A Walk Shared

October 1, 2014

I was just thinking, as I finally rounded the bend into the village, that while going for a walk is a nice thing to do, trying to walk anywhere further than half a mile is just tedious, even on a pleasant autumn day with the sun filtering through the trees. It just all takes so long, compared with a bike. But I did make it, which means the bus and ultimately Bigtown are once more within my grasp, as long as I’ve got plenty of time to spare.

afternoon sunshine

But as I headed back I chanced upon a fellow choir member, in his eighties, heading out for a walk himself and we fell in together. He used to walk miles and miles but has fallen out of the habit in recent years. Together we kept our pace nice and steady, and he pointed out places of historical interest – the place where the coffins used to be kept before being carried over the hill to be buried, the place where a knitwear firm had first started – and I showed him the photos I’d taken on my phone, while we both kept an eye out for speeding cars which occasionally mistake the 60 mph default speed limit on a rural road – even one that’s barely a car width wide – as a target rather than a limit.

sunshine on mossy wall

Despite our gentle pace, the conversation meant we were at the postbox before I knew it and we parted ways with half a promise to meet up again and make a regular thing of it. ‘We’ll be a pair of crocks walking together,’ I said. ‘Speak for yourself,’ he shot back. They make them tough around here…


I Won’t Bore You

September 29, 2014

overgrown postbox

With my further adventures on foot – suffice it to say that the expedition to the post box (a massive 1.3 miles there and back) was a success, although the lost-in-the-jungle look the post box takes on at this time of year felt quite appropriate

Red admiral not caring that it clashes horribly with the michaelmas daisies. Appropriately enough as today is apparently Michaelmas

Red admiral not caring that it clashes horribly with the michaelmas daisies. Appropriately enough as today is apparently Michaelmas

Stopping to take photos (and pick hazelnuts) is a good way to remind myself to slow down. I say that now …


Mission Quite Possible

September 28, 2014

Today was the day when autumn really felt as if it had arrived. A definite tang of woodsmoke in the air, and the road is a mess of leaves and smashed conkers. ‘You’ll discover how the other half live,’ someone said at the village coffee morning on Friday, learning I wasn’t allowed to cycle for a while. ‘I know, it’s terrible,’ I said. ‘I meant how much better it is,’ he replied. ‘You can get to places in half the time and go twice as far.’ I suppose he’s right, especially as by the time I get back on my bike, winter will be closing in on us. Too easy just to keep driving, or letting the other half drive, more likely.

So I’m determined to get walking as much as I can, if only to help maintain my cake-based lifestyle. Once I can walk to the village (about 1.5 miles away) I can get the bus, which gives me a semblence of independence back, adjusted for the rural bus service. Yesterday I had a popup bookshop to help run, which meant a lot of standing and some walking around (mainly to distract myself from the risk of carrying anything heavier than a cup of tea) but I haven’t actually managed to go for an actual walk since my operation. So today I decided we were going to check the level on the ford.

road back from the ford

Road back from the ford. Who put that hill there? Also all those leaves…

A friend who’s been in a similar situation (albeit an actual caesarian rather than the world’s tiniest hernia) advised me that the real problem was that things turn out to be an awfully long way back when you’re recovering. This proved to be the case with the ford, too. We had to stop a couple of times while I reminded myself to slow down, the road having developed a number of hitherto unnoticeable hills. The main problem is I can’t stand up straight properly without feeling as though something is going to go ping, and without standing up straight you can’t walk properly, just sort of shuffle along, which is frustrating and after a while I forget and start to stride out and then ouch. In the end it took 45 minutes to cover the total distance of 1 mile, so that’s only about twice as long as it would ordinarily take. Operation walk to the village might be a few days off for me yet.

But you don’t care about any of that, you’re wondering what the level was in the ford. Well, despite some actual rain in recent days, it’s still dry as a bone, as it has been all summer.

dry ford

We will bring you updates as soon as the situation changes


For Idle Hands to Do

September 26, 2014

On a day when it’s too sunny to be indoors doing useful things on the computer, but when I’m still not really recovered enough to be doing anything useful outside …

wool re-winding

… untangling and rewinding some wool to restart a long-suspended but not entirely forgotten knitting project seems just useful enough to keep me from attempting anything that’s going to bust my stitches, although I do realise that it’s barely one step above wicker unravelling in the hierarchy of occupational therapies. Plus I’ve had a literary magazine to fold …

Fankle 21

That and a succession of visits and/or calls from friends and neighbours (not to mention twitter) have been keeping me sane and preventing me from doing all the things I keep threatening to do (such as walk back from the village after the Macmillan coffee morning this morning…) that have left the poor old other half running interference on me for the last three days.

