Badger Runs

Yet another bloody “inspirational” running man journey. Pt 1

Okay, so get the eye rolling out of the way, yes, I know another fat middle aged man got fit during lockdown. Well tough, this is my journal/blog thing and I want to write about it.

Way back in 2020, a friend contacted me about a new “learn to run” course being held at the local community centre. Well there was one thing I knew about myself, I bloody hated running. I hated it at school, I didn’t mind it when I played rugby, but as far as I was concerned running for its own sake was the hobby of smug sods. Never mind that I was fat, unfit, lazy and undisciplined about every weightloss/fitness thing I tried, running could go hang.

Thankfully Alison persisted, she wanted a companion to go with and thankfully with the “we can egg each other on” reasoning, she bullied me into joining her at the RECC. I paid (my reasoning being that if I paid for it, then I had to go and get my monies worth), bought decent running shoes and spent a good hour bargaining with myself the night of the first class, if I went just once, then I might actually get something out of it.

So I went, met up with Alison in the parking lot and we made our way into the indoor running track and I was immediately intimidated and impressed by Joel, the instructor running the group. Joel is the kind of guy who you see running ultra marathons, he has the physique that makes grown men cry over their poor life choices, and he is quite frankly one of the nicest people I have met in sometime. I have never met someone that fit who is also non judgemental and encouraging. More about the amazing Joel later.

Very long story short, once Joel taught me how to warm up, how to ease into running with walk breaks, how to actually breathe, I found that I actually liked, no, I actually loved running.

There is mistaking that we are brothers – me on the right on my second day of running. My amazing dorky brother on the left in response.

An odd thing happened. I started to care about my appearance again. I shaved off my beard, I started looking at my clothes and caring about dressing nicer, things mattered a bit more. Then the pandemic hit and lockdown shut down the run program, but I kept on running on the rarely used treadmill in our basement.


Here be Dragons (again)

Back in October, (yes, yes I know that I haven’t written anything for that long, life gets in the way) I wrote about finally getting to knit the sweater of my dreams – Nagano by Dale of Norway, it was a big deal for me, and the problem was that after years of searching for the pattern, I had mythologised the knit to the point that when I got around to starting, I had got so in my head about making it, that it absolutely had to be totally perfect, nothing else would do.

So I picked my colours, knit the body and started one arm, and I kept looking at the body, and looking, and grumbling about my bloody stupid colour choices. And this kept on until about a month ago, when in a fit of loneliness and self contempt at my own uselessness, I frogged the entire thing and started again using the colours Dale of Norway used back in the 90’s.

Now I know why this happened, I am a man very much on my own during the week, I don’t use social media and I don’t have any friends, so knitting, reading and running have become the core of my identity and what I knit has to be perfect, what I read has to be enlightening or entertaining, and when I run I have to compete against myself. I am often alone in my head and the self saboteur who lives in there really didn’t like my knitting…

That said, he was right, the colour choices were wrong, it looks much better now and so here I am, mid July with a daily heat warning, knitting a winter jumper. But, by gum it looks good. (And we have a puppy!!!)

Badger Makes

Here be Dragons

I have a real problem with dragons.
Truth is I’ve always had a problem with them in that despite my age I still love dragons. It is a silly interest, probably a hangover from my obsession with Ann McCafferys PERN books back when I was a preteen (lets not pretend it ended there, I still own all the books and have reread them many many times).

I honestly cannot put my finger on why I love these silly fantasy creatures, probably they are a fascinating animal that never existed, but have managed to manifest in the imagination of so many human cultures. Dragons in human culture is another post altogether and this is about knitting

So it is little wonder that when I came across Dale of Norway and their amazing knitwear designed for the Norwegian Ski teams of the last 50+ years, I was immediately drawn to the one for the Nagano winter Olympics in 1998. It has dragons!

And that lead to a hyper obessive four year search for the pattern booklet, which arrived a fortnight ago. The English translation has been out of print for year and is nigh on impossible to find, but find it I did.

And now, after a week of knitting, I am so very close to Dragons

Badger Reads

The Queen of Crime and my reading addiction

Agatha Christie, pictured at her home, Winterbrook House in Wallingford, Berkshire, sitting behind her desk with books piled high, 1950.

This weekend while pottering in the garden (not really that cute, I was clearing up a downed tree from hurricane Fiona) I listened to “You’re dead to me” on BBC Sounds, the discussion that episode was Agatha Christie and I had a moment of revelation that, being precocious brat that I was back then, I first read an Agatha Christie novel when I was 13, some forty years ago.

