Monthly Archives: October 2021

Turbo, run (hill reps), swim, gym, run (hoverbikes and custody of the dog)

Autumn arrives – interestingly, in late October 2018 the tree had barely a leaf left on it

My legs and back were in reasonable shape on Monday after seven exercise sessions last week, but I gave everything a bit more of a rest by getting on the turbo later in the day – 45 minutes @ 27.7kph (17.2mph).

I was thinking about my run in London last Saturday which (although not fast) was faster than anything I’ve done recently and I have a bit of a theory.

I don’t know if this is typical but when running alone I seem to have two natural speeds. One is my ‘standard’ speed – the speed I fall into without really thinking about it (it happens to be about 6 minutes/km). The other is my ‘feeling sorry for myself’ slog which is about 30 seconds per km slower and cuts in if I’m not feeling the love for running, if I’m tired, or if I’m doing a much longer distance than normal.

There is a third speed but it’s less natural than the other two – it needs a positive decision to go for it and push harder, and that’s what I did on Saturday. It also seems that I need to try to run at the faster pace from the start – if I begin at my more normal pace my mind seems more than happy to accept that I’m running as fast as I can and resists any thought of speeding up.

It would be great to take 15 seconds/km off each speed. I don’t have any clear Idea as to how to do it but I anticipate that it will involve a good deal of discomfort.

On Tuesday I did the same hill rep session as last week – 8 reps and, in all, a run of 8.5km with a total of 263m of height gain. I don’t think that speed is an important factor with the hills but it was a little faster (1 hour compared to last week’s 1:03).

I decided to clear some gutters on Wednesday but, as is so often the case, one job led to another when I discovered a wasps’ nest under the roof tiles. I’ve dealt with that – but at the personal cost of two or three stings to my neck as a wasp got caught in my fleece. Not the most grievous of injuries but one I could have done without.

Realising that I was not keeping up with my aim of a weekly swim, I got to the pool in the evening. I always aim to swim at least 1,000m but that usually means that I only swim 1,000m. I had an entire lane to myself for the whole swim and, in spite of my puncture wounds, I remained watertight and managed to push on to 1,500m.

I sat in a long digital queue on Thursday but still failed to secure Adele tickets for my wife. That’s another hour of my life I won’t get back. I then cleared the remaining gutters – a heaped wheelbarrow full of leaves and moss. I felt pretty good and would have liked to have done some sort of exercise – but after 10 straight days with some activity I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and took a rest day.

Gym and bike shop, as ever, on Friday morning. I felt very heavy legged on Saturday so was perfectly happy that the morning run was thwarted by rain. My legs didn’t improve but the weather did, so I ran in the afternoon – 7.2km (4.5 miles).

Much of the rest of the day was spent preparing for some friends coming for supper and proof-reading our younger son’s first post-grad course essay. I don’t mind proof-reading for him – especially as my lack of knowledge of the subject removes any temptation to offer criticism on the content.

Sunday was exceptionally wet early on so running was off the agenda – but that was a good thing after an excellent supper on Saturday. The week will finish with what is certain to be a delightful evening with friends for the first Schitt’s Creek episode.

Five exercise sessions in the week was probably better judged than last week’s 7 and getting back in the pool was a plus in terms of trying to keep the swimming going over the winter. I do feel that I’m creaking a bit and wonder if that’s the effect of the hour of hill reps – it’s a hard session.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt

2. BBC News website: Migrating birds spending longer in Europe

A study by Durham University found a number of trans-Saharan migratory birds are spending up to 60 days longer in Europe, possibly due to climate change. The changes could lead to longer breeding seasons for these species, as well as knock-on effects on others, both here in the UK and in the traditional winter migration destinations.

There could be increased competition for food in Europe during winter and autumn, while the loss of the birds in Africa would have “ecosystem implications” around insect consumption, seed dispersal and pollination.

