Monday, August 26, 2019

Benson Row - 05

Penrith, Cumbria. August-2019.

This last month the builders have been busy completing the rebuild of the stairs and demolishing the wall between dining room and kitchen.

The new staircase going up to the raised landing.
The extra turn at the start gives us a little extra headroom under the stairs. That means the toilet can be tucked in under the second turn leading to the flat landing. This in turn gives a straight run to the shower at the back under the main landing. In this picture the last stair section up to the main landing is yet to be installed.


Supporting the little bedroom floor. 
Originally we had hoped for an open staircase but it was necessary to provide structural support for the little bedroom floor upstairs so the first flight will be boxed in.


Removing the wall.
This is done by drilling holes through the wall to take box girders that are supported by Acrow props. Once the upstairs is supported the demolition can begin.


New pillars for the steel joist.
Either side of the opening foundations were dug for a concrete pad on top of which the brick pillars are built.


New steel beam in place. 
Actually three steel beams were placed on top of the pillars and bolted together. Then the Acrow props and the temporary girders are removed.


This is an extra beam put in to support the slightly bouncy floor upstairs.



Re-opening the old door.
Part of the works involves blocking up the kitchen door and re-opening an original door that was blocked up in 1975. That has revealed a nice threshold and lintel which we will endeavour to preserve.



Timber Lintel.

The under stairs space.
The new shower and toilet will go here. They took a jack hammer to the floor from the new door all the way along to accommodate the drainage. In the middle you can see the top step of three that, up to 1975, lead down to storage space under the original stairs.


New linen cupboard.
We bought a refurbished, old-style linen cupboard which unfortunately would not go up the stairs so we had a Right Said Fred moment:
"All right, " said Fred, "Have to take the feet off
To get them feet off wouldn't take a mo."
Took its feet off, even took the seat off
Should have got us somewhere but no!
So Fred said, "Let's have another cuppa tea."
And we said, "right-o.".

So it is now upstairs and legless - like some people we know!

Planning the kitchen.
Now that the structural work has been done (although much plastering and making good remains) it does mean that we can start work on the kitchen design.

After many variations we have gone for a basic U-shape. There is also the possibility of an island unit which would be on wheels so that it is movable. We may or may not go for that in the first instance. We have decided to keep the boiler in its original location, likewise the washing machine. That will help keep the costs down a little. The final installation be painted pale blue-grey (Dulux Country Sky).


We await further updates from the builder...

Friday, August 23, 2019

Parkrun Tourism Part 02 - 2018


Parkun tourism continues with another 7 locations added in 2018 (showing location, date, my time and number of participants).

Grangemoor. 10/3/2018. 26:48. [144]

Our best friends from Italy live in Cardiff in the winter. Like us they travel back and forth to the UK for the winter season. They were able to get tickets for Italy v. Wales rugby match so off we went for a weekend in the Principality.


I nearly did the main Cardiff parkrun but when I checked the distances from their marina apartment I discovered Grangemoor was a lot closer.


A nice flat course with a modest number of runners (144). That meant I was able to get right up to the start line which greatly increases the chances of a PB and so it came to pass. My fastest parkrun to date knocking nearly a whole minute off my previous fastest.


Salento. 09/06/2018. 29:36. [8]

Our favourite parkrun. We had friends to visit us in Italy and they said “let’s do a parkrun”. “There isn’t a parkrun here” we said. “Oh yes there is” they said. Cue pantomime style banter. And they were right! Salento Parkrun had only just started five weeks before. It was a bit of a drive, 1 hour 15 minutes, but we thought we'd give it a go. Drove down there to discover that our carful was 50% of the park runners that day, four out of the eight participants.


There we met the course director Saverio and his mum Luana who was the sole volunteer, tail walker and cake baker.


Saverio starts us off.


