning sun.

Anyway, we haven’t got a cat. We’ve got a Border Terrier. Charlie. And he’s, well, beige to be honest. Not especially beige. Just your average, run of the mill sort of beige. I don’t doubt there are people out there with beiger Charlies. But, he’s quite beige enough for us.

 

He looks darker when he’s wet. Which he was quite often on our jolly sunny holidays in the glorious lake district last week. We didn’t let the

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Nicky and Charlie catching some Cumbria rays up in the fells

weather hold us back, with a marathon, lots of other runs and walks and Nicky swimming a mile in the Great North Swim.

 

Talking of which, despite some serious open water swimming already this year, Nicky was a little bit, er, green after this, having not quite had the lake experience she was hoping for. She still banged out a mile in Lake Windemere. And not for the last time, I

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Nicky, not unhappy to be out of Lake Windemere!

suspect!

 

 

 

 

 

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see – green

Not as green as she looked on Sunday though. Well, green, pink, blue…

Her wonderful daughter, my step daughter, Alisa (regular readers will know how proud we are of her achievements this year) and Nicky did the Colour Rush 5k in Teignmouth. Basically three laps of the prom and beach whilst periodically having coloured powder paint thrown at them.

 

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Happy with their medals, and to find the children still intact under Granddad’s supervision!

Alisa’s first medal. And I managed to have a full compliment of grandchildren still under my control by the time they finished. All over this grand parenting malarkey, I am…..

 

So, and please no giggling at the back….. We. Are. On. It.

I know, you’ve heard it before, but THIS TIME……

There’s a cut off at 20 miles in the Snowdonia Trail Marathon which is our next target. It’s probably not a shock to discover that it’s a little bit hilly, but we could probably do with sharpening our mountain goat physiques to help with that…..

Project Mountain Goat is go!

So, since we got back from our holiday Nicky has been back in the sea (twice) and quickly regained her confidence and we’ve both been enjoying the trails on our early morning jaunts.

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Brixham Harriers patrolling the ‘hood

We also went back to Brixham Harriers last night and enjoyed a loop including a beautiful section of the coast path before our (now traditional) Tuesday evening chips. A glorious summer’s evening in lovely company.

 

We’re still struggling with the running in the evening, mostly because of how, simply, our days are arranged, it leaves a sort of blank hour before we set off for the club. This sounds like a ‘first world problem’ I realise, but we, as I’ve alluded to in previous posts, seem to be constantly battling time…… That said, it’s great to run in a friendly and welcoming group and , well, we do enjoy the chips…

 

chips
We shared a portion…

 

 

My big, BIG target for the year (*I reserve the right to change this, having not quite made my last BIG target!) is the East Farm Frolic. With that in mind, I am trying to add a few miles here and there and get more endurance fit than ever before. I’m really not sure how I’m going to respond to such a long time on my feet, but I have even BIGGER ambitions for the following two years so I really need to find out how my body (and mind) respond to a heavier training load.

 

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Crack of dawn. Coastpath. Beautiful wife. Bliss.

Luckily, I absolutely love running, and, wherever I can, I’ll try and do my runs AND Nicky’s runs with her over a weekend and really start getting the miles in.

 

On that note, I read, in a running social media group, of somebody bemoaning not being allowed to wear headphones during a 10k race because “running is boring enough…”

I feel blessed that I get nothing but joy from every single run…

Onwards………

Don’t BMAD – NORTH DORSET VILLAGES MARATHON

So, today was the day. We’d trained and trained for this target race. Maybe both secretly hiding nerves caused by the pressure we had rather publically placed upon ourselves……

Could we deliver…

WELL, one big bold shiny Personal Best, with bells and whistles and tassels goes to my rather incredible lady, Nicky…….

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Eight whole minutes off Nicky’s previous best marathon time…. BOSH!!

She believed in herself, reigned herself back from running TOO much faster than target pace, took a couple of slightly less rapid miles on the chin, refocused, took a gel and dug deep to get back on pace for the run in.

As she belted up the finishing straight, I was just bursting with pride and emotion, She had worked so hard to be capable of such a performance. Marathon #30 nailed!

Our early night in preparation for the early start was fairly pointless as we were treated to the sounds of the BMAD festival down on the seafront until (what for most people is a perfectly acceptable) 11pm.