The format for You’re dead to me, is presenter(name escapes me), scholar (Lucy Worsley) and comedian (Sue Perkins), discussing the topic at hand.
Sue revealed that she had been quite ill in her early teens and had taken refuge in a stack of Agatha Christies for company and had been hooked. I’ve previously felt a sort of affinity for Super kins, she is gay (like me) and is almost exactly one month older than me, so we’re obviously practically twins, and like her I discovered The Duchess of Death in my early teens, in an attic reading room in my junior house at boarding school.

Being the kind of boy who wasn’t boisterous (gay) and liked my own company (gay) and was and old soul (gay and probably a bit autistic) I preferred reading above any activity and while I can’t remember which book it was, I distinctly remember the room, cramped and musty, small brown painted bookcases with old books from the 40’s and 50’s (I also discovered Molesworth up there) and a haven from the other noisy boys.

So, getting back to Soup Erkins and Lucy Worsley and the discussion of the early Queen of Crime, it was fascinating to learn that while her family was sufficiently well off and middle class, she was largely an outsider/observer in and of the class structure of her time, which is demonstrated in her protagonists, Poirot, a refugee, effete and fussy, fat and dismissible. Marple, a nosy spinster old lady, who takes in everything, not at all important. Tuppence, a post great war modern gal and her nice but dim husband Tommy, all not the right kid of people, all successful in their work – just like Agatha herself
It’s small wonder that her work resonates with so many gay people, who like their heroes, don’t quite fit in and spend a good amount of time on the edges looking on.

I’ve just finished the excellent Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture trilogy and decided to take a break from my long love of hard SF and revisit some old friends. So The Murder at the Vicarage, it is, to be followed by The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

On a side note, there has been controversy regarding the announcement that Christies work is to be reviewed and reworked to reflect modern language, and to sensitively adjust away the language which is clearly racist, demonstrates colonial disdain and is downright offensive. I look forward to rereading her books with fresh 21st century eyes and seeing how I feel about the language now, until then I offer no opinion.

Dame Margaret Rutherford, the only Jane Marple for me.


On the subject of badgers…

I’ve been playing with an AI image generator (yes like everyone, yes I know it isn’t art). I wanted to generate an representative image for my Mastodon profile, so I fed in some text and I wasn’t disappointed.

I then got a bit silly, this shit is addictive.

I completely understand why graphic artists are concerned about AI image generation, my prompts were very simple and produced some pretty decent images. The crochet badger would be so easy to pass off as a real thing and I may actually try to make it as a real thing.

But you can see why I love these furry little bastards.

Badger Runs


I did it, I did it twice in fact, but so far this year I have managed to run every day.

I had made an out loud declaration that I would hit my step target every day this year, well this month of January at least and see how I go from there (so far so good).

But, one of my not resolutions for 2023 was to get match fit to start attending the local park runs here in Truro. I know the route well, I used to walk the dog along it before Hurricane Fiona made a pigs ear of Victoria Park and it’s a lovely trail, it’s a nice 5k walk and should be a nice 5k run.

But I’m a terrible coward, I need to know I can do something privately before I attempt it publicly and despite what Brene Brown says, I still manage to feel shame about many things.

But this week, I not only ran a treadmill 5k, I cut 7 minutes off the time I ran my last treadmill 5k, 10 days ago.

Am I match fit for Park run? I very much doubt it, but I’m very much on the road to running with the best (well mediocre) of them come Spring.

Badger Writes

Hello 2023

I’ve never really been a new years resolutions kind of boy, and yes, I know that I’ve made half arsed attempts at great self improvement promises to myself, but any changes I’ve ever made to my life or lifestyle have been incremental and never as a result of grandiose statements made in the haze of New Years champagne (or prosecco).

In fact, the older I get, the more content I am with everything in my life. I know that comes from a certain amount of privilege, but at 53, I find myself sat in my living room typing this, a fire burning in the grate, a cat stretched out in front of it. Classical music in the background, a fresh ground coffee at my elbow and feeling content is pretty easy.

But, I do have some intentions or goals for 2023 that are smart S.M.A.R.T.
smart as it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound
(See my dearest heart, I do listen and absorb).

1. Finish St Brigid (my current project), fully, completely and wearable. I have a terrible habit of starting new projects midway through long ones and getting distracted. I have at least three abandoned jumpers in project bags that need attention to be finished.
2. I have a huge stash of yarn, some bought and some inherited and I intend to sort through and make sensible decisions about what I should do with it. It’s been six years since my mother died and I inherited her stash and it’s way past time I stopped being soppy and be realistic about what I will actually use and what I should donate.
3. I will use the really nice yarn that is in my deep stash, the wet spun linens and cobweb weight stuff that I was given years ago and terrifies me.
4. I will not start new projects that require me to buy new yarn.

