Weeknotes 2024-24

After work on Tuesday I met up with Matt, one of my university flatmates, who was in Ipswich for the day. We had a few beers and a curry, and a good catchup. I reckon we probably see each other a couple of times a decade or so on average, and as usual much of the conversation was reminiscing about various daft student goings-on, though my recollections at least are getting increasingly blurry with a scarcely believable 30+ intervening years.

I appear to have given up on #48in24 – the difficulty suddenly jumped up a few weeks ago when it went from fizzbuzz-level stuff to “solve this logic puzzle”, and I kind of ground to a halt, defeated by a battle to remember how to write Prolog (and with the knowledge that the other two languages would be far less suitable to the problem). Ah well.

Another Friday 5 this week – our club’s home race in Kirton. I struggled from about halfway again, but still finished quicker than the first two. A fair bit slower than the past couple of years though, but I suppose I am getting older!

About to be overtaken by Tom. Again.

I went to Bury St Edmunds on Saturday to see Pet Needs (again), at the Apex. I took the train, and went a bit early so I could have a wander round the Abbey Gardens first. I nipped into the local Wetherspoons (the Corn Exchange) for a pre-show drink and some dinner (thanks to a special on beef madras, if you pretend I would have paid full price for the 660ml bottle of Brewdog beer that I picked as the included drink, the curry itself only cost £2.50). While I was eating I looked up to see the band walk past my table, and Johnny mentioned the pub on stage, describing it as the poshest Wetherspoons he’s ever seen. No word on whether he knows where all the plug sockets are though.

The other bands on the bill were Slughouse, Gabby Rivers and Gaffa Tape Sandy – I think I’ve seen Slughouse before, but not the other two.

My phone battery ran out shortly after I got on the train to come home, which could have been an issue as it had my ticket on it. Fortunately I’d leant back and shut my eyes when the ticket inspector came through the train, and he presumably thought I was asleep and didn’t wake me to ask to see it. Also the barriers at Ipswich station were open, so I didn’t get accused of fare-dodging (I assume this happens to people all the time and there’s a process, but no doubt it would have been a pain of some sort).

Today I was sitting drinking my morning coffee when I slowly became aware that the odd behaviour from Badger cat by my feet was due to him having brought me a sparrow. I quickly got Badger out of the room, but while my back was turned the bird took the opportunity to hide. I managed to find it, by which time it had regained enough composure to start flying round. I eventually caught it, was about to let it out of the window until I saw Ninja cat lurking outside, so thought better of it and released it in the front garden instead. I’m pleased to report that it took off from my hand and flew across the road to some trees, apparently no worse for the experience.


Weeknotes 2024-23

I started the week by giving blood (donation number 63). I could have donated at any time since March, but had been putting it off for a while because I didn’t want it to interfere with races. Their requests for donation seemed to have been getting increasingly frantic lately (I’ve since been told that they’re at a “pre-amber” status), and I figured helping keep someone alive was more important than potentially finishing a few seconds slower when my times aren’t exactly competitive anyway! Fortunately my haemoglobin levels seem fine these days (thank you, multivitamin and iron tablets), and the blood seemed to pour out quickly.

On Tuesday we had another work meal, but this time with most of us present rather than just a few leads. We went to Mr Wing’s, which operates on an all you can eat basis but with specific dishes brought to you rather than buffet style, so naturally I ate far too much.

On my Steam Deck-inspired retro gaming binge (not really retro – to me that would be Space Invaders etc) I’ve now finished Portal 2, and moved onto Portal: Revolution, an excellent free unofficial sequel that I’d not played before.

Another Friday 5 on … er … Friday – this time Framlingham, which is also in the Suffolk Grand Prix series. I started OK, but after a couple of miles the missing red blood cells started catching up with me, and Holly started pulling away. Then Tom passed me too, which was more annoying because he’s in the same old man age category as me.

