parkrun tourism: University of Stirling

parkrun #268 event #68 and final letter in UK alphabet!

Reason for visit: attending the annual autumn gathering of Scottish Country dance in Perth.

I’ve been to this annual dance get together for 7 years in a row.  Perth, while having a lovely parkrun of its own, right beside where the dancing happens, is also a handy base to explore further afield.  I’ve used it to reach Camperdown and Kirkcaldy, and this year I was delighted to discover that a new parkrun had started at the University of Stirling, and did indeed begin with that elusive letter U!

Access:

From Perth, I caught the 7.15 train to Bridge of Allan.

I followed the very helpful directions given on the parkrun page, inclduing crossing the road at the appropriate point.

Trains are not that frequent so make sure you check a timetable for times.

Facilities:

There seemed to be plenty of parking, and clean loos were located in the swimming centre, a reminder of Scotland’s prowess in this acivity (swimming, not going to the loo…..)

Crowd:

Plenty of students, of course, and being an elusive letter I saw several other cow cowls, and gave a “Dolly or Bev” shoutout to a With Me Now T shirt.  It’s dog friendly, and there were even a couple of prams. There were around 200 when I visited.

As I was doing my final km I found a barcode lying on the ground, and spent the rest of the run waving it at people and going Amanda? Amanda?  Until I did indeed find the right Amanda who was over the moon to be reunited with her special scrap of paper. Remember, no barcode, no time!

 

Course:

It’s absolutely stunning! In November, when I was there, the leaves were all red and gold, there was a morning mist on the lake, and the swans and ducks were enjoying the calm day.  2 and a bit laps of the lake, which is hillier than you think, and prone to flooding and puddles.

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Gear:

As it’s overlooked by the mighty Wallace Monument, I should really have worn my home Wallace apricot, but I was giving my 50 events T shirt an airing.

Gloves and cow bobble were important to keep the extremeties warm, and I left my bits and bobs at a tree by the finish funnel.

Time:

I’m still in recovery mode, so was jog walking to a 40 something time.

Afterwards:

I couldn’t find the cafe where they meet, but I called in instead to the lovely Meadow Park, where I treated myself to a veggie haggis bap and a celebratory glass of prosecco, complete with Scottish raspberry. 

All for a very reasonable £6.55, served by the friendliest of bar staff.

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

 

parkrun tourism: Markeaton, Derby

parkrun #266 event #67

Reason for visit – Jemima’s latest show, “Step Sonic”, and co-incidentally Markeaton’s 300th event!

Access:

I flew to Birmingham International Airport, which has great rail links to many local towns and cities.  The train to Derby took about an hour, and I got a taxi from the station to Jury’s Hotel.  This was in a great location right on the edge of Cathedral Quarter, and literally round the corner from Deda, where Jemima’s show was.

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To get to Markeaton Park I took a taxi for a fiver, but I walked back afterwards, which took about 40 minutes.

There are buses that go from the city centre to the park, but I can never manage to work out buses in foreign parts, whether they take contactless, or exact cash, or a particular card.

Course:

Markeaton Park is a lovely spot with plenty to entertain visitors.  The course is 2 big laps with only one slight hill.

The route is all on paths, but they do get a bit mucky and puddly.

There’s a compulsory duck pond, and a few bits of sculpture. Finish tokens are collected in buckets.

Crowd:

There’s usually about 500, with lots of well behaved dogs. I received token number 626, which I thought made me Stitch the alien, but the results showed me at 527.

I’m guessing there was an issue with the finish tokens, so well done to whoever sorted that out!  The volunteers were brilliant, a good clear first timers brief, a shout out to visitors and milestones, and a special”jog walk” leader, suitably attired in 118 gear.

I gave a “Dolly or Bev” greeting to someone in a With Me Now Tshirt.

Gear:

I was having zip issues with my new jacket, and also with my running belt.  My 250 shirt got a “well done”, and my trainers were fine for the surface.

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It was chilly, so I was glad of my Jog Lisburn beanie, and UK parkrun tourist cow cowl.

Time:

I’m still getting back after injury, so I was “jeffing” my way round (a mix of jog and walking).  The jog-walk group were really supportive, and encouraged each other to “just get to the next tree” or similar.  I was happy enough with my 40 minute time. And grateful for the water provided at the finish.

Facilities:

The start and finish are near the Orangery, where there is a cafe serving a delcious array of traybakes and cakes.  Dogs are welcome, in fact they even get special discount!

