Going downhill, fast.

Descending Snowdon in 2011, when my knees were still in good shape.
Photo courtesy Sport Pictures Cymru.

Running fast downhill is when I feel most alive.

Given that Jon had just run down the scree-littered path on our descent from Moel Famau a lot quicker than me, I then qualified that statement to clarify that I was talking of what’s fast for me.

It’s all relative of course. My idea of fast is generally his idea of sluggish, although he was honest enough on that occasion to admit that his speedy descents are nothing compared to what other runners can do.

But the comment stood. I’d spoken it out loud, so it must be true, mustn’t it? Words from the heart. Yes – I really do feel most alive when I’m running downhill at a pace that I think of as quick.


Why? Adrenaline, I suppose. Now in my early sixties, I live a quiet, largely unexciting life. Much of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer screen, performing various tasks in a virtual environment, largely arranging and re-arranging words and images until a satisfactory outcome is achieved.

Getting outdoors, whether running or walking, is an antidote to that virtual existence. Being out in the sun, wind, rain, hail, sleet and snow (occasionally all on the same day) reminds me of what it’s like to be human.

Travelling through the landscape – albeit equipped with modern clothing and accessories – also reminds me that people have been doing much the same for millennia. Indeed, I live in an area where the remains of iron age hill forts are a very obvious link to the distant past.

Slow progress

Adrenaline does not, however, usually flow in sufficient quantities to stimulate my ageing body. On most of my runs and walks I’m accompanied by my dog, Benge. A Cocker Spaniel with a keen nose, he’s more interested in following scents than running at a pace that I consider quick. The majority of our outings, therefore, are relatively sedate affairs. Even when we’re running, it’s typically at only nine-to-ten-minute mile pace.

And, of course, I run uphill too. At an even slower pace than I run down. Running uphill is good for you. It makes running on the flat really easy by comparison. But it’s demanding. It takes a lot out of you (or out of me, anyway). And it gets harder as your body ages (or that’s my experience – though I can still manage a creditable 72 minutes to the summit in the annual Snowdon Race).

Some runners are better at ascending, others at descending. For me, going downhill is much easier – although I’ve never been as comfortable since tearing the cartilage in my right knee a few years ago. Despite surgery to clean things up, running downhill invariably hurts. I run drug-free most of the time, but tend to take anti-inflammatories for a few days as a prophylactic if I’m planning a long outing with a bit of uppy-downy stuff (say 15 miles and/or 2500 feet of climb).

For races (I use the term loosely; I’m not in them to win them) I usually get my knees and hamstrings taped for extra support.

Frozen peas

There will, of course, come a time when hill running is something my body just won’t be able to cope with. As I have no idea when that point will arrive, I just keep on going while I can. When my cartilage went bang in 2016, I was advised by a physio at the local hospital to stop running in the hills. Stick to the roads, she said.

There have, admittedly, been times since then when I’ve thought I should follow her advice and ease off. After tripping over in the woods on a walk with Benge, my knees were swollen for weeks. My right knee was so painful that I thought I’d fractured the kneecap (an x-ray found no evidence that I had). With Marathon Eryri about ten weeks away, I was supposed to be picking up my training. Instead, I was hobbling around, stuffing myself with painkillers and sitting with a pack of frozen peas on my knee to get the swelling down.

Sodden ground

Despite fearing I wouldn’t be ready for the marathon, I was – making it the seventh one I’d run since the cartilage tear.

Not surprisingly, the weather forecast was poor (it was Llanberis at the end of October!) but I didn’t care. What mattered was being there – and the weather was actually far better than predicted, though the ground on the final off-road section was sodden and runners were slip-sliding their way towards the finish line. I stayed on my feet, though only by taking it easy, which meant that I missed my four-hour target by 16 seconds.

That I was able to run at all was largely due to the support of my physiotherapist, Vicky Kelly of Grosvenor Street Physiotherapy. Faced with an ageing chap apparently in terminal decline, both physically and emotionally, she stuck to the positive stuff. Vicky’s expertise, advice and encouragement got me to the start of Marathon Eryri 2019; Ibuprofen and RocTape got me to the finish!

Positive experience

For me, running is a positive experience. It is not always fun; there are many days when I have to drag myself outside and around whatever course I’ve chosen. But I invariably feel better for having made the effort. To the extent that, in almost forty years of running, the times I wished I’d not bothered probably number less than a dozen.

If I had to identify the one thing that has made the biggest difference to my running over that time, it would be switching from road to trail.

Moving away from tarmac and onto the trails has brought both physical and psychological benefits. Physically, trails are more demanding, even if they’re not in the hills. Uneven surfaces and softer ground make you work harder (and also help strengthen your ankles). Add in some hills and you’re looking at a whole new experience, testing your body in a way that flat (or flattish) tarmac just doesn’t.

Psychologically, being in greener, more natural spaces is good for us. I’m lucky to live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (an AONB) and really am blessed with some wonderful places to explore. Whether my runs take me high or not, there’s always plenty of interest to see and, importantly, the opportunity to inhabit the real world rather than a virtual one.

Moel Famau, in the Clwydian AONB, North East Wales, where most of my running is done.

(As an aside, I never wear headphones when out running. I’d much rather be aware of what’s going on around me; the squeal of a jay, the warning cry of a blackbird, the call – high above – of  a buzzard; to hear the wind in the trees, water falling into a pool or mud squelching beneath my feet; it’s all part of the experience and I have no idea why anyone would cut themselves off from all that.)

Really motoring

For me, it doesn’t get much better than running back down to Llanberis during the International Snowdon Race. That’s when the real joy is to be had: dropping 3,200 feet over 4.75 miles in about 40 minutes.

Heart pounding, legs aching, eyes scanning the path ahead for the best line to take. It’s a glorious experience, made all the more special by the support, with people clapping, cheering, ringing cowbells, calling out encouragement. It’s a fantastic feeling.

And the speed I travel at! Gosh. Hard to believe it isn’t really fast at all. Good runners can cover the distance from the top back to the finish in about 20 minutes. That’s half the time it takes me. Amazing.

But as far as I’m concerned, of course, it’s my experience that counts and in my terms, I’m really motoring. Giving it everything I’ve got. Desperate to beat my target time. Trying to stay on my feet. One year I tripped and slid for a few yards along the stony path. My tee shirt and shorts were torn and my knees and elbows grazed, but there was no great harm done, though I was lucky not to have collided with anything too big and solid.

