John Muir Way Ultra Training Log Week 1

I have been back in forth in my head for a few months now about whether or not to take on a running challenge this year. On the against side is my busy schedule and trying to fit in adequate training, and on the for side is the pull to do something to give myself the ultimate satisfaction that I just ‘can’. I received the not at all surprising “No” from the London Marathon entry system back in October. Ultimately I couldn’t get myself excited about any other marathons within range – tie in with holidays, not already closed and so on. It was at this point that I began to consider an ultra. These events often tend to be a lot less commercial and although the distance is longer, I felt I may put myself under a little less pressure with no sub 4 hour marathon to target. It was with this in mind that in the Christmas holidays I signed up for the John Muir Ultra on March 31st. This is in the “short ultra” ballpark at 50km (31 miles) . My heart sank when I discovered I was on the waiting list without a place. I kind of thought that maybe this year it wasn’t meant to be and left it at that till…I got an email to say I now had a place!

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I have now completed Week 1 of my training plan and have to keep the hope that I can do this. My plan is based on time rather than distance which I hope will encourage me to calm the jets and not push too hard on my training runs. There is no point in rushing to get finished quickly when you are on a fixed time! I also struggle with not running every day. My body is tuned for short runs nearly every day, but I know that with the heavy mileage days I need to allow my body to recover on rest days.

This week’s log:

Monday – 45 minutes 5.29 miles 8.18 ave pace

Tuesday – 45 minutes 5.36 miles 8.16 ave pace

Wednesday – REST

Thursday – REST (played netball!)

Friday – 1.5 hours 10.62 miles 8.28 ave pace

Saturday – REST

Sunday – 2 hours 13.65 miles 8.48 ave pace

Today’s 2 hours was harder going than I would’ve wanted and allowed the first round of doubts to creep in. I might have to accept that running the full distance may be more than I can manage.I definitely need to commit to regular foam rolling and will try not to think too far ahead. I need to read up on nutrition and get it right this time.

Today’s nutrition consisted of my camel pak and this:jelly tots

Two hours hurt a lot (camera smudged in rain):

2 hours

I may also need to conserve energy when I’m with this pair!


Bring on week 2!


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2017 Reads

I clocked up 39 books in 2017. As with every year, there were some real good reads, but also some tedious books that were a bit of a struggle.  In terms of choosing books, I tend to go with books that are in the Kindle Daily Deals section. This is because I want to avoid paying any more than £1 for a book. There are a few that I find it difficult to remember what they are about so they definitely do not make it into my shortlist! The 39 books from first to last read are as follows:

The Shadow Wife by Diane Chamberlain 

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

The Truth About Us by Simon Kettlewell 

The Truth About Her by Simon Kettlewell  The Truth About Her: A mini sequel to the top-selling 'The Truth About Us' by [Kettlewell, Simon]

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan 

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant 

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd 

The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

You Sent Me a Letter by Lucy Dawson 

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons 

Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong by David Walsh

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller 

Adrian Mole The Wilderness Years by Sue Townsend

The Girl Before by JP Delaney  

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 

My Sister And Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall

The Wall Between Us by Jesper Bugge Kold 

A suitable lie by Michael J. Malone 

Lion by Saroo Brierley 

What have I done? by Amanda Prowse

Please, Mister Postman by Alan Johnson 

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout 

Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil

Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon 

A Very English Scandal by John Preston 

One of us is lying by Karen M. McManus 

Your life in my hands by Rachel Clarke 

N-W by Zadie Smith 

It ends with us by Coleen Hoover 

The last days of Hitler by Hugh Trevor-Roper

Trust me I’m a Junior Doctor by Max Pemberton 

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

When good friends go bad by Ellie Campbell

Love, lies and lemon cake by Sue Watson

Quicksand by  Malin Persson Giolino

Mudbound by Hilary Jordan 

The shortlist of my top 5 favourite reads (in no particular order):

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson:

A really interesting read with some fascinating stories about people who have been publicly shamed, mainly as a result of the internet. There is now a whole business out there of people who will try to manipulate Google to get “shamed persons” a new story. I had heard of some of the stories, like the girl who made a bad taste Twitter joke about Africa and Aids. It is scary biscuits to see how her life subsequently unraveled.

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant:

This was a fabulous thriller set in large part in sunnier climes which I often like to escape into during the winter . There were lots of twists and turns in this novel and I can highly recommend it, without giving any more anyway.

Please, Mister Postman by Alan Johnson:

This was a real surprising success for me. This is the second part of Alan Johnson’s autobiography. (His first book “Nowhere Boy chronicles his childhood.) I bought the book on a whim, not being a big fan of Alan Johnson’s New Labour credentials. However, it was a really interesting insight  into union politics and the workings of an organisation close to my heart – Royal Mail! I may be tempted to read the next instalment…

Mudbound by Hilary Jordan:

This was my last book of the year and I ended up reading it over a couple of days, in part to get it done before the year ended, but also because it was a real gripping read. It is set in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s and has a few themes revolving around racial inequality, gender inequality and the harshness of agricultural life. Parts of it are shocking and will stick with me. The book has now been released as a film, but I don’t know if I could bear to watch it!

