No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Monday, 27 July 2020

BREADMAKING WITH CHILDREN (the original playdough)

I started breadmaking with my 20month-old granddaughter and thought that was early enough. However, when her younger sister was 15 months old and we could no longer ignore her cries of, “and me!”, we hoisted her up to the worktop and they’ve both been making bread ever since. They’re now 11 and 9 and have been joined by my grandson, who is now 7 - they all absolutely love making bread. The oldest one rang me the week before her last birthday and asked me to make petit pain au chocolat with her guests at her birthday party. Her friends all made a batch each and went home with several in a party bag instead of the usual guff!

Breadmaking with kids is a simple, painless way into the subject if you’ve never done it before. If you just set out to make a simple playdough (and it is the original playdough!), then shape it and leave it for a bit, you’ll find it’s risen – it may even double in size – then you can bake it. If you’re happy with the results, then the next time you can make some pizza, or whatever.

 The ORIGINAL Playdough

(Note: Please try and let your kids do as much as they are able to. Parents in my Family Learning classes invariably say how impressed they are with their kids abilities when given their head!)

1 mug (200g) flour – preferably bread flour, but any wheat flour will do
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional) – or a dessertspoon of sugar
1/3 mug (125ml) lukewarm water (I call it bathwater - well it is the same temperature!)
teaspoon yeast (any sort)

1. Fill the mug with flour (or weigh 200g) and tip it into a mixing bowl. Add the salt or sugar depending whether you want a savoury or a sweet dough. Measure the water and add the yeast. Stir until all the yeast has dissolved, then add to the flour in the bowl.

2. Holding the bowl with one hand, mix the ingredients together into a soft dough, then knead (flatten and fold) until the dough is smooth. Stop kneading before you get fed up - all kneading does is distribute the ingredients evenly.

3. Shape the dough as below, leave to prove (rise), covered with a dry tea towel, until it’s doubled in size, then bake it at 220C/Gas 7 until it’s coloured underneath (you'll always get colour on top, but you need to see the bottom is done as well). Place on a cooling rack to cool. 

Here’s a few ideas as to what you and your child can do with it:
    • Teddy bear shapes, made with different sized balls of dough. Use tiny balls for eyes, buttons, etc.
    • Caterpillars, with the all the same size balls of dough – except for the head which should be slightly bigger. Put a face and feelers on the head.
    • ‘House’ bread; roll out the dough to about pizza-sized then make a house shape – first cut a square (counting the sides as you do it) then a triangle – with each side a bit larger than a side of the square. Place these together on baking parchment then use the trimmings for windows, doors, chimney, etc.
    • Banded snake bread; roll the dough out into a long snake and curl it onto your baking tray. Brush with water at 2cm intervals and sprinkle sesame seeds on the wet dough. Brush with water in the gaps and sprinkle with poppy seeds. If using currants for eyes, cut a slit in the dough to take the currants – otherwise they just fall off as the dough rises. Make a 2cm tongue and slit the end.
    • Hedgehog rolls. Make a short finger roll and point one end for the nose. Use currants for the eyes (or tiny balls of dough). From behind, snip spikes with a pair of scissors held at about a 30 degree angle.
    • Look out for different shaped pastry cutters.
    • Make different coloured bread dough:
    • Red – grate some cooked beetroot and add it into the mix (use any liquid as part of the liquid for the dough)
    • Brown - add a dessertspoon of cocoa powder along with the flour and sugar
    • Smiley face mini pizzas, using cherry tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms – or make these out of the dough.
    • Make their name out of dough. Roll out an oval of dough (to use as a plaque), put their name on it, then bake and varnish when it’s cold.
    • Finally, encourage your child to suggest or make their own shapes.
When making bread with your youngster(s) it’s important to let them do as much as they can – you only need to come in and help if they’re finding something too hard for them. Getting the dough into a lump, and getting it off their fingers, younger children find difficult – so give them a hand at this stage, but let them do anything they are capable of. And your kids are more capable than perhaps you realise!

Keep in mind that ‘If you can’t make a mess when you’re breadmaking, when can you make a mess?’ Make a game of clearing up and you’ll have a helper for life.

Here are some pics from my sessions. 

More pics.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Dough scraper/cutters and spatulas - and their uses

[First posted 23rd July, 2011.) 

