I went for a run in the rain last night. Not very far, I just wanted to get out for a while. I don’t usually like being out in the rain (due to being a thorough wuss!) but it was so refreshing, if a bit painful on the bare arms. Probably the most inconvenient part was trying to wipe my nose with a rain-soaked tissue….. But there was barely any traffic and it was so quiet. I was almost back home before I realised where I was.
It made quite a change to have a decent rain shower last night. Don’t get me wrong, I love sunshine and I could definitely do with more of it, but we’ve had such gorgeous weather for such a long time it feels as though the earth is struggling a bit. Boyfriend said something about not wanting it to rain and I came back with the oh-so-grown-up-small-talk ‘yes, but we really do need it’ response, which was immediately pooh-poohed by Boyfriend. But we really do need it, I said as I pointed out the brown patches in the grass, the leaves turning before their time, the dusty air. Perhaps it’s because I walk about a lot more than Boyfriend, and my work commute includes walking through parks (it’s a tough life) but it is so noticeable we’re having weather you would expect in July or August, not May.
One of my favourite things to do in the summer months – and sometimes in the winter months – is sit tucked up in my abode, all warm under a blanket with the windows and doors open listening and watching the rain. Everything is so quiet as the noise of the rain masks the sounds of the outside world.
I’m a runner. Well, a part-time jogger to be more precise. I only venture out when it’s nice weather. As in, not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not windy, snowy or icy. Etc! But over the last couple of months I’ve been averaging around three runs a week, because last Saturday I took part in Cancer Research UK‘s Race For Life. This fantastic women only 5k event takes place at venues all over the country to raise money for Cancer Research. There is such an amazing atmosphere and a sea of pink as thousands of women walk, jog, run and push buggies round the distance. So if you fancy a challenge and want to raise money for such an amazing cause, get involved! I have done, I did and I will do again!
But I have now totally digressed from my train of thought (this is the problem with blogging!), which is actually the point of this blog. Are you following?!
When I was out running tonight, I didn’t take any music with me. So it was 2.5 miles of me, myself and I. Plus a few cars to watch out for. As I was running I realised how much thinking and planning I do. In fact, I was so busy thinking I nearly went the wrong way – I had to turn back and go down the correct road…..
But that case of misdirection prompted me to think about what I was thinking about while I was running. And I discovered that I think about a lot of things! I thought about needing new running shoes; the people who had annoyed me today; the upcoming decision I need to make and associated pros and cons – not to mention planning the next six months around either result of said upcoming decision; whether I was going to get run over because I wasn’t paying attention; ooo what am I thinking about?; will this make a good blog post?; tomorrows dinner; if I found an abandoned puppy where is the nearest vet and how will I get there (possibly weird I’ll admit)?; do I run funnily a la Phoebe in that classic Friends episode; and the next three weeks social/life schedule. Perhaps next time it would be more relaxing to take my iPod with me.
It seems to become a chance for me to organise my life and put plans into place. I love organising and planning. I don’t mind if plans change but I need that security of having a plan and structure in place. This of course, prompted me to wonder what other people think about and so I open the question – what DO you runners think about when you are running?
Boyfriend & I took a trip to Banham Zoo this week, and it was BRILLIANT! We saw giraffes, cheetahs and tigers being fed and just had a fantastic time wandering around seeing all the animals.
But probably the highlight of the day (at least for me) was the free-flying birds of prey display. They really are magnificent creatures. It really brought home to me how they can be so mis-understood – so many people are frightened of birds and think that birds of prey are fierce predators to be scared of. Don’t get me wrong, they are fierce but mostly only if you are a small bird or mouse! Even the bigger eagles and owls are so much smaller than humans, and are guaranteed to be more frightened of us than we are of them. They will fly away rather than confront. Birds raised in captivity still shelter their food with their wings while they eat to prevent thieves.
My favourite bird had to be Boo the barn owl. A beautiful, friendly owl that likes showing off! Owls can’t see up close very well due to their eyes being fixed in position so they use their beaks to ‘feel’ around for food.
The surprise of the day came from the vultures. Well known for their part in the Disney classic, The Jungle Book, they are not attractive creatures at first sight, man of us will admit.
They have an incredible wingspan that caused huge gusts of wind as they flew in over our heads. Vultures feed on animal carcasses and are under threat of extinction, particularly those endemic to South Asia. Livestock are treated with a particular painkiller which even in small doses is fatal to these birds. Unfortunately the drug was in use for a long time before it was realised that it was the cause of the declining vulture numbers. Happily, the drug has been banned for veterinary use in South Asia and numbers of vultures are on the increase. There is still a problem however as a version of the drug designed for human use is still being used in cattle. Further work needs to be done and you can help by supporting the Hawk Conservancy Trust.
There is still a stigma attached to zoos about animals being held captive in small enclosures. I understand this feeling but zoos today are so much bigger and brighter than they used to be. So many are now involved in education, conservation, breeding programmes and rehabilitation that its worth a second thought before you dismiss them as wrong.
Just to finish, a few more of the pictures I took while we were at the zoo. It was a great day out and I thoroughly recommend a visit. We’ll definitely be going back again!
As a resident of East Anglia I know that along with many other people I often take this amazing National Park right here on my doorstep, for granted. Other times however, I realise just how lucky I am to live slap bang in the middle of it! As an area it holds inspiration for many, including Arthur Ransome (best known as the author of Swallows and Amazons) who set his novel Coot Club here.
The Broads were formed through the extraction of peat and subsequent flooding, and are now the largest nationally protected wetlands in the United Kingdom. They are also a huge tourist attraction with over 100 miles of navigable waterways, several nature reserves and countless paths suitable for walking and cycling. No doubt wherever you turn you’ll spot several ‘twitchers’ excitedly watching the diverse array of birds to be found here. Can you spot the elusive Bittern or hear it’s booming cry that resembles the sound made when you blow across the top of a milk bottle?
This collection of channels, rivers and lakes sits mainly in Norfolk but spreads into parts of Suffolk. It is an area of great scientific interest managed by The Broads Authority, who regularly update their webpage with any urgent environmental news for the general public to be aware of. Of particular concern at the moment is the discovery of a non-native vicious shrimp in Cambridgeshire, Dikerogammarus villosus, that is feared may be transferred into the Norfolk Broads, and the spread of pennywort. Please do get in touch with the Broads Authority immediately if you spot either of these!
Check out the Broads Outdoor Festival running until the 15th May! As a National Park the Broads rely on visitors and tourists to help maintain it and the surrounding villages and businesses. It is a prime location for families on holiday and conservation volunteers alike.
In the meantime, here are a few pictures I’ve taken on recent visits. Enjoy!
References and Further Information:
The Broads Authority