With one hand

August 2018

It’s been too long since I stood by the sea. Far too long. For someone born in a small north eastern seaside town, that’s tough. Genuinely don’t know when it will happen again. My gut feel is not in 2020. Our Government of Fools has now start reversing it’s rushed reopening plans. Yesterday it was perfectly safe to visit cinemas without a mask. Today you MUST wear a mask for your favourite movie. Yet kids and teachers are still expected to go mask free in classrooms. Last Friday we were being told to support the holiday industry and travel as it was safe. Just days later that all changed and more countries are being urgently added to the quarantine list with thousands of tourists now already out there. Even though those countries have much lower rates of deaths and infections than the UK.

Tougher lockdown regimes are being reintroduced into some areas with significantly rising infection rates . One such area is uncomfortable close to us. That is doing nothing for Hawklads anxiety levels. And now his garden consultation with his new health worker is in doubt. Such visits are now under review again. Somedays it feels like it’s one step forward and then one back. That’s at a time when his obsessive hand washing and fear of touching surfaces continues to mount.

But there is always hope and is it really one step forward, one step back…

When I first started climbing I hated having to retrace steps. One step forward, one step back seemed such a waste. A failure. Something to be avoided at all costs. But over time I learnt wiser ways. Things like climbing in things like pink compression tops and tight blue leggings is really not cool at all. Things like collecting rain water from rocky pools to drink might be a life saver but it doesn’t taste as nice as a can of coke stuffed into my climbing pack. Things like it’s not a great team building idea to lead a pitch when you have spilt asunder your tight blue leggings. I also learned that retracing steps is often a good thing. The times a few moments of retreat and sideways steps actually leads to a much easier and safe climbing way forward.

So yes things are tough and that garden visit would be useful but…..

The word BUT sounds to negative, maybe however is better.

However we do at least have access to the service still. That’s a huge bonus. The garden visit would bring stress currently, so if it doesn’t happen then it’s one less thing for Hawklad to worry about. It also encourages us both to try new things, see if we can find our own way through this maze. There will be things we haven’t tried. Maybe potential help has been there all the time and we just haven’t looked hard enough for it. Too much relying on someone else to find it for us. Maybe the only solution for Hawklad is to bunker down for a few more months until those clever vaccine people find something that works. So maybe retracing some steps is the best way forward.

There is always hope and yes I still have a pair of tight blue leggings…..

Groundhog Night

Three hours sleep in two days. All of that came the night before. Surely I should be more tired. Yes a little sleepy. Bags under my eyes – that could be Soya poisoning. Much yawning but still functioning. One of those long nights. Watched happy videos to bring smiles. But eventually the iPad ran out of juice and had to be pipped some of that electricity to bring it back to life. If only we had that option.

Can’t face watching night time TV. Please no QVC or car makeovers. Sleep refusing to come so then it was reading time. A book about a failed climbing expedition. Not happy reading. Loss of precious life, loss of fingers and toes. Was that final reckless push for the top really worth it. Only those climbers will know. My view of success in the mountains was always a little different. Success was seen as returning to camp in one piece with new experiences banked – the summit was just a bonus.

The read and the slow passing night did nothing for my spirit. The clock hands refusing to push forward quick enough. The hours dragging. Mood slowly sinking as fast as my chances of getting any sleep. That feeling of being alone. The iPad still drinking in electricity so no happy videos to lift me up.

Finally the dawn breaks and I’m out in the cool, damp morning air. Probably pushed myself too hard on the exercise. My body didn’t need that but for some reason my mind decided that was what was needed.

Now the day is here. Staggeringly I am not feeling tired. The iPad is back in business again. Quick video, look at some photos. Then a hot drink sat watching the moody Yorkshire skies. My mood lifted. Hawklad will soon be up. Not feeling alone. Almost time to rumble. The day beckons.

Let’s hope it’s not Groundhog Night.

Bleak

It’s another bleak old day. Definitely a two jumper day. July 4th was the day when many places like pubs reopened in the England. Well in some parts, rather briefly. A local attraction here opened at 10am and closed a couple of hours later due to the bad weather and high winds. Definitely a two jumper (sweater) day.

Definitely a day for no house work. Disney Plus movies, warm drinks and giving son the attention he needs.

This photograph reminded me of old times. Pre parenting days. When I went through tough periods. When I went through challenging times. Times when I seemed to stumble and constantly lose my way. I would need to reset my inner self. Take a breather. Back then I would book a climbing or walking trip. A weekend in the wilderness. The bleaker the better. That’s what I needed to do my personal reset. Yes I would be tired on my late Sunday drive back but normally I was in a much better mind set. Ready to rumble again.

Fast forward to 2020. Those climbing and walking trips are no more. Single parenting means no timeouts. No weekend long resets. Just keep going. Any internal resets have to be done on the hoof. So with some uplifting words from a friend swirling around my mind, I find myself outside. Sat on the garden fence with a hot drink. Taking a few minutes to breathe. Imagining walking through the bleak landscapes and starting a reset. Yes definitely time to go again.

A trip many moons ago

I stumbled across a few old photos. From a time before parenting. Even before my first ever digital camera… A time when my body was still young and I could run up mountains. A time when the wind would still blow my thick long black hair across my face.