I've got several dough cutters that I use:

The wooden handled one belonged to my dad - it was always known as a Scotch scraper, I'd love to know why! It was old when he took over the bakery, in 1948. (He was a bus conductor for many years before this.) It feels really comfortable in my hand, but the blade isn't as sharp as I'd like.

The one top right I've had for about 15 years and it came under the Graham Kerr (Galloping Gourmet) label. It's the one I use most as it has a sharper blade and is just slightly flexible. This is particularly handy when I'm kneading a sticky dough - that way I only have one hand to clean! I have seen similar ones in kitchen supply shops for around £6.

Bottom left was from Macro (I think), and the one bottom right came from Creed bakery supplies. I bought a dozen  to sell at my Saturday workshop sessions - just before they were cancelled, and I haven't done one since!  I've still got about 9 left! (Now only 4 left after my Autumn evening course!)

The spatulas are really handy for mixing a dough up to about 500g of flour - the shape means that you can easily scrape around the side of the bowl and you can readily cut through the dough with them. These used to be available at my local Cook Store, but they haven't been available for over 10 years. I first came across them in schools, back in the 90s - every school kitchen had dozens.

For a bigger batch I use a curved knife given to me by a butcher relative - it's an abattoir knife which I put to much better use!

Also available are small plastic scrapers in the shape of a D, which are very useful. Bakery reps used to give them away - possibly still do! Richard Bertinet always uses one when kneading dough.

The plastic scrapers are bevelled along the curved side and are great for scraping dough - or cake mix - out of a bowl
The metal dough cutter/scraper in the pic is one I used to sell many of in my workshops before Ikea stopped making them. At £1.50 each, they were a bargain  - and they fit very well into the hand, as well.

But my favourite cutter is the Graham Kerr one - I thought I'd run through some of the uses of the implement.

Apart from the obvious uses - cutting dough, scraping the worktop clean - it's very handy for handling a sticky dough. I push the dough flat with my left hand (I'm left-handed when it comes to kneading dough - right-handed in most other things) and use the scraper in my right hand to lift the dough up and over - so I only have one hand sticky with dough.

But apart from breadmaking, this tool has many other uses:
Chopping potatoes for mashed potato, for instance. You can chop away then scoop the diced potatoes up and drop them in the pan in one easy action;
Turning fried mashed potato. I like to gently fry my mashed spuds to get a crust on each side. Using the scraper, with its large area, makes it much easier to turn the potato over;
If I ever I get some crusty bits on the bottom of my cast iron frying pan (it does happen!), it's the work of seconds to scrape it off. (But I wouldn't let it near my non-stick frying pans - for obvious reasons!);
Finally, I use it for scraping any bits around on my worktops before  I wipe them clean - I can reach under the microwave with it, for instance. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2020


[This post was updated after every 10k training run. From now on I shall be giving daily updates as I work through my challenge - which begins on the 21st. These are to be found towards the foot of this post. I'm now up to day 7 - and I'm now 5k ahead of schedule!]

I'm 82, I'm vegan, and it's my intention to run 100km to raise money for food for the rescued animals of Dean Farm Sanctuary. Animal sanctuaries are not immune from feeling the effects of Covid-19 - one of their main ways of raising money is by their open days - but these have necessarily been put on hold - for the foreseeable future. So, any money you can spare for the animals would be very welcome - and much appreciated. You don't have to donate through my efforts - there is a donate button on the Dean Farm webpage - but of course, any money you donate through me will only give me more motivation. Thanks.

If you wish to donate, click here - my GoFundMe fundraiser.

Or, if you'd rather donate through Facebook, click here.

This is my initial pitch, through Facebook:
Over ten days from the 21-30 June 2020, 82 year old Paul Youd intends to complete a 10km run, every day, to raise funds for the 200 residents of Dean Farm Trust animal sanctuary.

Paul took up running, from literally a standing start, at the end of March, wanting to put the lockdown to good use and to come out of it with a new skill. “I wanted to challenge myself and do something to help the rescued animals at Dean Farm Trust. They do such amazing work to rescue animals in need and they are really struggling at the moment, with many of their funding sources affected by the Coronavirus. Running was something I could learn from the safety of my home. I measured out a 20yd track around my small back garden and began on the 30th of March, running four stints of a quarter of a mile each. One mile = 88 laps.

