Life, Running

Pre-race Jitters

This bib coming through the post this week makes it official. Sunday (tomorrow!) is my first half marathon in over two years.

No more pretending it isn’t going to happen!

I don’t know if climbing ladders is good preparation for a race, but that is what I was doing all day yesterday. And although I knocked my knees a couple of times coming down ( oh my goodness, why does that hurt so much!), no lasting injuries were sustained. I’m building a wooden gazebo in the back garden, with the very kind (and honestly I couldn’t do it without him) help of my mate Gary. So far we have spent two and half days in total. But getting the days back to back has been problematic over the summer with both of us busy at different times. It is coming together as you can see, and I think one more day will sort this bad boy out and we have ourselves a nice, if somewhat airy, room on the outside.

Wooden gazebo with roof tiling half done
Nearly done but not quite yet!

At least I did something physical as I’ve barely run all this week or last. It makes me a little nervous as I find that doing a gentle 5k or so a day or two before the race ‘wakes’ (technical term) my legs up.

It is what it is though. I could have gone this morning but I still need to pack and do a quick tidy up before we get going, and, of course, knock out a quick pre-run blog. This doesn’t count though, as we always try and have a couple of cups of tea in bed and have a bit of reading time, so I’m focused on this for a concentrated hour.

I am looking forward to the big day though, even though the butterflies are setting in already. The course is apparently very scenic as we will run along the estuary. I have to think of it as a nice day out and not worry about the time. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll take about 2 and a half hours but at least I’ll be well ahead of the sweeper bus, that will pick up people taking longer that 3 hours 15.

Plus Anne and I will have a lovely weekend in Edinburgh. We’ll be meeting up with family and have tickets to explore Holyrood Palace, erstwhile residence of Mary Queen of Scots, amongst other Scottish royals.

So, there is fun to be had this weekend. I will do okay on the day, and it can be my new baseline from which hopefully I will improve. Watch this space!

Life

A Send Off to the Sea

Our staghorn tree suddenly looks like its leaves have been dipped into crimson paint.

Staghorn tree in our garden with partially red leaves

Autumn is definitely upon us.

I think, alongside Spring, it is a favourite season of mine. By the end of Summer, the deciduous trees look a little tired and droopy, but then, as a last hurrah before Winter, they put on their firey display.

There will be nothing firey about my display when I do my run in Scotland this weekend coming, as I’ve slacked right off after August’s burst of energy. This is why I will never progress much with my running, as I’ll always find an excuse to scupper my flow. Be it weekends away or torrential rain. But still, I’m looking forward to a few days  in Edinburgh.

We had a long weekend away at the beginning of September, as first we had to drop off the cat to his rightful home in London. He never wants anything more to do with me as I was the one who shoved him into his little cage for the trip, but he loved being back home. From there we went up east to just near Skegness for a weekend with my siblings.

I have always denigrated ‘Skeggie’ without really knowing the place but I take it all back, because if you just go a mile or two away from the main drag of chip shops and amusement arcades, there are some pristine and nearly empty sandy beaches. To be fair, even the centre was clean and well stocked for the kids, with crazy golf, a little boating lake and buckets of Mr Whippy ice cream.

We weren’t there for this though; we wanted a nice quiet stretch of coastline to send our dad’s ashes to the sea.

Traditionally, in Hindu culture, the ashes would be given to a river. It can be any river, but the Ganges in India is seen as the most holy. Our mum’s ashes were taken to the river Avon, in Stratford, and originally we thought to do the same for our dad. However, all rivers flow into the sea and Dad, being a practical man, would have appreciated the more direct route!

It was a mild afternoon and the sun shined, unexpectedly, for the occasion. We carved out ‘DAD’ in the sand, and added an extra ‘A’, as most of his grandkids called him ‘Dada’. We sprinkled his ashes into the letters and added rose petals to lay amongst them. Then we all waited for the tide to come in.

This was another reason why we chose the sea instead of a river. Here, we had the space to wait, and contemplate, while the tide crept closer, and eventually gathered in the remains of our dad.

It was beautiful and emotional and we were able to raise a glass later with lighter hearts.


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Life, Running

Remember the Yoga?

