Rants and raves #39

**Disclaimer: I’m going to apologise in advance, this selection of rants and raves may be even more ranty than usual. Sometimes when life isn’t great, it’s good to write things down and to have a good old rant. It’s just unfortunately that I seem to find communicating with people on the internet easier than talking to my own family. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Hundreds of far less negative running blogs are available**

Good morning, I hope that whoever reads this blogging masterpiece is having an awesome week. My week hasn’t been great, but hopefully by the time this is published I’ll be heading down to Wallingford to spend some time with my old team.

Rave: The running community

Apologies for starting with a repeat rave, but over the last couple of months I’ve really appreciated the support of the running community. I’ve received supportive comments on here, on Instagram and on Twitter; you know who you are so “thank-you” xx

Volunteering at parkrun has become an important part of my weekend routine. For a couple of hours each Saturday morning I get to forget about the shit that is going on in my life. This is going to sound cheesy, but I’m guaranteed to leave parkrun with a smile on my face. Supporting others enables me to briefly escape from my problems.

Running community

When parkrunners thank me for volunteering, I find myself thanking them for getting out of bed on a Saturday morning and taking part. At the end of the day, without these runners, joggers and walkers, there wouldn’t be a parkrun!

Rant: Virgin Media

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I sent a few slightly grumpy tweets to Virgin Media. I also spent hours on hold waiting to talk to so-called ‘technical experts’ and lost count of the number of times I checked the service status page. Virgin Media

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This page regularly told porkie pies and stated that there weren’t any faults when there were. I may be wrong, but I suspect this is a way of avoiding compensating customers for a loss of service. A quick Google search on my phone – it’s a good job I have a generous data allowance – made me realise that a lot of people were having similar issues.

After five days of intermittent unusable broadband and TV – guess who wasn’t able to watch much of the Ashes! – the temporary fault was finally fixed. I actually bumped into an engineer and was informed that the junction box on my road had been impacted by the recent lightening. Virgin Media were aware of this the morning after it happened so I’ve no idea why they weren’t just upfront with people from the start.

Fingers crossed everything seems to be working now. I’m counting down the days until my £135/month contract comes to an end and I can switch to something a little cheaper.

Rave: I’m famous…sort of!

Have you heard of Blogosphere Magazine? I’ll let you into a secret, I hadn’t until I received an email from the Commissioning editor of the magazine asking if they could share this post in their next issue. I said yes and was then asked to answer a few questions about my blog.issue21_Cover

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I don’t want to sound too braggy, but seeing my waffle in print does feel quite satisfying. It’s just a shame I wrote so much, Blogosphere Magazine didn’t manage to squeeze in one of my high quality, iphone photos.

Rant: The M&S Little Shop promotion

I spent a couple of mostly enjoyable festive periods working for M&S as a Christmas temp. I got to learn about Plan A and the environmental ambitions of the company, and spent a lot of time preparing boxes and other packaging for recycling. I wouldn’t work for my current employer – the clue is in the name of the organisation – if I didn’t care about the environment.

The majority of people now seem to have ‘woken-up’ to the fact that climate change is real and that we need to act now. The issue of plastics in the environment is a hot topic and a lot of companies are doing their best to cut down on single-use plastic.M&S Collectables

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So, I’m sure you can imagine I wasn’t overly impressed when I popped into my local M&S Food Hall to buy something for dinner, and was asked by a lovely lady at the checkout if anyone in my family was taking part in the Little Shop promotion. I said I didn’t know what this promotion was, and was pointed in the direction of a huge display I’d somehow not noticed on my way into the store. I didn’t expect to see a display of 25 small plastic toy models of random food products.

I’ve no idea who in M&S thought that running this promotion would be a good idea. Judging by what I’ve seen on social media, the vast majority of people agree with me. And yes, I haven’t just complained on here, I used some of my ‘contacts’ in M&S to send in a complaint email.

Rave: Events that allow race number transfers

I suspect that most runners have entered and subsequently ‘DNS’ a race due to injury, illness, hangovers etc. I’ve lost count of the number of races I’ve DNS and I’m more than a little reluctant to work out how much money I’ve wasted this year. Most races don’t allow race transfers and I don’t like the idea of unofficially swapping numbers. This means that in several oversubscribed races, my place has gone unused.Race entry

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I understand that smaller races simply don’t have the resources to operate a waiting list and official system of transferring numbers. I understand that the larger events, I’m talking London Marathon size, allow for people not making it to the start line and over allocate places in the ballot. I’m also guilty of not reading the T&C’s and small print when I enter a race.

Opps, this rave has turned into a bit of a rant, sorry. Earlier this year I entered what I thought would be an amazing final marathon; Snowdonia Marathon Eryri. I knew that I probably wouldn’t make it to the start of the marathon, but ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’.

I finally gave up on my marathon dream a month ago. Thanks to the race organisers operating an official entry transfer system, I was able to transfer my number to a different runner who had missed out when entries originally opened. I also got my entry fee back. Let’s hope that more race organisers start to do the same.