Childlike joy

Is that it then? Do I only feel truly alive for about 40 minutes a year, racing down Snowdon?

Of course not. That’s the best of the best, but there are plenty of other opportunities to be had, even if the experience doesn’t last quite as long. Short downhill sections on Moel Famau or Bryn Alyn can be just as rewarding; and there’s a fabulous tricky descent at Trail Marathon Wales that I love. My heart still pounds, my legs quite possibly struggle to keep me upright, and my eyes need to check what’s ahead, even if it’s only during a few minutes of pure, uninhibited, childlike joy.

Going downhill fast? Bring it on!

Still going downhill, fastish, in 2019, thanks to a great physio, Ibuprofen and RocTape.
Photo courtesy Sport Pictures Cymru.

Whatever you do, there’s a doodle for you

This text was originally created for a presentation I gave to a meeting of the North Wales Tweets business network in November 2019 (TweetUp 56 at Techniquest Glyndŵr, Wrexham).

The 10-minute talk was accompanied by an animation, displayed on a screen behind me – something I thought made an interesting alternative to the PowerPoint-based talks so often seen at such events.

In order to get my timings right (so that the images and speech synchronised as closely as possible) I recorded the talk and had it running as I constructed the accompanying animation.

Of course, the live presentation didn’t require the voiceover, but I decided to combine the audio and the animation into a single video file, which I uploaded to Vimeo. Visitors to https://vimeo.com/doodlydog can now see the animation running and hear me talking about DoodlyDog.

In a further act of repurposing, I decided to add the text to this blog. Accompanied by some screenshots from the animation, it offers an alternative way of promoting my work …

Whatever you do, there’s a doodle for you

0 – Introduction


I’m Eric Davies, aka DoodlyDog.

In this presentation, I want to share some of DoodlyDog’s story with you and give you some insights into how animated doodles are created and what they can be used for.

While I’m talking, an animation will be running – so, to help keep things more or less synched, please keep any questions until the end of the presentation.

1 – The back story

DoodlyDog was born about a year ago.

In all honesty, he came about by accident.

After 20 years of freelancing, my main source of work was drying up and I was looking for something else to do.

There was no great plan – instead, DoodlyDog arrived following a chance encounter between Desperation and Serendipity.

I saw an advert on Facebook for the animation software Doodly and decided to give it a go.

I played around with it and found I enjoyed being able to make simple animations.

That got me thinking that Doodly could give me that new, different, ‘something’ that I was looking for.

It was another string to my bow, another arrow in my quiver – albeit a rather novel one.

At the time, I was promoting myself under my company name: Ampersand Editorial Limited – offering writing, proofreading & web design.

But I wanted this new service to be distinctive – to stand out from that rather dull, staid, serious image.

Here, I should explain that I used to be a librarian – though not the sort you’d usually come across in your local library.
I specialised in reference and information work – and for about 30 years, my working life largely involved dealing with information about the European Union.
Among other things, I edited a newsletter and journal, ran training courses, and compiled a dictionary of EU terminology.
To me, it was really interesting – but it’s not the sort of stuff that gets most people excited.
When I adopted the name Ampersand Editorial, I was reflecting the more bookish, word-focused, introverted side of my character.

But my nascent animation service needed a new name and a different image: ideally, something playful, memorable – and Twitter friendly.

For obvious reasons, something based around doodles or doodling seemed like a good idea.

After much deliberation, I finally settled on the name DoodlyDog – not only because I like the alliteration, but also because it was available as a Twitter handle.

By chance, I found an image of a cartoon dog that I’d bought, and thought he’d fit nicely into this new persona I was trying to create.

The name and cartoon image then came together with the font Big Bottom Cartoon, to give me a logo that I’m really happy with.

I was, however, faced with the existential question that has forever haunted humankind: ‘who am I?’

In my case, am I Ampersand Editorial or am I DoodlyDog?

Fortunately, Nicola Moore of MarketMoore came to my rescue. She said I was far more animated when talking about DoodlyDog – and advised me to adopt it as my business persona.

I did. And here I am. DoodlyDog incarnate, so to speak.

The first business-related doodle I created was for Castell Gwyn Cheese.

It was a promotional freebie and was really very basic (there was no sound). But it got attention on Twitter and gave me hope that I could make a go of the animation thing.

To get more people following and retweeting me, I then ran a competition to win a free doodle.

The winner was Mummy & Theo’s Little Baby Boutique.

The business owner, Korena James, was so pleased that she ordered an animation for her other business – KJ’s Entertainment.

That was my first DoodlyDog sale!

(And Korena now buys a new doodle every quarter for both businesses!)

To further promote the doodles, I had an Easter giveaway on Twitter – offering 10 free Easter-themed animations.

One of the freebies went to Alzheimer’s Society Cymru – to whom I’ve offered a free animation whenever they want one.

(My dad had Alzheimer’s; I find it a difficult issue to deal with; creating animations for the Society is somehow therapeutic, so benefits me as well as them.)

2 – Making a doodle

“So,” I hear you ask, “what goes into making a doodle?”

Well … there’s lots of technology.

On the hardware side, you need a decent pc to cope with the graphics, plus a good broadband connection for uploading & downloading large files.

In terms of software, you need animation packages, video & image editors, plus sources of music and images that can legally be used (you can’t just nick things off the internet!).

And, of course, there’s the human stuff: qualities such as creativity, empathy, imagination, judgement …

There are two versions of the DoodlyDog creation story …

In the short version, the ingredients are mixed together in the DoodlyDog magic animation machine and, hey presto, 10 minutes later your animated doodle pops out.

In the longer – more realistic – version, the process typically takes a number of hours spread across days or sometimes weeks.

And it involves answering lots of questions …

  • What message is the client trying to convey?
  • Are there specific words, images, music, voiceover etc to be included?
  • Is it to be cartoon-style or more realistic?
  • How long should it be?
  • Is there a script or storyboard to work from – or do I have free rein?
  • What’s the timescale – is there a deadline?

Once the general idea is agreed, DoodlyDog usually needs a cuppa and a think.

And then it’s a question of putting a draft together – tying the various elements into a narrative that makes sense, holds interest and gets a message across.

Drafting invariably raises more questions:

  • Which animation software will work best?
  • Where can the images be sourced from?
  • What sort of font will be appropriate?
  • Which music best suits the mood of the animation?

At some point, a draft will go off to the client for comment.

Occasionally, the client is happy with the draft and no further work is needed.

More often – and almost inevitably – changes will be requested.