FRR at Fram

I dragged myself out for a slow parkrun on Saturday, then attempted a long run on Sunday, which turned into a bit of a fiasco. The original plan had been to run a trail route I’ve done before to Felixstowe, stop for chips at the seaside, then get a train back, but that didn’t quite work out …

Firstly, distracted by bumping into the Harpers near Foxhall stadium, I completely forgot to turn off and completely forgot where I was going and missed a turning. After a quick diversion we got back on the route, only to find it largely blocked by nettles and brambles. With a small detour into the field, then a pause to find sticks to beat the undergrowth aside with, we eventually made it to a proper path again. Once across the A12, I suddenly remembered having to fight through brambles on the other side when the rest of the path had been fine. Fortunately it wasn’t much worse today, and we were soon on the open pasture, but still walking due to the lack of any visible path.

The first clue that the “path” might not be in ideal condition

After reaching the road (past a herd of cows that fortunately just stared rather than giving chase), I realised we’d diverged from my planned route again, but figured we could follow a path through the farm and rejoin it. After much head-scratching we seemed to be back on track, but imagine my surprise when we suddenly reached the A12 again! Somehow I’d ended up following the trace on the map on my watch in the wrong direction (should have worn the orienteering bifocals!). At this point it seemed wise to cut our losses, give up on the chips, and turn it into a circular route. Had we known that the next couple of miles of path had completely disappeared, to be replaced by fields full of head-high nettles, we might have made a different choice.

Fighting through

We eventually made it through (with a small diversion round the edge of a farmer’s field), but even when the going got easier my body had apparently given up, with my heart rate up in the 180s even at a very gently pace, so there was even more walking. We ended up taking 3 hours 21 minutes to cover a mere 11.6 miles! It’s a good job Holly has a sense of humour and was prepared to chalk it down as an “adventure”, otherwise I think I might have lost a running buddy. It’s now five hours later, and my legs are still tingling horrendously from all the nettle stings and bramble scratches – next time I think I’ll take a machete!


Weeknotes 2024-22

Another four-day week that felt longer, and the weather continues to lurch between winter and summer. Perhaps now May is finally out, we can finally cast that clout?

I didn’t do much useful with the bank holiday, other than changing the pads on the rear brake on my bike. I didn’t do a good enough job of backing the callipers off, and ended up giving myself some bonus exercise by cycling five miles each way to work with the brakes binding. Not exactly what I needed, sandwiched in between a 6 mile run for coffee in the morning and club training in the evening!

A few of us from work went to the Maybush for a meal on Wednesday, to meet a new joiner to the team, who’s in Ipswich for a couple of weeks to find his feet before being exiled to Birmingham, where we’re being forced to recruit people now (despite the rest of us being based here), because reasons. Fortunately that was one of the days when the weather cooperated (apart from a couple of spots of rain), and we were able to sit outside by the river.

This week saw the first fixture of the Friday 5 series (five mile road races), in Sudbury. I just about managed to scrape under 35 minutes, but hopefully I can improve on that as the series goes on. It was a reasonable temperature for running, but got a bit chilly standing around afterwards.

For a bit of a change on Sunday I had another go at orienteering, with a score event in Holywells and Landseer parks, which involved visiting as many controls as you could in 45 minutes, in whatever order you wanted. I remembered to start my watch for once, and did a slightly better job of navigating this time, although I did give up on one control after wasting too long looking. My main mistake was to leave my watch on auto-pause, which meant guessing how long I actually had left after adding on stationary time. Oh, and my other mistake was forgetting that the map contained symbols describing the specific control locations (eg by a tree, or on a bridge), which would have simplified the search. I ended up a minute and a half over time, which meant losing two controls’ worth of points, but at least I wasn’t last! Neil and I ran a circuitous route back along the Orwell (after passing the pesky control that neither of us could find, to prove it actually existed!) and through Ravenswood, to tot up a few extra miles.

At the finish, with Neil the Vicar

No mow May (and other months) rumbles on.

