A much better this week, I managed the following:-

miles completed:   30.49

miles to go:             893.69

The first 100 miles have been completed.  At least I am moving in the right direction!

 

Week four went as follows:-

miles completed:   14.81

miles to go924.18

As I was away for a few days I did not get so much running done.  Pressure already!

In my spare time I try to research my family history.  Recently I took part in an experiment to have my DNA analysed, in order to see where my ancestors came from.  I was sent a small test tube which I had to fill up with spit (and believe me, it takes a lot of spit to fill one up).  It was then sent away to be tested and here is the result.

“Your mtDNA markers are 13708A, 12612G, 10499A, 11377G, 5460G

your mitochondrial DNA group is that of FIRST FARMERS the women who were at the heart of the greatest revolution in world history, the invention, development and transmission of the techniques of domesticating animals and growing crops.

mtDNA group what only women can pass on to their children, is J. This is a very common group in Southern Arabia but also found in Germany, and in Britain and Ireland, with outliers as far east as the Ural Mountains.

To reach Britain, your ancestors and their mtDNA has clearly made a long journey but it was not the first or the longest. Before they crossed the north Sea to settle in Britain some time around 3500BC your people had undertaken a much longer, even more hazardous journey. After the nuclear devastation caused by the colossal eruption of the Indonesian volcano known as Mount Toba around 70,000Bc, our species Homo Sapiens, almost became extinct. As tsunamis smashed into coastlines, as dark ash clouds hid the sun for a generation, plants withered and the animals and people who depended on them starved and died. Only in east central Africa in the shelter of the great rift valleys did tiny remnants of people survive, perhaps as few as 5000 outlived the sunless summers. When the weather at last warmed and new growth greened the land, a remarkable exodus took place. A small group of pioneers, perhaps only two or three hundred, left the sanctuary of the rift valleys and began to walk northwards. The epic journey out of Africa had begun. And your ancestors walked with these extraordinary pioneers. When they reached the Horn of Africa modern Djibouti, they crossed the narrow straits of the Red Sea, the Gate of Tears, and gained the farther shore, southern Arabia. And from that foothold in an empty landscape, your ancestors, the ancestors of all non-Africans, repopulated the whole of the rest of the world.

From the Yemen the pioneers moved along the Indian Ocean coast. Some kept on moving eastwards and only 2000 years after the crossing of the Red Sea, they had reached Australia. Your ancestors, those in the mtDNA N mother-group, remained in Western Asia.

They were hunter-gatherers. Almost certainly living in extended family bands, they roamed over wide ranges in search of a wild harvest of roots, fruits and berries. The seasons mattered very much to your ancestors and they knew where to look for what was ripe, where and when birds laid their eggs or at what place the seasonal migrations of herd animals made them vulnerable, or where the best fishing was.

Firewood was a crucial resource, for heat and light as well as cooking, and sometimes hunter-gatherer bands were forced to move on when the local supply became exhausted. The seashore the lakeshore and the riverbanks were all good habitats, places where a variety of food was available all year round. At certain times of year, usually in the summer, part of a band would leave the home range to go on hunting expeditions but since the preservation of meat could be problematic, they cannot have ventured far.

To modern eyes, prehistoric communities will have looked young, and the reason for this was brutally simple. in an age before antibiotics, surgery or medical midwifery, your ancestors died young. Many women will not have survived complications in childbirth and across Britain and Europe several prehistoric burials of mothers and babies have been found. At Vedbaek in Denmark a grave was uncovered where the mother had been laid on her side and dressed in all her finery with a necklace of stag’s teeth and a flint knife. And beside her lay an image of tenderness and mystery. The body of her baby was buried nestled in a white swan’s wing.

Some time around 30,000BC bands of hunter-gatherers your ancestors among them, moved from Western Asia into the areas known as the Fertile Crescent. It extended north west from the valleys of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and curved westwards through Syria and down the Mediterranean coast as far as Egypt. A welcoming well-watered region in prehistoric times, with abundant flora and fauna, it was a place the Bible would later call the land of milk and honey.

Some time after 9000BC the hunter-gatherers of the Fertile Crescent began to make fundamental changes in the way they lived. Nowhere recorded and extremely difficult to track archaeologically, these people slowly became farmers. Instead of being wholly reliant on a wild harvest, they began to cultivate native grasses, especially those with large and starchy seeds. By setting aside the biggest, planting and replanting them, they modified wild grasses and began to sow crops in small enclosures and harvest them. What are known as einkorn and emmer wheat were early strains and people also cultivated barley, peas and lentils. For fibre to make yarn for linen, flax was grown. Over millenia these new crops and the new techniques of farming developed.

As a staple, wheat was a crucial choice. Elsewhere in the world, the same changes were taking place but the new farmers grew rice, maize and millet. But in the temperate latitudes where it could ripen, wheat had two determinant effects. Because its ears contain more protein, those who ate food made with wheat grew taller and larger. In general, European and North Americans have a greater average height and weight than most Asians or Africans.

The second impact of growing wheat was to prompt a sustained and rapid increase in population. The diet of hunter-gatherers could be difficult for infants to chew and most continued to be suckled by their mothers until adult teeth grew in at the ages of four and five. While nursing, women are usually unable to conceive and so the birth interval was long. This in turn meant that in their short lives, most wives in hunter-gatherer societies could bear only three or four children, not all of whom would have survived.