He took it steadily, building up to a 2 mile run. Twelve days into his training, and after just 17 days, he’d completed his first 5km run. By the 28th day, he had run three 5kms; at the end of the 6th week his best was 8000yds, 400 laps, or around 4.5 miles; and 11 days later, on the 22nd May, he did a run of 9000yds, 450 laps, or 5miles + 200yds.

Feeling no ill-effects from his running - on the contrary, feeling as good as he’s ever done - Paul decided, on the strength of this, that he would be able to challenge himself to run 100km and raise £10 for every kilometre ran. [Since then, because of the overwhelming support I was getting, I've increased my target to £3000.]
“Since I began running, just 7 weeks ago, I’ve had no aches and pains - apart from a bit of stiffness if I sit too long. Whenever I’ve completed a run, I’ve always felt there was more in the tank - I’m pretty confident I can meet this challenge!”

Please support Paul and sponsor if you can – every penny will help the animals at Dean Farm Trust.
Want to join me in supporting a good cause? I'm raising money for Dean Farm Trust and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate £1 or £500. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your support.

Update no. 1: 29/5/20:
Many, many thanks for everyone's support!! I find it hard to believe I've reached my initial target in just two days. Since this fundraiser still has a month to go, I can see I'll have to raise the stakes even higher. So, watch this space.💚🙂💚

Due to the amazing support I - and Dean Farm, let's face it - have received, I've now changed the target amount of this fundraiser to £3000. So, got to get busy and share, share, share!!

[1/6/20: I've been contacted by a Spanish Animal Rights Activist - Joseph De la Paz, who has very kindly written up my fundraising efforts in his online magazine - POSITIVEGAN. I've had a look at some of the pages - there's a wealth of content there - and what I've read has impressed me greatly - please have a browse around yourselves.]

Training update no. 2: 1/6/20
Thank you to everyone for your continuing support! I continue to make progress with my preparations. I now have 2 x 10km runs under my belt - my plan is to run 4 x 10kms, 4 days apart, then a further 3, 3 days apart, and finally 3, 2 days apart, before I start the challenge on the 21st. In between, I'm mixing things up, with all out 1/4 mile, half mile and mile runs; doing flat out HIIT sessions, where I run like mad for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat that 6 times in all. And one of my 10km runs I'll turn into a 10 mile run. Have to say the weather is playing its part - it's no hardship to drop out of the back door, do my stint, then come back into the kitchen for a cold drink. Once again, thanks for your support.💚🙂💚

Training update no. 3: 4/6/20 - countdown, 17 days to go.
First of all I want to thank everyone for their continuing support - it really is heartwarming. Thank you all, very much!
My run today resulted in 2 personal bests, both in distance covered, and in time taken. Long story short, I did my 3rd 10k this morning, and I feel my training is right on track.
However, if you’re interested in detail - I’ve got you covered!
There's no doubt about it, I love round numbers! Last night I did 1000 press ups, on my way to my goal of 1 million before my 90th birthday, and this morning I ran 12000 yards - 600 laps round my back lawn.
Two of the things that I find are encouraging about my running are the ability to push myself in the later stages of a run; plus I always feel I can manage to keep going, when I complete a run.
Today, I was initially aiming for a 10k run - 550 laps - so, at 500 laps, the question I asked myself was, have I got enough in the tank both to push on a bit faster, and also do the extra 1000 yards? I decided to go for both.
I was 20 seconds ahead of even time (which is 10 seconds per lap) at the 500 lap mark, and, by the time I’d completed the 10k, by upping my pace a little, I’d gained a further 20 seconds. I kept this in hand, until, with 20 laps to go for the 600, I felt good enough to put it a sprint finish. In those last few laps I gained another 20 seconds, finishing about 61 seconds under even time.
I find that, and the fact that, so far, I’ve suffered no aches and pains - apart from a slight stiffness if I sit too long - very promising. I’m attributing all that to plant-based nutrition. Talking of which, I’ve just made a vow to myself to cut out all junk from my diet from now until after I’ve completed my challenge. No biscuits/cakes/sweets/junk food/processed food, etc. Just a whole food, plant-based diet, as recommended by Dr Greger.

Training update - 14 days to go.
Another good training run today - took three and a half minutes off my time with my 4th 10k. Now a couple of days where I'll do several short, faster, runs, then my next 10k is on Wednesday. Might do a bit more than 10k - I've promised myself a 10 mile run before I attempt the challenge. We'll see.
My thanks to all my contributors - I'm pretty sure we'll reach that target, with your help.

