And then there were TWO…..

….. days to North Dorset Village Marathon….

sleepy runnerAND it starts at 8.30AM, I’ve just read, so it actually starts in 36 hours time. It’s a two hour drive and we like to be there with an hour or so to caffeine up, so that’ll mean leaving home at er, hang on, I can do the maths, er……. surely that can’t be right!!

 

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Nicky ran her 2nd fastest ever marathon last year at NDVM

Nicky and I have both trained really well for this, plenty of quality runs, long runs, time on our feet, quick half marathons and 10k’s BUT we’ve both got maranoia – ache all over, tired, tight muscles, confidence dissipating, blah blah blah…… I’m sure it’s partly in our heads, we don’t normally suffer nerves as we do tend to aim to beat the cut off rather than aim for a time in most of our marathons.

 

 

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Going to be quite a view through this window when I finish knocking it out! (Yes I do have a real job!)

 

Anyway, I think we should be heading bedwards in light of this revelation about the start time…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charlie whispering some last minute advice – “run, run, as fast as you can”

 

Check Ignition…

Ahhh the countdown to the North Dorset Village Marathon, 4 days to go. FOUR DAYS!!!

I haven’t done enough training, I haven’t eaten the right food, I haven’t done enough core strength work, I haven’t slept enough, my foot, ankle, shin, knee, hip, back, hair hurts. I’ve got too much heavy duty work to do, I haven’t planned my nutrition, my kit, my trainers are too old, too new, too big, too small, it’s going to be too hot, too windy, too flat, too hilly. It’s too early, too far to travel, have I definitely entered?!?!

Yup it’s marathon week. What can possibly go wrong?

Some sunrise pictures to take my mind off it….

Never do plumbing on a Friday

Actually, it was on Saturday and remarkably not a drop (touch wood) of water. We had rattling pipe syndrome, a particularly bad case too. All fixed. Bosh. plumber

It was an old builder friend who introduced me to the Friday saying as he drilled through a water main…… on a Friday. Nice bloke, proper cockney, used the f & c words like we use punctuation, moved to France in the end.

Mind your French, as they say.

Another phrase I never thought I’d never hear, “Your lunch box is too big!” my amazing wife Nicky blurted out on our beautiful 10 mile walk this afternoon. Ok, they weren’t her exact words, and she was merely referring to the lack of space in the rucksack after I’d been left in charge of packing food, but I’ll take it. If there wasn’t so much suspicion, speculation about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of his remarkable (some say ‘unbelievable’) athletic performance, I’d compare myself to Linford Christie….linford

 

 

 

I hadn’t taken my note book with me today you see, an essential piece of equipment to carry at all times if I want to be a ‘writer’! But, with all that lunch, there wouldn’t have been room in the rucksack anyway!

No long run on a Sunday? Asked no one, other than in my head. Well, I’ll tell you. We’ve got our target marathon next week, the North Dorset Villages Marathon, and we are ‘tapering’, as in we’re not doing long runs this weekend. So we did a few miles together this morning then I did another half an hour on my own before heading home to porridge ourselves up. Check out the run.

 

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My gorgeous wife and fantastic step daughter finishing at Parke (photobombed by Grandaughter Faith!)

On Saturday we went to Parke Parkrun where the aforementioned, beautiful Nicky, ran around with my incredibly motivated Step Daughter for her second ever Parkrun.

 

She’s on such a mission this year, we are so, so proud, and she’s looking amazing, healthy, happy and has an infectious spark about her.

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Mother and Daughter at the finish

 

 

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Parkrun support crew

Grandad here, who was flying solo with the Grandchildren, might have had something in his eye as they came along the finishing straight, so much quicker than last time, despite this being on a much more challenging course.

 

 

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Howard and Hilda!

We both did 5k time trials before work on Friday, my run totalling over 8 miles and very happy to run 19m00s in my last hard effort before NDVM.

 

Had some beautiful early morning runs last week with the dog, we’ve been treated to some gorgeous sunrises this week……..

 

2017-04-23 12.53.31So, today, with more time than we’ve had on Sunday for a while we decided to go and do one of our favourite 10 mile walks, including getting out the bulging lunch box for a lovely riverside picnic (but not my note book to write about it)……… 2017-04-23 13.59.42

 

 

With 7 days to go until our ‘big’ race I’m feeling pretty good about it. Ultimately it’s a run over an arbitrary distance, aiming for an arbitrary time and has no bearing on whether or not I am the sort of human being I dearly hope I am. If I am remembered as someone who is caring and considerate and loving and gentle and worthy and humble then that would be enough for me. sure, it would be a bonus if I ran 3h14m around Dorset next Sunday but, actually, I think my commitment to TRYING to be the best I can be is far more important.