Rant: Out of control dogs

This may well be another repeat rant but after another dog-related incident in Sutton Park, I feel the need to have a written rant.

Please picture this scenario… you are walking across a field when you spot a couple walking two dogs. The dogs look and sound a bit what I’d describe as ‘scary’ but you don’t worry because they are both on leads. You are also at least 150m away from the dogs and walking away from them. A couple of moments later you become aware of a barking noise and realise that one of the dogs is running straight towards you, growling and acting aggressively. The owners call the dogs name but it takes no notice and starts circling you and then jumping up at you. You are wearing running shorts rather than trousers so this is quite painful.

Suspicious-dog

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I found myself in this situation on Saturday. I was walking back from parkrun minding my own business and I found myself ‘wearing’ a dog on my leg. Awesome! Luckily, I had my phone with me so I not only recorded what was happening, I also took photos of the owners and made a note of their car details. When I got home, I filled in the relevant form on Birmingham City Council’s website.

I doubt very much that anything will happen but I’ve reached the stage I’m reluctant to walk through my local park. I know other runners, walkers and dog walkers have encountered similar incidents. While I’m lucky the dog didn’t puncture my skin, the next person might not be so lucky or may even be a small child.

And finally, a bonus music rave as I know how much people love my rather random taste in music…

Rave: 80s freestyle music

Let me introduce you to this amazing 1980s freestyle mix.

As for this masterpiece of music, I spent most of the day listening to it while I was working.

I’ve said it before, but I sometimes wish that I could travel back in time to the 1980s. I could listen to cheesy music all day.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then as always “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my grumbles with you.

Do you find yourself avoiding certain running routes because of dogs? I’m getting to the stage I don’t even want to walk through certain areas of Sutton Park.

Do you have a favourite type of music? I play the violin and oboe so grew up listening to and playing classical music. I now love all sorts of music; classical, trance, dance, 80’s cheese, rock. You name it, I’ll probably listen to it.

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Rants and raves #38

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending two hours without any internet connection, not ideal when I’m meant to be working from home. Huge thanks for the heads-up Virgin Media.  As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Hundreds of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Friday, I hope that everyone is managing to survive the warmer than average weather. I’m on annual leave from 15:00 today so I’m feeling incredibly chirpy.

Rave: Flexible working

My organisation gets criticised quite a lot, however, depending on your job role, flexible working is actively encouraged. For example, a few of my colleagues have term-time only contracts. This is clearly an amazing option if you have children, unfortunately, I’m not sure I’d be able to blag myself a term-time only contract.tc10

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My new line manager supports flexible working, it’s a case of whatever works best for people. Last week, I let my line manager know that I was struggling to adapt to the not-quite-so-hot-desk policy in my new office. I’m now allowed to work from home a couple of times a week. I actually get more done when I’m not in the office as I can’t really distract myself.

 Rant: The behaviour of some people on trains

Apologies for another repeat rant but now I’m spending what feels like a large proportion of my working week on trains, I have more to rant about. I catch the 0620 train every morning because it is reasonably empty. Most of my fellow passengers are like me, half-asleep and quiet. My main issue with the 0620 train is the heating, 99.9 per cent of the time the heaters under the seats are blowing out hot air. This isn’t ideal in the summer. The trains are too old to have aircon, so it’s a matter of opening the windows and sweating it out.Train etiquette

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While the morning trains are generally empty, the train back home can be a bit of a nightmare. I’ll ignore the people who sit with their feet on the opposite seat, people who leave their litter behind and people who play their music at such a volume the rest of the carriage get to ‘enjoy’ it. This is now unfortunately the norm, even the train staff don’t react to what was once classed as antisocial behaviour.

I find it harder to tolerate passengers who sit in a rush-hour train carriage smoking weed. This has happened a few times, luckily the British Transport Police tend to act when you report it. I mean, if you travel on trains it’s impossible to avoid the ‘See it. Say It. Sorted’ announcements. I’m also finding it increasingly difficult to tolerate manspreaders.Subway-Sun-NYC-1953

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Earlier this month, I asked one persistent manspreader to stop invading my personal space. I’d said that I’d had enough of feeling claustrophobic, and that I was starting to feel nauseous. Mr Manspreader took offence at what I said and proceeded to move seats. I felt sorry for the Business Man he then proceeded to squeeze into a corner for two hours.

Rave: Mack Horton and Duncan Scott

I wish more athletes had the balls to stand up to drug cheats. In my opinion, once a cheat, always a cheat. I’ve no idea why convicted drugs cheats are allowed to return, they should be banned for life. The actions of Mack Horton and Duncan Scott may have landed them both in hot water with FINA but I suspect they have the support of the majority of sports fans.

Thank-you Mack Horton

Thank-you Duncan Scott

It’s good to see athletes standing up to drugs cheats 🙂

Rant: What I’m calling ‘blog plagiarism’

I can’t remember the exact expression, but I think it’s something along the lines of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I’m not sure what to make of someone publishing a couple of my recent posts on this site. I mean some amazing bloggers have been targeted so I guess I should feel quite flattered but I don’t. At the end of the day it’s blatant what I’m calling blog plagiarism.