We are well into the second half of 2021 and far enough away from January past, as to quite forget our (or should I hold my hands up and say ‘my’) intentions set at the beginning of the year!

This is one of the several resolutions I made at the time:

·  New 30 Day Yoga with Adriene – followed by more yoga (5 times a week – or at the very least 3)

Back in January I did do that 30 day programme while getting a 100 miles run for the month. I felt great and my calves did not feel like the hard tight blocks that they would normally be with that amount of running.

Some people say that it takes a month to create a habit. Sadly, for me, unless it’s a bad habit, it hasn’t stuck so well even with the extra wiggle room I gave myself. The yoga has been happening off and on, but increasingly more off and there has been many a week recently when I have done nothing at all. However, I am back to running a fair bit.

And as I found out during the long run this weekend, it’s all tightening up again.

On Sunday I managed to get just over 11 miles. That was after stopping my app at just under 10 miles with a strong sudden tightening in my leg, probably cramp. I thought I wouldn’t be able to run any more that day but after a 100 yards or so of walking it seemed to calm down and I managed to do another mile before I called it a day.

Moral of the story?

Get back on the Yoga train.

I know it’s not just a simple balancing equation as  –  running shortens : yoga lengthens.

But, what I’ve found with Yoga (when I’m doing it regularly) is that it really starts helping me with my core, and I’m strengthening myself as well as giving myself a little more flexibility. Those three-legged dogs and single leg poses will eventually (once I get past the wobbling and collapsing stage) build the strength up in my arms and legs. Plus I know, from experience, that my lower back pain niggles disappear with regular practice.

And the other thing I have to remind myself of, every now and then, is that if I don’t look like the instructor, it’s completely okay. As Adriene constantly reminds people, it’s the process not the outcome that you’re looking for. For example, I can barely touch my toes but the act of gently trying regularly, will increase what flexibility I have in that area.

So, I’ve reset my intention and, at least for the full month of September, I’ll get some Yoga done every day and see if I can’t nail that habit this time!


Life, Running

A Cat-astrophe

We have been minding a cat for the last few weeks and whenever I try and get the laptop out he insists on sprawling himself on me. I thought cats would be more aloof and keep themselves to themselves most of the time, but this moggy seems excessively social and has a thing about plonking himself on my lap or chest depending on how horizontal I am.

So I have now perfected the art of stretch typing. Laptop all the way down to my knees and fingers just about reaching to the keyboard while said cat drapes himself around my middle.

Cat, sitting on me, between me and my laptop
Yes, I’m very comfortable here thank you very much!

Ironically it keeps me focussed on the job in hand, instead of getting side-tracked by news stories or Instagram etc, as it’s not the most comfortable of positions to write in.

It has also, by dint of the cat not being human and not giving a fig about my disappointment, been a little bit cathartic (cat-hartic??!).

I had planned a long and steady 10 (or, if I could manage it, 12) mile run this morning and everything that could be prepared, was. Oats were consumed at the right time, Vaseline was applied appropriately, gels were packed and the weather was pleasantly cool.

First slightly off sign was a forced double-back three-quarters of a mile out because I knew I needed the loo. It happens, especially for runners, but I didn’t let it get me down and just thought that I had the advantage of being over a mile up before I’d even set out the door (this second time).

Then I listened to my running app training plan, which suggested I do the middle 6 miles at a slightly faster pace than my usual slow plod.

Perhaps that was the reason? But I’ve managed doing similar tempo runs before. Perhaps it was just my head going Pfffffuuuh, or words to that affect, but whatever it was, I stopped at 7.5 miles and I just couldn’t will myself to get going again. I was tired but I could have carried on, albeit slowly. I just decided to stop the app, stop my running and walk the last bit back (nearly 2 miles going the shortest route).

So now I’m very annoyed and I’m not sure if I can reason it away or whether I just have to wait, stroke the cat a bit more, and let the feeling pass.

Cat on my lap looking at me.
Talk to the paw as the ear ain’t listenin’

It could just be the culmination of a slightly unusual week.

Anne had a run-in with a hidden tree stump on the edge of a kerb a few days ago and pranged the front of our car. Our lovely, hybrid automatic has been replaced by a little, petrol, manual Skoda courtesy car. I haven’t driven a manual in years. It has been strange, trying to co-ordinate my left foot and hand to do so much, but I can report that, after the initial abject terror, it does come back to you pretty quickly.

