Saturday, October 29, 2011


For the first time in 4 years, we don’t have a storage unit full of our stuff. This is a pleasant experience. Trying to find a location for the bits we want to keep (and some of those we don’t intend to) within the new house is more of a challenge.

As much as I’d like to go racing tomorrow, I don’t think I will. I want to be ready for my new job, get a good nights sleep and save the money on travelling by getting a work-out starting somewhere outside of my own front door before and early bath and falling into bed before 10pm. Besides which, we have no internet right now and I have no idea where the race is or how to get there.

As far as the new job is concerned, I am nowhere near as terrified as I was when I first moved to Sheffield but still filled with the usual anxieties associated with getting there on time on the first day, making the right impression… and of course, there’s what to wear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

La Retour

I ate, tidied and dressed for running this morning.  Up the hill to Walkley village centre, taking the branch off to the Rec.  A man has converted the old pre-fab built school at the edge of the park into his home and is working away on something in his open garage.  Dog walkers wish me good morning.

I ditch the tarmac path, shrugging off soggy trainers in favour of the short cut across the grass.  Two dogs bound towards me then veer off, attracted by eachother.  I stop at the edge of the park and enjoy the view out across the Rivelin and Damflask valleys. It’s 13 minutes since I left my house.

Across the park I join a path which threads its way through the allotments – flat along the contours then dropping steeply on cobbled and flagged paving, they go on for over a mile, stretched out up and down the hillsides.  Some are split up into 4 or more plots.  Some covered in black paper for the winter, some still showing the spoils of ruined onions, leathery green leaves littered across the surface of the soil.

Finally I was spat out on Bole Hill Road and I wiggled down to a path which I had walked before, approximately 20 years ago.  I pinged out of the mud and dank trees of the allotments into an open field where two paths run parallel to eachother at different levels.

I stood here 20 years ago on a rest day from a course (lets ignore its basis until I’m happier in my work) and said the words, “Yeah, I think I want to go to Sheffield University”.  This field has been a defining point in my life.

20 years ago it had taken me ages to get there.  This time it took me 26 minutes so rather than turning around at the other end of the field I kept going in a rivelineley direction.

Through autumnal trees and finally to the river side below the A61.  It could’ve been a million miles away for all the noise that was present.  I reached the still millpond with ducks and reeds and the hillside and trees reflected perfectly, broken by nothing more than the excited paddling of expectant duck-feet.

I’ve run from the Rivelin Road down to the edge of town before so was on familiar territory, running up the hill.   The only differences this time are daylight, sunshine and other people for the last time I passed this way was December last year after work.  Dogs and children passed by and I reached the carpark before turning around and heading back down the path.  

 I swept up to the A61 and beyond, climbing to the small back-roads which run along the edge of the suburbs bolted onto the edge of Sheffield until finally, another path swoops back down to the valley, the river and the main road.  Straight down another path and into the parklands – swings and climbing frames and the lido paddling pools flitter by in the corner of my eye then eventually I am spit out at a 5-way junction.

A tiny back-road climbs up from the lights but then it dawns on me that it seems like a dead-end.  I persevere, having faith in Yorkshire planners that there will be a cut-through at the end that spits me out where I want to be.  Better than that, I find myself on the edge of the park where I was an hour earlier.

Instead of taking the straight-up-hill route I weave through some streets, gradually turning from detached, to semi-detached and into the terraces that I recognise.  More dead ends and cut-throughs take me to the old school building that I could see from the bottom of the park.  I wibble my way to my front door eventually, having reverted to walking for the last km or so.

My legs ache and all I want to do is take a bath in my new house.  It’s a damn sight more pleasant that the shower and bigger than the old house.  Satisfyingly so.  The rest of the day passes in a flurry of unpacking activity.  TSK and I head over to the old house to empty some more things away together and briefly check our e-lives.

We enjoy the drive home and look forwards to doing it for the last time.

Random running thoughts: the spice rack - who killed it?  Must eat oranges, post cards and fridge magnets, gardening tools from Bassett, compost bin, buy bike carry bag for Eleanor.

The bath was so much better than the shower. fully restored, I loaded the back pack on my back and walked out to Walkley. A well stocked grocer awaited at the top of the hill selling everything I expected - the best quality veg (mostly) - as well as everything I needed - lime curd, eggs and cereal for breakfast. I bought a lot (40 litre rucsac) of good food for less than £20.

Then across the road to the butchers for lamb leg steaks, pork sausages and rabbit for a stew £6.18 all together. I thought to myself it's proper shame that we don't get to shop like this regularly. Fun, cheap and sustainable. Then I realised we're allowed to. It could even be said that's what weekends might be for. It might even end up being a plan.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another day in the life of moving

It’s been a bad day for this mover. The novelty of moving has worn off as the old house starts to seem further and further away and I return to the new home with the epic adventure ahead of finding a new place for all of our stuff and putting everything in that place – usually so that we can sit down.