The only thing that we all have in common is that we all feature in Vuelio’s most recent top 10 UK running blogs.

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

Another repeat rave but I’ve now volunteered at my local parkrun 10 times. I want to earn my purple parkrun t-shirt by the end of the year. A couple of weeks ago I decided to pull on my big girl pants and had a go at timekeeping. I think it must have gone reasonably well as people didn’t end up with times of 59:59.Time keeping

Dont mess this upI’ve handed out finish tokens, encouraged runners at the bottom of the ‘Hill of Doom’, have written an event report and have generally loved supporting people. I’m now enjoying volunteering more than running. Tomorrow, I’m having a go at barcode scanning. If the scanner doesn’t work – I’ve heard they aren’t great when it’s sunny – I’ll use the new parkrun App.

Rant: Twitter

I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I’m not a fan of the ‘new’ Twitter. The expression if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it springs to mind.

Rave: TK Maxx yellow sticker sale

Running tops for £4? Yes please. Running shorts for £5? Yes please. It’s that time of the year again, TK Maxx are currently running their yellow sticker sale. I didn’t know this was a thing until earlier this year when I found loads of running bargains.

Apparently, a couple of times a year, items with red clearance sale stickers on them are given yellow stickers. Anything with a yellow sticker will be marked down until it is 20p, the lowest mark down amount. A lady in my local TK Maxx said the yellow sticker sale ends next weekend. I may pop in after parkrun.

Rave: Trying new things

Since leaving Wallingford, I’ve been trying to step outside of my huge comfort zone on a more regular basis. On Monday, I met up with my running buddy Ellen and we attended a running club organised by a local Pilates studio. The idea was to complete a 30 minute run followed by a 30 minute Pilates session described as benefiting runners.PilatesThe reality was a hilly 30 minute run in Sutton Park at a far faster pace than I’m used to. I swear that my eyeballs were sweating after the run. The 30 minute Pilates session turned out to be a 30 minute torture session with foam rollers. I discovered that I’m possibly the least flexible person in Sutton Coldfield, that I’m unfit, that I have no core strength and that I need to find myself a beginners’ Pilates class. The research is ongoing.

Rave: St Ives Harbour webcam

And finally, as I’m feeling generous a sort of bonus rave. Finances and circumstances – I’m skint, single and all my friends are having family holidays this year – mean that the nearest I’ll be getting to a holiday this summer is a couple of days in Wallingford-on-Thames next week. I’ve shared this website before, but I love this webcam which lets me sort of pretend I’m in St Ives.St Ives Harbour webcamAspects Holidays now have webcams at a range of seaside locations including Bude, St Michael’s Mount and Mevagissey.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then a massive “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my grumbles with you.

Does your organisation allow you to work from home? I would like to hope that a lot of organisations allow their staff to occasionally work from home. I get that this only really works if you have an office-based role!

Have you ever attended a class that wasn’t quite what you were expecting? The content of the Pilates class most definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

Rants and raves #37

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after a not so successful day in the office. I’m also feeling slightly more stressed than normal as I’m still trying to get used to working in a busy office. Apologies if this selection of rants and raves are more moany than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available, I’m always happy to recommend a few**

Rave: Being back at home

While I think it’s safe to say that I grew to love living and working in Wallingford, I’m enjoying being back at home in Four Oaks. I’m saving a fortune on train tickets and rent, and with my side hustles am managing to transfer a fair amount of money into my savings account each month. It’s just a shame it took me 40 years to start making the effort to save money.

Rant: Commuting

One of the few downsides of living back in Four Oaks and working in Solihull is the commute. My commute into the Wallingford office comprised of a 20 minute walk along a route which included crossing Wallingford Bridge. I loved stopping off at the River Thames each morning.

Four Oaks to Solihull

My new commute takes over an hour as I have to catch a train into Birmingham New Street, walk to Birmingham Moor Street and then catch a train to Solihull. After enduring a couple of overcrowded trains, I’ve decided that although getting up at 05:30 is challenging, missing both the morning and evening rush hours makes it worthwhile.

I’m looking forward to the day the office moves into the centre of Birmingham.

Rave: My Wallingford colleagues

My colleagues in Wallingford gave me the most amazing send-off. My final week was a nonstop marathon of after work meals and drinks. By the final day I was shattered and felt like a beached whale.

The comments in my leaving card made me a little teary and my leaving presents were incredibly thoughtful.  I’m keeping an eye on the internal jobs board for permanent jobs in the Wallingford office.

Rant: Hot desking

Another reason I’m missing working in the Wallingford office is what I’m going to call the joy of hot desking. In the Wallingford office, I was allocated my own desk and as long as it was kept reasonably clear, I was allowed to leave my cup, work etc on my desk when I went home. It definitely made life easier as I knew I had somewhere to sit. It also meant that my chair and monitor etc were set up correctly.

