“Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees;”-Malloch




During the summer whilst at work, I met a man near Breidden Hill, Montgomeryshire who could trace his family history back to the building of Admiral Rodney's naval fleet in the 1780's. He told me how his family had always been involved in and around the Severn. He explained the significance of Rodney's Pillar and why the area was so important to the 18th century Naval fleet. The bit that has come full circle for me is that Admiral Rodney had requested Welsh Oak be used for his boats. The trees were cut and floated down the Severn to Bristol. Welsh Oak was so valuable because it grew in difficult conditions, making the wood slower growing, the grain more dense and therefore more resistant to canonballs. Just after Christmas. a picture caught my eye on Twitter ( from @mands22) with a quote from Douglas Malloch on the inside of a jar lid. That quote is the title for this post. In my mind it is a human description of Rodney's requirement for growth in hard conditions. Douglas Malloch was also known as a
During the summer whilst at work, I met a man near Breidden Hill, Montgomeryshire who could trace his family history back to the building of Admiral Rodney’s naval fleet in the 1780’s. He told me how his family had always been involved in and around the Severn. He explained the significance of Rodney’s Pillar and why the area was so important to the 18th century Naval fleet. The bit that has come full circle for me is that Admiral Rodney had requested Welsh Oak be used for his boats. The trees were cut and floated down the Severn to Bristol. Welsh Oak was so valuable because it grew in difficult conditions, making the wood slower growing, the grain more dense and therefore more resistant to canonballs. Just after Christmas. a picture caught my eye on Twitter ( from @mands22) with a quote from Douglas Malloch on the inside of a jar lid. That quote is the title for this post. In my mind it is a human description of Rodney’s requirement for growth in hard conditions. Douglas Malloch was also known as a “Lumberman’s poet”. Now I’m no literary buff, but I do like the simplicity of his words. So, rather than ramble on about New Years resolutions, I thought I’d share a couple of his poems. Have a great 2013! Good Timber The tree that never had to fight For sun and sky and air and light, But stood out in the open plain And always got its share of rain, Never became a forest king But lived and died a scrubby thing. The man who never had to toil To gain and farm his patch of soil, Who never had to win his share Of sun and sky and light and air, Never became a manly man But lived and died as he began. Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow. Where thickest lies the forest growth, We find the patriarchs of both. And they hold counsel with the stars Whose broken branches show the scars Of many winds and much of strife. This is the common law of life.   Be the Best of Whatever You Are If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, Be a scrub in the valley — but be The best little scrub by the side of the rill; Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass, And some highway happier make; If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bass But the liveliest bass in the lake! We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew, There’s something for all of us here, There’s big work to do, and there’s lesser to do, And the task you must do is the near. If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail, If you can’t be the sun be a star; It isn’t by size that you win or you fail Be the best of whatever you are! Douglas Malloch (May 5, 1877 (Muskegon, Michigan) – July 2, 1938)   




Done, memory lane, festive ramblings. It’s not about the running!

It seemed like a simple challenge; 2012 human powered miles in 2012. In theory, it is. I was pretty sure that running and cycling would get me there around September time. In a mad rush to get miles under my belt ahead of Trail Marathon Wales, I rushed my training, over trained, got injured and that 2-and-a-bit months or recuperation put a heap of pressure on the targets.

I had to slack my definition off and include rowing and kayaking miles to the total. After getting some good achievements ticked off in the year my cycle home from work got me over the magic 2012 miles. So the total for each “discipline” at the finish line is:
  • Run: 1032 miles
  • Bike: 746 miles
  • Row: 184 miles
  • Kayak: 59 miles
 With time off work over Christmas this has moved on a bit too, but it is great to have nailed it.

I'm keen to have a go at the 2013 version too. Perhaps with a bit more maturity in the first part of the year. Why not have a go? You can always move the decimal point (either way) if you want to make it easier/harder!

Just before Christmas my Gran celebrated her 91st Birthday, it's been a tough year for her and it was fantastic to be heading down to Christmas for a lunch with her. Christmas is always mixed for me. I really feel the gaps at the table. Christmas was always a time when Mum, Dad and I had a few days together and lots of strong memories eminate from those times. It makes for a bit of a relective time.