I also went to a funeral this week as sadly, Peter, one of our fellow River Park volunteers, had died. I didn’t know him all that well but he was a friendly chap, especially to dog walkers who frequently went past us as we worked.

A few of us went, to represent this aspect of his life, and I realised, when I heard his brother’s eulogy, that it was a very small aspect.

It is rather strange and moving to hear about the life of someone that you only know a little. I knew that he was autistic but didn’t know that he lived a pretty independent life. That he had travelled all over the world including places like Hawaii and India. That he had a strong Catholic faith, and that his parents were part of a group of parents who refused to pay their rates as the Council could not find provision for autistic children in the 60s and who went on to create The Wirral Society for Autistic Children, which still runs today (renamed Autism Together) and supports a huge number of autistic people on the Wirral.

Thinking and writing about Peter has put my little run-fail into context a bit more. I still feel like it will be an uphill struggle getting fit for my half, but if I don’t worry about times and just enjoy getting out there it will be okay. I think.

Life, Travel

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 4 (The final day!)

The three of us in front of the Crow's Nest pub.
Last orders at the Crow’s Nest!

John first cooked up this idea last summer. A way to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease research, and to have a bit of a challenge. When he asked who wanted to join the ‘fun’ I foolishly put my hand up . He said it would be about 30 miles a day over 4 days. Something I could definitely work towards.

Well I didn’t work towards it in the way that I would have liked, as life got in the way, and ‘about 30 miles a day’ was a bit of an understatement.

Today was probably the most urban leg of our trip but it ironically turned out to be the most cycle friendly one.

As it was Monday we figured that we’d need to start super early to try and get across Manchester without being mown down by the traffic. So at 7.30 am we wheeled out of the Premier Inn in Denton and got going.

The three of us cycling out of the Premier Inn in Denton
Setting off very very early

Mike has a whizzy woo Garmin computer on his bike but because it’s fairly new, he’d only just got the hang of the sat nav on it this morning. Perfect timing! Instead of taking the main roads that took us around the north of the city, as my Google maps was showing me, it took us the other way and through a gorgeous, green and well tarmacked path around the south that took us all the way to Chorlton.

The birds sang, a few runners, cyclists and dog walkers passed us but hardly any sound of traffic and it was blissful on this re-purposed train-line route.

We made such good time that Chorlton’s trendy cafes weren’t even open as we passed so we had to carry on further for breakfast: to a not so trendy Wetherspoons pub. It was just around 9 am and the full Englishes didn’t touch the sides. It was a little strange to see people actually ordering beer at that time of the morning but a couple of people were and hey, each to their own.

Having congratulated ourselves on a good first stint we carried on further west through Urmston and Irlam, all the way to Newton-le-Willows. We did have to do a little bit of walking around some farmland but generally it had been a lovely day. But we realised, as we stopped for a coffee, that we still had nearly 20 miles to do in under 2 hours and I was flagging in the sun.

Apparently this sun’s been shining here all weekend  but we only just experienced it now. All the way from Lincoln we have had slightly overcast and breezy weather which has actually been perfect for cycling. But now, since coming out of our green idyll this morning it began to get a little warm.

We decided to go down the A580 which would get us almost all the way and hoped that it would tolerable for cyclists.

Well we didn’t need to worry as there was a well maintained cycle path that ran alongside the thundering traffic, which meant we could make really good time, and we happened to be on the shady side of the road. Hurrah!

Our final stop before the end was Sefton Church where we were met by several blokes on bikes and one in running shoes. These were people who had been good friends with Mark and one of those friends had actually introduced Mark to his sister Carole all those years ago!

They will actually be doing a spin off Scotland ride in a week for the same charity. Just one day but 100k over some serious Scottish Hills!!

These fellas became our entourage for the last three miles and brought us in to the Crow’s Nest to rousing cheers and claps from everyone waiting for us there.

John led the way in, as this whole crazy tour was his idea. In fact he will be carrying on in a few days to do a further cycle tour in Ireland with family and friends for the Irish part of this journey so he’s a glutton for punishment but hats off to him.

