Long run with more plants!

The runny bit

I was so caught out by my current gadget. (I feel the need to refer to my gadgets almost as I do my exes. For example my most recent ex is B who is referred to as the Last Mr Moorhen by me and my Personal Untrainer. So the last gadget should be the 4th and Last Mr Garmin-Moorhen, and the current one: the Current Mr Polar-Moorhen. Which begs the question: am I being overly straight with my classification of gadgets? Is a Garmin necessarily a Mr? Should my personal orientation reflect in my pet names for gadgets, because it doesn’t with the car, who is Madame C). But anyway, the Current and 3rd Mr Polar-Moorhen caught me out on Sunday. It decided that it was long run day (I follow its schedule, so much more fun that way) and when I looked at it, it showed 10 minutes warm up in heart rate Zone 2 (walk and the odd shuffle) and 70 minutes long run in Zone 2-3 (shuffle breaking into the odd walk), and I assumed 5 minutes cool-down at the end in Zone 2. However when it beeped after 70 minutes, it kept making the giddy-up noise (rather than the ‘stop you are going to die’ noise) and the timer showed 14 minutes and lots of seconds. ‘How odd’ I thought and peered at it properly with the magnifying bit on. 15 minutes in Zone 4 (an actual run with shuffle indicated only if near death) it said. I was 5 slow minutes walk from home. I dithered. But as I was so very untired, I trotted off doing a tortuous route to try and squeeze 1.5 mile+ in without going too far away. I found a completely new area about 250 meters from home that I was unaware of, which shows what a creature of habit I am. I can see the point of the structure in that it is probably very beneficial to learn to do an ‘effort’ at the end of a race when you are tired. It certainly woke me up.

The flowery bit

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Mallow – Malva sylvestris L.

Botanising, or as it is known in some circles (and you have to be careful with your circle selection here) bottomising, due to the arses-in-the-air position assumed by those looking at plants. So who is in the ring this week? The Geraniaceae, with a sigh of relief from me. Far and away my favourite family, and quite easy to recognise. At this point I thought I would plunge into the unspoken issue. I have been cheating really, the correct way to identify plants is to key them out (which I will explain at some point in the future, on a brave day); if you don’t do that you use the diagnostic features of that family to distinguish them from all the other things that you don’t want. What I have been doing is using pictures and my existing knowledge and some gizz/giss/jizz to find plants and identify them. So I can sometimes spot Geraniaceae that I have never before seen, because I am familiar with their gizz/giss/jizz for the reason that I look at a lot of them and I will have filed the images in my brain. Gizz/giss/jizz means the general ‘thingness’ of something, the aspects that make it specifically that item and not another. What distinguishes your 8 year old blond boy from all the others in the school? Why is your black cat different to the several billion others? The more prosaic definition is the overall impression of an item that means you recognise it. It may be short for General Impression of Size and Shape, and be an old plane spotting term from WWII; it may be short for gestalt, a German word for a collection of things that make a whole that is better than the sum of the parts (damn good word). Do be careful if you try to Google it though, avoid entries that have biscuits* or young men or pictures of anything in. What I can’t do is explain why a mallow is not in Geraniaceae by pointing at its bits and saying ‘Look, too many!’ So I am going to try to learn to do that in the future.

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Pelargonium cultivar


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Pelargonium cultivar



Geraniaceae has three genera that you can find in the UK easily. Only two of them have species that are native to the UK. Nasty technical terminology – Families like Geraniaceae are divided into smaller chunks and then smaller and so-on. This is part of humankind’s need to distinguish things from other things, and having done this, give them names so that they stay distinguished. This sometimes fails and sometimes succeeds. With the Geraniaceae the distinguishing and naming has been largely stable and successful, meaning that the little buggers don’t change name much.

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So the 3 genera you will trip over in the UK are the Geranium  which has some species in the UK some of which are incredibly common; the Pelargonium  which is incredibly common as a garden plant in the summer but is not native and not hardy in the majority of UK winters; and the Erodium again with some species native to the UK and grown in gardens, but not as common. They are rather nicely named after bird beaks, referencing the shape of the seeds: pelargos is the Greek for stork’s beak or bill, geranos for crane’s bill and erodos for heron’s bill.

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As you can probably guess, I have so run out of time to write this post properly, it has been sitting gradually getting bigger in my drafts for about 2 weeks now. So I am going to cut it short and set it free! You can see the family resemblance between the flowers though.

*A game called Soggy Biscuit, please do not ask.


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