Sunday Race Memories: Sunderland 10k 2016

A few months after the freezing Great Winter Run 2016, I did my first 10k race. The Run Sunderland event in May is a nice flat course, and these days I get a PB there every year (when it’s not cancelled for pandemic reasons). However, the first time I did it, it felt pretty tough!

Sunderland 10k 2016
Looking a bit apprehensive on the start line.

It was a fairly miserable wet day (during my early days of running, the trend seemed to be that all my training runs took place in glorious sunshine and all my races in bad weather!), and I found the distance really tough going. I had run 10k in training (about a week before the race), and that had gone okay, but the day of the race was tougher (perhaps due to the weather) and at 6-7k in I was really struggling and plodding along.

Still, I made it round in about an hour and a half, and so because the half marathon runners set off about half an hour after the 10k runners, I got to the finish before the half marathon winner – which I took as a victory that day!

These days 10k feels like a relatively easy distance (I meandered round it in a much faster time at ‘exploring’ pace last weekend), but back in 2016 it was hard. Just needed a bit more practice 🙂

Saturday ’80s Photo: One Car Among Many #3

Today we’ve got a couple of 1981 photos of Mum and Dad (and Granny!) standing next to what seems to be an Opel Manta B. Looks like a nice spacious car!

Opel Manta B, 1981

I came across an interesting article about why cars went from boxy to curved during the ’90s. I wonder if angular cars will ever make a comeback?

1981 fashions

Bonus picture of Mum and Granny next to the car. I love Granny’s coat!

More ’80s stuff (possibly cars) next week.

Up and down energy

It’s not been a bad week. The only thing slowing me down has been an ear infection that I picked up last week (god knows where from given that I never see anyone at the moment!). Following a phone appointment with the doctor, I’ve managed to get some antibiotics, but so far I’ve been up and down with them – hoping it settles down over the weekend. I’ve also been feeling a bit stiff and achy again, so there’s been a fair few evening yoga sessions over the last few days!

Work-wise I’ve been trying to do focused days this week rather than trying to do a small amount of ten different things every day. I feel like it works a bit better when I can just sit down and concentrate on one thing for most of the day rather than chopping and changing and trying to squeeze everything in.

I managed a day off on Wednesday, which was great, as I wanted a bit of time to sit down and play videogames (I’ve not had the energy for it in the last couple of weeks, which is usually a bad sign). Wednesday is a good day to take off if necessary, as it’s the weekday when I’m least likely to have urgent work from clients.

I’m playing the Fetchpoint game on Fetch Everyone again, which is kind of like virtual geocaching and involves collecting lots of invisible tokens around my local area. This is getting me out walking more often (and helping to vary my running routes), which is a good thing as we move into spring.

I’m mostly concentrating on the Adventuron jam this month, but in April I’m hoping to have a bit of time to work on my business website – I’m going to be changing a lot of terms soon and need to revamp the site accordingly.

A big week of game-creating ahead as we’re reaching the final push of the current jam. Fingers crossed I can carve out lots of time to get it finished!

Jesmond Dene
Geth and I went to Jesmond Dene for a walk last weekend. It was so nice to be back in the Dene for the first time after the winter.

This week’s earworm playlists:


Simply Red – ‘Money’s Too Tight To Mention’
Kanye West – ‘Stronger’


John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’
The Boomtown Rats – ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
Frankie Miller – ‘Caledonia’
Girls Aloud – ‘Sound Of The Underground’
Matthew Wilder – ‘Break My Stride’


Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – ‘Islands In The Stream’
Joe Hisaishi – ‘Battle’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’


Kanye West – ‘Stronger’
Muse – ‘Feeling Good’
UB40 – ‘If It Happens Again’


Joe Hisaishi – ‘Battle’
Cheryl – ‘Call My Name’


Bros – ‘I Owe You Nothing’
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – ‘Human’
Let Loose – ‘Crazy For You’
Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’


Revo – ‘Halcyonia’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
J Balvin and Willy William – ‘Mi Gente’

Phone Box Thursday: Edinburgh Revisit #1

Mum took a few phone box photos for me in central Edinburgh last year. I had already logged most of these boxes but it’s nice to be able to post an update!

Red phone boxes
Red phone boxes, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, 30th September 2020.

These are the two boxes on George IV Bridge, between the two big Edinburgh libraries (Central Lending Library and National Library of Scotland). I originally photographed them in 2016 and have now updated the 2018 post.

I expect there’ll be a few more Edinburgh revisits in the next few weeks while I continue to hunt for the next Doctor Who example.

Playlist Pick: Kesha, ‘Tik Tok’

I’ve been venturing back to more modern times for my pop playlist this week. I’m considerably behind with the UK charts (hence why there haven’t been any New Hits Friday posts or Now! reviews for a LONG time… I’ll get back to them eventually). Still, it’s been nice to enjoy a few favourites from my 2010s list over the last few days. Not every single pop song was awful in the 2010s! Just… most of them.

Geth has been watching The Simpsons on Disney Plus recently and has reached the episodes from around 2009/2010. As such, I’m getting fairly major nostalgia for pop music from early 2010, which was when, after many years of being Too Goff (TM), I started following the chart again as part of a slightly pretentious project to study ‘cultural history in the making’ for an entire decade. Side note: I can’t believe that at age twenty-five, I already felt far too old and out of touch for pop music when listening to the charts. It really is a teenager’s game.

