The view opens up

One of my Running trail runs is tough. It’s a muddy slog through increasingly thick woods. It’s a slow claggy run climbing through undergrowth that sees only glimpses of the sun. It’s very claustrophobic. Your on your own. A little voice keeps telling you to just stop. Why am I doing this. One step forward, two back.

But with patience and effort the going becomes easier. The ground levels out. The cover starts to thin and the distant view begins to reveal itself.

Then your out. The openness is initially disorientating but it’s been so worth the struggle.

Then a reluctance. A moment of doubt. Need to turn your back on the openness and head back into the dark. The way is back through the woods.

This trail run reminds me of our life these days. I head into the working week with trepidation. Too much to do and not enough time. Self doubt is king. Often so little direction and so much frustration. It feels like you are against the world. Battling uphill through mud. Our Son heads into 5 days of mainstream school. So little help. Fighting on his own. Not sure why he is doing this. It’s an alien world. You just have to keep plodding on but then Friday comes. Our hopes and spirits build. Then you arrive at the weekend. For two sweet days life improves. The week’s slog and struggles are forgotten. But so quickly it’s late Sunday and you face the trepidation of the upcoming week and the return to the darkness.

So we move on. The week calls and maybe so does the woodland trail. That’s our life cycle.

Life lessons

Important life lesson number 1 – If you ever rip your running shorts on a fence don’t try to repair them.

A few weeks ago I managed to rip asunder my running shorts when I jumped a fence. As money is a little tight I decided to repair them and I have to say I think I did a rather fine job. Several runs later they were as good as new. Until today….A couple of miles into my run this morning I experienced the dreaded unusually cold under carriage feel. Yes the shorts had completely ripped again. In effect I was running in a short miniskirt.

As I pondered my options and with perfect timing a couple of female joggers appeared in the distance. Panic. Only tactic was to try and keep the distance until I could branch off onto another path. Unfortunately the two joggers were quicker than me. The gap kept closing. All I could think about was the sight the two poor runners would be exposed to. One last option. Stop and pretend to tie my shoe laces.

Important life lesson number 2 – if your in a hole don’t dig it any deeper

Have you ever tried to tie shoe laces while keeping your buttocks as close to the ground as possible. Just a couple of seconds after I was passed by the the joggers my balance gave out and I ended up sitting backwards in a muddy puddle. So now I had to get back to the house with ruptured shorts and an embarrassing muddy patch. Then a moment of genius take off my red running jacket and tie it round the waste. Much more protection unfortunately for one area although the thin Red T-shirt left on is not really designed for Yorkshire conditions. Distinctly chilly.

Thankfully the next few paths were wonderfully deserted. Within a couple of miles of the house I opted for a prudent shortcut across the farmland. As I passed the first gate I noticed a new sign but assumed it was the usual keep your dog on a lead. As I jogged through the cow field. I noticed one particularly well built cow clearly eyeballing me. Then it dawned on me what the sign said.

Important life lesson number 3 – always look we’re your going in a cow field

Do not enter Bull in field. Hang on a minute I’m yards from a bull and I’m wearing a red T-shirt and have a red jacket around my waste. I told myself that bulls are colour blind. So I did the only rational thing and engaged numpty panic mode. Quickly I ripped off the jacket and T-shirt. Quickly hiding them behind my back. The ultimate bull protection – go topless. Then I set off walking backwards as I kept my eye on the big fella. Bad idea as I tripped over a tuft of grass and now landed in a cow pile. Bare back and Cow Stuff is not a great feel.

So yes I made it home in one piece. Clearly wearing significantly less clothing than I set off in. My buttocks and back having enjoyed a free detox and toning application. AND desperately trying not to think of how much counselling those two unfortunate joggers will end up needing.

Important life lesson number 4 – just stay in the house it’s a lot safer.

Creaky World Tour 4

Currently not allowed to run due to knackered body (but starting to ignore medical advice just a little) so was in desperate need of a new fitness hobby to stop me going stir crazy. Came up with the idea of seeing how far I would get around the world powered only by my stationary exercise bike and walking with Pokemon Go….plus just an occasional run.