Tomorrow I shall be busy, but I have promised to do most of it sitting down.

Next week, I would have been climbing the walls, if it weren’t for the fact that that’s probably verboten too.


Grooh

September 24, 2014

It’s done. I’ve survived. I went into hospital feeling fit and well and came out feeling as if I’d been assaulted by a bloke with a knife, but that’s more or less the way of the thing. I was actually lucky in that when I arrived at 11:30 having followed the fasting instructions to the letter (up at six so I could have tea and toast no later than 6:30, glass of water just before 11), the operation before mine had gone unexpectedly quickly (I didn’t ask whether that was because they’d just killed the patient) so I was into the world’s least flattering pair of stockings and onto a trolley before I could even get irritated by the daytime television being shown in the waiting room. Pausing only to discuss cycle campaigning with my anaesthetist (who recognised me from our bike breakfast earlier this month, what can I say, this is Bigtown) I passed out in mid sentence – possibly explaining why the council’s plans for access to the new hospital are a bit rubbish – and the next thing I knew I was waking with a start in the recovery area with the feeling that I’d overslept because I had to get up early to have my tea and toast before my operation and oh…

Since then, I’ve been learning how to just relax and convalesce, looked after by the other half who has been feeding me pretty much at hourly intervals as though I were some sort of orphaned baby animal, and not letting me carry anything heavier than my phone, which I’m to have with me at all times in case I need him and he’s not in the room. The process has been helped by yet another gloriously sunny day (what is going on?) which meant it was almost too hot to sit on the bench by lunchtime, especially when you’re still wearing the world’s least flattering pair of stockings under your trousers. I’ve been feeling groggy enough to just sit still and read, which has had the unexpected bonus that the birds have been ignoring me and continuing their lives around me oblivious. It’s nice to have a front row seat for the robin wars…

I have to admit that cycling seems a distant prospect at the moment. The most active thing I’ve managed today is to totter up to the veg garden to show the other half the seedlings which need watering and then totter down again. I have discovered that everything – sitting up, sitting down, standing up, bending down, getting dressed, laughing, breathing – uses your stomach muscles, and they’re telling me all about it. Forget that abdominal workout, people, you’re doing it already, I tell you.

My mother and aunt who have both had the same operation tell me that I’ll feel better pretty quickly but then they’re both apparently indestructible. Here’s hoping that I inherited some of those genes, and not just the slight manufacturing defect part.


Going in for a Service

September 22, 2014

Right, that’s it, I’m going in for my hernia op tomorrow. I have prepared by taking out as many books from the library as I can fit in my pannier bag, ordering half of Amazon, and arranging to borrow a dog for walks so I don’t go insane on my enforced period of uncycling.

That said, it might not be as long as I feared. I was talking to my mum, who had a similar operation a few years back about how long it took her to recover. ‘It can’t have been that long,’ she said, ‘as I was in Afghanistan shortly afterwards.’

Possibly time for me to stop being such a drama queen about it all, I think…


Squirrelling Away

September 21, 2014

road in sunshine

It was supposed to be a gentle bike ride to enjoy the September sunshine while stocks (of sunshine and of bike rides) last.

hazelnuts on the tree

But then we noticed the hazelnuts. This is the first year that there’s been enough of them in the hedgerows that humans could get to them before the squirrels did (or maybe just this human as they’re not that noticeable). We’ve been picking a few handfuls here and there on our walks for the last week or so, just nudging at the little clusters to see if they’re ready to drop. But today we noticed that there were hundreds of nuts just lying around on the grass beneath some of the hazel coppices so we filled our boots.*

view of cows

After that we were a bit distracted by the search for hazelnuts to really enjoy the scenery properly. Fortunately most of the other traffic we encountered was other bikes…

view of river

That, and a slightly pissed off red squirrel. But we did leave him plenty, honest.

hazel nuts

* actually the other half’s surprisingly capacious pockets on his shorts. Who needs panniers?


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