If It Was Easy Everybody Would Be At It…….

Pooped, pooped and pooped again.

Not only has it been a physical sort of weekend, it has been an emotionally draining one as well.


Yeap, this weekend was ‘the’ weekend with ‘Madfish’ where I, along with around 12 others, threw myself into Lake Windermere in little more than a swimming costume, nose clip, (which was soon dispensed with), and swimming hat.

Now last weekend’s Great North Swim has been punctuated by the constrictions of my wetsuit on my shoulders and my butt’s desire to stay somewhat aligned at my rear end and so I was not expecting too many issues relating to this weekend as while the offending article was with me I was not planning on wearing it and indeed it returned back with me today in the same dry and unused state that it left on Friday.

However, there were issues but not tangible, objective issues such as restricted shoulder movement thanks to my wetsuit. No, the issues were much more deep rooted and harder to deal with.

Everybody has demons and things that cause issues, I am not unique there but this weekend has brought to the fore some issues that if I am to stride forward in the world of open water swimming I need to address – and reasonably quickly.

Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with them , far from it – you would probably nod off after the first sentence, but suffice to say I know what I need to do.


Don’t get me wrong, the weekend was incredible, I learned stacks, want to learn more, have met inspirational people and people who I aspire to emulate – but I have areas that need addressing.

The weekend was full on, worth every penny and I can honestly say that every second contained another nugget of information for me to learn from. ‘Madfish’ is lovingly eccentric while being inspirational at the same time, (her granny shopping trolley and use of carrier bags evidences a healthy, complete and respectful disregard for others opinion), and to be honest anybody who can swim  the Channel in 14 hrs 18 mins Butterfly can, in my opinion, have a fleet of granny shopping trolleys and carrier bags and still be a legend.

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An Abrupt Broadening Of My Horizons, Rain, Flying Camel Poo & The Dude Doc….

So, as I sit in the deserted waiting room of the orthopaedic department here at the hospital for the Doc and his Indian sidekick to pump my foot full of pre-marathon numbing juice, I contemplate the week thus far.

Undoubtedly the main focus has been and will be for another 11 days, 3 hours, 27 minutes and 38 seconds be the quick jog from Greenwich up to The Palace but in the meantime life has been hurtling on.


The dust, wind and flying camel poo continues as do my sinuses as they try to evacuate the general crap from the cavities like a toddlers bottom after eating a 2lb bag of grapes. (You are probably scratching your head at that one but it did happen.  Yeap, as a toddler the Strawberry Blond Hand-Grenade snaffled an enormous bag of grapes into the lounge as I was distracted by unpacking a rather large Tesco order. She scoffed the lot with rather dramatic consequences – especially as we were just out of nappies…. A traumatic experience for all, not that I am emotionally scarred or anything).


So, as the wind, dust and camel poo continues I do feel justified in my decision not to run outside. Especially as these meteorological factors, (plus the camel poo), have now been joined by rain and plenty of it.

As I have mentioned in the past it doesn’t rain here often, but when it does then it is all a bit over-exciting really.

When the town planners thought about Riyadh they somehow overlooked the possibility of rain and pretty much forgot about drainage and so when we get torrential rain it has nowhere to go – except the nearest buildings or underpasses – yes, people routinely drown here when they get caught in the flooded underpasses.

Take a look at this video that was filmed yesterday – look carefully at the bridge.

So, today the schools are closed and everybody this trying to piece everything back together, dry out and lose the smell of wet camel. Not sure why anybody is bothering as they are forecasting the same for tonight.

That said the rain does have its advantages. At the best of times you never know how long it is going to take you to get anywhere considering roadworks, accidents, brawling workers, fuel tankers exploding, picnicking families, roaming camels, cranes randomly parked in road, drifters and wheelchair users in the middle lane – among a whole host of reasons as to why a 10 mile journey can take anything up to 2 hours, all these are pretty unique to Saudi Arabia. So combine that with the rain chaos it meant that this mornings trip  to the hospital could be a long one, or not as the case may be.


Nope, despite setting off early with the wonderful Venkat, (yes he of ‘was fat, now thin ma’am fame), we got to the hospital in 20 minutes – I am not sure how but we did. But as always the legend that is Venkat got me there in extremely efficient fashion, dropped me of at the door of the hospital and disappeared off to wait. Would somebody mind telling me why I would want to drive myself here among all the traffic chaos and then struggle to find myself a parking space before doing it all in reverse to go home again when the lovely Venkat drives, drops me off at the door and on receiving a text as I finish my appointment appears like Mr Benn at the hospital door so I have to walk, (well limp), the 5 yards from the door to the car? No, I am quite happy not being able to drive out here thank you.

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Sometimes progress is fast here and sometimes it is incredibly slooowww….








Sorry, another digression there.

So, as you know I started penning today’s blog as I sat and waited in the deserted hospital waiting room, 40 minutes before the clinic even opened. Eventually the Doc wondered in complete with Starbucks Coffee but still no sign of anybody else. After a few minutes he called me in as he knew I was waiting and that is the sort of guy he is, pumped my foot full of numbing juice and despatched me back out to the watery world of Riyadh.

