Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it’s time for our weekly virtual trip to stunning Switzerland. Pure Alpine Heaven.

One morning on every trip, I would be let out early to go for a short European jog.

Not too far as breakfast would be soon calling.

Everyone of today’s photos was taken from the route of my run.

It took me just under 40 minutes to do the route. Adding a couple of photo stops.

So in just 40 minutes, all this beauty.

So much on the doorstep of the hotel. The amazing thing is that Switzerland has so many places like this.

You don’t need to be running here to literally have your breathe taken away.

I might enjoy running but I have to say there are better ways to exercise and take in the beauty of Lake Thun.

Movies

We are running out of sun cream this summer….. So need protecting from the unbroken sun beating down on parched Yorkshire……

Over time you find ways to protect your inner self and your family. Unlike sun protection, these things are needed frequently here. With Son’s Aspergers he can suffer with severe anxiety attacks. To be fair I struggle as well. But over time you find ways to block out the anxieties for a little while. For me the best blocking techniques are running, exercise, music and climbing. With Son it’s dreaming, talking and watching wrestling. One thing that works for BOTH of us is watching movies.

I remember being told by various parents that I should limit screen and TV time. It’s bad for all kids. Apparently it’s ok for the same parents to watch as much TV as they like. Ok. We need to remember that all kids are different. Unique personalities. What works for one child may not be suitable for another. In the case of our Son, movies help brake the downward descent into an awful anxiety whirlpool. So when he needs to, he can watch a movie. If it takes two movies, then it’s back to back cinematic viewings. I guess the ultimate would be to watch the entire Marvel Universe in one sitting…..

The other upside to movies is that it helps with my anxieties as well. It’s good sometimes to forget the current world and just escape. Son tends to be in full control of the movie schedule. His choices will work for me. Often these are cartoons. That suits me just fine as I’m a big kid at heart. Nothing better than 90 minutes of ScoobyDoo or Ice Age. Part of me secretly would love to be deposited in one of those cartoon worlds. They always feel so much safer and more fun than ours.

Well the other night we both needed a bit of cheering up. So we sat in front of the TV and Son scanned the available options. Which Scooby movie would he pick. He might even pick a Marvel epic. This is going to be so cool…. Five minutes later we were watching the Playmobil movie.

Now that was not what I was expecting. Son hasn’t played with a Playmobil toy since he was about 4. Ok I will just grin and bare it. Well I will go to the bottom of our garden. WE both loved it. So much so that when I couldn’t sleep during the night, I watched it again. Ok that’s my rock and roll credentials blown out of the water but so be it. Yes its not going to get any Oscars but it certainly wins on the anxiety blocking scale. Now am I too old to get out the Playmobil figures……

Unbelievably while writing this ….the sun has come out. Where is the sun cream.

Running wild

Remember those times before 2020. No masks or enforced social distancing. It seems an awful long time ago. So much enforced change. A world which has shrunk for virtually all of us.

After my partner died the world did shrink for me. No more holidays, no long distance work journeys, less visits to family and friends. No climbing expeditions. Things like trips to the gym even stopped. One thing that kept going was running. Son would go to school and my new found work flexibility would allow a couple of long runs every week. I got to see and breathe the local countryside. Run through the hills, valleys and woods. Every so often a little longer trip to the coast. The delights of a beach run. These became such an important part of my coping strategy. A way to manage my mental health and stay fit.

These runs have now stopped. The last run was in early March. Still there but out of reach. Out of reach until September when the secondary schools potentially go back. Maybe Son will opt for homeschooling and the runs cease permanently. But life goes on. It has to. So the runs have had to be replaced with exercise bike sessions – I have developed a pathological hatred of the piece of rock called the bike seat. Replaced with extra weights exercise in the garden. More CrossFit workouts. And yes with garden runs. A small garden doesn’t lend itself to a great variety of routes. Basically I can keep going round in circles clockwise and anti-clockwise. Constantly going round in circles. I measured it out, the longest straight line run possible is a massive 15 paces. Round and round again.

“Dad school have set a running challenge this week. They want the class to run and cycle. Using the Strava running app they want us all to work together to get to ferry in Dover and head off into Europe. Parents are encouraged to join in. Come on Dad. Get your running kit on.”

