August Canterbury – The Runners’ Tale

Pilgrimage noun – 

an important assignment given to a person or group of persons typically involving travel. A strongly felt aim, ambition or calling.

When that April with his sweet showers has pierced the drought of March unto the root and bathed every vein in such liquor that engenders the flowers, and when the West Wind Zephyrus with his sweet breath has inspired the tender crops in every grove and heath, and when the young Sun has run half his course in the sign of Aries the Ram, and small birds that sleep all the night with open eye do make melody (so does Nature prick them in their hearts); then do folk long to go on pilgrimages, and pilgrims for to seek strange strands, the shrines of distant saints in sundry lands; and specially from every shire’s end of England to Canterbury they wend, the holy blissful Martyr Saint Thomas à Beckett for to seek, he who has helped them when that they were sick.

By chance did they fall into fellowship, and pilgrims were they all, and toward Canterbury would they ride. 

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales: The New Translation by Gerald J. Davis (Kindle Locations 105-115). Insignia Publishing. Kindle Edition.

So Chaucer’s Pilgrims set off for Canterbury from Southwark in April – very sensible – a beautiful time of year to be leaving London and walking through the Kent countryside! Their aim – to worship at the shrine of Thomas a Beckett – murdered by supporters of the King on 29th December 1170 (my birthday by coincidence a few years later).  I wonder how long the journey (roughly 55 miles by my calculation) took them – rather longer than our 13.1 mile run on 28th August 2017.  But Gill and I head off for half marathon number 8 and so by the end of this day we will have run just over 105 miles – not a bad effort – further than the length of the South Downs Way (Winchester to Eastbourne).  A pilgrimage of sorts  And we are joined this fine day by Julie – journeying from Hythe to accompany us on this path…… lap eight in our twelve month mission…………..

In retrospect (and isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing) this is probably the half marathon that we were – in some unspoken way – dreading…………….  There had to be one – the one that was the toughest – that we were tempted to stop somewhere around the 8 or 9 mile mark – the one that makes you shake and wobble and hyperventilate.  If you’d asked me beforehand I’d probably have said it would be the Weald Challenge.  I was expecting that one to be hard.  But not Canterbury.  Although it was described as “challenging” – I’ve come to see that description (similar to undulating) as a bit of runner’s bravado.  Almost all the halves we have signed up for this year has attracted one or other of the labels along the way and we managed those alright.  So is this going to be any different?

As I’ve said before – there are not that many half marathons to sign up for in June, July and August (I now understand why not….) so Canterbury seemed a good option.  My thoughts were:

It’s local (reality – still 90 minutes away)

Canterbury is a nice city – with a Cathedral – we’ll see a few sights (reality – wasn’t really in Canterbury – we saw the Cathedral in the distance in our last mile or two)

August Bank Holiday Monday – its bound to be chilly and probably raining (reality – baking sunshine and 28 degrees C)

Kent – the Garden of England it must be flat (reality – don’t even go there)

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It was actually quite a relaxed start – 7.45am in the daylight compares favourably with some of those 6.15am (and dark and freezing) starts.  Slight panic when the satnav said it was going to take almost 2 hours to get there – but a re-route took half an hour off the time (phew!).  We arrive at the start and see Julie almost immediately – she’s a couple of minutes ahead of us – parking is somewhat chaotic and we are pleased to have arrived with 45 minutes to spare.  Momentary panic when we mislay Gill briefly (she’s behind a hedge removing certain items of clothing) and we are off to the portaloos before the start.  It’s hot.  I have brought my Paddock Wood sponge – which I position and fill with water.  Julie has followed suit.  And before we know it we are through the start and climbing…………………….

