Category Archives: Uncategorized

Week 19, day 7 (T-0) – London Marathon

The London Marathon was finally here, after a lot of training, and the forecast was for cloud cover and middling temperatures (12-14ºC). After the train journey and walk to the green start (which was a fair hike up a not inconsequential hill) it was clear that it wasn’t going to stay that way and it was time to crack the sunglasses out. After dropping the bags at the lorry Jane and I stood in a queue for the portaloos which took up all of the time before it was necessary to get into the start pens.

The 3:30 pacer was in a pen ahead of me, so I took note of the time I crossed the start line (3 minutes 10 seconds after the start) and headed off. Given that the pens are supposed to be divided up by expected pace I was surprised at home many runners appeared to have zero spatial awareness (something that became a recurring theme over the race) and I was cut up left right and centre. In a way this was good because it prevented me going off too fast, but it was using up energy having to stop and start and go for gaps when then came up.

Before hardly any time at all we merged with the blue start where the road was a little wider but it was still hard to get any space to run into. At around 3 miles we joined up with the red a start and hit the first water station, with more carnage as people veered steeply across other runners to get to the water (again a feature throughout the race).

I was happy with my pace through the first 24km or so, it was putting me nicely on target for sub 3:30, but the sun was getting hotter and as we entered the Isle of Dogs the screaming from the supporters was echoing off the buildings and making me feel quite ill. It didn’t help that I seemed to be keeping pace with a Guinness World Record attempt of a two-man Jamaican bobsled, which was attracting a lot of attention. The buildings there meant that you couldn’t trust your GPS to give a true reading of your pace, and I dropped off a little as I went through the toughest miles in terms of there not being much to look at and it being too far out to really start counting down to the finish. I started to struggle to take on any gels, managing a mouthful but not being able to stomach the rest in the heat, but took on water at every station (and still ended up with great salty deposits from how much I was sweating, you do not want to know the colour of my pee when I finished).

There were some nasty inclines and hairpins to get you back headed in the right direction and as I hit the embankment I knew it was going to be close as to whether I would get sub 3:30. I would need to pick up to my planned marathon pace. I gave it all I had, but when I went through 25 miles I knew it would be a stretch. When the 1km to go marker came I knew it was over, but still pushed on to finish as well as I could. My official provisional time was 3:31:19, which is still a massive PB and good-for-age for next year. Apparently it put me in 6549th overall, 918th lady, and 562nd in my age category.

Thank you to everyone who sent message of support, or who supported me through my training, as well as those who came along to cheer (sorry I didn’t spot you Sam).

Week 19, day 6 (T-1) – Mile End parkrun

A final jog out before the big one tomorrow, after a bit of a hike out to Mile End (we were all following Alison who thought someone would yell if she was going the wrong way, we all assumed she knew the way), a rather crowded bit of parkrun tourism. Last week they had under 200 runners, this week they had over 400. I managed to sneak in to get one of the final proper position tokens in 246 having taken it reasonably steady (the downhill’s were fun).

I’m feeling good ahead of tomorrow’s race. I have done the training and now we just have to see what happens on the day. I’ve set myself 3 times that I would be varying levels of happy with:

Bronze: 3:44:59 – this would be qualification for London next year as good for age for my age category.
Silver: 3:40:20 – this would be a new marathon pb (my previous time being 3:40:21).
Gold: 3:29:59 – I’ve been training to go sub 3:30, so anything under that pace would be great. If I feel good and have the opportunity to push on towards the end of the race then I will, but realistically you can’t make up too much time over the last 5-6 miles and I’m more likely to be working on holding to pace than be able to increase it.

It should be fun, I’m nervous obviously (a marathon is always a huge challenge), but excited more than nervous and I have done all of the preparation asked of me. What happens on the day happens (good or bad). For anyone wanting to track me, I am number 30917.

A spot of #parkrun tourism @ashtoncourtparkrun on tour

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Week 19, day 4 (T-3) – easy 30 minutes by the river

My final run in Bristol as I head off for London tomorrow morning. Just a gentle 30 minutes to keep the legs ticking over. I picked the flatest bit of Bristol I know (apart from the getting there and back), the track alongside the river Avon (not in it as the GPS suggests). Remarkably low on the duck count this morning, but high on the bluebell front. Not long now.

Week 12, day 2 – Aztec West fast 5k

Last month’s running of the Aztec West fast 5k did not go so well. I was therefore not expecting great things from tonight’s race. The conditions were also not great, blustery with a bit of a chill in the air (and slick roads from the rain earlier in the day).