All in all I was done and dusted 15 minutes before my appointment time. Well happy!

My only regret was that I was so early that his legendary Indian side-kick hadn’t arrived – she is a legend!

So, how does the foot feel? Pretty damned sore – as I said last time, It Didn’t Hurt Until…., (click on the link to learn more).

I have to say that the Doc is a dude – he grinned as he uttered the words ‘enjoy your marathon’ as I left – not sure if that was genuine encouragement or just plain sarcasm.


So, to tapering. Hmmmmm……What a pain. I have managed to convince myself that even while still training to a certain extent most days I will be completely unfit by the big day. Yes, I know it is complete rubbish but hey ho.

Will see how the foot feels later and may go swimming.


So, off to Abu Dhabi tomorrow to see my buddy Mrs M, (and for the small man to see his best buddy as well – Mrs M’s equally cheeky small man), for the weekend before flying from there to England in the wee small hours of Sunday. We were meant to be going to see Tom Jones on Friday night but as Mrs Jones has gone to a better place this week the concert is cancelled. Guess that pair of over sized bloomers will be staying in my case then. Will save my rendition of Delilah for another day….

Well, the socialite in me made one of it’s rare appearances again last night. Between going to the Am Dram show last week and last night this could become a habit!! Anyway, last night was a bit of an eye-opener on many fronts. It was a meal out for the mum’s of the small man’s class. The class teacher came along and all in all it was a lively evening of banter and wild conversation. No, no discussion about the kids but all sorts of other interesting and hair raising discussion topics.

Now, anybody of a weakened or nervous disposition should not read the rest of this paragraph or anything after the fours hashtags and not start reading again until after the second set of hash tags.


You have been warned.

#### Firstly a good deal of the conversation focused on the three in a bed, (or allegedly in a paddling pool with copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil), legal injunction bid by a very well known UK celebrity couple to stop the tabloids publishing the story. Good job is wasn’t in a jacuzzi as it could have been a bit bendy on the jets. The fact that it has already been published in other countries and all over social media seems a little like shutting the furnish door when the horse has bolted to me.


Now the next problem I have following last night’s eye opening conversations is the dilemma for next week. You see the small man and I are travelling up to Lincolnshire on Sunday and in particular to the oh so exotic location of Boston as the small man is going to spend time being spoilt rotten by Grandma and Grandad while his Dad and I slog around the London Marathon course. One of the highly educational topics of last night revolved around the explanation of a Boston Pancake by some of the more worldly wise revellers, (I though I was worldly wise until last night). Now If you are of a nervous disposition or easily offended DO NOT Google what this is. Anyway, I now have a problem as if Grandma offers to make the small man pancakes for breakfast in my presence as these will be pancakes from Boston in the most naive and innocent sense of the word.

Finally, I may have a problem when Grandma makes a cup of tea – I always thought tea bagging was squeezing the teabag out to get all the hot water out of it. Again, if you are of a nervous disposition or easily offended DO NOT Google the meaning of this.



Yeap, in short I really need to mentally prepare myself before the next meal out for the mums of the small man’s class mates, I am still slightly taken aback. To add insult to injury I have just downloaded the hit song, ‘Cake By The Ocean’ to add to my running playlist for London. A particularly catchy song which a good beat which will undoubtedly keep me going. However, now that I have downloaded I have just listened to the words. Oh dear! How shocking! Oh well, should go nicely with all the other expletives in my running playlist that even the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade commented on while listening to it the other day….Good job I am heading to Abu Dhabi tomorrow, I can have a glass of vino to calm my nerves. ?


Right, that pretty much covers it for today. Think I might adjourn to the pool in a while for a bit of cardio work if my newly refilled foot allows and then I suppose I really ought to start packing for tomorrow.

The legend that is Mrs M, (yes she has featured in several blog posts since the inception of EIOT – usually involving alcohol and me dragging her to the gym against her will), asked me to go shopping for her to take over several typical Saudi items for her to remind her of her time here – hence the trip to Dyrah last weekend. No problem says I, except somehow I have got to transport a camel stool and two Saudi Arabian doors to Abu Dhabi tomorrow. Good job we are flying Saudia – there may be a hint of sympathy there with the Saudi Arabian artefacts – on the other hand……

ftr-viral luggage ~8903983-11.jpg

Right  – laters!

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‘Two Fried Eggs & A Big Fat Bum’ – (In A Broad Liverpudlian Accent)……

Much of this morning was spent in various parts of the compound tracking down people who have not yet taken their turn in the ‘Great Weight Loss Sweepstake’ – or in other words putting the thumb screws on innocent folks to prize more money out of them for the fundraising campaign, but in return there is the chance that they will win an iPad or a Samsung Tablet…….

Anyway, that was largely my morning and very fruitful it was as well with many new guesses and cash.

Towards the end of my mission I came across one of the compounds real characters who has the most incredible sense of humour and yes, a lovely, broad liverpudlian accent.


Needless to say that over the course of the conversation the subject of change in boob sizes while losing weight and our Liverpudlian friend commented that she virtually has no boobs and they never change regardless of her weight.