That said, I will be running as hard as my little legs will carry me…….

We Never Expected That

2017-04-16 13.45.42I was wrong (I know!), shopping trolleys are EVERYWHERE…..2017-04-15 08.46.49

 

 

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It hasn’t ALL been frantic

So, a 4 day weekend, what bliss, it seems to have passed by all too rapidly but there’s been plenty of fun and frolics, some lovely time with the Grandchildren and a ride out with Nicky’s Dad. Then today, another little road trip.

 

 

Yeovil this time, as an ultra trail running friend quipped, “all the way to Yeovil for a 10k?!” I know, and a road 10k as well.

Nicky and I do like a road race, especially as we’re targeting a road marathon in a couple of weeks. We also like a road trip, so this ticked a few boxes.

Yawning and delaying getting up, our mojos weren’t bouncing this morning and I think if either of us had pulled the plug we’d both have gone down the hole.

We managed to get in the car though and had an easy, uneventful drive to get parked good and early for Yeovil Town Road Running Club‘s flagship fast and flat 10k.

Has anybody heard the expression ‘a visit from the gingerbread man’ in relation to running? Well, it refers to a sudden need to, well you can guess the rest. The gingerbread man was well and truly knocking on my door this morning. You could actually hear my stomach grizzling over the road noise driving up. We got ourselves a coffee (“just make a donation”), eyed up the cakes, had a cheeky custard cream,  then headed back to the car, both yawning and stretching and mumbling. We reluctantly stripped to our running kit and donned our numbers. I went for a warm up (there’s a running track on hand) and, after a visit to the portaloos, so did Nicky.

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Nicky was sooooo keen for a pre race piccie

Regular readers might know that Nicky isn’t renowned for her warm ups, they normally involve keeping her hoody on until the last minute. BUT we have been doing proper warm ups in training, so she did some laps and stretches too.

 

In a previous post on this blog I received some online, er, banter, for suggesting that they may be a bit of elitism in running. Either about speed, kit, age or ability, any thoughtless quips, mockery or dismissive looks can have a truly demoralising effect on a runner perhaps lacking in confidence or maybe new to the sport, or who is trying to lose weight, or, indeed, for any other reason. Anyway, and I won’t labour this point, as the 400 or so runners were heading over to the start I over heard one lady say to her friend that she was very nervous. Maybe it was her first ever event, maybe she’s been injured, maybe she’s never run that far, maybe, just maybe there are reasons that are none of our business. Well, watching her head drop as a gentleman marching past in his high-viz vest retorted “Who on earth gets nervous for a 10k!?” I guess it was rhetorical, as he didn’t wait for an answer as the lady in question looked at the floor. Come on guys….

Just my opinion.

So, the race…….

My stomach seemed to have appreciated the warm up and I settled in to the pack as the low key countdown set us on our way. Anyone reading this blog hoping for a blow by blow chronical of every footstep is going to be disappointed. I’m really not very good at remembering these things in order….. or at all sometimes. I remember getting my DVD in the post after the Paris Marathon and being surprised to learn that I’d run (I say ‘run’…) past the Eiffel Tower!eiffel tower

When I’d been training well in the past, I’d managed to get under 40 minutes for 10k, so I was secretly hoping to be in that sort of territory again. The group I was running with seemed to be in the same level of discomfort as me, so I guessed we were pacing it right, the first mile in 6m12s seemed to feel right and somebody in the group had the breath to comically ask if any of us were pacemakers, “Is this the 40 minute bus then?” I semi seriously replied. Another member of the group chipped in “FORTY MINUTES, I CAN’T RUN FORTY MINUTES!” and promptly slowed down and disappeared behind us. Sorry mate!!

Mile 2 in 6.23 as the countryside rattled past. I’m so used to running for longer than this that, as mile three beeped on all the watches around me, I smiled to myself that we were halfway already and it felt like we had just started.

After 6.17 for mile 3 I sort of teamed up with a Yeovil runner (Darrell, I think, thank you mate for the rhythmic pacing) and we pushed through 4 in 6.13 and 5 in 6.14. We were both pushing hard now, and as I slightly slipped back he glanced over and gave me fantastic encouragement to keep up with him. 6.18 for mile 6 and he pushed on for a sprint finish as my legs turned to jelly and I wombled  up the finishing straight to finish in (chip time) 39m26s. Chuffed as a chuffed thing.

