Regent Centre

When you live out in Bank Foot there’s nothing more frustrating than getting to a metro station and seeing the fatal words ‘next train terminates at Regent Centre’ ugh, so close yet so far. However more than once have we hopped on the train anyway and paid a visit to some of the great pubs that Gosforth High Street has to offer.

Despite Regent Centre interchange mainly servicing the small business park there, if you come out the metro station and turn right, you’ll find the first pub about 5 minutes down the road; The Gosforth Hotel.

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We visited on a rain soaked Saturday afternoon (is there any other kind in Newcastle) and due to it being a massive sports day; 2 rugby matches and a Newcastle game, it was absolutely heaving. It’s what my dad describes as a ‘proper Newcastle boozer’ and I think that sums it up perfectly. Yes it was packed to the rafters with rugby fans, but you’re in Newcastle remember and the atmosphere was brilliant.

There are actually two bars. The main bar straight ahead of you as you walk in an a kind of ‘overflow bar’ out the back, which I presume they only open when they have enough staff as it was shut when we went, despite it being so busy the windows had steamed up. Lovely.

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Down the the drinks. They always have an excellent selection of ales on, which changes regularly and there’s always a local brewery on offer such as Wylam or Mordue. The wine isnt going to win them any DWWA awards but it’s cold and less than a tenner a bottle. The decor is worn and traditional with dark wood and high tables with stools. There are a few lower tables and chairs round to the right as you walk in and more out the back if the second bar is open. They also serve basic pub grub daily and pretty reasonable prices.

It’s the kind of pub you can visit at 9pm on a saturday night or 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon and there will always be a nice atmosphere and there will always be someone in. I know, I know I always say I hate pubs that show non stop sport but hey, I’m a woman, I’m an enigma and I have exceptions to the rules. When you walk into a pub at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and everyone is enjoying the beer, the sport and the banter, it’s impossible not to get swept away with the atmosphere.

The Gosforth Hotel is our favourite ‘start and end’ pub as we walk from and to the metro station for a night out on Gosforth High Street. Other pubs worth checking out along that Street is the Brandling, The Job Bullman (which is a Wetherspoons, but a good Wetherspoons) and The County down the far end.

Contact:

High Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 1HQ
Tel: 0191 285 6617
Website: http://www.greatukpubs.co.uk/gosforthhotelnewcastle

You can find out where else we’ve been on our adventure here

Anyone for Active Cardio Tennis? 

‘The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I’ll never be as good as a wall’ – Mitch Hedberg

The other week I wrote about the Parklives scheme that’s currently running in collaboration with Coca Cola and Newcastle City Council. Their aim is to offer fun, free activities which encourage people across the UK to get outdoors and enjoy their local parks and communities. Did I mention it’s completely free?! After the success of last weeks bootcamp session I was keen to branch and try something completely different. May as well completely obliterate that comfort zone rather than just push outside it!

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I’ve never been shy of stating the fact that I absolutely hate Wimbledon and will actively avoid it each year. I hold it up there with golf and snooker in that people only ever talk about it for the two weeks a year it’s on TV then never mention it or follow it again. That said I picked the active tennis session as a nostalgic nod to my childhood where I was often found at the tennis courts in Cramlington over the summer holidays with my purple Steffi Graf tennis racket. I like playing it, just hate watching it. I was a bit unsure as to what Active Cardio Tennis would actually entail; I had visions of a half zumba, half, half badminton, half air guitar type affair.

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What we got was actually quite an intense set of drills,  all based around tennis. Dave, who was today’s unwilling guinea pig was a little nervous when the session kicked off with some grapevines swinging the racket around however his fears of spending the next hour essentially dancing around a tennis court in public were dispelled when we got down to the more intense stuff.

The two instructors would throw the tennis balls at you and you would hit it back in various different ways depending on the drill you were doing and you would run , sprint or side step to the back of the line to start again (groups were broken down into quite small numbers so you go your fair share of turns).

Each drill was slightly different so you felt like it switched up regularly enough to keep you interest but not too regular that you were able to get into a flow and get plenty of opportunities to whack the ball back and forth. I caught a little bit of one of the tutorials on video as an example:

The last drill of the class was  a points game where the group was divided into teams to play against each other for points which was brilliant fun and a great way to interact with some of the other members of the group.