The conversation went on in rather a riotous fashion, when out of the blue, in her broad liverpudlian accent, the words ‘two fried eggs and a big fat bum, that’s me’ came out. Well, to a certain extent I suppose you had to be there – but it was one of those classic lines that will stay with me for a very long time.


Anyway, ‘The Great Weight Loss Sweepstake’ is going well. I have to say that I have seen some devious sides of certain people who have gone to what could be seen as extreme lengths to needle the information out of me as to how much weight I have lost in all this crazy training. Everything from catching me on the backfoot with the direct question of how much I have lost when I least expect it, through to going through all the entries on the sheets and finally through to asking himself or the gruesome twosome, (who I hasten to add have no idea).

Seriously the only person who knows exactly is me. Our fab South African GP did know a few weeks ago but I suspect she has now forgotten, (nothing detrimental to her but despite her brilliance she simply cannot remember everybody’s details), as well as being bound by The Hippocratic Oath. In anywise I have lost quite a bit more since telling her so that info is out of date.

So, good people of Salwa – do not contemplate the thumb screws on our female GP, she cannot and will not tell.


So, the sweepstake is still running and will do until the Saturday after The London Marathon. It is open to absolutely everybody, you don’t have to be in Saudi – there are ways and means of submitting your entry if you are not here. Just shout and I will give you more details. Don’t forget there is an iPad or Samsung Tablet as the prize.

OK, so what else has been going on? Well, apart from nightmares about The London Marathon not a lot. Yeap, you read that right, last night I had a nightmare about the marathon. You are probably thinking it was something about a horrendous injury or being mown down by a man in an ostrich suit as he sprinted round the course in 3 hours, (you know who you are – that person who put that on my FB page last week and sewed the seeds of that image in my head), but no. Last night’s nightmare was that my Tommy’s running vest was the wrong colour, (highly unlikely as they are actually supplied by Tommy’s), and as a result Tommy’s would not let me run in their name and so I was not able to do the marathon. This may not seem particularly nightmarish but with my current state of mind believe me it is a big thing and really rather traumatic.


So, having checked my vest this morning I was reassured that it was actually the right colour and started to try to put the bad dream to one side.

So, this tapering business – well it is frustrating – very frustrating. I swam yesterday and pushed myself and I had an hour in the gym today. I do not think I will be running here on the compound again before I head off on Thursday – it is windy and dusty. My sinuses are in a mess just being inside. Swimming and gym it is.

Rest day tomorrow and then Wednesday…

Yeap, Wednesday – I have ‘THE’ appointment. Yeap, the appointment with the dude doctor and his fab Indian sidekick. For those of you who do not know about my adventures at the hospital with regard to my foot, I would suggest you take a look at the following links. Hospitals here in Saudi are a unique experience. Be warned, I would strongly recommend that you are seated when reading the pages, (especially the Darth Vader missive), as there is much hilarity. I would also recommend anybody with a weak bladder to pay a visit to the small room in preparation – I will not be responsible for any dry-cleaning costs – (Darth Vader On A Surfboard & It Didn’t Hurt Until…….)


Anyway, I have my next appointment with the dude Dr and his brilliant Indian sidekick on Wednesday – yeap, they are going to pump my foot full of numbing juice again in preparation for the big event. I haven’t really mentioned my foot of late – mainly because I have been ignoring it. There has been a battle of wills between me and my third left metatarsal head. I am not sure who has come off best. I have also been taping it with zinc oxide tape when training which has actually helped, but I think in light of the pending 26.2 mile run in 12 days, 18 hours, 35 minutes and 55 seconds, (right now – not that I am counting), another instalment of numbing juice would be a good idea.

So, it will be off to the hospital for me first thing on Wednesday morning…..

In other news – well the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade is back at school. Faultlessly delivered to the UK with typical German efficiency – did you hear that BA? You could learn a thing or two there.


The small man was enthralled by a visit from a UK author yesterday, (yes we actually had a visitor, out here in Saudi – somebody came out to see us and more to the point the school managed to get a visa for him!). The author is a guy by the name of Chris Bradford who has written lots of fiction books for kids involving Ninjas, martial arts and various other things with swords and daggers that I don’t understand. Anyway, he is an expert in iaido, (which Google has reliably informed me is samurai swordmanship), karate, ninjutsu and has a black belt in Zen Kyu Shin Taijutsu – don’t ask me what that is because I have absolutely no idea. Just as an aside he is also highly trained in judo, muay thai and kickboxing. So in short he is not the sort of guy you want to get on the wrong side of, but he did seem like a thoroughly nice chap.

So anyway, yesterday this guy turns up in his full black ninja kit, armed with swords, (I am not sure how he got those into there country but lets not ask about that), and before talking about his books, signing them and posing for photos he gave a demonstration of his many and varied moves that quite frankly made Stephen Seagal look pretty lame at the best of times.