Perhaps to wording, or the font, or the speed (make it faster or slower).

Sometimes, it’s back to the drawing board. At which point, DoodlyDog needs another cuppa. And probably a biscuit as well.

One client wasn’t sure about the music I’d included, so asked me for other options.

From the hundreds of tracks available, I sent her another 5 or 6 that I thought would work. Her response was along the lines of ‘I can’t pick one – I don’t know how you decide.’ So we stayed with my original choice – which was this …

[At this point in the live talk, a video was shown that I created for YourWingwoman; the image below is a screenshot of the final frame.]

This animation nicely illustrates the use of various bits of software …

The icons were either made or tweaked by me in PaintShop Pro before being added to Doodly, where the initial animation was created.

The ‘flying wings’ effect was made in VideoStudio, which I also used to combine the two animations and to add the music (which is from AudioBlocks).

I then used VideoStudio to render the final version into an MP4 video file.

3 – Whatever you do …

So – success! There’s a nice new video to be shared on websites and social media platforms.

But what’s it for?

Ideally, of course, the purpose of the animation will have been decided before it’s commissioned.

But for anyone who’s thinking they’d like to get a doodle, I’ve created a brief animation suggesting five ways in which they can be used.

They are:

  • Product launch
  • Price promotion
  • Seasonal offer
  • Explain something
  • Tell your story

To that list, perhaps I should now add ‘Use in a presentation’. (I’d be interested in your views on that.)

For whatever reason they are commissioned, there’s now quite a collection of animations.

They range in length from about 10 seconds to 10 minutes.

And they cover a diverse range of businesses:

  • Admin & marketing support
  • Baby clothes
  • Canine hydrotherapy
  • Careers advice
  • Children’s parties
  • Commercial gas heating engineers
  • Detection dog handler
  • Development charity
  • Health and safety systems
  • Photography
  • Virtual PA
  • Window cleaning

4 – Finally …

I was at the Mingle for Business Conference some weeks ago and heard a talk by Karen Warren of KW Inner Strength.

Speaking on the topic ‘A Positive Mindset for Business’, she argued that we should ask ourselves what we enjoy doing.

Thanks to Des Desperation and Seren Serendipity, I’ve found something that I really do enjoy – because creating DoodlyDog animations is great fun!

It’s been an exciting year, and there’s still much to learn and to improve on – even if it’s only getting DoodlyDog to run faster!

And, in case you’re wondering, animations cost from £75 – or from £60 if three or more are commissioned.

Thanks for listening.

Marathon preparations

I’m writing this on a Monday afternoon, with the rain pouring down outside. On Saturday, I’m scheduled to be running my 24th marathon: Trail Marathon Wales (TMW).

Started in 2012 to help promote Coed y Brenin (the King’s Forest) near Dolgellau, North Wales, as a running centre, TMW is a 26-mile course over mixed terrain, with some 4,000 feet of ascent (for comparison, the London Marathon has a total climb of less than 600 feet).

That ‘mixed terrain’ covers some 9,000 acres of mostly hilly woodland and some open moorland, with runners using access (fire) roads – which in dry weather can be hard on the feet – and narrow paths, with a number of steep ascents and descents. There are some sections which are soft even in dry conditions; after rain, you can sink into them almost to your knees!

Until TMW was launched, Coed y Brenin was largely unknown as somewhere for people to run – although it has long been established as a biking venue, with well-known routes including the Black Bull (Tarw Du in Welsh; the first purpose-built mountain bike trail in the UK).

Now, however, there is a vibrant running centre with its very own website: runcoedybrenin.com

Last man standing

I was sitting on the toilet when the starting gun went

This will be my eighth time at TMW, which means that I’ll have done them all. I’m hoping that, if I can only keep on turning up and finishing the race, then I’ll eventually get a prize for being the last man standing, so to speak.

I’m certainly not going to win anything for my running performances – the best I’ve managed in my seven previous attempts has been third place in the male 60 plus category (which is not as much of an achievement as it perhaps sounds, as there were only 12 in the group – and the winner was about an hour quicker than me!).

My diary shows that the first TMW saw some 224 finishers, with me at 126. Not bad, considering that I was sitting on the toilet when the starting gun went, which meant I started six minutes after the pack. (I’ve since learned to arrive in plenty of time, as there are always queues for the loos.)

That first TMW took me just under five hours (4.57.31 to be precise), so my 2018 time of 4.37.27 wasn’t too bad at all – especially as I ran just five months after knee surgery.

2018 was wet, says my diary. And chilly. And hard. I was placed 114 of 317 finishers (there were apparently seven who started but didn’t finish – DNF as the results record; one of my nightmares is getting a DNF against my name for any of the races I start).

Best start training

And so, with TMW8 almost upon me, my mind has been turning to my marathon preparations.

I don’t mean that I’ve suddenly thought ‘I’m running 26 miles on Saturday, best get some training in’.

Rather, as happens before every race (don’t be too easily impressed: I usually only do three a year – two marathons and the Snowdon Race) I look back over my training schedule, comparing the number and quality of this year’s outings to those of last year (and sometimes further back). That’s where the diary comes in handy. It’s not full of chit chat or observations about the neighbours; instead, it’s a record of runs, dog walks and other activities (including the occasional wildcamp).

Despite having had knee surgery in January 2018, I did a surprising amount of running in the weeks before last year’s TMW. Although I thought I’d done more training this year, the diary says there’s little difference.

But no matter. I am where I am. My last training run has been done. This week, exercise will be limited to dog walks as I save my energy for the marathon. Experience has convinced me this is the best way for me to prepare (for me; that’s important – other runners will have their own approaches).

Pasta, pasta …

The aim is to arrive at the forest car park on marathon morning with my body desperate for exercise. Not, as has sometimes been the case, desperate to rest.

Pre-race preparations also involve eating properly. For me, this now means that for the week before the race, I eat pasta twice a day! Lunchtime is a cup of packet pasta; teatime is ‘proper’ pasta, usually with plenty of protein thrown in.

Since I started this regime a few years ago, I haven’t suffered the emptiness that I used to – the lack of energy that sees runners hit ‘the wall’ after 20-22 miles. All that carbohydrate swilling around my system is stored, as I understand it, in the form of glycogen – an easily absorbed supply of energy.

It might sound odd, but it works for me, whereas the odd plate of pasta an evening or two before running 26.2 just doesn’t.

