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!

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Toby Week 8: Licence to chill

Another visit to the dog-tors this week, to get the required kennel cough which is important when he’s in contact with many other dogs at Paws Doggy DayCare.  While there, the vet gave him a good checking over, his weight is 10kg which is spot on, and all other checks showed him to be in great shape.  But oh, he is really timid when there, and retreats for cuddles in Dad’s arms.

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Talking of which, it’s been Dog-fathers Day!  The pupsters gave him a card with a pug on it, and a notebook with a staffy on it.  Chris is all about the Elvis, looking forward to their upcoming Vegas boys trip.

He really enjoys going to doggy day care, and has been there 3 days a week.  Look at him ready with Big Sis for the morning school run.

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He is knackered afterwards!

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Saturday was a bit of a trial – he pooped in Dad’s office, then threw up in the car! Maybe a little bit of ginger biscuit before a car trip will help the queasiness.

Sundays are family fun days, and a bit of off lead training in Moira Demesne, while I tail walked with Minnie at Moira Juniors parkrun

But his favourite lap to curl up in is Chris.

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parkrun tourism: Holy Cross, Strabane

parkrun#257 event#63

Reason for visit: tagging on a Fathers Day lunch.

Latest addition to the NI stable, and much to the delight of alphabeteers, it begins with a haitch!

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Access:

The postcode given on the parkrun page takes you right there.  From Omagh, through the delightfully pretty village of Sion Mills, and at the roundabout as you enter Strabane go straight ahead, past the Fir Trees hotel.

Facilities:

There is plenty of car parking, but even though the course takes place in the College grounds, there is no access to the building itself.  ie NO TOILETS!  Remember the Fir Trees Hotel you passed on the way?  Time to pay it a closer look.  There was tea, coffee and biscuits on this occasion, and there is a Mace shop across the road which does hot deli food if you fancy something more substantial.

Course:

The start is a little way from the finish, on a wide tarmac path.

Round a cone and onto the running track, which is mostly gravel.

Up a gentle (!) slope behind the school, and back around to the front.

On the 4th lap you finish here.

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The running track is quite wide, so make sure you hug the inner path if possible, or you’ll be running more than 5k.  There’s one wee stretch where runners are travelling in both directions, so keep to the right at this section.

Crowd:

Inaugurals attract crowds, but the just under 200 runners today were very well managed by the volunteer team.  I was one of at least 4 people wearing 250 shirts, and I recognised a few other familiar faces.  There were a couple of buggies, but this is a NO DOGS course, due to school rules.

The best surprise was when Dame Kelly Holmes turned up with a film crew.  She gave a short talk during the pre-run brief about the programme she’s making, which looks at the benefits of exercise like parkrun, not just physical but also for good mental health and stress management.  She then started at the back of the pack with her go-pro, gradually overtook the field, giving encouragement as she went, finished as first lady and then headed back out onto the course to give high fives and words of support to those still running.  And then she happily stayed chatting and posing for photos afterwards.  What a wonderful inspiring woman!

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Gear:

I had remembered to charge my Garmin and earphones.  Sadly, my phone had failed to charge overnight, so I was limited as to what photos I could take, and couldn’t use the music/ headphones.  I had my new barcode water bottle, which kept my water refreshingly cool.  The weather was miserable in Belfast, but as I headed west it gradually brightened, and I needed my sunglasses during the run.  Road shoes would be fine for the surface.

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Time:

I was aiming for sub-35, and managed it.

Strangely Appropriate Song on Shuffle:

No music on my headphones, but I did enjoy singing along to the car radio and Birdhouse In Your Soul, which I haven’t heard in a while

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All My parkruns:

list of all parkruns completed

Toby week 7: Under my umberella, ella, ella

Well, Mister Toby is not a fan of the rain!

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I’m still taking him out frequently to consolidate the house-training, so this week’s heavy showers have seen me standing by the back door with an umbrella, trying to encourage him to come with me in the micro-climate.  He is smart though – he figured out he could find some shelter under the honeysuckle hedge by the deck, and made a dash for there.

Morning tussles are a little less frentetic, though we still have the odd growly ownership dispute over a nylabone.  (There are 2 nylabones, but the concept of having one each is a little sophisticated).

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Days spent at Paws Doggy Daycare are filled with fun, and the staff are really good at posting photos and videos of their furry pupils.

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A new bed – a Game of Thrones printed big cushion – feel free to insert your GOT pun here.tobygot

And time for a big-boy “Ruffwear” harness for travelling in the car – it’s an S, same size as Minnie’s, but it has a lot of adjusting straps which make the fit just right. I think green is definitely his colour!

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Toby Week 6: ….and 4 months old!

This week it’s been Master Toby’s 4 month-birthday.  We didn’t have any cake, but we did get to go out together to Moira Juniors parkrun.  I tailwalked with Minnie, and Roger and Toby marshalled near the turn point, before heading into the middle of the park to do some off lead work.  He’s grown so fast he’s now in the next size up fleece.  And happily travels in the boot of my car with Minnie.

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Afterwards we tucked into McMuffins, and both dogs sat beautifully in the pleasant sunshine.  This made the whole experience quite relaxing.

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House training is about 80% – there have been a few times where he has gone to the door and squeaked, but we haven’t been quick enough to take him outside.  But that’s our fault, not his.

He’s a familiar face now at Paws, and I love checking in on the webcams to see how he’s doing.  He certainly has plenty of playmates.

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Bed destruction continues – he may well be the unintended dog, but an unattended dog is really asking for trouble!  Tell me this is just a puppy phase….