parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #24

I haven’t forgotten about all my parallel universe games, I promise! I’m just moving them to a different day of the week on the blog, as Saturdays are now ‘parkrundays’ again and so I’m spending the afternoons playing with stats and spreadsheets rather than playing with game code.

Today was the second parkrunday back in England after the hiatus. I had made sure to get my volunteering slot booked at Jesmond Dene, which I now consider to be one of my twin home parkruns alongside Town Moor.

parkrun volunteering
At my marshal point (before the rain started). I like the colour of the new pink hi-viz vests that are now standard for parkrun volunteers, but I’m not really a fan in practical terms – they’re nowhere near as visible as the old yellow versions.

I love the surroundings of Jesmond Dene – it’s a beautiful place. However, it’s a very tough and hilly course, so in some ways I prefer volunteering there to running it! (I will run it again soon though.) Geth ran the course this morning and has decided to make it his monthly hill training session when I’m doing my monthly volunteering stint!

It is really lovely having parkrun back in England. It has felt so easy to slip back into it – like it’s never been away – but I know I will never take it for granted again, like so many other things. I’m crossing everything that Scotland and Wales will follow soon (there are so many I want to do in Scotland!).

Back on the Moor next week…

Summer adventuring

Geth and I are back in Newcastle after a few days in Edinburgh visiting Mum and Dad. It was so good to be able to wander around my home city again! I was still fairly busy with day job work, but I was also able to get some running in, including a long run along the Union Canal accompanied by Dad on the bike. The company and extra water (and choice of out-and-back route) meant that I actually finished my planned distance this week! I will be running along a totally different canal next week, but hopefully it will give me a similar boost.

Other than a bit of parkrun volunteering tomorrow morning, I’m planning a very quiet weekend!

Running along the Union Canal
Some beautiful aqueducts along the Union Canal! Photo (c) John Cooke 2021.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘The Place I’ll Return To Someday’

Sunday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Airship Theme’

Monday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Shop Theme’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Aerith’s Theme’

Tuesday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Eyes On Me’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Searching For Friends’

Wednesday

John Waite – ‘Missing You’

Thursday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Aerith’s Theme’

Friday

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – ‘Locomotion’

(It’s been a bit of a Final Fantasy soundtrack week.)

2020 Pestos #12: Sacla No. 2 Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

My second favourite pesto, but also the one I’ve loved longest.

Sacla No. 2 Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Sacla No. 2 Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

I’ve fallen in and out of love with the Sacla Classic Basil Pesto over the years, as the recipe has changed so much. The tomato version, on the other hand, never changes, and so it has stayed a strong favourite of mine (I had it again tonight). When I was little and first discovered it, it used to be called ‘red pesto’, which is generally still the term I use.

There are lots of red pestos out there, but supermarket ones tend to taste a bit bland, like generic tomato pasta sauce. The Sacla version is sharp and rich and tastes exactly right, which is why no imitation has ever beaten it for me.

1,096 days

I broke a record today.

Faroe Islands, 1986
In a Faroese town centre with Dad, July 1986.

My previous lifetime record for consecutive days spent in the UK was 1,095 days. With Mum and Dad, I sailed back from our holiday in the Faroe Islands to Shetland on 7th July 1986. I then didn’t leave the UK again until 6th July 1989, when I sailed from England to France with Mum, Dad and Malcolm. During that three-year period we did get on a lot of ferries – we were visiting my grandparents in Shetland a lot as my grandmother was poorly by then – but it wasn’t until that French trip in 1989 that we went abroad again.

France, 1989
In a French town centre with Mum, July 1989.

Growing up in the 1990s I was lucky enough to travel a lot with the family. We went abroad almost every year, usually to continental Europe but sometimes to North America too. In my late teens I often went on holiday abroad with friends, and after I met Geth, while most of our travelling was UK-based, we typically ventured out to other countries once a year or so, usually to coincide with one of his academic conferences or work trips.

2018 was the last such trip to date. Geth was meeting international colleagues in Toronto, and we decided to combine that with a holiday as it was an opportunity to visit Malcolm and Steff. Mum and Dad were able to match the dates for their planned trip to Toronto too, and so it was a lovely get-together with the family. I flew back from Toronto and arrived in Edinburgh on the morning of 25th July 2018. That was 1,096 days ago – exactly three years. I haven’t left the UK since.

Canada, July 2018
In a Canadian city centre by myself, July 2018. Mum and Dad were around somewhere though!

I had no idea it would be my last trip abroad for such a long time. Breaking this particular record was obviously not my plan! I passed on joining Geth on a work trip to Oslo in June 2019, as I was really busy with work and other things at the time, but I had a ticket to see Duran Duran in Dublin in June 2020, and we planned to go back to Toronto in summer 2020, and we wanted to have a couple of city breaks in Paris and Amsterdam in autumn 2020…

Yeah. 2020.

