year index

Lily's back. And this time she's bringing her Dad!

I first started these race photo-reports in 2014, and the Woodland Woggle of that year was only the second of them. Arguably it's the first proper one anyway, as the actual first consisted of four pictures and a limerick!

Amanda has run every Woggle since then, and if I don't want to repeat myself, I shall have to be creative. More Vogon poetry? More blinding you with science? More fascinating facts dredged from the darkest depths of Google's subconscious?

But then again, some might say that if it's a brilliantly organised event through beautiful countryside in glorious sunshine, who cares that it was just like that last year! Let's enjoy it, and if it's like that again next year, we'll enjoy that too!

And there are those who would say that all of literature boils down to a mere seven basic plots, so maybe seeking novelty is futile anyway; but then if there are seven, and this is our sixth Woggle, we should still have one more in hand. Ok, let's go with the list here:

1. Overcoming the Monster
2. Rags to Riches
3. The Quest
4. Voyage and Return
5. Rebirth
6. Comedy
7. Tragedy.

I'll be honest: I'm not entirely sure those are really 'plots', but with a little imagination, it's not hard to see how pretty much all of them could be mapped onto one or more Woggles...

And which one is this? I'll let you decide.

And that's too much black and white, let's get some colour!

Yay! Say what you will, the Woggle has to have the best balloons in the business!

My Warrior Queen of the Bacon whom you may recall from past years has passed on her mantle. God grant that he prove worthy! (Oh, and happy birthday. At least, somebody says it's his birthday so we all sing to him, but just like Barack Obama, he neglects to show us his birth certificate. Again, draw your own conclusions.)

What did I tell you, Lily's brought her Dad, Richard! She's claimed to have been ready to run the Woggle on previous occasions, then found some flimsy excuse like injury or something, but now it's obvious she was just waiting for reinforcements.

I think that's the true spirit of Baden Powell. I never really thought "Kumbaya" would have been quite his thing.

Enough with the digressions already! Back to the running!

But note that cow on the right...

Seconds later, the cows all run from the runners! I should have taken video here; they're pretty fast.

As fast as the cows? Maybe...

In all the previous Woggles, I've taken pictures of the start itself, so I've just seen the runners disappearing off past the house, but as it's very photogenic with its wisteria in full bloom, I have relocated for this one.

However, this means I can't cross over into the Common at the point I've used in the past, so I'm going to have to improvise a bit. It's not completely clear from the Google Maps aerial photo, but it looks like there's another crossing point nearby that I can use. And as Dave changes the route slightly each year, I have chosen a point to get to that I think will be suitable, but I won't know until I get there.

Well, the crossing point does exist, but then it leads to a junction where a narrow goat track offers the choice of left or right. Left is more in the general direction I'm heading, so left it is. But left it isn't. It peters out and I have to reverse. Then I find myself on the route, but from the arrows, it's the opposite direction to what I thought it would be. Ok, that puts me later in the race than I planned, but as I've taken longer to get here than expected, that's probably ok.

At the top of a very steep slope, though mercifully short, I am still faffing with bike and cameras as the first runner comes through. Oh well, there he goes...

But now I can stand at the top of the slope and inflict further mental cruelty on its victims.

And it's Lily and Dad. Presumably she's not going flat out, but the old (ahem!) man's no slouch!

Amanda's doing well too.

Right, I'll follow the race route for a bit and take some pictures of other people. Dave has been telling people I'm his professional photographer. Yeah, like he's paying me!

What goes up must come down, of course. And then it will go up again, but we won't talk about that.

Marshalling action shot!

And child labour! Bet they're not getting minimum wage either.

How does Mr Porter get away with exploiting us all like this?

But now I realise that I've spent so much time doing my paparazzi bit, I may be running late for my next Amanda stop. In fact, I soon become fairly convinced of the fact, so I decide that rather than risk missing her and then not being at the finish, I'll go straight back. (Granted, 'straight' is a slight misnomer, but as straight as the trail allows.)

Back at the splendid sea-anemone balloons, or Martians, perhaps. I'm not sure if they have a deeper meaning than just showing off how clever the balloonists are.

Impressive stuff. These trails are hard enough when you can see where you're going: Amanda reckons she has almost no time to enjoy the scenery because she's too busy watching out for things she might trip over.

Partridge senior has the bit between his teeth...

Partridge junior has... err, yes, well.

Amanda's further back than I expect. She was really quite close to Lily earlier, so I'm a bit surprised not to have seen her until now, and had started to worry if she'd had a problem. She will tell me later that around the halfway mark, an insect flew into her eye, and she couldn't get it out. Of course, when you wear contact lenses, a) anything in your eye is even more annoying than it would otherwise be; and b) you don't want to rub too hard because if you lose a lens you'll be even worse off than you were before. Her time for the second half will be abysmal and her inner two-year-old will not be happy!

Here we are, then: a minute worse than last year overall, after what seemed like an excellent start. These things happen. Eventually even Amanda will calm down and accept it.

Let's see if the alien head fits.

So, was this tragedy?

That's probably going a bit far, but if so, I think more Bee Gees than Shakespeare. Better Woggling next time.

Love to all,


PS: Yes, service is slipping again. Much catching up needed!

year index