I put myself towards the back of the pack, which seemed a bit smaller, understandably so on such a nasty night. I had not activated the ‘predicted finish time’ feature on my watch and had no laps set up (either miles or km) so just took a brief glimpse as I passed the km markers. It turns out I had gone out a bit faster than I thought I had, but was able to maintain a fairly decent and consistent pace.

This was the race I would have liked to have had last month. There were none of the problems breathing or maintaining the pace and it didn’t hurt nearly as much (plus my heart rate was lower even at the faster speed). This lends weight to the proposed explanation of that result and the training session that followed as being hampered by my body fighting off some sort of bug (successfully). I’m going to take that as a confidence boost anyway (and the bottle of wine as a spot prize).

A much better result tonight at #aztecfast5k #bigmarathonchallenge #vmlm #ukrunchat

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Respect to parents and why I am childfree by choice

Those that know me will be unsurprised that I am childfree by choice (CFBC). I’m not a huge fan of the under-18s (or quite a lot of over-18s for that matter) and have a low tolerance for the behaviours typically exhibited by children (regardless of the age of the individual exhibiting them, drunk people I’m looking at you). I wasn’t particularly a fan of a lot of children even when I was a child (so many seemed so dull).

I blame/thank my parents for my oddball sense of humour which meant that (looking back) I was probably the ‘weird’ kid in the class. I watched a lot of Monty Python, and later The Mary Whitehouse Experience. My aunt worked at the library and allowed me to get an adult’s quota of books out on a child’s ticket, and they had a pretty good fantasy selection as well as a full set of Biggles. I lived a fair distance away from my classmates in what I thought was the middle of nowhere (aka the New Forest) so read a lot, and coming from a small family with few younger relatives to interact with I never developed the skills of how to deal with young children (or a large reserve of patience).

I have been looking after my nephew since Sunday while my sister has been in the States for work, and it has made me appreciate the hard work that she (and parents in general) are putting in day after day. I am surprised so many children make it out of their early years. Not because they are easily broken (they seem pretty resilient physically, so long as you stop them from running into roads) or hard to physically maintain, but because they are so annoying.

My nephew is 4 and very well behaved. He says please and thank you (most of the time) and is a cheerful little chap able to entertain himself with a pile of Duplo or Hot Wheels for hours. But I just can’t talk about Ninjago Lego for three hours. I don’t care about the finer intricacies of BB-8. I don’t find monster trucks to be the most fascinating things in the world or require them to be explained in minute detail. I feel like my brain has liquified and is dribbling out of my ears at some of the books I am required to read or TV shows that have to be watched.

There’s the repetition, particularly in books (I know it’s a recognised teaching method, but good grief it’s boring). There’s the external inner monologues which seem to follow no logical path (processing the world, I know), there are the games where the rules always somehow seem to mean that the child wins. I don’t know how you would ever assess a young child for concussion. What comes out of their mouths jumps from one topic to another, refers back to something that happened when you weren’t there (I understand why, I covered Theory of Mind in Psychology) and a lot of the time is, quite frankly, nonsense.

At what age do they stop being sociopathic narcissists? Terry Pratchett was right in Hogfather,

It was nice to hear the voices of little children at play, provided you took care to be far enough away not to hear what they were actually saying.

I’m sure they don’t understand the consequences of a lot of actions at the younger ages, but the glee with which they cackle about cars crashing into each other, or ‘killing’ people/characters during play can be very concerning to those unused to it (and are outside of my realm of experiences, my own play as a child never took that form that I can remember).

They’re extreme about things (like tiny little Trump supporters). Often (as their morality develops) they think in absolutes. Something happens either ‘always’ or ‘never’. Actions are very black and white in terms of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I personally find this exhausting as I try and suggest that there may be shades of grey in there, or at least that the child doesn’t have a sufficiently large sample size to make statements about always and never (because I can’t help myself and believe children should be exposed to these ideas at all ages).

The demands for attention are seemingly incessant, and often involve commands to either ‘watch me!’ or ‘don’t watch me!’, whilst lavish praise is expected on completion of the most mundane (to me) task. Children, particularly the young ones, often think the world revolves around them, and with good reason too since in their experience it does. It leads to a lot of apologetic facial expressions and body language from me when out in public, for example when the child fails to understand that other people have a right to use the pavement too and don’t really want to be forced into the road to avoid them just because they chose to veer across it to run their hand along a railing (though I have found having a young child in tow makes it more likely car drivers will stop to let you cross a road, so there are some benefits).