3. BBC News website: Spanish court grants joint custody of dog

A judge in Spain has granted joint custody of a dog to a separated couple who went to court to determine who the pet (called Panda) should live with.

The Madrid court considered that both parties were “jointly responsible” and “co-caretakers” of Panda the dog. One of the lawyers involved said it was a “pioneering ruling” because her client was able to declare herself not as a “co-owner” of Panda but as “co-responsible” and as a “co-carer”.

4. BBC News website: Start-up launches £495,000 hoverbike in Japan

A Japanese start-up is hoping to convince motorists to swap their cars for a $680,000 (£495,000) hoverbike which is available for pre-order now.

It is claimed that the hoverbike can fly for 40 minutes at up to 100km/h (62mph) on a single charge and the company aims to have manufactured 200 single-rider 300kg (47-stone) hoverbikes by mid-2022. Each is equipped with a conventional engine and four battery-powered motors.

To me, it looks rather like a jet ski sitting on a giant drone

5. BBC News website: Facebook’s new name ridiculed by Hebrew speakers

Facebook’s announcement that it is changing its name to ‘Meta’ has caused a stir in Israel where the word sounds like the Hebrew word for “dead”.

Other translation issues have included:

  • When KFC arrived in China during the 80s, its motto “finger lickin’ good” was “eat your fingers off” in Mandarin.
  • Rolls-Royce changed the name of its Silver Mist car to Silver Shadow as mist can translate as “excrement” in German.
  • Nokia released its Lumia phone in 2011, but in Spanish dialects with heavy gypsy influence, Lumia is a synonym for a prostitute.

Run x5, turbo, gym, (plus hill reps and sterilised hippos)

Back to the Thames Path for Saturday’s run

The week started with a fairly gentle run with my wife. My back had coped well with the ride on Saturday so I wanted to see how it was with some running. A bit sore but the 5.8km (3.6 miles) went OK.

We ran again on Tuesday – this time I joined my wife doing hill reps for the first time in years. I know I should have done them in training for the 2019 Rotterdam Marathon and last year’s ultra – but I’ve been diligently protecting my dodgy Achilles tendons. Hill reps would be a great addition to my training for next year’s 100km ultra and it seemed worth trying now because the tendons are behaving pretty well. If I do aggravate them again, at least they’ve got plenty of time to rest and recover.

I’m not sure what a good hill for hill reps actually looks like, but the hill we chose involves a very steep climb of about 26m over around 200m, at an average of 13% (having written ‘13%’ I now understand why running up it was so hard).

I did 8 reps of a slightly longer segment incorporating the hill – in all a run of 8.5km with a total of 263m of height gain. Probably not the most sensible, gentle, introduction to hill reps but at least it should tell me whether my Achilles’ are up to training on hills.

On Wednesday morning the Achilles tendons were fine. I could feel the run in my quads (probably as much from the running downhill as up) but nothing beyond a reminder that I’d worked hard the previous day.

Every now and again a small glimmer of common sense breaks through my clouds of madness. Wednesday wasn’t one of those days so my wife and I went for a run (a gentle one, with no extra hills) in the morning, 7.2km (4.5 miles).

In the evening we went to the 60th birthday supper of the friend I rode with on Saturday. It was a terrific evening with great food, drink and company, which resulted in the start to Thursday morning being even slower than usual. I got on the turbo in the early evening, for another hard and hot 45 minutes @25.8kph (16mph).

A standard Friday morning saw me in the gym and then in the charity bike shop. I’ve been a bit underwhelmed with enjoyment of the gym recently but seemed to get a lot of that back in this session so there’s a big plus.

We drove up to London in the afternoon to see both sons for supper, which was excellent and we stayed up in London for the night. Staying in London means one thing if I’m lucky – a run in the morning. I ran to Hammersmith and then down the Thames Path to Craven Cottage and back – 7.26km at better than 5.30 per km, which is my fastest for some time. It was lovely.