Anyway, this all seems to have had a profound effect on the small man who now has a new role model. He has cast to one side his ‘Captain Underpants’ books, (brilliant series, highly recommended and fantastic reading for small boys, all about farts, underpants, mischief, pranksters and super heroes, good fun for mums too!!), and has started his own form of Ninja training. Oh dear, best move anything valuable as he starts to practice with the broom handle. Good job his sister is back at school or I suspect she would be target number 1.


Right, best go and find some food for the small man before he starves to death, (not!).


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Increasingly Grumpy…………..

Well if this is what serious tapering is all about – you can keep it! First day of taking it steady and I am twitching and increasingly grumpy!



Not happy!

However, swimming tomorrow then a small trot around the compound on Tuesday.

Stand by for increasingly grumpy behaviour over the next few weeks…..


You have been warned, probably best to keep well out of the way.

And oh yes, Tom Jones has cancelled his concert in Abu Dhabi the weekend before the marathon – hurumph……..


Research on the next possible challenge is coming along nicely…..


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Adele V Bette Midler – No Contest Really………

Today has seen me in an enforced very long car journey – pulling together all the odds and sods before heading back out to the land of sand tomorrow. Yeap, I have driven from deepest darkest Cumbria to Skipton, to Manchester and then down to Heathrow.


This prolonged and at times tortuous journey has given me plenty of time to work my way through several Radio 2 DJ’s – in the nicest possible way – and when the going got tough with them several opportunities to listen to various genres of music.


So today I once again listened to the musical genius that is Adele.

Regular readers will know that I am deeply in awe of Adele, (A Near Disastrous Washing Machine Incident, More Adele Humour & Oh Yes A Good Run and Just In Case Anybody Hasn’t Seen This, It Is A Must watch….), not just for her musical prowess but also the fact that she is down to earth and despite the phenomenal level of success she is deservedly enjoying, she has kept her feet firmly on the ground.

However, as per my post of a few weeks ago, (Pedalling Like Crazy But Not Getting Very Far….) I am still not impressed that I am the same age as her Mum and as such could, in theory, be Adele’s Mum. I will continue to encourage our daughter to achieve the same level of success as her would be ‘big sister’ and so to keep her Dad and I in the style that we would like to become accustomed.


So, I listened to several Adele albums on my drive today – including the stunning album ’25’. Before I go any further I would just like to say that listening to the epic songs on the album I am slightly concerned that my heroine has a bit of a premature age issue and as she sings regularly the idea of getting old scares her. However, I would just like to state for the record that at 26 she is not old and even with her blistering success old age is way beyond the horizon.


That little snippet of advice comes from a 46 year old who is about to run her first marathon – be prepared everybody…..

Anyway, as I sung my way through ’25’ I came across the legendary song that is ‘When We Were Young’. I love this song and have listened to it what must be a million times. However, the solitary confinement of today’s drive meant I could really focus on it.

As I was singing along to it, it reached the 3 min 50 second point. The true relevance of this will become clear in a moment as I am about to become controversial. I attempt to avoid controversy on the blog – after all the whole point of this piece of amateur literature is to keep you entertained so that at some point you may be tempted to donate to the ‘Every Inch Of Tarmac Tommy’s Fundraising Campaign’ and as such I do my best not to upset anybody.

However, the 3 min 50 second point came around on several occasions, (mainly be virtue of the fact that I replayed the track over and over again….) and it was at this point that I was completely blown away by my heroine’s voice.

At this point I hasten to add that I am not musically minded and so any musical inaccuracies in the following description are done with the best intentions and I can only hope that nobody is offended.

At the 3 minute 50 second point in the song ‘When We Were Young’, Adele bursts forth with what I could call a classic and lung busting key change. It is truly mesmerising and as a result I almost crashed the car several times today on the M40.

Anyway, the mesmerising effect of this point in the song got me thinking and for some obscure reason that is still to be identified I was reminded about and got to thinking about about the horrendous and ear piercing song by Bette Midler, “Wind Beneath My Wings’.

This song has always been an anathema to me. I have never actually worked out what justification there is for it and despite it being a million years old it is still regularly played on the radio. I have to admit that when it is played if I am in vaguely easy reach of the volume button or even better the on/off switch then the opportunity is grasped. If not then earphones are utilised and failing that I will simply leave the room.


How the heck she won a Grammy with it is beyond me.

The song itself is brilliant – that is clear by the number of big names that have done versions of it. However, the Bette Midler version is pants.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with my heroine’s incredible rendition of ‘When We Were Young’.

Well, as already mentioned Adele bursts forth with an incredible, lung busting key change, (if that is the right term), at 3 minutes 50 seconds. This reminded me that Bette Midler does the same towards the end of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ – I do not know at what point she bursts forth as to get that information I would have to listen to it and that is one step too far.

Adele’s key change is impeccable, even to my non-musically gifted ears, Bette Midler’s is horrendous and for the last million years has always sounded to me to be off key, flat, out of tune or whatever the correct terminology is. It really makes me cringe and sends a horrendous shiver down my spine.


I am hoping that by finally jotting down my thoughts about Ms Midler’s effort there will be a cathartic effect and the song will no longer make me want to vomit every time I hear it. If not then I will use Adele’s magic to heal the wounds.