The creaky world tour left us in Lille (France). We started out in North Yorkshire.

So on this leg of the expedition we have managed

Bike – 475km

Pokemon Go – 35km

Run (don’t tell the Dr) – 15km

So where do these numbers take us?

To the beautiful city of Strasbourg. Located on the eastern border of France close to Germany. It is the formal seat of the European Parliament. The city is dominated by the imposing gothic Cathedral.

Photo from Wikipedia

Back in 2015 we visited Strasbourg. Unfortunately some wazzock forgot to bring his camera and his mobile was as flat as a pancake. So no photos and lots of housepoints lost. On that trip I became addicted to Flammekuche. A very thin pastry tart topped with creme fraiche, onions and other toppings. Bacon is popular.

The BBC kids comedy series Horrible Histories did a bizarre sketch about Strasbourg. It’s based on the real incident of sporadic mass dancing, called the Dance Plague which took place here in 1518.

Horrible Histories YouTube clip.

So its goodbye to France and where next?

Live

Yesterday was suitably grim but another day dawns and we move on. Life needs to be lived. As son puts it

Even you Dad are allowed to have some fun.

I’ve scheduled that in my diary for an afternoon in March 2024. The same can’t be said of our dog. His diary is overbooked with the joys of life. We could all learn from that approach.

Not sure his cuddly toy cat is enjoying life so much at this precise moment. It’s a sign of affection – honest.

A public service announcement has started on the radio which comes from our so called Government. It is telling people and businesses to prepare for Brexit on the 31st October. That’s a laugh as our Monty Python Gumby Leaders couldn’t even prepare a cup of tea. I suspect prepare means stockpile water, food and medicines. Our dog has started stockpiling toys.

So faced with a mountain of work, a misfiring laptop and more helpful advice from the Government I did the only sensible thing. Go for a run. Yes I know I’m not supposed to run for another few months but bugger it. A few minutes later I’m running over the autumnal fields. Coming in the other direction was a group of ramblers. Must have been about 20 of them. I wasn’t planning on saying hello to each one of them so I opted for one shouted hello. Unfortunately at the very moment I slipped and shouted s**t. After that faux pas I ended up saying sorry and hello twenty times.

A bit later I came to a fence. Do I climb it or do I be a pillock and jump it. Mr Pillock it is then. Amazingly the body cleared the fence unfortunately the shorts didn’t. Ripped asunder. Suddenly the run became very air conditioned. Better head back down the back lane – bound to be empty. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to reintroduce myself to the party of 20 ramblers coming in the other direction. It was chilly so they wouldn’t have seen much. Wouldn’t have seen much at the best of times really. Anyway I ran past them with a running gait best described as a duck waddle.

So life continues. We move on. Somedays we will be sad but we owe it to those not here to live.

Niederhorn

Like any country you get some grim weather days. Maybe it was just luck but we seemed to get very few of those days in Switzerland. But you still can exploit the day. Put on your waterproofs and see what you can find.

The Niederhorn is a mountain which overlooks Lake Thun. From our preferred hotel it was a 10 minute ferry trip. Then it’s a funicular train and cable car to the top.

Or as I did once do the ferry and mountain run it to the top. When I say run I’m using a very loose definition of that word. It’s definitely a thigh trembler.

The Nierderhorn is 1950m (6450ft) high. To add to its height you have a huge Television Antenna at its top. It’s 90m tall and it is seriously impressive. You get dizzy looking up. I had visions of Baron Frankenstein waiting for a lightning strike to bring life to his creation.

Even on a grim day you get stunning views across the lake and to the Alps.

A lovely little restaurant at the top allows you to enjoy the mountains in the distance while enjoying your hot chocolate or when I ran up the mountain – copious amounts of Swiss Lager for purely medicinal purposes.

Sat at the restaurant table drinking in the views. Watching a golden eagle soar. Enjoying the peace and quiet. Relaxing. Switzerland delivers again. It really always does.

