I was born by the Sea. Brought up by the sea. When I’ve been struggling in life I have often headed towards the Sea to breathe. A brilliant place to head to as a parent. Some of my best times have been by the Sea.
Even when I moved inland I would frequently find a way back for a few precious hours. Then life happened. A Pandemic changed everything. It must be over 18 months since my last trip to the Sea now. My longest time away.
So when life changes again AND IT WILL – guess where I’m heading.
It’s funny how you forget things. A couple of days back I was writing about my lame brushes with fame. Then this morning another memory flooded back into my mind.
My Dad took me on a train to see a charity cricket match. My first ever game. I think I was about 8. It was one of those matches with former cricketers, celebrities and a few local club players. It was a decent turnout of stars so a large crowd turned up.
Some quite well known former Yorkshire and England players with one huge star. One of England’s greatest ever fast bowlers and larger than life characters, Fred Truman.
At the end of the game my Dad told me that I would like to get Fred’s autograph. That was news to me….. Handily Dad had brought an autograph book and pen. Almost as if the autograph was for him…. So I was sent off to obtain the signature while Dad finished off his beer. A bit later I came back with various scribbles, one was definitely a TV celebrity – Leslie Crowther. But no Freddie.
That clearly wasn’t to Dad‘s liking and he decided to help me now. After much looking Freddie was located. He was in the players changing room. Next thing I knew Dad had pushed me through the door with clear instructions. Your not going home until you get that signature….
I was surrounded by men in various states of undress…. All appeared to be drinking. No sign of Freddie. So I asked. Freddie was in the showers. So yes I did get the great mans autograph. When he was completely naked. How could I forget that…..
Dad was happy. I never did see MY autograph book again….
Wow how times have changed……
Where are the Yorkshire clouds?
That faint red sun pillar is a bit like an X marks the spot.
I had been thinking about mountains today. Thinking is bad for me really. I should leave that to others better qualified than me. I should stick to reading the instructions 😂😂😂. But I was thinking and it was me and TIME again. Years ago I set myself a goal of climbing or walking up every Scottish Munro (282), every Lakeland Fell (214), every Yorkshire large hill (38) and every Welsh mountain 3000ft mountain (15). For years I made decent progress. Maybe 20 to 30 a year. Then life happened. It’s been about 10 in the last decade and zero since 2015.
So today I was trying to visualise restarting the project. Which mountains where nearest. How to pull off some summits. Much creative thinking was required. Just maybe the Yorkshire ones would be a start. Logistically difficult given life. Impossible currently but just maybe one day….
There is always HOPE. And getting back to that faint sun pillar and its significance. It marks the exact direction I need to head off in to turn that Hope into REALITY.
Hopes great but reality is better.
I’ve had my brushes with the famous but on a really MINI scale
We were watching a silly comedy movie when one of the characters starting talking about all the famous people he had met in his life. Presidents, Popes, Hall of Famers, Astronauts….. you name it, everyone.
“Dad as you are about 50 times older than he is you must have 50 times as many famous encounters than he has…”
Sometimes even Hawklad can’t keep the smirk from his face before he has landed the verbal punch….
Ok here goes. My attempt to be 50x more exciting than that comedy character.
- I once was smiled at by a beautiful international tennis star, kind of. We were walking in a small town in Switzerland when Anna Ivanovic walked past me and smiled at me…. Well actually she smiled and waved at the blue eyed toddler who was holding my hand. But that counts.
- Years back I was out for a run when a bus pulled up and this rather familiar looking lady stepped out and asked if I knew the way to the local concert venue. I gave her the directions and it wasn’t until later that I passed the venue and saw the poster. Thankfully I had correctly directed Alison Moyet to the venue.
- The former 6ft4 England Rugby captain once stood on my toe while I was waiting for strawberries at Wimbledon. I think the price of the 5 strawberries was far more painful than the trodden toe.
- I was training at a gym in York when the world snooker champion came onto the mat next to me to do sit-ups. Bizarrely Ronnie O’Sullivan had a broken leg…..He was playing in a major tournament in the city.
- At school we played cricket against a boy who would go on to be a fast bowler for England. Paul Jarvis. We lasted 4 overs as a team and got bowled out for 11. I bravely scored 8 of them. Two boundaries. Actually both were attempts to keep the 90mph ball from hitting me in the head. Paul Jarvis got 8 wickets. One lad refused to go out to bat. My claim to fame is that he never got me. I was bowled out by a spotty face kid who was barely strong enough to hold the cricket ball. He slowly bounced the ball down the pitch, I took the biggest swish with bat, missed and on the fourth bounce the ball trickled sadly into my wickets.
- I once got the former European footballer of the year, Kevin Keegan to sign my arm. I didn’t have any paper…
- Peter Ustinov walked past me once.
- Some of the cast of the hit TV show Auf Wiedersehen, Pet stood next to me at a bar before a Newcastle United game.
- I once patted the backside of the famous racehorse Red Rum.
- When I was at college I picked up the courage to ask this girl to dance with me at a nightclub in Middlesbrough. She unsurprisingly said NO. But one minute later she said yes to an international footballer. Bernie Slaven.
- Michael Caine might have or might not have sat at my work desk when a spy movie did some filming one weekend at the computer firm I was working for.
