Afternoon running is not my thing. I'm normally an early bird, it gets me set up for the day but with a huge burst of rain having just refreshed the earth I can't help but be drawn, heavy legs and all.
The Ridgeway path is giving to one and all this Sunday afternoon; walkers, horse riders, cyclists and a family trying to teach their daughter to drive. She grinds gears as the sparrows make fun of her from the hedgerow.
I try to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth; it's supposed to lower your heart rate but I'm aiming mainly for the avoidance of swallowing the flies that are in abundance right now. My nose burns and my lungs beg for a huge gulp rather than the thin wisps afforded by the little airways that come with having what was once fondly called a 'button nose' by my mum. I give in and run slack-jawed up the hill.
Ploughed fields open up to one side and I can hear the Skylarks, their call reminding me of squelchy acid house. I scan the sky and spot one calling out to its mate on the ground. Hovering, trilling, making me marvel at the juxtaposition of these amazing little creatures and the towers of Didcot that I can see in the distance. Nature and nuclear. I am satisfied.
I reach the turning point of my run and head back down the hill. Counting off the fence posts and telegraph poles that will take me home. A blackbird perched on a wire is singing his heart out. I slow, then stop in the hope that I can carry on enjoying his show but he sees me as predator - or maybe as sport. He flits 50 metres on to another resting point, daring me to catch him up. Whistling his beautiful tune.
|(c) RSPB http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/b/blackbird/index.aspx|