Sunday, June 24, 2007


Hay-on-Wye is a small, picturesque town on the Welsh side of the English Welsh border. It's only claim to fame is the astonishing amount of 36 secondhand and antiquarian bookshops in or near Hay. Once a year they have a festival festival in cooperation with The Guardian. The books were only one reason for me, self-confessed bookworm, to come to this remote place. The other reason was the proximity of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park. I had come to walk with a group of like-minded people, I had never met before in my life.

The hotel was not in Hay itself, but on the other side of the river Wye in a small village called Clyro. It's an interesting place, called Baskerville Hall. Arthur Conan Doyle, a friend of the family, stayed in the house many times and developed the plot for the hounds of the Baskerville novel there. The family had asked him not to set the novel in Wales "to ward off tourists".

If you are not interested in books or maps, Hay will not hold your attention for very long. It has a clocktower...

The picture is misleading reading the weather condidions, so here is another one:

... a ruined castle...

... and that's it.

The real beauty is in the surrounding countryside. The following pictures were taken on the first two of our walks. I have lost the itenary, so I cannot say exactly were we went. If I find it again, I will add information. It has to be somewhere, don't think I binned it. But you never know. I do many stupid things these days. On the third day, it was pouring down (I am now 100% sure that my jacket is waterproof and that my trousers aren't; I might just as well have jumped into the pool fully dressed) and I didn't feel like taking any pictures.

Wales has many many sheep...

This little church sits in the middle of fields, no village is close by. You can get to it only by walking over the meadows and scaring the sheep. It is still used at harvest time for thanksgiving.

The guide called this a roundabout. There are stone benches in the middle, so we had lunch.

Day 2 was a Wye valley walk, longer than day 1 but without acclivity.
According to our guide's map, this is another country hotel:

A baby robbin robin, very trusting or very curious. Its parents could be heard chirping frantically in the bushes. They clearly felt that it was getting too close to this herd of humans.

I learned Welsh for library, but missed the live rugby...

Apart from the sheep, there are many other creatures great and small living in these mountains:

My fellow English walkers called this lamb's skin, which is the translation of Arnica. And once you have touched it, you know it is a very fitting name. But isn't it supposed to have yellow flowers???

As I said, no pictures from day 3. We actually cut the route short, because of the rain.

I spent the last day in London and visited the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy. I could have bought a number of the pieces on display, but champagne taste, beer money. So I left empty handed. Celebrity spotting of the day: Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen standing right next to me, both of us checking our blackberries, a bizarre modern still life.

Drinks with collegues in the evening and one last try to have dinner at Govinda's. Closed again. I will give up. If Krishna does not want me to enjoy veggie delights cooked in his name, I will go elsewhere. Well, I did. I came back home.

Swindon and Hereford

I am back, which of course means I eventually made it to the UK. To start this blog with "I am back" kills the suspense, doesn't it? Did she make it? Was the Sunday morning flight cancelled too? Mmmh... I don't think any of you reading this blog more or less regularly have been chewing down their nails over the last couple of days wondering about these things. So I may just as well give it away immediately.

Sunday morning I got up early, took a taxi to the airport (paid by Lufthansa, who pointed out they were not obliged to pay, because the cause of the cancellation had been the weather, but they would anyway, because they are lovely caring people and service orientated) and boarded a plane to London. So far, so good. At Paddington I proceded to the ticket counter to buy a train ticket to Swindon. A really nice man (honestly, he was) smiled at me and said "Did you know, there are no trains to Swindon today? There are rail works and from Reading on there will be a bus service." Argh! Is it just me or do you also get the feeling that this trip wasn't going very well? Reading is about half way to Swindon and I had no other option than to take the train/bus connection. So I spent 1 hour squeezed in between the bus heating that was on full throttle (why?) and a rather large man. Had I been a steak, I would have been well done by the time I arrived in Swindon.

This is all I saw of the place:

C very quickly came to pick me up and we drove to Herefordshire in his rather posh and very comfortable car.

Lunch at "The Kettle Sings"...

... and a short climb up the surrounding hills...

My foot still in England but already facing towards Wales (I think):

Some sort of fair was going on in the valley below. We could hear loudspeaker announcements, but I didn't make out what it was exactly:

We climbed back down and drove on to a place where houses have names instead of numbers to see N & J. It was lovely to sit outside in their beautiful garden and enjoy freshly homemade scones and tea. Well, I did. C is on a diet and very bravely faced all the goodies, but only drank water.

In the evening, C dropped me off at my B&B in Hereford and I went for an evening walk through town, which has a cathedral and some nice half-timber houses:

The next morning I took the bus to Wales.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


I am home. What's so special about that? Well, earlier today I thought that right now I'd be in London enjoying a curry. But all flights to Heathrow this afternoon were cancelled due to bad weather conditions in England. I will be on the first flight tomorrow morning, which means that I will have to get up in the middle of the night. I am NOT happy!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Official time and splits

My official results for today's half-marathon have been published:

0-5k ~ 00:30:29
5-10k ~ 00:29:03
10-15k ~ 00:31:11
15-20k ~ 00:32:00
HM ~ 02:09:24


I ran a half-marathon today. The target time was 2:06:35, my Garmin Forerunner said 2:08:35 when I crossed the finish line. It was complaining about the battery going flat during the last 2k or so, so that may be slightly wrong, but the official time and splits have not been published yet. Anyway, the greatest achievement was that I made it to the start at all. I really did not feel like running and wanted to stay in bed. I have not trained for a week. Work is no fun at the moment and when I am in a bad mood, all I want to do is sit on the couch and cuddle the cat.

Talking about the cat... he is fine again. The vet called him a phenomena on Saturday. She clearly did not expect him to get well again. But he carries on regardless.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Another one

Mr Cat has decided to add yet another illness to the list of diseases he has or has had. This morning at 4:30 am he woke me up to inform me that he was not feeling well. By 5 am I was panicking, because he started to pass blood with his urine. At 5:30 am we arrived at the emergency vet's clinic. She was still half asleep (Mr Cat and myself were wide awake by then), but her diagnose was clear: cystitis. He got two shots, one against the infection, the other against the pain and burning sensation while peeing. Plus pills that he has to take for a week.

He seems to be doing better now, but is still not himself again. He has eaten, but only little. Mainly cheese. We will have a nap now to make up for the early start into the day. I hope the painkiller works for the rest of the day.

Whatever next?