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller:

This is a strange, strange plot about a young girl and her father who end up living in the German Black Forest miles from civilisation and cut off from the outside world. The location really drew me and it was a bizarre story that was hard not to finish, but also quite a difficult read.


What were your favourite reads of the year? Which books would you recommend?

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December times

Our weeks up to Christmas were mapped out for us with various different events. We kicked off December with Billy’s birthday. Unfortunately Luke was a bit under the weather for 24 hours. He was suddenly sick on the Sunday and it took almost a day for him to get back to his usual self.SAM_7701

We had a school trip to the Winter Wonderland at Kelburn. Billy and I were decidely unimpressed with the lame offerings. Scott and Luke seemed to enjoy it though so I will try not to be too mean-spirited. I felt they sold big for very little to actually see. Scott was happy to be with friends though and Luke was definitely pleased to tag along.SAM_7695SAM_7697SAM_7698

A big highlight was taking Scott to his 1st Killie game. We had this planned for a couple of months and Scott was really looking forward to it. I built it up in the week leading up to the game with the hat and scarf in the advent calendar.

I tried to minimise expectations and I could scarcely believe the 5-1 scoreline!IMG_0171IMG_0174IMG_0175IMG_0181A trip to Rugby Park always brings me so many memories. Scary to think my 1st game was 28 years ago! It was bitterly cold, so the goals were very welcome. Hopefully, I am building a new supporter for the team in Scott.

Luke got a light up Snowman in the advent calendar so I introduced him to the film. It really captured his attention.

We enjoyed our lovely friend Clare’s festive wedding at Marr Hall:IMG_E0266

Festive baking and treat making is my favourite:SAM_7743Luke helped making our snowmen and the amount of chocolate he consumed was a tad worrying!


I saw this Christmas cake bauble idea when I was shopping in Tesco and I decided it was “do-able”. I baked a simple fruit cake (one for each set of grandparents) and covered in butter icing before topping with ready roll icing. All I then had to do was cut the star shapes and fill with sprinkles! A cupcake case and ribbon creates the string at the top of the bauble effect.SAM_7751

The boys decided they needed “pudding” for lunch on Christmas Eve:


Christmas morning was magical for the boys.SAM_7763SAM_7767SAM_7769Luke took the opportunity to munch as much chocolate as he could get his hands on!SAM_7774

Santa gave a helping hand in persuading Scott to adopt Killie as his team. Scott honestly loves chatting about football so it is very easy giving a potted history of the last 30 years of Kilmarnock F.C. to a captive audience:SAM_7773

The wee guy has been scuttling about on his balance bike:IMG_0316

Scott and I had a swimming and cinema trip on one of Luke’s nursery days. The swimming pool was very quiet so we had a good time to ourselves taking lots of turns on the flumes before we went across the road to the cinema for Jumanji.


There has been time for a nip outside in the fresh air:

We had an unexpected snow day that kept us close to home. Luke made sure he was well prepared before going out…SAM_7804SAM_7807

It is always a wee bit magical when you wake up to a snow scene outside:SAM_7788SAM_7789SAM_7791SAM_7792SAM_7795SAM_7798SAM_7799

We ventured up the hill a short way in the afternoon:SAM_7808SAM_7810SAM_7811SAM_7813SAM_7816

I rounded off the month with a softplay date with Luke while Scott was at Star Wars with Billy:

It has been a good month. As Scott said, with 4 wins and 2 draws for Killie in December: “We’re unbeaten. That’s not bad at all.” Not bad at all!

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Advent Adventure

This year for the first time, I decided to do my own advent calendar for the boys. The pictures really tell the story. This was quite a big undertaking to get 24 small gifts for both boys and I started gathering items in October. I would say it was worth it, though…

IMG_0128 Day 1

IMG_0133 Day 2

IMG_0134Day 3

IMG_0141Day 4

IMG_0143Day 5

IMG_0152Day 6

IMG_0157Day 7

IMG_0161 Day 8

IMG_0168Day 9

IMG_0183 Day 10

25397908_10156044565851757_1829094203_oDay 11

25400744_10156044565691757_606447546_oDay 12

25435449_10156044565606757_317297884_oDay 13

25397966_10156044565391757_1220865503_oDay 14

IMG_0233Day 15

IMG_0236Day 16

IMG_0260Day 17

IMG_0281Day 18

IMG_0288Day 19

26060891_10156072741581757_1862185181_oDay 20

26036951_10156072741721757_487757560_oDay 21

26036364_10156072742321757_1780150403_oDay 22

26037364_10156072742881757_919139169_oDay 23

26036427_10156072743181757_1180296002_oDay 24

Most of the items did not fit in the calendar, so I left a short message with a clue that would lead the boys to the gift.  I really liked this part of the adventure!