Unmown front garden

Weeknotes 2024-21

It seems I’ve not done much of interest this week. I’m still enjoying replaying old games on the Steam Deck – I’ve finished Portal and Limbo, got a fair way through Portal 2, and am not doing great at the original Half Life (which I’ve never actually finished), despite playing on easy mode. It’s basically just another thing to play with and avoid doing anything useful with my evenings.

Obviously the running continues as usual, with a track session on Wednesday on top of the usual club training on Tuesday. I managed to make it to Run for Coffee on Friday, and got a reasonably long run in on Sunday in what I was expecting to be torrential rain but turned out to be warm sunshine.

Run for Coffee
Refreshment stop with four miles to go

Bank holiday tomorrow, and I really must use it to actually get some work done in the house or garden!


Weeknotes 2024-20

It seems summer’s back again, although there were also a couple of days of getting soaked riding to work earlier in the week.

It looked like one of those wet days was going to ruin Run for Beer again, but after a damp start to the day Wednesday evening turned out to be warm and sunny. This month we ran a circular trail route from the Freston Boot, and Rachel, Heather and I also ran there from Ipswich over the Orwell Bridge too (but got a lift home). In an exciting new development, we also decided mid-run to make a small diversion via Holbrook for a swift half in the Swan. I ordered a pint of what I assumed from the look of the pump label was some kind of dark beer, but was actually cider. Not unpleasant though. Food in the Boot was good, but a bit galling to find out after recovering from the shock of paying over £20 for a burger and chips that they’d also chucked a 10% service charge on top.

The other side of the bridge
Pitstop in the Swan
Freston Boot

After parkrun on Sunday I actually did something useful and strimmed the increasingly long grass and weeds growing in the middle of my driveway. I also removed the grass that was blocking the soakaway at the end of the drive, then removed the grate and pulled out a huge clump of mud and roots. I suspect that may mean less of a puddle up there when it rains!


Another hot day on Sunday (as it seems to be every year) for the Woodbridge 10k. Tough for the runners, but good for the spectators, who always turn out in good numbers for this one. Also good for standing outside the pub for a couple of pints afterwards!

Woodbridge 10k
Post-race recovery at the Anchor

Holly for some reason wanted some more miles for the week, so I talked myself into joining her for an extra (much slower) 10k round the boardwalks once we got back to Ipswich. At least there was more shade from the trees than there was during the race. Also couldn’t resist a quick photo at the infamous hollow tree!

Managed not to terrify any passing runners this time

Weeknotes 2024-19

Despite Monday being a bank holiday, this week mysteriously felt really long. On Wednesday I was really struggling to remember that it wasn’t Friday. Also, as predicted, the weather’s gone from “why is it still so cold” to “it’s too hot”.

On Friday I saw some vague chatter about the possibility of seeing an aurora across the UK, but was convinced that it wouldn’t come to anything, or at the very least would constitute a few faint coloured streaks if you looked really hard. I went to bed early, slept well, and woke up to find social media filled with all my friends posting amazing photos from their back gardens. Oh well, that’ll teach me. Mind you, I get the impression it looked far more impressive in photos than in real life, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Saturday was the Twilight 5k, a very flat fast race round the Ipswich waterfront, and surprisingly one of the very few local 5k events. It was the scene of my one and only sub-20 time (19:19 – I’m still not sure how that happened!), back in 2019, which after trying for several years would have finally qualified me for the fast wave, but then they switched to just asking for an estimated time, and of course Covid put paid to it for a while. This year the fast wave was tightened up to sub-19, so I think I can give up any hope of a chance to be the slowest of the fast people, but I was kind of hopeful of finally getting under 20 again. I even skipped parkrun in the morning, for the first time in 18 months or so, but alas it wasn’t to be, with a stitch after the first lap putting paid to any hope of maintaining the required pace. I ended up with 20:19, which was a bit disappointing, although it turns out that’s not far off a 75% age graded time, so I can’t really complain.

Finishing the Twilight 5k, looking about as bad as I felt.

After a few post-race beers I went home to bed, getting up a couple of times in case the aurora made a second appearance. Predictably, it didn’t, other than a possible vaguely greenish tinge to the sky at one point.