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A chuffed person earlier today

Just as there had been around the whole course, there were so many welcoming marshals and volunteers at the finish, with much welcomed fluid and a fabulous quirky medal.

 

I know you readers are all thinking “what about NICKY?!”…..

Well I rushed back to the car, still sweating, pretty much stripped off (apologies to the people I hadn’t noticed cooling down in the field behind me) towelled off some sweat (only for it to be immediately replaced) had a quick spray and rushed back to the finish line.

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Nicky smmmmASHING it!

I was right to rush back, Nicky came storming around the corner in little over 55 minutes looking really, really strong. As ever, she had paced it brilliantly and her fastest miles were at the end of the race. Proud husband alert…..

 

A cracking event, I guess by its nature aimed at the speedsters, but lots of great encouragement for everyone throughout the field and definitely recommended, particularly if you are chasing a time.

So it’s 13 days to NDVM……………………………………….

 

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Consecutive numbers, aaaahhhhhh

Sign Of The Times (Indeed It Is)

I’m not naïve, I know that I’ve fallen for it. Oh yes, I’ve been caught staring into the piercing eyes of the great consumption beast, tethered by the leash of the corporate machine. The witch doctor has cast its spell and I was unable to resist. I’m going to have to come right out and say it……. I really, really like the Harry Styles single.

Harry StylesThat’s, better, I feel cleansed to have got it out there.

It is a little known fact that I used to do a bit of writing for a music magazine back in the nineties, and readers of that rag would DEFINITELY be surprised to hear that. Although, I have to say it does have an anthemic, pomp-rock, grandiose to it which wouldn’t have been misplaced on a 70’s glam-rock anthology.

A bit side tracked there, must get back to whinging about how nobody says hello when we’re out running together….. oh hang on…… can’t even do that……

 

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Torquay in the early morning sunshine

Last weekend, the streets were paved with happiness. I ran 22 miles on my own on Saturday, bright and early, and on Sunday Nicky and I did 20 miles together. “Morning!”, “Hi there” “How you doing?” “Good running” “Hellooooo” and so it went on, runners of all speeds, genders and ages, cyclists, dog walkers, pedestrians, oh yes the luuurrrve was being shared, people were hanging out of windows yelling encouragement (I may have made the last one up!) and everybody seemed genuinely pleased to see everybody else. Bloomin’ lovely it was too.

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Even the gulls were in a good mood!

 

So, it’s coming up, only 2 and a bit weeks to the North Dorset Villages Marathon. Are we ready? Er, I hope so. COME ON, Are we ready? Yes, I think so. MORE POSITIVITY, ARE WE READY? Yes, YES, we are ready.

running couple cartoon
We’re READY!

 

Nicky  & I had a really good run on Sunday, clocking 15 of the 20 miles at faster than her target pace and an average pace faster than her fastest marathon. And on Saturday I did too, plenty of marathon pace in my long run. Very pleased with ourselves, and try as we might, little to moan about!

Running has been a bit thin on the ground this week, a few jogs with the dog, but, with work being so physical and off the back of last weekend’s running, my body will be appreciating the drop in mileage.

It’s been school holidays, of course, so some of the promenade boasted the previous day’s chalk drawings, I was taken by this ELO fan’s effort….2017-04-12 06.31.13

London marathin massesSo, it’s just over a week to the London Marathon the streets of the capital will buzz with thousands and thousands of runners and massive crowds lining the streets cheering them on. Whilst it doesn’t particularly appeal, that enormous mass of people, I need to remember that it was such mass participation events and their media coverage which got me into this wonderful sport to start with, and it was only a quirk of timing that I went to Paris for my first one (which I believe has even MORE participants).

The London Marathon shows the world that… YES YOU CAN and for tens of thousands every year it means… YES YOU DID.

An upcoming blog post will feature an interview with the quite wonderful and beautiful Mrs Bonfield and we explore this very theme, how the media coverage of such events talks to those of us looking to do, or be, something different.

london marathon logo

running medalsSo to all of you doing London a week on Sunday, good on you, have a fantastic day, soak it up and enjoy every step and wear that medal all week afterwards!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping Trolleys Are SO Last Year

Sometimes this stuff just writes itself.

People regularly called Sainsbury’s when I worked there asking us to fetch one of our trolleys from a hedgerow, their garden, on top of their car and, of course, ponds!

2017-04-07 06.57.43I wonder if Halfords had a call about this I saw on my run the other morning?