Anyway, I’ve done all my pre-race running (this year’s longest run was 15.4 miles; highest weekly total was 30.06; my dodgy knees won’t take much more) and am now focusing on my dietary needs. So far, so good.

What else?

Kit, of course. I did my last run wearing the clothes and shoes I intend to use on race day: a Welsh dragon buff, short-sleeved tee shirt sporting my very own DoodlyDog logo, knee-length compression tights, my wonderful Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 shoes (super-cushioned to help protect my knees) – and Darn Tough socks in a lovely blue-orange colourway to match the Hokas!

The advice is never to wear anything on race day that isn’t tried and tested. Advice that I usually follow, but have occasionally strayed from when a nice shiny pair of socks appears in the race goody bag (in truth, the socks that year were just a new pair of a style I’d worn, so I thought they’d be okay, which they were).

One item that will definitely be going into the race day pack will be a tin of Vaseline. Wearing a sodden running top for between four and five hours invariably means nipple trouble; many is the time I’ve finished a race to find one or both nipples sore and bleeding. Not nice. 

It can also be used to stop chafing in other areas – but as this is a family-oriented blog, it’s probably best to gloss over just exactly where it should be applied.


For some reason that I haven’t yet fathomed, I have a tendency to refer to ibuprofen as an anti-depressant instead of an anti-inflammatory. As soon as I’ve said or thought it, I correct myself, but it’s a bit weird.

Anyway, in a similar way to taking lots of carbohydrate (pasta) on board ahead of the marathon, I’ve found it useful to load up with anti-inflammatories too.

Their prophylactic effect helps keep the pain in my knees at bay for most of the time I’m running and by also taking them for a couple of days after the race, the ibuprofen helps limit post-race pain as well.

It was my physio who recommended upping the dose from the occasional post-race anti-inflammatory; the drug apparently has a cumulative effect and so needs to build up in my system to give me maximum impact. As with the carbs, experience shows that it works.

Of course, the whole running experience is one great anti-depressant! Getting outdoors, away from the virtual world of the computer into the real world of mud, wind and rain (and even occasionally sun) does both body and soul the world of good.

Please don’t let it rain

So I’m all sorted. Apart from the weather. The forecast is for rain in the coming days (the postman told me today that the posties have been warned there could be a month’s rain in a few hours on Wednesday; I wonder if their forecasts are more accurate than the ones the rest of us get?).

I don’t like running in the rain. There’s nothing much of me (race weight is about nine stone six) and I chill easily. A bit of drizzle is okay, but please don’t send me out for 26 miles in heavy, proper Welsh rain.

Perhaps I should pack waterproof socks? It’s not really a joke: after very heavy rain one year, the race was re-routed the day before so as, my imagination told me, to avoid the potential for short runners disappearing from view in the worst of the boggy areas.

Indeed, in the first four years there were three different routes, making TMW an interesting proposition, though not one with great potential for a personal best (PB) time, as it was hard to compare like with like.

Who knows what this year will bring? There’s nothing I can do about the weather. And I have to finish the race if I’m to stand any chance of being the last man standing – the only person to have done all TMWs. If not this year, then maybe next …

Trail running mecca

From small beginnings, race organiser Matt Ward has grown Coed y Brenin into a really impressive running venue. There are trails of varying lengths and difficulty and even a shop – at which you can hire a pair of Salomon shoes to test on the trails.

With a series of events staged throughout the year (I did the Winter Trail Half in January) Matt has done a great job in developing not only interest in the area as a place to run, but also in encouraging people from all over the UK and elsewhere, to try trail running and/or to take on the challenge of a marathon.

Just imagine what that’s done for the local economy!

Cheers, Matt – it’s been great. Just hope I’m up to it again on Saturday …

A winning combination

It had taken me just 71 minutes to reach the summit of Snowdon and I was in with a chance of achieving my best time for the International Snowdon Race.

Could my legs get me back to the finish in Llanberis fast enough? Just six months earlier I’d had surgery on my right knee to repair a torn cartilage. Since then I’d completed a tough marathon, but this was different – a drop of some 3300 feet (1000 metres) in less than five miles. There was only one way to find out …

Sweet tea

I wanted to be sick, could barely breathe and had to be revived with cups of sweet tea …

In my early twenties I’d had to pull out of a five-a-side football match after almost collapsing. It was both a surprise and a wake-up call. I’d never thought about my fitness; it was just something I’d taken for granted. And, in retrospect, ignored.

Things changed. Appalled and frightened in equal measure, I started exercising – cycling to work, playing badminton and tennis, and running.

In the intervening years, it’s running that I’ve stuck with. Perhaps it’s because you need very little equipment (though a good pair of shoes is essential), or maybe it’s about getting out whenever the opportunity arises, without needing to book a court or make up a team.


I was 48 before I did my first marathon. Watching the London Marathon on television shortly after completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk inspired me to move from running a few miles to training for 26. After all, if I could walk 25 miles or so in the hills, why shouldn’t I be able to run that far?

My first application to run London was rejected, so I took up Edinburgh’s offer of a guaranteed place for their 2005 event. A gruelling 26.2 miles nursing a bruised metatarsal head in my right foot was followed by a week’s camping and walking in the Cairngorms which, in retrospect, wasn’t the best thing to do; my legs would have preferred a good rest.

London followed the next year – my shrieks of delight at getting the acceptance letter must have been heard streets away – and at the time of writing, I’ve completed 22 marathons.

Off road

It was during a walk in the Yorkshire Dales that I first thought of running off road. Descending a steep scree-covered hill near Cautley Spout, I watched a runner come up the slope, skirt the rim of the waterfall and descend on the far side.

His figure silhouetted against the evening sky, moving (apparently) so easily across what I knew to be difficult terrain filled me with a longing to run like he did.

So I started running off road, which largely meant running up, down and around Moel Famau in the Clwydian Hills near my home in North Wales.

It wasn’t easy. I had to convince myself to overcome a number of physical and mental barriers. There was a point at which I didn’t think I could run uphill without stopping. Or run for an hour. Or run a mile in less than eight minutes. Or run downhill without losing control and falling over.

The challenges came and went. And still do …

Torn cartilage

In September 2016 I had a pain in my right knee that wouldn’t go away. After wasting a week self-medicating, I hobbled into Grosvenor Street Physiotherapy for an appointment with Vicky Kelly.

She diagnosed a medial meniscal tear – a torn cartilage – and advised me to get the knee scanned. With just six weeks to go before the Snowdonia Marathon, all that I wanted was to be up and running again as soon as possible.

