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Small Dogs, Mint Humbugs and Other Running Treats

25 June 2012

Another bittersweet run.

Mr N and I pulled each other out of bed at 9 on Saturday morning and pushed ourselves along the 9.5 miles to Regent’s Park and back. We barely spoke a word through general exhaustion, but managed to stop each other from stopping and keep each other keeping on, with only a short break for water and mint humbugs by the water fountain.

I love Regent’s Park. We go in at the north-east end, by the Zoo, to the sound of penguins honking. I always take deep breaths so that I can really appreciate the whiff of feeding time fish and then complain about how disgusting it is. Once, just past the Zoo, I saw a pair of peregrine falcons being mobbed by crows.

We head up the Broad Walk to the obelisk and turn left down a side-path to take the small gate leading over Chester Road to the English Gardens. No dogs are allowed in the English Gardens, so we have to pay particular attention to those on display before and after. My attitude to dogs on my runs is indicative of my general hypocrisy about most things. I used to be, and sometimes still am, terrified of dogs. Now, however, I also love them. Particularly the following: small Jack Russell types; spaniels who are a bit scrappy; medium sized sad-eyed mongrels; anything black and white. I love all dogs in Regent’s Park, because they are very well-behaved and usually on a lead. The terriers grunting around at the back of Elthorne Park at midnight without an owner in sight, not so much.

The English Gardens are lovely, but they’re only my favourite bit of the Park in Spring when the blossom is out. In Summer I prefer the lake with its temporary residents: groups of heron stalking and posing (and occasionally flying) around like fragile feathered dinosaurs; Egyptian geese with their sunglasses on; millions of daisies untroubled by lawnmowers; and runners of all shapes, sizes and speeds.

Back around the lake and up into the main Park again, every weekend brings a new opportunity for anthropological observation. This Saturday, mini-football – hundreds of tiny tots blundering after footballs they could barely hold, adrift amid a sea of cones and flags. On the other side of the path, 10-year olds playing cricket, their legs lost inside enormous pads, tiny hands in giant gloves.

After stopping at the Hub for a drink and a sweetie, we head for home. It’s still a minimum of 3.5 miles away, uphill, but it feels within reach. Leaving the Park for the Camden pavements is never sad. I know it’ll be there the next time.

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