I ran with my wife on Sunday – 7.2km (4.5 miles). The 7th straight day of exercise for me, probably too much but I’ve been enjoying it.

I think I’m now over my post-event slump. I guess it’s mainly just the passing of time but some exercise variety has helped and I’ve particularly enjoyed the ‘purposeful’ run West Kensington to Kingston-Upon-Thames, the birthday ride with friends, the hill rep session and the run in London. I also enjoyed the gym more than I have for a few weeks – I’ve switched to 4 sets of 10 reps instead of 3 sets of 12, a minor change but a change nevertheless.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Do not look where you fell. Look where you slipped

2. BBC News website: Colombia sterilises drug lord’s hippos

Paulo Escobar, who was shot dead by police in 1993, illegally imported exotic animals, including a male and a female hippo – dubbed the “cocaine hippos”. Since then, a growing population has been taking over the countryside near his former ranch, Hacienda Nápoles.

Colombian environmentalists say the hippos, believed to be the biggest herd outside Africa, are an invasive species and have pushed away the native fauna.

3. BBC News website: Spain’s Prime Minister pledges to criminalise prostitution

Prostitution was decriminalised in Spain in 1995 and in 2016 the UN estimated the country’s sex industry was worth €3.7bn (£3.1bn, $4.2bn). A 2009 survey found that up to one in three Spanish men had paid for sex.

The industry boomed since decriminalisation and it is estimated that around 300,000 women work as prostitutes in Spain. A 2011 UN study cited Spain as the third biggest centre for prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico.

As someone with no direct experience of the matter (!), this looks like a tough one. If criminalisation prevents exploitation, great. If it deprives women of a freely-chosen livelihood and drives prostitution underground, is that so good?

4. 96-year-old former Nazi concentration camp secretary appears in court

Between June 1943 and April 1945, the accused worked (starting at the age of 18) in the office of the camp commander. Prosecutors say she took dictation of the SS officer’s orders and handled his correspondence. She is charged with complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people at the camp in occupied Poland.

The prosecution follows a 2011 trial in which the judge said that regardless of how small a person’s role had been, as long as it could be proven they had been “cogs” in the “machinery of destruction”, they could be held responsible for the crimes committed.

Another really tough one. Without, for a moment, downplaying the horror of the holocaust, is it right, 76 years after the end of the war, to prosecute a 96 year-old who was a teenage secretary at the time?

5. True life – What’s in a name

For some time now we have been members of a group of 6 friends who meet regularly to host a supper party and watch one or two episodes of a current TV series. It’s a great format.

Most recently, we have worked our way through the 5 series of Peaky Blinders and have called our group ‘the Peakys’, simply taking the first word of the title of the show we are watching.

We have just decided that the next series will be Schitt’s Creek.

I think we may keep the name Peakys.

Turbo, run, turbo, wood stacking, gym, ride (now with added sprinkles)

Last ride this year with the carbon wheels? – just about got away with them on a slightly damp Saturday

After last Sunday’s cold swim, I discovered that the lake is host to an Olympic distance triathlon in September. If the dates fit, that can go with May’s sprint triathlon and July’s 100km ultra.

To celebrate (sort of) I got on the turbo for 45 minutes Monday evening. It felt much harder than it should have considering I managed only a 26.1kph (16.2mph) average.

I ran with my wife on Tuesday. The mornings now have a definite nip in the air so a compression top, hat and gloves made an appearance for the first time in months. Typical early Autumn running – chilly at the start but hot before half way round. It was 7.24km (4.5 miles) @6.13/km – bravo to my wife, she’s getting faster.

With the swim on Sunday and turbo on Monday, that’s another triathlon completed – who said three day eventing was only for horses?

Back to the turbo on Wednesday evening. It was even harder than Monday despite being even slower – 45 minutes at an average just under 26kph. It can’t be me, it must be the machinery ….