In the walled courtyard there are a selection of craft shops, and some clean loos.

And The Rest:

Well Jemima’s show was rather fabulous!  I never tire of overhearing members of the audience in the queue for the loo or the bar expressing their admiration for her.  There was even a special Step Sonic cocktail!

And I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Derby, its cathedral with beautiful modern stained glass windows hosting a very moving Knife Angel made from handed in knives in a bid to raise awareness and reduce the incidence of stabbings.

I even managed to get a haircut – well, I’ve never seen a place that had quite so many hairdressers, so it would’ve seemed rude not to.

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I enjoyed a fish finger sandwich in Bear, a veggie curry in the oldest pub, The Dolphin, a dish of garlicky mushrooms with stilton breadcrumbs in the Wonky Table, and a bakewell tart from Birds home bakery.

I found a delightful Saturday afternoon recital by the Derby Orchestral Society in the old Derby Museum and Art gallery.  Haven’t quite worked out who all the heads emblazoned on Speakers Corner are.  But I’ll happily come and visit again!

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

parkrun tourism: faelledparken, Denmark

Event #65, and parkrun #263, country#5

Reason for visit – supporting a mate doing the Copenhagen half-marathon.

After falling at Sixmilewater at the end of July, I knew I had 2 trips already planned, with flights and accommodation booked.  So as I was sat in A&E, I set myself what I thought was a realistic target of being able to WALK at both those parkruns.  It hadn’t been my intention to be the official tailwalker for both, but that’s how it turned out. In Danish “Gående bagtrop”

I was making this visit, to a new to me country and capital city, with my husband, to support a friend doing the half-marathon.  Same friend who’d done the Paris marathon earlier, when I did Bois du Boulogne

Would it be Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen?

Access:

For the second week in a row I headed to Sprucefield to get the great value bus to Dublin airport.  Ryanair fly to CPH, so we had the usual charges for extras, such as sitting together, and prayed that our hand lugagge would meet the size scrutiny.  We knew that Denmark is expensive, so we stocked up on booze before we boarded.  We got a taxi into Hotel Nora, in the Norrebro district, which was a pricey way to get the 6 miles into town.  But I always get frustrated at the end of a journey to a new city if I have to do the “Where’s the metro? How much is it? How do I buy a ticket? Do I have to change?  Oh no I’ve gone the wrong direction!  Is it this stop? Now where’s the hotel? Oh no I’ve gone the wrong way! ” opera.

I’d chosen Hotel Nora for its proximity to the start and end of the half marathon, which is also where faelledparken parkrun takes place.  It was a pleasant 20 minute walk from the hotel.

This way to parkrun!

We met up with fellow parkrunners en route, who had been here last year, so they kept us right.  There are public transport routes detailed on the parkrun page.

 

 

It’s Denmark, most people arrive by bike.

Crowd:

I’d been communicating via Facebook with world tourist Gert, who told me that he was hoping that the influx of marathon visitors might get to the Danish attendance record of 181!

There were LOTS of serious runners from all around the world.  The couple we met en route were from Scotland, and I got chatting to a South African wearing a 100 runs cap!

They don’t always have a tailwalker, so I was pleased to be able to encourage a couple of locals, nursing various injuries, to walk with me.

178 runners – so a new record for this event!!

 

 

Course:

It’s a flat, fast course – 3 laps, starting and ending at the same point by the see-saw.

 

Course record is 15.32.  Markers are set out in flour.

The course runs past a lovely fountain in a lake, and a dome roofed cafe.

 

Facilities:

There are clean loos in the park. Start and end are at the same place, so you can leave coats and bags there. I didn’t manage to stay for the post run coffee, but there are plenty of lovely cafes nearby.

 

 

Time:

I was walking rather briskly, and getting lots of “thank yous” from runners overtaking.  You do need good working thumbs in this role.  I did it in 55 minutes which I was impressed with!

And the rest:

Oh Copenhagen, you have stolen my heart!

Effortlessly cool and stylish, warm and family friendly, colourful and bathed in light reflecting from water, easy to get around, wide streets and cobblestones, blankets and heaters, open sandwiches and pastries, street parties and canal boats.

We witnessed the world record being broken at the half marathon.  And I’m sorely tempted to have a go next year.  (At the half, not the WR!)

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

Jersey parkrun

Event #64, and parkrun #262

Reason for visit – elusive letter  J at a dancing weekend.