Hotdesking

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My new office operates a strict hot desking policy. I’m finding having to sit at a different desk every day quite hard to get used to. There is a lot less conversation in the new office. I can see why a lot of people work from home.

Rave: Skid Row Marathon

I watched the Skid Row Marathon documentary last May and wrote the following:

 “I don’t want to give too much away, but if you get the opportunity please, please go and watch Skid Row Marathon. I was in tears before it even started. ..”

Skid Row Marathon

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For less than the cost of a pint in my local pub, Skid Row Marathon is now available to stream via this link.

Rant: Social Media

I’ve been avoiding social media recently as I find the utter crap that some people write incredibly frustrating. I know that I can just scroll past and ignore the crap, but it’s now so widespread it’s getting difficult.

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And as for the people who hide behind anonymous social media accounts to dish out snarky comments; please don’t. I didn’t appreciate being called a fat and worthless lazy f**ker, and doubt that you’d have the balls to say it to my face.

Rave: Plogging Sutton Coldfield

I recently ranted about people who litter; I’m now going to rave about a group I spotted on Farcebook.

Since moving back to Four Oaks, I’ve been searching the internet for local running groups. I spotted a page called Plogging Sutton Coldfield and got in contact with James, the local runner who set up the Farcebook page. I’m going to see if I can drum up a bit of local support.

Rant: Your parkrun needs you posts

I’m not sure if it’s due to the weather or time of year, but I’ve noticed a lot of ‘Your parkrun needs you’ posts on social media recently.

Your parkrun needs you

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The Farcebook page for my local parkrun – Sutton Park parkrun – has almost 1300 likes. Unfortunately, despite several shout outs for help, it was almost cancelled last weekend due to a lack of marshals.

I tried to promote volunteering in the run report  I produced a few weeks ago. I guess the whole point of volunteering is that people don’t have to volunteer unless they want to.

Rave: My new blog header

Now that I have a bit more free time on a Sunday evening, I’m aiming to improve the layout of this blog. I spent far too long debating the pros and cons of changing the name of my blog. I eventually decided to stick with the PhD Runner and invested in a new blog header. I just need to invest in a new theme.

I was about to invest in the blog migration service offered by Pipdig when it all got a bit heated online. However, as I’ve had enough of the irritating advert at the top of the page I’m now researching alternatives. If anyone can recommend an alternative to Pipdig then please get in touch 🙂

If you’ve got to the end of this random selection of rants and raves, then I’d like to say a massive “thank-you”. As always, I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I feel a little better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans.

Does your office operate a hot desking policy? I’m aware that hot desking is quite popular, I’d love to hear some positive stories.

Have you watched Skid Row Marathon? If you haven’t please consider paying to watch it on Vimeo. I’m not on commission, I just think it’s an amazing running documentary.

Rants and raves #36

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after treating a relative to breakfast at the local farm shop. Because I have a full-time job, nine times out of ten I end up treating people. I sometimes wonder how I’m ever going to save enough money to get on the property ladder. I’m going to have to learn how to say no. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Monday, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m working from home today as I need to prepare for a two-day training course in London.

Rave: My 40th birthday

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues and ‘Wallingford family’ – I knew they were plotting something but had no idea exactly what – I had an amazing day. I’ve included a few photos; I would have included more but don’t want to risk getting in trouble.

Highlights included a huge cooked breakfast at the Old Post Office in Wallingford, lunch at the Waterfront Cafe in Benson, an amazing chocolate cake made by my colleague Sally, and a few too many drinks in the evening. I’m going to miss everyone when my fixed term contract ends next month.

Rant: My 40th birthday

The rest of my birthday was a tad disappointing. I don’t want to complain, but most of my close family didn’t even send me a card. I know I haven’t always been the best daughter/sister/aunt and people have busy lives, but I still felt slightly offended.

Happy Birthday

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Having to explain to colleagues that I hadn’t seen most of my family was quite difficult. I guess there’s always next week. Once I’d stopped feeling sorry for myself I decided to buy myself some birthday presents. Thanks to TK Maxx, I’m now the proud owner of a new Radley watch and purse.

Rave: Recognition for this blog

I know this has featured as a rave before so sorry if you suddenly experience a spot of déjà vu. When I started writing this blog I had no idea if anyone would actually read it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve felt like calling it a day but haven’t because I really enjoy writing.

I was over the moon when I recently discovered I’d made it into Vuelio’s top 10 running blogs for a third consecutive year. I was given the opportunity to complete a Blogger spotlight interview and was able to share my favourite running blogs.Blogger Spotlight 2019If you haven’t already, please check out the five awesome running bloggers I highlighted in my interview.

Rant: The Weather

Since my last rants and raves blog, the weather has been a tad disappointing and somewhat unpredictable. I’ve lost count of the number of times it’s rained during my morning walk into the office and at lunchtime. I shouldn’t complain too much as the southeast of England desperately needs more rain. It would be good it if could rain during the night.

