Monday, 23 December 2013

Happy Christmas

I was supposed to write a lovely blog post showing off all my terribly tacky Christmas decorations.

(For me, more is more at Christmas.)

But I never quite got around to it.

So instead, I shall leave you with this...

I'll see you in the New Year!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A very old Christmas Wish List

I have seen many of the Christmas wish lists posts floating about on many blogs over this past festive month and I wondered if I would join in.

But then I realised that I don't really know how to do one of those collage posts (and I should really because Bonjour Blogger totally has a post on how to do collages, helpful blog that it is), nor is there anything really post-worthy that I would want. Books. Any books. Just get me some books, yeah?

As fortune would have it, I don't need to write a wish list. I can just show you this one;

When down visiting my Dad and his wife at the end of November, he presented me with a letter which he had found.

It was a letter I had written to Father Christmas. It has no date on it, although I could probably take a stab looking at the items on there. All Dad could tell me was that he knew I definitely didn't get anything that I'd put on this list for Christmas that year.

I did eventually end up with a couple of things on there, I think they were birthday presents, so goodness knows what happened this particular year. But luckily for me it is still here to share today.

For those who find it difficult to read my pencil scrawl, this is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Father Christmas,

This is what you may be able to bring me at Christmas [so polite and yet to the point!]

A pair of slippers 
[starting sensibly you see, you don't go in with the big demands first]
The Penny swimming pool
Dream Dance Barbie
or, three wishes Sindy,
Paint me a picture Sindy
some boots, shoes, roller boots for Barbie,
and some clothes for Barbie,
A girls world head,
a shell suit,
a teenage mutant hero turtle t-shirt
a teenage mutant hero turtle glove puppet,

I have a feeling that this was a draft letter that I wrote out before writing a neat version to send off to Father Christmas.

There was one thing that I wanted more than anything on this list and I know a request was made on more than one Christmas list and birthday list over the years.

A Girl's World Head.

Oh how I dreamed that I would have that frankly weird head that I could slather make up on and backcomb it's horrible hair. I had a friend who always had the coolest toys - she had one of those Mr Frosty machines and she had a Sega Megadrive - and I would go round to her house and not so secretly covet it, but it was never meant to be.

Nor sadly was my request for a shell suit which was another long-standing wish list attendee. It does mean I have no hideous photos of me in the 90s wearing one though...

I did eventually end up with a Spirograph so, you know, don't feel too sorry for me.


Also, remember when they were called Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles instead of Ninja because they thought if they called it that we'd all turn violent from watching it? Fun times.

Friday, 20 December 2013

2013 Crochet Review: The Year of Amigurumi

I can't lie to you, I have not managed to complete my Not Really Resolution of crocheting my Tetris blanket. I mean, not even close.

Actually, I should probably tell you now that I haven't really done any of my Not Really Resolutions.

Like really not done any.

I haven't even learned to knit.


But I can redeem myself. Because whilst this may not have been the Year of Tetris Crochet, and certainly wasn't the Year of Not Really Resolutions, it was the Year of Amigurumi.

I have latched on to this like a crazy person. Ever since I did my zebra and elephant earlier in the year I've been taken over by the bug and whilst my hook hasn't done much resting, I just haven't had much time to devote to crocheting blankets.

Zebra herd

The best thing about it is just the speed at which you can turn something out. Crochet, and especially the Tetris blanket, can be a bit of a long game sometimes and you can work and work and work without seeing huge gains. But not with amigurumi, you only have to be hooking for a couple of hours and you can already see the shapes forming. The fact that they are made in separate pieces means that you can literally watch your creation building up and, as with all things, the more you do, the faster you become. I am easily twice as fast as I was when I first started now.

My giraffe that had an incredibly wobbly neck

My first zebra took weeks and weeks to crochet and make - I made one last week which took me a total of 3 nights to knock up.

Best of all? This amigurumi craze has been a little earner for me. The first zebra and the giraffe were made as presents for two friends who were expecting, but pretty much everything else since then has been made for someone and has brought me some money in.

Penguin - one of the funniest things I've crocheted

I'm never going to be millionaire and obviously you can never really charge for the amount of time you spend on them, if any hand-crafty person did that then no-one would be able to afford any goods ever, but hey, I'm sitting in front of the TV anyway, I might as well be making some money doing it.