Thanks to Vicky’s expertise and advice (and liberal amounts of Ibuprofen) I ran the race, but the damage was done. I was in constant pain, unable to get comfortable for more than a few minutes in any position. I wasn’t sleeping properly and my work (which largely involves sitting in front of a computer) was suffering as my attention focused on the pain rather than the job at hand.

My local GP was, in all honesty, hopeless. Both the doctor and the practice physiotherapist greeted my request for a scan with a smile. Their attitude seemed to be that, because I could run a long way, there was no problem. It was only when I paid for a scan privately, and thereby provided incontrovertible proof of cartilage damage, that I was referred to a consultant at the local hospital.

He was both sympathetic and understanding and, in January 2018, I had an arthroscopy. The remaining cartilage was tidied up and the bits floating around the knee joint were sucked out.

Slow progress

So, no more pain and back to running …

Hah! If only.

Sadly, I wasn’t prepared for either the severity of the post-operative pain or the amount of rehabilitation required.

Despite having a painful knee, I had kept running right up until the day before the operation, reasoning that the fitter I was the sooner I’d be up and about again. Not great distances, but enough to keep my legs, heart and lungs in decent shape.

The post-operative exercises started as soon as I got home. Just simple activities, like walking up and down stairs, but enough to stop things seizing up. Six days after the operation, I managed a three-minute, relatively fast-paced walk outside, and the day after it was six minutes (with my diary recording ‘Tiring!!’).

Less than two weeks after the surgery, I was taking my dog out for 45-50 minute walks. Although I was determined to get fit and back to running as soon as possible, it was another month before I risked a run.

Jogging a mile around a local field, with soft grass underfoot, was absolute heaven. During the seventh week after the surgery I’d been feeling really low, but that short, gentle mile convinced me I could get my fitness back. Six days later I ran 2.5 miles in 23 minutes.

Leaner and fitter

It is almost two years since my knee stopped working properly. Over that time I have performed exercises almost every day, with the aim of equipping my body to cope with increasing amounts of activity.

Without the guidance and support of Vicky Kelly I would have had no idea of what to do, when or how often. The programme of exercises she devised has not only strengthened various muscle groups and improved my flexibility, but also enabled me to regain my normal walking and running gait.

Surprisingly, I feel better than I did before my knee gave way: physically I’m leaner, fitter and more flexible; mentally I’m tougher and more confident in my ability to cope with setbacks.

Positive approach

The psychological side is of no small importance. When my knee first gave up, I was advised by various people to rest, take things easy and to give up any thought of running, never mind of doing a marathon.   

But I wanted to run Snowdonia Marathon Eryri; it might have been just six weeks or so away, and I could barely walk, but I wanted to run it. If I tried, I could be on the starting line; if I didn’t try, I’d never know if I could have done it.

At no point did Vicky suggest I was being unreasonable in my demands. If she thought I stood little chance of moving from limping wreck to marathon finisher, she showed no sign of it.

Our face-to-face sessions became as important for their emotional impact as they did for the physical benefit I derived. I wasn’t alone; someone with very real skills and expertise was helping me move ever closer to my goal. I am certain that the positive approach adopted by Vicky was a significant element in my success.

A winning combination

And success there was: in October 2016, I completed the Snowdonia Marathon and then ran it again the year after (when my time of 3.56.53 was just five minutes slower than my best) along with Trail Marathon Wales and the Snowdon Race. All four events run with a torn cartilage.

There have only been two post-operative races so far – Trail Marathon Wales and the Snowdon Race – but with better times achieved for both than in the previous year, it feels as though things are looking up.

I took up the challenge of the Snowdon race to mark my 50th birthday. Over 10 years later I can’t believe my luck that not only am I still completing and enjoying tough events, but still putting in decent performances.

Although the torn cartilage could have put an end to my ambitions, it didn’t. Instead, Vicky’s expertise, advice and support, coupled with my determination, proved to be a winning combination!

My bid for a best time at Snowdon failed by two seconds. I managed 1.51.45, with my best time being 1.51.44 in 2013. So the challenge to improve continues …

NB This article was written in July 2018.

Living with IOHC

‘Incomplete what?’

‘Incomplete Ossification of the Humeral Condyle. IOHC. It means that Bryn’s elbow joints aren’t properly formed.’

Standing in the consulting room at North West Surgeons, Runcorn, something deep inside me gave way. We’d known for some time that things weren’t right with Bryn, our six-year old Springer Spaniel, but had never imagined it could be that bad.

And so my dreams of having a running companion vanished, along with the prospect of us ever again enjoying long days in the mountains of Snowdonia.

However, the immediate issue was what to do for Bryn. What was going to be best for him? Could he be helped? If so, how? If not, then …

Not fully formed

As I understand it, most dogs have the bones in their legs fully formed (ossified) by the time they are two to three months old, in a process that sees cartilage being replaced by bone.

In dogs affected by IOHC, however, bone formation in the area around the elbow joint is not successfully completed, leaving an area of weakness where three bones meet: the end of the humerus bone (‘humeral condyle’, found at the top of the front leg), the radius and the ulna.

English Springer Spaniels are the breed most commonly affected by IOHC in the UK. Thought to be hereditary, it’s cause is apparently a mystery – as is the reason for some affected dogs showing no signs of distress, while others suffer so much that they require surgery to alleviate the symptoms.

The problem can affect the elbow joints in one or both front legs. In Bryn’s case it was both – although the right leg was far worse.

Much of the material on IOHC is highly technical. However, I recently found two articles that are easier to read than most: Incomplete ossification of the canine humeral condyle on the Veterinary Practice website, and Humeral Condylar Fissures on the North Downs Specialist Referrals site.)

A dog is for life – even if he arrives at Christmas

We collected Bryn from the North West English Springer Spaniel Rescue (NWESSR) in December 2010 – exactly a week before Christmas.

It was snowing, we lost our way and were late, but when we met him it was love at first sight. He just knew we were his new family and we were overwhelmed at his trust in us.

Bryn had had a hard life. We were his fourth or fifth home – and he was only about three years old!

Rescued from an abusive owner before his first birthday, his foster family couldn’t keep him, so he went to home number three. That also didn’t last long and he ended up, possibly via a fourth home, with the family who gave him up to NWESSR.

From what the rescue had been told, Bryn – who was then known by another name – was fit, active (he’d been to agility classes) and just loved chasing tennis balls.

So we had no reason at all to think he was going to struggle with running round the woods and up and down the hills.