Now, ordinarily, I love a bit of All Along The Watchtower……

 

 

So, after about 5 hours sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed and porridged ourselves up and got plenty of caffeine down us. Martin, running too, was collected from the bus stop (where some say he sleeps) at   crazy o’clock by our devoted and ever-present supporter, Gloria.

I even remembered the way to Sturminster Newton (although I think the journey home involved a little detour…)!

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(more) Pre-race caffeine

The NDVM bases itself in Sturminster Newton High School, where a small army of volunteers were providing drinks and cakes as well as bacon sarnies. As regular readers will know…. TICK.

The start is on the road outside the school and car parking is plentiful, ably directed by another small army, this time of boy scouts.

It truly is a lovely event.

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Martin’s regular pre-race pose

Martin, as usual, had a few short issues, but was threatening to have a smash at a time today too. He’s come very close to 4 hours a few times, and despite his proclamation that he hasn’t really done high miles, we suspected he’d go close.

 

He was also offering a curly-wurly to anyone who deserved it by the end of the day. This is a bit of a tradition brought to our group via some good running friends of old.

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They’re upside down, martin

 

 

We were right about Martin’s running. On a blustery day, he ran hard and strong to come tearing towards the finish line for a time of 4.04.

Great running again Martin.

“What about your race, Kevin?” I hear you all cry in unison…

Well.

Cards on the table, I genuinely thought I was in shape to run close to my personal best. Sure, I knew I was over tired, but I always train tired and believe myself to be strong mentally to tough it out, so I lined up fairly near the front of the field and set off with purpose.

The course is relentlessly undulating, but barely contains anything we would describe as a hill, so I aimed to keep just inside my target pace for each and every mile.

I soon got in to a little group ticking off the miles at about 7.15 pace, and, whilst I knew I was working for it, I didn’t feel massively uncomfortable, so pushed on. The breeze was brisk in places but we seemed to all be willing to take our turns in front.

I know the course winds through some lovely countryside and picture postcard thatched villages, but I was only half aware of it as I tried to keep my pace focussed. There’s a line across the road at halfway and I clocked that in 1h36m, so inside my 3h14m target pace. I knew from last year that the worst of the undulations were around the 20 miles mark so I felt I’d banked a bit of time.

Miles in 7.09 7.02 7.15 7.23 & 7.25 preceded……

wheels coming offTHE WHEELS COMING OFF!!

Oh and how!

By then I was in a group of three, “Oh they’ve sped up” I thought, glancing at my watch. WRONG! I had slowed down. Quite Dramatically.

This hadn’t happened quite so eye-wateringly since my very first marathon, in Paris. I took a gel from my pocket before putting it back, I was starting to struggle to lift my feet and quite frankly, I was exhausted. Nothing a gel could do for that.

I took my demise in good heart and let myself naturally get slower and slower and slower as runners started to pass me by. I took a minute at an aid station to enjoy some melon, coke and Jaffa cakes before setting about my last few miles.

My salvation came in the form of Luke. Luke was stopped at a marshalling point looking in a world of pain. Which, it turned out he was, with his back in spasm around a herniated disc injury. Ouch.

Come on mate, lets shuffle in together. Which we did. Great to meet you Luke. 2017-04-30 12.01.02

The biggest dilemma I have with my ‘disappointment’ is that I genuinely believe that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, and I know that there are many for whom a sub 3.30 marathon would be a dream.

I guess I’m asking for permission to be a little disappointed, whilst still chuffed to have clocked up marathon number 32, ran another quick time and had a wonderful day out.

I did train very, very hard for this and believed I had it in me. Hey ho.

My 1st half 1.36, my 2nd half 1.52. Detonated!

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Still smiling at the finish

 

 

They may be many reasons for this:

Maybe spending a full day up and down a ladder carrying bags of rubble on Friday didn’t help. Maybe those troublesome sinuses and snottyness were drawing on my reserves. Maybe lack of sleep. Maybe being so much heavier than I intended to be for this day. Maybe eating too much simple sugars rather than good fats and protein. Maybe not having the strong core needed to maintain running form when tired.

Maybe, today, that was how it was meant to be.

I was smiling at the end, because I bloomin’ love running and I feel blessed to be able to do this wonderful sport at all.

Another of our little gang, Jan, fresh from smashing her own Parkrun yesterday, turned up at the finish to cheer us all in, along with Gloria, and quite frankly, it really was a lovely, lovely day and I also feel blessed to have such great friends.

As for Nicky?? Sometimes words just simply don’t do justice to how she makes me feel!

