It feels positively warm back in the UK after our short break in Iceland but its not long before we pack our bags and drive down to Weston Super Mare to see my relatives from my mums side. We enjoy a fun evening with some of my cousins Tracy, Michelle, Angela and Debra and catch up on old times. One of the reasons for the visit is to try and gather information as Charles and I are working on a new project exploring my mothers family history. Skeletons are quickly escaping from the cupboard and I can feel a book in the making. Plans are afoot for a Cousins Abroad Trip to Ireland to visit our grandmothers family.Our diary for February and March is soon filling up with the usual appointments, volunteering as receptionist at Tadcaster swimming pool, helping with the grand kids and also catching up with family and friends. Simon and I run the Pocklington Snake Lane 10 mile race with me completing it in 1hr 28min 50secs and the following week Charles and I travel to London to stay with Daniel and Jonathan where I run the very first Vitality London Half Marathon in a respectable 1 hr 56 minutes the route forms part of the actual marathon so I get a taste of what to expect next month.
We enjoy a very nice lunch with the boys before taking the train back to Yorkshire – unfortunately before I have time to enjoy a delicious looking desert !! (get it another day though)
We arrange to meet Debbie and Kev in Stratford upon Avon as it’s about half way between both our homes. We have a lovely catch up and it is so nice to see them both but the weather is not great so we don’t linger the next morning and head off north.
In between the above activities; arrangements are made for the Ireland trip so on the 15th March I take a flight to Dublin from Leeds Bradford Airport and Tracy, Angela and Debra take a flight from Bristol conveniently all arriving within 15 minutes of each other. As Angela only drives automatics, Tracy has no sense of direction and Debra only likes to drive on straight roads I become the designated driver and we set off for a two to three hour drive to Waterford. Its a first for us all so we are feeling very excited about our trip and meeting new relatives.
On Thursday evening we meet up with Grans nephew and nieces; John and his wife Patricia, Esther, Josie, Anna and her husband Richard and also Babs who was married to Tommy who sadly died in the early 2000’s and I spent much of the evening scribbling down as much information as possible. I was quite amazed how much Richard knows but have to admit I quickly get confused as to how everyone is linked and from which family but it is a lot of fun and the whole Irish contingency are amazingly friendly and interesting. We are also treated to some authentic Irish music and even get up for a jig or two. The locals are amused by our misunderstanding of the lyrics from one song which sounded very much like swearing!!
On Friday we are guided by Richard who takes us around Mooncoin showing us Grans childhood home; a small two roomed cottage for a family of 11???? as her father was the railway gate keeper and was required to open the gates whenever a vehicle turned up and beep his/her horn no matter what time of day or night. Water for washing was obtained by walking to a nearby farm only to have to carry the water back and the children had to walk about 2 miles to get to and from school. I also learnt that my mum who was born in Somerset spent some years in Mooncoin and attended school there.
We visit the school and church they all attended and it is quite an emotional experience. Richard and Anna treat us to a lovely lunch before we go to see John and Patricia who have gathered their two daughters and their children for us to meet before enjoying another lovely tea time treat.
Coincidently it is St Patricks Weekend and the Six Nations Rugby Final between Ireland and England so on Saturday after watching the parade we find ourselves a busy pub in Waterford to settle down to watch the match.
We try and blend in but give ourselves away when England scores – not that our exuberance lasts as we impressively lose and receive commiserations from the locals. In the evening we meet up with Richard and Anna for a meal as we watch a snow storm outside and wonder if we will get out in the morning.
Sunday morning arrives and there is still a lot of snow around and it continues to fall but we set off and find the motorway has only one lane useable but we arrive in Dublin safe and sound and I’m pleased to get rid of the car. We take a look around the city and then Tracy and I head off to find the Guinness Factory where we spend a brilliant few hours learning about how the nector is made, how to pour it and more importantly how to drink it. After listening and jigging to an Irish band for a bit we go to the top of the building and enjoy a panoramic view of Dublin city.
