Christmas and New Year may have their culinary and celebratory attractions, but it is good to have the routine and discipline of athletics training. The final instruction from our coach before he disappeared to hotter climes for a three week sojourn was to enjoy Christmas, but not to put on any weight. With this diktat still ringing in my ears I decided to go for a long run this pm.
I drove to the main entrance of the Downhill demesne and parked close to the mullion windowed gate lodge once occupied by the indomitable Janet Eccles.
Starting my run there I ran through the gardens, proceeded past the Black Glen with its dark waters and down into Castlerock. There wasn't exactly a traffic jam in the village, but there were a lot cars coming and going, mainly coming. The destination for their New Year's Eve outing was the church hall adjacent to Christ Church. The reason for the mid afternoon congregation? Rather obvious really. This was a gathering of friends and relatives following a funeral. No doubt the Mother's Union had come up trumps with the necessary comfort food. A death is sad at any time of year, but it just seems more poignant when society at large is celebrating. Something seems false and my vote goes to the celebrations.
There were maybe fifty people on the beach and five or six happy dogs chasing seagulls and rounding up their owners. I turned at the Barmouth and retraced my steps along the beach avoiding the puddles left by the retreating tide. At the high watermark a man in his early sixties was waving a metal detector at the beach detritus. His ever supportive, but rather bored wife walked behind him with stoic grace. Hopefully he found something more than a selection of rusty ring pulls, but I suspect not.
The beach run completed I took to the roads running past the golf club, round by the Presbyterian Church, over the railway line and then into the myriad of avenues and walks on the outskirts of the village.
It was then I was attacked by one of those bad natured little dogs that should only be seen revolving on the top of a, "78." I reminded the owner of her obligations and liabilities under the Dogs Order and asked her whether she regarded the dog's lead as a fashion accessory. She retorted by saying that her canine friend thought that I was the postman. When I questioned her as to whether it was acceptable to allow her beloved fido to carve its initials on the calves of the purveyors of the Royal Mail she remained silent. Her dog did not. She could not control the mutt. Small dogs are the bane of runners' lives. The temptation to score three points is ever present. I explained to the animal's owner, in fluent Anglo Saxon, that if she did not control her dog with immediate effect that at best she might expect a visitation from the dog warden and that if fido should break my skin that she should look out her insurance policies before celebrating the New Year. Eventually she managed to attach the lead to the collar of her ratweiller. As with children people should not have dogs if they can't control them.
With an occasional backwards glance I then headed to the football pitches which I ran around a few times before proceeding back to the shore front and then uphill past the Apostle Cottages into the grounds of Downhill Castle and back to the car.
Another year of running completed.