I am also hoping that next time I listen to my heroine’s magic in ‘When We Were Young’ I am no longer reminded of the screech that is Ms Midler’s rendition of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’.

Apologies to any Bette Midler fans out there – I warned you I was going to be controversial.

Even if you are offended, don’t take it out on the Charity push, you can still donate to the cause……….??

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Crisis Over – Now There’s A Relief!…..?????

Not much to report today – rest day and general diff naff & triv. However, the crisis is over! Hurrah! Yeap, a quick call in at Booths this morning revealed that the big Booths gluten free lager wagon had paid a visit and the shelf was stacked full.  Before you asked, no there were no mini eggs today – I learn’t my lesson with the message from a higher being yesterday….


Whoop whoop on the lager though!

Anyway, no near misses today – well apart from an escaped sheep blocking the track to the cottage but that is pretty much par for the course around here and not very exciting.


So, I won’t ramble on with senseless nonsense this evening, (there’s a first!), and will wander off to enjoy my GF lager.


Only for now - you don't get away that easily!

Only for now – you don’t get away that easily!

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A Crisis In My Affairs…….Aaaarrrgghhh…………..?????

So, this morning swimming training. To try to avoid the minestrone soup effect I made sure I was there as the pool opened at the crack of sparrow farts as the pool opened – lush, an almost empty swimming pool.  Whoop whoop!


So, off I went with the usual uncoordinated legs, arms, head and anything else that was mobile. Coughing and spluttering and giving great concern to the lifeguards, (that said I think they are getting used to me now and don’t get half as worried as quickly about me now). Yeap, in short I am like an octopus in the swimming pool, not the graceful cephalopod mollusc that inhabits our underwater world but more like an octopus out of water and being expected to run a marathon. Arms and legs floundering and a vague sense of panic.


Anyway, off I went. I have been delighted with the progress I have made with my CV fitness over the last few months and putting to one side the minor difficulties in getting air and not water in my mouth for one moment, my exercise tolerance is great.

So, ploughing up and down the pool, being constantly supervised by the twitching lifeguards when something incredible happened.

I got to a mile in breakneck speed, (well, speedy for me anyway), and then I just carried on.

Before I knew it I had hit 1.5 miles and felt great. I finished there, not because I was tired but because by then the pool was filling fast with a combination of blue rinses and children with exasperated parents looking to wear the kids out on a Sunday morning. Time to get out.


Anyway, crackin’ swim – really chuffed. So far in my March 10 mile challenge 6.5 miles completed and well on track for smashing the challenge.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the biggest challenge for the marathon, (5 weeks today – eek!), is not going to be my fitness but my feet, ankle and the metatarsalgia.

I am going to do the whole of the savage, evil local 14.2 mile run this week. Yeap, it is going to hurt, it is not going to be pretty and it is not going to be quick – but I am going to do it.


Some of the locals have actually commented that if you can complete this run with all the savage hills then you can definitely run London. Fingers crossed on that one.

I was idly glancing through last weekend’s results from the actual race – it is mad, crazy and insane. The winning man’s time was 1 hr 23 mins & 24 secs. The women’s equivalent was 1 hr 38 mins & 54 seconds. I would like to emphasis that the course is 14.2 miles and not 13.1 and in order to appreciate the true achievement of these turbo nutter runners you need to at least drive the course, ideally walk it or if you are feeling slightly addled run it to see the demon hills that it incorporates.

I hasten to add that from the finishing list, and chatting to locals, it is clear that the majority of the runners are local and so this area is their natural training ground. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.

I think my normal training ground of a flat compound in the desert maybe a million times more boring but is a lot more user friendly, (or not as it may be in my case…..)

Needless to say my time will not be anything to threaten the accomplishment of those hardy souls last weekend – it took me 90 minutes the other day to run 9 miles of it, so for me a 3 hour completion would be quite respectable.


Anyway, maximum respect to those nutters who completed last weekend and good luck to me as I complete the route this week before heading back to the land of sand.

My left foot is throbbing already at the thought of it……

So, to the crisis in my affairs. Well, double whammy actually – double crisis. Now this may not seem major to you, but please consider my plight. Well, there is no plight really but I am here on my own in deepest, beautiful Cumbria. Himself and the gruesome twosome are skiing somewhere in Europe and I am here all alone, snuggled up in front of the fire, watching what I want on TV, whatever film I choose, talking to the sheep in the fields and generally having some real quality ‘me’ time.

So, after my crackin’ swimming session this morning off I went to the fabulous supermarket that is Booths. I decided to treat myself to a couple of bottles of their fab gluten free lager – one of the few gluten free lagers that is actually drinkable.


So imagine my chagrin when I spied no GF lager on the shelves. Complete devastation, only mediated slightly when I remembered that actually it was me who bought the last couple of bottles and emptied the shelf a couple of days before. Even so, how rude – they could have had a delivery by now!

So, having chewed on a brick and grumbled to myself, I compromised with a bottle of wine. Not the same but hey ho, needs must and all that.