I hadn't really expected to drop into a real memory lane run, but early on the Sunday morning I headed out for a run. Within a few hundred metres my head started drifting off through memories a couple of decades old. Nearly running over an Adder on my push bike, playing GT with a friends uncle in there, Tony whats-his-name who stole my Granddad's favourite hammer from my Dad's house, the route to my Mum's cremation, the venue for various wakes, my old squash club, the drive that had the steel boat being built, cycling with Dad on his brothers Claud Butler bike (and him falling off), Dad's red and black MG Metro Turbo, PYO strawberries with Mum. Not even close to half the thoughts; friends, families and solo missions add so many thoughts. Maybe everyone has these thoughts? I guess the visual prompts I've moved away from minimise my day to day recall but also bring things back in to clear focus when I'm there. I'd suggest to anyone that never letting these memories fade is something to aim for.

If Christmas sucks for anyone who has gaps at the table; time does help with the immediate pain, but the gap is just that, a gap. I like to celebrate, and for me that means remembering.

Mum, Dad, Doug, Dofey, Cyril, Matt, Pete – Never forgotten.

Anyway, this map has so many memories for me, I really want to just put it out there.

So from there, onto lunch. Being an only child, my cousins are really important to me. Matt was back from San Diego so it was a rare chance at my Gran's lunch to get the three Grandson's together with 6 great Grandchildren along with my Aunt and Uncle. All in all, a great chance to get all 15 of us round a table for a couple of hours. Really great fun, though photographing reluctant littles was hard. A poor effort on the photograph.

Christmas is, and I always want to be a great time for my girls, apart from a little illness from Katie. Good food, some proper relaxation time. My presents- running shorts and whisky. Got to wonder what that says about me. Really looking forward to some Peated Penderyn. Feel like I need to put in a big run first. Due to Christmas presents and bugs it wasn't possible to convince anyone to join me on a Boxing Day walk. So Casey (our Collie) and I had a nice walk through the moors above Llanfachreth. Large herds of deer were around on the flanks of Rhobell Fawr, a couple of impressive stags looking very majestic. Just beautiful.

The forecast is looking unkind for some comfortable long runs/cycles in the next little while. Looks good for boating though.

I thought Ciara's Christmas cracker present, a charades dice, summed up the festive season for me pretty well. 
Merry Christmas all!

Back to the bike!

Well, I thought I was back on track. But another twisted ankle on an icy early morning run put me back on the bike.

Just to do something different, I decided to go and do the classic loop of Snowdon. It was recommended to me more than a year ago, and I really wanted to ride in better conditions.

I parked near Beddgelert and wished I’d arrived half an hour later. It was pretty overcast and the sun was struggling to show it’s light. That and a really heavy rain shower didn’t help. A nice flat, spin into Beddgelert put a bit of heat in the legs before a gentle climb up towards Cwellyn. This passed and Rhyd Ddu and Waun fawr zipped by. The clouds were more broken out on the North side of Snowdon so the glasses went on, and the jacket unzipped a bit. Then the climb up to Pen y Pass. Definitely felt the lactic building towards the top of the climb. Over the pass and then the roller coasted back down to the van. The descent was quick, but really slippy so I didn’t commit to much. I’d like to go back when I could trust the tyres. Back through Nany Gwynant and back to the van. I’d targeted 1:45, but had to settle with 2 minutes over. I’ll call todays ride a sighting lap!

Looking forward to getting my running legs back under me. Too many road miles makes me run like a duck!

A quick change of direction.

Bit gutted this week. I was all set to knock out some big mileage this weekend as part of The North Face Ultra Challenge on Strava. I'd put in enough mileage to be happy with smashing the 50k- I was hoping to do 3x 10km and 1x 40km. Unfortunately a moment of not concentrating in the dark on an easy run early on Monday morning I sprained my ankle really badly. This put the immediate stop on doing the run. I must be growing up! On the plus side I've done a reasonable week of cross training, just under 30km on the rowing machine (2x intervals, 2x 30 min threshold) two good kettlebell sessions and one 55km road ride. Along with a roller session every day and a wobble board session twice a day, it's not a bad week really. Think it might be time to chuck on some longer legs when riding the road grime is minging at the moment!
Bit gutted this week. I was all set to knock out some big mileage this weekend as part of The North Face Ultra Challenge on Strava. I’d put in enough mileage to be happy with smashing the 50k- I was hoping to do 3x 10km and 1x 40km. Unfortunately a moment of not concentrating in the dark on an easy run early on Monday morning I sprained my ankle really badly. This put the immediate stop on doing the run. I must be growing up! On the plus side I’ve done a reasonable week of cross training, just under 30km on the rowing machine (2x intervals, 2x 30 min threshold) two good kettlebell sessions and one 55km road ride. Along with a roller session every day and a wobble board session twice a day, it’s not a bad week really. Think it might be time to chuck on some longer legs when riding the road grime is minging at the moment!