Thursday morning saw an unreasonably early start (for someone who prefers not to see anything before 8am) as I received a 2 cubic metre load of logs for the wood burners. Stacking that and cycling in and out from the garage, sorting out an MOT for another car, filled the day.

I started out bending over to pick up logs, carrying them to the log store and stacking them – using a terrible lifting technique. Not long after I realised that I had broken my back, I worked out that kneeling and putting them in the wheelbarrow, wheeling them to the store and stacking them from the height of the barrow was a far superior method. I have patented it but licences are available for purchase, to help fund a new back.

By some miracle, the shattered vertebrae repaired themselves overnight and I woke with little more than a very stiff back. I decided to try the usual Friday and went to the gym followed by a stint in the charity cycle shop. Using machines rather than free weights – and with some care and no sit-ups – the gym was OK on my back. I had a bit of a scare in the afternoon until I remembered that I’d been eating beetroot.

A friend is celebrating a birthday in a few days time but asked me and a few others to join him in a birthday ride on Saturday. He’s pretty much a life-long cyclist and was the first person to come with me for a cycling trip to the alps way back in 2003.

He’s a very good cyclist so I was hoping the the others might dilute the general ability pool down to my level (but – with a dry weather forecast – I put the deep section carbon wheels back on, just in case).

In the end there were five of us – and four of the six who go out to the Alps each (normal) year. We had a delightful ride of 85km (53 miles) around the Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside, with coffee and lunch and nearly 900m (3,000 feet) of climbing.

Back not too bad – legs not so good. There is no doubt that running is not a complete training for cycling (and not the other way round either, in my experience).

On Sunday morning we had a pair of Roe deer in the garden, eating apples – if they stick to windfalls, we might be able to co-exist happily but if they start on the plants, we’ll be looking for ways to keep them out. I abandoned the planned run as the rain set in early on, but we drove up to London for a lovely lunch with our younger son, who is a month or so into his post-graduate teaching course.

Quite a week in many ways, decent exercise, back in the saddle outdoors, and a painful reminder not to take liberties with the heavy lifting.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If you want to know the end, look at the beginning

2. BBC News website: Bestselling biscuit binned over banned sprinkles row

A bakery has had to stop making one of its bestselling biscuits after being told it was topping the treats with illegal sprinkles. Trading Standards said the sprinkles contained a food colouring know as Erythrosine, which is only approved for use in the UK and EU in cocktail cherries and candied cherries.

This is what people want – a blog that is prepared to confront the really big issues and is liberally sprinkled with …… sprinkles

3. BBC News website: Privacy case won over smart doorbell and cameras

A judge has ruled that security cameras and a Ring doorbell installed in a house “unjustifiably invaded” the privacy of a neighbour. The Ring doorbell captured images of the claimant’s house and garden, while the shed camera covered almost the whole of her garden and her parking space.

The Judge found that audio data collected by cameras on a shed, in a driveway and on the Ring doorbell was processed unlawfully under data Protection legislation. “Personal data may be captured from people who are not even aware that the device is there, or that it records and processes audio and personal data,” she said in her judgement.

4. BBC News website: Eliud Kipchoge to race public in Paris 2024 event

Eliud Kipchoge will take on members of the public on 31 October in a running challenge to mark 1,000 days until the start of the Paris 2024 Games.

It will be a pursuit-style 5km race against 2,000 runners. With the field split into different groups based on ability, the challenge is to out-run Kipchoge, who will cover a longer distance and aim to catch up with the rest of the pack. Those who manage to hold off the 36-year-old will secure their entry for the mass participation marathon at Paris 2024.

It’s sobering to think that if I was running 5km I’d need him to be running over 10km to have any chance at all

5. BBC News website: Official wizard removed from payroll after 23 years service

Ian Brackenbury Channell, 88, was paid NZ$16,000 (£8,200; $11,280) a year to provide “acts of wizardry” and promote the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. However the city has now ended his contract, saying it is going in a more modern and diverse direction.