Training update - Wednesday 10th June - 11 days to go.
Thanks for the wonderful support Dean Farm has received so far! I'm delighted to report that my training is still going well. I brought forward my 5th 10k run planned for today to yesterday - the forecast wasn't good for today - in fact, it's raining now.
I kept very much to even time (10 seconds a lap), right through, but felt able to push forward in the last 40 laps so that I finished 23 secs inside.
My plan was to do a 10k every 3 days, up to the week before I start my challenge, then run every other day. But the weather looks pretty wet for the next few days, so my planning is a bit up in the air ATM. There may be a window tomorrow morning, but, we'll see.

Training update - Friday 12th June.
Felt really good on my 6th 10k run yesterday, taking a couple of minutes off my previous best. From the start, without consciously pushing it, I was running ahead of time, and I did the 10k about 4 minutes under even time. Still feeling good, I carried on for an extra 75 laps - or 1500 yards. So that was 625 laps, 12500 yards, or just over 7 miles - my longest run yet. Looks like there's another window tomorrow morning - but my worry is that the track I use might be getting muddy with all this rain about. Had a quick check of the week beginning the 21st and, and the weather looks like it might be OK.💚👍💚

Training update Saturday 13th June.
Perfect conditions for running this morning, cloudy with breaks of sunshine. Once again I felt pretty good, running at just under even time, so that by the 10k mark I was about 1 minute ahead. Still feeling OK, I decided to press on for a bit - eventually right up to 704 laps, 14080 yards, or 8 miles, another PB. I again managed a sprint finish for the last 360 yards, pulling back another 20 seconds!
I'm now resting on in-between days, so my next run, a 10k+, is set for Monday - weather forecast looks OK. Plan now is to do a long run - 10k or more - every other day until I begin my challenge Sunday the 21st June.

Training update - Monday 15th June.
The weather was indeed, fine for running this morning - sunny with a few clouds. Just 10k this time, and a PB, taking nearly two minutes off my previous best. From the start I felt in fine fettle - and, without any conscious effort on my part, I was consistently running about one minute under even time for every mile. Now only 2 more training runs before I embark on my great adventure!
I have received so many good luck messages, I'm bound to succeed.

Training update - Wednesday 17th June.
Overcast, coolish conditions for my penultimate training run this morning, meaning there was no need for a hat, or suncream, which was very welcome. No PB today, my run was a bit slower than last time, only finishing 30 seconds ahead of even time. However, for this run, I wanted to do a bit extra, and when I reached 10k, I continued on for a further 2k - 660 laps in total. I felt that I could still have carried on, but, mindful of the task ahead of me in just 4 days, I left it there. Still no aches or pains - WFPB nutrition rocks!

Training update - Saturday 20th June.
This is my last training update - the real thing begins tomorrow, and today I'm resting up. Yesterday, for the first time, I had to curtail my run - I'd got up to 362 laps, or about 2/3rds of a 10k, when it began to rain. It was only a shower, as it turned out, but, wishing to keep the track over the lawn as dry as possible, I quickly protected it with an assortment of black plastic sacks. So, not the 10k I'd promised myself, but still a longish run - and now my preparations are complete. It only remains to be seen whether my body will be able to cope with the strains I'm about to subject it to.
I will be taking my inspiration from the courage and determination of Fiona Oakes, " a high achiever who runs for the benefits of others and not myself, failure is not an option. To fail would be to let the animals down, to miss an opportunity to promote veganism in a positive way and to show that anything and everything is possible to achieve without the harming of others."

And we're off!
Day 1: Saturday 21st June.
Thank you, everyone, for the amazing support; both for me - and the animals, of course. And so it begins - 10k down and 90k to go!
After taking away all the bin liners, plastic sheeting, etc, from my track (pretending I was removing the covers at Lords in preparation for a One Day Cup Final between Somerset and Lancashire whilst doing so), I had to hurriedly replace them when an unexpected shower struck. But finally, the sun came out, and when I began, just after 3pm, conditions were just about right - the track was in good shape and the weather was sunny with a few clouds, and it wasn't too hot.
The run was fine, as I expected it to be - after all I've been running every other day, so this was just another one in the sequence.
I took it easy, bearing in mind the advice I had received on The Athlegans page, when I first mentioned my challenge - 'Timing isn't important, whereas finishing is', something like that. I kept pretty much to even time - never deviating more than 15 seconds ahead or behind, and I finished 11 seconds over - 1.31.51, which was fine with me. As I've done on all my previous runs, I still felt I could carry on for a bit. We'll see if I'm still saying that later in the week. Hope to do most of my runs in the morning - weather looks set fair for the next week at least.💚👍💚