This week’s training will culminate in a long run with Nicky in the morning, we’re planning on doing 20ish with some sections at target marathon pace. I did something similar with my training run this morning. It was an eerie, misty, chilly and still morning and I set off just before 6 to a soundtrack of the gulls’ dawn chorus and the fog horn piercing the gloom.

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Spooky in the gloom on Brixham Breakwater this morning.

 

Its been hard to get really fired up for running this week, I’ve done a few short runs and kept my legs ticking over but not, what I would call, ‘training’. Until today.

But what is training? Is there an effort level which means you are training, with other days when you lace up the trainers merely running, or jogging, or dog running?

I’m quite lucky in that I ALWAYS enjoy my runs, so I don’t feel that one type of running counts any more than another. Challenging myself is part of my running and I have challenged myself to beat a time at the North Dorset Villages Marathon (NDVM). With this in mind, I aim to do at least two runs a week which in some way challenge my physiology, my limits, my psychology and I immensely enjoy this process.

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Nicky and Martin discussing tactics at last year’s NDVM

 

BUT, does that make these runs ‘training’? What about when I run the dog down the coast path for 4 miles, stopping to pick up poo, take pictures, and generally not caring about pace or time? Are these not training runs too?

Or when I go out with Nicky and we do her sessions or structured long runs, are these training? Nicky and I have different natural speeds so our relative intensities are different at any given pace. Does that mean that one of us is training and the other isn’t?

 

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Torbay faces East, so we get some incredible sunrise scenes on early morning (training) runs

 

Personally, I believe that every step I take is contributing  to my fitness, my endurance, my conditioning and I can honestly say I get pleasure from every single one.

Pre WIFUDIL (When I Fell Unbelievably Deeply In Love) I used to label all my runs, hard, extreme, tempo, easy, recovery and trained to a suffocating structure. I was chasing Good For Age for a Vet 45 (3h15m for the marathon) and kept just missing it.

 

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We did some dramatically bleak training days for Nicky’s SDW50 attempt

Post WIFUDIL, Nicky had entered the South Downs Way 50 Ultra and we put a plan together to build up Nicky’s time on her feet and mileage. This involved us spending many a weekend day over that winter putting rucksacks on, taking the dog and running for 4,5 even 6 or more hours over the coast path or countryside, farmland, not caring about pace, time or distance. Quite often we didn’t have a planned route and would take the OS map. Was all of that ‘training’?

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The fittest Border Terrier in Torbay loved the SDW50 training

 

Well whatever it was, it worked! Nicky completed the SDW50 in 11h30m, meaning the head torch was redundant!

Not only that, a couple of weeks later I ran 3h14m38s at Taunton Marathon. Now I was still doing sessions in my running week but plenty of my running miles came from these wonderful days out on the trails.

We tend to do those runs in actual events these days, well since Nicky challenged us to run 10 marathons a year in order to reach 100 before we’re ahem, a certain age.

I think this will become more crucial as I head towards my 12 hour challenge later in the year (The East Farm Frolic). I’d like to be fit enough to have a good go at that and have no doubt that I’m going to need plenty of fast miles, slow miles, walked miles, glorious sweaty miles of all types to be ready for that.

Better get training then……..

Follow me here, on Strava, on Fetch, Facebook and on the paths and roads of South Devon.

See progress towards the magic 100 here and times I’ve managed over other distances here

More Blogs Than Biscuits

2017-04-02 14.50.34Every race day day, Nicky and I travel home, munching cadburys crème egg s, declaring ourselves ‘ON IT!!’ from tomorrow. No more sugar, no more fizzy pop, plenty of core work and strength training, rest and stretching. girl doing stretching exercise clipart

Well, THIS TIME, we mean it!

North Dorset Villages Marathon 4 weeks today, we are ON IT until then……

Just a few dark chocolate digestives to see off tonight………

So, yesterday, The Devonshire Dumpling Marathon, hosted by the Devon and Cornwall Long Distance Walkers Association. Wow, what a wonderful day.

The start was in Budleigh Salterton, a gorgeous East Devon town. We were fortunate enough to grab what appeared to be the last parking space in the car park next door to the public hall. We then discovered what would be a theme for the day, it was going to be hard to offload any cash today!

The car park is free. All the time!

We paused outside at 8am and watched the walkers head off. The event had two distances, 18 miles or 26.2 miles, the walkers set off at 8am and the runners at 9am.

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The walkers setting off.

 

We nervously entered the hall, registered with the friendly welcome chaps at the desk, and approached the well manned (and womanned) service hatch. Regular readers of this blog might have gathered we like our pre-match coffee.