Mike will be jumping on his super light bike again for the day in Scotland, and I will frankly be putting my feet up for a couple of days and then have to get back into the running fray to get training for my half in 8 weeks time!

Me on my bike in Crosby at the finish
Me and my trusty metal steed

Today we did 50 miles of cycling and a 1000 ft of going up a bit, so no wonder I was beginning to droop by the end. We did 160 miles in total, a little more than the 30 miles a day John reckoned. But all very much worth it.

Our fundraiser link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life, Travel

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 3

If you’d told me to get on a bike again after the end of day 2 I may have told you that I was throwing in the towel.

My forearms ached, my shoulders were sore and I couldn’t actually squat far down on my right leg before the pain kicked in. I won’t even go into how my backside was feeling.

Still, we had got over some serious challenges and we all knew that the hardest day was done. So this morning, as I was woken (gently) from my slumbers by Maureen, John’s wife, I downed some paracetamol and got into my kit.

Although there were some plumbing issues with our dorm of a room, I would highly recommend the Youth Hostel in Hartington. There are smaller, private rooms if sharing a bunkbed is not your style, as well as yurts and glamping tents on the grounds. The food and bar is pretty well stocked and it’s an excellent location from which to explore the Peak District.

We prepared for our ride with some hearty breakfasts and then wended our way towards Buxton at about half 9

Coming out of Hartington was a bit of an effort. I was pushing my bike twice up some steep gradients before we’d got to the main A515, and I realised that my quads were also grumbling at these excessive exertions.

We had hoped that the main road would be a little quieter, what with it being Sunday and all, but it didn’t feel like that was the case. Many cars were considerate and slowly overtook, giving us a nice wide berth, but not all. Mike said that I looked stronger, going up these hills, than the previous day. There may be an element of working myself into fitness but feeling the woosh of cars and vans whizzing past you can also help to keep you from stopping, and keep ploughing on.

Buxton, however wasn’t too far away and we decided to have a mid-morning coffee break. Another lovely looking town and one that I’d like to explore further. We didn’t get to St Anne’s Well to fill up our bottles with the local water but it’s apparently very tasty.

Originally we were going to stop in Whaley Bridge for lunch but as the boys had had the supersized English breakfast, and I’d polished off a lovely Portuguese tart in Buxton, we decided we would carry on to New Mills which was a few miles further.

The ride out of Buxton was slow going for me. Those hills that aren’t too steep but go on, seemingly, for ages. But plough on I did, and we were eventually rewarded with a fabulous downhill that also went on for ages. Again not so steep to make it scary, but a lovely, exhilarating, rest for a good couple of miles. The scenery too, was stunning, and I would mark this section as one of the most enjoyable parts of the ride so far.

John and Mike pausing a moment to get our bearings with the lovely Peak District scenery in the background
Mike getting our bearings while John and I appreciate the amazing vistas

From New Mills to Denton (east of Manchester) was generally straightforward and we got in quite handy at about half 3.  I definitely feel a lot better this afternoon than I did yesterday evening. Sometimes, it is worth doing a really hard thing just to make everything else feel a little bit easier in comparison!

Tomorrow is the final leg of the journey, and we are really looking forward to having a pint at The Crows Nest, Mark‘s local in Crosby, with family and friends.

Stats: 2000 ft climbing. Around 35 miles.

Rough map of our route from Hartington Hall to Denton
I managed to miss a chunk of activity on my Strava but this google maps pic is fairly accurate for the day.

Our fundraiser page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 2

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s a salutary lesson at the best of times, but today was an especial reminder.

We knew that today would be arduous. The projected routes and elevations on google maps, for both legs of the journey, left us in no doubt about that. After our flat and fast (for me anyway) trek yesterday

Mike suggested setting off early, around half 8, which turned out to be a very good idea when navigating your way out of a big city. It was fairly straightforward then but an hour later would have turned devilish with all the traffic.

Because of the early dart we didn’t have breakfast until later: MacDonald’s egg McMuffins and the like. Not quite sure when I last had a Maccies but it filled a hole today.

We had been travelling along a very busy road, the A610, for the first hour and hoped, after our turn off for breakfast, to find a more scenic and  quieter route but that didn’t quite happen straightaway.