One of the best things I've made has been this bunny dolly, a pattern from a crochet magazine, that I made for my niece for her birthday. She was the most complicated thing I've made so far but the details are what makes her. Her little pink cheeks and her hair are the best parts. And she has the cutest little bunny tail that I haven't got a picture of, to my immense annoyance.

Since making her, I've made another two that have been sold to people at work and she is so incredibly cute that I can't help but think that I'll be making more in the future.

The lovely thing about amigurumi is that even if you're making something that you've made before, and you're following exactly the same pattern and more than likely using the same yarn, each item you produce will come out looking ever so slightly different. So much relies on expression that just the one little different move of your needle or one iota of difference to an eye placement means that the finished article has a completely different personality.

Bunny dolly to the power of three

So yeah, this year has been the Year of Amigurumi. It's satisfying, it's quick to make, it's fun and it's making me a little pile of cash which I keep separate from all my other money to make sure it doesn't get swallowed in the day to day. So far I've put it to good use and have bought pyjamas, books and bath salts with it.

I know how to live the high life.

But as we were drawing to the end of the year I decided to get selfish and make a little something for myself. I had bought a new book and hadn't flipped all the way through it, so I was terribly excited when I got home and realised that there were some Christmas designs at the back of the book.

So I would like you to meet Ralph.

He may just be my favourite. It's hard to let every item go but if I really had to give Ralph away I really think I would struggle. From the tip of his antlers, to the bottom of his stripy legs and even including his little red nose, I love every inch of him. And although it will be difficult to pack him away at the end of Christmas, I know how over excited I will be to get him out again each year.

So here's to the Year of Amigurumi.

And not completing your Not Really Resolutions.

From L-R: Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Goat, Zebra, Bunny Dolly, Zebra, Penguin, Reindeer


All creations are from this book and this book apart from the bunny dolly who is a pattern from Inside Crochet magazine (September 2013). 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

On friendship

I sat in the Wetherspoons at lunchtime eating my burger and looking about. It's newly opened in the 'town' and quite the talk of it. It's always full which always leads me to wonder where all these people used to go to drink and eat. Did they just stay at home?

My eye alights on one of the booths where there are 6 ladies in their 40s and 50s sat. Wine buckets are on the table, sharing platters in situ. They are all talking at once, several conversations overlapping and get periodically louder as excitement levels reach fever pitch.

It's not really the sight I want to see when I'm feeling so alone.

I wonder if that will be me in 10-20 year's time. Will I have made a tight group of friends by then (please god)? Will I still be friends with the people I'm friends with now?

I wonder where it all went wrong. I'm in the minority of people who are not still close to the people they went to school with. I'm not even that close any more with the people I went to university with (American Girl and American Boy in exception). It feels like it would be silly to blame anything else but me - I'm the only common thread. But then I get defensive. I could blame myself for not making an effort, but then others didn't make any either. Plus we're at the point where lives begin to drastically diverge - as people get married and have children I've watched the friendships they have slowly diminish - there's less time for friendships, and even less time for friendships where the other person doesn't have a baby and "can't understand what my life is like right now."

It must happen to others, I can't be the only one.

I wonder if I'll ever get to sit around that table with a group of gossipy friends.

And then I realise.

I do sit around a table every night with a group of gossipy friends. It's called the interwebs.

I show my face on Twitter every single day and more often than not pipe up in a conversation that's being had on there. I ask questions and offer up solutions. I exclaim with delight at photos of cats and share pictures of what I've had for tea that night. They're only the small things, but it's the small things that make a friendship - it's the random snippets of information that we share that give us an insight in to each other's lives.

It shouldn't really have come as a surprise that I've made a return to blogging. Because it's where a lot of my friendships now come from and are based on. I've been talking to some of you for years and years now, how weird is that? I tell you things I would never tell the people that I work with, or even some of my 'real life' friends.

'Real life'. That's a weird phrase isn't it. I've just gone back through this post and put quotation marks around each time I've mentioned it (hopefully). I still make the distinction to people when I talk about the people I know online. When I told people about going to Norbury Manor I got myself in a pickle trying to explain who I was going with when really I didn't need to. I just needed to say "I'm going away with some friends."