At the check out my eye was caught by the bags of mini eggs on ‘special offer’. Oh well, why not, with the amount of training I am doing at the moment what harm could they do? So, a SMALL packet was added to the wine and after a jovial chat to the lady on the check outs, (which went some of the way to appeasing my unreasonable and self-imposed grumpiness on the lack of GF lager), off I went to the car.


I opened the mini eggs and was happily chomping on a couple as I pulled out of the car park. It was at this point that some numpty made me stop with alarming promptness and sent the mini eggs scattering all over the floor of the car.

Now under normal circumstances I would have blown on them and devoured them, but after the kids being in the car with food, muddy boots and general rubbish common sense dictated that it would not be such a good idea.

Divine intervention I suppose to stop me eating the eggs…….

The wine made it through unscathed and is a rather nice smoked chardonnay….

Right, best go and not waste the wine……


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A Surprise Trip To The Airport, Killer Running Routes & Painful Feet

More fun in the cold but spectacular Cumbrian hills, well most of it is fun – the rest is just marital exasperation.


Why do men not read important emails?, only the ones that are full of drival and information that they do not need? Why do they assume that the information that they really need will somehow miraculously osmose into their heads?

This week the email arrived with all the information needed for himself and the gruesome twosome to be where they should be at the right time in order for departure onto the school ski trip.

Now, as I have not gone on this extravaganza I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that I did not need to do anything with this email as himself had a copy and I assumed that all would be well.


The alarm bells should have rung when at around 0900 this morning himself asked if I was sure that they had to be at school at 1000. When I commented that I did not know but it was on the email I should, with hindsight, have been slightly alarmed.

Anyway, as I dug out my copy of the email, himself was reassured that yes it was 1000.

So, as we drove into the car park at 0945, the look of surprise from the Headmaster did not go unnoticed by me. As we heaved the bags out of the car and towards the minibus, the Headmaster intercepted us and explained that as per the email, (!), only children who were travelling without their parents were for the minibus, everybody else was to make their own way to the airport and meet at the check in desk.

At around this point, out of the earshot of the Headteacher I hasten to add, I asked himself if he had actually read the email. The answer of no with the retort of ‘have you?’ came back, with the blunt response of ‘no, but it is not my trip’ from me…….


I hasten to add that this was himself’s contribution to the Headmaster’s perception of our family as a tad dysfunctional, my contribution was made at the airport check in desks as he handed out boarding passes and as he approached out family I promptly fell over the suitcase wrapping machine and ended up in a heap. His reassuring words of ‘whoops, be careful’ were reassurance that he had seen the unfortunate incident and I could not hope that it had passed him by.


So, one unplanned and impromptu trip to the airport later, (taking a grand total of four hours including hanging around the airport to make sure there were no other pieces of vital information that had been missed – such as remembering that he has sole and complete responsibility for both children and ensuring that both children get on the correct plane with him), I am back at the cottage, fire lit, wine bought, rugby on and book ready for reading between matches….

So, what has been happening since my last submission to the EIOT blog?

Well, yesterday I set off on the savage, cruel and evil route of the 14.2 mile local run – all good except I can definitely say, without any hint of doubt, that the hoofing great big painkilling injection in my foot has worn off and to add insult to injury metatarsalgia has now set in in my other foot – damned painful.

There is clearly something wrong with my running gait, but the inner physio has thus far drawn a blank.

That said, the route is stunning, and I really mean stunning – beyond my wildest imagination and to a large extent that takes my mind of my feet – but alas it is still there and running over cobbles reduced me to a quivering mess.

But the route is evil – really evil. There are hills in it that would reduce a lot of runners to martyrs begging for mercy at the bottom. I am convinced that there are more 1:7 signs in that whole circuit than in the depot where 1:7 sign posts are made and stored for when unsuspecting runners are setting about a Cumbrian training regime. Perhaps they are actually made somewhere around here and the route is actually packed with storage points for them?…..who knows…..


These are the hills that separate amateur runners from the elite and as I fall into the former class rather than the latter then it all makes for quite a challenge.

So, I didn’t do the whole route, but the stuff that I did was not in a bad time, not a bad time at all. I was, for once, really impressed with myself. And yes, it was up hill and down dale of the Cumbrian hills – those savage, evil hills of Cumbria were not going to get the better of me. I sang, chatted to the sheep, watched the water and was generally captivated – apart from my feet which regularly burst back into my consciousness with searing pain.

When I was talking to himself later, (yes, we do occasionally speak and do not always grunt at each other), he asked how my cardio-vascular system has coped and after I thought about it, (such was the minimal inconvenience that this mornings 9 mile run had placed on this system), I was actually really proud to say that my cardiovascular system was absolutely fine and while my legs were a little tired all was well there. The only issues I had were my damned head, (regular readers will know what I mean), and of course, bigger issue, my feet. Without doubt if my damned metatarsal heads had not been such a nuisance then I would have completed the 14.2 miles.

Darn it!

So, where to from here? Well more of the same. London is a little over 5 weeks away and I know I am on track if I can just get my feet sorted. Everything else is steaming along.

So, more swimming, more gym and lots more running.