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Nicky’s amazing run
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Cute Tee Shirt

 

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Martin might have OD’d on sugar!
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The fine food and drink ladies of Sturminster Newton

 

Crowded House

Looking good for the morning!

Anyway, carb loading is going well…

Nicky encouraged me to share this today, I rattle on about being ‘focussed’ and ‘on it’, apparently cutting out sugar and getting my core strong ready for my target marathon.

Which is?

Tomorrow.

Had a bit of a weigh in this morning and I am 11lb heavier than I stated I was aiming to be by marathon day.

Apparently each footstrike is like pushing 2.5 – 5 times your body weight, so with an estimated 50000 strides in tomorrow’s marathon, that’s about a quarter of million lb worth of EXTRA energy I need to get around North Dorset tomorrow.

Next time……. we will be ON IT!!!

Or maybe just go a bit slower and keep scoffing the cake.

Another plumbing crisis today……. rather exaggerated by me drilling through a pipe…..

Whoops!

I must mention the organisation of tomorrow’s marathon. The North Dorset Villages Marathon features 12 water stations, 2 of which you can send your personalised drinks to and the later ones also feature coke, squash and snacks.

Included in the entry fee is a tee, medal and hog roast too, with live music afterwards.

We’ll definitely be making use of the changing facilities, going to be a tad wet me thinks!

Anyway I think I need to respect the early start and follow Charlie’s lead and head for zzzz’s

Never do plumbing on a Friday

Actually, it was on Saturday and remarkably not a drop (touch wood) of water. We had rattling pipe syndrome, a particularly bad case too. All fixed. Bosh. plumber

It was an old builder friend who introduced me to the Friday saying as he drilled through a water main…… on a Friday. Nice bloke, proper cockney, used the f & c words like we use punctuation, moved to France in the end.

Mind your French, as they say.

Another phrase I never thought I’d never hear, “Your lunch box is too big!” my amazing wife Nicky blurted out on our beautiful 10 mile walk this afternoon. Ok, they weren’t her exact words, and she was merely referring to the lack of space in the rucksack after I’d been left in charge of packing food, but I’ll take it. If there wasn’t so much suspicion, speculation about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of his remarkable (some say ‘unbelievable’) athletic performance, I’d compare myself to Linford Christie….linford

 

 

 

I hadn’t taken my note book with me today you see, an essential piece of equipment to carry at all times if I want to be a ‘writer’! But, with all that lunch, there wouldn’t have been room in the rucksack anyway!

No long run on a Sunday? Asked no one, other than in my head. Well, I’ll tell you. We’ve got our target marathon next week, the North Dorset Villages Marathon, and we are ‘tapering’, as in we’re not doing long runs this weekend. So we did a few miles together this morning then I did another half an hour on my own before heading home to porridge ourselves up. Check out the run.

 

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My gorgeous wife and fantastic step daughter finishing at Parke (photobombed by Grandaughter Faith!)

On Saturday we went to Parke Parkrun where the aforementioned, beautiful Nicky, ran around with my incredibly motivated Step Daughter for her second ever Parkrun.

 

She’s on such a mission this year, we are so, so proud, and she’s looking amazing, healthy, happy and has an infectious spark about her.

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Mother and Daughter at the finish

 

 

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Parkrun support crew

Grandad here, who was flying solo with the Grandchildren, might have had something in his eye as they came along the finishing straight, so much quicker than last time, despite this being on a much more challenging course.

 

 

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Howard and Hilda!

We both did 5k time trials before work on Friday, my run totalling over 8 miles and very happy to run 19m00s in my last hard effort before NDVM.

 

Had some beautiful early morning runs last week with the dog, we’ve been treated to some gorgeous sunrises this week……..

 

2017-04-23 12.53.31So, today, with more time than we’ve had on Sunday for a while we decided to go and do one of our favourite 10 mile walks, including getting out the bulging lunch box for a lovely riverside picnic (but not my note book to write about it)……… 2017-04-23 13.59.42

 

 

With 7 days to go until our ‘big’ race I’m feeling pretty good about it. Ultimately it’s a run over an arbitrary distance, aiming for an arbitrary time and has no bearing on whether or not I am the sort of human being I dearly hope I am. If I am remembered as someone who is caring and considerate and loving and gentle and worthy and humble then that would be enough for me. sure, it would be a bonus if I ran 3h14m around Dorset next Sunday but, actually, I think my commitment to TRYING to be the best I can be is far more important.