I couldn't have written an e-mail to my friends that contained within it the words that I wrote in my post last week. Even if I could have I wouldn't have experienced the plethora of comments and Tweets that I received. Sometimes it is about quantity and at a point where you're feeling quite alone, to realise that there are people out there is all you need to decide that maybe getting up in the morning won't be so bad after all.

And yes, of course, eventually, there will be new friends. I will get a car and I will be able to join the groups I would like to join and I will meet new people. And yes, I can try to rebuild and repair the cracks that have appeared in already existing friendships. But also I will make every effort to remember that some of the friends that have got me through this past year are you guys.

And I would like to thank you for that.

Here endeth the mush.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Meet the gerbils

Name: Tyrion Lannister

Age: 6 months

Occupation: Gerbil and Chief Digger

Hobbies: Digging, sitting in my food bowl, grooming my broseph.

Most likely to say: "Got any toilet roll tubes on you?"

Name: Ser Jorah Mormont

Age: 6 months

Occupation: Gerbil and Chief Nest Builder

Hobbies: Nest building, Eating, running on my wheel, climbing

Most likely to say: "Got any pumpkin seeds on you?"


This may seem like an odd blog post hot on the heels of my last one but I do have more to say on that. I just don't want this blog to read like an angsty teenager's diary...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

My grass isn't greener

It's funny really when I think about it. Although 'funny' in that way where you feel like you might be hysterically laughing to stop yourself from collapsing on a heap in the floor crying.

I never would have thought in a million years that I'd be sat here in 2013 saying I'm in a worse place than I was in 2012.

I know right. How could anything be worse than 2012? Going from being made redundant, to having to move away from my friends and family in Hull, to being unemployed for a few months, to ending up in possibly the most depressing job where I got bullied. I lived in a city where I had no friends, other than The Person, oh and in the middle of it all I had a pretty spectacular meltdown.

2013 was the ultimate in fresh starts. Literally moving on the 1st January to a new place and starting a new job on the 2nd January which I was loving. There were challenges in the form of living in my sister's box room and having The Person live all the way in Preston but I was feeling fairly positive.

So how is it, that 2013 is heading towards a close and I feel worse than ever?

It's as if multiple things have conspired against me that seem determined to try and block my happiness everywhere I turn and, with no potential solution for some of them in sight, I can feel the 'badness' (those looming, crushing feelings of awfulness that seem to always be hovering over me in the background but I manage to keep at bay) starting to begin it's slow and painful creep over my shoulders.

For a start, the place I live in is tiny. I don't really know how to stress that word enough. The main 'town' is literally a street. A small street. We have one high street clothes store which is about the size of my living room. Luckily I'm not that interested in clothes shopping because that may have pushed me over the edge a long time ago. The fact is that there is just nothing to do here. Basically once you've visited the castle you're kind of out of things to do.

Frustratingly there's a whole host of things to do pretty much on my doorstep. I'm not a million miles away from some decent cities - Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, heck even Birmingham isn't that far away. There's the National Forest practically tapping at my window and National Trust properties galore. The problem? Absolutely none of them are accessible if you don't have a car.

Welcome to the sticks people, where public transport is non-existent and you are left with a situation where visiting Pets at Home and Wickes is the highlight of your weekend.

I have a huge bugbear about people with cars not understanding what life is like without one. I would love for them to come here for a week and be faced with constantly having to say "I'd love to, but I can't get there." or "I'd love it, but could you give me a lift?" Nothing like being 30 and not being able to independently get anywhere to make you feel good about yourself. The closest town I could get to is Burton, which takes 45 minutes on a bus, despite being a 25 minute car drive away and I think I can get to Leicester, although it appears to take 1.5 hours and involve a convoluted and difficult bus journey where you may have to get off a bus but also might not have to - I've been too scared to try it in case I just end up on a bus for the rest of my week.

I do technically have access to a car in the form of my sister's tank but to borrow that means a mile and half walk to her house (and back home again after dropping the car off) and actually, funnily enough, she needs to use her car as well. I'm probably not great at asking for it when I need it because, again, nothing like not being able to independently travel anywhere etc etc.