Brief

For just a few minutes the clouds parted and summer made a brief appearance. Back to rain now. It was nice while it lasted.

I woke up this morning and like most mornings – half asleep. Few minutes later I’m peddling away on the exercise bike. Starting to feel more awake now. 28kph – come on lazy pants bit quicker.

Dad your squeaking.

And with that his bedroom door shuts. (Most unusual) I most be squeaky. So my morning mini Tour De France is interrupted. Why is it that when you need something from the toolbox it somehow develops cloaking technology. The oil was in the box. Search abandoned and cooking oil is smeared over the noisy bike. I wonder if this is common practice in professional cycling circles.

So we start the cycling again.

Dad can you hear the strange noises outside.

The resulting investigation seems to indicate the side gate banging in the wind. Quickly fixed with a brick. It’s tough for our son. So easily unsettled.

Can you move the bike into my room.

Tell you what why don’t you bring your blanket and try to sleep on the sofa next to the bike. The dog will happily join you. Few minutes later he is settled in with his four legged hot water bottle. So I try to start cycling again.

For a few brief moments I get into the zone. Good speed. Then the mind starts to wander. The biggest problem with indoor cycling. It was an August Sunday three years ago at about this time when the phone rang. It was the Doctor saying sorry but the last treatment option had failed and it was now time to move partner into end of life care. Shiver down the spine. Feel completely sick. Tears starting. Then anger. Why. Tell me why.

Anger fuelled peddling. Speed is now becoming breakneck.

Dad your squeaking again.

And with that it’s time to get off the bike. Squeaking wins the day. Come on son let’s have an unhealthy breakfast.

Can I have waffles.

You can have anything you want son. So like the sunshine. Today’s exercise was brief and my healthy eating regime is broken. Too brief to make a difference.

Creaky World Tour 3

Currently not allowed to run due to knackered body so was in desperate need of a fitness hobby to stop me going stir crazy. Came up with the idea of seeing how far I would get around the world powered only by my stationary exercise bike and walking with Pokemon Go….

The creaky world tour left us in Rochester.

So on this leg of the expedition we have managed

Bike – 280km

Pokemon Go – 30km

So here we go.

First stop is to a little favourite of mine. Not been here in over 25 years – I hear you scream but you are only 21. We find a way to the Isle of Sheppey after a 28km trip. A small island just off the northern edge of Kent. My sister used to live here. Apparently the first Britain flew an aeroplane here in 1909. A few years later here I got chased into Sheerness by a gang of ducks after they decided they wanted more bread from me. Ended up taking refuge in a pub. To be polite I had to try a pint of the local brew from Shepherd Neame. To my Yorkshire palette it was a shocker.

Now let’s get some distance covered. A hard 90km get us to Dover. First thing that comes to mind now are the 350ft tall White Chalk Cliffs.

Thanks to TripAdvisor for the photo.

The Ferry Port now opens up our world tour. Passport is ready and in a blink of an eye and after another 190km we find our French destination. It’s the city of Lille. It’s a wonderful city. Great history, great art, great markets. It’s a wonderful place to eat as well. It also happens to be the home of a contender to the title of the worlds stinkiest cheese. Maroilles. It’s a tasty one.

On my first overseas holiday with my partner we had to change trains at Lille station. So excited to have left Britain behind us for a week. To completely forget our life’s for a while. Then a booming voice.

“Now Bonny Lad. Wat are yee doin here” – imagine deep Geordie accent – think Brian Johnson from AC/DC.

Unbelievably the guy who sat behind me at Newcastle United matches was randomly stood next to us on this faraway French Platform. He was off to Bordeaux to see his French mum.

Grounded

Getting older is great for your body. I wish I could have my body from when I was 30. Hang on it was buggered then, just dislocated my shoulder playing football. I wish I had my body from when I was 25. Hang on I had just dented my rib cage playing cricket. I wish I had my body from when I was 20. Hang on I had just cracked my skull open playing rugby. I wish I had Thor’s body from before the Endgame.