Debra and Angela decide to have an early night but Tracy and I find a pub near to the hotel which at first we think is going to be dead but find a band playing, Irish dancers dancing and is crammed with customers so the atmosphere is amazing – what a great way to complete our short visit to Ireland and on Monday the 19th March we fly home – will definitely be back though as I don’t think I have ever met such friendly people.
There is no rest for the wicked as on Wednesday the 21st I pack up again as Charles and I drive to Hull to take the ferry to Zeebrugge for an overnight crossing and a long drive to Roanne where we de-winterise the boat. It actually doesn’t take long to complete all the jobs so we enjoy some walking and of course running and catching up with other boaters. We are only here for a week and amend our plans by leaving a day early to visit Charles and Pam on Xenia who have wintered in Auxerre. Whilst its great to see them before they return together with their boat back to the UK – its also a great opportunity to make a little detour to Bailly Cave where we stock up on bubbles which we had discovered during our first year in France. We have booked into a little B & B which is a short but very steep walk from our friends mooring which I insist is good for us.
We arrive back into the UK on Wednesday the 28th in time for the Easter weekend. We enjoy a catch up with Lynn, Martin, Leigh and Scott together with their kids in Leeds on Saturday, then its to Stokesley to see Damien and Sarah on Monday. Then off to celebrate Simons birthday on Tuesday.On Saturday 7th April Charles, Simon, Louie-Jack and I drive across to Manchester so Simon and I can enjoy the indoor ski-dive experience. I have to admit that as I’m afraid of heights I am rather nervous but embrace the challenge and absolutely love it – paying for an addition trip. Simon also enjoyed it and we both agree that we now want to do the real thing.On Sunday the 15th April I run the Vale of York 10 miler which was suppose to be a steady pre marathon run but I enjoyed it so much I completed it in 1:25:27.
On Friday the 20th Charles and I take the train to London where I pick up my bib for the Virgin London Marathon. I am very excited and feeling confident as I have put so much into my training over the past few months. Laura, Matthew and Helen arrive in the evening to our Airbnb together with Daniel and Jonathan. Great timing too as J’s mum Joni is also spending the weekend in London.On Saturday we wander around the Primrose Hill farmers market before finding a pub garden to settle down in. The weather has taken a turn which normally I would relish in however I’m not looking forward to running in 24 to 25 degrees tomorrow. I am receiving a rush of messages from the marathon organisers with advise on running in heat. In addition I have a niggle to my ankle so my confidence in getting a PB is slipping slightly.
Sunday arrives and the adrenalin is pumping. The tube is cram packed with vest and shorts cladded runners all checking each others bibs to ascertain speed and ability – no-ones competitive you understand!!
I’m in the Green area (the others are Red and Blue) but on arrival I have to say goodbye to Charles as only runners are allowed in but I quickly engage in conversation with other runners and before I know it I’m over the start line and am actually running the London Marathon – wow!!! this is so exhilarating.
It is a hot one so I start running with Andy the 4.15 hour pacer and find the pace comfortable. I need to take on more water than usual but by the half marathon stage am feeling okay. Its a huge boost hearing Daniel yelling my name and look around to see the family encouraging me on around 14 miles – don’t know why it makes me cry though. By 16 miles the heat is effecting me and I find it very upsetting seeing so many runners collapsing on the side of the road and being given oxygen or just trying to get their breath back so I slow down as I really want to cross that finish line no matter what time it may be.
I get to see the family again very briefly at around the 22 mile mark and know I can make it. The crowds are amazing, really amazing and I don’t think I would have kept going if it wasn’t for all the support and encouragement. Suddenly I see Buckingham Palace and I get a burst of energy to get me running up The Mall and all that hard work is so worth it as I cross the finish line in 4:25:56 – certainly not my best time but under the circumstances acceptable. My legs are a bit wobbly but a long energy drink and a bar of chocolate does wonders and its not too long before I’m re-united with the family.
After a quick shower at Daniel and Jonathans place we walk or rather hobble down to The Washington where I am greeted with an applause from the whole pub and a very welcoming glass of champagne – A very memorable weekend so enhanced by having the family with me.