Monday 22 July 2013

Race for Life

I had no idea that a Race for Life would be such a huge  Goodness me!


There were over seven thousand runners.  Each runner had brought along several supporters, each runner had raised money for Cancer Research, and each runner had a moving message written on the back of their t-shirt* explaining why they were running.  Layers of goodwill, interesting stories, motivated people, and determination filled the centre of Cambridge yesterday morning.

Messages on our backs

Ready to race! 

 I assumed we'd be running around Parker's Piece - the park in the middle of Cambridge where the race began - but we were actually running right through the centre of the city.  This made it so special, as we ran through King's College, all through the market, and up and down the narrow cobbled streets of shops and cafes.  The hordes of tourists seemed a little baffled as to why seven thousand women in pink had suddenly taken over the city.

Running through Cambridge  

We ran through King's College 

We had a wonderful day, and we raised £275 in total.  I am so proud of Olivia for suggesting that we did it, and grateful to her for getting me running again after more than twenty years of not running.  What a girl!

Livvy does the warm-up

Livvy after the race  

Thank you to those who sponsored us!

* The Cambridge News saw the message on the back of my t-shirt saying that I was running for all the cancer patients I've nursed - and interviewed me.  They put a couple of quotes from me in their write up of the day, which you can read here - but I had to suffer the indignity of them getting my age wrong and making me three years older than I actually am.  Olivia, who would not have minded suddenly being made three years older, had her age reported correctly.

Sunday 14 July 2013

10 things

  • The running continues to improve - I like it more each time I go, and my 5K time is now down to 31 minutes and 4 seconds.  The sub-30 5K run is heading my way, I feel sure.  My brother-in-law asked me last night "what's changed for you with running?" and I had no insight for him beyond that I didn't used to enjoy it, but now I do.
  • Our Race for Life is in Cambridge next weekend.  A massive thank you to all the blog readers who have contributed so generously to our Just Giving page - some of whom I haven't even met before.  I don't have an email address for everyone who has donated, so I haven't been able to thank everyone in person - have a public, and sincere Thank You here instead!  We shall, of course, report back here after the race with photos....
  • We have both bought bright pink t-shirts to wear for the race, even though neither of us likes bright pink.  Olivia pointed out that if we didn't wear bright pink for the race we might feel like a couple of sparrows in a flock of flamingos.
  • I just found out about the Walk for Women event happening across the UK this summer - I hope I'll be able to go along to at least one of the walks.  They are happening all over the UK to celebrate 100 years since 50,000 suffragists marched across the UK, ending at a rally at Hyde Park to raise awareness of their cause.
  • When women get together, they can really make things happen!
  • The most famous suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst believed she was born on 14th July - Bastille Day - although her birth certificate states that in fact she was born on the 15th.  Nobody has really got to the bottom of why this discrepancy came about.  My own Grandmother was definitely born on Bastille Day, however, and was given a French name by her parents as a result - she is 90 today.  Happy Birthday, Grandma!
  • I have booked tickets to go and see the Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum, which has been extended until the end of September because it has been so madly popular.  If you want to go, book soon - there are only a few slots left for September.
  • The other exhibition I am determined to go to this summer is The Laura Knight Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.
  • I have learnt more about my daughter's interests and plans since she set herself up with a Pinterest account, than any amount of chatting over supper, on runs or long car journeys has ever revealed.  She dreams of travelling to Poland and China and likes foxgloves, trilby hats and lavender.  Who knew?
  • In the bustle and busyness of full time work, running, summer plans and end of term, I found myself with an unexpected half hour to myself one afternoon last week.  I was close to one of my favourite places in the whole of London - St Paul's churchyard - so I lay in the dappled shade, reading my kindle and reflecting on how even in the middle of a hot, crowded city like London, there are places of sanctuary and calm.
    St Paul's Cathedral, in its leafy chrchyard

Wednesday 10 July 2013


I was a working parent for ten years before I left the bank in 2009.  Now I'm slowly adapting back to being a working parent once again, after three years at home with the children.  I like working (and studying), I want to work (and study), but the complexity of being a working parent does not get any easier with time or experience (or even with the advancing age of your children).  I find that being a working parent is a constant exercise in being organised and also being adaptable - and this in itself is a mindblowingly difficult combination to achieve.  Be super efficient and plan everything, but also chill out and go with the flow?  Hmmn.

Some nurses work shifts of long days, nights, and days off - and other nurses work 9am-5pm, five days a week.  I didn't realise this when I started my course - I just assumed it was all shift work.  I've done three placements of shift work since September, and am now on a 9-5 placement.  I wondered if a 9-5 job would fit in better with family life, but I'm not sure that it does.  I miss having days off during the week where I could catch up on cooking, have the children's friends round for tea, arrange for parcels to be delivered, and go for a mid-morning run.  On the other hand, with more regular hours I can take Olivia to school every day, and I don't miss out on any weekend family fun.  

I'm not sure what conclusions I can draw from this - other than that I am tired, primary schools demand too much of working parents (a last minute after-school play rehearsal can send finely tuned childcare arrangements into freefall, and do you really need to have parents' evening, a school fete, sports day, two school trips plus endless bloody play rehearsals all within one week?) - oh, and I have about four parcels to pick up from the sorting office.

But also...I love what I do.  And I know that the children are always pleased to see me when I get in - whatever time that may be.  The full, occasionally chaotic, busy life that we have as a family is a good thing, and there is really nothing new or earth shattering about it.

And amazingly there is still time to bake bread - and life is good if you can smell fresh bread occasionally.

Summer bread
Bread baked this evening, after work