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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

the day of the London Marathon

So, after all the preparation, the early morning training sessions, setting off at 6am on cold winter's mornings, and even giving up rugby for a few months so he wouldn't get injured , my son Callum finally got to run in his first full marathon. And what a marathon to start with...the London Marathon itself.

It's something I've watched on BBC television for many years, and it's compulsive viewing. For the first time though, I went down to watch it along with our family and friends.

What a wonderful day...with London showing off in the sunshine...Mr Thinking of the Days and I passed The Tower of London,

before making our way to a standing point where we met other Pancreatic Cancer UK supporters .

We all shouted every time we saw  runners wth their distinctive charity running vests, and I started to go cross eyed as my eyes scanned the waves of runners coming towards us. Thousands of them, most running for their chosen charities in memory of their loved ones.

All sizes, all shapes, from all over the world, some cruising past casually where we were at the 12.5 mile mark, some struggling already. Then came Callum - he saw us, I was screaming his name, and he came over, gave me a big hug, and ran off looking as fresh as a daisy. My eyes filled with tears of pride , so I turned took this photo and composed myself.

Of course I was fine after that, and we then joined up with our daughter and her husband , my eldest son and his girlfriend, Grace and Rich, Danny and Alex and even Cammo who is over from Australia. We waited by the 23 mile mark,

 but began to wonder where Callum we waited and waited. His knee which had proved troublesome a few weeks was giving him problems from mile 15 onwards, and when we finally saw him, he didn't see us. He was firmly focused on the road ahead, pain etched onto his face, dragging his leg slightly.

But he finished, and we caught up with him afterwards at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centre by Westminster Abbey. That's where many of the charities hire rooms to welcome their runners, give them massages and a place where they can rest and meet up with their supporters. Here was his lovely girlfriend Elly and her family and friends who'd also come to give support and so a photo of all of us was taken. I love this....


And this

Callum could hardly walk by now, but managed to get to the restaurant for a curry

And to have a laugh and a joke wit his brother, sister and his gorgeous cousin Ollie, who we reckon looks a little like Tom Hiddlestone

He's still walking like John Wayne, but is ecstatic at raising what will eventually be over £4,000 for such a good cause...for research into pancreatic cancer  and support for those who have it and their families. People like his uncle Dave and grandmother

But of course this is just one story out of millions who were there.

What a day. All those runners, over 39,000 of them, and the huge crowds who came to watch. The sense of camaradie and fellowship and fun which was all around. The millions of pounds raised for such worthwhile charities.

What a day...what a bloody brilliant, beautiful, emotional and proud day for so many people.

Then what a sad day the following day as we learned about the army captain aged 31 who died after collapsing at the marathon. RIP David Seath.


Saturday, 16 April 2016

Cherry blossom days

When the cherry blossom is out, you know Spring is here. It's the law. Just the sight of the blossom fills me with joy and a sense that all will be well. The cherry trees are showing off their finery in towns, cities and gardens everywhere in April.
There's one tree though that means the world to me. It's fifteen steps from the back gate of the BBC studios where I work, and this week I keep nipping across to see it, touch it, stand underneath it and look up at the pink canopy of blossom set against a bright blue sky .
And if I focus slightly to my right, there's Leicester Cathedral in the background.

 Turning around, I love the way the blossom looks almost ethereal set against the silver grey and powder white  historic Guildhall.

 And then if I stand close up to the blossom, it's so easy to be completely overwhelmed by the pale pink perfection of the petals.
But the beauty of the blossom is so fleeting, you have to appreciate it while you can. There's something quite magical about seeing something so transient against a backdrop of buildings hundreds of years old.

I know it's officially Spring, but outside the sky is dark and large hailstones have been falling this evening. Will the cherry blossom still be there when I go back to work on Tuesday?

Monday, 4 April 2016

smiling and gardening on a spring day

It's been so long since I've been able to get out in the sunshine to do some gardening, and it was such a joy to do just that this weekend.

It wasn't hot, a mere 14 degrees Celsius, but I cannot tell you how good it feels to have the sun on your face, while doing some digging and weeding.

 It's an instant tonic to be able to wander around the garden  and see the daffodils, paper white in the light....

and to watch the pale blue flowers of the pulmonaria unfold. They do well here, on the right hand side of my garden, in claggy clay soil shaded by next door's one hundred year old oak tree. They may be pretty but I'm not keen on their common name..lungwort.

This glowing  clump of dironicums  are an instant boost in spring, their buttery yellow blooms are so cheery, they make me smile. Or are they dironicums? I think they are. My friend Edna from a village about twelve miles away kindly dug up a small clump for me on a visit to her garden about five years ago. I do remember her telling me to divide them in September time...which I need to do this year.

I love their common name.though ..leopards bane.

I smiled as I saw the shadows of the strands of  holly trail over the old brick wall which divides our garden from the old chapel

Further along it was good to glimpse the periwinkle flowers peeping from the laurel hedge.

On the other side of the garden, on the left of the cottage are lots of bluebells which have amassed , the flowers haven't yet come out but I'm going to have to move them later because these pretty as a picture pink plants were here before them.

Of course I wasn't alone in the garden, the gang of three kept me company. It was good for them to race around in the sunshine . I didn't manage to get a photograph of Winnie, my grand dog who was staying for the weekend - she couldn't sit still. Boo had wandered in for a nap on Winnie's snuggly blanket in the kitchen, but wherever I was working, Eric was sitting beside me, chewing on a tennis ball.

When it was time to sit down for a breather , they all joined me though - on the bench beside the kitchen door with one sitting each side of me and one on my lap. I had smudges of  dirt on my face and scratches on my hands, but as I looked out into the garden, I couldn't help but think... "Isn't life grand!"