Last week, I completed my fifth and final Thames Water Situation Report. After three consecutive dry winters, I have a feeling I’m escaping from a stressful summer. If it doesn’t rain a lot more, my current team are going to be very busy this summer. My new role has the potential to be equally as stressful as I’ll be providing hydrological support to the whole of England. Nothing will go wrong!

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

I’ve definitely caught the parkrun volunteering bug. My fragile right knee means that it’s unlikely I’ll ever attempt to complete another Sutton Park parkrun. The first half of the course is uneven and the numerous steep downhill sections make my knee twinge. I’ve really enjoyed my recent volunteering stints. Tail walking gave me a completely different perspective of parkrun. It also gave me a what I call a ‘kick up the arse’ photo.

Marshal briefingSutton Park parkrun tail walker

[Photos: Peter Heafield]

The healthier eating has now started.

This may sound slightly geeky but I’ve got a favourite marshalling location. I love ‘position 10’ as it’s in a busy part of Sutton Park at the top of a longish hill. When people reach me they have completed the most challenging sections of the course and it’s downhill to the finish.Sutton Park parkrun

IMG_3649When I’m feeling brave I may have a go at timekeeping. The Core Team keep telling me it’s easy and that there is always a backup timer.

Rant: Having to leave Wallingford

At the end of 2017 and the beginning of last year I was dreading having to move to Wallingford. I think it’s safe to say I was shitting myself and I shared some of my fears in what became one of my most highly viewed posts.

After a slightly rocky start, I’ve had the most amazing time in Wallingford. I’ve made some amazing friends that I’ll be in contact with for life, and I’m now feeling sad that the end of my fixed term contract is rapidly approaching. I’m incredibly fortunate because I’ve landed myself an amazing new job within the EA, however, leaving Wallingford is going to be difficult. There will be tears on my final day.

Rave: Alysia Montaño

I had heard horror stories about Nike and other top brands dropping sponsored athletes for petty reasons like getting pregnant before. After reading this opinion piece, I now have even more respect for Alysia Montaño.

Rant: Public transport

I’m aware that this is another repeat rant, but I’ve had far too many not very positive bus and train journeys recently. For the amount I pay to travel between Oxford and Birmingham I should as a minimum feel safe. I think all evening trains should introduce compulsory alcohol breath tests before people are allowed to board.

Getting to my new job is going to involve two trains and an hour plus journey from north to south Birmingham. I can’t wait…

And finally, a (sort of) bonus rave. I’ve decided to conclude all of my ‘rants and raves’ posts with a random music recommendation.

Rave: Exposé – Let Me Be The One

I’m a huge fan of 80s/early 90s music so to start with I’d like to introduce you to ‘Let me be the One’ by Exposé.

Expose
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I sometimes wish I could just go back in time to the late 80s, I could listen to cheesy music all day.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then a huge “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans with you.

Have your family ever forgotten your birthday? I have a feeling that most other families are slightly more reliable than mine.   

Do you have a favourite parkrun volunteering role? I would love to have a go at barcode scanning but have heard a few too many horror stories.

Rants and raves #34

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending the morning at the dentist, again. My debit card has taken a bit of a battering.  I’m also still not completely recovered from the lurgy and Wolves have just lost. As a result, this blog may be even more moany than usual if that’s possible. As always, all moans groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, far less negative running blogs are available**

Rave: The weather

I’m loving the weather at the moment; sunny but quite chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. On Thursday, it was mild enough for me to enjoy my first outdoors pint of the year after work. Although the weather isn’t meant to be great this week – I guess it’s time for some good old April showers – the forecast for next weekend looks reasonable.Spring 2019I just need to start running again sooner rather than later because at the moment I’m feeling incredibly unfit. I don’t want a repeat of a few years ago when I started running after a longish injury break and struggled because it was so warm.

Rant: EE network coverage

A rather random rant, but I’ve reached the stage I’ve had enough of EE. Someone told me that EE was formerly known as ‘Everything Everywhere’. I personally think EE should be called NA ‘Nothing Anywhere’. I do wonder how bad other networks are if EE keep winning this.EE best network

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My EE phone doesn’t tend to work in my office. This is incredibly frustrating when I need to check my personal email account (we aren’t allowed to access hotmail at work) and when someone tries to contact me. My phone lies and tells me it has 4G signal, the second I try to send a text the signal mysteriously disappears and the dreaded ‘No Signal’ appears on the screen.

My phone also doesn’t work for most of the journey between Oxford and Leamington Spa, in large areas of Four Oaks and in my house. Network coverage used to be a million times better, I’ve no idea why it is now so bad. And to think there are plans to install a 4G network on the Moon. I can’t wait to escape from EE when my contract ends in June.

Rave: Feedback from people who read this blog

Like most bloggers, I do sometimes wonder if people actually read my waffle. My blogging stats haven’t been that great recently, possibly because I haven’t had much to say. I was thrilled when Paul contacted me completely out of the blue to say they had found this running blog, and that my blog injected some welcome reality into things.

