Tag Archives: british computer society

Units Matter

I’d love to pretend that this is my ancestral home and spin you all a story about my entitled life. 

However, that is not the case. I’m in the UK as an elected official in the British Computer Society’s Council and we are at Heythrop House in Oxfordshire for a planning away-day. 

I do not want to give the opinion that this was a frivolous use of charitable funds as it was far from that. This was the first away-day that council has had in over ten years, and having the opportunity to step back and plan the direction of a group as influential as BCS is a real honour. 

We achieved a lot in our meeting and the outcomes will shape the group for a long time ahead. This is, however, a running blog so I shall refrain from entering into the gnarly details of our discussions. 

Of course, while I was here I had the chance to run around the extensive grounds of Heythrop House. 

Their running map shows a one and a four mile route. Clearly I chose the longer of the two. 

When I stepped out the front door it was raining; hard. And it must have been doing this for some time. Ah, England, you never fail to disappoint. 

I did not fear because there was a well-marked and establish trail laying ahead of me according to the literature. 

Yes, well. Not so much. 

The first part of the trail was on a service road and was fine. The sign for the first turn off was hidden under a tree at the side of the road and was positioned at a slight angle that didn’t really infer a direction to head. I continued straight until I found a locked gate and realised my mistake… Back to the sign and to follow the other direction. 

This trail was a grown-over dirt path with large puddles, running alongside a Man-made lake. The trail climbed a little and then dove down to the side of a stream. 

At this point the surface was very eroded and there was a significant amount of water streaming across the trail. Under foot it was still gravel, so it wasn’t too bad until the inevitable happened and the gravel gave way to mud. 

Deep. Wet. Sticky. Slippery. Mud. 

How can it be both sticky and slippery? It was the kind of mud that would try to suck the shoes off your feet, and then let you slip backwards as you attempt to escape its clasp. Suction and no friction. Fab. 

The trail got wetter and deeper. After a while it climbed and the mud gave way to deep puddles and a few more uncertain directional signs. 

Despite the tempest underfoot, the rural scenery was gorgeous, with bluebell woods, verdant trees and a rich canopy. This is, of course, all fed by the rain that was currently usurping my life from my feet up. 😉 

I eventually ended up on the main road back towards the hotel and headed off that way. 

Halfway up the hill to complete the loop the entire road and pathway were under water. 

Positive view: this allowed me to get my shoes cleaned from all the mud. 

I’m going to stick with that and say no more. 

I soon got back to the start of the loop and the lady in my phone announced: 2.5 miles. 

Eh? This was marked as a four mile route. Turns out they meant four kilometres! A rookie mistake on their part. Did they not know the stories of imperial vs metric differences causing issues for space flight and channel tunnel digging? 😉

So, I sucked it up and prepared to dance with the slimy mud beast again. To battle. For honour. For victory. 

Here are a few snapshots of the hotel and park. 

If you have reason to visit, you should as it is spectacular. If you wish to run, be forewarned of the signage and the true distance and condition of the trail. I will mention the inaccuracy to reception but doubt the map will get fixed in any short time. 

And may you have a dry trail on your lap of the grounds. 

 Did that staircase move? (Harry Potter)The view from breakfast. 
I’m still waiting for my shoes to dry 24 hours later…


Travel Running: London #3, Regent’s Park

I’ve been fortunate enough to fit in one last trip to London for the British Computer Society to attend their International Sections Conference before I have to start work. 

For this trip they booked a hotel that’s very near Regent’s Park so, naturally, that became my destination of choice for my first run. 

I started by running around the Outer Circle of the park and along the Regent’s Canal path. This part of the run was devoid of all but a couple of walkers. The London Zoo actually spans across this canal and you can hear a lot of the animals as they are waking up (no, you are not being followed by a lion). There is an aviary right by the canal, too. 

Once I’d completed the Outer Circle, coming back down around the boating lake, I ran the Inner Circle (see gate in picture above). 

There’s something about large parks in the centre of a city that makes my mind drift back to the centuries that came before. To think that this park is still very much like it was in the times of Conan-Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) is amazing to me. 

If it weren’t for all the brightly Lycra-clad people running and riding here, it could be anytime in history. 

The park is clearly liked by cyclists as there were several swarms of them circling the Outer Circle. I think traffic may be restricted here so it gives them a protected place to get some speed work in. Cyclists and runner have very different areas of the park to use so that restricts any conflicts there. 

There was also one lady riding around and around the Inner Circle. She passed me four times (opposite direction) while I ran around it. That would drive me nuts!

5.25 miles with an official pace of 7:39 although while in the park it was nearer 7:22 for the most part. The road crossings on the way back to the hotel slowed me down considerably on that leg. 

Given my lack of running during my recent vacation I need to start building up my distances again. This’ll do for today as I have to stay awake through the conference.