If he was a good wizard, I’d be nervous about sacking him

Run, run, run, gym, swim – navigational errors and cold water

Part of Lake 32 – the triangle with the yellow buoys is 200m and with the
blue buoys (far right and far left) is 400m

After a very wet week, Monday dawned cool, but dry and bright. I got out for a run – 7.6km (4.7miles) – and even found the motivation to add on a sizeable hill at the end.

I’m not over the exercise slump, but the fact that I was up for the hill must mean something. Tuesday was another nice early autumn day (but blowy) and I ran with my wife – a bit over 7.2km (4.5 miles).

My sister and brother-in-law called in on Wednesday as they passed by – we don’t get together very often so it was good to see them. After that we went in to Oxford to watch the new Bond film which was excellent escapist entertainment.

On Thursday I took a train to London, checked on our flat and then ran to our older son’s place in Kingston-upon-Thames to pick up the car he’d borrowed.

The start of the run was great, alongside the Thames, and even Putney High Street (usually a bit of a nightmare) was OK. That was followed by a long haul up to Putney Common, before the route runs up to a large roundabout where you join the A3.

As I approached the roundabout I spotted some running/cycle tracks so I used those to miss out the junction itself. It was a good idea but poorly executed. I joined the wrong road and ran on at 90 degrees to the correct route.

I realised I’d gone wrong after a few minutes of running downhill but I didn’t have the heart to retrace my steps so I decided to wing it – which had me running through Roehampton. It also meant more running through Richmond Park than I had intended (which was, admittedly, a bonus) but it added about 3.5km to the distance.

In all, over 15.5km (9.6 miles). It didn’t meet my ‘get back to running by doing shorter distances’ plan but it was most certainly a ‘useful’ run and I really enjoyed it – another example of how running a ‘journey’ from A to B so easily beats running circular routes.

I will admit to being a bit of a ‘weight weenie’ when it comes to running and cycling, so I didn’t take a rucksack or a change of clothes with me. Luckily, I drove back to Oxfordshire alone, gently steaming in the running kit.

Friday was the usual session at the gym followed by a stint taking care of the charity bike shop. When I got back I received an invitation to get a flu jab so I signed up and went to get it on Saturday morning. I’m not very worried about influenza but I wouldn’t want to be a burden on the health service if I did get it.

On Sunday I managed to surprise myself. It’s getting harder to do that after 66 years but the friend I did the triathlon with had suggested that we try out a different lake at the water park we have been going to this summer. Despite the fact that I’d mentally put away all thoughts of outdoor swimming for the year, I agreed and we drove over on Sunday morning.

Considering that the two lakes are within 2 miles of each other and look much the same from their websites, this one felt quite different from the one we’ve used before. Lake 86 felt more like somewhere people go to train for open water swimming events – this one was more like a place to go for some sociable open water swimming. I guess there were 100 people in the water during the hour we were there, most of them women and mostly – to their credit and my (wetsuited) shame – just in swimsuits.

The water was around 16℃ (60℉) – as cold as we’ve had for any swim this year. We swam 1km – I don’t know if it was simply the cold or not having swum for over 3 weeks, but I found it pretty hard going. Despite that, the sense of satisfaction for having done it was huge, and the restorative powers of coffee and a bacon roll were magnificent.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra worries and plans)

I could feel Thursday’s run in my Achilles tendons and left knee on Friday. Even though the ultra is 9 months away, I suspect that it’s going to be a balance between doing enough training to get through it, and not so much that I injure myself. ‘Twas ever thus.

One thing to remember is that, if I’m going to injure myself – like I did before this year’s 50km race – I should do it early enough to have the necessary break and still have time to get back to a bit of training before the run.