It’s a bit like my blogs creaky world tour but recorded using Strava. So I downloaded the app and dragged my tired body outside. I had already done my morning weights exercise routine. And off I went. Round and round the garden. Clocking up km after km. Bored out of my mind. Son did a bit of running himself before he went inside to start his next online class.

Eventually the knees said that’s enough. They can only take so much constant turning. And I went inside to send school the running results. The thing about Strava (and other running apps) is that you get a route diagram. A map of your run. They should look something like this…..

Well mine was a masterpiece. It’s my finest work of art I have ever produced….

The final ironic element to the story. A couple of hours later…

Oh Dad. Just had an email from school. You had better sit down…. Apparently a few parents have complained about privacy and the schools online Strava Running Club. So they have had to delete the club and cancel the running challenge.

Oh well at least I got a work of art out of it.

Creaky World Tour 8

It’s been a while since we did the last of these. Last year I started using the miles generated from my exercise bike, fitness tracker and Pokemon Go (Don’t Ask…) to see how far they would get me round the world.

So over the last couple of months let’s see what my entirely house and garden bound existence has generated.

720km Exercise Bike

520km Running

205km Pokemon Go

Plus we had some km left in the tank from the last trip to Trieste. So let’s see where my little hairy legs have taken me.

So on our last mobile report our intrepid Explorer was leaving Trieste. We now find him 850km further west in Romania. Beautiful Timisoara.

Timisoara has two names. The City of Flowers and Little Vienna. Looking at the online photos, it is such a stunning place. So let’s see a few of the highlights.

Timisoara Orthodox Cathedral

Unirii Square

Piata Victoriei

Bega River

Parcul Rozelor

Opera House

Thank you beautiful Timisoara.

We still have plenty of km left over and more to add this week. So let’s see where we are next Thursday. Stay safe and remember to smile.

*****Thank you to Tripadvisor and RomaniaTourism for the photos.******

Saturday

A Bee with purpose.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this but this morning I just can’t get going. I should be sat here writing a post after finishing my morning workout. Raring to go with today’s fun and mayhem. But no. Not even got my gym clothes out of the washing machine yet. Just can’t seem to get going….

The Sun is shining and it’s quite warm, so I can’t blame that.

I just feel like a computer stuck in safe mode. Only operating on reduced power. Just going through the motions, slower than normal. Feeling a bit sorry for myself.

  • I’m tired, didn’t really sleep last night,
  • I’m fed up with the thought of having to wear a chemical and biological warfare suit when I want to pop out to buy some chocolate or post a letter,
  • I’m sick of living in a country run by self serving clowns,
  • I want to hear news which does not involve a virus,
  • Annoyed at the thought of forgetting to do routine stuff. Stuff like probably forgetting to press the washing machine ON button last night….
  • I want to go running in the hills without having to stay alert and measure out my safe distance,
  • I want to have a car that basically works and one which has a replacement brake system which has been stuck in China since March,
  • I have had enough of walking into the kitchen and not finding any food which is even vaguely suitable for IBS,
  • AND I am so frustrated at seeing my beloved Son not feel able to venture out through the front garden gate and experience any of the beautiful world we live in.

Well that’s it. Time to start living. Writing those grumpy cat words have done the trick. I finally feel motivated to get my gym stuff out of the washing machine (don’t care if they are unwashed). Going to do some exercise then going to get my big backside back in gear. Going to have some fun. Going to make Son happy. Going to watch some German Football. Going to root about the bottom of the freezer for some nice food. Going to talk to a real good buddy and see if they fancy playing an online game. Then the day will finish with a great movie night, eating full fat crisps and watching a very silly film.

We can do this…..

What are you doing…

What are you doing…..

This morning’s workout was cold, breezy and often damp. It’s odd. If I had been running across the fields, I would quite enjoy those conditions. It makes me feel so alive, help blow the cobwebs away. But when I’m restricted to the garden. When I’m trying to do push-ups and throw a kettlebell about – it’s not fun, not fun at all.

So why do I do it?

The obvious reason is fitness. Another key reason is that I need to stay as fit as I can (for as long as I can) for our Son. When he wants a game of football, I don’t want to be found wanting. He doesn’t have friends in the village to pass that responsibility on to.

But there is another reason for being cold and wet while trying to lift weights above my head. It’s very like my Dad and gardening….