Thanks for taking the time to contact me Paul, your lovely feedback made my day. I’m hopeful that normal service will resume once I am up and running again!

Rant: My right knee

My fragile right knee has been incredibly painful – 9/10 on my niggleometer – for a couple of weeks now. Frustrating when the lurgy means that I haven’t been able to run recently. The ‘did not starts’ are starting to frustrate me, there’s no way I’m even going to attempt the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run on Sunday, last year I ended the race with a knee injury.

I had hoped that a break from running would help my right knee settle down and get better, if anything it seems to be more painful the longer I don’t run. I can’t avoid using it as I have to walk to and from the office Monday to Friday. I’ve been following the strengthening routine a sports physio gave me a couple of years ago and have been wearing a knee support. I’m rapidly running out of ideas…

Rave: The Old Post Office

I have a new favourite drinking establishment in Wallingford. After a couple of not so positive experiences, the Boat House has been relegated into second place and The Old Post Office promoted to first place.

As an added bonus, the food in The Old Post Office is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s a tad on the expensive side, definitely more of an occasional treat. I’m still not completely sure how two of us managed to spend £70 in there a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t even feeling tipsy when I left.

Rant: The Oxford Half Marathon ballot

With the exception of the London Marathon et al, I struggle with the concept of races having ballots. Races should be first come first served. I was more than a little surprised when a colleague told me that the Oxford Half was now ballot entry. I mean the Oxford Half didn’t even sell out in 2018. They also had an issue with medals; the complaints on social media were pretty impressive. I can only assume they held a ballot to encourage people to enter and to hype the event up.Oxford Half ballot

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I don’t know of anyone who entered who didn’t get a place through the ballot. I know some people didn’t get in via the first round of invites, but predictably they got a place via the second round of invites. I won’t complain about the price. Let’s just hope the medals arrive in time for the race this year.

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I know I’ve said it before, but after a few not very enjoyable seasons, I’m really enjoying being a Wolves supporter. I would love to be able to say that I’m heading down to the FA Cup Semi-Final on Sunday but I’m not. I’ve donated my ticket to a good friend who has never experienced the new(ish) Wembley.WolvesI just hope that he manages to get on the right train to London Euston, manages to find Wembley, and that Wolves put on a decent performance. If they get hammered by Watford it will be a disappointing day out for Wolves.

Rant: CrossCountry Trains

And while on the subject of trains, I want to rant about CrossCountry trains. I won’t complain about the fact most of their trains are overcrowded and quite clearly not designed for passengers with longer than average legs. I won’t complain about the fact that 90 per cent of the trains I catch on a Friday arrive into Birmingham New Street late. I do want to complain about the fact CrossCountry trains now charge £1 for the privilege(?) of having paper rather than e-tickets. When I contacted CrossCountry to ask why, this was part of their response: 

CrossCounty always offer a free method of fulfilment, and the £1 collection fee for collecting your tickets at a station is only chargeable where an m-Ticket or e-Ticket is available.

E-Tickets are easier to collect due to how flexible they are, you get four options for showing your ticket so you can save time queuing at the train station or waiting for your tickets to arrive in the post. You can show the PDF on your smartphone, print at home/work, send to Apple Wallet or use our Train Tickets app where your ticket will be visible in your wallet.”

I’m quite happy queuing at the train station for a couple of minutes to collect my tickets. I’d rather have paper tickets as I know they (1) will open the barriers at Oxford station, (2) will open the barriers at Birmingham New Street station, (3) don’t rely on having phone signal to actually work, (4) don’t rely on me having phone battery, (5) mean that I don’t have to risk dropping my phone when I’m already struggling to carry a couple of large bags and (6) are far more convenient.

And finally, I’m afraid I’m going to finish with a bonus rant…

Rant: Me!

I’ve been feeling incredibly gloomy and completely lacking in motivation for a couple of weeks now. Although not knowing where I’ll be living and working when my temporary contract ends probably isn’t helping, I’m blaming my gloominess on not being able to run. I’m definitely more positive when I can run. I’ve been struggling at work and have stopped enjoying my job. Getting out of bed each morning and heading into the office has been a chore. I haven’t felt like blogging and have struggled to find the motivation to write. Most evenings, I get back to my room; have a lengthy nap and then waste time watching TV.

I’ve got a job interview later this week and to be honest I don’t feel very well prepared. I don’t even know if I want the job, I just felt like I needed to apply for it as it’s a permanent position nearer to Four Oaks. Hopefully I’ll start to feel a bit more positive when I know what I’ll be doing when my temporary contract ends. Running will also help.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans on here.

Do you have any recommendations for mobile phone providers? After 15+ years, I’ve had enough of Orange/EE. I’m just worried they are all equally as bad.

Do you agree with races holding ballots or do you think it should be first come first served? I can understand why races like the London, Chicago and Berlin Marathons hold ballots. I struggle with the concept of smaller races holding ballots.