Scenery of the Derbyshire landscape
A view from the hillls

When it did, we were into Derbyshire proper and the rolling hills and farms were beautiful to see. However, it appears that country roads are more undulating than the main roads. In order to see the landscape in its pastoral glory, we needed to climb some serious hills.

Mike was a machine and stayed on his bike pretty much all the way to Matlock. John may well have been able to but saw me walking, several times, and thought that he didn’t fancy putting in all that effort. And I? Well I ain’t no country chick that’s for sure. As soon as the inclines dragged on for more than a few hundred yards, I got off and pushed, and I didn’t feel at all guilty about it!

The ride into Matlock was a somewhat hair-raising descent. When we got near the centre and I pulled out my phone to check final directions, it asked me if I had been driving!

The support crew had found us a lovely spot in the back garden of a café and we refuelled with gusto as we sat and rested. Matlock is a lovely looking town and had more of a vibrant air about it compared to Newark yesterday. Apparently there is an amazing bookshop very near  there, according to John’s daughters, called Scarthin that has eight floors of books! Definitely a sign of a quality place.

We realised that the Buxton Youth Hostel we were staying in was a lot closer to us than Buxton was which was a bonus. It was in Hartington, and the hostel itself was actually in Hartington Hall, a rather grand looking manor house. It meant that our full day’s mileage became a bit lower than originally planned.

Our Youth Hostel, used to be Hartington Hall
Hartington Hall – now our Youth Hostel

To get there, however, there were yet more hills. Google maps actually said that the elevation was going to be more than the first half! We did want quiet country roads I guess.

One of the roads that Google suggested had a sign at the entry saying it wasn’t suitable for cars. But we were on bikes so that was okay.

An hour’s slog of a walk later, involving dodgy rocky ground and occasional mini lakes that needed traversing, I heard cars whizzing past in the near distance, and I did briefly love that sound. It had been a couple of skidding attempts at cycling, but more of a trudge. The guys were able to occasionally pick up their super light bikes, especially around the big mud pool but I had to push mine all the way.

So I say again. Be careful what you wish for. But, then again, without these winding country roads and occasional dirt tracks we wouldn’t have seen such lovely landscapes so it was worth it. I think!

The Hostel sign at the end was a joy to behold and I have to say that it’s one of the grandest looking hostels I’ve ever seen. Hopefully this was the toughest day as I’m not sure I had much more in the tank. But we made it to the end and I’m rather chuffed.

Stats: 3200 ft climbing. Around 40 miles.

Our fundraiser link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life, Travel

Cycle Trip: Lincoln to Liverpool – Day 1

The day before, we were thinking about setting off on the first leg at just after 9. To let the rush hour pass but to make sure that we could get to the end destination while it was still light.

Then as the warm, sunny evening wore on and drinks were had, we thought around 10 ish would give us ample time to make our meandering way to Nottingham.

It turned out to be half 10 in the end, after bacon butties etc, before our gang finally waved us off, and some of the neighbours came out to give us a send-off too!

All the people on the road trip
Full team involved on the road trip including support crew

The morning leg was very picturesque. John lives in South Hykeham which is to the south of Lincoln, so the plan was to hit Newark by lunchtime and then end the first day in Nottingham. We wended past little villages, like Haddington and Stapleford (listed in the Domesday Book), instead of attempting the more direct and the more dangerous A46.

Map from South Hykam to Newark
None of the places I have mentioned are on this Strava map but they are there somewhere along the red line …

It was definitely worth the few extra miles for  the bucolic scenery, although as I admired one old church, John told me that it was completely gutted inside. So, perhaps all a façade, but a pretty one.

Newark-on-Trent, to give it its full name, is a strange town. Definitely lots of history about the place, possibly even as far back as the Roman times, and there were some lovely old architecture and many quirky little alleyways. But it also felt a bit drab, and insular. It’s a fleeting impression and I shouldn’t make such fast character judgements. I did, however, have a very nice spinach pie for my lunch there.

The second half was longer, but it was nice and flat, and the roads, generally, were smooth. We made good time again, although I did have a moment, while traversing a particularly busy roundabout, where my chain came off as I walked my bike across. I forgot to shout out, but luckily, the other two realised that I wasn’t bringing up the rear and came back for me.