Dad left this world many years ago. In the end it was a blessing as he was clearly in pain. The things he enjoyed doing were now beyond him. One of which was gardening. He would spend hours outside or in his greenhouse. Regardless of the weather he would be gardening. I can see him in the pouring rain, clearly cold and very wet finding some plant related task to complete. He would go out stressed and clearly not happy with life. A few hours later he would return relaxed and smiling. Yes he would often rush to the fire to try and warm up, but he was in a much better place than he had been.

Dad clearly struggled with his life. Pretty sure with depression. He suffered in silence. Talking about the D word was just not the thing to be done in those days. One of the few things that worked for him was gardening. It was his release. The thing that could help release the demons. His medicine. That’s why he went out in all weathers.

Exercise is my release. Whether that’s trail running, hill walking, weight lifting, cycling, CrossFit…. that’s my medicine. Sometimes activities like climbing have to stop, but they get replaced. It’s my daily release. It’s an anchor to help maintain life balance. People like The Rock have talked about this better than I ever will. We are all different. What works for me may not work for you. I guess we all have to find our thing, that activity which becomes the anchor. Maybe that is sport, maybe it’s writing, or music or knitting or cooking or gardening. Whatever it is, we need to find it. We then need to find the time to do it. That’s why tomorrow morning, whatever the weather is like, you will find me outside, running round the garden. Yes it might look odd but it makes perfect sense to me.

Creaky World Tour 7

It’s been a while since we had a Creaky World Tour update. It’s been heads down over the last few weeks. Have I missed anything……. Interestingly my helpful predictive text function wanted to repeatedly change CREAKY to FREAKY. Maybe it’s more appropriate at the moment. Yes a freaky world currently but after this has settled down its time to visit our beautiful world again.

Let’s see how far around the world I can get only powered by my battered old stationary exercise bike, dog walking and local runs. As my fitness tracker has died I will be using a suitable alternative for the distance calculations – Pokemon Go. So might even catch a few Pokemon on the way.

My last virtual update found me leaving beautiful Milan. As a couple we always wanted to visit but sadly left it too long. It’s a city I promise to go to as soon as I can. Stay strong.

So how much distance have I got to play with this time.

Exercise Bike – 480 miles (772km)

Running – 440 miles (708km)

Dog Walking – 160 miles (257km)

That’s 1080 miles (1737km) – no wonder my bum hurts.

So the first stop is at the port city of Trieste. Apparently it can give even Yorkshire a run for its money on a strong, biting wind. Here it’s even got a name The Bora. Trieste is clearly a brilliant place to visit with so much to do. Here are a just a few of the many attractions.

The beautiful castle – Castello di Miramare

Faro della Vittoria – historic lighthouse

Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia – the stunning city

The stunning coast – the Golfo di Trieste

Thank you Trieste for showing that’s it’s still a wonderful world.

So I have more miles left in the bank so let’s see what other beautiful locations I can visit this week.

*********All local photos from Tripadviser***********

Sausage Roll

Castle Howard is only a few minutes drive from our house. The photo is Castle Howard not our house. Sadly we don’t go that often now as it’s so expensive. Which is a shame as it’s truly stunning stately home.

Work came to a premature end at 10am this morning. That’s the deal with zero based contracts. Yes they are flexible and can fit round being a single parent but absolutely no guarantee of work. So a deep blue sky beckoned a first run in ages. The plan was to drive home and just run from the bungalow. But without really thinking I pulled over at the next village when I saw an enticing path sign. I thought ‘well lets see where this takes me’. The answer was stunning run which skirted the edge of the Castle Howard estate. All for free.

My trail shoes don’t have much tread left on them so I was taking a bit of a risk running down a steep muddy bank. I lost….. A sudden grip failure resulted in a crunching fall followed by several rolls down the steep slope. All sides completed covered in mud. After a few minutes the mud began to dry in the sun. I now know what it feels like to be a sausage in a sausage roll…..

After the painful and slightly embarrassing slog the run flattened out. The reward was glorious views of Castle Howard and the Estate. I had the trail to myself which gave me time to think. Probably too much time. It’s at times like this that my mind wanders to what has been lost. At least with running I do have a release valve. Just run quicker. It works but wow I’m knackered when I finish.

It was a wonderful run around a stunning track. My partner would have loved it. She would be definitely walking rather than running. I was sad that she never got to see these views. I will just have to look for the both of us. I really hope that works for her.