I would say the session is suitable for all ability levels as you’re able to make it as easy or as difficult for yourself; you’re able to tailor the session to your own ability. Aside from Dave being agog at seeing me sprint for the first time in our 12 years together and the mild blow I received to my right kidney due to me not paying attention to a rogue tennis ball I think I came away pretty much unscathed and managed to hit about 90% of the shots. Not on target I’ll admit, but I hit them none the less!

I hold my hands up and say that I’m an Active Cardio Tennis convert and have already signed up with Ang to go again next week!

This has been a collaborative post but all views are my own

 

Ultra Dave’s Ultra Diary – Christmas

When I was running across the country, I was doing 40 or 50 miles a day in sleeting snow with zero visibility for five or six days in a row. Ten to 12 hours of running in that is monotony beyond belief’ – Dean Karnazes

Regular followers will know that my husband Dave is currently training for the EnduRun24 which is a 24 hour Ultra Marathon around Gosforth Park Racecourse. He’s been training seriously since about October 2015 and while training has been going well, and from an outsiders perspective he seems to be much further along in terms of fitness than he was this time before The Wall, that nasty fitness sapper; Christmas has been and gone.

So I’m going to hand you over to Dave to give you an update on how his training’s going:

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Since doing The Wall in  2014 I’m never not running to some extent, but the plan I am following now began on 5th October and since then has been fairly flat in terms of mileage. Due to lack and daylight and having a full time job to do, I tend to keep my midweek runs to around an hour in length. I did design the plan so that the “long runs” on the weekends get progressively longer. However, I haven’t actually always stuck to this mainly because of crappy North East weather (we’ve had a particularly wet winter so far!)

The weather is probably the biggest barrier I have to at the moment. Although I have a treadmill I find running on it for more than an hour very boring usually, so my long runs can be effected by bad weather. Although there is only really one weekend where it was too dangerous to run outside due to ice making the ground very slippery. However, to battle high winds, cold temperatures and heavy rain motivation needs to be pretty high and this early in the buildup I have been willing to let those runs go.

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As with most runners, there is a constant process of managing niggling injuries, knowing when to push through and when to stop training to avoid further damage. But thankfully, despite the bad weather I’ve been able to avoid any serious injuries. I think that being very consistent about how often I train helps me to avoid anything too serious. By maintaining a reasonable level of base fitness and mileage any ramp up seems to be less of a shock to the system.

In terms of Christmas I had all the best intentions of sticking to my plan although I knew there would be days it wasn’t convenient to do so. Of course the inevitable happened and I ate and drank way more than I should have. There’s always a balance when youre not a professional athlete between training and still having a life, and as far as Christmas was concerned I let my life take over for a few days. I still managed to run a half marathon on Saturday 2nd January and have to keep reminding myself that some people training for months to run a half so my fitness is never as bad as I think it is. I blame Monty for plying me with all his posh whiskey personally.

I do of course plan to get right back into it now all the festivities are done and dusted and my plan for increasing training in the new year is again based around gradually increasing weekend mileage. However, I will need to be a lot more strict in sticking to the plan since now there is a race at the end of it, I don;t have Christmas as the virtual halfway point where I have a bit of a rest to fall back on anymore.

Given that overall, my Wall experience was very positive I’m doing a lot of similar things. However, there has been a little different focus so far in a couple of respects. I’ve been focussing on my weight as a benchmark for how in shape I am, and trying to get control the reduction in the weight via two main tactics. Firstly, while my runs have generally been a little shorter so far than in the past, I have been trying to do some form of exercise almost every day. This is usually running, but also includes playing 5-a-side football where I can or doing core strength exercises when I don’t have time for anything else.

Secondly I’ve been concentrating more on my nutrition, following a fasting diet and avoiding as much as possible the sugary sweets and gels I fuelled with a lot for the Wall. I’m also making other tweaks to try and improve how my body works for training and race day, such as avoiding NSAID painkillers as their not that good for your liver; especially if you’re dehydrated and reducing my regular caffeine intake by about 80%.

