Red Rose

That’s me expelled from Yorkshire. A red rose……. Historically our greatest rival has been our neighbour Lancashire. We have had bloody civil wars and battled over who should have the English Throne. We are the White Rose County. Lancashire is the Red Rose County. To this day when our teams meet the matches are often called the Roses Game. Even sometimes – The War of the Roses.

I can get away with a red rose. I was born in a Yorkshire town but on the northern edge. The Yorkshire Cricket Team would play in my town once a year. A few years later and the government decided to have a local government reorganisation and suddenly we were kind of just outside my birth county. That’s my excuse anyway.

It really doesn’t matter what colour Rose you are. We are all in this mess together. Work briefly picked up. Glimmers of hope. But that didn’t last long. Most of the work programme has been cancelled again. We help to manage public events and deal with things like cycle races. Trying to stop the roads clogging up and looking after the safety of the competitors/public. Not a great line of work to be in during a pandemic. Most of the remaining events have been waiting for news on the upcoming London Marathon. If they run then we can. Well the London Marathon has now cancelled the public element of the race. It will hold a much smaller professional race with no spectators. Worse news is that next years marathon has already been pushed back months into October 2021. With all the money and resources they have available to them and they can’t run the event safely for well over a year. Crumbs…..

So our work programme is effectively wrecked until well into next year. We might get a few small events but hardly anything. Maybe a few ‘helping to manage drive in vaccination schemes’. But we can’t spend to long fretting over this. It’s really out of our hands. Not much we can do except batten down the hatches and try to weather the storm. Try to look after the pennies. It could be so much worse. So many don’t have a job. Now that is properly tough.

Much less work has many advantages. Yes it focuses the mind on money but look on the bright side. More time to focus on Hawklad. Much reduced carbon footprint – the mad car is hardly getting used, it’s been to the petrol station once since March. And other advantages.

I was sat on the floor in the bathroom cleaning the toilet. I’ve got a rock and roll lifestyle. Listening to some fine Canadian Rock – RUSH. Thinking what a good job I was doing getting the throne glistening white again. Normally toilet cleaning duties are seen as as a real chore. Something to be squeezed in to an overly busy day. Get it done as quick as possible. But today I could take my time. Do a proper job.

Now that’s finished it’s time to fold the bathroom sheets (toilet roll) into nice shapes – just like the hotels do. Now that’s a first…….

Dieting

What are they talking about

Dad the government is telling everyone to go on a diet. Boris apparently is going on one, bet that Cummings told him to do that.

Like everything else my money is on our so called Leader delegating his dieting to someone else. He’s far too busy having time off for things like that.

Dad your on a diet….”

☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️

And with those words from Hawklad, I’m on a diet. I’ve been on this temporary fasting diet for a while now but it’s been an effort. I just haven’t been able to get the food alternatives that my body will accept. So I’ve been forced into eating and drinking far too much soya (soy) 🙄…. Basically my body and face balloon up with the stuff. Not helpful when your trying to look like your losing weight. But hopefully I’ve managed to get hold of a few more nicer foods this time. So here goes. Going to combine my partial fasting diet with a significantly healthier food range. It helps as my garden has finally decided to yield some vegetables. Just got to find them amongst the weeds.

But dieting is only part of it. Need to do something with exercise as well. I am working out each day and pushing myself. But I’m missing the long runs. They are just not happening due to circumstances. So I need a challenge. I had this initial idea of trying to build up to run a garden marathon. Others have done this. I’ve managed 50 minutes of running round our small garden. But I was so dizzy and cheesed off after that, the prospect of 4 hours worth of that is just a complete nonstarter. Lets not forget the epic route map from that.

What was I doing on some of those outlying paths….

So here’s Plan B. At the end of August I want to build up to a mega exercise bike marathon. Let’s see how far I can get on the bike in 4 straight hours. But to ensure it’s not just a gentle peddle session, I’m going to dig out the old HR sports watch. 4 hours with the BP somewhere near 150. That sounds like a challenge which I can do in the garden. Watch it rain and watch the bike collapse again….

Ok Boris for once I’m going to listen to you. I’m going to lose some weight. Are you?

Heatwave

Summer….

Whisper it very quietly. We are due to get a heatwave. Ok it’s only lasting ONE day. But it’s still a heatwave. On Friday we are due to get to 28C (82F). Wow. Better enjoy it. 24 hours later we are back to 18C (64F). Wow. No thermal underwear for a whole day…

Maybe heavily padded underwear is a better option…

Its was that dreaded feeling. It’s the day for the garden waste collection and yes the bin was empty. As I pay £30 a year for this service I want to get my moneys worth – it’s a Yorkshire thing. Also it’s embarrassing if we are the only house in the village without the bin outside, full of garden trimmings. That’s the sort of behaviour that gets you drummed out of here.