I have an appointment with the dude Dr and his Indian side-kick on 13 April for another hoofin’ big needle and I am wondering if I can persuade him to extend it to both feet. If he says yes then the upshot will mean two numb feet, so for the first few days I will falling over everything whether imaginary or real – but I will get through the marathon.

So, the gruesome twosome and himself have cleared off skiing, leaving me here all on my tod to run, swim, write the blog, read my book and drink wine – oh the hardship of it all! Back to Saudi towards the end of next week – bugger!

Right, Wales have whooped Italy, onto the next match…….


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Now Even I Am Starting To Get Really Worried……..

Those people who read yesterday’s post will know my concern for my general wellbeing and survival following yesterday’s completely unintentional mistake relating to the iconic Italian legend that is Mrs P, (click on this link to learn more…..).

Well, initially this morning I was lulled into a sense of security as I drove through the M6 roadworks unhindered without signs of foundations being dug, no cement in sight and no shady characters wearing dark glasses and big, full length dark coats.


Then it started – very discretely at first, so much so that I would never have noticed, which I believe is the first step in psychological warfare.

Yeap, there was an advert for Dominos Pizza on the radio. Under any other circumstances this would have been so innocuous that I would have treated it with the disdain that I treat all mass media advertising. However, it reminded me of yesterday’s events and more to the point the possible consequences. I assume that this is a form of product placement that is not the norm.

imageAnyway, the advert played a couple of times more during the journey – each time adding to my neurosis.

With an air of vague relief at not being under 20 feet of concrete on the M6, (although as I sit here in the arrivals area of the airport I am convinced there are plenty of people wandering around with syringes filled with glowing substances of varying origins…..), I arrived at the airport. Filled the hire car up with fuel and headed to the car hire centre to swap it in for a bigger model.

This is one of the problems with collecting initially the two men in my life and later the daughter from school. Where as up to now I have been quite content trundling around the north of England in my ‘small’ hire car, when it comes to the whole crowd being transported around then more space is required.

While I am classed as the ‘short arse’ of the family, the children have inherited their Dad’s long legs and are disproportionally tall for their ages. Don’t get me wrong, I am delighted about this even if it does mean that I am already hurtling towards being the shortest in the family.  Hence the need for bigger hire car.


So, off I went today to my regular haunt of the airport’s car rental village. It is a tad disconcerting when you walk in and the staff greet you by name, ask how the family is and how the weather is in Cumbria. It sort of makes you think that they know you too well, that you spend far too much time, (and therefore money), with them and that the time may have come to buy a car in the UK.

Anyway, I digress again – apologies.

So one car handed in and another signed out.

No problem I thought to myself as I climbed in, the change of car should hopefully throw anybody with sinister intentions off the scent – well actually I didn’t, that bit was poetic licence.

I did all the regular checks, mirrors, seat position, cup holder etc before I started the engine to do the most important functions of all – pair my phone and sort the radio.

It was then, like a bolt of lightening that sent an adrenalin burst through my body and almost made me produce a puddle on the drivers seat, that it happened. The next subtle, psychological manipulation of my ongoing concern for my physical well being.

The language setting for the audio system was Italian. Yes, Italian. This cannot be pure coincidence, no. Of the millions of cars I have hired over the years I have never had an audio system that is in anything other than in English.image

By this point I was shaking uncontrollably, checking the mirrors to see if anybody Mafia like was approaching and desperately fumbling with the settings to change the language.

However, the more I fumbled the more the language settings rebelled and that combined with the fact that the instructions were in Italyan, obviously, meant that I was descending down into a hole of panic, confusion and a frozen audio system.

I promptly locked the doors and tried to focus logically on the issue. Eventually I managed to change the settings to English. Phew! The upshot and learning point of that little experience is that I have today learned that ‘annullo’ means cancel in Italian.

Now, you would have thought that between the pizza adverts and the car’s audio system being in Italian that would have been enough excitement in relation to our flamboyant, expressive and romantic European cousins, but no.

Having taken up residence in the relatively quiet arrivals area of the airport I felt reassured to be in a public place – despite the threat of syringes filled with glowing substances, with or without my name on them.

I sat down on one of those rows of four seats which looked misleadingly comfy but actually are bum numbingly hard – good job it is today and not two weeks ago immediately post Spinathon!

No problem I thought to myself. After a few minutes I was joined by two young ladies – aged probably early twenties. Again no problem.

Then, there was a problem. They started to chatter. At first I told myself I was being neurotic as I suspected that I was picking up Italian. Then, I told myself that it couldn’t possibly be Italian.  Then, as the conversation went on, I told myself that my brain was playing games with me that really they were Russian, (not that wise as Russia has its own Mafia type organisation and as my Russian is marginally more advanced than my Italian, I knew deep down that my mind was talking rubbish).

Eventually I plucked up courage and asked the question, ‘Excuse me but you are Italian aren’t you?’. Understandably they looked rather surprised and answered in the positive. At this point visions of concrete passed through my head. I blurted out in vague panic that I don’t speak Italian but was just curious – at which point they side shuffled to put some space between me and them.