A trip to the West Side of Northern England. To the Lake District and to one of Englands most famous mountains. The Old Man of Coniston. It’s not a huge mountain standing at just over 2600ft. But it’s steeped in history. It’s positioned next to the beautiful Coniston Water. The walk to the top takes you through old copper mine workings. Alongside a couple of stunning little tarns. Then finally onto a summit with sweeping views.

Hopefully one day I will return to the summit. A summit climb with considerably less hair. Which will take much longer this time and feature many sandwich stops..

Needs work

Another moody Yorkshire summer afternoon. Everyday it’s such a blessing to wake to this view. No wonder my partner fell in love with this house within seconds. And as ever she was on the right side of the conversation. The ‘needs work’ line was a little weak. Actually it still needs work but that view is still here. Tell me what’s more important.

Looking back my line about ‘needs work’ was more about avoiding change. Sticking with what we had. Avoiding that leap of faith. That’s been a theme of my life story so far. I always think my past climbing hobby is a perfect reflection of life. Many goals set but never attempted. It was easier to avoid them, find excuses. Too much caution climbing routes. Using fear and self doubt as an excuse to avoid those more challenging climbs. Backing away from leaps of faith. Yes I had fun but what could have been.

Now the life safety net has been removed. Single parenting and being without that person who held my hand on those big steps. Life has changed but so am I. It’s a slow process but it’s happening. Now is the time to face some of those fears which have held me back. Time to start ditching those constraints that have grounded me. Time to re-evaluate myself. Only by doing that can I be that parent our son truly deserves. Yes the one who protects him but the one who also encourages him to truly flourish. To be that person who he truly wants to be. To live his life.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a bit of virtual travel. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we visit one of the most stunning places on the planet. Let’s go to Switzerland.

As a child I would visit my towns library. It wasn’t very big. It had masses of a Mills & Boon books. That’s not really going to float a young boys boat. The library didn’t seem to have that many exciting books. But it had one. It was a reference book so I couldn’t take it home. So every Saturday morning I would carefully get this book. Find a comfy seat and read. This was a book about climbing in Switzerland. I would look in awe at the mountain photos and read the daring tales of the brave climbers.

Switzerland seemed like a fantasy world. Too good to be real.

How could a country look this exciting and this beautiful.

I would dream of standing on top of these peaks and gazing out into the distance. My heart racing as I am surrounded by The Alps.

Then fast forward many years and I’m there. I’m stood on some of those very mountains.

Switzerland is real. It’s actually more stunning than I ever imagined.

And next to me is a little boy. A boy starting his love affair with this magical country.

Survival

These are real survival plants. Will grow anywhere. It’s found on the paths, driveways, curb sides and stone surfaces.

Dad have you noticed how often on the survival programmes like Bear Grylls, they frequently have clean clothes on after a night in the tent or sleeping out in a forest. The hair is perfectly combed and they don’t look like they have had the best sleep ever. Even though the camp is flooded. You can’t even look like that sleeping in your own bed.”

He’s right as usual. I seem to have moved from just needing a little touching up around the face in the morning to a full cement mixer and construction team.

It’s as if they had not bothered with the tent and gone for a good nights sleep at the local hotel.”

Well funny you should say that and Bear. To be fair to Bear, I bet all the survival TV personalities do that. Finish filming, erect a shelter then bugger off to the nearest hotel. Actually it’s an excellent survival strategy. Save the tent for when you really have to use it.

I remember climbing in Torridon (Scotland) with a friend. We got caught out in a dreadful snow storm. We managed to get off the mountain but were completely lost. The blizzard got seriously bad as night fell. Couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us. We found a level spot and pitched an emergency shelter. We spent a cold, damp and very hungry night in that cramped hell hole. When we woke the next day we found a blue sky winter wonderland. We also found that we had camped in a field only 40 yards from a hotel, bar and restaurant. Drat …. So Bear if you want to sleep in a hotel, well go for it fella.

So while we are on the subject of survival skills…..

It’s Thursday so it’s time for our weekly bit of fun. Wow this blog certainly needs that. So let’s have a little dabble with Chelsea Owens and her weekly hilarity challenge (sorry, not sure that came out sounding entirely decent). This week the challenge is

“Your writing prompt?

  • “…[T]here really is no valid excuse for an able-bodied person going out of his head from being bewildered in the big woods so long as he has a gun and ammunition, or even a few dry matches and a jackknife.”
  • Use it or be inspired by it to write a funny SHORT story.
  • Please keep your response to 200 words or fewer.
  • Remember: make me laugh. I can’t see how you’d go this route, but please also keep things clean.”

You have till 8:00 a.m. MDT next Friday (May 22) to enter at Chelsea’s blog

A mouse took a stroll through a deep dark wood

Unfortunately Bear Grylls was in the neighbourhood

Eating a mouse is great television, so watch for the trap

The mouse is caught, consumed in one, the scene is a wrap

Now time for Bear to light a fire with only a wet leaf and knife

Then tell a story about how he is missing a comfy bed and wife

Time to build a shelter from just some twigs and his underpants

Now Bear shows how to clean his teeth using some angry army ants

Look to camera and announce its time to hunker down for the cold night

Then jump in the car, head to the warm hotel and really satisfy that appetite.