Thanks to some typically poor race-entering admin on my behalf, I then had to get up for the Stephen Williams 10k on Sunday morning. For some reason the weather at this event is always really warm, and this year continued the trend (although nothing like as hot the first year it took place). I managed to drag my tired legs round in just under 46 minutes. I decided that it’s officially summer, and risked opening my sunroof for the drive home, for the first time since mid November when I replaced the one that got stuck half-open. Pleased to report smooth operation, although to be fair I haven’t actually tried closing it again yet.


Weeknotes 2024-18

After last week’s fiasco of leaving my car keys at work, this Tuesday I made sure they were definitely on the kitchen table before cycling to work. I brought my laptop home again, with the intention of sneaking an extra work-from-home day in on Wednesday, but left my jeans in the locker again. This would have been fine except that that (a) I was going out on Wednesday night, (b) I should probably have more than one decent pair of jeans, and (c) I’d just washed the other pair, and they were still drying. I ended up going in to the office after my 9 o’clock customer catchup call on Wednesday (so I could get a 9.5 mile Run for Coffee in first), then left shortly after lunch, having barely spoken to any of the few other people who were in.

The main reason for coming home early was that my Steam Deck was due to be delivered in the afternoon. I’m not a massive gamer, leaning more towards classic and indie games, but even the limited selection that have been ported to macOS has dwindled, with a lot of older titles no longer running on 64 bit machines. The Steam Deck seemed like a good way of being able to casually play the odd game here and there, the price for a factory reconditioned 256GB model wasn’t too bad, and it seems like a pretty nice device so far. I’ve started playing through Portal and Limbo yet again, as well as the original Half Life, which I never quite managed to finish. I also realised that since leaving Twitter I wasn’t finding out about Steam sales or Humble Bundle deals, so I need to start looking out for them elsewhere.

On Wednesday night we went to the pub quiz again, and this time they’d remembered our reservation. We somehow managed to win again, but annoyingly in the process of taking the 50% off our bill that they’d promised for the mistake last time, and also taking off our £50 winnings, I’m pretty sure they managed to do them in the wrong order, and effectively halve our winnings too. I did half-heartedly query it, but he seemed sure he’d done it right. Still, can’t really complain to have paid under a fiver for a quiz, a meal and a couple of pints.

On Saturday I ran to parkrun rather than cycling, then on my way home had to weave through a town centre already increasingly full of Ipswich fans preparing for the game that would see them promoted to the Premiership. I shudder to think what things must have been like in the afternoon and evening after the match.

On Saturday I did the Kesgrave Fun Run, as a sharpener for next weekend’s Twilight 5k. I just about managed to squeeze under 20 minutes, in my fastest time of four times doing this event, but for some reason (probably because it’s a charity run organised by a pub, rather than a serious race!) the course is always about 150 metres short. Still, with a bit of luck and better rested legs, I might stand a chance of getting a legitimate sub 20 next week. In true British fashion, after months of moaning that it was still winter, the sun came out so we deliberately found a table in the shade for a post-race beer.


Weeknotes 2024-17

This has been the first week of stricter enforcement of the “three together, two wherever” (ie at least three days in the office) policy at work. It’s mildly annoying, but at least it’s not too far and I’m colocated with people I actually work with. It must be very irritating to people forced to make a long commute to sit in an office full of strangers, each on their own Teams calls. More to the point though, and more on-brand, it indirectly provided this week’s tale of incompetence. Having decided to take advantage of three consecutive days in the office by leaving my laptop in my changing room locker rather than lugging it in and back on my bike every day, I thought I might as well leave my jeans there on Tuesday too, given that I only needed running gear to go out in the evening. Only when I got home did I remember noticing early in the day that my car key was in my pocket, rather than in its normal place on the kitchen table. Fortunately I managed to scrounge a lift to Felixstowe for training.