Update 22nd June, the second day of my challenge.
It was a sunny morning with a few clouds, and it wasn't too hot - perfect conditions for running. I felt good from the start - and running seemed easier than yesterday. I was always ahead of the clock (I calculate even time at 10 sec per lap) and I found myself steadily building up a cushion without even trying. I finished up over two and half minutes faster than yesterday - still with a spring in my step. With just 4 laps to go, I was 2.26 ahead of even time, but, thinking two and a half minutes would be better, I sprinted the last 4 laps in 34 seconds, finishing the 10k in 1.29.08 - 2.32 ahead of even time. So far so good - now it's 2 down with 8 to go.

Day 3: Tuesday 23rd June, the third day of my challenge:

Different sort of run, today. I felt fine, and ran comfortably throughout, but decided, halfway through, to dispense with a timer. Up till then, I’d timed every minute, or 6 laps, on my iPhone - but, because it’s old and the battery is knackered, I have to strap it to a power pack. Together they weighed 400g, so it was a bit of a nuisance. When I stopped timing, I was 30 seconds ahead, but finished exactly on 1 hour 35 minutes - 3 minutes 40 behind even time, which is fine. And then, freed from the tyranny of time, I could concentrate on counting the laps - and the many milestones I pass on the way. I’ve been asked if I find it boring, just going round that small track - but, not a bit of it. I count and calculate all the time. My mind is a mishmash of yards and metres. I celebrate 44 laps - half a mile; 50 laps - 1/11th of the distance; 55 laps - one 10th. I mark every mile and often half miles; every 50 laps is one more 11th; 275 laps is halfway and 300 laps is 6/11ths - ‘I’m over the hump, now!’ When I get to 400, I start to anticipate the finish, and every 10 laps is noted. So, 400 means 150 laps left - but 401 means I’m into the next decade of rundown - only 149 laps left. Over 450, and the target is now in double figures. Then it’s 495 - 9/10ths, followed by 500 - 10/11ths. Finally, 525 = 21/22nds. When I finish, after my stretches, I wind down with a Medjool date and a banana. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 4: Wednesday 24th June.
A hot day was forecast, so I was up at 6.30 to get an early start. As I have been doing since I started my challenge, I glugged down 125ml of beetroot juice, a la Dr Greger. His advice is that it takes around 2 to 3 hours to take effect. I waited for an hour before I began, figuring the beetroot juice would begin to kick in about an hour into my run - which is when I would probably need it the most. I took it steady to begin with, and, as I got into my stride, I settled into a bit of a rhythm. I wasn't timing myself during the run, so I just ran at a pace that felt comfortable. And I was feeling pretty good. There were even several times during the run when I felt I could run forever. I finished with a time of 1:33.11, almost 2 minutes better than yesterday.
When I came in from the run, I needed the loo, so I used the one upstairs. (Using the downstairs loo is like taking the lift at work!) As is my wont, I belted upstairs, knees pumping, feeling no ill-effect from my run. I figure running upstairs, flat out, as part of my HIIT routine - more about that tomorrow. Not long after this, I found myself dancing round the kitchen to a favourite tune - absolutely full of energy! And here's me thinking I would start to feel worse as the week went on - instead I'm feeling stronger!
Day 5: Thursday 25th June.
As I said yesterday, I thought, when I first planned this challenge, that the runs would get harder as the days went by. But, not a bit of it! Turns out I'm feeling stronger every day. So much so that today I ran 11k instead of just the 10. Not only that, I was feeling so good that I thought I would increase the pace a bit. So I completed the extra 1k (55 laps) in 8 minutes 49 seconds - whereas the average time for 55 laps during today's 10k was 9.33 (1:33.05). This used to happen when I was doing my training. I always felt able to increase my pace in the last 50 or so laps. Moreover, when I've finished whatever distance I'd set myself, I always felt I could do more. This is now becoming apparent in my 100k efforts.
So, 51k down, 49k to go. (But will I content myself with just the 100k? Watch this space!)
I hinted yesterday that I'd say more about my exercise regime. Ever since I saw the BBC Horizon programme on HIIT, I've tried to incorporate some into my routine. Prior to starting my challenge, I used to do running on the spot - 20 seconds flat out, 10 seconds rest, x 6. But only spasmodically. What I did stick to, and have been doing it regularly for the past 32 months are press ups. I challenged myself, at the age of 80, to do 1 million press ups by my 90th, and I've been doing 10,000 a month - my total now is 326,000, and, at this rate, I should complete the 1 million before I turn 89. And I've also got a 9kg kettlebell that I swing around - every 5 days or so. I take the view that my health is my responsibility - and I take it seriously.