- In my very early 20s I had been visiting friends in London. It was early Monday morning and I was making my way back home. I was stood on the tube platform looking an absolute state. Long, uncombed hair, unshaven, metal T-shirt, holes in my tight jeans. Next to me was this immaculately dressed old man in a pin striped suit and bowler hat. He kept giving me one of those LOOKS. The great unwashed look. That chap was Enoch Powell. A famous politician. Former Member of the Government. The person who made one of the most infamous and racially charged speeches in British political history. Clearly he wasn’t impressed with me. Which is ok as I was giving him a real Paddington Bear stare back…..
That’s it. That’s my encounters with the Presidents and Popes of the world. Took me about 2500 years to do achieve all this. But it’s my own brush with fame….
It’s early Sunday here in Yorkshire yet my thoughts are drifting to a country a 1000 miles away. A country which I haven’t managed to visit for nearly 6 years now. But it’s still very much on my heart. On our little families heart. A place with so many happy times for my son. One of the most stunning lands on our wonderful planet. Time for a bit of Alpine Heaven. Time for Switzerland.
I’m now seeing those mountains and those lakes. The mesmerising landscapes. I’m hearing the peaceful sounds of this land. Relaxing running water. Often the only other sound is the distinctive ringing of cow and church bells. Other than that it’s the sound of silence.
One day I will hopefully return. I hope you will join me as well.
This little beauty came from my mums house. Many years ago. She had been given it as a present. Kept it for a few months, just long enough for it to be seen by the present giver, then it was packed up and ready to be shipped off. Mum had a habit of doing that. Presents would get aired just long enough then put away never to be seen again. When she left us and we ended up clearing the house it was like an Aladdins Cave. Me and my sisters playing a game of spotting which of our presents never got used.
Anyway this little plant was shipped off early to my garden. After all those years it is now not such a little plant anymore. But it’s still going strong. A wonderful reminder of different times. A smile generator. And we always need those.
Hawklad is a cheeky one. Every time we watch something on TV that refers to a historical incident he always asks ‘you were there Dad so what was it really like….”. Last night he said it when the programme mention the American Civil War. What was it like Dad….
Every so often he catches me off guard with a different line of attack.
“Dad has your musical tastes changed with age. What are your favourite 5 bands now…”
Ok that would be
Blue Oyster Cult.
“Ok Dad what were your 5 favourite bands when you were young…”
I think they were
Blue Oyster Cult
So they hadn’t changed too much.
“Was that pre CD times Dad”
Yes it was, not invented yet.
“Not much point inventing CDs back then when you were a kid as they hadn’t discovered electricity yet. Are you sure it wasn’t Beethoven you were listening to back in the medieval times.”
Don’t panic this is not the weather today….
Time creeps up on you…….
I’ve never been one who worried too much about ageing. It is what it is. I was also someone who never really lost too much sleep on the ever growing bucket list. Plenty of time to catch up and tick those all important activities off the list.
Then life happened. Too many trips to funerals. Suddenly I was aware of that ever clicking life clock.
Last night I was watching a movie based on a family skiing holiday. A holiday that went badly wrong. The Will Ferrell ‘Downhill’ Movie. The most un ‘Will Ferrell’ movie ever. It was really good and rather unsettling, especially as the main character was probably about my age. As the movie went on I could hear that clock ticking just that little bit louder.
I’ve always wanted to ski. It’s right up on my bucket list. Near the top. I’ve just never got round to doing it. A couple of trips to a really rubbish rock hard carpet slope. That’s all I’ve managed. We had plans to go to Switzerland as a family during the winter. I could see a route to finally being a proper skier. Then life happened. Those plans evaporated. So last night I was watching that family ski in the movie and that ticking clock was deafening. Will I ever ski…..
It sounds silly but that thought really depressed me. I feel further away than ever from those alpine slopes. Time and my body is not on my side. Too many years of contact sport has left me with a ‘ previously enjoyed’ body frame. A couple of things need patching up. If I get them patched up then skiing might be out of the question. That ticking clock is annoyingly deafening.
Yet I still so want to SKI.
I guess all I can do is keep that dream alive for a while longer. Put off any patching work on the body and accept a few aches. Drop as much weight as I can and stay as fit as I can for as long as I can. Buy as much time as I can for that dream to come true AND JUST HOPE.
It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly trip to an alpine wonderland. To beautiful Switzerland. One of the most stunning countries on our planet.
I have been looking at photos of The Alps in old climbing books since I was a teenager. My home town’s old library didn’t have many books in BUT it did have three about scaling mountain peaks. Every Saturday morning on my trip to the one record shop I would stop off and look at those books. Dreaming of one day standing by those great peaks . The Eiger, The Matterhorn. The Monch.
So how excited was I when I flew into Switzerland for the very first time. Wow those mountains were as fantastic as I had dreamt of. But there was something else. Look at those lakes. Look at the water. I had no idea just how many stunning lakes this place had.
Here’s a fact for you. Little Switzerland has over 1500 lakes and has 6% of Europe’s freshwater stock….
Let’s hear it for those lakes.
Thank you Switzerland.
Sunday morning in Yorkshire. Like every Sunday morning for over a year now. Not enough sleep. Get up. Feed the pets. Exercise. Housework. Give Hawklad his breakfast. Feel frustratingly hemmed in. Isolated. Overthink life.
But eventually I start to breathe. Remembering what is important in life. In my life. Remembering those personal treasures that are so close to my heart. That always lift me up. That make me smile inside and out. And I realise just how truly fortunate I am.
Yes it’s been a typical Sunday. Well almost
It’s not RAINING…
WE can do this.