Warning signs

For the first few months everything seemed fine. Both myself and Bryn were getting lots of exercise and our lovely Springer seemed as fit and healthy as we’d imagined he would be.

There was the odd limp, but nothing to worry about. Except … he ran downhill slowly. He was fine running uphill, but going down he was much slower than he should have been, seeming almost hesitant at times.

And he was often reluctant to go out. Whereas most dogs seem to be excited at the prospect of a walk, Bryn wasn’t. I attributed his reluctance to having a harness on. The reality was – in my opinion – that he came to associate going out with pain in his legs. If only I’d known that.

Ever since his diagnosis, I’ve cursed myself for not taking those signs more seriously. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I surely should have known that something wasn’t right.

But the evidence was contradictory – he continued to chase tennis balls with joyful abandon. His idea of fun was to have a ball thrown for him for an hour or two. Fetch, drop, throw, repeat …

His reward for going running with me was to have five minutes chasing the ball. After he’d run five, seven, sometimes 10 miles. He couldn’t get enough of it.

So there couldn’t have been anything wrong, could there?


Towards the end of July 2012, during one of his post-run ball-chasing sessions, Bryn hurt his front left leg. It must have struck me as more serious than other episodes, because my diary shows that I took him to the vet the following day, and that a couple of days after that he was x-rayed.

The x-ray revealed nothing significant, but Bryn was put on steroids, given an acupuncture session and had laser therapy on his left shoulder and leg.

Although he seemed to recover (he was ‘lively’ on a short walk a week after the x-ray, says the diary) it seemed best to stop the ball games, at least for a while.

So we hid all the balls we could find. Bryn didn’t understand what was going on, of course, and kept retrieving bits from the garden or, if we were out walking, would scavenge pieces of broken tennis ball and drop them at my feet waiting for me to throw them. It was heartbreaking – and he’d never play ball again.

Bad advice

A week’s holiday was looming and we were worried that the walks we were planning might not be the best thing for Bryn.

However, our vet assured us we could take him away for the week safe in the knowledge that he would come to no harm. Oh dear, what a mistake that was!

On our last day, walking back from the beach to the clifftop cottage, Bryn suffered a serious injury to his right leg.

With hindsight, the ups and downs and stresses and strains of the week’s activities had simply been too much for his weakened elbow, but at the time we didn’t know what the problem was.

We managed to get him back to the cottage and arrived home the following day, with him in much pain and us in great consternation.

Our vet was also concerned and referred us to a specialist facility. Which is how, a week after damaging his right leg on a clifftop footpath, Bryn ended up being assessed at North West Surgeons.

When a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan revealed that Bryn had IOHC, it was decided that a conservative approach should be adopted, with surgery (including the option of amputation) only to be considered as a last resort.

(We were very aware that his left elbow was also weak. Surgery on his right leg would put some temporary additional pressure on his left one; amputating his right leg would see that pressure applied permanently – something that clearly need to be avoided if possible.)

Swimming not springing

And so Bryn started courses of both hydrotherapy and laser treatment. Although our insurance policy covered both, the hydrotherapy was supposed to be administered by an approved practitioner. With the nearest centre some 40 minutes’ drive away, I chose to use someone nearer home. I was, after all, having to fit three sessions of laser and three of hydro into a week that was already pretty packed. It saved on driving time, but I had to pay.

Yet again, just as Bryn seemed to be making progress, disaster struck – this time in the form of his right elbow completely giving way! In the middle of October 2012 he therefore had emergency surgery to insert a steel pin into the joint.

The operation was a success, but he needed almost constant care – and not for the first time I was glad to be working at home and able to watch over him.

Progress was apparently being made and, in January 2013, he started going on short walks – initially two a day of just a few minutes, building to a 40-minute outing by the end of the month.

It didn’t last. A few weeks later he returned to North West Surgeons with a poorly right leg again and was back on short lead walks.

That pattern seemed to be repeated endlessly over the next few months. A period of longer walks, sometimes with time off the lead, would almost inevitably see one or other of his front legs start playing up, with his activity reduced and then gradually built up again.

Rising costs

Bryn was still attending hydrotherapy sessions – usually two a week. With those costs not covered by the insurance, we were starting to feel the pinch financially – especially as his insurance premium had risen to about £75 per month. And we were stuck with that insurer, as another one wouldn’t have covered anything associated with the IOHC problems. It was all starting to get rather expensive.

And so we approached NWESSR, the Springer Rescue, for help – and were much relieved when they kindly agreed to make a contribution towards our costs.

As it turned out, their assistance wasn’t needed for too long, as a series of ‘limpy’ episodes in the Autumn of 2013 saw Bryn back at North West Surgeons for further assessment on 18 December – exactly three years since we adopted him.

Back on short lead walks again, he never regained sufficient mobility to go sniffing round the woods for bits of tennis ball. Instead, he spent the following couple of months under close supervision, either in the garden or on short walks on the village roads and footpaths.

Treats in the sun

We returned from a rare outing one Saturday afternoon to find him virtually crawling across the kitchen floor to us, with both elbows having given way simultaneously. (We think he’d got onto a chair by the window to look out and somehow fallen off, but of course will never know exactly what happened.)

It was clearly the end of the road for our brave and beloved Bryn. He’d been through so much pain and fought back so often with enormous fortitude, courage and grace – but with both front legs out of action at the same time, there was no way that one could support his weight while the other mended.

We made him as comfortable as we could and tearfully discussed what to do next.

In order to keep his weight down and reduce the stress on his joints, we’d kept him on a strict diet for a year or more.

Now, knowing that he would not be with us much longer, we decided to treat him. On the Sunday afternoon, I carried him out to the garden, where he lay in the sun eating lots of lovely doggy treats. He couldn’t believe his luck.

He did much the same on the Monday morning before we took him to the vet and, as my diary simply says, ‘Bryn went to sleep for ever’.

What did we learn?

I suppose the most obvious lesson from our experience with Bryn was about spotting when something is wrong – or at least doesn’t seem right. For months I saw him struggling to run down hills, but ignored what I was seeing.

That said, our local vet didn’t think of IOHC, despite Bryn having problems with lameness and it being an issue known to affect Springers and other Spaniels. Maybe there’s a lesson there too: even vets don’t know everything!

Our difficulties with Bryn certainly brought home to us the importance of having good insurance cover. Yes, I was paying £75 per month towards the end, but the MRI scan, laser therapy and other assessments and treatments cost thousands.

