Sunday, 18 October 2015

Bangor Half Marathon Oct 17th 2015

I think it's fair to say I enjoyed jogging round North Wales more than Nem did but we both had good legs, good lungs and a good time so we would consider running this half marathon again...but let's wait and see how our knees and feet are this time next year.  My knees were very well behaved today, it was my left foot that was complaining for the last 3 miles.
(My left foot, CUB, where are you when I need you?)

My new son-in-law offered to take us (well we couldn't risk cramp while driving home) and he had already eyed up where he was having his full English breakfast before we lined up at the start.

There were approximately 550 half marathon runners and we lined up with the 10k runners as the route was the same for the first 3 miles.

Whatever happened to "I need to set off  SLOWLY."? Good grief they all went off like a bottle of pop and were practically sprinting across the board walk, it was difficult not to get carried along in the rush. It settled down a bit once the 10k lot peeled off away from us and suddenly there was hardly anyone either in front of us or behind us.

Garth Pier over the Menai Straits.

I wouldn't describe this Half as "Scenery and the City". 
There was no "City" apart from the start /finish by Debenhams (and Greenwoods Suits!!) and there were more roads and country lanes than "Scenery"....

 .....but we DID run round the grounds of  Penrhyn Castle and this was where we overtook our pacemaker who we found out later to be called Heidi and who had also done the Chirk Half.

The run was similar to Chirk in many ways, like soooo NOT flat, just not QUITE as steep and I could walk after it. (!)

At the ten mile point I thought Nem was looking strong and focused but her grimace and silence were, in fact, because she was feeling horrendous (oops) She went from very pink to very white very quickly so I told her we were already on mile 11... but she wasn't being fooled that easily.

So we shared an energy gel for its psychological boost and I added a few more yards to my Half by nipping across the field to take a photo of the North Wales coastline.

There were virtually NO supporters. All our encouragement came from the stewards and marshals and a few shoppers.

But we still milked it.


And then we found out out how fabulous we had been.
First mature lady home and second young lady home.
1 hour 57 and a plank to finish.
So it wasn't so bad after all.
I won a tee shirt YAY!

Mapmyrun couldn't cope with all the figure of eights and made me out to be superhuman. 
24 miles at 4 minutes a mile?!! HA!

(We were happy enough with 13 miles in 1.57) 

What we actually did :)

Friday, 16 October 2015

Nem's wedding bouquet.

So... we are still waiting for the official wedding photographs of the Henna Hollie wedding. 

But  we HAVE been successful in preserving Nem's wedding bouquet using The Little Train children's book and a Quality Street tin full of silica gel.

We used a few sprigs of Pixen's Gypsophila as well.

We are really pleased with the result.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Guinness Storehouse and Laytown Races.


I admit I don't get enough sleep, and I know Husb and I are Masters of the Tight Schedule, but to be at Liverpool Airport by 4.30am ON A SCHOOL DAY!!! We obviously thought we were still teenagers.
I had a rare Thursday night off  (due to the sportshall floor being resealed) and was expecting maybe a nice meal out or a trip to the theatre but unbeknown to me, THAT particular Thursday was the ONLY DAY in the WHOLE YEAR that there was racing on the beach at Laytown and if we caught the 6.30am flight to Dublin was possible ..
Husb's face lit up...

"Let's go to Dublin for the day"

Square One cancelled.
Flights booked.
Alarm clock set!
Game on!

We were in Dublin by 8.15am and headed along the river to the

There were 7 floors of Guinness to explore, starting at the bottom of the largest beer glass in the world...

but naturally I started the tour with a plank, 
I thought I had better do one BEFORE the pint rather than after.

We gave it 5 stars on TripAdvisor because we thought it was excellent. A worthy winner of Europe's leading Tourist Attraction. And we had no problems queueing for anything although that could be a problem. But then, we WERE up at 4am to fly at 6.30am so we were waiting for the doors to open.

Hops only grow in two regions of the world.
It is a fussy little plant and very particular about the amount of sunshine it requires.

The yeast for Guinness is only grown at St James's Gate and is so valuable a reserve supply is kept locked in a safe. Since the nineteenth century some yeast from each brew has been transferred on to the next to ensure consistency.

The water looked fabulous.

The barrel making was jaw-droppingly impressive...what a skill.

We love the toucans.