It’s funny – what goes up – must come down – but this race honestly didn’t feel like that.  It felt like it went up. And up. And up……..  And it got hot. and hotter. AND HOTTER!!  it was a very pretty race and the finish (which I confess did run back down one of the hills) did have lovely views over the city and the Cathedral.  It was my hardest, and slowest half marathon ever (trail half marathons excepted).  I started to walk at about 9 miles – something I don’t usually do – and then ran and faded – ran and faded……………  Something of a light moment along the way was the lady – stood outside her home with a bucket of water and a measuring jug – who caught Julie full in the face with a jug full.  Not quite what she was expecting…………………..

The water stations had plastic cups rather than bottles – I hope they were recycled – and at the end of the race they were running out of cups so filling up runner’s own bottles – surely a much more ecologically sound alternative.  There must be an answer to the plastic problem somewhere………………..

And we are done!  Number 8 out of 12 complete – the endorphins kick in and we sing our way home…………………..  Its a great medal – the closest we got to the cathedral……………………

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So here we are – two thirds of our way through this pilgrimage.  Thank you to Julie for joining us on this one – it is great to have fellow travellers along the way.  How are we feeling?  Well still going strong…………….. I think!  No longer racing – but pacing ourselves through the challenges.  A half marathon holds no real fears anymore – although I do wonder how I ever ran one 25 minutes faster – and only last year at that.  These regular long distances do take a different toll.

And the summer is definitely not the time to be covering this distance – so beginning to think about the autumn is exciting.  Come and join us at one of the following:

September – Barns Green

October – Tonbridge

November – Bedgebury – Trail half marathon

December – promises to be a bit of a treat………………………………………

Not really a running track this time but a lovely piece of music which is very much in keeping with the theme of a pilgrimage.  The Mission – film music by Ennio Morricone- enjoy!

Heathfield Road Runners C25K

Running makes you feel better.

That is where this blog started back in November 2016.

My newspaper, only this week, tells me that 40% of middle aged adults take less than 10 minutes brisk walk a month. This is despite the paper published in February 2015 by the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges – which examines the evidence and concludes that:

“Regular exercise can prevent dementia, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, heart disease and other common serious conditions – reducing the risk of each by at least 30%.  This is better than many drugs.”

I feel fairly passionate about this and increasingly committed to trying to help people get – and keep – moving.  But how to do it?  When I became a Run England mental health ambassador for Heathfield Road Runners – it was with some woolly notion of sharing this message.  The club has been very supportive of the role and many members have talked about their own reasons for running.  But to be honest I’ve not done a lot – raised a bit of awareness here and there – and not much more.  One of the problems is that I am preaching to the converted – they are a pretty healthy bunch the road runners – and non of them need telling that running is good for them.  The worst that can happen (and it does) is that they get injured and can’t run…………  Then the trouble starts!

But it’s not easy to join a running club – however friendly!  I have run for most of my life – so joining a club should be a breeze – but I remember turning up one freezing Thursday evening in February 2015 – new to Heathfield – new to the club and terrified!  “They’ll all know each other”, “they won’t want a new member”, “they’ll all be good runners”, “they’ll all be faster than me” (they were – it was a Thursday night – fast run night!).  We set off up a hill (well it is Heathfield) and I thought I might die………..  Everyone was lovely, and friendly (runners are very huggy people), and welcoming – but it took every ounce of grit and determination to ever go back.  Of course,  I’m glad I did.  I have learned to cope with the hills.  And found that the Monday group is more my pace.  And made good friends – even with some people that I will never keep up with…………  But non of this changes the fact that it is not easy to join a running club.

Over the months I have seen people come along to the club – total beginners – and despite our reassurances that we will wait and run with them – many of them don’t stay.  And I don’t blame them – I know that feeling that you are holding everyone up and how sapping it is to your confidence and enjoyment – so how do you help people along the way?  And that is how the idea for a couch to 5K course was born – a way of helping people get to the point where they could join the club and want to stay!  The NHS has put together a pretty foolproof programme that runs over 9 weeks – getting people moving from running for just 60 seconds and walking for 90……………………… up to being able to run for 30 mins and so be fit enough and experienced enough to tackle a 5k run.  I am already a UK Athletics run leader – so put the two together and we had all we needed to get going.