Secondly, I am 30 and it is well known that the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. I have been here a year and still don't have anyone I can call a friend. Don't get me wrong, I get on with lots of people at work. Lots of people - lots of chatting, lots of laughs - but they are restricted to 9-5. There has been nothing which has materialised into an outside of work friendship. Actually a lot of that is again down to location - most people don't live in this town, but live in other places and commute in, so they're not about to meet up or do anything with. Those people that do live here have lived here all their lives and are the ultimate in small town cliques - no matter how well you get on with them in work, it's not going to translate to an offer of a night out.

I am an extrovert in the true sense of the word. I need people around me to gain my energy. My spark comes from talking to people and interacting with people. I'm not like introverts, who see social interaction as something that drains them - it's honestly my life force.* Me without friends is just not pleasant. And on top of not making friends here, I have slowly but ever so surely drifted away from my friends back home. It happens, people get boyfriends, you don't live there any more, life moves on and leaves you stranded behind it. But it means I have no-one to talk to about the crushing loneliness I'm experiencing here.

All of the above has added up to put pressure on my relationship, and whilst I don't really want to go into that on here (at the moment) things have not been great between us and we are needing to do some emergency repair work. Which is actually difficult when you have nowhere to go because you have no transport (begin that loop again.)

Which brings us to wok. And again without wanting to go into that too much - things have not been great there. My role has changed due to unavoidable circumstances and whilst I appreciate that a new role has been found for me it's not a) what I wanted to do and b) I'm receiving absolutely no guidance at all on how to do it. It's frustrating and just really really gutting because I'd finally found something that I wanted to do and thought I was doing well at.

So there you have it. The holy trifecta of work, relationship and friends has slowly but steadily crumbled over the past few months, leaving me feeling like I'm hanging over a precipice. One from which I have no escape because there isn't a bloody bus back from said precipice.

I joke.

Not really.

Last year, I may have been unemployed and without friends but I lived in a city. There was plenty to do and plenty to explore and there were other places that were on our doorstep that we could get to because there were public transport links. Living here is like experiencing cabin fever on a major scale and feeling as though the other shoe is about to drop...


*For a cartoon which incredibly cleverly and easily explains the difference between introverted and extroverted people please see this How to interact with the introverted cartoon - it will honestly help you you understand the differences between the two. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Emergency, paging Dr Beat

I am not a very good shopper.

I don't really like crowds. I don't really like spending my money on anything other than books and I honestly really couldn't give two hoots about clothes. If I could spend the rest of my days in my pyjamas I would. In fact pyjamas are the only clothes I'm happy to shop for, and in fact the one thing I have to actively stop myself shopping for - one person does not need the amount of pyjamas I own.

I digress.

Because I'm not a good shopper there are times when things just suddenly pop out at me out of nowhere and the thrill I get comes like a bolt out of the blue and I buy it, without really considering whether it is a smart purchase to make.

The town I now live in has very few shops. And I mean very few shops. The only high street clothing shop is a New Look and that is about the size of my living room. Let's just say it's a good idea I'm not fussed about clothes. This is also why I am likely to answer with "New Look" or "Tesco" when asked where my latest item of clothing is from.

Not too long ago a vintage shop opened up and I pop in there when I'm passing. Not to look at the clothes so much as they're not really my thing but to look at what little trinkets she has and my eyes immediately fell upon this little beauty...

In desperate need* of a weekend bag I immediately snatched it up, cradled it to my chest and handed over the £15 she wanted for it and practically ran up the street shouting for joy.

Things I probably should have done include;
- Check inside it you know, in case it was all gross
- Check the zip works
- Check how heavy it was

Luckily for me the first two things on that list where all good but the third....hmm....I probably should have taken it for a test spin around the shop and really thought about it.

This bag appears to be made of some kind of steel for it is not the lightest of chappies. I took it away with me to Manchester and only had in enough stuff for a couple of days and it weighed a ton. But I'm pretty sure this falls under the category of no pain, no gain. Because just look at this bag and tell me it isn't amazing and that you're not just a little bit jealous of me.

I know. You can't. Sucks to be you.