The novelty of the house has not worn off but last night I stopped unpacking at 9:30 and this morning, when I went out to the van to get “that last couple of boxes”, I found three more boxes of books to go on an already full bookshelf and two large boxes of clothes and bedding and kitchen apparel and such randomness I don’t care to mention.

I planned to quickly unpack those things and go out for a run before doing anything with the rest of the day. By the time I’d unpacked I was too hungry for running so I set out to the other house to eat lunch there and figure out what other items I’d need to buy from the supermarket to make lemon drizzle cake.

Well, on the way to the house I popped into one retail area to get a freezer and walked out with two mirrors and some cleaning solution. I stopped in to buy wool to make Christmas presents and walked out empty handed and I stopped at Meadowhall to pay in the stash of cash my colleagues donated to help me buy a freezer for the new house.

Well, there’s a Lakeland plastics next door to the Santander and when starting a new job one gets the urge to try on lots of boots. I ventured into a couple of department stores to look at appliances but they’re all full of Christmas chintz so time was well and truly wasted. I ate some lunch before a final spin around B&Q to tick off cheap paper lamp shades and some random garden stuff.

At the house I threw random collections of stuff into randomly sized boxes and emptied the garage of most of the tools as a favour to TSK to bring him something for his fixie. Vanu only part loaded – really… but it feels like 90% of the stuff is gone from the old house. There’s a dishwasher full of crockery – some of which is ours and some of which gets put away and left, some bikes which are less loved than they should be and bits and bobs. I headed home via one last retail park off to see if they had any chest freezers in stock. Success! This one turned the whole day around. 90% of my shopping list is complete and tomorrow should well be my own.

I spent the journey home thinking of going for a run this evening but the rash of rain which has fallen and the fatigue in my legs is quite daunted by the multiple trips up the stairs to finish this final bit of unpacking. I find the sofa under layers of stuff and flop down to enjoy some fruit squash. At least I feel like I’ve achieved something today, even if my winter training is on hold for just one more little while.

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Day in the New House

On the first day of unpaid leave between my old job and the new one I have so far eaten breakfast in my new living room with the cat perched on a cushion by my shoulder and kissed TSK before he set off happily on his easy peasy new 30 minute commute.
After breakfast I scooped the cat poop and put it in the outside bin, much to the intrigue of the cat who has not yet been allowed outside into his new domain. He joined me in the almost-a-conservatory porch for the scooping. He stood on his back paws, front paws on the windowsill like a teenage boy looking over the wall into the girls school playground. He was definitely giving the scooping of his poop the attention he thought it deserved, haughtily ignoring me to serve me right for not letting him outside. Like many teenage boys before him, he then decided the playground was all a bit scary and set off back into the house to find a cushion to sit on.

Outside the dawn chorus was in full swing. The birdsong seems louder here than at the Grange. I could already feel the summer sun on my back and hear the drone of bees on the tree at the end of the garden but all that is to come, in a summer 9 months away from now.

The sun is rising behind the houses across the street. The downside of this house – no sunrise or set because of the steep hills to the back which will mask the sunset. I can still enjoy the yellow to orange flow as it bounces off the Yorkshire stone of the local charge and nearby school-turned-flats buildings which lie beyond the end of the back garden.

Down the street I can see down all of my neighbours’ gardens. Jumbles of grass, rose bushes, vegetables starting to rot after the frosts of October, a collaidescope of wood shades – fencing, sheds and tumbledown outhouses. Our own space is a blank canvas made of various grades of gravelly low=maintenance and paving slabs to one side of a concrete path. To the other side is an empty bed growing nothing more than a couple of budding chickweeds.

It’s warm except under my sock-feet so I retreat indoors and sit in my loft room writing and watching the sunlight develop in colour.

The cat snores in a sleeping-bag den he has built for himself.

I am home.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Home

Only 24 hours until I move into my new house. I lay awake last night totally unable to sleep for imagining my limited furniture in the new spaces, my kitchen accoutrements on counter tops and the window sill, unhindered by other peoples' things.

In the bathroom, my towels are already folded away in the cupboards of my imagination and the bed is already assembled in the big bedroom with fresh sheets and new curtains hanging in the window.

Of course there's a temporary phase in between me collecting the keys tomorrow and Andrew finishing work on Friday and helping me move the heavy stuff.

In this interim period, the vanu will be stripped of its matress and I will set up camp in my new loft room for one night only so that on Thursday night we can enjoy a pre-planned night out in Sheffield combined with the new wobble home back from town in big woolly coats and hats.

We will return to our new cosy house, turn on the soft lights and stare at its freshly decorated walls with the satisfaction that we are home and the toaster is downstairs for breakfast and for my last day at work in Rotherham I will ride to work from Sheffield. It was always the plan but somehow I got lost along the way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The day after the day after

Tuesday, yesterday, I was like a tiger the day after the day after my sunday race... which was the day after my Saturday run.  I sprinted home, riding into the wind regardless, chewing up the hill in my middle ring despite the paniers on my bike snatching into the wind.

I got home a hero.  I changed, cooked dinner and sat down to watch tele.