Having fallen at Sixmilewater 6 weeks ago, my parkrun activity has been restricted to volunteering at juniors.  Including a memorable time with my “brunch bunch” chums where we ended up with a flat tyre! But that’s another story.

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Anyhoo, I’d been planning this trip for months.  It was to attend the Jersey Scottish dance weekend, I’d booked flights and accommodation, and spent every Wednesday night with my dancing travelling companions going through the rather tricksy dance program.  So I was dammed sure I wasn’t going to let a lousy broken metatarsal stand in my way of alphabeteering my letter J.

Access:

Flights to Jersey from Belfast only go once a week, but there’s a daily flight from Dublin.  I caught the X1 airport bus which picks up at Sprucefield and drops you to the door of the the shiny glass terminal for £17 return.  On the island, the Liberty bus service is superb, and the number 15 picks up right outside the airport door.  £2.30 cash fare, £2 if you use contactless, other day and 3 day fares are available, but make sure you’d actually use them.

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It’s the same bus you need to take you to the parkrun site at Les Quennevais (rhymes with kennedy) Sports centre.  Don Farm is the bus stop you need.

There’s ample car parking – although on the day I was there a hockey tournament was taking place, so parking places were a bit more scarce.

Crowd:

Understandably, a letter J is a huge draw for alphabeteer tourists, and I got chatting to quite a few cow cowls, AND a world tourist cap wearer!

jersey tourists

There were 414 this day – I know that cos I was tailwalker, so I was that number.

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As I set off, there was a granny, mum and daughter trio in front of me.  The daughter was in flip flops, and the granny in her 80s, so they only did one lap (and well done to them!)

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There’s a lead bike, a few prams and dogs, and LOTS of tourists. Biggest problem at the start line is keeping people QUIET!

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Course:

2 laps of the cycle track, and then breaks off onto a trail spur, with 2 turnaround points.  Well marshalled throughout, and I loved the cute umbrella hats that the volunteers wore.

I have to say, even with the glimpses of the sea at various points, it’s not the most dramatically scenic course, but it’s relatively flat (until that final uphill section), and either tarmac or packed sand/gravel underfoot.

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Facilities:

If you’re catching the bus from St Helier, there are loos there.

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Toilets also in the sports centre.  And the cafe does 10% off on presentation of your barcode.  So a mug of tea and a toasted teackae was less than £3.  And of course the cafe was packed full of chatty parkrunners, playing their Top Trumps and generally enjoying the post run adrenalin.

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Time:

I’ was walking, it took me just over an hour.  And oh, it’s good to be back!

And the rest:

My weekend in Jersey.

A dance weekend in Jersey

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

A dance weekend in Jersey

Amazingly I’ve never visited this charming island, the largest of the Channel Island group.

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Liberation Square

I’d planned to go with a group of other Scottish dancers, to participate in their anual dance weekend.  This consisted of dances on the Friday and Saturday evenings, 18 dances each evening, some of them rather challenging, and a welcome drink and buffet supper included.

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Water feature in the market

 

Not wanting to let the side down, we had dilligently met each week and worked our way through all 36 dances! These included such formations as La Baratte, a reverse set and link, and Hello-goodbye poussette. Phew!

And then, half way through the summer, I fell and broke a bone in my foot.  We carried on with our practice sessions, me barking orders from the sidelines, and my ultimate target was to be able to come along, walk the parkrun to get my letter J, and do some gentle dancing.

There’s only one flight from Belfast each week.  One of our group took that option, and made a whole week of staying on the island.

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Other members of the group flew via Liverpool.

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Crapaud – French for toad, slang for islander

 

There’s one flight a day from Dublin, and that’s what I went for.  I took the very good value bus from Sprucefield right to the airport, £17 return.  It’s an Aer Lingus flight, but operated by Stobart Air on a wee propeller plane. I’d wished I had a map in front of me as we passed over various headlands, islands and rocky outcrops.  A small airport, but well connected to St Helier via the Liberty Bus srvice – £2.30 cash, £2.00 contactless.

Once in the centre, I used google maps to take me to the Mornington hotel.  This was a rather circuitous route, going thorugh a tunnel under Fort Regent, but I found quicker routes later in the trip.

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strings across open air spaces to discourage birds

 

The Mornington is on Don Road, just past the main shopping streets. So it’s a convenient spot to reach the centre.

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I was a bit concerned about the layout of the room, with stairs up/ down to the en suite.

