Three months, or 2176 hours, after the boy was born Mrs H and I decided to make a dash for it and the three of us headed off to the coast in Devon. The ambition for the week-long holiday was limited. What space was left in the car after his pram, basket, play mat and bouncer had been packed was taken up by Midnight’s Children, Vanity Fair, biographies of Isabella Blow and Coco Chanel, and, of course, a pair of trainers.
The wind howled for many of the days, but we wrapped him up tight and headed for the beach when the sun came out whereupon he would promptly fall asleep. Yesterday, for the first time in a while, he was in a particularly strange mood and having tried and failed with all the usual tricks I loaded him up in the Baby Bjorn and we took off for the smugglers’ haven of Morte Point.
Well that shut him up! Even when he was facing into the wind he tried to keep his eyes as wide open as possible to take in the dramatic scenery. I would like to think that he was getting his first taste of the sublime – not the behind the sofa mock horror that Edmund Burke wrote of – but the real sense of overwhelming delight at nature. I suspect though he was just happy not to be feeling so grizzly.
Mission accomplished, I returned the boy to his mother and he promptly fell asleep. It was still too early to get the fire going, and the pub wasn’t open yet, so I made my excuses and put on my trainers and headed back out to Morte Point where I picked up the coastal path and ran a 6-mile loop to the Bull Point Lighthouse, back inland and over the hills to the village.
I am, and always have been a flat-earth runner. One attempt at the 72-mile Bob Graham Round last summer was enough to confirm that, but much as I enjoy the metronomic rhythm of the Thames Path, to be negotiating serious gradient again was a joy. I returned to the cottage soaked – (it rained, fancy that!) – covered in mud and elated.
The next marathon in the diary is 30 miles, through the mud again, in December. But, having said that doing the double of the London Marathon was going to be the highlight of 2011, I might have to revise that and get in my application for the 3-day Jurassic Coast Ultra Marathon. It seems that I am not such a townie after all.