So parents, I salute you. I don’t have the patience for this gig for more than a few days (with a definite end date) at a time. Add on to that the fact that my sister drags her son 2 miles to school on a scooter every morning over bumpy pavements littered with obstacles to trip up the unwary (or just plain not paying attention), then 2 miles back again in the afternoon, and I don’t know how she does it (must have triceps and biceps of steel as well as a titanium brain). All of this whilst fitting in her job of work in those few hours when he is either asleep or at school, and still managing to maintain contact with friends.

One thing is for sure, it’s not for me. I like my brain (relatively) un-rotted and in its current location. I’ve always thought I’d make a terrible parent (and said so from a very early age), and looking after my nephew confirms it. I can fake it for a few days at a time, but permanently? Not a chance. Hats off to those who can/do, I’m hugging my birth control pills (and campaigning for wider access to birth control and abortions for whoever wants them, no child should be unwanted).

A critique of ‘An open letter to my non mother friends’

The following blog post came up in my facebook feed today and those reply boxes just don’t have enough space, so here is a critque of An open letter to my non mother friends.

This seems to be a well-intentioned blog post from a new mother of twins to her non-mum friends, but veers off into the patronising and self-involved in a number of places (not to mention the passive aggressive posting of an open letter on a blog rather than having a conversation with the individuals involved).

Let’s break it down:

Dear Friend who has not yet had babies,

Erm, ‘not yet’? The only type of friends this person has is those who have ‘not yet’ had babies? Way to alienate those who are childfree, whether it is by their own choice or not. Not a good start (and what’s up with the capital for ‘Friend’ while we are at it?).

As you know I recently went travelling.  I voyaged into the world of Motherdom.  My life as I knew it was simultaneously destroyed and completed by this adventure.  I have willingly submitted to the cultures and ways of the land and will be staying here.  I wanted to write and tell you about it.

I’m going to be generous and go with this cutesy ‘travelling’ analogy, but already I’m starting to feel a little queasy about ‘the world of Motherdom’ and I may strain something rolling my eyes this hard.

I am the same person.  But I am also a completely different person.  It’s like when I got here someone put me in a jar and shook it… my passions and interests are still the same, but  in Motherdom, my responsibility’s and priorities have more hold.  This is probably frustrating for you, it is for me too.

First, it’s ‘responsibilities’ and not ‘responsibility’s’, second are you really going to persist with this magical land of Motherdom anaology? OK then, but it’s getting less cute each time you use it. Third, please don’t project emotions onto me, your hypothetical ‘Friend’. ‘This is probably frustrating for you’, um no. People’s responsibilities and priorities change all of the time, for lots of different reasons, there’s no point in getting frustrated when they do it is just a fact of life.

I still want to talk to you about my passions.  Say the gym.  They have gyms here too!

Great, you want to talk to me, not with me note, but to me. I forsee conversations in which you talk to me about the gym, cool. Maybe I also want to talk about the gym, maybe not.

But I will have to rain check if a child has chicken pox.  I will want to talk to you about the likelihood of wetting myself.  I want you appreciate the fact that I am here with you despite the weeks of 2hrs sleep a night.  My passions are harder fought for but they are still there.

Sure, chicken pox seems like a good reason to rain check our awesome gym-based conversation. Not sure I necessarily want to talk about your likelihood of wetting yourself (it’s not one of my top 10 favourite topics of conversation), but again that is something you want to talk to me about and not with me, so I guess my wants don’t matter and being a good friend I’ll probably talk with you about it anyway. So long as you appreciate the fact that I am here with you right alongside me appreciating you being here with me I don’t know why we have to bring up who has had more sleep. I can commiserate with you that you feel like you have to fight harder for your passions now, that must be tough, how about we talk about that instead of the wetting yourself thing.

Please don’t cut me out because I am slow to keep up or late to turn up.  Likewise if I go without you it’s not personal… it’s just that I had time!

How about I hold you to the same standard as all of my other friends. Habitually late? That’s going to be a problem regardless of the reason, my time is worth something too. Went to the gym when you had time, great, did you think about inviting me too?

I am in love.  The natives are akin to drunken schizophrenic despots who are genetically designed to reduce me to a quivering mess should that be there desire.  They are physically inept, they don’t speak my language, and they steal sleep as a form of torture. They test me to my limits.  They are at times violent, merciless and relentlessly deafening.