On Wednesday I got a train to Norwich to see Jim Bob at the Waterfront. There was no support, just one set with just Chris TT on piano, then a second with the full Hoodrats band. A very quiet crowd by Carter standards, and no bubble machine from Mr Spoons during Touchy Feely at the end, but a great night of Carter and solo tunes nonetheless.

Jim Bob and the Hoodrats

I managed (just) to wake up and drag myself out of bed to run for coffee on Friday. I even put some effort in on the Strava segment through Christchurch Park, and surprised myself by recording my fastest time. Garmin’s also marked it as my fastest 1k, which makes for a very flattering time given how downhill it is.

Inspired by that, with no Sunday racing to provide an excuse, and with my usual parkrun run & chat partner working a Saturday shift, I pushed myself on Saturday too, and managed my tenth-fastest parkrun, second-fastest on that course, and second-best age grade. Then a long slow run in Sunday’s drizzle to really finish my legs off.


Weeknotes 2024-16

Having commented on how fortunate last Sunday’s weather was, given how far we had to walk in shorts & vests before and after the LB 10k, Monday demonstrated just how fortunate, with wind, rain, hail and a sudden end to the brief spell of summery weather almost before it had started. I opted not to leave the house.

I’ve now finished watching all the A-Team episodes. Season four started getting silly (from, to be fair, quite a high starting point), with big name guest appearances (Hulk Hogan twice, Isaac Hayes, [Cow]Boy George etc), and Season five completely lost the plot, in that they end up working for the CIA (in the person of Robert Vaughn), Murdoch’s been released from the VA, and they have a new team member for no obvious reason. No great surprise that it was cancelled midway through, although it’s a puzzle why the last two episodes were swapped round, with the obvious finale followed by what looks like a very low budget last outing, that begins with footage spliced in from a previous season then mostly takes place inside an Italian restaurant. Anyway, if my count is correct they only get locked in a workshop five times (plus once in a toy/firework warehouse) across the whole 95-episode run, which is fewer times than Endo off of Lethal Weapon makes an appearance as a generic baddy henchman.

Apparently I’ve now solved my Rubik’s puzzle cube over 2,500 times (and that’s just the ones I used the timer for), which I’m sure is perfectly normal and fine. My average time is now around 50s, and I don’t think my memory is up to learning enough extra algorithms to get it much faster.

Wednesday should have been Run for Beer, but once again a poor weather forecast put everyone off. I went out for a little solo trail run anyway, and to be fair I did end up slightly cold and wet. The bluebells were nice though.


For some reason I kept thinking Thursday was Friday, to the extent that I even made rock buns in the evening to take to parkrun. I was quite disappointed to wake up the next morning and remember there was still one day of the working week left. I did at least manage to refrain from eating most of the rock buns, so I could still take them to parkrun.

I ate a bit of the extreme chilli chocolate from a long ago beer festival that’s still in the fridge. It’s been long enough since I ate any (not sure how long exactly, but it’s best before 2015) that I thought maybe it wasn’t so painfully hot after all. I can, however, report that yes, it very much is. Maybe I’ll have another bite in a few more years.

I went for a long run on Sunday, and missed most of the traditional “Where’s Wally” activity of trying to spot people I know in the BBC London Marathon coverage. Lots of people seemed to do very well though. Obviously I’m never going to do a marathon, but also obviously I’ve put myself into the ballot for next year as usual.


Weeknotes 2024-15

Quiet week, apparently.

Spring seems to have very much sprung, with temperatures hitting 20?C at the weekend (first week of cycling to parkrun with nothing over my T-shirt) and bluebells etc springing up everywhere.

Little Bromley 10k on Sunday – one of the fastest local races of that distance (my PB is on the older version of the course). Good weather again, which is always a relief as there’s quite a distance to walk from the car park to the start and even further from the finish back to the car, and I wouldn’t fancy that if it were cold and raining. It went pretty well, and I came away with my second fastest ever time, which is pleasing as an increasingly old man. Then after getting home we cycled to the pub for a few pints outside in the sunshine, which has naturally written off the rest of the afternoon.

Er …

… that’s it.