But actually starting a c25k group is not that easy either………………  I have turned procrastination into something of an art form so – haunted by questions like “when shall we do it?”, “how do we advertise it?”, “will anyone help?”, “will anyone turn up?”…………… not much happened ……………. again……   And so in the end I just set a date…………………

One Monday night at our usual run in Waldron a couple of new people turned up – who had not really run before.  We dragged them round with us but it’s not easy to manage different paces out in the countryside where short cuts are few and far between – so that was it – if we want new people to join we have to put something on that will help.  The committee agreed and a couple of the run leaders – Gill and Niki also offered to help – so we set a date and got planning.  No time for posters, or contacting GPs or all the other things I was going to do.  Just word of mouth and posts on the local Heathfield social media pages.  I set up a FaceBook page (thank you Gill and Rosie for suggesting this – I didn’t have a clue!) to gather and communicate with interested people – and people started to join it.

I decided I could offer two groups a week – one in parallel to our usual Monday run and one on a Thursday evening.  Gill offered a Wednesday morning group – and Niki welcomed people to her usual speed session on a Wednesday evening – but tailored sessions to suit the newcomers.  And many other Road Runners added their support by attending the sessions to help manage the numbers – special thanks to Nicola who turned up to most Monday and Thursday sessions – and also to Vicki, Diane, Sharon and Zoe who came along when they could.  Members were welcome to come to one or more session each week – but the expectation was that they stuck to the programme as close as possible which meant running (and walking) for 30-40 minutes three times a week.  Altogether 14 people (all women) came along to the sessions.  Two have had to drop out – one injured and the other joining a little too late in the process to be able to keep up.  But both are keen to come along next time…………………

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Our 7 new C25K graduates – more to follow soon!

The other 12 have made it through to the end – 7 of them completed their first 5k run this morning at the Eastbourne Parkrun.  The other 5 couldn’t make it today as they had holiday or other commitments – but we will get them through over the next week or two.

I want to find out more about how to keep this all going and make it work for people – so my next step will be to talk to our new runners (many of whom have joined the club) and find out what has worked for them – what we could have done differently and how to continue to support them.  But what I have learned about putting together the course so far is as follows:

  1. Just Do It (now where have I heard that before) – forget all the ifs and buts and maybes – it is really worth it and the NHS programme really works.
  2. Runners are fantastic people who will always help out and fill in and share their enthusiasm.
  3. Sometimes runners can be a little too enthusiastic and need reminding that we are following a gentle programme……………………. (mentioning no names!).
  4. People do get minor injuries and need advice – some of which was beyond me – so it was great to be able to draw on people who knew more – Gill was a great help and especial thanks to Bev for her advice and sports massages along the way.
  5. In future I would arrange a session on injury prevention and foam rolling as part of the programme.
  6. The FaceBook page was a great success as members could chat to each other, get support between sessions and arrange to run together.
  7. Those who joined the programme absolutely made it – their enthusiasm and support for each other was what got them all through.
  8. It was great to finish with an actual 5k – a Parkrun is ideal and we were lucky enough to turn up to the 300th Eastbourne Parkrun.  Thanks to Dave the Run Director for the mention at the start.
  9. All runners do like a medal…………… Thanks to Niki for arranging those and Gill who remembered to bring them (just………….).

I feel the need for a running track to sign off – so especially for all our new runners…………..  Welcome Home – by Radical Face

July – Richmond Park

So – how do you keep a blog about half marathon number 7 (out of 12) interesting and a good read?  Keep it short – I hear you say – but the distance isn’t getting any shorter, or faster, more elegant or even easier……..  We’ve done all the toilet jokes – and Gill and I are still speaking to each other – so there is not even any drama.  Except that we are still going – and by the end of Sunday 23rd July 2017 we have raced 92.2 miles this year (don’t forget the Weald Challenge was an extra half mile).  Gill is looking fantastic – she’s lost a stone along the way.  And I am much the same – though rather more suntanned than in January!