There has been more than one occasion when I have pranced around the lounge pretending to be Doctor. I don't know if it actually is a Doctor's bag but it certainly feels like it and I'm going to pretend that it is no matter what you say.

And if it was a Doctor's bag then Doctor's must have had ruddy strong arms back in the day because I wouldn't have wanted to put lotions and potions in here and had to lug them around to someone's house. I barely made it through Manchester Piccadilly with pyjamas, make-up, shoes and a jumper inside.

And in a fit of 'stylishness' - I don't even know if it can be called that if it's me that's done it - I tied an old scarf around the handle because I just worried he looked a little too plain. 

Is this what the cool kids are doing with their bags at the moment? 

Or am I just being terribly 2007?

Anyway. I'd love to stay and chat but I have a medical emergency to attend to...**


Oh sorry what was that? You're loving my ever so amazing styling and location of this shoot?

These photos were taken at the Abode Hotel in Manchester where The Person and I stayed on Monday night for our annual trip to the Manchester Christmas Markets.

Why yes that is book wallpaper on the walls and parquet flooring - us medical professionals can only stay in the best of places you know.


*Not really desperate at all

**Need a cup of tea

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Gerbil Addendum

So as I was saying, we do not have fish any more. After the tragic deaths of Marcus and Andrew we decided that fish probably weren't for us. I mean they were lovely and everything but they were a know....kind of...possibly....*whispers*....boring.

We really wanted pets but unfortunately, living in rented accommodation in a 2nd floor flat kind of rules out a lot of pets.

We both have a fondness for degus and always end up in front of their cage when we visit Pets at Home (which is more often than we probably should admit) but when we looked at the cage that we would need we had to decide against it because we just don't have room for a cage that size.

So we considered hamsters for a while, as a possibility to get a fur fix.

But the trouble is, I had a hamster when I was little and I hated it. She was mean and she was bitey and really the best part I liked about looking after her was cleaning her cage.

One day, whilst peering in at the hamsters and laughing at the guinea pigs and being scared of the rabbits* I looked up and saw a little face peering back at me. There he was, sat up on hind legs like a tiny little meerkat, bright little black eyes and tiny little paws.

A gerbil.

I didn't know anything about them and I don't know anyone who has them, but after talking to the lovely lady I realised this was the pet for us. They are friendly and like to be handled, they're diurnal, so they're up when you're up. They want nothing more than to be your friend and just hang out.

Being good little renters I insisted that we follow the rules and ask permission from our letting agent before getting the gerbils. I'll be honest - I was getting gerbils regardless of whether I was 'allowed' to or not, but if I can follow the rules then I will do.

I don't think I've ever felt less ridiculous than being a 30 year old woman asking permission to have two gerbils in my flat but such is life and let's not dwell on that...permission was granted, although we had to sign and send back what we have come to call as the Gerbil Addendum which said;

"NOTWITHSTANDING the provisions of clause 3.67 the Landlord agrees that the Tenant may
keep a two gerbils in the Property PROVIDED it is kept caged and FURTHER the tenant will
indemnify the Landlord against any damage caused by the said gerbils to the Property and its

 Just ever so slightly OTT.

Anyway, it was duly signed and returned and we promptly went out and got ourselves two lovely gerbils.

Everyone meet:
Tyrion Lannister


Ser Jorah Mormont

For those not in the know those names are the names of characters from Game of Thrones which is awesome. They are two of my favourite characters in it. If you've read further than Book Three, Part Two then please don't tell me anything I might not want to hear about these characters - George R R Martin has a tendency to kill off characters that you don't expect to die.

So there they are - Tyrion Lannister and Ser Jorah Mormont - the two greatest gerbils that there ever was.

*Yeah rabbits scare me. Get over it. They are too big and you can't tell what they're thinking.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Very Fishy Tale a.k.a. How I Accidentally Killed our Fish

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter you may not have heard the very sad news that our fish, Marcus and Andrew, are no longer of this mortal coil.

You will also not know that the sole reason they are no longer on this mortal coil is down to me.

Yes. Really.

Marcus & Andrew spent most of this year living a bachelor lifestyle along with The Person after I moved out to go and live with my sister for my job on 1st January 2013. They had a great time, ducking and diving and wheeling and dealing and generally floating about doing fishy stuff.

