the fox and badger

the fox and badger

This one isn't really that much about running, if you're interested in the running it's all up on Strava. It's mostly about animals. and litter. and signposts.


Oh. It's not about a pub either.

I had two early runs planned for the weekend to back to back some training. I'm in the habit of waking early so it makes sense to try to make as early a start as possible to try to still have family time and the chance to get normal stuff done too.

day one

Saturday morning was cold, the dashboard said -2c in the garage. I'm sitting in the car wearing my running kit, a thick hoodie, and a coat. gloves. hat. and buff. taking no chances here.
I open the door and pull out, decide I've just got enough room to clear the right gatepost (I've only just replaced the left one after my last misjudgement) anyway I clear it this time and head off.

the fox

Just along the road I saw something shiny flash off the headlights (did I mention it was just after 5am and dark?), I slow down and strain to make it out. I see it moving erratically and I think it might be a reflective collar on a pet or something. As I pull closer I can see it's actually some animal stuck with a large Doritos bag over it's entire head, popping on the hazard lights and getting out, the bushy tail of a fox is unmistakable. I expected it to dart off when it heard me but it's clearly dazed and confused and meandering around in the middle of the road. So I approach and move to carefully snatch the bag off, prepared to be faced with an angry and distressed sharp toothed animal.
Once I whip it off, I'm relieved that the very elegant fox I've now revealed doesn't try to bite, but slowly moves to the side of the road, looks very relieved, stops glances back and then nips off through a hedge.

What an excellent start to the day.

I continue on my way, taking care on a few icy corners, the tyres slipping a couple of times. However I now suddenly try to remember if I closed the garage door. I remember I was concentrating on the gatepost when I left and just can't remember. Is this senility. Already?
Oh well. I double back, nip past, confirm it was all indeed shut up and head off again once more. Albeit now a little late for the start of the day's run.

Parked up, got out, headed off. I'm suffering after a few miles with my "alternative" winter gloves - I'd lost my good ones after a bit of marshalling a few weeks back. I must order some new ones. The cold mist in the air has soaked into the gloves and frozen, I shake out the ice and adjusting my buff also find a coating of ice here from my breath.
Hopefully the sun will start to throw some warmth out soon.

The run goes to plan, I've chosen a flat out and back track, that I can run without distraction and do twice to get the distance I want.
On the way out I notice the odd item of litter, but as normal don't really think much about it.
I'm listening to an audiobook - a recent revelation after running out of podcasts and music library after so many recent long runs. The soothing sounds of a good narrator just chatting away are reassuring and help the miles fly by, but not so loud and distracting that I'm not enjoying or appreciating my environment.
The only possible downside I've found so far is listening to a moving book whilst tired and low on sugar... my threshold for bursting into tears is rather low.

the litter

On the return leg I'm suddenly angry about the litter on my trail. It's mainly plastic wrapping and crisp bags, but the mornings encounter with Mr Fox has made me decide this is unacceptable. I have a big side pocket on my rucksack so I start picking up each item and stuffing it in as I pass once back at the start I've got a small haul, not a huge amount but a few bits and pieces.
This cheers me up. 

I head back along for me second loop and I realise how just the odd brightly coloured item of litter makes such a difference to the look and feel of the track.

Anyway, along and back, the trail is starting to get a few early morning dog walkers and runners on it now. Everyone receives a cheery smile and hello, some ignore it, some say hello. The solitude and peace of the early hours is gone now.

day two

Sunday arrives. 5:30am arrives. The forecast was for an overcast day, so it's a bit warmer. The car is saying 2c today.
I pay more attention to whether I've closed up the garage. I forsee a future with little post-it-notes dotted about to remind me if I've put my socks on.

No early morning fox action today.
Just one early morning tailgater, it seems there's no need to stick to the speed limit through towns when it's really early in the morning, he blasts past at the earliest opportunity and vanishes into the distance.
Parking up again and heading off.
Today I've got alternative hand protection technology - windproof cycling gloves with a thermal inner glove, the air is still misty and chilly but the windproof layer seems to be making a difference.

the badger

After a few miles I suddenly realise that there's a large badger coming directly down the trail towards me. I stop and hope he hasn't spotted me as I try to extract my phone camera.
Rumbled. He nips sideways and starts trotting across a field, I aim the camera and fire off a few shots, hoping one catches him.... unfortunately it's still quite dim, and the camera appears to struggle when it's cold, so when I check the photos later they're useless. You can see a field, it's a bit blurry, there are multiple random brown splodges that could either be a badger, sasquatch, nessie, or proof of alien life.
A badger. Somewhere. In a field.
I decide this is my reward for yesterdays fox rescue.

I pass an early morning smoker, a young man standing outside a house, I wave. He smiles and says good morning.

After a few more miles my headphones start chirruping 'battery low' these are new headphones so I'm wondering is that meaning "10 minutes to go, 60 minutes to go, or recharge these in a day or two". 10 minutes later, my book of the day is prematurely terminated. So it's back to daydreaming and thinking. I actually start thinking about what I think about...
I seem to recall Michelle Pfeiffer was a frequent topic of thoughts in my early long runs many years ago. Mostly these days I'll ponder work, or the dark tangled mysteries of how my teenage son's mind work.
As I've been running and daydreaming the sun has risen and shines in through the trees, no doubt along with the steady drip feed of endorphines I'm feeling euphoric. I note with pleasure that there appears to be no fresh litter since yesterday.

not evil

As I run, I notice a distinctive sign post and decide that I'm going to take a few pictures today, as I snap I notice the writing on the side.
This is one of 1000 posts sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland to mark the national cycle network. I've noticed one or two of these posts before, but never thought much about them or taken a closer look.
Gosh.I work for the Royal Bank of Scotland. I had assumed (like most people) that we were pure evil and single handedly responsible for the downfall of the worlds financial system (not really Oliver, I love my job, I'm just playing to the crowd. promise), but here we are installing cycling network signs? How can I not have known about this? (A cursory search of the work intranet system later, and I can find no information at all or any posts about this initiative. I'm going to spend some time looking into this and updating the work Cycling group wiki with the details.)

I start snapping away each time I come across one. Including one that appears to be hauled into a works yard for maintenance.
Hopefully ready for repainting.

I'm briefly annoyed noting that the one point the disused railway line crosses a road, there's a huge sign warning walkers to look out for traffic, but no similar sign asking drivers to take care. I contemplate forming a Guerilla Crossing movement, sneaking out installing appropriate road signs and markings in places deficient....

I pass the same young smoker again (albeit now a couple of hours later) this time he's standing with his girlfriend also smoking. This time there's no acknowledgement or smile. People are fascinating.

I attempt to to take a snap of a cyclist wearing a T-Shirt with a heart on the back going underneath a bridge with a large heart graffiti-ed on the side, but it's also fuzzy and indistinct. Perhaps I need to run with a tripod and decent camera.

Into the last few miles I'm feeling relaxed and happy, it's been a glorious couple of days running. Nothing breathtaking or earth shattering, just a nice low level beauty to the world.

I expect tomorrow will suck. I'm cycling into London.


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