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Happy New Year!

So it’s 2022. Yay! And traditionally it’s the time to look back on the last year. I do wish I had managed to write a few more blog posts, but I have been so busy, and at times quite unmotivated if I am honest. But there have been many good things this year. I managed two trail runs which were a lot of fun. And I also did the wonderful Ealing half marathon, as well as the Ealing parks challenge which was wonderful – getting into all the corners of Ealing borough that I would never normally go to.

A corner of Acton I probably won’t ever visit again! 🤣 (shame about the graffiti…)

As always I feel grateful to live in an area where there are so many nice places to run that are in green spaces – right on the doorstep!

Sunrise over the river Brent and the allotments

I was very lucky to be able to get away to the beautiful Isle of Arran in July for a walking holiday. I feel so grateful that my friend and I were able to do that, given the horrible winter we seem to be having lately. Thinking about all the lovely things that happened in 2021 certainly picks me up when things feel hard.

Lochranza on the Isle of Arran.

I also had a holiday in Suffolk, and ran some familiar routes there. The weather was good, and it was lovely to be by the sea with good friends for a few days.

The old lifeboat station in Aldeburgh

I have not done so much baking this year, or perhaps I just haven’t written about it as much! I’ve made some nice things and some not so nice (!). Highlights were the apple buns and the magic custard cakes!

My husband’s (the love of my life) 60th birthday cake – a truly scrumptious chocolate layer cake – the filling is like a chocolate mousse.

In May all the family managed a few days near Buxton in Derbyshire when the babies – my beautiful grandsons – met for the first time since being born on the same day in 2020!

They’re walking and talking now! (And they have hair.) Love them so much.

Today was the first day of a new year, so time to start as you mean to go on – a nice easy 6km run around one of my favourite parks – Pitshanger Park. It was so warm I went out in shorts and a t-shirt and was still too hot!

On my run today – a photo of one of my favourite oak trees, that lost a major branch in a storm a couple of years ago.

I haven’t yet decided on any ‘challenges’ for 2022… right now there’s enough going in my life without any more challenge thank you very much!

The medal haul from 2021 – plus that ridiculously massive one that hangs from a hook out in the garden!

I am hoping to write a bit more regularly – I’ve been sharpening the pencils and filling the inkwells in readiness.

Happy New Year to all my readers! Wishing you all good health and happiness. 😊

Running tales from Ealing – Pitshanger

My Pitzhanger run went first to Walpole Park and Sir John Soane’s Manor House

This was supposed to be written up yesterday but by the evening I was just too tired! My usual Sunday morning run was postponed until the afternoon due to a) the clocks going forward and b) Mothers Day – I spent the morning at the garden centre with my mum. So I decided that my run (and write up) would take an historical turn, looking at two places with the name Pitshanger (or Pitzhanger) in them. The name Pitshanger was first mentioned in 1493, and possibly means ‘an area of sloped woodland frequented by birds’.

A beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon in Walpole Park – the original parkland belonging to Pitzhanger Manor

I live in Ealing, west London, and recently the historic Pitzhanger Manor House has re-opened after extensive refurbishment. I have not had time to go in yet, but I’m looking forward to going soon. There is an exhibition of work by Anish Kapoor on there until August.

The gates in front of the Manor

There has been a house on the site since at least the late 17th century, but the most famous owner was architect Sir John Soane who bought the house in 1800. He demolished most of the house and rebuilt it to his own plans as a classical Georgian villa. It was his country retreat, used for entertaining and housing his big collection of artefacts. These are now in his London house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Soane used to walk regularly to Pitzhanger from Lincoln’s Inn – a distance of about 8 miles.

My sister’s wedding day 13 years ago!

I have two connections to Pitzhanger – number 1 – my sister was married there in 2006! It is a lovely wedding venue – very classy, just like my sister. And the second connection is that in the 19th century my Crace ancestors were interior designers/decorators who were commissioned by Sir John Soane to decorate some of Pitzhanger Manor (and his house in Lincoln’s Inn). I found a lovely blog that has a potted history of the Crace firm through the 18th and 19th centuries.

Peeking through the gate at the front facade

After running past Pitzhanger Manor, which is now in central Ealing, I ran to Pitshanger Park, which is about a mile away. I have always been quite intrigued about why it’s called Pitshanger Park, because it’s not that near the Manor House.

Pitshanger Lane – in 2016 it was named ‘best high street in London’

Pitshanger Lane is an old road – originally called Pitshanger Road in fact. It ran near to the Pitshanger Manor Farm. So the lands of the manor were extensive two or three hundred years ago. Now most of it has been built over, but the remains of the farmland can be seen in the Park.

Pitshanger Park is well used by local people – tennis, running, football, cycling, walking…

There are some old trees in the park, some of which appear to be along old field boundaries. The river Brent runs along the north side of the park. I often run through this park, there is always lots to look at – birds and trees, flowers and people (and dogs)!

The whole run was almost 11 km, and although some was along roads it was lovely to run through two very attractive parks. I do feel lucky to live in a part of London that has so many green spaces.

Old oak trees in Pitshanger Park – ‘sloped woodland’ – I see lots of different birds here – song thrushes are particularly plentiful.