I MET up with the England senior squad on Saturday and there was no time to admire the view from our seafront hotel.

We went straight out and had a beach run – and it was absolutely shattering.

All the boys were really feeling it – running up massive sand dunes doesn’t do much for your health!

To finish off we had to run up a dune that was about 120 metres high, a real killer.

We all actually managed to finish it, though I don’t know how. It seems like you are treading water and are never going to get to the top.

I think it was the fact that we would have to go back to the bottom and start again if we stopped that kept everyone going!

The thought of doing part of it twice was enough to spur anyone on.

It’s not easy, but doing it in groups, you always give each other plenty of encouragement and it is those kinds of things that help you bond as a team.

But apart from the hard slog, it’s great to link up with the senior side again, even if I have been ruled out in the short-term with a side strain.

I get on really well with a lot of the players having been involved with the set up before and it’s good to see Notts team-mate Swanny (Graeme Swann) again.

There were about 10 of us went out to the cinema the other day to watch 2012, the disaster movie.

It’s not one I would recommend and we were all laughing our heads off at how bad it was.

I don’t think the more serious cinema goers were too happy with us, though, because we were making a bit of a racket and there were bits of popcorn getting thrown back and forth.

Swanny’s laugh echoing around the cinema probably upset one or two as well.

But it was a good way to relax and get away from the cricket for a while.

We had a photo session in the gym the other day, but you don’t really notice the cameras there all that much.

It is part and parcel of being an international sportsman, just as doing the media stuff is.

Of course, you have to be careful about what you say – you can land yourself in trouble without even realising it.

If you treat people right then you hope that they will treat you the same as well and I get on well with most of the press boys.

Sometimes you can have someone who has a particular agenda against you, but there is not a lot you can do about that.

The best thing you can do is make sure your cricket does the talking.

I had a bit of a blinder the other day, missing the England players’ ‘safari.’

While in Pretoria, there was a big party of them who went out to look at the wildlife – but they didn’t have the most successful of trips!

I think they were all expecting to see all sorts – buffalos, leopards, lions and the rest – like you see on television.

But after driving out for three hours, all they saw was one rhino, a couple of zebras and some monkeys. To say they were disappointed was putting it mildly.

The same thing happened when I went on a trip when I was out in Zimbabwe on a tour. All I saw was an antelope.

Going on something like that is great if you are guaranteed to see lots of wildlife but, of course, there are no guarantees.

I chose to stay at our hotel – and that proved to be a wise decision, especially with five or six games of Premiership football on television!

IT’S been a good week for my football team, Manchester United.

Not only did they top their Champions League group with a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg, courtesy of Michael Owen’s hat-trick, but they have also closed the gap on Chelsea in the Premiership.

That gave me plenty of ammunition to give KP (Kevin Pietersen) some stick, because he is a big Blues fan.

While Chelsea were losing to Manchester City, the Red Devils were thumping West Ham. What a pair of results they were.

I don’t really get the chance to go up to Old Trafford very often and that is likely to be even less so now I have the family to consider. The free time I do have I want to be spending with them.

But the good thing is that they are on tele plenty of times, which means I can keep track of what’s going on.

I was actually on MUTV a while ago with Terry Christian, who is a big fan of the club himself.

He put me to shame with his knowledge, reeling off all the names and the games from yesteryear.

I was absolutely hopeless in comparison, but I do have my favourites.

I always loved Cristiano Ronaldo when he was with the club because the way he played was so exciting and there was a buzz on anticipation when he got the ball.

But my hero has always been Ryan Giggs and I am lucky enough to have met him.

He was a really nice guy. We talked for about half an hour and I was a little bit star-struck!

Playing cricket I have been lucky to meet quite a few celebrities. Daniel Radcliffe (from Harry Potter) came into the dressing room once when I was playing for England at Lord’s because he is a massive cricket fan.

Then there was Jude Law who came in with his sons. It can be a bit surreal at times, but it’s also a privilege.

IT never seems that long after the end of the domestic season at the end of September that the new fixtures are on the horizon.

This week Notts have announced their pre-season games at the end of April and already they aren’t far away.

I do think that we are at a point where there are too many games played in a county season.

It would help if the number of games were cut down and also if the season was extended into October, particularly because the weather is usually pretty good in that month now.

At the moment there are so many games in such a short space of time and an extra three or four days to prepare would make all the difference.

It would give players the chance to rest up and also work on the technical side of things rather than going from one game to the next.

We certainly need decent size squads because if you can get through a season without having some kind of injury as a bowler then you have done fantastically well.

It’s like a roller-coaster, game after game, where you can finish a match in Nottingham one day and then have to travel down to play a one-day game at, say, Taunton, the next.

The travelling itself can make you tired and, when you do it regularly, it means you can go into games jaded and not able to give your absolute best.

The best solution would be two or three less County Championship games or one less one-day competition.

But whether anything changes remains to be seen.