(Me: 45/174; Cathy: 48/253)
The other half of Team Bishop was away for a girls-only weekend in North Wales with
old long-standing friends from school daze. This was a perfect opportunity therefore to catch up on the four remaining tourist venues from Cathy’s, 48 strong, tourist list that I have yet to visit. Lydiard being one of them. Cathy strongly recommended Lydiard because it is very scenic and, just for a change, it is nice to do a flat and fast course with a chance to get for me, an illusive, sub 29 minute time. (We usually chose single lap forest trails, with a bit of “hill-age” thrown in for good measure.) I have to say however, that two-lappers do have their merits, such as being able to work out the best place to start the final sprint at the end of the second lap.
It was a relatively straight-forward journey to get there, mostly along dual carriageways and the M4 motorway; this being part of a familiar route for us whenever we head off to South Wales. (Which we do from time to time…but I digress). Lydiard Park has two different entrances if coming by car. I chose the Hook Lane entrance as this was the closest to the café, toilets ( the latter being open before 9am), and the start and finish points of the run itself.
It was fortunate that I had arrived in good time because, as it turns out, I ended up wasting the best part of 20 minutes trying to set up my card details, to pay for parking, talking to an AI answering service on my mobile. Several dropped calls later, I gave up and searched “hidden pockets in the car” for just enough 20p coins to pay the (modest) car parking fee. Phew!
(Why can’t these places deploy card reading pay meters?…As a matter of fact, and frustratingly, the meters did have card slots and pin pads but for some reason, best known to the local council, they were not enabled! Rant over! I am about to enter parkrun world where everything is positive…)
An excellently friendly parkrun first-timers’ and tourists’ welcome, including audience participation, was delivered, which served to dispel the earlier stress of the afore-mentioned car park woes (#1st world problems). We were even offered the tip of the week: “don’t forget
your barcode to double-knot your shoe laces!” All in the spirit of ensuring that the parkrun experience, that was about to unfold, would be unforgettable…for all the right reasons.
There were pacers this week. I was impressed that, not only did each tabarded pacer position themselves in the starting “snake” according to time but, they also held up aloft their target time so that the rest of us would take the hint and cede ourselves accordingly. Love the attention to detail. Same parkrun experience, wherever you go, with every parkrun having its own little niche things.
This was a lovely course, with trees and open fields as far as the eye could see in all directions. Hard to imagine that this was just outside of the curtilage of the Swindon metropolis. I am also beginning to appreciate more, the virtues of a double-lapper: not only do you get to enjoy the course the first time round but you get the opportunity to do it all again, for free, before it’s time to pass through the finish funnel. Double the fun and no extra charge!
After partaking of a bacon butty (with apologies to my vegan readers) and coffee in the café, (all for less than a fiver), I strolled round the park to take in the atmosphere.
Perhaps Team Bishop will do this one again. However onwards and upwards to the next parkrun adventure as both of us edge towards the the much coveted (well, only in an arbitrary sense) half-Cowell Tee-shirt. Just three more to go before I catch up with Cathy: Wimpole Estate, Harcourt Hill and Rother Valley. Which one will be next? Tune in next week, and all will be revealed.