So we head off to Richmond Park with cries of  Fenton   ringing in our ears………..  Actually there was a bit of drama in the lead up to this half marathon.  As I have mentioned previously – half marathons are a bit thin on the ground through the summer months and when we found this one back in April it seemed ideal.  Relatively nearby, easy to get to, off the roads and in a lovely setting……….. What more could we want?  Gill got her place – and I thought I did – but it turns out that I forgot…………………  By the time I got round to applying – the race was full and entries closed.

Thinks: “Gill is a very reasonable person and will understand…….. (OMG! She’s going to kill me)”

As it was – of course Gill is a very reasonable person (did the word “muppet” come into our conversation? – or was it a little stronger??) – she just explained to me that I WOULD be in Richmond Park on said day – carrying her shoes and water bottle…………………….  Fortunately the lovely people at RunThrough – who were organising the race finally buckled when I sent them a string of emails explaining what we were doing – and links to my blogs.  Bored into submission they offered me a place!  Thank you RunThrough!  Turns out Gill DID need someone to carry her shoes – or at least remind her to bring them with her!  Another early start – she picked me up at 6.15am and we are on the road.  Four miles into the journey and Gill’s favourite swear word erupts……………………. ****          Have we set off on the wrong day? Run out of petrol? Brought the wrong race number? – Whatever it was her tone of voice told me it was not good!  And sure enough she was wearing sandals and her running shoes were back in Heathfield on her kitchen floor!  **** **** **** !!  Nothing for it but to turn around and retrace our steps with a quick phone call to Colin (I’m sure he was delighted at 6.30 on a Sunday morning!) – to get the shoes ready.  In the end a comfort break was required back in Heathfield and we were on the road again – with some concerns about lateness/parking/toilet behaviour – non of which were founded in reality.  We arrived in plenty of time, parked easily – close to the start, with enough time for repeat visits to the portaloos!  Not entirely sure the Vietnamese meal yesterday lunch time was the best idea………………….

So what about the race itself?  Four laps (a little over 5k each) through the park.  I’m not sure how I feel about laps…….  The route itself was pretty  with plenty of deer to watch and no cars – so headphones were allowed.  And it’s great to know about that long downhill stretch when you know you can relax and make up a bit of time.  But you also know about the hills and those bits of uneven ground you need to watch out for.  And they can get into your head and start eating at your brain (“Oh no – not again – I hate this bit – I can’t push through it”).  And then – at the end of lap three – lots of runners are already finishing – and you have one more to go – suddenly it seems a very long way to the end.  But we did it – we got there!  Not the quickest (about 2 hours 13 mins I think from my watch – my chip didn’t work) and not the slowest – but another one done!

My only sad note – not just this race – but every race I have done this year – is the IMG_1727hundreds of single use plastic bottles involved.  Regular readers will know that my niece Beth ( Plastic Free Hobbit ) has been raising my awareness of the environmental disaster (some say more serious than climate change) that we are facing with a million bottles a minute being produced worldwide and not being recycled.  Gill and I brought our own drinks with us – I just love my hydroflask and it keeps the water cold too!  But we saw untold numbers of bottles being discarded and gathered up by the organisers.  There must be another way – anybody got any ideas?

So race number seven is done and the bling is mounting up.  Come and join us next month in Canterbury……………………  Gill has promised to learn some new swear words……

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I feel the need for a running track – not had one for a while – so it’s got to be George Ezra – Blame it on Me (I won’t forget again Gill – honest!)

Can a Girl have too many (Running) Shoes?

