year index

Oh to be in Loseley, now that April's there!

April? April?! It's the second half of bloody May already, I hear you cry!

Yeah, well, look, ya gotta use yer imagination, like. Ok? We're being poetic: "some corner of a foreign calendar that is for ever April", isn't that what Rupert Brooke wrote?


Oh to be in Loseley, now that April's there!
And whoever wakes in Loseley
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf
While the runners run past the deer and cow
In Loselely - now!!
"Wenn ich Kultur höre … entsichere ich meinen Browning!"

So, good people, perhaps a touch late, I bring you the story of our first non-virtual event of 2021: the AAT Loseley Park 10k and 5k.

This has previously been the venue for the Hog's Back 11-12-ish k, which in December 2019 when Amanda last ran it, was proudly proclaiming that it had been held every year for fifty-eight years! Then a few months later we hit Lockdown 1 and that was pretty much it for racing! A couple of socially-distanced events in September during a Covid-restriction lull, but otherwise only a bunch of virtuals: nothing involving people officially getting together until now, in April 2021.

Numbers are restricted, starting is staggered and spectators are 'discouraged'; it certainly won't be anything like normal...

On the plus side, we don't have the tedious queueing to get in and park we've sometimes had.

Arrival; we're among the first.

Pat isn't far behind us.

Amanda and Pat have been put in the first start group, although the blocks are fairly coarse. The idea seems to be that you turn up anywhere within your slot and just take the next available place.

It's sunny but chilly, first thing. Amanda opens her jacket to give a quick flash of her number, but she's not taking it off until she has to!

Gosh, it's Toby, ex Mr AAT main man. Not sure if he's come to help out or just enjoy watching somebody else have all the stress of running the thing.

On the socially distanced start line, our girls are amongst the first to go. It's as much luck as judgement that they aren't going to have to wait in the cold for too long, but we'll take the luck if it's there.

The first starter of the first event in more than six months!

No idea who she is, but she has achieved a kind of anonymous immortality by being in the right place at the right time.

Well we know who that is!

And her too!

Unlike the Hog's Back, the route doesn't go right past the house, so this is about the best view of it to be had. We really must visit it properly sometime rather than just turn up for the odd event.

Distant cows.

Why cows?

What kind of question is that?!

Hmm... Yellow everywhere, and we know Matthew Bennett has run here before, so why isn't he here today?! Perhaps previous events haven't been the right time of year, so he doesn't realise what he's missing.

Mind, if you have a problem with pollen or perhaps some of the volatile organics in rapeseed oil, you wouldn't want to be anywhere round these parts.

Now here's something a bit odd. All over the UK, at the right time of year you see vast fields of this stuff, but yet rapeseed oil seems a bit of a rarity in most people's kitchens. I've been using it ever since I was diagnosed diabetic and it was about the only oil that the dietary advice allowed for deep frying. Ok, we don't do deep frying as a rule, but that motivated me to check it out. It's got quite a strong flavour, which we like but others might not, but apart from that, it's a bit of a super-oil. High smoke point, more polyunsaturates than extra-virgin olive oil... Ok, like all oils it's got loads of calories, but as I say, we don't really do deep frying which is the worst case for that.

But still, it's far from mainstream, so where does all the rest of the crop go?

Well, it seems that a lot of it is used for generic "vegetable" oil, and for biodiesel, and biodegradable lubricants, while the residue after oil extraction is fed to cattle.

Here's a useful little breakdown:

Oops, I seem to have digressed... Still, while I pass no judgement on your wisdom, you are very likely better informed now.

Back to the story. Here's Pat, not far behind. Is she thinking about vegetable oils, biodiesel and biodegradable lubricants? I suspect not.

Even the marshals are happy just to be marshalling again.

Into the woods we go...

See, it's not just cows, there are deer too.

(And more rape and more marshals. The more the merrier.)

Pat's overtaken Amanda now. Fortunately the race route is pretty convoluted, so I can easily take short cuts to get ahead. The Hog's Back Race was mostly outside the Loseley estate, so it was able to take a less zig-zaggy line which meant a lot of serious chasing by any self-appointed papparazzi.

Oh look, another hill!

At the top of the hill, there's a fine potential view to be had if you get the framing right, and this is where the official photographer (whose existence had not been hitherto revealed) has taken up his position. Sadly, blurring and over-exposing the background out of all possibity of recognition will not prove a winning formula to encourage us to buy his pictures (or even download them if they're free).

She's obviously impressed! But honestly, even my big lens isn't that big.

Up there is the Hog's Back, where the runners run but I don't. I'll just wait for them to run down again, much easier.

In any event, I wouldn't stand a chance of getting there ahead of Pat and Amanda. Even if I had my bike I think would be unlikely.

This has to be more than coincidence!

No, I'm not a bit jealous. I don't want to go quad-biking on the trails here at all. No, absolutely not. Is that clear?

But it's probably a good job that I don't have the same effect on him as I seem to have on the women. It would be embarrassing if he crashed and the medical team had to be called out for one of their own.

And here's Amanda coming in for the final corner. She's overtaken Pat again, who's been suffering with her knees.

And across the line she goes!

Pat's a little way behind. She's struggled in places, but death before DNF, that's the spirit.

And there we are: the first real event since September is done, and it's good to be back.

Later, Amanda will express surprise when she sees the deer in the field in my photo: the medal is the first sight of any deer that she has had.

Ok, I am now one blog fewer behind than I was. Excellent progress, I must keep it up. Watch this space...

Love to all,


year index