That said, I will be running as hard as my little legs will carry me…….

More Blogs Than Biscuits

2017-04-02 14.50.34Every race day day, Nicky and I travel home, munching cadburys crème egg s, declaring ourselves ‘ON IT!!’ from tomorrow. No more sugar, no more fizzy pop, plenty of core work and strength training, rest and stretching. girl doing stretching exercise clipart

Well, THIS TIME, we mean it!

North Dorset Villages Marathon 4 weeks today, we are ON IT until then……

Just a few dark chocolate digestives to see off tonight………

So, yesterday, The Devonshire Dumpling Marathon, hosted by the Devon and Cornwall Long Distance Walkers Association. Wow, what a wonderful day.

The start was in Budleigh Salterton, a gorgeous East Devon town. We were fortunate enough to grab what appeared to be the last parking space in the car park next door to the public hall. We then discovered what would be a theme for the day, it was going to be hard to offload any cash today!

The car park is free. All the time!

We paused outside at 8am and watched the walkers head off. The event had two distances, 18 miles or 26.2 miles, the walkers set off at 8am and the runners at 9am.

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The walkers setting off.

 

We nervously entered the hall, registered with the friendly welcome chaps at the desk, and approached the well manned (and womanned) service hatch. Regular readers of this blog might have gathered we like our pre-match coffee.

 

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Hardly suprising!!

Two white coffees please. How much do I owe you? Nothing, fresh air, zero, zilch. Blimey, how lovely. The volunteers in the hall were so so friendly, helpful and chatty, we learned so much about the route and any nerves about being in a fairly different environment to our usual races soon disappeared.

 

Back to the car to shed our top layers and we were soon outside the hall in a small gathering of runners and a couple of their dogs. And away we went…..

Through Budleigh Salterton’s back streets, the leading pack, i.e. everybody else, became smaller and smaller in the distance. ‘Are we going that slowly?’ Nicky asked unnecessarily. My reply is always to say that if they are all faster runners than us we won’t see them again, whereas some may be a little enthusiastic early on and we’ll catch them later. It really doesn’t matter.

Nicky said something about disused railway lines, I smiled, not really knowing what she meant.

 

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Some serious logging!

We were soon heading across country and encountering the first splattering of a day of mud! Whoever put this course together deserves our heartfelt thanks, we agreed as the countryside became coast path for about 3 miles.

 

 

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I think we took the opposite of this…

Heading back in land we soon found the first checkpoint……. quiches, cheese & chorizo tarts, chocolate brownies, drinks, sweets etc etc etc….. We each carried a small laminated number card which the, again, incredibly engaging and encouraging, guys stamped for us to prove we’d been there.

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Yum Yum – I reckon I ate more than I burned!

 

Off again, soon making a very small navigation error (the larger one was still to come!) before getting back in the mud for the flat path towards Otterton. We’d ran here before, in the Otterton Reindeer 10k back in December, an event, we discovered later that is also supported and marshalled with the help of the Devon and Cornwall LDWA.

 

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These ladies were bemused by us!

Honestly, we chatted to more people, and stroked more dogs than we would normally in a month, giving us a little rest every mile!

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Otterton is still beautiful and is a sort of gateway to mud. The next section, no less stunning, truly was laden with the slippy stuff. We did some serious giggling throughout this as we had worn our super slick road trainers.

One of us went to ground. Twice. (pssst, ssshhh, it wasn’t me…..)

Nicky said our footing would be more sure once we got to the disused railway lines. Again, I had no idea we were using old railway lines.

 

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What do we want? OLD GATES!

 

 

 

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We weren’t lost……

 

Across Woodbury Common (Bicton Blister country) and heading towards the halfway point, Rushmoor Wood, where we took a little detour………. Our only mistake on this self-navigating course.

We were catching walkers in small groups regularly now and every single one of them was friendly and upbeat and it was a pleasure to meet them all.

Into Woodbury itself and the village hall being used as the second checkpoint. Sandwiches and rolls, quiches, pies, cakes, jelly and ice cream etc etc… cold drinks and hot drinks and another room full of fun and banter.

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Something for everyone at the checkpoints

 

We didn’t stay too long, we might still have been there eating if we’d sat down, instead heading off towards the Exe estuary. We’d caught up with a couple of runners again and noticed they were sporting White Star Running attire (including the much sought after ‘I felt the badger’ badge) so we exchanged knowing smiles and wished each other fair winds for the rest of the run.