To be fair, they've made some good adverts.

:) :) :)

We were shown how to pour a perfect pint.

(This is me topping mine up after it had settled.)

It tasted delicious.


Suitably refreshed, we hopped on the Dart and soon arrived in Laytown. With an hour to spare before the racing started we had no choice but to join the locals in another pint. My iron stores were being replenished by the minute!

As we walked long the front, this statue caught my eye. What superb posture she has.

Quick Facts About Laytown

Laytown races occupies a unique position in the Irish racing calendar as it is the only race event run on a beach under the Rules of Racing.

Many generations of people from the Meath area and the bordering countries have fond memories of their visit to the strand at Laytown and of the colour and the excitement of race day.

Laytown strand races have been in existence for one hundred and forty years.  The first recorded meeting was in 1868 when races were run on the beach in conjunction with the Boyne Regatta.  It is assumed that the rowing competition took place on the high tide and the racing when the tide receded.  Initially the races were a side show to the regatta and were only organised when the combination of high and low tides allowed the racing on the beach at the conclusion of the rowing events.  Charles Stuart Parnell, the great Home Rule leader, was one of the first stewards of the strand races.  In 1901 the local Parish Priest became involved in the organisation and despite the disapproval of the Bishop of Meath the races became a well organised event.  In those days strand races were quiet common being run in places throughout Ireland such as Milltown Malbay in Co Clare and nearer home at Baltray and Termonfeckin.  The racing continued throughout the years and in the nineteen fifties and sixties Laytown was considered an important meeting for horses preparing for the great Galway Festival.  In those days there were no all weather surfaces for training horses and the sands at Laytown were considered ideal preparation for the Galway track.
Laytown Races1

The Laytown meeting was an important cultural event in the Meath calendar.  Racing was run at distances between five furlongs and two miles with a U-shaped turn at Bettystown where the horses made a colourful sweeping return before heading back to the Laytown finish.  The whole beach area was a profusion of colour with racegoers, bookies, fast food outlets, ice cream vendors, hurdy gurdies, roulette tables all sharing the strand.  In the midst of all of these the tree and card-trick merchants appeared, disappeared and reappeared, constantly on the look-out for the gardai.

An unfortunate accident in 1994 served as a timely reminder of the necessity of new safety measures.  The U-shaped track was done away with and the Turf Club imposed restrictions on the number of runners in each race and also insisted that only experienced riders were allowed.  From that date vehicles were prohibited from the beach as were all betting facilities.
Laytown Horses
 The organisation of Laytown Strand Races is a huge undertaking.  The committee has a lease of a three acre field in Laytown known locally for generations as “the race field”.  It is a wonderful elevated site above the beach and beside the finish line and racegoers have a fine view of the races from this natural vantage point.  Laytown as a racetrack doesn’t exist.  The only permanent building on the course is the Gents!  For several weeks before racing the beach is continually checked by senior members of the committee to determine the most suitable “bank” for racing on the day and as all beaches are dynamic and constantly changing this requires a skilled eye, achieved over many years experience.  On the run up to the day the race field is transformed from a green site to a racing enclosure, with parade ring, bookies pitches, judge’s box and temporary grand-strand erected.  Marquees spring up to house the bar, restaurants, weigh rooms ambulance room and secretary’s office. 


So we mozied around the bookies and parade ring and then felt very pleased with our great viewing spot on the fence. Oh how naive we were. With 2 minutes to race time we were engulfed by a swarm of people and at the off we couldn't see a blummin thing.I didn't actually see a horse.

We were about to make a Plan B when a young family WITH BUGGY (!!) :) stood next to us creating the perfect barrier keeping the mob at bay (YESS!)  so we SAW the second race AND picked the winner. 

But we wanted to get on that sand.

Why was there no one else on this rail?
It was perfect.

Until we realised how close the horses ran to the puny piece of plastic pole.

We didn't stay there long. 
We FELT the horses before we saw them. 
And when the mass of horses thundered towards us it became quite obvious why no one else was stood over that side with us. Scary.

It was a fantastic experience and we'd go again, (although Husb muttered "Fairyhouse next?") and Dublin is DEFINITELY doable in a day. You just have to pretend you are still a teenager because you don't get any sleep. 
We flew back at 10.30pm and were back home about midnight.

And all because the sportshall floor was being resealed :)