A quick glance in my wardrobe will tell you that I’m not much into shoes – black fit flops (summer) – black ankle boots (winter) – black heels (weddings, funerals and graduations).  I have some walking boots, walking sandals and wellies. And running shoes……….  When our couch to 5k groups started out I talked about the most crucial bit of running kit being a good sports bra (for the ladies at least) and I would stick by that advice.  However, the next most important is shoes.  So this is my (lighthearted) guide to new runners – via the 11 pairs that I currently own – on running shoes and how to get a pair that it right for you (avoiding some of my mistakes!)

Rule Number 1: Make sure they are big enough!

I give you exhibits 1-3 – They all fall into the category of not big enough but for slightly different reasons.  Always buy shoes at least a size bigger than your shoe size (so for me I need at least a 4.5 as my shoe size is a 3 or 3.5).  You need at least a thumb width at the front to avoid the dreaded black toe nails.  And the other important fact is that your feet swell when you run – so “snug” when you start off is “tight” after 2 or 3 miles.  So here we have the two white pairs – both size 4 – lovely shoes (Brooks Adrenaline) but just too small.  I knew it at the time – but they were in the sale – really cheap and my usual make………. what difference can half a size make? (Answer: Quite a lot!). A did a few runs in these (still in denial) – before consigning them to gym work.  They are perfect for the gym and would be used all the time if only I went to the gym more than a few times a year (usually when I’m injured and need to cross train).  And the purple pair – now these are a bit different and harder to diagnose – but in the end they also fall into the “too small” (or narrow) category.  Again lovely shoes and my usual Brooks Adrenaline – size 4.5 – exactly the same as the ones they replaced (or were they?).  I’d run comfortably in these until I got to 7 or 8 miles and then my feet would start to hurt.  Not so bad you might say……. but as I was training for a marathon – that left a lot of miles with hurty feet!  I couldn’t work out what was going on and put the pain down to my training/injury/running too far too soon – anything but the shoes.  Nothing I tried made it any better and in the end I ran the marathon with those shoes and the hurty feet.  It was only when I ran in another pair of shoes – that I realised they were the cause of the pain.  Brooks had slightly remodelled their shoes -a bit narrower (as all manufacturers do – usually annually) and they no longer worked for me………..

Rule Number 2: Get the right shoes for the way you run.

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Exhibit 4

Many runners like myself, “overpronate” (their ankles roll in slightly on each stride) – and so we need a bit of extra structure and support in the arch of our running shoes.  And then there are things like the “drop” in the shoe – between heel and toe.  I know very little about this but most new runners need a good drop when starting out as this encourages you to strike the ground heel first which is better for protecting against injury in new runners (everyone has different views about this – and it changes the more experienced/faster you get – watch Kelly Holmes run – she doesn’t touch the floor at all!!!).  A few years ago there was a passion for “barefoot running shoes” (Exhibit 4 – you have to admit they are a really pretty colour) – with much less of a “drop” – people swore by them…………. until they ran too far in them – too soon – and began to pick up injuries.  These purple beauties are lovely and lightweight and very comfy – but I use them mainly for walking and a little light running – they don’t really suit my running style.

Rule Number 3: Different shoes for different conditions.

If you are just going to run on roads and tarmac trails – or even a bit of off road in the summer – then one pair of shoes is just fine.  But if you are going to try out other conditions – and run through rough ground and mud then some trail shoes are probably a good plan (Exhibits 5 and 6).  These shoes have much better grip and can keep you upright in most muddy conditions.  The brown ones were my first foray into trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia) and are great for road and trail with puddles rather than heavier, muddy conditions.  The blue ones (Saucony Peregrine) – nice and wide – though I need a size 5 in these – have great grip, enough support for some road running and keep me upright most of the time.  And my little indulgence – the black and purple ones are “ice shoes” – (Exhibit 7 – again Saucony Peregrine so very comfortable) – with a special sole that doesn’t slip in icy conditions – I don’t wear them often but they are great for those icy mornings when you want to stay upright.  I also have some “YakTraks” that you can clip over your shoes to run in the snow………….

Rule Number 4: Replace them.

