Against the Odds ~ Photo Challenge 

This photo was taken on a beach in Northern France back in September. We’d spent ages laying out leftover baguette and crisps for the gulls who swooped overhead, until finally I snapped this ~ just on my phone. We’d begun tossing pieces of bread up in the air to tempt/taunt the birds into coming nearer. I find the expression  on the face of the gull in the background equally delightful. 

Shadow ~ Photo Challenge 

My entries for this week’s photo challenge were taken in the better weather, when shadows tend to be longer and even in England we see more of the sun. 

The first image was taken on one of my usual dog walking route, in a very ordinary car park. 

The second photo was taken during an impromptu trip to Durham at the end of the summer. To pass some time I walked up to the cathedral, and admired the shadows cast onto the ground by the stone windows. 

Solitude ~ Photo Challenge 

This photo of a cormorant was taken at Clumber Park a few months ago, when I was experimenting with my new zoom lens. 

Solitude: sometimes you have to go out on a limb to find some peace. 

A voucher code for Feel Unique 

Just incase you’re thinking of purchasing any new makeup or skincare, here’s a link to get 15% off when you shop online at Feel Unique. It worked out the best value for the products I’d been searching for so thanks to the discount I placed a sizeable order. I’ve used Feel Unique previously and always found the service to be speedy and reliable. If, like me, you’d rather shop online, maybe it will come in useful. Oh, and watch this space – I’ll be blogging my Birchbox subscription very soon! 

Here’s the link. Happy shopping! 

http://referme.to/IGLybYo

Running (with dogs)

Since taking up running last April there have been lots of pluses for me, (fitness, weight, energy levels) but there have also been a couple of minuses. If you’ve been here from the start you’ll know that this blog was first and foremost created as a sewing blog, in order to share my makes with the online creative community. You’ll also have noticed that that type of post has become more sporadic over the past months. Aside from sewing, which I’m still passionate about, though has become something now largely reserved for school holidays, it’s the dogs who have lost out to my new love. Do they still get two walks a day? Almost always, yes. Do they get as many long walks as they used to? No, probably not – although again this is rectified during the holidays.

Wilf accompanied me on my first ever 5k, and trotted along merrily beside me, when I couldn’t possibly imagine running so far without feeling incredibly sick, dizzy and exhausted. But I quickly realised that holding his lead affected my posture, and as I began to try and learn about running, I knew holding a lead was a hindrance and not a help. Last year I worked on my technique, speed and my ability to just keep going. After long/harder runs I would usually walk the dogs after, albeit for shorter times and distances.

Around Christmas, I wasn’t training for anything and had accepted that steady runs are an important part of any running schedule, so I took Wilf out on a 5 mile run. He did great! I used a regular lead that I looped across my body, giving me adequate control over Wilf but enough freedom for him to  run (or at least walk quickly) beside me without requiring constant holding. It wasn’t the most comfortable set-up but it was ok. I did my usual 5 mile route, maybe 30 seconds – 1 minute per mile slower  than my usual pace – and of course we made around 10 stops for Wilf to cock his leg. He kept up with me well and only pulled a couple of times to try and investigate items of interest such as molehills and distant rabbit burrows.

Following this success, I ran a couple more times with Wilf on a similar route/distance, each time he seemed to tune in better to me and my pace and stride. I read something that said it was important to remember that running with a dog meant the dog is joining YOU on a run, when things like stopping to sniff a tree trunk should be discouraged and reserved for dedicated dog walks. One evening, I even bit the bullet and took both dogs out, somehow managing around 4 miles in a not too poor time – although Oliver has since returned to being an incompatible running buddy, confirmed this week when a mile into a run, I was forced to loop back to the house and shove him through the back door – he had no interest in picking up his pace and keeping up with me and Wilfie.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a special cannicross lead, which goes around your waist, attaches to a harness and is very stretchy, to ensure if the dog comes to a sudden halt the runner isn’t yanked to a stop or worse. So far I have worn this a couple of times, and realised part way through the first run that it is something that I need to adjust to, rather than Wilfie – it almost gives him too much freedom, especially for running beside roads – which is our main surface on dark and damp January evenings. Now, about 5 runs in, he is able to match my pace throughout a 5 mile run. He is learning that we only stop for a sniff and a wee when I have slowed down and walked a couple of steps first. I believe that fitness-wise, he would be capable of running twice as far, though I have’t yet experimented with this – but I do plan to.

The downside is that even when I do and have run with Wilfie, Oliver still needs to be exercised. Wilfie adores his walks, and will cry to be taken out on evenings when I would rather not. Oliver, on the other hand, is much more of a fair weather walker – if it’s too damp/cold/frosty, he’s happy to stay home, so a short post-run wander of a mile or so is often adequate for Oliver, fortunately.

As January comes to a close I’m looking with interest at races that I may wish to take part in during 2017. I’ve already spotted one or two where I can run with a dog. I haven’t yet taken Wilfie to Parkrun, but I’m thinking that would be a good way to see how he copes with running in a group – surrounded by people, pushchairs and dogs. If that is a success, I feel like we could make a good team in a cannicross-friendly run. Even off the lead, he just loves to run, too.

Instagram ccmercer

New up on the blog today ~ it's the summer so I've been sewing! Could it be the perfect pattern for autumn/winter? Link in profile 🔗
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@sewoveritlondon #heather #heatherdress #knits #sewingwithknits #jersey #autumn #winter #winterwardrobe #cosy Today I ran my third half marathon, in the glorious August sunshine. It was a warm one, but fairly flat, and a lovely way to spend a few hours on a Sunday.
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#halfmarathon #newarkhalf #roadrace #august #feelinghothothot Summer delights homegrown in dad's garden 🌱
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#homegrown #tomatoes #fresh #eatfresh #5aday #runners4runners #runnerbeans #green #vegetables #eattherainbow #Heatherdress #2 is now in progress. Hard to tell from the photo, but it's a lilac-grey jersey I've had in my stash for a while, possibly from last year's #sewupnorth ? I'm planning on the 3/4 sleeve option, and adding 3 inches to the length rather than the 4 I added to version 1. This fabric is a lot less beach than the other, so I'm interested to compare + contrast the two. I'm thinking this one will be more casual, although my stitching needs to be neater as it will be in plain sight on this one 😬 .
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@sewoverit #sewingwithknits #memade #autumn #sewingtheseasons #cosy #lilac #sweatshirt #dressmaking My first @sewoveritlondon #heatherdress is all cut out and underway. I've added a couple of inches to the length, hoping this turns out to be a colourful dress for late summer/autumn. If it were finished I'd be wearing it today - it's torrential! ☔️ Fabric bought on my last trip to @fabworksmillshop .
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#jersey #dressmaking #memade #knits #floral #autumn #colourful #pockets Yesterday I washed all of my class's karate kits. Never one to miss an opportunity to create a comfy bed, Oliver made the most of the heap of laundry for somewhere to snooze. .
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#baddog #laundry #washing #karate #karatekits #summerholiday #rescuedog #luxury

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