Oh good, we’re back to the mystical land of Motherdom (and it is ‘their’ not ‘there’). You’re really not selling the natives though, this sounds like an extremely abusive relationship.

I have fallen in love with them.  I have dedicated my life in there service.  I do not expect you to also lose your mind and fall in love with them but I do expect you respect it.

It’s still ‘their’ and not ‘there’ by the way. Now let’s talk about the choice of the word ‘respect’. What exactly am I being expected to respect here? The fact that you have lost your mind? This seems clear from the persistent Motherdom-as-country analogy. The fact that you have fallen in love with them? This is to be expected. Still not sure where the respect comes in. Acceptance, sure, this is the way things are and should therefore be accepted (there’s no point fighting against how another person feels). The word ‘respect’ has undertones of admiration, however, should I be admiring your choice to have children, falling in love with them and dedicating your life in their service? Meh. Your life, your choice.

I am sorry…but also not sorry for the baby chat.   Imagine for a single moment that after a night of great sex and laughter your body got up and unasked and without conscious effort –and built two humans inside of you.  David Attenbourgh’s Blue Planet is one thing but watching a world of your own creation… well it’s fucking interesting.

Yup, that does sound interesting. To you. This may or may not interest me but you appear to have made your decisions about what you are going to talk about regardless of my interests, so I guess rock on with your bad self.

This is Motherdom.

Did you just suggest that David Attenborough should be narrating the minutiae of your life? Or maybe Channel 4.

The natives here, their behaviours, sleep patterns, the way they feed, the way they interact.  It’s amazing.  I know it looks mundane to you but it is not just clearing up sick, getting up in the middle of the nights and sadly glancing at flabby tummy in changing room mirrors. I have laughed the most honest of laughs at dancing toddlers, wept with relief in the arms of my husband.  I have exploded with pride at legs I built being used to walk and literally shook with fear at the prospect of them not walking any more.   You see a mundane monotony but this is a roller coaster when you see it from the hills of Motherdom.  I want to talk about your world too but I also want to talk about mine.

Aha, we’ve finally spotted a ‘their’ in the wild, marvellous I will note it down in my spotter’s notebook. Again with the assumption of what I am thinking or seeing, though. How about you leave it up to me as to whether I see something as a mundane monotony or not, instead of telling me that I do, yes? You might find that conversations go a lot more smoothly without all of these assumptions about how I feel or how I see things. Nice to see that you do want to talk about my world, a shame you couldn’t let that be a full sentence and instead tack on how you want to talk about yours (which I don’t think anyone would be in any doubt about at this point).

I envy you and pity you simultaneously.  Your figure, your ease of travel, your career, you cleanliness, your independence, your ability to do what you want, when you want, in a way you want to do it. I envy all of it but I pity you the lack of awareness of these things.  Through all the pity you probably feel for me as I trudge through the tantrums and ‘can’t find a babysitter’ dramas I reflect it right back at you… even if you don’t want or need it in your adventures you are missing out, for not knowing the joy of having tiny hands hold yours or seeing your partner in a light that wants to make you weep in the face of our human capacity for compassion.  No these are not the daily experience of Motherdom and if you are think of joining me don’t be sold on them… but they do make it worth the trip!

You pity me? You pity my lack of awareness? Are you fucking kidding me?! Again with the telling me how I feel (apparently I’m pitying you, news to me, but do keep telling others what they are feeling, that always goes so well). Oh and I’m missing out, am I? I could never know ‘the joy of having tiny hands hold yours’ because that only happens to mothers apparently. Ditto ‘seeing your partner in a light that wants to make you weep in the face of our human capacity for compassion’. Nope, that’s something that only happens in the realm of parenting (I wonder if Fatherdom is the same place as Motherdom or whether you need a visitor permit). I’d like to discount this bullshit as being related to the afore-mentioned sleep deprivation but I fear it may rather be full on narcissism at this stage.

I want to be open about your travels.   I don’t mind if you don’t want to join me here – the climate is pretty changeable, I’ve already mentioned the natives and there isn’t much of a culture of going out, but I do want to talk to you about it.  Don’t worry, we are different I don’t expect you to want the same things as me- it’s literally ok if your travel plans are not the same as mine.

Well, I’m so pleased that you recognise that I may have different plans to you, shame you don’t want to talk with me about that but rather to me. Is this why you have written this passive aggressive blog post so that you can talk to me rather than with me?