They say you should replace your shoes every 600 miles!  Sounds a lot doesn’t it? But I run about 100 miles a month – and more if I’m training for a marathon – so that’s new shoes every 6 months – and at £100+ – that’s quite an outlay.  Most people would agree that – if you are not getting injured it’s okay to keep running in your existing shoes.  But they do need replacing sometimes – I usually find that after a year they have no tread left and the padding inside is coming out (exhibits 8, 9 and 10).  These are all Asics Gel Kyano and they are SO comfortable – or ran that “very special race” so it’s hard to part with them………  I try and have 2 pairs working at one time – old and new and then retire the old and buy new – and so they cycle keeps going.  And that brings me to exhibit 11 – my new babies!  Aren’t they lovely – silver too!  I went to replace my Asics with the same – but they have been remodelled and just felt way too small.  So it is back to Brooks Adrenalines – now also remodelled – much wider and comfy again…………..

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The new babies!

None of this actually explains why I have 11 pairs of running shoes…………..

Here are my DOs and DON’Ts for buying running shoes

DO buy your shoes from a running shop – where you can run on a treadmill and get someone to look at your gait.  Do you need neutral shoes? or some with structure and support?

DO try shoes on – even if they are the same make and model as previously.

DON’T buy off the internet unless you are absolutely sure they are the make, model and version you want.

DO go and buy shoes after a run – when your feet are warm (not nice I know – but you can take clean socks).

DON’T buy shoes in the sale – unless they are EXACTLY what you want.

DO try on several pairs – running shoes should be comfortable from the start – they should not need to be “broken in”.

DO get them big enough

And especially for me……………..

DON’T buy two pairs when you only need one (fat chance of me following that).

DO learn to let go and recycle…….

June – How to run a Virtual Half Marathon

So the year is ticking by – and June sees Gill and I taking on our sixth half marathon of the year.  The challenge this month has been to find a half marathon to run!  They are really thin on the ground through the summer and we found one relatively local run – but then I was away……….  So we decided to “go it alone”.  It’s a wonderful thing the internet – and a quick google of “virtual half marathon” will find you a host of websites that will accept your proof that you have run the distance and then send you a medal (well I’m still waiting for that actually – but fingers crossed).

And the extra challenge this month is – can I run a half marathon on only two 7 mile training runs?  Followers of this blog will know that I hit the deck quite hard on the Weald Challenge half marathon in May and managed to injure a rib (cracked I suspect) – making moving, sleeping, breathing and running pretty tricky.  I did a couple of jog/walks in the two weeks following the injury – but more walk than jog if the truth be known as – as soon as my breathing became deeper it made my chest hurt – quite a bit……………………….  Then week three saw me heading out to Greece for a week – plenty of walking here in the early morning with a bit of downhill running – but it was really too hot to do anything in the way of a distance run – or anything too hard.  Some cross training with swimming and snorkelling – but my chest was still feeling pretty sore.  But the rest and relaxation – not to mention the wonderful secluded footpaths in northern Cephalonia made up for it –  I really can’t complain.  But I returned from Greece with just a week to go until our June half marathon and next to no training done.  But there is nothing to do now except a couple of middle distance runs to see how the chest holds up and fingers crossed………………………

The next issue is what route and how to organise our 13.1 miles.  Fortunately (sic) our club – Heathfield Road Runners came up with a plan for us.

Niki: “Why don’t you run 7 miles and then do the Heathfield 10k?”

Me: “I think Gill may have a view about that……………..”

Niki: “We’d all be there at the end to cheer you on…………..”