Day 6: Friday 26th June.
I wasn't expecting to run this morning, anticipating rain overnight, but when I woke up at around 7.30, the sun was shining - and the track was dry. But, no time for any heroics today since I had a Zoom meeting at 10, discussing veganism! So I went straight out, without my usual beetroot juice. And it didn't seem to matter, since I had a comfortable run, finishing in 1:30.40. These morning runs feel like the new normal - at one time I thought to myself, 'There's nowhere else I'd rather be.' What am I going to do when this is all over?
I'm definitely feeling stronger and fitter, so tomorrow I can choose, either to push for a faster time, or run a bit further. We'll see.
Rain is forecast overnight, so I've got some protection set out again for the track. Might have to run in the afternoon, which will be a bit strange. 
Day 7: Saturday 27th June. 7 days down and 3 to go.
Showery day, today. Checked the forecast and decided 11.30 would be a good time to start, so I downed a shot of beetroot juice at 9.30. And I did indeed start out as planned. However, with only 251 laps completed (out of 550), down came the rain - with a vengeance. I got soaked as I scrambled around pulling the covers over - but I went for my iPhone first, which is my timer, and also plays my music. I checked my phone when I got inside, and found the timer reset to zero - so I have no idea how I had been doing. I had been running freely, so it would have been a good time.
The rain only lasted about 20 minutes, giving me time to change my clothes. When I began again, I initially just intended to finish the 10k I'd started earlier, but...I thought, I've no idea where I was time-wise, why don't I just go on and do a 10k from here? And that was the plan right up until it threatened with rain again, when I had got to lap 526. This, plus the 251 from earlier, gave me a total of 777 laps for the day, which I'm going to call 14k. Along with the 61k I'd already recorded for my challenge, that gives me a very satisfying 75k in 7 days - with 3 more days left in June.

Day 8: Sunday 28th June. 8 down and only 2 to go.
Sunny and cloudy, this morning - quite a bit chillier, as well, but, good conditions for a run. So I was up at 6.30, quaffed a shot of beetroot juice - and waited an hour before I set off. I was on my favourite, anti-clockwise, circuit, and I had a good run. When I was training for this, I often threw in a couple of fast laps - sort of mini-fartlekking - every now and again, or I'd often run the concrete path part of my track a little bit faster. In fact, when I'm on the anti-clockwise run, earlier in my challenge, I had to stop myself from belting up this part of the circuit. But today, to start with, for sure, and at certain periods during my run, I let myself go for a few laps. So I finished in a decent time - just 2 minutes under evens. And, as ever, I always feel as if I could continue. I didn't today, since my family are concerned I'm going to do myself an injury if I do too much.
So, 85k down, and two days to go. I'm really enjoying this. Oh, and I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I have a friend in Minnesota, who is tracking my runs, and doing a 10k every day, just as I'm doing. He told me this morning I'd inspired him to think about doing a marathon in the fall! 
Day 9: Monday 29th June - the penultimate day, and another 12k in the bank. Total, 97k in 9 days.
Early start again, and I prepared as I usually do, starting off about 7.45am. Very chilly today, so I ran the first 200 or so laps wearing my fleece. Even so, good conditions for running - and I didn't have to mop my brow even once - literally not breaking into a sweat! I had decided I would extend the run by another 2 kilometres, today, so I took it easy - but even so I was surprised to find I was over 4 minutes behind even time at the 10k mark. Maybe because it was cold, and I was running in my least favourite direction, I'm not sure. I swapped directions when I started the 2k - and did the extra 110 laps in a much faster time. Paradoxically, as I progressed towards my target of 110 laps, the running got easier, so, by the time I finished I was really going well. Respective times were: Average of 9 minutes 40 seconds a kilometre, during the 10k; versus 8 minutes 52 during the 2k.