Today, I was pooped.  I bimbled into to work in the little ring on all the hills and hauled my way home the quickest way. 

A rest is upon me as I embark on moving house on Thursday.  I am working late tonight to earn myself Thursday afternoon off. 

Roll on domestic bliss.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


It's been ages since I've written in here and there's two reasons for that: the three peaks cyclo-cross finished me off for the season and life has gone super-critical with a change in jobs and (since I live in a work colleague's house) the inevitable change in house.  This house has never achieved home status and I can only hope that the new one will.

This house is middle aged.  It is an 80's build, it has a conservatory and chaise-longue.  It has polished oak furniture, feather filled sofa and mediocre flooring.  There are attempts at modernity with a state of the art TV balanced on a glass table but the dressing table with its leaf mouldings and mirrored back which is gradually de-silvering gives away the fact that this is a middle-aged house.  There are no pictures in this house save the ones that we mounted on the walls.  There are no mirrors, should we be tempted to look in them and see our wrinkles (or worse, for fear that they should damage the new plaster-work).

Our new home is called Laureate.  He is terraced, brick and victorian.  Outside it says "affordable for funky young couples".  Inside it says, "fresh, new, cosy, independant".  There are alcoves and disused fire places, new carpets, built-in wardrobes that are tidy.  It has a simple, white, practical bathroom with a glass shower door and nice big mirror.  Most importantly, there is a garage-sized cellar with a work bench where bikes will live and be worked on in the winter and where gear will be stored.  It has a porch which says,

"Oh, did you get wet?  Here, come inside, pop your bike here and take of your soggy boots".

If I took a can of spray paint and scrawled "TREP" across the front door, it would not have my name more written all over it.

The three peaks this year will need to be the subject of another post another time though suffice to say, this year passed by without a hitch, without any outstanding performances from me but was remarkably enjoyable.

I have been riding my bike since - both to work and in cyclo-cross races on the weekend.  It has been an odd adaptation period.  I have had an overwhelming desire to start planning next Triathlon season and yet no impetus to actually do so.  Every day I feel like I've already been infront of a computer screen for too long that day.  Almost the fact that I don't have a plan has stopped me from doing any sport whatsoever although I think that is partly because I've had no inclination to do any.  Sure, I have commuted, I have done house viewings on my bike (it's an hour into Sheffield from work) and I have done 'cross but none of it has felt like it counts and I've certainly had no inclination to run. 

I did try to run two weeks ago when I met up with TSK after a house-viewing and took him to his bicycle polo match.  I thought of going out with the tri club but decided that on a nice evening I should run somewhere nice in Sheffield.  I dropped TSK off, got changed into running gear and went to park the van.  Suddenly it seemed like a good idea to go back to the track with the club and on my way there it became a good idea to go home and let the cat in before going for a run in Todwick.  By the time I got home it was dark and Holby City was on the TV.  At least I looked like a runner.

Yesterday as I rode up the very long steep hill to Crookes in my granny gear (with full paniers) I was passed by a chunky student on a mountain bike wearing baggy shorts and teeshirt.  It hurt, it really did and only the big, full paniers on my bike stopped me from crying.  I dropped off some forms at the estate agents then headed off to the doctors' for a 3pm appointment.

I sprinted up all of the hills on the way there (they are steepish, longish and threefold) and arrived at the docs 10 minutes late, sweaty and flustered.  On the last hill I really felt like my legs had nothing left to give me and crawled painfully slowly over the top, trying so desperately to overcome the head-wind pushing me back the other way.  I went to book in at the electronic screens which said they couldn't register me so I stood in line whilst old biddies requested drugs they can only get from the hospital and booked in for flu jabs.  I knew she was going to say it, I knew she was and yet some how I didn't actually think she would. I really didn't.

"I'm 10 minutes late for my appointment" I said.

She looked at her screen, "Actually, you're 15 minutes late", she said.

I am so proud of myself for remaining calm and not shouting, "Ten minutes!! Ten minutes!! I was ten minutes late... and five standing in a fucking queue!".

I got home at 4:30 and cooked dinner then did little for the rest of the evening.  I went to bed on time and slept (mostly) through until 10:05. Boy! Did I need that?

So this morning, in the bright sunshine of early autumn, I got out for a run - finally.  I say morning, it was 11:45 by the time I left.  I don't particularly enjoy the run through the village but when I hit the lovely lush green fields and open path I settled down quite nicely.  I didn't even mind the feeling of being sprayed by pesticide as a tractor passed me in the cross-wind.

The return trip across the field was even more lush as the sun shone on my face and I felt open and free.  I had a stretch, right there and then in the middle of the field - probably much to the satisfaction of the fishermen at the pond - then jogged back to the village road.  Enjoyable as it was, all I could think was how much more enjoyable it would've been if I'd set off from the new house, into the Rivelin Valley and beyond to Strines Moor.  I vowed to come home and get the OS maps out and figure out those traffic free routes.  Roll on next week.

7.75km 56 minutes