 

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Hardly suprising!!

Two white coffees please. How much do I owe you? Nothing, fresh air, zero, zilch. Blimey, how lovely. The volunteers in the hall were so so friendly, helpful and chatty, we learned so much about the route and any nerves about being in a fairly different environment to our usual races soon disappeared.

 

Back to the car to shed our top layers and we were soon outside the hall in a small gathering of runners and a couple of their dogs. And away we went…..

Through Budleigh Salterton’s back streets, the leading pack, i.e. everybody else, became smaller and smaller in the distance. ‘Are we going that slowly?’ Nicky asked unnecessarily. My reply is always to say that if they are all faster runners than us we won’t see them again, whereas some may be a little enthusiastic early on and we’ll catch them later. It really doesn’t matter.

Nicky said something about disused railway lines, I smiled, not really knowing what she meant.

 

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Some serious logging!

We were soon heading across country and encountering the first splattering of a day of mud! Whoever put this course together deserves our heartfelt thanks, we agreed as the countryside became coast path for about 3 miles.

 

 

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I think we took the opposite of this…

Heading back in land we soon found the first checkpoint……. quiches, cheese & chorizo tarts, chocolate brownies, drinks, sweets etc etc etc….. We each carried a small laminated number card which the, again, incredibly engaging and encouraging, guys stamped for us to prove we’d been there.

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Yum Yum – I reckon I ate more than I burned!

 

Off again, soon making a very small navigation error (the larger one was still to come!) before getting back in the mud for the flat path towards Otterton. We’d ran here before, in the Otterton Reindeer 10k back in December, an event, we discovered later that is also supported and marshalled with the help of the Devon and Cornwall LDWA.

 

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These ladies were bemused by us!

Honestly, we chatted to more people, and stroked more dogs than we would normally in a month, giving us a little rest every mile!

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Otterton is still beautiful and is a sort of gateway to mud. The next section, no less stunning, truly was laden with the slippy stuff. We did some serious giggling throughout this as we had worn our super slick road trainers.

One of us went to ground. Twice. (pssst, ssshhh, it wasn’t me…..)

Nicky said our footing would be more sure once we got to the disused railway lines. Again, I had no idea we were using old railway lines.

 

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What do we want? OLD GATES!

 

 

 

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We weren’t lost……

 

Across Woodbury Common (Bicton Blister country) and heading towards the halfway point, Rushmoor Wood, where we took a little detour………. Our only mistake on this self-navigating course.

We were catching walkers in small groups regularly now and every single one of them was friendly and upbeat and it was a pleasure to meet them all.

Into Woodbury itself and the village hall being used as the second checkpoint. Sandwiches and rolls, quiches, pies, cakes, jelly and ice cream etc etc… cold drinks and hot drinks and another room full of fun and banter.

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Something for everyone at the checkpoints

 

We didn’t stay too long, we might still have been there eating if we’d sat down, instead heading off towards the Exe estuary. We’d caught up with a couple of runners again and noticed they were sporting White Star Running attire (including the much sought after ‘I felt the badger’ badge) so we exchanged knowing smiles and wished each other fair winds for the rest of the run.

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She’s definitely a keeper!

 

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The shared use path to Exmouth was very busy on this beautiful Sunday afternoon but we couldn’t help but enjoy the wonderful scene.

 

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There was plenty of this!

A few miles of easy (ish) flat running on firm surface took us to the final checkpoint on the approach to Exmouth was followed by an undulating run through Exmouth itself and followed another (planned) detour where the pathway was closed. Before long we were back in the countryside and heading towards the sea. Running through the massive Sandy Bay caravan park, dodging the firing range on the headland and tackling the massive climb up the coast path, knowing it was all downhill to Budleigh Salterton from the top.

 

“So where were the old railway lines?” Nicky asked on the run in. I think she might have been reading up on the wrong race!2017-04-02 13.33.31

The finish back at the hall was a welcome sight after several and a half hours out on the trails, and we were presented with our personalised certificate to prove our participation.

2017-04-02 12.40.32Here’s the thing – have a really good look at the LDWA website, they have some absolutely lovely events both social and recognised distances (we found this via the 100 Marathon Club) and we met dozens of lovely people today and wouldn’t hesitate to do any other of their events. In fact we picked up three tempting leaflets whilst we were there……

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Big smiles at the finish of a wonderful event.

 

2017-04-02 15.39.03If you want to know where Nicky and I are  starting tomorrow….. we’re ON IT!!!!