You are my lifeline.   I genuinely mean everything I have said.  Motherdom is no different from anywhere you love.  You commit to living there, to its ways, its people and its pace but not at the expense of hankering for some of the familiarity you left behind.  You in your Non-mom-dom keep me real. You anchor me.  You provide perspective and contrast, balance and sanity.  I literally need you.  The other here get me in a way you can’t, but too much looking inwards never got any one anywhere.

Ugh, a ‘literally’. I spotted it in the previous paragraph but it looks like they’re breeding now. Nice to know that whilst being your lifeline and anchor I also cannot ‘get’ you in the same way as the people on Fantasy Island. I’m honoured, no really. Remind me again why we were friends in the first place?

Please write from Non-mom-dom!

OK, here you go!

From different sides of the same Ocean let’s keep talking, I miss you.

Do you? It sure sounds like you miss having someone to talk at, sorry, to. You don’t seem that interested in me or my needs or wants, though.

Love Me. x

Desperate much?

So I get that you want to stay in touch with your (only female?) friends since you became a mother, but this open letter makes you seem interested only if this happens on your terms, to your schedule, so that you can have someone to listen to what you want to say. That is shitty friend behaviour. As someone in Non-mom-dom please understand that I get it. I get that you have different demands on your time. I get that you might have to cancel at short notice. I get that you have new interests that you will want to talk about. My response to you is to ask that you please remember and abide by the friend ‘rules’. Please respect my time as being as valuable as yours, please remember that I might have interests that I want to talk about (conversation should be two-way), please don’t tell me how I feel or what I think.

Now I don’t know the person who wrote the original blog post, and I’m sure that some of my friends with children are going to be worried that some of the things I have expressed in response to it are directed at them. Please be assured that they are not. If I wanted to direct something at you, I’ll direct it at you (and not post a passive aggressive blog post open letter about it). I am, however, fed up of some of the bullshit that people (particularly women) are fed regarding parenthood and how it’s some magical mystical thing that no-one else could ever understand. I have deliberately not posted this as a response to the original writer. I am sure that they meant well, but I did want to use their post to highlight how pervasive the ‘parenthood is everything’ trope can be.

 

 

 

 

An apology to the world

I’m sorry. It’s a phrase we say a lot of as Brits, but I’m going to have to say it some more. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that with this vote we have allowed anti-intellectualism and petty nationalism to win. I’m not sure how it happened, but dismissing expert opinion and listening to your gut has taken priority over research and critical thinking.

I’m sorry that with this vote we have made every immigrant in the country feel unwelcome, whether they have fled a warzone, followed a loved one, or just taken an opportunity to live in another country.

I’m sorry that with this vote, in committing political and economic suicide we will also drag down the global economy and political situation, potentially breaking apart our own union of nations as well as the European Union.

I’m sorry that with this vote, the poorest in our society (who already suffer the greatest) are going to put at an even greater disadvantage.

I’m sorry that with this vote the futures of our young people have become less bright.

I’m sorry that with this vote the NHS will be put under even greater strain as people are forced into economically motivated poor diet choices and increased stress levels.

I’m sorry that with this vote I will no longer be in a financial position to support local and independent businesses.

I’m sorry.

 

Tax: avoidance vs evasion

Tax has been in the news a lot lately, and as it used to be my living for 10 years (but I am now no longer qualified, so don’t take anything I say as tax advice), I thought I would weigh in with the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Tax avoidance is the reduction of a tax bill through legal means, whilst tax evasion is the non-payment of tax that is legally due.

I have a somewhat biased view of tax avoidance given that it was my job for 10 years, first (and last) by reducing the amount businesses had to pay over to the tax authorities in relation to employees they sent overseas on assignment, then working on behalf of high net worth non-doms to lower their worldwide tax liabilities. All tax planning was done within the laws of all countries involved.

I have also experienced (and participate in) first-hand tax avoidance. I paid money into my employer’s pension scheme (thereby legally reducing my taxable income and reducing my tax liability). I have used an ISA and Premium Bonds for savings (whose earnings are tax free). I used to (when I still paid tax) tick the gift aid box on charitable contributions (thereby extending my basic rate band and reducing my tax liability). My parents gave me cash gifts in line with the annual allowances while they were still alive in order to reduce their inheritance tax liabilities. I claim my personal allowance when I file my tax return, as well as allowable expenses against income. All of these are legal ways to reduce your tax liability – or to put it more sensationally ‘tax avoidance’.

What I find more interesting is some of the details of the tax returns that have recently been published.