And surprisingly Gill agrees – what those of you that don’t know Heathfield – or the 10k – or Gill for that matter need to know is:

  1. Heathfield is hilly
  2. The 10k makes rollercoasters such as “the big one” at Blackpool pleasure beach look tame.
  3. The 10k is run in midsummer (and the week before saw the highest temperature on a June day since 1976 – remember that? I was 17!)
  4. Gill does not like hills………………

It is a relief that the day is cooler than it has been, although still warm,  and we start early (8.30am) over a 7 mile – flattish – route in order to be back for the start of the 10k.  A bit unorthodox – a 20 minute break before the rest of our run – we were concerned that we would stiffen up and not get going again – but we kept moving and actually it worked fine.  We line up at 10am with the other 318 runners for the roller coaster run.  It is good to be surrounded by friends and other runners – we know most of the marshals – Rosie is there and Gill’s husband Colin and son Jonny.  The run is hard and hot – I am going pretty well until the last two miles – which are uphill all the way – finishing with a run round the Heathfield and Waldron rugby field.  No negative split today!  I finish in 1 hour and 4 mins – not too bad after the first 7 miles – 3 minutes slower than last year – but then I was fresh as a daisy back then!!  And true to their word the Heathfield Road Runners cheer us in (most of them have been back for a while!) which is a fitting end to half marathon number 6!

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Gill has found the cake!

WE ARE HALF WAY THROUGH

Me: 6 done………

Gill: 6 still to do……………

A runner’s version of glass half full or glass half empty?

June – Plastic Free Challenge

So – at the start of this month my niece Beth set Rosie and I a challenge to change something in our behaviour to begin to address the dreadful state of our oceans (not to mention landfill and general rubbish) by reducing our disposable plastic consumption June Challenge.  We decided that it had to be one step at a time – so we pledged to give up buying plastic drinking bottles for the month – with a view to stopping them altogether.  This is where we are up to half way through the month………….

I didn’t make a bad start and got through the first 10 days with no plastic bottles.  Rosie had one disaster – desperate for a drink when shopping in London and could not find an alternative to a bottle – so that’s one down…….  On 10th June we came away for a week to Kefalonia in Greece.  We planned well and brought our reusable bottles with us – but it is a real challenge here!  Tap water is still not recommended for drinking – so its bottled water or boil everything in a travel kettle – no doubt wasting endless energy resources and spending all our days in the kitchen.


So this is how we’ve handled it:

  • No single bottles of water/coke etc. – we fill our bottles or buy cans
  • No litre bottles for general use – we lug the 5 litre ones up the hill to our apartment and refil.  At least they do recycle plastic waste here (at least the plastic that makes it that far). So far we have bought 4 of these.
  • Eating out is tricky as you automatically get given a bottle of water and neither of us is ready to insult these lovely hospitable people by telling them we don’t want one (besides which we are thirsty and need a drink) – so that’s one plastic bottle a day………….. but I have refused plastic straws.
  • Postscript to the above – sparking water comes in glass bottles so we’ve switched to that!

Other things we have done:

  • Shampoo and conditioner bars – plastic free and great for travelling – from Lush
  • The only face and body scrub and moisturiser you could ever need – both from Lush – in plastic pots – but Lush do take them back and reuse them
  • Plastic free bags provided by our tour operator – so we refuse plastic bags from the supermarket – but even this is a challenge as your shopping is packed for you before you have a chance to say – into plastic bags……….


What makes this heartbreaking is that coming to this lovely island makes you aware of the devastation that plastic is having on the ocean and our sea life.  The dive centre has the skeleton of an enormous Cuvier’s Beaked Whale – washed up dead on one of the beaches and revealed to have died from plastic consumption at post-mortem.  Our snorkelling day showed us plastic lying on the ocean floor – and our skipper and first mate (also concerned about plastic) have been cleaning the beaches since the beginning of the season – on one tiny beach we collected two black bin liners full of plastic.  They recently released a loggerhead turtle caught up in a discarded plastic fishing net………..  And it is on the beaches wherever we go.

Finally – Rosie informs me that the best thing we can do for the environment (and animals) is to eat vegetarian – as she does all the time!  That – for one – is turning out to not be a hardship!


I for one am never going to manage to go plastic free – it’s just too difficult – but this month has really raised my awareness and I will continue to make all the small changes that I can!