Farmer

Been far too grey and misty over the last few days. Too much winter. So let’s have a little bit of summer. Yes Yorkshire does get some of that. Sometimes.

This is one of those great footpaths. A footpath across the crop field that the local farmer dutifully maintains. Not easy to get lost of this one. I always think it would be funny if the farmer built in a maze to this path. He could get hordes of walkers lost here for hours. Could be a nice little money earner for him. Send his sheepdogs in to rescue the walkers for a small fee.

In that photo if you keep going straight. Climb the hill. Keep going straight and in about 10 minutes you will crash into our overgrown garden. You could get seriously lost in there.

I feel a little lost today. I think many of us are. A little tired of Groundhog Day. Bored with 2020. Hours , days, weeks and months seemingly merging into each other. Having to constantly look at the date on my mobile and then check the calendar to work out where I am. Is it a Sunday? Not sure.

But there is always hope.

This time will pass. Directions will be rediscovered again. The farmer will work on his lovely straight path again.

Well that’s sorted then

I was conscious that this Christmas will be different for us, different for Hawklad.

No end of school term activities and parties.

No Carol singing in the city while drinking hot chocolate.

No Santa Train ride. Ok we are doing our own car version.

No Charity Santa coming through the village on a trailer pulled by a tractor.

No festive walks along the beach and finishing off at a little cafe for his festive ice cream.

No visits to friends.

No family meet-ups.

No trips to the Christmas Market.

No trip to the zoo in New Years Day.

No family Christmas meal.

No Boxing Day walk with picnic.

No festive trip to the cinema to see a blockbuster and then whatever festive film they have showing.

No carol singers coming round the houses on Christmas Eve.

Basically it will be just the two of us and pets. Sticking to the house and garden. Maybe only one trip out to do the Santa Car ride. I was feeling bad about that so I brought it up with Hawklad. I explained the differences to him

……. so it’s going to be really different this year. How do you feel about that Hawklad?

“So no family at all?”

None!

“Absolutely no visitors?”

None!

“No festive trips out?”

It doesn’t look like it.

Dad, can we order in extra pizza over Christmas?”

Yes Son.

“Well that will be just fine then…….”

Welcome sight

That’s one of my favourite electricity poles. Why? Because when I used to run it was the first thing I saw when I got close to home again. Always a welcome sight.

I was thinking that after this trying year we could all do with a welcome sight or two.

For everyone that welcome sight will be different. For me what would it be….

Maybe a rock concert,

Maybe going to see my team get beat again at St James Park,

Maybe it’s the view from the top of a mountain,

Maybe it’s the Sea,

Maybe it’s seeing Switzerland again,

Or just maybe it’s seeing a friends smile in person.

Let’s hope that whatever that view is, you and I will see it in 2021.

Wilderness

One of my sister lives about 30 minutes drive in that direction. During 2020 it might as well have been 1000 miles. No chance of seeing her.

Where we live always feels like it’s so cut off from the world. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a city is not that far a drive away. It’s one of those rare cities that hasn’t allowed any high rise buildings. It hides easily away on the horizon.

That feeling of being cut off is helped by lack of kinks we have with the outside world. If you don’t want to use the car then it’s two small buses a day. Nothing on a Sunday. The village doesn’t have a pub, or cafe, or school, or shop. Not quite tumbleweed levels but definitely quiet and often feeling most definitely cut off. During a pandemic even the occasional rambler has become a real rarity. The only evidence that an outside world still exists is the fairly regular stream of passing cyclists. The challenge of climbing the steep hill to the village is attractive to those on two wheels. A climb I’ve not undertaken since a few weeks before the world changed for me in 2016.

A lots happened in those years. Thoughts of needing a sportier frame have morphed into ‘that ornament gathering dust is taking up too much space in the increasingly cramped garage’.

But things will change eventually. We won’t seem so cut off again. The bike will again become a means of transport. Trips to the city and my sister will recommence. Life will become connected again. Even for those living in the wilderness……

Wean myself off

This was last year. One hour into my trail run. Apart from missing the exercise I hope you can see why I miss running free.

Eventually you have to accept reality.

Hawklad’s anxieties are still rising. More routine tasks are becoming more difficult for him. He can largely control the dynamics within our house and garden. Lots of washing, extensive quarantining of items and being careful what he touches. He is ok within his castle walls. He is not ok with me venturing out.

Beyond those walls and that’s a completely different world. An alien, dangerous world to him. His doctors are clear – this will take a very long time to start to address. It’s not going to start happening until a pandemic is well behind us and as one of our leading scientists pointed out – with a fair wind we may start returning to something like normal life at the end of 2021. That’s assuming the new vaccines work and roll out soon….

So for me the reality is that our personal lockdown will likely stretch through 2021 as well. My mindset has to change. Away from getting through the next few months TO living the much longer new reality.

So back to the photograph. Running has become a bit of a drug for me. Now I have to completely wean myself off that. I’m nearly there as it’s been so long without it. Time to permanently replace it with other things.

Firsts

2020 is definitely a year of firsts. Still a few weeks to go but maybe it’s safe to call the result in some areas….

