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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

No longer virgins! - Day 353

Two new experiences today - so we are no longer virgins in both these sporting activities. Whaa-hoo!

It was 7:45am, and we were standing, waiting patiently at the Commonage on the Bluff, outside of The Edge. People and dogs were milling around, many dressed in lycra (the people, not the dogs). There was a celebration happening. It was one lady’s 100th time, and we all clapped. “Behind the bollards” shouted one petite lady, the bell went, and off we go. Tim goes off ahead while I, with Peter, our host and their friend Jenny, stay at the rear. Tim and I are now no longer virgins – this is our first #Parkrun.

If you don’t know the history, Paul Sinton-Hewitt, who was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa, was living in west London. In October 2004, unemployed, suffering from a leg injury stopping him running marathons, he was feeling low. Knowing that exercise lifts your spirits, he organised a weekly 5km run in Bushy Park where he would time his friends’ runs, before all going for a traditional British fry-up breakfast. That was the beginnings of what is now the largest running event in the world. According to Parkrun’s weekly history totals, 265,653 people ran in 1,615 events across the world on 1st October this year. Wow! The power of the ripple effect, you never know when one idea, with persistence and dedication, can change the lives for so many. My hat goes off to him.

I must admit, I walked the majority of the course, mainly chatting with Jenny. A teenager, James, joined us for a bit. It turns out that he is with a group from his school in Tunbridge Wells in the UK and they are volunteering in a local village, part of completing their Gold Duke of Edinburgh awards. Jenny and I managed to finish the course in under 1 hour (we both have dodgy knees so don’t run), and Tim just missed his target of 30 minutes.

What a fabulous start to the morning. I had heard of the camaraderie of parkruns from our friend @Sue, who has run them on her travels around the world, and that was indeed the case here. Plus #HogsbackSA had such a fantastic community spirit – so a double whammy!

We drove back for a shower and breakfast, then joined Peter and Lyndsay to the small market outside the delightful Butterfly’s Bistro, where we enjoyed an iced coffee, more like a milkshake. Again, a wonderful community feel. We purchased some smoked trout for my dinner, wandered around the other stalls selling their homemade wares; leather bangles, beany hats, pickles and hand cream and got chatting with Claire, who travelled around the world for 22 years, just with her rucksack, and has now settled here in #Hogsback. She shared a bit of her journey with us and how she has learnt from some Peruvian Shamans; perhaps we will bump into her in Peru when we go there next year.

In the afternoon, Peter, Tim and I got a lift back down to the heart of the village with William, their neighbour. We were going to outdoor bowls! Another new experience. There was quite a crowd of us. A very relaxed atmosphere and it didn’t matter that we weren’t wearing white. William gave us both a quick lesson before the group were split into 6 teams. Tim was in my opposing team – ah – some competition here.

What a lovely, fun time we had. I was the lead, which meant I had to roll the white ball down. My first ball was remarkably good, getting very close to the white, and the next. Tim then did an incredible shot and wiped both my balls out! Not impressed! After our good start, it was all a bit hit and miss but great fun. Our team members were very encouraging to us even when our bowls were off target. It was great to see some skilled play from them. I am pleased to say that my team won hands down: 12 – 5.

Back to Maple Grove Accommodation and straight over to Peter and Lyndsay’s to watch the Rugby. How lovely is that! We really do meet the warmest, friendliest and generous people. They have 4 Jack Russells, all very different characters and very friendly. We couldn't believe it when we saw their beds - like little sleeping bags! People and their dogs eh! I wonder if that will be us in the future? Their friend Maggie joined us, and I must confess that my eye wasn’t always on the ball, as Maggie was giving me some great advice about social media. “The game was of two halves” as Peter said. Not particularly great play from either side, however, the Springboks are significantly improving their game this season. Glad England just pipped to the post.

It was braai time. Lyndsay made some yummy salads to go with my delicious trout and the meat on the braai for everyone else. We had such a lovely evening. It turns out that one of Lyndsay’s close friends lives in Kings Cliffe, a village, just a few miles from where we used to live. It’s a small world. We had such a laugh hearing about Maggie’s “catastrophes” such as the wandering cows, goats and pigs coming into her garden and monkeys breaking into her home and causing a riot. Both Maggie and Lyndsay run self-catering cottages, so we shared the benefits of booking. com or Airbnb, and comparing notes of good practice. I was pleased to compliment Lyndsay about the chocolates she left us (which we haven’t eaten – but it is still a nice touch) and that there is a hairdryer here. So many places don’t have a hair dryer – have you seen the length of my hair now!

What a day – two new experiences and spending time with lovely, warm and friendly people. It’s as if we have known them for years. You can’t get a day better than that!

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