We’d have been hard pressed to find that money if we’d not been insured – and for a decent amount (I think it was £5000, renewing each year).

And we learned that a dog really is for life, even if that life is shorter than expected. Bryn was part of our family. His welfare was a major concern for us. It was not just about what was best for us, but what was best for him – something that all too often meant ensuring that he had appropriate pain relief, but that also meant trying to make sure that he enjoyed as good a life as he was able to, including plenty of opportunities to use that wonderful nose of his.

Of quick runs and slow heart rates

My running companion Benge hurt a paw recently and couldn’t get out on the trails.

I took the opportunity to hit the tarmac instead, and did two short evening runs from home. I’d not expected to enjoy it much, but to my surprise found the two outings quite exhilarating – largely because I was travelling relatively quickly.

When I’m out with Benge, we’re constantly stopping to sniff and mark. Progress can be rapid at times, but can also be relatively slow, with us typically putting in 10-minute miles in the hills. It’s enough to keep me going though, with occasional outings by myself allowing me to put in quicker performances.

Am I a real athlete?

The two road runs saw me running the 2.64 miles and 267’ ascent at an average 8.20 and then 8.02 (fastest pace was 6:19 min/mile).

Not bad for a chap in his sixties eh?

My average heart rate was 139 bpm / 159 bpm for the first and second runs respectively, with the maximums being 151 bpm / 182 bpm.

The data was provided by my Garmin Forerunner 235 – a recent acquisition to replace my trusty 305 which finally died.

I’d not thought I’d pay much attention to the heart rate monitor in the new device, but I’m finding it really useful. I’m particularly interested in my resting heart rate, which is averaging 42 with the lowest recorded so far being 38.

I think that means I’m a real athlete! Or maybe I’m at death’s door …

Suits and sanctions

Royal Mail, when will you start delivering again to Iran?

This is neither a rhetorical nor an academic question: I have two business suits parcelled up, waiting to be sent to Tehran.

They’re destined for my friend Ali, who I met when we were both at the University of Hull. He was a PhD student writing a thesis on international law and I was a librarian. Initially appointed to manage the European Documentation Centre at the University, my brief had expanded to encompass both official publications and law.

Ali’s quest for understanding both of legal issues and of English made him a frequent visitor to my office. Indeed, I gave him so much help that he credited me in the foreword to his thesis.

I left Hull before he did, as the weekly commute from North Wales took its toll and the prospect of going freelance became ever more attractive.

Please can you …

For 12 years or so we barely kept in touch. Then I started to receive more frequent emails, including, in the past few years, requests to help him obtain items that he was finding it difficult to procure. Initially he’d ask me to send him textbooks on international law, and I found myself spending quite large amounts of money not only on the books themselves, but also on posting them to Tehran (textbooks can be surprisingly heavy!).

He was by then both teaching and practising law, and I was struck by how serious his plight – and that of his country – must be if he could not obtain the books he needed through his own university library.

Then I was asked to send other things: face masks (Tehran is one of the most polluted cities in the world); smart shirts (as a lawyer, Ali has to appear in court); flat caps (I kid you not – Tehran gets very cold in winter); and, most recently, a suit for work.

I cannot begin to understand how desperate his situation must be to have to ask me for these things.


He is, it seems, the eldest son and is therefore responsible for obtaining medicines for his sick father. Sanctions, I suspect, have made those medicines both hard to get and expensive.

After a brief email negotiation, I bought two suits for him and they are, as I said at the start of this article, packaged up and waiting to be posted to him.

But sanctions have struck again. The Trump regime has threatened to act against companies doing business with Iran. Lots of firms have reportedly stopped trading with the Iranians and the country’s oil revenues have slumped.

Am I alone, though, in being surprised that postal services have been hit by Trump’s actions? It’s not just Royal Mail: I can’t find any carrier currently shipping parcels to Tehran. (Look on ParcelMonkey, Parcel2Go etc and it initially appears that firms are delivering; dig deeper and you find they’re not.)

This is being written on Bank Holiday Monday, 27 May 2019. A couple of weeks ago, Royal Mail was reported to have decided to start delivering to Iran again. I cannot, however, find any indication as to when that service will start.

Meanwhile, I’m checking online every day – and Ali’s business suits are lying in their box getting more and more creased.

So much and so little

As an aside, I was in Tesco the other day, doing the weekly shop (we usually manage three visits to Aldi, then one to Tesco). Faced with such an array of whatever it was I was looking for (I can’t remember the exact product) I briefly cursed having so much choice. Almost immediately, I metaphorically bit my lip, thinking just how lucky I am compared to Ali and his family, for whom a supermarket whose shelves are filled with such a variety of goods can at present only be a dream.

Bloody sanctions. Bloody Trump. Bloody politics. Why can’t people just live together on the planet we all share? And why can’t Royal Mail deliver Ali’s suits?


We had mice.

In our house.

We’ve lived here for five years and never had any sign of them indoors. Outdoors is a different story: when we moved in there were tunnels all over (or, more accurately, under) the garden. A few years ago, I found some young mice that had somehow escaped from their home under the garden shed and rolled down a slight slope onto a patch of gravel. They were so young that they couldn’t manage to scramble back up the slope to safety – so I carefully lifted them up and returned them to the spot from where I thought they’d probably started their bid for freedom.

Nibbles in the conservatory, anyone?

We feed the birds, so there’s always food available for mice in the garden, but until recently they’d always stayed outside.

Evidence of their incursion into our territory was found when we came down one morning and discovered that a bag of birdseed left in the conservatory had been nibbled. Seed had spilt out and was mingled on the floor with bits of plastic bag.

Pulling the sofa out, I discovered more evidence of mice – not only bits of food, but also, inevitably, droppings; thankfully there was no damage to the sofa itself.

Worse was to come, though: a search of the kitchen revealed that some of the cupboards had been used by the mouse or mice, with cleaning cloths having been chewed and droppings scattered around.

I thought that was bad enough, but then realised that our visitor/s had been entering and/or leaving via an opening at the back of the void where a washing machine used to sit. The opening – which I’d been meaning to block up ever since we moved in – gave access to pipework running upstairs, as well as to associated cavities and gaps under floorboards.

Access all areas

It was effectively a way for them to access the whole house.

And there was definitely more than one of them. Lying in bed, we could hear scurrying in the loft, above our heads. Lots of scurrying noises, made by lots of little feet.

