Run For the Hills – If You Dare

Gyms can be terrifying places in Los Angeles. Time after time you’re subjected to visions of perfection who can be overheard complaining about the scrap of imaginary fat that is hindering them from squeezing their backsides into their size 000 jeans.

The men jostle for space at the mirror to grunt their way through their insane workouts and earn themselves their mid morning treat of one palm-sized, plain chicken breast.

But it turns out the gym can be a daunting place in the countryside too. So much so that my husband attempts to avoid the locker room at all costs. It’s not because he feels intimated by the village vicar’s impressive physique but because of the immense number of unnecessary, naked downward dogs in the changing rooms.

Let me explain. On his return from the local gym recently our conversation went like this:

Husband: “Hannah can I ask you. When you get changed in the morning, what is the first item of clothing you put on?”

Me: “My knickers, why?

Husband: “I’m just trying to fathom why every man in the gym feels the need to leave them until last.They are all bent over talcing their toes or pulling their socks on, some even their shoes, either completely naked or with just a t-shirt on.”

And so to give him a break from the nudist colony that he calls his gym, we decided to do some cross country running, where the only dangly bits we would likely come across were cow udders and the odd weeping willow.

It was a gorgeous day and while I was ready to just wing it and run where the wind took us, my dad insisted on giving us a map that looked like it had been hand drawn in the early 1800’s to give us some idea of the lay of the land.

“Go along Hollow Lane, turn left, past a gate, down the hill to the stream and run along there to come back to where you started,” he said.

map of somerset england
Not exactly the GPS run tracker I’ve been used to

Nothing after Hollow Lane was on the map however, but apparently it would be “obvious” once we got there.

It wasn’t! I saw no stream and after a few miles off the beaten track, we found ourselves sprinting past “Killer Cottage” and the “Kidnapping Cowsheds,” – properties quickly nicknamed by my own over exaggerating mind because why else would anyone build such a remote building other than to use it as a torture tavern?

As the cowpat laden track became so narrow you couldn’t escape the flies feasting on the excrement, and my husband getting quite sick of me asking “what do you think is up here?” I slowed my pace and I told him “save yourself, I can’t go on”.

The grandparents were looking after the kids and I proceeded to text them, what I later realised was, a bit of a dramatic text message.

text message to dad
The message did reach dad… once we were safely back home

My husband refused to leave a man behind and rallied me onward. An hour and a half (it felt like longer) after we set off for our jog I saw our car, the ‘C U Next Tuesday Mobile’ glimmering in the sunlight. I ran towards it desperately hoping it wasn’t a mirage and 20 minutes later, I was safe and sound at home.

Of  course I didn’t die from being stranded in a corn field. I wasn’t murdered by the local farmer or found tied up by a crazy shepherd. In fact the only person wanting to kill me was probably my better half, who once again had to endure my horrendous map reading – I still blame my dad for his crap map though – and put up with the fact I made a beautiful jog in the countryside into the first chapter of a bad horror novel.

jog in the British countryside
Worse places I could have been stuck

Perhaps I would have been safer going to an indoor spin class. The only problem was that when I Googled “spinning, South Somerset” I was directed to “The Somerset Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers”. I think I’d rather be lost….or worse.

 

50 Shades of Poo

I’ve witnessed my fair share of brown nosing and bull**** living in LA, but I have never been so bogged down with crap since I moved to the countryside.

When I was discussing this blog post with my my mum she warned me that I should air on the side of caution; not use the word “sh*t” or “shite” and maybe even reconsider “poo”. She told me her generation often sees it as crass and unnecessary. Well then I ask, if plop is so offensive to them why do the ‘Cocoon’ crew all flock here, to the epicenter of poop?

animal poo in the Somerset countryrside
The kids find it all rather fascinating

A walk around our ‘neighborhood’ involves crossing a field, dodging cowpats and Henley asking “what sort of poo is that?” way more times that we were used to in Los Angeles – although to be fair it was always dog sh** there.

By now you all know and are bored of the story of me carrying my son’s poo sample in a mayonnaise jar to hospital, but I haven’t told you about the fox that took a turd in my boxing glove and then stole the other one.

The same fox I told the kids to take a peak at through the  fence, “because you can get so close to them here” I said, only to realise it was ripping the head of a bird.

My Google history also contains a lot of questions I was never used to asking. My husband came back from a stroll down to the end of the orchard a few months ago and asked: “Have you ever seen a poo trifle? Well there’s one in the garden. It looks like several animals have been competing for the best poo, one on top of the other.”

My search engine informed me that it’s a badger’s toilet. They apparently dig their own latrine and use it for weeks on end, only there is no flush.

Henley’s fascination with this was so intense, we had to set up a night camera to capture the black and white beasts at work.

Running in the countryside is messy
Running gets a little messy!

We can’t even park the car in the garage because of the swallows that are currently living in there, using our aging Volvo as a bog.

It’s not bad enough I still have one child in nappies – whose bowel movement I had to scrub off the inside of the bath the other day –  but the chickens regularly crimp one off in their water bowl and who knows who the tiny ‘code brown’ on top of the pushchair belonged to.

Right, on that note I’m going to clean off the sheep crap that’s caught in the grooves of my trainers from my cross country run yesterday!