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She’s definitely a keeper!

 

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The shared use path to Exmouth was very busy on this beautiful Sunday afternoon but we couldn’t help but enjoy the wonderful scene.

 

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There was plenty of this!

A few miles of easy (ish) flat running on firm surface took us to the final checkpoint on the approach to Exmouth was followed by an undulating run through Exmouth itself and followed another (planned) detour where the pathway was closed. Before long we were back in the countryside and heading towards the sea. Running through the massive Sandy Bay caravan park, dodging the firing range on the headland and tackling the massive climb up the coast path, knowing it was all downhill to Budleigh Salterton from the top.

 

“So where were the old railway lines?” Nicky asked on the run in. I think she might have been reading up on the wrong race!2017-04-02 13.33.31

The finish back at the hall was a welcome sight after several and a half hours out on the trails, and we were presented with our personalised certificate to prove our participation.

2017-04-02 12.40.32Here’s the thing – have a really good look at the LDWA website, they have some absolutely lovely events both social and recognised distances (we found this via the 100 Marathon Club) and we met dozens of lovely people today and wouldn’t hesitate to do any other of their events. In fact we picked up three tempting leaflets whilst we were there……

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Big smiles at the finish of a wonderful event.

 

2017-04-02 15.39.03If you want to know where Nicky and I are  starting tomorrow….. we’re ON IT!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A banquet fit for a (king or) queen

2017-03-25 06.19.23What a beautiful sunrise this morning, the sun rising through the haze of sea spray as an north-easterly whipped the tops off the waves. Like running through a watercolour.

Chilly for sure, but good to have some bright weather to run in. We’re not Saturday long run people normally, preferring the traditional Sunday long one. I set off first, aiming to do about 11 miles at marathon pace before joining Nicky after she’d done 3 or 4 for another 16 or 17. Simples.

Marathon pace was barely happening today so I’d actually done 10 by the time we met up. Reassuringly, Nicky was also ‘not feeling it’.

Saturday, you see. Our highly and finely tuned elite athlete bodies are programmed to run 3 mile time trials on Saturdays, this was never going to be a successful experiment. That, combined with the sore knee Nicky is nursing meant she wisely finished at 10 miles, before the knee starting affecting her running too much. She’ll do a smaller run tomorrow instead.

Whilst I was feeling sluggish (half a packet of dark chocolate digestives last night can’t have helped!), I wasn’t in pain luckily so I carried on and did an easy paced hilly loop. This brought my run in at 26.2 mile! Well, if I’m going to do well in these ultras later in the year, I’ve got to be capable of this sort of mileage. Click HERE if you like run stats.

ANYWAY…….

Pretty hungry after all this, which got us to thinking about post race/run noshing. Nicky and I, er, like our food (not something you can regularly get away with saying to a lady!) so we’re always keen to get our nashers chomping after a run.

 

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Larmer Tree Chef, well good grub

The last marathon we did, the wonderful Larmer Tree (see previous blog), not only had a quite beautiful, peacock medal but also some lovely hot food for the runners included in the entrance fee. There was a choice of burgers, pizza, salads, vegetarian and vegan options, plus a bar and coffees a plenty.

 

What to eat after a marathon? We’ve tried everything. There’s a cracking pasty shop in St Austell, open well into the afternoon on Sundays, so they’ve had plenty of our hard earned shillings after some cracking events down that way.

I will, actually, eat anything after a run, that’s a danger time for me. Chips, chocolate, crisps, pork pies, bacon, cake, cake, cake, crumbs found in the well of the boot of the car, half eaten hot dogs found  on the floor, you name it, I’ll eat it!

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Post run essentials

 

We tried taking our food with us, lovingly preparing bagels, fruit, small snack bars (who wants a SMALL snack bar??) you name it, we’ve tried it but somehow those, cling film wrapped warm bagels, sweating in the boot of the car just don’t cut it.

 

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After conquering the South Downs Way 50 Nicky was presented with 50 cream eggs! Now THAT’S a post race nosh up!

 

Nope, it’s got to be pasty, coffee and cake for us and when we get home on race days it’s takeaway night. House special chow mein with fine noodles mmm mmmm.

After todays efforts it was belated porridge and a walk down to the sea for coffee and cake.

Looking forward to next Sunday’s Devonshire Dumpling where we have had to pre-order our pasty (meat please), included in the £8 entry fee!!

Keep on keeping on people….