Playing contact sport is basically bad for you.

Since the world changed I have focused on our son. But that is not completely sustainable. You do need to find time for yourself. If only to help manage stress levels. My anchor has been fitness and home workouts. Thirty minutes a day as a minimum. It worked until I realised I needed to stop myself becoming completely housebound. Couldn’t afford a gym so it was running. Again it worked well. But then the buggered body caught up with me again. So until a physiotherapist can have a look at me I am banned from running and weightlifting.

So the two things which have kept me sane over the last couple of years have suddenly become unavailable. Hopefully temporarily but you never know.

So I need to find something – a new anchor. But what? Climbing but that is far too risky and we are short of mountains round here. Cycling and walking would be good options but time constraints limit their appeal. Maybe not a sport then. Shockingly it might have to be a hobby.

  • Yoga – good for stress but I have the balance of a drunk three legged mountain goat
  • Dedicate time for reading – that could work, keep moaning about not reading enough
  • Write a book – possibly a cook or baking book….
  • Astronomy – time at night is a premium plus this is Yorkshire otherwise known as Cloudsville.
  • Birdwatching – another possible option and might meet others (even if they have feathers and a beak)
  • Learn another language – the nearest classes are many miles away and learning languages other than English will probably be outlawed after Brexit
  • Photography – only available camera is on my battered many years old iPhone
  • Gardening – who am I kidding, I am a plant mass murderer
  • Gaming – certainly not stress relieving
  • Painting – even messed up a paint by numbers Mona Lisa
  • Learn to play an instrument – would find a use for that keyboard I bought our son as a present, the one he asked for which apparently was supposed to be a gaming keyboard
  • Knitting – my knitting skills are only matched by my baking skills
  • Tree Shaping – we only have two small trees
  • Extreme Ironing – far too dangerous for me

So many options to ponder over. I will find a hobby. I have to if I’m going to pull this single parenting gig off. Asked our son and he helpfully suggested

Does sleeping count as a hobby”

Feel the pain

I often hear fitness experts say that you know when exercise is really working because it starts to hurt. No pain no gain. Well I think I successfully disproved that theory this morning. Pain means PAIN.

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Somedays it’s good to be brought back down to earth. An Aspergers child with beautiful honesty is a perfectly designed tool for this job.

At school the kids had to tell the class one thing their parent(s) were brilliant at. Apparently talents such as football, rugby, accountancy, building, driving, cooking, singing, languages, science, nursing, making money, horse riding, swimming, judo, gardening, running, pottery and writing we’re all mentioned. But not in one case…

A certain boy said “well it depends on your exact definition of brilliant, in my Dads case I may need to think about this for a while….”

The boy knows me too well.

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Maybe his hesitation on awarding brilliance was influenced by a little accident this morning. I have a little bit of a sore eye. During my early morning workout I somehow managed to hit myself in the face with a 14lb Kettlebell… So going back to the pain theory – experts would say that my pain was a sign of a most rewarding workout. Really!!!!

Skipping but not as you know it

It does sleep sometimes….

It was raining so I had to bring my 50 minute training routine inside. Every few minutes our son comes to check on me. I think he is just checking that I still have a pulse.

He stood looking really puzzled at me.

“Dad what on Earth are you doing”

Rather breathlessly I told him I was skipping.

“What like the boxers do!”

That’s right son, it’s a great exercise.

Haven’t you forgotten something Dad?”

Like what?

“The skipping rope!”

Technically yes. The problem is that I can’t skip. I have tried for years and my record is about 6 seconds before I garrotted myself. So I have decided to just imagine that I have a rope. Suddenly skipping is so easy and I can get most of the benefits of the exercise without looking like a complete pillock…

No just a partial pillock”

That is very fair.

But Dad it’s like me and falconry. I’m not yet allowed to be a falconer and hold birds of prey. But I imagine that I do. It’s good practice.”

And with that I was allowed to go back to my version of skipping. We all need to release our imagination every so often. It can help us in so many ways. Even allows an uncoordinated pillock like me to skip….