Run, rooks/jackdaws (running is all in the mind – apart from the physical bit)

That is a nest?

I’ve often run with my wife thinking that, once we finished, I’d carry on to do another loop. The number of times I’ve actually done it can be counted on the fingers of one finger (yes, just the once).

I’m sure the reason is fairly simple, and all about expectations. I put a mental finishing tape by the back door of the house and once I get there the incentive to go further is very weak.

I experienced the same thing with the bike back in 2017. The group that runs everesting also offers the ‘High Rouleur’ challenge for 10,000m of climbing. I went into it intending to do an everest and perhaps go on for the further challenge if it was going OK. Once I got to the everest ‘finishing line’ I’m not even sure I thought about carrying on.

Admittedly, it was after 3am and I had been riding for 18 hours in the previous 22 – but even with the state of my backside from the carbon fibre saddle, I think I could have done it if I’d been committed to that as being the main aim of the exercise.

On Tuesday I ran with my wife, having decided that I was going to do our usual 6.2km (just under 4mile) run followed by another loop. Not putting up the mental finishing line at the house made it much easier to carry on to do a total of 12km (7.5m).

Some weeks ago I was told by a neighbour that she had seen rooks getting into one of the loft spaces in our house. We could hear the din the birds were making and on the roof there was a pile of twigs they couldn’t get through the broken tile. We weren’t too happy to host them but had resigned ourselves to their presence for a while – we wouldn’t interfere with breeding birds.

Then it all went quiet about three weeks ago and there have, clearly, been no comings or goings. We have a chap who can fix the tile so I crawled along the eaves and went into the loft space to clear out the nest. The picture shows what I found – nothing that really looked like a nest – it was more like the mountain Richard Dreyfus builds out of mashed potato in Close Encounters, but so much bigger. To give an idea of scale, the loft space has over six feet of headroom.

It took a couple of hours of hard, hot, work to clear it. That just two birds could scavenge for all those twigs (not to mention the moss and dried horse manure that was also there) is remarkable. It’s a real shame that the breeding attempt failed – I assume they know when the eggs should be laid and give up if they fail to produce any, or perhaps one of the pair was killed?

Slightly irrelevant postscript … I never saw them but I think they were jackdaws, not rooks.

I finally pressed the button on the purchase of new, deep section carbon wheels for the bike … and new tyres … and tubes (remembering to get the long valves) … and a new cassette … and a chain.

Rather pathetically, I struggled for quite a time over this – I have too many material things and this is not exactly (or at all) in line with my general approach of trying just to buy things I need, rather than getting new things that I want.

In the end I justified it (to myself anyway) on the basis that my father would have been happy to see me using a little of his money on something I was likely to get a lot of pleasure out of.

I know – it’s a pretty thin justification but it’s still quite exciting.

Interesting things so far this week

1. Police have removed a sexual assault appeal from its website and social media accounts. It asked for help to find a man who kissed a woman on the cheek to thank her for helping him when his lorry became stuck under a bridge in Matlock.

I struggle here – unwanted sexual contact or approaches are, clearly, wrong and unacceptable… but a kiss on the cheek to say thank you? Not great social distancing – but a sexual assault?

2. Stilton sales plunge 30% amid pandemic

I wonder why Stilton particularly. Personally, I think blue cheese is the work of the devil, but I’d still be sorry to see a traditional UK product threatened.

3. The top-flight South Korean football side, FC Seoul, has apologised after fans accused it of using sex dolls to populate some of the stands in the empty stadium. The club insisted they were “premium mannequins” rather than sex dolls – but did admit they came from a supplier that produces sex toys.

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