For 2014/15 George Osborne reported £3 gross bank interest. The current rate of interest is 0.5%, which means that he only had £600 gaining interest over the year. His taxable income was £198,738. Where was that money being squirreled away to? It certainly wasn’t sitting in a current or savings account earning 0.5%.

Jeremy Corbyn (who handwrote his tax return and didn’t answer all of the questions or file on time), didn’t earn any bank interest at all, even though he earned £70,795 in the year.

In contrast, my income is beneath the personal allowance most years these days, and yet I managed to earn £1.46 on my measly savings account in 2014/15.

If you are looking for tax evasion, then by definition you are not going to find it directly by looking at someone’s tax return (unless it’s a case of purely not paying the tax listed as being due there). Tax evasion will involve hiding income away and not reporting it on the tax return. All a tax return will tell you is what source of income or capital gains someone has reported to HMRC for the year, and what legal deductions they applied in calculating the amount of tax due. It might tell you about what sorts of investments someone holds, but only in terms of how much and what type of income has been paid out in that year (or losses taken/carried forwards).

If you want to use the ‘receiving a benefit from an offshore company’ rule, then anybody who has ever bought anything from Starbucks, or Amazon, or Asda, or Dell, etc. has received a benefit from an offshore company in the lower price they paid as a customer.

Governments run a fine line, they want to encourage certain types of investments and so offer things such as lower capital gains tax rates if you hold shares for a longer period, or lower rates of tax on income from dividends to encourage (potentially risky) investments in companies. They want to encourage people to pay into pensions and to give to charities, so they offer tax breaks around that. Internationally they want companies to come to their country and so compete over corporation tax and business rates. The problems (as I see it) are when they don’t apply the rules that already exist. I just can’t cry ‘tax avoidance’ over a parent giving a child a gift and then trying to live 7 years to reduce the inheritance tax due when they die, when transfer pricing agreements still (even after the law re-write) allow large corporations to move profits around to lower tax regimes. This is hardly surprising given the large job losses in HMRC. There just aren’t enough people who understand the law in order to assess it all.

What I used to do (certainly the high net worth non-dom stuff) was highly specialised and there were probably 1 or maybe 2 HMRC inspectors to every 30 people who worked on the ‘other side’, and there weren’t very many of us. Instead of using resources to catch benefit ‘cheats’, why not instead train those people in the tax laws so that they can spot where the big money is being lost, in corporate tax returns.

 

Iceland

My sister decided that she wanted to spend a few days in Iceland for a big birthday, with the bonus of being able to scarf down some puffin, so it was off on easyjet then a bus to the air b’n’b apartment we had booked. It, along with everything else, was delightful.

Everyone we met was delightful, everywhere we went was clean and close by (Reykjavik is tiny). On the first night we had booked onto a Northern Lights bus tour which took us out to Þingvellir. It was bitterly cold, so we were grateful for our thermals and ski jackets, and there were some lights in the sky. There was some arching, but it was quite pale (more easily picked up using cameras). On the way back into Reykjavik the Lights really kicked off brightly and we pulled over for a more impressive display. We only had our camera phones, which weren’t picking up anything, but our tour guide took photos of us in front of the Lights and we were able to grab them from facebook (she gave permission for us to download them).

The following day it was out on a Golden Circle tour. Lots more photos, including of a wonderfully active geyser (very little waiting), and a surprise trip to a horse farm (as the road to the church which we were supposed to visit was impassable). An evening of pizza and Cards Against Humanity to celebrate the actual birthday.

We had hummed and hawed about going to the Blue Lagoon on the Saturday, and it was a cold run across the decking to get into the water, but definitely worth it. So incredibly relaxing and we were glad we had decided to get the slightly later bus back. We eventually managed to drag ourselves out though, and when we got back into town we headed out to the Icelandic bar for delicious burgers and the much awaited Puffin (which was apparently very tender, more like a paste).

I managed to get my daily runs in early on the Friday and Saturday. They were quite slow as not all of the pavements are salted, but I had taken my trail shoes for this very reason.

I would quite happily go back, and recommend anyone who can to get out there. There were lots of opportunities to buy handmade sweaters, but I find Icelandic wool a bit scratchy against my skin and object to buying anything I can make myself. Instead I treated myself to a woven (and non-scratchy) blanket, and a pair of socks knit at a finer gauge than I have the patience for. Click on photo for full Iceland album:

Day 342/365

I somehow have to squeeze some mileage in around a trip away at the end of the week, so went out for a 10km along by the riverside. It was only slightly squelchy, but the sun was a bit bright (shouldn’t grumble, there won’t be much sun where I am going).