There was a lot of discussion about how they would get to the Midlands when The Person moved here to join me and in the end it was a very low tech travel arrangements. The boys were put in a large tupperware box and came to Leicestershire, sitting on the knee of The Person, who was in the passenger seat of the lovely van man's van who moved The Person from Preston to our current residence.

We were worried about whether they would make the trip but they had a jolly old time and as soon as they arrived, I got the tank filled up and they were settled in before even a box was unpacked.

However, in the craze of The Person starting a new job, sorting out a flat in which we had no furniture (that's a tale for another time),  and just generally living together again we became pretty neglectful fish parents. The tank looked a bit cloudy and the water really looked like it could do with a change and we kept saying "This weekend we need to change the fish" but we would never get around to doing it and the weeks passed us by.

Finally, at the end of the first week of October, so just over 2 months after we moved in *hangs head in shame* I decided I needed to get that water changed.

So I gave the tank a good scrub, filled it up with lovely new tap water, put Marcus and Andrew back in and sat back and admired my handiwork.

They merrily swam about all afternoon and evening. The Person and I, sat on the sofa in the evening, remarked how happy they looked having a good swim.

About 10pm I looked over at the tank...

Marcus did not look well.

In fact. Marcus looked decidedly not like an alive fish.

I called in The Person to investigate and, as I watched nervously from the doorway, he confirmed my worst suspicions, we were indeed one fish down.

No wait...we were two fish down as Andrew was also dead.

It was horrible. Horrible. I don't know if you've noticed but I kind of like animals, and the realisation that I was solely responsible for the death of my two pets was almost too much for me to bear. In fact I didn't bear it, I promptly sat on the bed and burst into tears. For a long time.

Marcus and Andrew received the most traditional of burials and were flushed down the toilet on Sunday 6th October 2013.

A quick consult of Google has led us to believe that our fishes' deaths, whilst tragic, are not uncommon. Apparently fish don't get overly bothered about living in a dirty tank, they just go with the flow and adapt to their surroundings. However when you perform a complete change on the tank and put in fresh water - whilst it might look nice and make you feel good about yourself - it unbalances the pH and nitrates and all those other invisible things that the fish have got used to and the change is so dramatic that their poor little fishy bodies cannot cope with it any more.

If you have let the tank get dirty and want to change it, you have to perform percentage water changes where you take some water out and replace it with clean water and gradually increase the percentage you change until it's all clean.

We do not have new fish.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Girl's Guide to Mediocre Running

This is not the guide to read if you are planning on running marathons. It's not even the guide to read if you're planning on running half-marathons. It's not the guide to read if your aim is to run sub 50 minute 10ks. Nor is it the guide to read if your aim is to run sub 60 minute 10ks for that matter.

It's not the guide to read if you want to become the world's best runner and it's definitely not the guide to read if you want to work so hard you vomit after each run (because by the way, when you do that, it means your body has been put through too much and you're an idiot, not that you're super awesome and hardcore.) 

This is the guide to read for those people who have been running for years and yet still turn an alarming shade of red after they've been running for 5 minutes. This is the guide if you have never run before but kind of want to do a bit of bimbling about around the local park or up and down the street you live on. This is the guide to read if you know you don't really want to run, but feel like you ought to go out and run off that entire packet of Digestives you just inhaled.*

For I am the above person. I have been running for years. I've done a couple of 10ks and a couple of 5ks. But I'm never going to reach the dizzying heights of sub-60 anything, unless the sub-60 you're talking about is a sub-60 second eating of a packet of crisps.

So here is my guide to mediocre running:

1. Your first outside run is terrifying - so do it ridiculously early in the morning when there's no-one about. I got up at 7.30am on a Saturday to do my first outdoor run, which consisted of a run to the nearest park, once around and back again. You will feel like a weird person and be convinced everyone is staring at you but they're really not, and anyway...

2. Stuff those people on the street - those lazy bitches are walking whereas you are running. Or jogging. Or probably running at a pace that some people could keep up with at a fast walk. Whatevs. You have trainers on so you win. And whilst we're on the point of running in public...

