By Iona Cousland
A group of Belgravians headed to the Surrey hills for a weekend of running, laughs and rural zen-ness organised by the Belgrave stalwarts; Megan ‘Champ’ James, Charlie of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and of course the all-important, Mary.
Friday night and the feeling is right
Most of us were met by Charlie and the van at Dorking station, it was then a short drive to YHA Holmbury St Mary Hostel. The hostel set in scenic woodland is something of an institution – and one of the first hostels in the country. Built in 1935 it was cosy and had all the necessities the group required.
After a hearty dinner of curry and baked potatoes (not that anyone had these together) the Scottish members of the group attracted the interest of a fellow guest who’s mum might have been Scottish… we’re not sure, but he’d certainly been educated on Ceilidh dancing by the end of the conversation. Following the feasting everyone headed up to bed to ensure top form for the Saturday morning activities.
A plentiful brekkie was followed by some hard core drills led by Jurgita which left some members of the group wishing that was the end of the session. Not to be though, the 1km loop route had been sussed out by Megs earlier that morning and whilst starting downhill, a long but gradual incline followed, with a steep hill to finish. Saron and Georgie steamed ahead with the rest of the group pushing each other round to complete four or five loops each. Mhairi was being sensible with her shin splints so was doing her own running – we know she’ll be back in no time! Meanwhile the group caught glimpses of Simon keeping busy with fun and games in the mud pond, accompanied by Mary.
The session was followed by a sandwich lunch and Mary’s yummy chutney which went down a treat. It was a chance for everyone to catch up and reflect on the morning’s running.
After lunch we headed to Bill’s only a few miles away, where we were greeted by a Belgrave umbrella marking the entrance to the drive and music from further down the road as we learnt Bill’s neighbour a.k.a the drummer from The Who (“the who?”, one group member asked), was hosting a music festival.
An insightful nutrition talk from Alex Luce ensued which was both engaging and thought-provoking with all eyes on Alex’s plate when it came to dinner (he practices what he preaches). The group then took in the amazing garden which was home to an 80-year-old tortoise, longstanding pet of June who took a disliking to Charlie’s trainers, as evidenced by its affection for consistently head butting them. There was even a grape vine and Bill’s daughter Jo took us to meet the horses who Simon especially took a liking to. We even fed the ducks!
Dinner was prepared by Bill and his family and consisted of a delicious blend of meats, with the sausages of particular note (to quote a vegetarian-turned-carnivore). Simon even got his very own chicken burger. This was followed by a sizeable dessert spread which everyone tucked into with relish. The meal was followed by lots of laughter and stories, including one tale of discovering something in your shower at work that should belong down the loo.
The hospitality of Bill and his family was second to none and the group departed feeling full and very content.
The group ventured into the hills for a final long run and lots of fresh air before heading back to the big smoke. The views were incredible and the top notch trails kept the running interesting.
There was then a warm down and stretches led by Georgie followed by lunch, more chutney and, of course, some of Mary’s marvelous fruit cake. Bill paid a visit bringing with him home-grown grapes.
The weekend proved a welcome break from the city with lots of laughter and it was so nice to spend time with a lovely group of like-minded runners. There is no doubt in my mind this will bear fruit a few months from now when we’re all knee deep in mud, grass and sweat – go Belles!