Rants and raves #33 and a giveaway

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending an expensive and not very enjoyable hour at the dentist. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. As a result, this blog may well be slightly more moany than usual. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: My new lodgings

I’ve escaped from the shared ‘House of Doom’. I’m now living with a lovely lady and her elderly dog. I feel safe when I go to sleep, and don’t get woken up at 4am and 5am by people turning on the extractor fan in the kitchen. I’ve been getting 8 hours sleep a night and have been waking up feeling refreshed.

My temporary contract was extended last week; I’m now looking forward to living and working in Wallingford until at least the end of June.

Rant: SpareRoom

Last month, I escaped from the shared house I’d been living in endured for 12 months. The final straw was returning after Christmas, and discovering the one housemate I actually had something in common with and spoke to had moved to Reading. To make matters worse, two people had moved into the room next to me and they were noisy. Like really noisy; I could hear every word they were saying at 2am in the morning. It got so bad; it was a case of find somewhere better or hand in my notice at work.SpareRoom

Even this shared house sounded better!

I was a little surprised to see the house advertised on SpareRoom as having a lounge, an immaculate garden, friendly professional and quiet housemates, parking and a spotlessly clean kitchen. The house had no lounge – the lounge has been converted to a bedroom, the garden is a jungle, most of the housemates were anything but friendly, there is no parking and the kitchen is so dirty, I never risked preparing food in there. All the photos looked really old; possibly from when the house was last sold, the photo of the room wasn’t even of my old room.

The blatant lie that made me report the listing to SpareRoom was the description of the ‘current housemates’. The advert stated 3 Males, 3 Females whereas the reality is 7 males. Incredibly misleading. I reported the listing to SpareRoom and from what I can tell they did bugger all. The completely misleading listing was live for a couple of weeks and has now disappeared. I just hope the new housemate has some good earplugs.

Rave: Famous failures

Sometimes I need to remind myself that it is acceptable to make mistakes and to fail! 

Thanks Jeff!

Rant: The lurgy

I’m still not feeling completely recovered after my recent cough and cold. I’m finding running more of a struggle than it should be, and feel like I’ve lost a lot of my fitness and running stamina. I spend a lot of time on trains and buses surrounded by people coughing and sneezing. A lot of people make zero effort to cover their mouth when they cough and sneeze, it’s disgusting.  I’m getting slightly paranoid I’m going to get ill again between now and the London Landmarks Half at the end of March.

Does anyone know where I can buy my own breathing apparatus set?

Rave: Bargainous 2XU reflective leggings

I recently popped into my local TK Maxx on the final day of the ‘yellow sticker’ sale. Predictably, the vast majority of the items left in the sale were either broken, not in my size or unidentifiable. I did, however, spot a pair of these 2XU reflective leggings in my size.2XU leggingsThey set me back the grand total of £2.50, definitely a bargain. I also bought another couple of pairs of leggings in a smaller size, hopefully a bit of an incentive for me to lose a bit of weight before I’m 40.

Rant: eBay again

After last year’s automatic relisting saga, I decided to give eBay another chance. I’m aiming to sell my unwanted running gear to raise money for race entries.

I listed a couple of pairs of running shorts and made sure that the ‘automatically relist’ option wasn’t selected. I was so paranoid I double-checked both listings. My listings ended on Friday, one was automatically relisted and the other wasn’t. I only knew one had been relisted when someone sent me a stupidly low offer. I declined the offer and deleted the listing and a couple of other listings I had scheduled.eBay woes

[Source]

Unless eBay stop trying to automate everything, I’m going to stick to buying and not selling. There are cheaper alternatives including Facebook selling pages.

Rave: Facebook selling pages

I listed the running shorts that failed to sell on eBay on a Facebook selling page and both pairs sold pretty much instantly. I got what I wanted and saved money as I didn’t have to pay eBay and PayPal fees. Definitely what I call a win-win situation. I just need to make sure I don’t spend all the money I make buying running gear I don’t need.

Rant: The Running Bug

Did I completely miss an email or something similar warning me that The Running Bug site was closing its doors? I only became aware it had closed when I did a broken link check.The Running BugThe site had an amazing online community and contained a lot of incredibly useful running related articles. It seems a shame for everything to disappear without warning.

Rave: Reflective hairband and a giveaway

And finally, what I hope is a bonus rave. The first and quite possibly last giveaway I’ll ever attempt to organise through this blog.

Last month, Kimberley contacted me and asked if she could send me a reflective headband to wear and review during my night-time training runs. I said yes and received four of these amazing headbands Kimberley has created in the post. I’ll be hopefully writing a review soon.Reflective headbandTo be in with a chance, please leave a comment below saying why a reflective headband would be useful to you. I’ll pick a winner at random and announce the winner on Sunday February 17th. Fingers crossed I get at least a couple of entries. Good luck!

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

Have you got any shared house horror stories you’d like to share with me?  

Did you use The Running Bug site? If you did, were you aware it was closing down?  