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After a GnT in the hotel bar, I went for an orientation walkabout, stopping for dinner in the So Bar.  Fab sounding cocktails, but I plumped for a genorous prawn pad thai.

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On Friday, I’d intended to do the museum and a boat tour, but when I called into the boat/coach tour place there were no boat tours due to high winds.  And the coach tour was number dependent, and they still needed another 5.

So I decided to be my own tour guide, and took the number 7 bus to la Mare wine estate.

There is a real relaxed pace to life on the island – maximum speed limit is 40 mph, and most places are 30 or 20.  The roads are rather twisty, and with much bicycle and farmimg traffic around, drivers are quite often stuck behind slower vehicles.  There is a politeness in the driving, at roundabouts it’s Give Way in Turn, and there are a number of green lanes where cyclists and horses have priority.

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The tour at the winery was lovely – I really liked the white, the rose was a bit bland, and the red not to my taste.  But an interesting tour, and I treated myself to a cream tea in the cafe. With black butter!  Not a butter at all, a sort oF apple preserve with Christmassy flavours.

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The Liberty Bus  service is excellent – get yourself a timetable and a map and you can be your own our operator.

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I always buy jewellry when I travel.  It’s easy to transport, something I use, and I have a story to tell anytime someone asks Oh that’s a nice necklace!

 

I opted for a set in polished Jersey granite, bought from the designer, who told me this was the first design she ever created.

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To the Friday night dance! It was wonderful to meet up with friends I’d met at St Andrews and other events, particularly those from the south of England and from France.

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Saturday morning was parkrun, of course!

Jersey parkrun

Back in town, and I usually have a local fish’n’chips.  But I was too tempted by the seafood linguine with Jersey crab.  I do like a seafood restaurant that provides tartare sauce for you to help yourself.

Dessert was a Jersey ice cream!

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A quick change at the hotel, and I wandered through the lovely Howard Davis Park, before taking a paddle in the sea.

Then I caught the number 1 bus round the coast to Gorey Pier, a delightful little cove with bars and shop hugging the pier, where I treated myself to some grey drop earings in Jersey pearl.

then caught the number 13 bus to stop off at the Hotel de France.  My husband had stayed here 50 years ago, where he’d watched the moon landings.  As it was his birthday, I toasted him with a glass of bubbly. (Oh don’t worry, he was happily camping in a field with a crowd of bikers!)

Back to the hotel, change into LBD for the evening, and back to the town hall for another fabulous night.

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My foot lasted well, the food was lovely, the camaaderie was warm, and the live music from Strathallen was just brilliant.

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Affectionate goodbyes, see you agains, do come to Belfasts, and it was all over.

Breakfast in the Mornington was generous, but no hot options.  Fruit juice and cereal on the table, warm croissants are offered, then a choice of platters – ham and cheese, fruit, or cheese.  I went for the cheese one, which had English and French cheeses with a selection of fruit.

I put some cheese on my toast, and added the strawberries and peach to my delicious Jersey yoghurt.  Having not eaten the banana on my first day, I noticed there was no banana on my plate the next day.  If that was deliberate, then 5 gold stars for personalised service!

At the airport, I was delighted to find a Jersey produce shop, where I could buy some black butter and white wine, and enjoyed a fish finger snadwich which was generous goujons in some seeded sourdough.  Oh, and an orange and peppercorn g’n’t.

I would so visit this place again – feels like a holiday with the French influence and warm climate, but speaks English and uses same currency (with added pound notes).  The food is amazing – cream, butter, ice cream, yoghurt, wine, seafood….

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parkrun tourism: Sixmilewater

Now Updated! See below

Shoulda been event #64, and parkrun #262, but read on….

Reason for visit – attempting to regain regionnaire status.

 

Update – revisited in September and acheived regionnaire.  Event number 66 at 6 mile water.  Now called SixMileWalker in my book.

No parkrun last week as I’d been dancing in Scotland, and so missed the inaugural of Norn Irn’s latest, held in Sixmilewater Park, Ballyclare.  So I set off to complete my set.

Access:

Its about a 30 minute trip from Belfast, mostly motorway, with an Applegreen stop available en route.  Minnie was delighted to be back in her running harness, having missed out the past few weeks.

I’d used the sat nav co-ordinates given for parking, which took me to the War Memorial park, with nowhere obvious to park. I drove back around where I knew the run starts, and followed a “P” sign to try to find a car park, but to no avail.  In the end I parked at the Park’n’ride spaces at the bus station, and used the time-honoured method of “look for other parkrunners and follow them”.