3. No-one knows how far you've run. I was serious about the red face - I look like I'm going to collapse after 1km, but I look exactly the same after I've run 8km as well. So instead of feeling embarassed that you look out of breath, pretend that you've run 13 miles already and you're allowed to look a little tired. If you have the breath, as you're running past someone, try and say "Whew! 12 miles done already in 20 minutes, I am caning it today!"

4. Stay clear of all those running CDs and dance music. Those CDs have their place, especially in a race, but those running CDs are full of songs which are of a much faster tempo than the one at which you're running at. Trust me, as a mediocre runner, those songs are too fast. I was having massive issues being able to run at one point, I was just too tired to keep it up so I had the brain wave of listening to podcasts instead. Now I swear by them - you will find that you will settle into the pace which you are comfortable at and listening to people talking is so distracting you won't really notice how long you've run for and you'll be happier to continue for longer until you get to the end of it. This is perhaps the greatest tip I can give you.

5. If you live in a hilly area try and find a route that has more downhill that uphill in it. I nearly died when I moved to my current residence away from the flatlands of Hull. This place has some serious hills and I did some nearly serious keeling over trying to run up them. So don't. Don't make life any harder for yourself than it already is. You're already running for god's sake, don't force yourself to go up a hill if you don't need to...and if you can't avoid them...

6. ...Walk up them. Until you run up a hill you don't know how godamn fricking hard it is. It burns your legs and your lungs and people who live in mostly flat areas, who occasionally run up a small incline are not able to appreciate how hard it is. I didn't. I had no idea what a hill was until I moved here. Living at my sister's was bad, but at my new place I have no choice but to run up a hill if I want to get home - it sucks. Try your best to run up them but do not feel bad if you can't...

7. ...But using your arms will help you get up them. When someone first said that to me I raised my eyebrows and thought "Okaaaaay, thanks for the advice crazy person" but actually it does help. You don't need to be swinging them as though doing your best steam train impression but focusing a bit more on pumping them as you go up the hill does seem to help. At the very least it distracts you from the burning pain in your thighs, followed by the total loss of sensation in your legs so it's good for that if nothing else.

8. Everyone has a 'Wall' to get past. Yours is admittedly a little earlier on than other people's, but it's a Wall nevertheless. Mine is about the 2.5km mark. Yes that soon. You will want to stop running, you will feel as if you can't take any more breath into your lungs but try and just run a little, tiny bit further and suddenly you will inexplicably feel ok and can run much further than you ever would have thought possible when you were up against the Wall. If you really can't get past the Wall...

9. Just walk!** This is one I have battled with personally so often in running and one that I'm still not entirely at ease with. Sometimes when I feel like walking there's a voice in my head chanting "Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!" And this is ridiculous. Walk for a small bit - pick a point further up the road that you will walk to and then start running again. It will be hard, (that's why you should try to keep going if you can), because starting to run when you've been walking is a tough mental challenge but you'll have had your rest and be ready to run for longer.

10. Cut yourself some slack. You won't be  the best runner. There will be no-one you can run with because no-one runs as slow as you. You look like a beetroot and your hair is sticking up all over the shop. You get blisters in weird places because your flat footed and even the special trainers for flat footed people don't really help. You get pains in your knees and shins and even your back sometimes. But you're running. You're running when you could be walking or sat on your backside in front of the TV. You may be a mediocre runner but you're still a runner. Take pride in your mediocrity and those people who go on about how fast they run and how brilliant they are and yada yada yada? Don't listen to them, they're not good for you. And actually there are far more of us mediocre runners out there who can sympathise and help you through your aches and pains and trials and tribulations. Let those others run the fastest race they can - they can be up at the front on their own, I'm happy at the back with the rest of my Mediocre Buddies.


*Mediocre running will definitely not burn off the calories of an entire packet of Digestives. It might burn off one, two if you're lucky.

** This point is null and void in a race. People who don't run the whole 10k, half-marathon or marathon are at the receiving end of my wrath and fury. It's called the Great North Run, not the Great North Walk, you cannot bring home a medal saying you've done 10k when you walked for most of it - that's just doing what millions of people do who go for a ramble on a Sunday afternoon.