Interesting stuff this week

!. African wise words: Examine what is said, not who is speaking

I agree with this but, although I don’t want to question African wise words, I could also make a case for ‘Examine who is speaking, not what is said’

2. BBC News website: UK start-up makes one of the world’s smallest quantum computers

Most of the major players in this field use an approach involving freezing qubits down to near absolute zero which means large machines with costly infrastructure around them. The new computer is not cryogenically cooled and uses single photons – single units of light – which don’t interfere with the outside environment.

The new four-qubit machine has about the same power as a thermostat or an Apple watch and scaling up is likely to be a major challenge.

One of those cases where (qubits aside) I understand all the words individually but start to flounder when they are put into sentences

3. BBC News website: Nails, screws and knives removed from man’s stomach

A Lithuanian man has had more than a kilogram of nails, screws, nuts and knives removed from his stomach by doctors, local media report. Some of the objects retrieved during surgery were 10cm (4in) long.

He had been swallowing metal objects for a month after quitting alcohol, doctors said.

4. BBC News website: 26 Korean words added to Oxford English Dictionary

Through shows like Squid Game or listening to BTS hits many have had some kind of Korean influence in their life. That South Korean influence has reached the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as the “accepted authority on the English language” has added 26 new words of Korean origin to its latest edition.

They include banchan, bulgogi, kimbap, hallyu, K-drama, manhwa, and mukbang.

and, no, I have not seen the Squid Game, have only heard of BTS in passing and don’t know any of the new words

5. BBC News website: Daniel Craig gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star

Daniel Craig has capped the launch week of his final James Bond movie by becoming the 2,704th celebrity to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California. It was unveiled outside 7007 Hollywood Boulevard, in honour of the fictional British spy’s code number.

Stars on the Walk of Fame are awarded each year by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, chosen from hundreds of applications. Recipients pay a sponsorship fee of $50,000, which covers the creation and installation of their star, and the maintenance of the entire attraction.

I suppose if you’ve ‘made it’ sufficiently to get the star, the $50,000 is not much of an issue

Turbo, ride (short), run, gym, turbo (2022 100km ultra: entered)

After driving back to Oxfordshire we spent much of the rest of Tuesday catching up in general and doing washing. It was chilly and rained heavily – autumn might be here.

One of the chores was to swap over the bike’s carbon deep profile wheels for a slightly more modest pair which will be better suited to the coming weather. I should have done it before going up to the Lakes – the ride on Saturday reminded me that carbon rims (rightly) have a poor reputation for braking in the wet.

From comments, discussions and research, it seems that post challenge slump is ‘a thing’ and is fairly common. The ways to address it are extremely varied and appear to include:

  • the cerebral (book assisted analysis as to why we run and how to bring back the fun)
  • the visceral (sitting yourself down and giving yourself a good talking to)
  • the masochistic (sign up for another challenge).

I was lucky that last week’s trip to the Lakes was part of a biannual (Covid aside) series of trips with the group of three couples to the Lakes and either Bournemouth or the Alps – the main purpose of which (other than spending time with really nice people) is cycling and walking in the hills and mountains.

That meant the exercise required no real thought on my part, but I think my approach to the slump will now be to try to make the exercise slightly shorter and/or ‘useful’.

I took a car in for a service and MOT on Wednesday, driving carefully as we are in the midst of a fuel shortage. The fuel is available at the depots but it isn’t reaching the pumps as there are insufficient HGV drivers, partly through Covid and partly the loss of drivers who were EU nationals, due to Brexit.

Still not having rediscovered my exercise mojo, I got back on the turbo for a lacklustre 45 minutes @ 27kph (16.7mph) in the afternoon before cycling in to collect the car – useful exercise!

I managed to get some fuel – oh, the joy of a full tank (actually, a bit short of a half full tank as they were limiting it to £30 per customer).

Another car needed its MOT and a service on Thursday so I decided to run back (more useful exercise) – about 5.9km (3.6 miles) in 33 minutes. I’ll say it quietly – but I quite enjoyed the run.

