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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Getting ready

I'm a little limited in what I can post at the moment but I have now been matched with a Canine Partner, subject to her passing her advanced training. Until this has been confirmed and her puppy parents notified, I can't post her picture or name. So let's focus on a different aspect...

Dog food

Neil and I went for an exploratory visit to Pets at Home this afternoon to check out food, treats, toys, beds, poop scoops, etc. It was all very exciting! I had never realised how many different types of dog food there are. We know that all Canine Partners eat dry food, so that narrows it down a little but there's different foods for puppies, adults, mature dogs and overweight dogs.

So, there's the doggy equivalent of Weight Watchers...

Weight Watchers dog food

Regular food for adults but who have expensive taste...

Adult smoked salmon dog food

And the senior citizens' daily special...

Dog food for senior citizens

Obviously, we don't need to buy food yet but I had to buy something to make it all feel real. It's a bit like buying baby stuff when you first find out you're pregnant. So...


When I went for my matching visit, I rediscovered something that I have always known but recently forgot... I throw like a girl! Yes, I know, it's embarrassing, but I can't throw a ball in anything like an acceptable manner. Hence, the first toy I think we must have is a ball lobber. This is closely followed by a frisbee.

A pink ball lobber and a purple frisbee


We soon discovered that food and toys are reasonably priced. Treats though!?!?!? Oh my word! Well pricey! I shall be heading online to find some kind of bulk buy. Meanwhile, I've got a treat bag to keep them in. I found some of the ones I used on the assessment and matching days quite difficult to get my hand in but this sort was quite easy and clips on your trouser waistband.

Treat bag

So, here's hoping and praying that the little doggy will work hard at Big School (the colloquial name for advanced training) and that we'll be spending the first two weeks of November learning how to work together.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


As many of you know, I've spent the last four years studying and every Saturday has been a study day for me since we moved back from Finland. For quite a while now, I've been aware that while my head was buried in articles about technology-enhanced learning, our local park was full of healthy, smiling, friendly people doing the weekly Parkrun. So I decided that once the study was over, I would give it a go. Afterall, 5K is just the right distance for me when I want proper exercise but without inducing coronary overload.

So last week, I contacted the local Parkrun and asked whether wheelchairs were allowed. They are but the route is almost entirely on grass. Not to be deterred, I started checking out other runs nearby and I found one that's on paved paths. Obviously I can't share which one, as this is the big WWW and anyone could be reading it!

Anyway, I went yesterday morning and found the people I had been in contact with during the week and they were really nice and friendly. I was surprised how many other nutters were up and out first thing on a Saturday morning. I later found out there were just over 500!

I was quite nervous, not knowing the route but I joined the other newbies and they told us all where to run and what to watch out for. It felt like forever, waiting on the start line... or actually quite a long way back from the start line because I anticipated being slower than all the elite athletes... quite a bit slower.

Once we started, there was that weird thing where you can't move for a while and get up any speed because of all the other people running but that soon dissipated and I enjoyed my first lap around the lake. It was the perfect day for me - cloudy and cool but dry. I had decided to keep my hoodie on so I didn't get cold but after half a lap, I regretted that. Next time, it's t-shirt only! I was way too hot! Fortunately I had a bottle of water with me but I'm going to have to rethink that too. How do you drink from a bottle whilst using both hands to propel? I need one of those thingies that you put on your back and suck through a tube.

Picture of the finish line

On my second lap, I passed what would be the finish line (see pic) and wondered whether anyone would notice if I skipped a lap and went in. Ha ha! I think they might. Being the only wheelchair kinda makes you noticeable. Also, I hate cheats! So I kept going. It was also on the second lap that I realised I'd got a nasty blister on each index finger. I'll have to wear full fingered gloves next time.

By the final 300m, I was getting properly tired and looking forward to finishing. As you can see from the picture, the finish line is on grass. It was quite hard and compacted though and I could easily manage to cross it. I just couldn't have managed the whole race on grass. I finished in just under 37 mins so I was towards the end of the pack but I was really pleased that I completed the course and still had enough energy to get to the cafe and refuel.

Me shaking hands with some of the other runners and organisers

This morning, my shoulders feel like lead, much like they do after our long treks round the seafront. I'm really looking forward to next time though. My car's going for a service next Saturday, so I hadn't expected to go but Neil has offered to swap cars, so I might be able to make it after all.