It’s funny how much I took travelling for granted before. There were lots of places in the world I wanted to see, and the only things stopping me from seeing them were time, money and the anxiety I always have around travelling due to mental issues with routine. It never occurred to me, pre-pandemic, that the world would ever be in a situation where I simply wouldn’t be allowed to go to these places (or that it would be so logistically difficult and/or risky that it wouldn’t be worth it). Nowadays, as I sit in the house watching cities like Sydney and Tokyo and New Orleans and Johannesburg and Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro fly by, in documentaries and films and videogames on my screens, and in the pages of the books I read, and the academic works I edit, and the stories I write myself… I always think the same old thing I always did. ‘I’ll go there someday!’ And then I feel sad, because I don’t know when that will be possible again in the same way that it was before. Years away, perhaps.

I had a ticket to see Duran Duran in Dublin in June 2020. Then I had a ticket to see Duran Duran in Dublin in June 2021. Now I have a ticket to see Duran Duran in Dublin in June 2022. I hope it happens. I hope the world won’t make me go a whole quarter of a decade or more without seeing my brother, whom I last saw in person on my birthday in January 2020. I hope I’ll be running parkruns in Paris and Amsterdam next year. But the last year and a half has taught me that I can’t be certain.

I can hope, though. I really, really hope that the world will go back to what we once thought of as normality.

Until then I will just keep patiently counting days. And hope that I am setting a record I will never break again!

Flying Saturday post

It was AMAZING to be back at parkrun today, flying in a different way (at least for the last 800 metres – the preceding 4.2k was a bit of a plod). Having a slow Saturday now. More games from the parallel universe next week!

Town Moor parkrun
The best thing about races and parkruns is the incentive to speed up a bit towards the end. Photo by Mark Slade for Town Moor parkrun.

Occasional normality

It’s been another busy week at work and I’m really glad it’s the weekend. Geth and I are going to parkrun tomorrow morning! It’s finally back in England for the first time since that strange weekend in March 2020, and I’m very excited to return. Our home parkrun has a new name (formerly Newcastle, now Town Moor due to several other parkruns now existing in Newcastle) and a new course and a mostly-new core team running it, so it’s a bit of a new era all round. It feels very strange that we can finally parkrun again after so many false starts, but it feels like the right time. I hope Scotland and Wales aren’t too far behind.

Other than that I’m going to be chilling out with videogames this weekend, both creating and playing. I have returned to Final Fantasy I this week so I’ll be spending some time with that! I’ve also still got a lot of ParserComp entries to get through before the voting deadline next weekend, and I’m really excited to get some coding done as well.

The weather is still hot and not conducive to long runs. I’ve moved my long run day to Thursday, both because of events happening later in the training programme (to be precise, due to COVID-induced race lag, the rescheduled GNR falls precisely three weeks before the rescheduled-rescheduled London Marathon, and in a marathon training programme you’re supposed to do your 22-miler three weeks before marathon day, and I’m not doing an extra nine miles before or after the GNR! …so I’ll do it on the Thursday and have a gentle plod round the dodgily-rerouted ‘GNR’ three days later, no racing it) and because mental health wise I need FULL WEEKENDS at the moment that are not completely taken up with running, so it’s best to squeeze the long run in on a weekday instead. My last two long runs have ended up being cut short due to heatwave collapse, so next week I’m going to grit my teeth and attempt an out-and-back in the hope that, by the time I’m struggling, I’ll already be ‘on my way home’ and so it’ll be mentally easier.

Lots of groups and classes from pre-pandemic life now inviting me back, but as I’ve always said, these things will need to happen very gradually for me as I don’t want to jump straight back into Constantly Doing Stuff. Ignoring the FOMO and doing my own thing for a while longer.

Weeping willow
My favourite tree in the garden. It looks great in the summer.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Yuna’s Theme’
Crowded House – ‘Weather With You’
Don Henley – ‘Boys Of Summer’
Duran Duran – ‘Give It All Up’

Sunday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Cosmo Canyon’

Monday

Paul Weller – ‘You Do Something To Me’

Tuesday

Calvin Harris – ‘Summer’

And a bonus track Geth was humming that day:

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘To Zanarkand’

Wednesday

Therion – ‘Summer Night City’
Duran Duran – ‘To The Shore’

Thursday

Boston – ‘More Than A Feeling’
Levellers – ‘The Fear’
Duran Duran – ‘Shadows On Your Side’

Friday

Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Airship Theme’
John Waite – ‘Missing You’
Manami Kiyota – ‘Satorl Marsh (Night)’

Phone Box Thursday: Edinburgh Revisit

Mum took a photo of these George Street phone boxes for me the other week. Edinburgh is looking summery in a particularly Edinburgh way! (Grey skies included, but mainly because of the marquees that are out so that people can dine al fresco in the drizzle.)

I haven’t visited these phone boxes in aaaages and am so glad to see they’re still standing proud!

Red phone box
Red phone box, George Street, Edinburgh, 13th July 2021.

I can’t wait to visit Edinburgh again.