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A Beginning, No Middle, and On Past The End

The Beaconsfield Easter 5-mile race is held in the beautiful grounds of the Hall Barn Estate, or so we are told. Unfortunately, we are also told that spectators aren't allowed beyond the start/finish area! This is going to rather diminish my race report, so I will unashamedly resort to much padding.

We are here to kill two birds with one stone and get some family duty in, as Amanda's cousin Hugo is running the race and it kind of provides an excuse for a bit of a gathering of the clan. To our surprise, though, Pat mentions out of the blue that she hopes she'll be feeling well enough by Monday because she's running Beaconsfield and that's the first our girls know they are both going!

We are not sure about Bank Holiday traffic, so allow plenty of time and arrive quite early - or so we think. Amanda even thinks we might possibly have a quick look at the pub we're meeting in afterwards, but we have to pass the Rugby Club venue anyway and see that the car park is already nearly full; so in we go.

And then as we park, in the next car but one after us is Pat!

And here's Cousin Hugo, with his running partner, Anne-Lucy. Regular readers may vaguely recognise them, as they've featured in the occasional blog previously.

Ok, the big question: who is Bryant and more importantly, what are his Bottom Trotters?!

Not obvious from this angle, but this is a bridge across the M40. It's the furthest I'm supposed to go, but don't tell anyone, I'm going to be just a leetle bit naughty later.

A farewell wave? This is the last we will see of Amanda (with the possible exception of an indistinguishable dot in the distance) until the finish.

I follow behind the last runners a little way into the estate. There's nobody yet here to tell me I can't, and we all know that it's easier to get forgiveness than permission, so I've not asked.

But there's not much point in going further, because the race route is roughly circular and if I want to be at the finish for Amanda, there's really nowhere I can get to that the runners won't get to first. I'd be fine with my bike, but I fear that really would be pushing things too far.

Anyway, who needs runners when there are cows?!

Hmm... I will later learn that I shouldn't be taking pictures of the house. Good job I'm only taking pictures of the cows.

One of the club's official photographers snaps the leader as he approaches the M40 bridge back to the start/finish line. I've been chatting to him and learning the depth of my transgression. Oh well, mea culpa and all that...

Back there, I think, is where the spectators are supposed to have stopped.

Still, as every social engineer and con artist knows, just act as if you have every right to be where you are, doing what you are doing, and people will tend to assume that you do.

Back to the finish line now; there aren't really any good angles for photogenic qualities so it'll just have to be action and context.

Here's Pat, looking intense as always.

I've been chatting to a woman with her small daughter; mother is encouraging child to cheer the finishers across the line, so I crouch down and say, "See the black lady in the green top? Shout 'Well done Pat!' to her". Child duly shouts with gusto, but I have absolutely no idea if Pat hears! She's in the zone!

I tell her to do the same for Amanda, who does hear but doesn't look down so hasn't a clue where it's coming from.

My cheerleading squad leave, but it's getting a bit busier around the finish line, so I will literally sit on the fence to get a bit more height and a clearer view.

Hugo crosses the finish line...

Only he doesn't. This is the finish line!

Nobody knows why the first timing mat is not the finish line, and although there's a marshal standing there telling everyone to keep going, a lot of people slow down anyway, or don't quite get the message.

Straggler Anne is also a member of the triathlon group Amanda's been training with, so Amanda gives her a cheer and she turns round in surprise.

The building behind is called 'Oak Cottage', presumably because it's made out of oak. It's more like a piece of elaborate furniture than a house! Unfortunately, somebody's parked a car in just the right place to ruin a picture of the whole thing.

Pretty much every square inch of wall is intricately carved!

So now we all adjourn to the White Hart for a spot of brunch, leaving a pretty sparse race report. More padding required!

As it's a nice sunny day, we decide to go home via the Savill Garden, on the edge of Windsor Great Park.

They have brightly coloured flowers...

And pheasants among the bluebells...

And Egyptian Goose goslings that look a lot like toadstools in the grass!

And I don't think I've had an arty-farty picture of a water feature sculpture for a while, either, so here you are...

I was also half-thinking of including a sonnet I wrote the other day at work. For reasons which are neither here nor there (and definitely not showing off, good Lord no!), I declared that in order to make sure that new or changed feature documentation didn't accidentally slip through the net, and have two of us each thinking the other was doing it, I would henceforth write my software release notes in sonnet form. "Don't you dare!", said Brian, our technical author. So naturally I had to.

I'm actually very pleased with it, because it's both technically accurate and perfect iambic pentameter, but I fear the average reader would finish it (assuming they did finish it) none the wiser and no better informed.

On balance, then, I shall keep that particular light hidden under my bushel. Or maybe I'll save it for a time when I really need some padding!

And on that note, I bid you all adieu.

Love to all,


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