Playlist Pick: Nick Rhodes and Wendy Bevan, ‘Pandora & Prometheus’

I’ve been in a ‘soundtrack’ mood recently, which has coincided well with the most recent piece of excitement in Duran Duran world – Nick Rhodes’ latest side project with Wendy Bevan, Astronomia, released last week.

This album – a series of soundscapes themed around the planet Saturn – has provided a lovely array of background chill for my working afternoons recently. Can’t listen to party tunes all the time!

2020 Pestos #2: Asda Extra Special Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

I was expecting big things from this pesto, because its green equivalent (to be logged soon) is one of my very favourite pestos of all time. The tomato version doesn’t quite reach the same heights, but it’s still a very respectable offering.

Asda Extra Special Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Asda Extra Special Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

The tomato taste in this pesto is nice and rich, and it feels like a luxury option. The only thing I would change is that it’s a little too oily – I would hold up the Sacla equivalent (also to be logged soon) as the gold standard for oil level in a tomato pesto, while most supermarket luxury range pestos such as this one tend to go with the ‘floating in oil’ effect. It doesn’t spoil the taste though!

A very different type of pesto next time.

Sunday Race Memories: Great North 10k 2016

Ah, the Great North 10k 2016. Known in my world as ‘the one where I came last out of thousands of people’, and also ‘the one where that was actually a good thing because being last in a race of that magnitude turns out to be a special experience in itself’.

Great North 10k 2016
Out on my own at the back of the race. Photo by Ian Harman Photography.

I finished this race in 1:40:38; this was within the cutoff time so I avoided the ignominy of the sweeper bus, though it came perilously close at times. I realised as soon as I set out from the start line, with everybody else zooming off at a much faster pace than me, that I was going to be among the last finishers, but I didn’t expect the course to look so empty so quickly. By about 1k in, there were only about five other runners in sight. ‘That’s what happens to the hare!’ joked one of them as we passed a dead rabbit. We were most definitely the tortoises on that day.

Another kilometre in, and I had lost sight of the remaining runners in front of me; those behind me never reappeared, so they must have dropped out. However, the majority of the Great North 10k route is an out-and-back, so there were plenty of runners coming back the other way, many of whom gave me encouragement as I struggled along the first half of the course. I even got a high five from local fundraising hero Big Pink Dress! As I approached the turnaround point, though, the crowd quickly thinned out and it became apparent that I was a long way behind everyone else. I kept glancing around to see how much space was between me and the sweeper bus, and started to get a bit nervous.

For the rest of the race, I was accompanied by the back markers on their bikes, so it wasn’t a totally lonely experience. I had to take quite a lot of walk breaks as my hip was really hurting (I had a lot of problems with it before I lost weight), but eventually I made it to Gateshead Stadium, where the finish line was waiting for me on the track. As I staggered into the stadium, I heard my name announced, then the opening bars of ‘Chariots Of Fire’ sounded over the speaker system… and I found that somehow, I did have a sprint finish in me after all, haring down the track towards the finish line to the sound of the Vangelis classic. Nobody was more surprised than the back markers who’d been patiently watching me trundle along for the last hour or so!

I don’t think I’ll ever be last in a race again (or I hope not at least – I have improved quite a lot since those days, even if I am still pretty slow!). However, I’m really glad that I was, once. It’s a special experience that most runners won’t have.

Saturday ’80s Photo: You Can’t Keep Vintage Hot Water Bottles

I had some hip pain the other week (one of the less fun effects of increased running mileage) and so I dug out my hot water bottle with the intention of getting some nice soothing heat on the complaining muscles. I’ve had the same hot water bottle since I was about six (it lives in a ‘The Snowman’ cover) and it probably wasn’t 100% new then, so I’m guessing it’s been kicking about since the late ’80s.

It turns out that hot water bottles don’t have thirty-year-plus lifespans 🙁

Expired hot water bottle

Since I last used it (not sure when but it would have been years ago), the rubber has hardened to the point where it’s cracked apart. Looks like I’m going to have to replace it with a *sigh* modern one 🙁

I ended up sorting out the hip with some yoga, plus a little help from a microwaveable rice bag. I definitely prefer a hot water bottle though so will in all seriousness be on the lookout for a replacement.

Finishing off the month

A fairly hectic week this week as I’ve had a lot of things to get finished before the end of the month. My ear is feeling a lot better after finishing my antibiotics course, and my energy has seemingly returned, so I’ve been able to start improving my running speed again.

My main focus this week has been getting the bulk of the work finished for my current Adventuron jam game. I’ve spent this week finishing off the coding and am looking forward to getting stuck into the graphics over the weekend. I’m really excited about getting everything put together and spending a few days working with playtesters before the deadline!

I’ve also been continuing with my long walks and increased-distance runs, which are really nice now that the spring weather has arrived. It means that I’ve pretty much doubled my pace on the LEJOG challenge I’m doing and should be well on track to finish by the end of the year!

There’s been quite a bit of day job work this week too. Business has picked up a bit recently after last year’s slight COVID slump and I’ve got some important plans for going forward that I’m going to start implementing soon.

Finally, I’ve made sure to get some quality downtime with videogames when possible. I’m still really enjoying Bravely Default II and expect it will take me a good couple of months to finish. So many games on the list afterwards that I can’t wait to play…

I would say I’m hoping that next week will be quieter, but there’s a Camp NaNoWriMo month starting and I expect I’ll end up doing something for that! Maybe not with a super high wordcount this time though…

Jesmond Dene
Still enjoying my spring return to Jesmond Dene!

This week’s earworm playlists:


Bucks Fizz – ‘My Camera Never Lies’
Sting – ‘Englishman In New York’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’


Camila Cabello – ‘Liar’
Captain Ska – ‘Liar Liar Ge2017’
Kevin Gillis – ‘Run With Us’


Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Revo – ‘Savalon’


The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’


Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Kirsty MacColl – ‘Days’
Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Coldplay – ‘Fix You’
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’


Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’


Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
The Proclaimers – ‘Make My Heart Fly’

Playlist Pick: The Midnight and Nikki Flores, ‘Because The Night’

There’s a few new music releases I’ve been excited about this week, including Horror Show, the new EP from The Midnight. I gave it a first listen on Saturday and was charmed by this cover of Patti Smith’s classic ‘Because The Night’. It’s now made its way into my ‘synthwave favourites’ playlist!

The whole EP is good quality synthwave as ever from The Midnight so it might provide a few more playlist picks over the next few weeks!

Booze Alternative: Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé

I first tried this alcohol-free sparkling rosé last summer, but it’s become a regular buy recently as it’s always in stock at the big Asda where we do our weekly shop.

Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé
Belle & Co Sparkling Rosé.

I’ve tried a few non-alcoholic rosés, but this one really stands out because the rosy taste is very strong. It’s also quite light so another good summer option.

Not to be confused with the similarly-named leggings company!

I also regularly drink the white version, which I’ll review next time.