Day 10: Tuesday 30th June. This is it! The denouement! The finale! The climax! Finally, I have reached the target of 110k - just 93 days after starting my running career. I celebrated by having a cup of cocoa with two Medjool dates and a banana. But tonight, I may let myself go and properly celebrate with a bottle of real ale - or maybe two! Before I give my final update, I'd like to thank my darling wife for her amazing forbearance - both for my disappearing for long periods - and for making a mess of the back lawn!
Lots of rain in the forecast for today, but last night I thought I identified a window between 5.00am (first light) and 7. So I rose at 5 and was out on the circuit by 5.20. It was dry for about the first hour - when at lap 365, about 6.5k in, it began to rain. I ignored it at first, but it got a bit heavier, so I stopped and covered up the track to prevent it getting muddy. However, it stopped after about ten minutes, so I cleared away all the covers and started again. It was dry for the next fifteen minutes or so, then the rain returned - but this time I kept going, realising that the state of the track would no longer matter after today. The rain was only light, so it was no real hardship to continue - knowing that if I did stop, I'd have to do it all again, later today. I completed the first 10k in my slowest time yet - 1:40.26, which was not surprising, I guess. I went straight into the final 3k, which took me another 28.20, and it was raining pretty much all the time. However, it wasn't cold, and I felt in no discomfort.
So, my great adventure is over! 93 days since I first donned a pair of running shoes (TBH, an old pair of trainers I'd had for donkey's years!), I had just run 110k - over 66 miles - in ten days!
I had tried running, over 40 years ago, but my knees became so painful I had to give up after about 6 weeks. This time, apart from a slight stiffness if I sat too long after my first few 10k runs - which no longer happens - I have felt not the slightest muscle ache, pain or twinge - nothing! TBH, I'm amazed. I attribute this to my whole food, plant-based nutrition. I even, throughout these last ten days, gave up all cakes, biscuits, sweets, etc, and tried to eat as healthily as I could (the two bars of Green and Black's dark chocolate I received for Father's Day - thanks, Emma - don't count, do they?).
So, what now? In my speech, given at the conclusion of the 2019 Bristol Animal Rights March, I referred to my 1 million press up challenge (elsewhere on this blog), jokingly saying that, when I'd completed it - possibly in 2025/6 - I might turn my attention to marathon running. Well now, marathon running is, not exactly in my comfort zone yet, but I could certainly envisage myself attempting a half marathon at some point. Whereas, just 93 days ago, this would not have featured on my horizon in any way, shape or form.
I began running, a couple of weeks into lockdown, with the intention of coming out of it with a new skill. That was my goal - I just wanted to put the time to good use. But I made such good progress that, after a little over 3 weeks, I ran my first 5k, after 8 weeks, my first 10k. It was then that I suggested to Dean Farm that I would like to run do a 10k for them as a fundraiser. But my progress continued to be so rapid that I very quickly realised that I would be capable of much more than that, so I upped the challenge to 100k over ten days, and, as you've seen, I was able to increase that to 110k.
So my question to you, dear reader, is: What could you be capable of, if you just put your mind to it?

Reflections 1 - facts and figures:
93 days from start to finish
254km (158 miles) covered in training, or 13970 laps
110km (68 miles) doing the challenge, or 6050 laps
364km (226 miles) in total - 20030 laps
39 hours, approx time spent in training
17 hours, approx time spent in the challenge
56 hours in total

Couch to 110k in 3 months - not bad, eh?

Monday 6th July.
Today I ran round 880 laps of my garden - the 10 miles I've been promising myself since I began running exactly 100 days ago - and 3k beyond my previous longest run. I took it easy to begin with, doing the first 550 laps - 10k - in an average of 10.9 seconds a lap, then decided, since I was feeling pretty good, to up the pace a little. So my time for the last 330 laps averaged 10.7 seconds a lap. However, with the last 100 or so laps to go, my thighs started to feel very heavy, so I slowed back down to a bit of a plod. Encouragingly, after about another 50 or so laps I started to rediscover some spring in my step, but, not wishing to push my luck, I maintained my plodding gait until, 5 laps from the end, I managed to put in a (slowish) sprint finish. I could have gone on, I guess, but I think I'd just about reached my limit. I needed the loo, but, when I came in, I didn't bound upstairs to the toilet as I generally do, since my legs were very achy - first real muscle ache I've experienced. But I felt very satisfied - shattered, but happy!