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less of these bad boys this time round

I’m confident that going into the new year because I feel I have a reasonable base to work from. I’m expecting that there will be two main things on my mind though as I get started again. The first race I am signed up to includes a lot of hills and the area where I live and train is relatively flat. I’m really even more concerned with the downhill here than the uphill. These will cause major problems with quad muscles that aren’t used to coping with them. Also I don’t like training on hills much so seeking them out will take a real mental effort.

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less of these bad boys this time round

I’m also going to have to battle with the sheer length of the races, particularly the EnduRun24. Although you can easily stop at any time because the race is around a 10k lap, I know that I will not be happy unless I feel I have done as much as possible in the available 24 hours. To get to the start line with a realistic chance of doing that means many monotonous hours of running.

There is also a confidence element, something I have built before by running a high percentage of race day distance in training as you would a half or full marathon. As the distance gets greater this is ever more difficult to achieve. I’ll be relying on the assembly of Team Vague (my support crew made up of Friends and Family for the Wall) to help with the cheerleadering again.

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Of course invariably my biggest obstacle could well be something I haven’t thought of yet which derails my preparations. The thing that springs to mind as a barrier to race day, is other races. This is the first time I have had in my mind a season of three races to complete, rather than a single event. Even the first of these is 100K in length. If recovery takes too long, then I will struggle to improve again before the next even longer race is due. Thankfully there is then a longer break until my potential season finale (EnduRun24) but staying injury free will be crucial.

Past Updates:
02/12/2015 – Confessions of an Ultra Runner’s Wife
01/08/2015 – From the Wall to EnduRun24
02/12/2014 – Writing’s on The Wall

 

 

I’m So Glad I Got the Fuck Out Of My Hometown

‘Ah, beware of snobbery; it is the unwelcome recognition of one’s own past failings’ Cary Grant

Last week, my husband and I went to go and see Bowling for Soup in concert, as part of their farewell tour, and i happened to comment that during a particular song of their, called ‘My Hometown’ i was annoyed  by a group of Gosforth High School students (an affluent area of Newcastle) who were singing along to the song like they understood what the lyrics meant. Like they’d grown up in a backwater, prejudiced ghetto. I personally, don’t understand how anyone who grew up in Gosforth could relate to that song.

I grew up abroad. In an idyllic bubble of army life, where there were only 10 people per class and everyone was friends, which was amazing, until i moved back to England. Moving back to England was like going to Grange Hill in my eyes, There were 30 people to a class, In my first week of going to school in the UK i was called a ‘posh bitch’, ‘Rupert the Bear’ and an Alien, a lot to take as a 10 year old. If anyone knows about small town mentalities and not fitting in it’s a military kid, believe me, i was just dumb enough to believe it was banter and playful ribbing

I’m not a music snob, at least, i try not to be, but when i think about the small town i grew up in, and how horribly i was treated as an ‘outsider’, (other than my amazing friend Janine who took me under her wing from day 1 and is still one of my best friends to date) it’s hard to listen to songs like My Hometown and not think they’re singing directly to me.  I’ll admit it was arrogant of my to assume that these kids had an idyllic upbringing, I’m sure people look at me and think the same, and to be honest, it was a bit of a throw away comment, I didn’t expect to get the backlash I did.

It’s amazing that you can grow up in the same place as hundreds of other kids and go to the same high school yet you all had completely different experiences. Because army life was so sheltered, and kids behaved themselves (your dad got in trouble if kids were misbehaving at school), I’d never really seen any real bullying, not emotional and certainly not physical! So moving to England and seeing how aggressive a lot of the kids were, and how nasty and chatty the girls were, it’s no wonder I had a tough time fitting in.!

There are people who were born and raised in my hometown, their parents went to our high school and no doubt their kids will go there too. Which is fine as long as they’re happy, some people like the comfort of routine and the familiar. Perhaps they were one of the kids who had a positive experience at high school so naturally they’ll want the same for their kids too. Personally though, I’m just so unbelievably pleased I moved away, not too far away, but far enough away to I don’t worry about bumping into people who were horrible to me in the supermarket.