The situation was not helped a few minutes later when I jumped up with a yelp – inadvertently kicking one of them – as severe pins and needles set into my leg .

At this point they side shuffled further away.

I have to say that at the time of writing they have been sat next to me for sometime, (the flight with themes I my life onboard is delayed – God bless BA), and I ambeginni g to think that their presence is coincidence. I do not think that Mafia types who are intent on no good will really sit and eat chocolate muffins pre-heinous act somehow.

That’s it – I give up! I have been so engrossed in writing this post that I did not notice they have been joined by a coach load of pasta loving fellow countrymen – my life is over, they are here in force. There are hand gestures galore, you need a risk assessment just to walk to the Spar across the way.

This was the scale of the Italian invasion - a coach load of Italian students who decided to sit with me!!!

This was the scale of the Italian invasion – a coach load of Italian students who decided to sit with me!!!

I am a nervous wreck!

it is at this point that I would like to reiterate that everything on the Every Inch Of Tarmac blog is always true and based on fact. There may be a little poetic licence at times but it is all genuine.

Some people may question today’s train of events after yesterday’s Mafia related post, but I can assure you that these events have all occurred today and yes, despite the joking and jest, even I am getting slightly concerned….

I would sign off now with my usual ‘Laters’, but at this moment I am not retain there will be a ‘later’…….?????

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A Change Of Heart…

I was going to blog tonight about this morning’s abysmal training session, how I was wrong to ever think I could ever run the London Marathon, how I was crazy to even dream it and that I was going to run away and join a nunnery and hide from the world, my running shoes and life in general.


Then a few hours wore on along with a couple of G & T’s and plenty of time to think and a feeling of blind resignation and developing determination kicked in. I had this comfort of time by virtue of the fact that I have an adolescent daughter who is happiest in her room with her iPad and who descended down the stairs for her roast chicken dinner before ascending them again to leave me to clear up on Mother’s Day. Yes, dearest daughter who I adore – today is Mother’s Day!

So yes, this afternoon I have decided that I will complete the London Marathon by whatever means necessary, I will crawl over the finishing line if I have to but I will not be defeated. Please just remind me of that statement over the coming weeks please.


Yeap, this morning’s training session was a disaster. Not just any disaster, but a meteoric disaster. The type of disaster that Mo Farah has never even experienced in his worst nightmare but one that a mere mortal such as I seem to regularly get clobbered by.

Physically I am good, physically I feel fine and I know how far I have come. Mentally I am a complete shambles. ‘Nuff said. I have no idea what the heck is going on – other than to say that after I finished crying my eyes out in the car this morning I was ready to quit everything.

I found myself having a deep dislike of Pheidippides and wondered if he had any idea of what the heck he had done when he ran to Athens and the mental anguish and chaos that he would create over the next few thousand years.


Anyway, I am in this for the long haul, I am still getting up off my bottom, (which I hasten to add is somewhat smaller than the previous model thanks to all this and has, mercifully, recovered from the trials of the Spinathon), and doing something good. That is my over riding positive thought.

So, I need to get my head in order but the mind boggles how the heck I am going to do that. The rot has been setting in for sometime and despite completing 24hrs on a Spinning bike last weekend and sailing my way thus far through the swimming challenge, (sailing may be an exaggeration – floundering with uncoordinated arms and legs and near drowning is more accurate, but hey I am doing it!), I am struggling with the running – big style.

Every panic stricken thought you can imagine runs through my head and sheer terror sets in. As I have already mentioned physically I am fine and can keep going for miles, (I think), but mentally I am a shambles. I have developed a massive fear of remote running and am convinced that I will drop dead at any moment. That combined with the block I seem to have developed in treadmill running are together somewhat limiting factors….

How could I not want to be out running in countryside like this - well when it stops snowing that is!

How could I not want to be out running in countryside like this – well when it stops snowing that is!

This morning I was poised to hit the road again – yesterday was swimming day with another mile completed, much to the relief of the lifeguards who were ready to spring forth to my rescue at several separate occasions. I failed to mention that I would be back again tomorrow for a repeat performance.  However, as I stirred my stumps out of bed yet again it was snowing and so the decision was made to hit the gym – not the deck on the ice and slippery Cumbrian roads.

I am sure by now you have the gist of what happened – not my finest hour!

I am going to be honest here, I have no idea what the next 7 weeks hold for me with training – any training schedule has gone out of the window. Yeap, the marathon is 7 weeks today.

I know I can do a half marathon, My offering at the Sangcom half-marathon is proof that I can make it round 13 miles. The training and work since then should, in theory, mean that I can make it through the full marathon – even if at worst I operate a run/walk plan – not ideal but hey whatever works. Believe me common sense has no place in my head at the moment.

As you can see my head is a mess. I even considered today finding a good sports psychologist to help me through such is the chaos in my brainbox. However, I would not know where to look and to be honest they would probably just contact the nearest hospital and make arrangements for me once they had lifted the lid on my thoughts….

So, perseverance and all that. Time to plough on and more to the point time to get myself sorted out.


Stand by for tantrums and tears.


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