When cereal production began, the birth interval shortened dramatically because porridge was invented. Ears of wheat and other cereals could be mashed into a pappy nourishing porridge easily masticated by infants. If they no longer needed to be suckled at two years old or even earlier then that had the effect of doubling the number of children a woman could have. Milk also became available from other sources.

At the same time as crops were first cultivated, animals were being domesticated. Cows, goats and ewes were valuable for the milk they could produce and the latter two could be combed for wool to make yarn. Pigs were the only animals domesticated only for their meat and hides, and while oxen could pull loads, the horse was first ridden in Central Asia c4,000BC.

Hunting and gathering still went on (it still does), and in prehistoric societies it was probably undertaken by men. It appears that many of the new techniques of farming, especially the day-in, day-out chores of looking after animals, weeding crops, shooing off birds and milking were passed on by women. It is worth recalling that until the early 20th century and the advent of mechanisation, women did the same sort of work in Scotland’s farms.

Your ancestors, those carrying your mtDNA marker J, began to move out of the Fertile Crescent in two directions. Some branches of your lineage are found amongst the Bedouin and the other peoples of Arabia. And others moved into Europe, your group among them, taking the new techniques of farming with them and passing them on to their children.

From around 8,000BC your ancestors crossed the Bosphorus or the Black Sea and entered Europe by the valley of the River Danube. Water was the fastest means of travel until the 19th Century. Other groups tracked around the littoral of the Mediterranean as far as Iberia and they approached Britain from the south. Those who had followed the Danube and the Rhine to the great North European Plain came from the east.

Your fore-mothers arrived in the British Isles and Ireland around 3,000BC and in their hands and brains they brought with them the means to feed their famili8es in new ways, the ways of farming.

Markers

ScotlandsDNA has extracted DNA from your saliva and read the genetic code at a number of variable points in your sequence of letters, points known as markers, in order to determine your personal DNA signature.

The markers we use are unique events in human history and thus define stable lineage or clusters or related chromosomes. Your blood relatives on the female line will share your DNA signature. We have tested a number of markers and your result is revealed here.

These markers are all found on a segment of DNA called mitochondrial DNA and mt DNA is inherited in both the female and male lines but only women can pass it on. To find your lineage we have compared your results to published and unpublished genetic signatures as well as our extensive database.

Female ancestral lineages are found at different frequencies in different populations. Some are specific to a certain region while others are more widespread. Knowing which group you are allows you to find out where your female ancestors came from in the deep past and where your group is found today.”

All of that from a test tube full of my spit!  Amazing!

 

I managed a few miles more during week 3:

miles completed = 23.43

miles to go = 938.99

Hopefully the good weather will continue!

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to spend a short while in the beautiful German city of Cologne.

HBF

I arrived at Cologne Hauptbahnhof which is the main railway station.  As I exited my plan was to head directly to Cologne Cathedral and I wondered how far it was.

Cathedral

I need not have worried because it was literally right outside the railway station.  The cathedral is enormous and dominates the surrounding landscape.

Legend says the remains of the Three Wise Men were brought to Cologne in 1164 – a shrine was required for the bones and a cathedral then had to be built to hold the shrine. The first stone was laid in 1248 but it was never completed until 1880.

Cathedral interior

The cathedral is very beautiful inside with some of the most amazing stain glass windows I have ever seen.

stain glass 1

It also has a beautifully decorated floor.

cathedral floor

I walked down to the river and saw the Hohenzollern Bridge which carries the trains across the Rhein.

 

Hohenzollern Bridge

The view across the river was beautiful although it was absolutely freezing.

rhein

Another interesting sight was the Rathaus, or Town Hall which was completed in 1414.

rathaus exterior

It has some interesting artifacts although it is a bit odd to be walking around inside whilst people are working. You can see in the first picture someone sitting in their office.

rathaus 2 rathaus 1

The Roman influence is evident, with the piece of Roman road and Roman sewers both clear for all to see.

roman road roman sewer

Cologne is a beautiful city and I hope to go back in the future and explore a bit more. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

So week two of my challenge went like this:-

miles completed = 18.72

miles to go = 962.42

Only 50 weeks to go!

 

 

Last weekend I decided that between 1st March 2014 and 28 February 2015 I would run 1000 miles.

Why?  Oh I don’t know, it seemed like a really good idea at the time.

So here we go, this is what I managed in week 1:-

miles completed = 18.86

miles to go = 981.14

I know I’m going to regret this…..

 

Here’s the full official trailer for the new Godzilla movie which is out in May 2014.  It looks awesome, and it stars Bryan Cranston which is a big positive for me because I think he’s a fab actor!

 

Here in the UK over the past few months we’ve had some dreadful weather.  Every day the news has stories of severe flooding – some villages have been flooded since before Christmas.

I live in North East Scotland and for once we’ve escaped the worst of the weather although some areas have been affected by the storms.

These photos are from a fishing village called Portgordon which is quite close to where I live.  As you can see, the harbour has been quite badly damaged.

IMG_0181

The sea has blasted a rather large whole in the sea wall.  There used to be a big concrete structure sitting on the wall and it has been completely destroyed.

IMG_0184

This photo shows the amount of debris which has been blown into the harbour.  Unfortunately the entrance straight ahead is blocked up so the harbour is currently out of use.

It’s a vivid reminder of the dangers of the sea, and the power of nature as a whole.

Here’s a few films I’m looking forward to this year (in no particular order):

Godzilla

 

Jupiter Ascending

 

X Men: Days of Future Past

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

 

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

 

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