Rants and Raves #32

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as I needed a break from completing a slightly tedious job application. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. I’m not looking forward to returning to my shared house. As a result, this blog may be slightly more ranty than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Christmas

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas, mine was reasonably positive. I managed to eat and drink far too much and spent some quality time with my parents. I like to think that my parsley stuffing balls were the highlight of our Christmas dinner. Actually, I think the turkey was the highlight; I love turkey and all the trimmings.Christmas 2018Christmas Day was actually quite a low-key event as there were only three of us. Boxing Day was a bit challenging at times, and I ended up in the local pub in the evening having a quiet drink. I found being surrounded by large groups of people a little difficult. I didn’t get to see a lot of my family, but will hopefully see them sooner rather than later.

Rant: Festive food shaming

One of the not-so-positive aspects of Christmas is what I call the festive food shaming. I hadn’t even digested my Christmas meal or eaten any sherry trifle when I spotted this on twitter. I can’t remember who shared it.  Christmas food shamingWhy do people (and some organisations who should really know better) feel the need to share this sort of rubbish? Maybe I’m just as bad for sharing it on my blog. I don’t want to know how far I’d need to run to burn off my Christmas meal. Talk about encouraging unhealthy eating habits.

Unfortunately, running related brands weren’t the only culprits. I spotted this Spillers advert on Boxing Day.SpillersI’m off to run three marathons and then to ride a random horse for a couple of days!

Rave: TK Maxx bargains

I’ve said it before, but I love TK Maxx and its randomness. I love finding hidden gems and the occasional pair of trousers that actually fit. Having said that, I also love the fact it’s now relatively easy to find bargainous running gear online – my local store has always had a slightly disappointing Activewear section.TK MaxxMy brother and sister-in-law very kindly gave me £40 of TK Maxx vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Although I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more running gear, I couldn’t not buy the 2XU leggings I spotted in the red sticker sale. I mean it would have been rude not to buy them as they were so cheap. I bought a couple of sizes to try on and must remember to return one pair. I’m good at buying things and forgetting to return them.

Rant: My Garmin 235

I’m aware that I’ve moaned about my Garmin 235 before and I’ve tried really hard to make myself like it, but I’m still not a fan. I don’t know if mine is faulty but the battery life is rubbish, it takes 5+ minutes for the GPS to be ready, the wrist-based heart rate sensor is a waste of time and spends half the time telling me I’m dead, and a large chunk of my data has randomly disappeared. So based on my personal experiences, I wouldn’t recommend runners buy a Garmin 235.

Apologies for the rather random rant, I do feel a bit better now. I’m tempted to contact Garmin as I don’t think my 235 should lose 50% of its battery life during a 30 minute run.

Rave: TopNine2018 Instagram

I spotted a few snide comments from the usual suspects about people sharing their #TopNine2018 photos, but I loved looking at all of them. My Top Nine Instagram posts had a definite running theme.MyTopNineI guess this makes sense because most of my Instagram followers are runners and I only tend to share running related photos. This year, I’m going to make more effort to update Instagram on a slightly more regular basis. Shameless self promotion alert, but if you don’t already, please follow me.

Rant: Out of control dogs

Although I love running in Sutton Park and I also love dogs, I’m getting slightly fed up with the number of out of control dogs in the park. I can pretty much guarantee that every time I run or walk in the park I’ll have a ‘run in’ with a dog.

I don’t care if your dog is “being friendly” or “just wants to play with you” or “won’t hurt you”, I’m going to be pissed off if your dog jumps up at me or chases me bearing its teeth. And as for the lady I spotted trying to walk five large dogs last week, did you really think it was a good idea?

Rave: Wolves

I’ve been a Wolves supporter since I was a child. There have been ups and (quite a lot of) downs, but at the moment, I’m enjoying the Wolves roller-coaster. The second half performance against Spurs was amazing. The performance against Crystal Palace was terrible.

Although 2019 didn’t get off to the best of starts, I’m looking forward to Wolves having a successful 2019.

Rant: The weather

I know I shouldn’t complain too much because it hasn’t snowed (yet) and the weather hasn’t really messed with my half marathon training schedule. However, I can’t remember the last time I spotted blue skies in Four Oaks. The skies in Four Oaks have been grey for what feels like weeks.WeatherI’m starting to suspect that the lack of decent daylight is messing with my mood. I need some sunshine and blue skies to cheer me up. I also need some slightly chillier weather to test out some of my Christmas presents.

Rave: New Trainers

During my Boxing Day online shopping spree, I somehow ended up on the Brooks Running website and found myself hitting ‘add to basket’ and then buying these Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers.BrooksAt £84 they weren’t cheap, but this FREE SHIPPING & RETURNS. With Brooks’ True Blue Guarantee, take our gear for a trial run and if you’re not 100% satisfied within 90 days, return it for free” caught my attention. If I’m not 100% satisfied, I will be getting in contact with Brooks.

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

What was the highlight of your Christmas meal? Are you a turkey fan or do you prefer to eat something else?

Have you ever had any scary dog incidents while out running? I hope that my recent experiences are unusual rather than the norm.  

What is the most you would spend on a pair of trainers? £84 was slightly more than I’m usually prepared to spend.