We have been back many times since. For me it is the second most frequently attended location. It is a very flat course set in a nature reserve out in the middle of nowhere. Mary power walked her way around the course practising her Italian with Luana. Saverio persuaded Mary to sign up so she can get a bar code and an official time. That means that Salento is Mary‘s home parkrun. Now if we go to a UK parkrun and they ask “Any visitors?” Mary can put up her hand and say “Yes, Italy!”

This parkrun gets a regular attendance from holidaymakers to boost the numbers. Not so much when you go in February. One week Mary and I were the only two runners to turn up. I was the fastest in my age group, the fastest male, and first across the finish line, result! That is never going to happen again!

Wimbledon Common. 16/06/2018. 29:17. [517]

Our London flat is pretty equidistant between three parkruns so I thought I’d tick off Wimbledon Common. Cycled up the hill by way of a warmup on a lovely sunny day. Another large crowd where the course director’s introductory speech was held some way from the start line so we had to relocate after the spiel.


A pleasant flat course on gravel paths through woodland.


A fellow runner described the dust kicked up in summer as resembling herd of Buffalo stampeding.

Reigate Priory. 15/09/2018. 29:05. [248]

I was due to visit my mum in her residential home on the boundary between Redhill and Reigate. And then going to visit my sister in Reigate afterwards for a cup of tea and a chat. That meant I was going to miss my Tooting parkrun. Suddenly an inspiration. I checked and Reigate Priory was very close to my sister’s place.


So I went down early, did my Parkrun, went back to Jane’s place for a shower and a cup of tea and then went to visit Mum.

There is one stretch of the two circuit course that is distinctly up hill and down dale through a wooded section. I’m not good on anything other than the flat hence the time. I got chatting to a fellow parkrunner who it turned out was on their first Parkrun so I was endeavouring to make encouraging chat. At the end she came up and thanked me for providing some inspiration which touched me.

Troon. 22/09/28. 27:05. [130]

The following weekend it was up to visit Mary’s mum fully expecting to do the local Eglinton parkrun. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to the recent high winds. There were a lot of tree branch debris on the course plus the risk of further branches falling on our heads. It turns out that Troon is not that far away so I drove over to tick off an unexpectedly additional parkrun. The Troon course is very flat, two circuits out and back along the promenade.


With cold winds whistling in across the Firth of Clyde it was pretty nippy. Afterwards I went to Betsy’s café but there weren’t many people there and they didn’t seem particularly inclined to be chatty. So I warmed up with a cup of tea and a cake and then back to Mary’s mum.

Bicester. 03/11/2018. 26:36. [204]

We were on our way back from Penrith to London and planned our journey to include an overnight stop and meet up with a friend of Mary‘s. She unfortunately had to cancel but our hotel booking was not cancellable. So we went anyway and arranged to meet up on the Friday night with some friends from Italy who live not too far away. Then did the parkrun on the Saturday.



A pleasant two lap course including a circuit of a Neolithic stone circle which is a bit of a novelty.



Fulham Palace. 10/11/2018. 27:31. [505]

Having done Wimbledon Common I had to complete the Bermuda Triangle of nearby parkruns. This meant going north of the river *gasp*. An easy 20 min cycle ride but it was a bit tricky to find a start point.


The course is all on paths which unfortunately get a bit narrow in places which means you really have to slow down to avoid banging into other runners, trees and park benches. Given the closeness of the other parkruns near me I’m not sure I would bother with this one again. Sorry FP!

So by this point I’m up to 13 different parkruns. Next 2019...

Friday, August 09, 2019

Parkrun Tourism Part 01 - 2017

I became a parkrun tourist by accident. I didn’t even know it was a thing. Now I know it is and I enjoy ticking off new locations but I’m not so obsessive that I would plan my holidays around it like some people (Tour operator lauches parkrun holidays). If we are going away somewhere for the weekend I will check to see if there is a parkrun nearby and, if there is, pack my running shoes.

Edit. 14/08/2019. Added [number of participants].

Tooting Common (home parkrun). 18/02/17, 29:32. [459]

It all started because some friends of ours did Couch to 5K (C25K) and then signed up for parkrun. I managed to do C25K in three days so I thought I’d give parkrun a try as well. I signed up, printed off my barcode and went along to my local parkrun at Tooting Common.