Anyway, this offering from late 2009 has been in my head for a fortnight now due to being featured in the opening sequence of a Simpsons episode that Geth put on twice (he fell asleep the first time it was on). Enjoy!

(By the way, I’m sure you’re all aware that the song is nothing to do with the TikTok app, which is a far more recent source of societal decline.)

2020 Pestos #1: Tesco Red Pesto

We move onto a new year of food reviewing, and in 2020 I decided to log pestos. Pasta and pesto is my very favourite food and I still eat it multiple times a week (I need the carbs for all the running I do!). I do tend to stick to my favourites, though, so it was good to branch out a bit last year and try new versions. This actually became a necessity during the early ‘hoarding’ phase of the pandemic – at that point, you just had to grab what you could get when it came to food in jars!

The first pesto of the year, though, came at a time when barely anybody in the UK was batting an eyelid about coronavirus. I had this Tesco Red Pesto for my birthday lunch on 3rd January 2020 – I was still in Edinburgh so it would have been a jar that Mum and Dad happened to have in their cupboard.

Tesco Red Pesto
Tesco Red Pesto.

This is one of these supermarket pestos that has a slightly weaker taste – it tastes more like a standard processed tomato pasta sauce (perhaps one on the richer end, like the Loyd Grossman pasta sauces) than a pesto. As such, if I had this again I would add some parmesan to give it a bit more flavour.

Nice light option though!

Sunday Race Memories: Great Winter Run 2016

My second ever race, four months after my first, was also a 5k – but a much tougher route than Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside! The Great Winter Run in Edinburgh (now defunct sadly as it was a side event to the Great Edinburgh Cross Country for elite runners, which was moved to Stirling in 2019 and then scrapped altogether – incidentally the other Stirling event instigated by Great Run at the same time, the Stirling Marathon, has been taken over by another company and is still going strong! Anyway I digress…) was a steep climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat, followed by an enjoyable coast downhill back to the start. It’s the same route as that of the EMF 5k and 10k, so given that I’ve done two Great Winter Runs and three EMF 10ks, I’ve run up that hill five times in total… which is more than enough!

Great Winter 5k 2016
Relief on the approach to the finish line! (Photo © John Cooke 2016)

That first time I ran up it, however, was notable for being SO COLD. The organisers, to their credit, gritted the route six times so that nobody would slip, as the ice that morning was killer. You can see in the photo that I’ve got a hoodie round my waist – I had to start off wearing it because it was too cold to stand on the start line without it! (Being a hoarder I am not the sort of person who is able to throw away a hoodie at the start of a race, no matter how old and cheap it is. If it’s a proper item of clothing, it’s coming with me the whole way and then going back home with me. Start line warmth is what foil blankets from previous races are for!)

I was a lot slower in this race than my previous 5k attempt – I finished in 43:40 – but given that the first 2k are steeply uphill, I was okay with it!

After that I went back to Mum and Dad’s and watched the Great Cross Country on TV while enjoying my goodie bag. The best part!

This wasn’t my last ever 5k race, but it wasn’t long after this that I plucked up the courage to try parkrun… and when you’ve got parkrun, you don’t really need 5k races anymore.

Saturday ’80s Photo: One Car Among Many #2

Here’s Mum standing next to another car in the ’80s! With me, as it’s now 1985.

'80s Ford Escort
Adventures with cars in Shetland.

Judging by the car registration date (thanks for this handy lookup feature!) and pictures online, this looks like a Ford Sierra. I suspect it was one of the Fords that Dad used to hire to get around Shetland before we owned our first family car. They always seemed to be blue for some reason!

More old ’80s stuff next week.

Still experimenting with time

On the whole, my recent time-scheduling experiments have been fairly successful, in the sense that the main aim was to ensure that I get everything done during the day so I can relax in the evenings. I have managed to do that over the last couple of months, and I feel a lot better in that sense. However, I’m not 100% happy with the way my scheduled days are panning out; I always feel like I’m rushing from one job to the next, and like I’m half-arsing everything I do as a result. In my world, half-arsing something means failing at it, so I’ve not felt great about a lot of the stuff I’m doing in recent weeks.

As such, I’m going to be rethinking things over the weekend, and planning out dedicated days for tasks rather than ten minutes here and there. I expect this is something I’m going to have to keep working on and tweaking indefinitely. Too many commitments, not enough time!

Cinnamon swirls
A new favourite weekend pudding. I made these cinnamon swirls last weekend and both Geth and I enjoyed them so much that I’ll be making some more tomorrow.

This week’s earworm playlists:


Mark Snow – ‘The X-Files (Main Theme)’
Howard Jones – ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’
Status Quo – ‘In The Army Now’


Revo – ‘Savalon’
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – ‘Uptown Funk’


Cher – ‘I Found Someone’
Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – ‘Uptown Funk’
Howard Jones – ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’


Bros – ‘When Will I Be Famous?’
Lindisfarne – ‘Lady Eleanor’
Pretenders – ‘Brass In Pocket’


Howard Jones – ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’
The Smiths – ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’
Kesha – ‘Tik Tok’
Charlene – ‘I’ve Never Been To Me’


The Smiths – ‘Panic’
Pet Shop Boys – What Are We Going To Do About The Rich?’


The Beatles – ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’
UB40 – ‘If It Happens Again’
Kirsty MacColl – ‘Days’