Friday was the usual gym session first thing (but a few minutes shorter than normal) followed by my weekly stint at the charity bike shop. I decided to run on Saturday and was even looking forward to it – but it was chilly (below 10℃ – 50℉) and was raining solidly. I realised I wasn’t looking forward to the run that much, so I used the turbo instead (a ridiculously hard 45 minutes @26.7kph – 16.6mph).

Friends over for Sunday lunch finishes another week – one that also marked the end of the domestic cricket season, which is always a slightly sad occasion.

To celebrate cricket generally, I thought I’d share one of my favourite bits of commentary from the 1966 Lord’s Test between England v W Indies. A very fast Wes Hall delivery, the penultimate ball of the over, struck batsman Basil d’Oliviera an awful blow in ‘the groin’. He collapsed at the crease and, as play was eventually about to resume, the commentator came up with, “Yes, d’Oliviera ready to face Hall…. one ball remaining”.

In confirmation of my general lunacy, in addition to the sprint triathlon in May, I have now signed up for the ‘Race to the Stones’ 100km trail ultra marathon for next July. I did the 50km second day of the race this year so 100km is only double that … how hard can it be (a rhetorical question only).

Great respect to everyone running in today’s London Marathon – what a great event … and yes, I’ve just entered the ballot for a place next year.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Restless feet might walk you into a snake pit

2. BBC News website: ‘Missing’ man joins search party looking for himself

Beyhan Mutlu had been drinking with friends on Tuesday when he wandered into a forest in Bursa province (Turkey). When he failed to return, his wife and friends alerted local authorities and a search party was sent out.

Mr Mutlu stumbled across the search party and decided to join them, but when members of the search party began calling out his name, he replied: “I am here.”

He was taken aside by one of the rescue workers to give a statement. “Don’t punish me too harshly, officer. My father will kill me,” he reportedly told them.

3. BBC News website: GB number plate sticker no longer valid abroad

British motorists driving outside the UK must now remove old-style GB stickers or cover them up. Instead they should display a UK sticker or have the UK identifier on their number plate.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Changing the national identifier from GB to UK symbolises our unity as a nation and is part of a wider move towards using the UK signifier across government.”

Getting to the heart of the really important issues of the day

4. BBC News website: Mortar tanker tailed by drivers looking for petrol

A tanker driver was tailed by about 20 drivers who were dismayed to discover he was not transporting petrol.

He was transporting 44 tonnes of mortar to a building site in Northamptonshire and when he reached his destination, he saw a line of traffic backed up behind him.

The tanker driver said “The man at the front wound down his window and asked me which petrol station I was going to,” he actually said “You could have stopped and told us you weren’t a petrol tanker”.

5. BBC News website: Nazi Stutthof camp secretary flees as German trial starts

96 year old Irmgard Furchner, was due to stand trial in northern Germany on Thursday for complicity in 11,000 murders. She had worked as a typist in the office of the Stutthof concentration camp commandant and was said to have known key details of what went on at the camp. During a 1954 trial she revealed how the commandant had dictated messages to her but claimed she knew nothing of the Nazi murders at the camp.

However, just before the trial she disappeared after taking a taxi from her nursing home and then, it is thought, taking an underground train to a station on the outskirts of Hamburg.

In no way belittling the gravity of the charges or the horror of the camps, the idea of a 96 year old ‘on the run’ is bizarre. She was later caught in Hamburg.

6. BBC News website: Bone marrow recipient runs marathon with life-saving donor

Vicky Lawrence was born in 2000 – the year Elliott Brock signed up as a bone marrow donor. In 2008, Vicky’s parents became concerned when their usually very active eight-year-old began to feel tired all the time.

When she was eventually diagnosed with aplastic anaemia – doctors told them that if she had not been brought in she would have died within a month. Elliott donated the bone marrow that kept Vicky alive and on Sunday the pair will run the London marathon to raise money for Anthony Nolan, the charity that brought them together.

Something good among the doom and gloom