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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Abbey Road Studios, John Paul Jones, Robyn Hitchcock, Bruce Foxton, Al Murray twice , Radio 5 Live, Ukejam and 18 miles on the Greensand Way

As our weekend merged into one big event I thought I'd start this blog on the Friday night before the latest Greensand Way training run we just did on Sunday.

But before I start please please visit our charity giving website and donate

Abbey Road Studios in London

We started our evening on Friday at Abbey Road Studios for the annual Sound and Vision evening to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK. We were very lucky to get tickets as our friend Penny performed that evening with Al Murray's band The T-34s.

Also on the evenings line up was Chris Difford who we sang 'Cool For Cats' along with him from the crowd and 'Biscotti' which comprised John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin and Robyn Hitchcock.

Dr G (my wife) with me, Robyn Hitchcock, John Paul Jones, Claire and Penny at Abbey Road Studios
We were lucky enough to get to meet John Paul Jones and Robyn Hitchcock afterwards in Studio 2 of Abbey Rd and we talked a bit without me cracking up into a gibbering mess ( I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan).

The evening was a great success and various one off pieces including a 'doodled' Damien Hurst print were auctioned off raising over a quarter of a million pounds for Cancer Research UK. Al Murray did a fantastic job auctioning off the pieces and co-compere Bob Harris from Radio 2 resided an air of cool calm over the night.

Claire and I discovered a new way of 'carb loading' for long distance running as we had 'more than 3 but less than 11' glasses of champagne and felt very little ill effects the next day. At the end of the evening we got to say thanks to 'Whispering Bob' Harris and sped off into the night to get home.

Dr G, Claire and Penny crossing the famous Abbey Rd crossing made famous by the Beatles

On the way back to the car we took the advantage of a lull in busy London Traffic to take the obligatory 'Abbey Rd ' photo as per the famous Beatles Album cover.

After a Saturday evening spent 'carb loading' with Real Ale in a pub in Guildford (where we bumped into Bruce Foxton of The Jam) we got up early Sunday morning and, instead of getting started on our Greensand Way run as soon as possible, jumped in the car with ukuleles and headed for London.

Claire and I outside the BBC TV Centre
We arrived at BBC TV Centre at 10am. I am lucky enough to be in a ukulele band called Ukejam (along with Claire, Penny and Dr G ). Ukejam meet up every other Monday night at the Royal Oak Pub in Guildford and cheat sheets and songbooks and ukes are provided for any newcomers. Find out more at We had been invited to perform a Monkees tribute song on Al Murray's 7 Day Sunday show on Radio 5 Live.

Me at Radio 5 Live - beneath my cool exterior was a shiny layer of Lycra
As we were going straight on to a run after the show I opted to wear full compression running top and leggings under my jeans and shirt. I felt like a super hero who could burst out of his clothes at any moment and fight crime.....I also felt like a berk.


We also met Jenny Eclair, Andy Zaltzman and Mark Steel on the show as well as the host Al Murray (who has played drums with Ukejam). You can listen to our performance towards the end here

Ukejam on Radio 5 Live

We sped off from the BBC very quickly after 12 and got some 'carb loading' done in Burger King to prepare us for our long run. We were racing the setting sun at 6pm.

'Carb 'Loading' at Westfield Shopping Centre

We got dropped off at the Windmill at Reigate Heath Golf Course with a planned run to take us back to my house if the weather and daylight allowed.

Lee and Claire at Reigate Heath Golf Course on the Greensand Way in Freezing conditions and snow

By the time we started running it was well after 2pm and it was snowing. The wind was blowing and we both started the run freezing cold. We were smart enough to save weight on our heavy packs by only bringing one pair of gloves and hat between us.

A wet crossing on the Greensand Way near Dorking
The rain was very heavy and we got absolutely soaked through the 4 or five layers we were wearing. I had on every piece of clothing I had brought with me and was still a bit cold, particularly on my hands. Everywhere was waterlogged and this was the one time I didn't wear my thick waterproof socks because of what I wore to the BEEB. We both had soaking wet feet.

Officially an 'Anorak' on the Greensand Way in Dorking

As we ran into Dorking at the 6 mile mark, I was pleased to find a new Greensand Way sign to get a photo of, it was only a few minutes later that I realised my religious zeal for new Greensand Way signs and my literal attire meant I was officially a Greensand Way Anorak.

At the Temple at Nower on the Greensand Way doing some Trig Planking

We noticed a trig point we hadn't seen before on the Nower so took the opportunity to get some obligatory photos.

Face down, Arms straight, Legs out - Planking on the Greensand Way near Dorking

After the 'Pork Scratching Dust' incident of the last run we were pleased (but wet and freezing cold) when we found out (huddled under a bush) on our 5 minute food stop that doritos pass the 'running travel damage' test. These will now be a welcome savoury addition to our running supplies.

Cold hands but unbroken Doritos on the Greensand Way near Dorking (sheltering in a bush)

A Claire Silhouette at sunset at Leith Hill Tower on the Greensand Way

At the 'halfway mark' for a marathon 13.2 miles exactly we reached Leith Hill Tower just as the sun set (and the rain/snow stopped for an hour). It was eerie to be there at that time of day, after it being so busy the last time we were there we found it empty, with the food hatch closed and no one around.

Sawdust Hash Trail on Holmbury Hill on the Greensand Way

As the sun set and it got VERY DARK the snow returned. We cleverly saved weight on our running packs by only bringing 1 torch so at the 16 mile stage of the run we were not tired at all but very cold and wet, and worse, running in the dark was proving a challenge at best and a risk of injury at worse.

As we ran Claire noticed small piles of sawdust at various points on the run. When we got to Holmbury Hill we noticed a kicked through sawdust circle so we knew a Hash had been here recently.

We called it a day at the 18 mile mark at the Duke of Kent School. The plan was to run back to my house and do a full 26.2 miles but the darkness and conditions forced us to make a sensible decision and get a pick up via Dr G and her car full of warm coats and hats.

'Little Pecker' having a warm bath and a recovery shake

As I laid shivering in the bath warming up I thought about how great the encouraging tweets we got from our friends were in spurring us on today. Also Ive got a mental list of a few items we need by this weekend coming when we are doing our first 2 day running training with a camping stayover on the Greensand Way. We kick off the training weekend with another Ukejam gig at the Royal Oak with our band Genevieve and the Zut Alors on the Friday night.

It still hasn't totally sunk in that I met John Paul Jones..........The last thing he shouted back to us as his wife dragged him away was 'Zut Alors!'.

Maybe we can get him to join the band?

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