Category Archives: sloe gin

Gym (x2), run (x3), dig (x2), turbo, (sloes: picking and gin making) – and an important question

Sloe season – this year’s seem smaller but it feels like there are at least five times as many

Monday’s lunch with friends turned out to be excellent, but rather larger and longer than I’d expected so I ducked out of the evening’s planned turbo session and booked the gym for Tuesday morning.

As the second wave of the virus hits the UK, we are in an area rated in the lowest of the three risk categories so we are subject to the rules in place nationally, but not any stricter local rules. Being retired, our restrictions are mainly about limiting indoor social groups to six, observing social distancing, wearing a face mask in shops and some restrictions in restaurants.

No big deal for us but I do feel for the majority who have job and family worries and those in high risk areas who are subject to stricter local measures. No matter where you stand on the face mask/lockdown/personal freedom debates, please be careful and stay safe out there.

The gym was good – still lightly used and well disciplined in cleanliness and disinfecting. Gyms in the highest Covid risk areas are having to shut from Wednesday but I intend to keep going for as long as I am allowed. For me, the small increase in my infection risk is outweighed by the health benefits and enjoyment factor.

The biggest drawback at the moment is that it is extremely cold in the gym. They can’t use the air conditioning so they have all the windows and doors open – and the heating is off for good economic and environmental reasons.

I’m now working out with a compression top under the normal top, long running trousers and wearing gloves. It would probably be OK if I was there to use the cardio machines – or perhaps I’m just not working hard enough.

A run with my wife on Wednesday morning – our usual 7km (3.4m) route. Chilly and breezy but dry and with some weak autumn sunshine. I had thought I might use the turbo in the evening but ended up doing some digging in the garden which felt like a more than adequate substitute.

I did more of the same on Thursday – it was hard work and it does occur to me that I could save the money spent on the gym if I had a ‘proper’ manual job (or, indeed, any job would be a start, I suppose).

Anyway, I did manage to get on the turbo afterwards – 45 minutes @31.6kph (19.6mph). Quite a step up from the 29.9kph last week and very hard indeed. I can’t calibrate using the turbo against riding on the road – but I do know that it is harder.

Gym on Friday, wrapped up warmly, and more gardening. On Saturday we ran one of the short routes – 5.5km (3.4m) – followed by my annual ritual of sloe picking. They don’t seem quite as big as recent years but the local crop is huge. I picked 5kg of sloes (11 pounds) – this year they are about the size of a blueberry so that’s a lot of sloes.

Laps of the old hill fort on Sunday morning for 8.2km (just over 5 miles). I’m sure the Garmin is under-recording laps which are beneath a pretty dense tree canopy – it will be interesting to see if it changes once the leaves have fallen. Then into sloe gin production – 5 litres (nearly 9 pints) so the family looks destined for ample supplies through 2021 (and beyond).

The day’s big issue

I have a question – while I see the benefit of most running-specific kit, is there any point in running socks? I exclude the ‘5 finger’ socks for use with the Vibram shoes but otherwise are running socks worth the trouble?

The ‘foot specific’ bit and the thicker bits of material in ‘key’ places seems impressive but is it really just a gimmick? I’ve been running in cheap sports socks for a while now (the sort you buy for little money in packs of 5) and I can’t tell the difference. I’ve always worn ‘proper’ socks for marathons, without ever really thinking about it – perhaps they just come into their own for long runs?

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who touches the leopard’s testicles must be ready to face its fury

I wonder why leopards in particular. I guess that someone, somewhere, is doing PhD research on the comparative responses of different species to having their testicles tickled.

2. Giro d’Italia: Mitchelton-Scott & Jumbo-Visma withdraw after positive Covid results

The Giro d’Italia appears to be in danger of unravelling as the Jumbo-Visma and Mitchelton-Scott teams withdrew from the Giro d’Italia before Wednesday’s stage after six positive results in the latest round of Covid-19 testing. There are nearly two weeks remaining of this delayed Grand Tour, but the first rest day’s coronavirus testing proves Covid 19 is now in the race ‘bubble’.

So sad, not only for those having to withdraw, but for the race itself.

3. BBC News website: 85 year old runner sets mile record

An 85-year-old runner has set a new record for his age group in the mile, recording a time of eight minutes 10.40 seconds.

Bravo sir

Life in the sloe lane


Sloes – the fruit of the Blackthorn bush. Inedible by themselves but transformed by gin and sugar

After entering the Rotterdam marathon on Thursday, Friday saw my regular run to the gym and back with a friend, and 30 mins weights. Only 4.7km (3 miles) but done at just under 4 hour marathon pace so some encouragement there.

I took Saturday off from exercise but went sloe picking. It looks like a great year for sloes after the hot summer and they were certainly ready, even though it’s at least a week or two earlier than I’d normally pick them.

I have about five or six places I can go for sloe picking – in a bad year I’d have to go to all of them to collect enough – but this year from just the smallest I’ve got enough to make 5 litres of sloe gin and put some in the freezer as a hedge against a poor year for sloes in 2019.

I have high hopes for the current batch which is great as a replacement for a glass of port after a meal – but, in as my late mother-in-law used to tell the children, is definitely ‘sippers, not gulpers’.

In an orgy of country pursuits, Mrs O also made huge amounts of apple chutney. Our sons are likely to account for the consumption of much of the sloe gin and the chutney.

Ironically, I’ve run less this week having signed up for the marathon than I have in recent weeks. It’s an attempt to finally sort out the ‘tendons which must not be named’ which are improving but not quite back to normal.

I’m planning to do a 20 week diy marathon training programme so I have about 6 weeks before that starts. Do I take advantage of that and start training now, or will doing too much now mean I peak too early (assuming I do actually reach anything that looks like a peak) or generally burn myself out?

Good sense says take it easy to reach the start of the 20 weeks in decent shape – both in fitness and absence of injury.

On Sunday I did a turbo session, 26km (16 miles) in 30 minutes, with a maximum speed of 80.5kph (50mph). So much for good sense.

So, this week, 14.4km (9 miles) running, 115km (71.4 miles) on the turbo and a weights session.

Congratulations to Alejandro Valverde and Anna van der Breggen on their World Road Race titles and Europe in the Ryder Cup Рgreat sport.