Laughter

Most runs around here end up with one last slog up this winding hill. A number of cycle clubs use it for races. The British Universities use the hill for their national road race championship. The 25% twisting ascent is a real leg sapper.

But on the bright side it’s a rapid, helter skelter of a descent. On one cycle decent I lost control and ended up in the farmers field. Still not as bad as one cyclist you apparently was rescued after being found face first, stuck in the roadside hedge. You could only see his legs sticking out. That would have cracked me up. As Monty Python would sing – Always look on the bright side….

Over the last couple of years I’ve learned the importance of laughter. It really has been a life saver some days. Really dark thoughts have been broken by a random laugh. A few weeks after my partner and my mums funerals I was as low as I have ever been. But a random chance encounter with Python’s Holy Grail movie lifted my spirts. It was bizarrely the scene where Eric Idle was collecting the dead bodies on the cart and John Cleese tries to get rid of a ‘not’ dead old man. It just touched a nerve and I laughed a lot. It just seemed to brake the spell.

Yes laughter breaks the spell. It’s distracts me. In computing terms it seems to reboot my system. The problem is that often when you need that reboot the most. At your lowest ebb. The hardest thing to do is laugh. The mindset is that your not allowed to enjoy a bit of life. Laughing is just not acceptable. Almost as if it makes you a bad person. Really. For me the two of the nest things I’ve learnt about grief

  • It’s really ok to cry AND
  • It’s really ok to laugh as well.

The news is unremittingly grim at present. Nothing like a pandemic to bring out the worst in our leaders, our media and sections of the population. Today the media was full of misinformation and photographs of empty supermarket shelves. Panic buying has started. So with some trepidation I ventured into the supermarket for a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread. What a pleasant surprise to find a well stocked shop. Then one last gift. With a sense of humour the store was running a promotion on Corona Beer. Clearly with shoppers loading up with the stuff that it was selling really well. Certainly better than in some parts of the world. It’s a shame that I’m on the wagon and that I never liked the stuff anyway. But it did get me thinking – maybe the World Health Organisation should continue naming viruses after products. Especially if it leads to heavy discounts. Maybe the next pandemic could be called the Cadbury’s Cream Egg Virus. I look forward to that discount….

Always look on the bright side of life….

Hanging on

After all the bad weather. The floods. The driving rain. The damaging winds. After three storms. Conditions which have proved too much for the early daffodils. The snowdrops are still hanging on. They are truly wonderful little delicate flowers.

Hanging on applies to the humans as well.

Son’s anxiety levels are definitely spiking now. He is returning to the outside world after 10 days of safety within the confines of his house and garden. Days of not needing to build rickety bridges between his world and the world of others. It’s been wonderful to see a kid enjoying being a kid again. Seemingly without a care in the world. But soon school will open the gates to its hostile environment again. As hard as I try the smiles are harder won and often just a little too forced now. Today he is hanging on.

His Dad is just hanging on as well. Son’s anxieties are sending shock waves through my system. A system which is operating on too little sleep. A system which is facing its very own localised storm. A Grief Storm. These storms don’t last as long as they once did. But they still can have an intensity which still takes my breath away. Sucking the life force out of me. They often sweep in without warning. Turning seemingly light into dark. It takes me back to my climbing days. Happily climbing looking into a dry sunny cliff face, blissfully unaware of the raging blizzard which is screaming towards my back. Within seconds I am are grimly hanging onto the rocks trying not to be swept into the oblivion beneath me.

I strongly suspect this Grief Storm was germinated in my fears as a single parent and the growing prospect of homeschooling.

  • Is it the right decision?
  • Am I taking on too much?
  • What happens if my work levels and our income are adversely effected by factors outside my control. My role is heavily dependent on community and sporting based events. These are likely to be curtailed if a certain virus takes hold in the UK. That would make our financial position even more precarious.
  • Are we giving up on school too soon?
  • How will I find the time to do those things which currently help get me through the day. Homeschooling is likely to make activities like running a bit of a rarity.
  • And on and on

Wrestling with these factors on my own. Thoughts then increasingly turn to the gaping hole left by my partner. Suddenly it’s a full on a Grief Storm. So I end up just hanging on. But at least I am still hanging on and that’s a start.