SAM_7759The end x

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Christmas at the Farm Park

Two weeks ago we paid our annual pilgrimage to the Christmas event at Heads of Ayr Farm Park. The farm park is extremely popular for Christmas so we had to get our booking in early. Luke was sleeping when we arrived so I took Scott in for a first whirl on the slides.IMG_0186IMG_0190IMG_0193IMG_0196

Luke soon joined us with his bed hair!SAM_7702

Luke insisted on joining Scott in the “big softplay” and much as he tried to keep up with Scott, he wasn’t really comfortable.SAM_7704

It was then time for us to head back to the grotto area to see Santa. Luke had a shot of the ring throw on the way.SAM_7708

A bit of patient queuing while they waited their turn…SAM_7711

Then it was time to head in:SAM_7714

We were unsure if Luke was going to go into his shell and be too scared to talk to Santa, but it was kinda the opposite! He was a total chatterbox!SAM_7715He immediately asked Santa for a treasure box. Scott was a little more bashful.SAM_7716SAM_7717SAM_7718SAM_7719

This Santa has amazing patter. He told the boys all about meeting the BFG and really took the time with them. Luke interrupted him several times to show him his Christmas jumper and then to sing “I’m a little teapot” when he spotted a teapot next to Santa. Santa was a great sport though and joined in!SAM_7720SAM_7721

We really do love this Santa!SAM_7723 Luke was especially pleased with his gift – a woofing dog torch!

After Santa we headed to “Fowl Play” where all I will say is, Billy took no prisoners – not even 2 year old toddler prisoners…SAM_7724SAM_7725SAM_7728SAM_7729SAM_7730

After some war wounds we had some cake, tea , coffee and hot chocolate at the fireside and then had a last run around in the softplay. Another fab day at Heads of Ayr!

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2 and a half and 7 and a quarter

Luke hit the 2 and a half year old milestone last week so I am writing a few wee thoughts for the sake of posterity. Despite his protestations to the contrary, Luke is a right chatterbox. He is on a continual loop of asking “Why?” about things. He is very observant and notices if I am wearing work clothes, or am wearing anything that he sees as being out of context. Nursery rhymes bring him so much fun at the moment. He loves singing and dancing to Dingle Dangle Scarecrow and some of his renditions would melt your heart with cuteness. Action songs of any sort are a real favourite and he also enjoys doing actions from stories.

Oh the Grand Old Duke of York…

SAM_7615The outdoors usually puts a smile on Luke’s face and jumping in puddles is still a well-liked pastime. It may be a bit of a long winter for him though, because he keeps mentioning wanting to go to the beach and paddle in the water! He says, “Next time it is a sunny day, Mummy?” He might be waiting a while!SAM_7584

2 and a half year old has just about picked up his colours. He is showing more interest in drawing and cutting out with scissors. I still usually spend at least part of the night sleeping beside him. Sometimes it is just an hour or so before it is time to get up, but sometimes it can be most of the night. It feels a small price to pay to buy me some more sleep! He still has a nap nearly every day around lunchtime. Luke can be very stubborn and really struggles to back down and apologise when he is in trouble. He certainly doesn’t give much quarter with his brother. Poor Scott is often at the wrong end of some hitting at the moment. Despite this, Scott is still the biggest source of excitement and imitation for Luke.

I took them to softplay last weekend and if Scott had spent the entire time playing with him, Luke would have been a happy boy.SAM_7690SAM_7689SAM_7686


7 and a quarter year old Scott is becoming a bit more of a poser for the camera…SAM_7646SAM_7647


Fortunately he is also a fan of the outdoors and a trip to the park is a great fit for both boys.SAM_7651SAM_7652SAM_7654SAM_7657SAM_7661SAM_7641SAM_7642SAM_7645SAM_7639SAM_7637SAM_7635Rouken Glen Park was lovely last weekend!

7 and a quarter year old Scott is definitely still football crazy and some of the matches that we seem to end up watching with him are bizarre! European football weeks mean that I have to start the morning by giving him a classified score update and he then reviews the goals over breakfast. 7 and a quarter year old Scott’s lack of morning urgency is still threatening to send me to an early grave… Scott is now at the age that when we have a day together, just the two of us, it can be really fun. We went to see Paddington 2 over the long weekend and it was nice to chat with him and spend time laughing together.

They are both hard work in their own ways and together they can be a handful, but they are how they are for such a little while.



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Halloween high jinx

Given Lukester’s penchant for jumping in muddy puddles, I thought it was time I got him a puddle suit. We took it out for a test drive last week when we had a wee day just the two of us:SAM_7576SAM_7581SAM_7588SAM_7584

After a bit of puddle jumping, I thought we should take a walk down the burn. I was thinking how little we have taken Luke down there compared with Scott. 2nd child disadvantages!SAM_7592SAM_7595SAM_7597

Fun in the rain:SAM_7600SAM_7601

The burn was so full that there wasn’t much space for stone throwing:SAM_7603SAM_7604SAM_7608SAM_7609SAM_7611When we came back we got busy with some Halloween arts and crafts:SAM_7560A ghostly galleon:SAM_7563

A handprint witch and spooky spider:

As for Halloween itself, the Grand Old Duke of York headed off to nursery in full dress:

grand old 9

Draco Malfoy was very in character:Malfoy 1

The boys had their first experience of going out guising, which they both loved.

We finished off our Halloween fun with a lovely wee day with cousins yesterday. This game was genius!

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