Stow-on-the-Wold, United Kingdom
“Live to learn. Learn to live.”
The motto of the Lucy family, as carved on the fire mantle in the library at Charlecote house.
The morning started with parkrun. Mindful that the postcode was a ‘nearest’ one I thought the sat nav had taken me to a housing estate from which I’d need to walk to the start, but I looked up and there was a car park, and two dancing men with large foam hands waving me in. I’d not spotted signs to Sandy Lane, as the instructions had promised, but here I was, Congleton parkrun.
It’s a three lapper, which may not sound appealing, but this is the perfect example. First off, you’re running round the edge of a lake, so it’s beautiful. The lake itself is just about a mile round, so perfect for pacing, and ideal for a warm up and jog afterwards while milking the last applause-finally on my second cool down I got a smiling “I’m not applauding you, you’ve already finished”-and picking up a few more photo ops.
I was fairly sure I should take it easy, with a half tomorrow. But after a warm up my tired legs were ready, I started near the front, behind a man who had ‘set my garmin to exactly 6m/m pace’ and let the hares go whilst staying in touch. Ideal positioning for a chase, then, and that’s what I did, picking off some youngsters early, sitting on third’s shoulder halfway round the lap then heading off to hunt down second, catching him before the end of the first lap. That mile, I reasoned, was comfortably under 6; now for the others. First place was a youngster who had flown off at the start. He probably had more, I figured, but I pushed a little on the second lap, while he was out of sight, in case he was coming back to me. He did briefly, but always had a gap, though he finished in “a poor time” given the lack of a competitive push. I was happy with 18:22, without a full on effort.
After lounging on the sun for a while, stretching-can you lounge and stretch?-I headed off, south to an NT house near Warwick, Charlecote house. Again the M6 was a pain, closed near stoke with queues all around so I found my way cross country, not getting to the house till around 2. Lord, but it was hot, and the cool of the house was welcome. Along with the shrieking dreadful bloody woman giving the costume talk, there were some very friendly and talkative guides, the one in the dining room telling me all about the elaborately carved enormous piece in the room. The dining room itself is large but somehow intimate, as is the library. That room isn’t big by country house standards but is ranked no.3 by the trust for its contents. I liked the racing calendars, every one (I didn’t check, mind) from 1753 to 1854. It’s what I grew up with, the collectors’ mentality.
After looking at the carriage collection, very grand things, and listening to some kids screaming while pretending to be monsters, I ended the afternoon sitting by the car, listening to the cricket.
Stow on the Wold for my evening, a chocolate box Cotswolds town. One final thought-who the hell decided that such a hot day was a good day to advertise a pet shop sale-20% off-by dressing two people (at least) in furry costumes and putting them on local junctions? They were dancing, so I guess they had taken to it well.