I switched to a e-reader a number of years ago, as I get older my eyes appreciate the resizable text and adjustable lights my Boox provides (and the warm light option means I can read in bed without the blue light problem that phones and tablets have with interrupting sleep). But I rarely give myself time to sit and read, so I tend to only read in bed before sleep and I read junk.
I want to read more of the serious literature I avoided in favour of my SF addiction.
I’ve been reading more Waugh and Orwell last year, I love Wodehouse, but feel regret that I never finished The Ragged Trouser Philanthropists, in fact I abandoned it to reread an old favourite. I Keep promising myself that I will start reading the Margaret Attwood novels I have, but found myself looking the violent TV adaptation of a Handmaids Tale and was deterred from opening her books, which is unfair of me, to judge her entire career based on one television adaptation. So fewer sweet treat SF novels and more serious broccoli ones, I like broccoli and I know I like decent literature if I make myself start.

Just before the pandemic really hit, I was persuaded to join a “learn to run” course at out local community center and much to my disgust I discovered that not only did I enjoy running, I was actually good at it. We had a few weeks running together and then it was lockdown and I was stuck with running on the treadmill in our basement. So on and off and nursing a tendon injury, I’ve been running. It’s been an amazing boost to my mental health, I’ve lost weight and I feel great.

So, now that things are getting “Back to normal” it’s my intention to increase my running training and start doing the Saturday park run in Victoria Park if and when they resume in the spring. It’s a flat 5k course, I’ve walked it with the dog before and the route is in a lovely wooded park. I know I can do it, I’ve run treadmill 5ks, I just need to up increase my stamina and endurance.

These are all still self improvement of sort, but things that I enjoy anyway. Personal domestic stuff I keep off the internet, but there are house renos and boxes in the basement from our move to the new house (6 years ago) that desperately need my attention this year and lets not talk about the state of the garage.

Badger Makes

Making badgers

After making my husband his Mastodon, I decided that of course I should make myself a Badger.
Ravelry has been my go to knitting pattern source for years, but I’ve never bothered much with crochet because I was a snob about the way crochet fabric looked. I’ve evolved on that and have come to appreciate the craft more, admittedly I’m never going to crochet a garment because I still don’t like the look, but I have learned to love making crochet things. It’s been fascinating learning how increases and decreases in the right places shape the fabric in different ways.

I found a badger amigurumi I wanted to make, then another, and then another. I fear that I have created a problem for myself, because I know that one way or another, this year I will have to make them all…

And that’s just the crochet badgers…

The remarkable Claire Garland (Dot Pebbles) created knitted badgers too.

Badger Makes

I made a thing


Making things is my thing.
I’m very much hooked on knitting, but I taught myself to crochet a few years ago and it’s something that I can take or leave, it’s fiddly and I don’t care much for how crochet fabric looks in garments. But, it’s amazing for making toys and bags and things like that.

So when m’husband and I joined the twitter exodus for Mastodon I remembered seeing a crochet pattern for a mammoth, and yes I know that they weren’t the same thing, but close enough for a toy made of yarn…

A month of fiddle-arseing around and counting rounds and putting off the making up (because it’s my least favourite part of any project, I finished off the yet unnamed mastodon for m’husband.

I may make another sometime, but right now I have my eyes on a badger pattern that is making my fingers itch.

Badger Writes

What’s the deal with all the badger stuff?

Badger was the first online identity I chose back in the 90’s when we were first getting online and the internet was an adventure, and it’s pretty much stuck with me over the last 30 years.

Way back in the ancient mists of time when I was a mere slip of a lad, I wasn’t like other boys. I read obsessively, I never really had the knack for making or keeping friends and other kids baffled me. One of the books I was obsessed with was The Wind in the Willows (something to pick up later, but I think this may have been the seeds of my vague affinity for the interwar period/aesthetic). I loved the book, but I identified most with Mr Badger. Toad was fun, but alarming, Ratty far too sporty and far too like those boys who I liked but who were unattainable to me, Mole sweet but dim, but Badger, well Badger was a gruff kindly, loner sort, but open to pleasant company. The description of his home sang to me, (oddly much in the same way Bag End did when I discovered The Hobbit in my early teens)

The floor was well-worn red brick, and on the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught. A couple of high-backed settles, facing each other on either side of the fire, gave further sitting accommodations for the sociably disposed

The ruddy brick floor smiled up at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with each other; plates on the dresser grinned at pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flickered and played over everything without distinction.

Wind in the Willows, chapter IV Mr Badger

How those words spoke to the future middle aged man in my preteen heart I have no idea, but that idea of home has stayed with me my entire life. And as I sit writing this, a wood fire burns in the grate, soft classical music plays in the background, the dog lies asleep on the sofa and I’m sipping hot Yorkshire tea, so somehow, something of Mr Badger and his home lives on in my daily life, and the nature of him sits in my heart and identity.

So that’s what all the badger stuff is about, all that and there is something that I can’t help but love about the cuddly vicious little bastards, and of course there is this.