  • First year in decades without a visit to a hairdresser,
  • First year in decades without a visit to see my football team get beat (a moan is good for the soul),
  • First year without caffeine,
  • First year with Tai Chi,
  • First year in decades without buying a parking ticket,
  • First year in decades without standing on a mountain top,
  • First year in decades without mooching around a record or book store,
  • First year of not meeting up with a member of my family,
  • First year of turning up at a family birthday party and suddenly realising that I bought exactly the same present last year,
  • First year without buying fish and chips,
  • First year without walking on a beach,
  • First time lockdown applied to me,
  • First year without a visit to an historical site,
  • First year without accidentally bumping into someone you didn’t want to in the supermarket. Then spending the next 30 minutes trying to shop and avoid that person. Hiding behind a mask is way more easy,
  • First year without visiting a garden shop to buy a plant and then killing that plant off within weeks,
  • First year of not popping into a sweet shop and asking for a quarter of midget gems,
  • First year of not popping into a climbing store and looking at all the new gear (even though I don’t climb anymore),
  • First year of not making a single journey on public transport,
  • First year of not popping into a bakery for a quick top up on a pasty,
  • First year of not going to the cinema,
  • First year in decades without going for a bike ride,
  • First year without getting half way round a bike ride and thinking – why is Yorkshire so pigging hilly,
  • First year were I haven’t bothered checking the wear on my cars tyres as they bar not being used,
  • First year of not physically meeting up with a friend to do something,
  • First year in decades of not venturing into a DIY store (Yeh!!!😀😀😀),
  • First year without going clothes shopping, buying that item which might be fun and then driving back thinking – what have I just done.

So yes I don’t think we will forget 2020 in while.

Route tracking

Just about a year ago I had just dropped Hawklad off at school and about an hour later was running along this country lane while listening to rock music. Another 4 miles and I would be back home. Then it would be a cup of full fat caffeine and then get stuck into work until it was time to pick Hawklad back up again. How times have changed.

No trips to school, no work, no trail running, no caffeine and the MP3 player has not been used since March.

Since then the only running has been a couple of attempts at running round the garden. It’s not a big garden. Each lap lasted lasted less than 10 seconds. Who could forget the marvellous route map from one of those epics…

These days running has been replaced with yoga and tai chi. Or as we like to call them.

Falling over and Falling over with added style.

No need to track my route on those activities. Today I accidentally did track my route for yoga and tai chi…..

That’s kind of worrying as I was supposed to be staying on my small yoga mat. Maybe my tracker is not as accurate as I had hoped for. But I suspect a faulty tracker will not be an issue going forward really. Can’t see too many runs happening this side of Easter. But that’s ok. There are much more important things to worry about. And today I quite enjoyed Falling over and Falling over with style. Kind of felt like I was summoning up a bit of my inner Dr Strange. Maybe there is something to this yoga and tai chi thing.

Changes

Tis the season for cobwebs.

I don’t know what it is but my car is a particular favourite haunt for the spiders round here. As I’m not driving the car much these days I’m pleased it’s found another use.

Today’s high point was a visit to the vets for the dogs annual inoculations and to check him out as he’s been sneezing a bit for weeks. It’s changed a bit since the last visit.

You now can’t just turn up and you can only attend during your allocated time slot. When you arrive you have to stay in the car and phone to let them know that you have here. I was informed another pet was being seen and we were next up. I had to wait until the red light above the front entrance turned to green before we could enter the building. I was met at the entrance by someone dressed like an Astronaut to ensure I had a mask on and that I had used the hand sanitizer. As I ensured high levels of hygiene, Captain Chaos was happily rolling about in the mud and other unmentionable items. Don’t know why I bothered combing him.

Once inside we were ushered into a tape marked area and told to wait for the vet. The Vet also dressed like an Astronaut promptly arrived and stood behind another marked line on the floor. After a few questions the vet carefully stretched over and took the Cap’s lead and led him into the treatment room. From behind the door I listened to the mayhem. Items knocked over as someone went exploring. The telltale growl as the Captain sees the needle. Definitely dog for you have another thing coming if you think that massive sharp thing is coming anywhere near me… Then the Yelp and Crying – he’s not the bravest fella.

A few minutes later the Cap bursts out of the door and he’s officially in ‘out of here’ mode.

As I try to prevent the dog from destroying the front door the vet tells me that he needs some medicine. The expensive medicine is handed over through a new protective screen at the reception. It’s back home to then immediately phone the Vet up to pay the bill – only telephone payments are currently accepted.

At least somethings stayed the same. The poor potted plant in the waiting room was well watered again by the Captain. It’s a tradition…..

So much has changed

Proper Fireworks from KISS. Was that really 15 months ago. July 2019. Seems like a lifetime ago. So much has changed. The world has changed. Our world has changed. Could we have predicted that over half of that 15 months would have been spent in lockdown.

We had our own little firework display last night. As I was trying to set it up I started to think. So much has changed since the last time I was doing this. The last time the soil filled plant pots were being dragged onto the lawn. The last time the missile launch site was prepared.

Goodbye school. Goodbye outside trips. Work on hold. No family meet-ups. Ni friend meet-ups. No trail runs. No cinemas. No concerts….

Then a thought struck me. Will those things be back in play the next time I set the fireworks up. I’m not entirely sure. That’s a sobering thought.

Full Moon

Last nights Full Moon. Almost beyond my little camera phone but it had a go. One moon but so many looking up at it. So many you don’t know but some you do know. Looking at the moon together can shrink the miles.

That’s so important in these strange times. When travel is not happening. When meet ups have to be virtual. When the telephone starts to become your friend again (sometimes….).

The problem is that as essential as email, social media and the telephone are they are not perfect. Certainly not for me. They have a huge drawback. I can still feel a long way from the person I’m communicating with. Sometimes feels like I’m stood rather alone shouting (and hoping to be heard) across the county lines, country borders, across the waters. But for some reason looking up at the moon is different. The thought that others are maybe looking up at the very same moon feels like the miles are shrinking. As if I’m stood next to others, to you.

So the next time you look up at the moon just remember so many others are. Maybe even your friends and those you care for. It’s the greatest free get together. Something that even 2020 hasn’t found a way of stopping.