That was my first experience of running around a park with nearly 500 people! A three lap course and it is always hard as I start my third circuit to see the young lads peeling off to head for the finish funnel.

Tooting has lots of volunteers that are particularly friendly and encouraging. It is also a very courteous course where I have picked up the habit of saying "Thank you, Marshall" to the volunteers as I go round.

Malahide. 25/02/17, 27:41. [284]

As it happened the very next weekend Mary and I were going to Dublin for a Rugby Six Nations match. We stayed out at Malahide because central Dublin was booked solid and Malahide is an easy ride into town on the DART.


I emailed the Malahide course director to ask if my barcode would work in Ireland - that shows you how little I knew. After all it was only my second ever parkrun. He replied to say "yes it would work". Now in Ireland Parkrun starts at 9:30 instead of 9:00. I have always assumed that was to allow for excessive consumption of Guinness on a Friday night.


Anyway I turn up and there are a few hundred people there. I’m standing around and the Course Director does the usual introductions: thanking the volunteers, describing the course, and then asks “Is Mark from London here?” I sheepishly put up my hand and several hundred people burst into a huge round of applause. I wasn’t expecting that!

So off we go trotting round the course. Halfway round I’m struggling to breathe when a bloke pulled up alongside me and says “Are you that Mark from London, then? “Yes I am” I puffed. We then had a conversation about his brother doing parkrun in Ealing until I run out of ability to talk. It’s not like that in Tooting; very friendly the Irish.

Eglinton. 21/10/17. [137]

It was back to Tooting for a few months although my attendance was erratic due to various social events and trips to Italy. Mary and I came back from Italy to see Emeli Sande at the O2 and then to Scotland to visit her mum for her birthday. We checked the parkrun website and sure enough there was a parkrun not too far away in Eglinton Country Park. So I packed my running shoes and off we went.


This was quite a contrast to Tooting. Instead of 500+ runners there were only 137. The introductory spiel did not follow the standard script, much less structured. A good job I knew what to expect but it might have been hard for a first timer.

We went off round the course which was a lot harder than the very flat Tooting Common. It is more undulating and goes through some pretty woodland paths with tree roots and mud to dance over. It is also the most convoluted course of any I have run with multiple loops and crossover points. Thank goodness for the volunteers marshalling the route.

They did seem a friendly bunch, lots of people seemed know to each other including the Fit Ayrshire Dads. Like Penrith the following week a real community in contrast to the packed London events. 

Penrith. 28/10/17, 31:57. [182]

Our friends Kate and Nigel, those responsible for me signing up in the first place, had moved to Penrith. We went up to visit for the Winter Droving festival and of course to join them at their local parkrun. Another very flat course, two circuits of the playing fields.


A huge contrast to London parkruns. Everybody congregates in the clubhouse for tea and cake afterwards. A lot of the runners know each other so it’s a really friendly atmosphere. It’s possible that it happens at some London parkruns but with typically large numbers (500 to 1,000) it would be hard to get that many people into a café.

Then the rest of the day was fun and merriment.


Bournemouth. 09/12/17, 29:13. [311]

We bought tickets to see John Bishop at the BIC (Bournemouth International Conference) centre on the Friday night. We went down and stayed with my dad's cousin who lives there. After breakfast I went and did the Bournemouth parkrun. It was a bit nippy at -2°C but a nice flat course.

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Now I’m up to five different locations and starting to see the fun in ticking off some more.

Linwood. 23/12/17, 29:43. [125]

Another Scottish Parkrun. This time visiting Mary‘s mum for Christmas we stayed one night with the sister-in-law who lives on the outskirts of Glasgow. There are a number of Glasgow parkruns but this was the closest.


Another small parkrun with only 125 people. Doing a parkrun in Scotland in December is a bit chilly it has to be said. After the run we didn’t hang around but shot home to get warmed up.

And that’s it for 2017. More to follow...