So it was time to cut the hedge. That’s the big hedge. All was going well with the chainsaw until I came to cutting the very top. How to reach that high up without a ladder. So the clearly very safe plastic garden chair was deployed. Within minutes the inevitable happened. Trying to overreach and the chair toppled over. Not great when the chainsaw is in full swing. I would like to say that I performed a beautiful gymnastic roll, landing perfectly on my feet. In practice a large expletive was followed by a muppet landing on his bottom with the ballet poise of an out of control lemming. All this while desperately trying to remember how to switch the menacing blade off. That switch off was not completed until I was finally sat on the ground. No damage done. Well apart from the two new impact hollows in the lawn and the even bigger bruises on my posterior. Following on from the earlier collapsed cycle bruise, I certainly won’t be sitting on any unpadded surfaces for a few days. Oh for some well cushioned pants…

Hard life

It’s a hard life for some. Not sure if the hard life applies to The Cap or to that old sofa. The Cap is resting after a hard morning of causing chaos. This sofa is 17 years old. Over the last few years it has had to endure sustained cat and dog attention. Currently it’s covers are being washed for the millionth time.

It’s a hard life for my bottom as well. This morning I was blasting out a few miles on my equally old exercise bike when it basically fell to bits. It collapsed. One minute I was dreaming of summiting the Alpe d’Huez and leading the Tour de France. Three seconds later I’m sat on the floor surrounded by bits of exercise bike. Oh how the mighty fall. Now I know what it feels like to fall of your bike and forlornly watch the peloton scream past you.

Thankfully ten minutes later the bike was reassembled and the snapped retaining bolt replaced. The rest of the stationary ride was completed while I sat on an ice pack and a soft cushion. Bruised buttocks are not fun. But on the bright side, it’s much easier to ice pack your posterior than it is to ice pack your ego.

Bizarrely we were watching the Dora The Explorer movie last night. Yorkshire really knows how to live the dream. Near the start of the movie, poor Dora was dancing at a school ball. It was such a random odd dance that all the other kids were laughing and poking fun at her. Poor Dora, I really felt for her.

Dad she dances like you.”

Really, I’m not that bad am I….

In fact worse, much worse. At least Dora is coordinated. Your dancing is that bad, that if I’m within 50 miles of you, you are banned from any dance floor.”

The shame. How the mighty have fallen. I’m telling you that I once won a New Years Eve Blues Brothers dance competition.

That was thankfully before I was born Dad….”

It’s a hard life……

Creaky world tour 9

It’s time for another bit of virtual sightseeing. Last year I started my very own world tour. Let’s see how far I can get powered only by

  • My falling to bits exercise bike
  • My falling to bits running shoes
  • Pokemon Go….

When I started the tour I was restricted to Yorkshire now that has become the garden. So let’s see where we left off last time. We had just visited beautiful Timisoara in Romania. Now the journey continues. We still had many kilometres unused and we have added another 200km this week. So where have we got to….

We have arrived in the capital of Moldova, Chisinau. Let’s start with some random facts about this city.

  • A population of about 730000,
  • The official language is Moldovan,
  • During the Soviet Union the city was called Kishinyov,
  • It’s called the White Stone Town due to many of its buildings being built from Limestone.

So let’s take a look at some of the city sights.

Cathedrals

Milestii Mici

Officially the biggest wine cellar in the world

Dendrarium Park

Valea Morilor

Eternal Flame

Stefan cel Mare Park

So thank you Chisinau. Now where next on the world tour.

********* all City photos from TripAdvisor. ************

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.

Welcome to…..

This was one year ago. A very different world.

Unusually for Yorkshire, it was a dry race. Usually for Yorkshire, it was freezing. I spoke to one rider who had just abandoned the race. She had ridden in races all over Europe but she had never known a viscous cold wind like that one coming off the North Sea. Welcome to Yorkshire.

Today the sun occasionally peeped through the clouds. But that wind was back. Wow it felt cold. Definitely a two jumper day. Earlier today I stopped my morning workout to fetch gloves and a woolly hat. I came out with them and a hot water bottle. Welcome to Yorkshire.

Today we had planned to revisit our ‘bringing the world to us’ projects. Last week with the help of a couple of bags of sand, paddling pool, ice cream and a seaside animal mp3 track – we recreated the beach. Today the sand was coming out again but this time it was forming a desert.

Dad its a bit cold”

I was ok as I still had my two jumpers on. I understand that’s common clothing for the Sahara.

Not really desert weather is it Dad. I guess we could pretend it was nighttime and the temperature had dropped to freezing. We could spread the sand on the ground under the car engine. Run the car for a while then we could lie underneath the engine for warmth. That would be the ultimate nighttime desert survival experience.”

Clearly he has been watching Bear Grylls again. In the end we postponed the desert experience. We will try again in the Summer when hopefully it will be hot. Well hot for here. Welcome to Yorkshire.

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***********

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….

International Yorkshire Day

It’s Yorkshire Day. Yes it’s raining but that’s fitting. To celebrate let’s time travel back 5 years. To a time when our country was still prepared to embrace internationalism. Still promoting itself as multicultural and part of Europe. When the prospect of a narrow minded bigoted government seemed a distant fictional nightmare. A time when it was still socially ok to look forward and outwards.

A time when Yorkshire became part of France for a few glorious days.

When the Tour de France came to Yorkshire.

Over 2.5 million people lined the counties streets and lanes to watch one of the worlds great sporting events.

One stage went through my mums village.

I sat with our son on the road curb and watched the racers scream through. Didn’t think we would ever get that close to the Tour. Some of the riders came within a foot of us…

Happy Days. Better Days