Others parked at the Leisure Centre, where there are loos.  But no cafe.

Update: parked at the leisure centre this time, and used the clean well maintained loos.

It’s about 10 miles from the International Airport, which might tempt a few toruists, but with no public transport options you’d be relying on hire car, taxi or lift.

Crowd:

A number of parkrun toruists had the same idea as me, and there was a goodly collection of us for a photo.  Also, well done to Davy on reaching his 50th different event!

 

Numbers are still quite high (306 this week, 490 at the inaugural), but I’d expect those to drop off in the coming weeks.  It’s a dog friendly course, there were buggies, and a good few walkers.

Update: 180 at event number 10, and that seems to be the settled figure.

Course:

There#s one big lap, then 3 small ones.  Lollipop shaped, so out a stem from the start and then all the lopps, signposted, before returning to the start.  Start and finish are in the same place, so you can leave coats and stuff there, though it’s all outdoors.  It’s pretty flat and all on tarmac path.  Though it’s quite bunchy at the start, and the multiple laps does mean you’ll be overtaken quite a lot by the speedy front runners.

I’d done my first 10k of the year the previous night, and was just getting into the first lap and thinking, Wow, I’ve missed running!  when I missed my footing and went over my left foot.  My sunglasses went flying (but survived), and lots of runners stopped to make sure I was OK.  I had a grazed palm and elbow, but was finding it hard to put weight on my left foot.  After a brief sit down to catch my breath, my plan was to take it easy and walk the rest of the course.

As I ploughed on with Lap 2, it became obvious that I was going to have to abandon any plans to complete.  Rosie Ryan, who I’d met at Strabane, was voluntering, and she walked  back with me, telling me aboout her marathon experiences (at my request, as a distraction technique).  She also found the first aid kit and bandaged my ankle.

The voyage home:

I don’t know how I managed to drive home, using as few gears as possible.  I wrapped and iced and elevated my foot, but as the afternoon wore on it got more swollen and and more painful.  My first instinct was to reassure myself it would be fine, but then I reluctantly admitted that if it WAS broken, then ice and rest were not going to be enough.

So at 4pm I allowed R to drive me to A&E, where I settled in for an interesting few hours.  Saturday afternoon is obviously peak Sports Injury time, and the X-Ray machine was doing a roraing trade.  Some arrivals were accompanied by police officers, I suspect as Saturday evening wore on the picture would get messier and noisier.  As it was, I was discharged just before 8, with a fracture of my 5th metatarsel.  I have a big chunky boot to wear, and a pair of crutches to hobble on.  And it’s over to the fratcure clinic for rehab.

Future plans:

I’d hoped to do Buncrana next week, but that is clearly a re-schedule. I have flights and accommodation booked for Jersey and Copenhagen in September, so my best aim is to be able to walk gently round those.  Hey, at least they were able to save my leg!

 

Update: I tailwalked at both Jersey and Fælledparken!

And Sixmilewater will have to be graced with my presence at some future date.

Update: It was!  On a glorious September morning, where I briskly marched around to a sub-50 minute time, laughing aloud to the WithMeNow podcast.  Regionnaire Regained!

All My parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

Toby: Growing up

Coming up on 5 months old, and my the milestones keep coming.

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He’s started to think about lifting his leg when he has a pee.  No photos, I’m giving him some privacy!

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He does the most amazing full on  downward-facing-dog yoga stretches.  Bum right back so the front legs are fully extended, and then right the way forward so the back toes are on the floor.

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He loves the sun, and is happy to sunbathe whenever he can.

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He’s starting to get braver getting in and out of the car, and has once jumped down unaided.  We’ve been to Paws every day this week, without any throwing up incidents.

There’s been 2 consecutive nights with no pees or poos on the floor, and no other incidents indoors.

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He’s exhausted after a full day at Paws, and voluntarily takes himself into his crate for a wee snooze.  However, when I put him in and close the door for a whole 10 minutes while I have a shower, we have howls of “You’ve abandoned me!  I’m all alone here, a poor starving orphan!  How could you do this to meeeeeeee!”

He’s been a bit subdued this week, but that’s just cos he is missing Rog and Chris, currently living it up on a boys’ birthday bash in Vegas.  They’ll be home soon, I promise!

chris and dogs