They got bolder: one walked across the kitchen floor when I was washing up; another sauntered off when my better half opened the kitchen door one morning (it was broad daylight and we’d been stamping around upstairs for a good five minutes; he or she should have been well and truly out of the way by the time the door was opened).

Hear that?

It was surprising how quickly the thought that we were sharing our home with mice got to us psychologically. Just days after finding the first evidence, we were half expecting to find a mouse every time we opened a cupboard.

Our imaginations started playing tricks, making us think we’d seen movement where there was none and hearing scratching and scuffling almost anywhere in the house. And we were seeing droppings everywhere: the suspected mouse poo often, though not always, turning out to be detritus brought in from the garden; usually they’d be unremarkable ‘bits of stuff’ on the floor, but with mice around, they provided further fuel to light our over-active imaginations.

Please release me …

Within a few days, I’d placed traps in all the ground floor rooms. Mostly humane traps, but with a couple of ‘killer’ ones too, and all baited with peanut butter.

I caught seven mice over six nights: six in the humane traps and the other in the killer one. (Unfortunately, it hadn’t been killed, and I had to finish the job of breaking its neck. Deep breath … you can do it … deep breath …)

Those caught humanely were release in the garden. They were generally reluctant to leave the trap and it took some effort to persuade them to do so, but after a minute or so a bedraggled body would emerge and scurry off into the undergrowth (they sweat inside the plastic traps; they also poo – sometimes a lot, which can make the release process a rather messy affair and leaves a trap that must be cleaned before being used again!).

‘It’s just the same one getting caught and coming back again,’ someone said. No, it wasn’t. Those released didn’t look like the same creature; I saw variations in size and colour, so was convinced we had more than one rodent wandering around the house.

Once a florist, always a …

To our great surprise and disappointment, our dog Benge seemed oblivious to the presence of the mice. A Cocker Spaniel who’s always keen to follow scents in gardens, fields and woods, he gave no indication at all that anything was amiss.

According to the lovely girl from Rentokil (who told me that before taking a crash course in pest control she used to be a florist) Benge’s behaviour was not unusual. She said she’s known cats who ignore the presence of mice in their homes, yet will bring dead mice in from outside.

Rentokil eh? Yes. Sorry mice, but we just couldn’t have you enjoying the freedom of our house. Your place is outside. I’m happy for you to live in the garden, mopping up bits of birdseed, but please don’t try to move indoors.

We had three visits from Rentokil. They were expensive but, by the time they signed off, the mice had gone. We don’t like killing things, but couldn’t bear the thought of providing a home for what would surely have been an ever-growing community of rodents.

Yes, we felt bad about it, but think we made the right decision.

Why this blog?

One of the services that I offer through my company, Ampersand Editorial Limited, is creating online content for businesses.

In mid-2018, when I started offering to create content, I was feeding a blog on my ampedit.uk website to show the sort of things I was writing each week for a long-standing client: Croner-i.

My decision to re-invent myself as an online content creator was driven by Croner cutting back the amount of work they were commissioning.

Following a takeover at the end of 2017, their priorities changed, as did the amount and scope of articles I was being asked to write – to the extent that things had never been so bad for me work-wise in some 20 years of freelancing.

Turning work away

When I started working for myself in June 1998 (trading as European Information Services), I quickly attracted a variety of clients who wanted me to provide writing- and training-related services focusing on the EU (how I got started in that line of work is something better addressed elsewhere – perhaps in a separate blog post). Things were so good that there was a point when I was turning work away.

For various reasons (including the financial crisis and the period of austerity that followed), clients fell away and I found myself in 2017 and 2018 having to think very hard about how to adjust to a much-changed situation.

One of the issues that I struggled with was how to define myself; what could I call myself that people might think interesting and – perhaps – worthy of further investigation?

I took a couple of courses in proofreading and tried promoting myself as a proofreader, but struggled to make any impact. (That situation has now changed; I’m getting proofreading work and have renewed my membership of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders – the SfEP.)

Then it occurred to me that for the 20-plus years of my freelancing career, I’ve been creating content. I made my first website way back in the mid-90s and have been putting words and images online (for myself and others) ever since.

Online content creator

Googling ‘online content creator’ and similar phrases revealed that it is a recognised role. It also seemed an easier sell than ‘proofreader’ – although, as six adverts in a local business-focused monthly magazine resulted in no response at all, that wasn’t really difficult.

And so I started promoting Ampersand Editorial as a creator of online content for businesses, offering words and images for websites and social media platforms.

Keen to show that I was actually writing stuff, I started the AmpEdit blog, where I provided extracts from articles I’d written on topics such as construction, international trade and human resources, to give a flavour of both the scope and style of my writing (the latter will not, I know, be to everyone’s taste).

However, with Croner cutting back ever more, the blog became harder to sustain, as both the number and range of articles were reduced.

In May 2019, I therefore decided to cut the blog from my website and to seek a different platform from which to promote the writing side of my business.

Not the DoodlyDog blog

When I started creating animated doodles at the end of 2018, I wanted to differentiate that side of my work from the rather boring-sounding Ampersand Editorial.

A number of elements came together to suggest the name DoodlyDog:

1 – the animations are created using Doodly software;

2 – I wanted a name that was short, playful, and easy both to read and to pronounce;

3 – the name had to be available as a Twitter handle (‘DoodlingDog’ and other options were already taken); and

4 – some years ago, I found (and bought) the cartoon dog image used in the DoodlyDog logo and was keen to put it to good use.

And so DoodlyDog was conceived. The name just seems to roll off the tongue; the logo (which uses the font Big Bottom Cartoon!) is, at least to my mind, distinctive; and it encompasses the playfulness I was after. I just love it.

Having decided to try blogging again, the opportunity to register the domain ‘doodlydog.blog’ was hard to resist. But resist I did, as I decided to keep the animations side of my business separate from the writing side. Which is why this is the ‘I Wrote This’ blog and not the DoodlyDog blog.

Thank you!

If you’ve got this far, well done – and thank you! I’m not yet sure what else I’ll be writing about, although I’ll certainly be adding two articles that appeared on my AmpEdit website, but which no longer have a home there: one on running the International Snowdon Race after knee surgery, the other on a nasty condition called IOHC, which one of our dogs suffered from.

Yes, I have ideas for other posts, but will have to see how they work out. What I intend to aim for is variety, with topics covering both my working and home lives. That means that future posts could range from life as a freelancer, to networking, walks in the woods, marathon running, gardening and what’s on my bookshelves.