Another highlight of this bit, was seeing four planes go overhead in kite formation. Absolutely inch perfect it was. Neither John nor Mike saw it as they obviously had their heads down grinding away the miles, but it was very impressive.

Map from Newark to Nottingham
21 miles ish for this leg. I will sleep well tonight

Our residence in Nottingham, the Jury’s Inn, has been besieged by stag do parties. So much so, that we’ve all be flung far and wide around the edges of the hotel so that we’ll not be too disturbed by the debauchery that will inevitably ensue. I will probably sleep through anything right now though as I am tired. And after exploring tomorrow’s route (to Buxton via Matlock) I need to get all the rest possible!

Today was about 35 miles in total in the flat lands. Easy peasy. Tomorrow I think, not so much.

Our fundraiser link:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life, Travel

‘Will you cycle with us?’, they said

My idea of getting back to normal after the last few months is to fret about a bike ride.

My bike in the hallway.
My bike when I bought it, all shiny and new. Doesn’t look this clean any more.

It’s the one that had been arranged by Anne’s brother John (sometimes called Jack), way back last year. It was a way of raising money and awareness for Motor Neurone as their brother Mark was suffering from it. Sadly, Mark passed away, back in January, and following that, my Dad got sick with lymphoma and has also now died.

However the ride is still happening, and because I had said ‘I would’, all those moons ago, I’m getting in the saddle over four days, for the first leg which starts this Friday:  Lincoln to Liverpool.

I had written about a lovely ride I’d done with friends, just over a month ago. Nearly 40 miles, into Wales and back. I had intended to get a few more under my belt between then and now but it hasn’t been possible. I’m thinking though, how hard can it be to go from one day’s ride over a month ago, to four consecutive days now?!

I had pondered practising this week but I knew it would do no good, like cramming for your exams the night before, I wouldn’t feel the benefit of it, and on top of all of that, it’s just too darn hot!

So I am fretting instead.

The group of riders, that was initially as high as six has been whittled down to three for various reasons. There is John, Mike (another brother) and me. So that means that I definitely cannot back out.

I’ll be fine once I get going. At least on the first day. But I know that, however cushioned my shorts are, I’ll be feeling it in the backside area when I start day 2.

But I just need to remind myself of the bigger picture. We’re doing this for the people that follow Mark in getting this terrible disease, for which, currently nothing can be done. A few extra pounds to go into the research pot to learn more and hopefully develop treatment and even a cure one day.

All the charities have felt the crunch during this pandemic with fundraising events having to be cancelled. We’ll do our little bit to refresh the coffers of one of them and hopefully get back to Liverpool in one piece.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-cunningham7

Life

A Eulogy for Our Dad

Mr Bhikhubhai Dajibhai Mistry
(23rd Dec 1938 – 4th July 2021)

My Dad in 2019, on our family cruise

Jai Shree Krishna.

We’d like to say a few words here about Dad’s life and what he meant for us.

We set out to organise Dad’s funeral this week and I suspect, absolutely no-one who knew Dad, will be surprised that he was ahead of the game. He had arranged a funeral plan more than 10 years ago, including picking out his coffin.

Organised (and also organiser) is definitely a way to describe Dad. He was the ultimate list-taker and time-keeper and he hated the concept of ‘Indian Time’. At the very least Dad wanted to be about half an hour ahead of the clock to make sure nothing was delayed on account of him. I suspect that my sisters’ marriage ceremonies were the only Indian weddings at the time to run on schedule. Dad, as ‘Wedding Planner’, had delegated all the tasks of the day right down to who would serve the water during the meal.

I used to think that Dad was very much a man of routine, who didn’t like to change his ways too much, but it was only later in life that I realised how adaptable and resilient he was. After Mum passed away, change was forced upon him and, after a bit of time, he adapted amazingly. He made a copy of Hershaben’s Gujarati recipe book and learnt to cook for himself. When he finally moved to Leicester he made the bungalow his own. He kept his home immaculate. He joined a couple of day centres to make friends. He went for walks in Victoria Park and utilised the outdoor gym to give his arms a workout.  He went to the Belgrave Road lunch club and visited friends and family whilst in the area. He continued driving up until the pandemic and relished his independence.

But really for Dad, changes, big changes, had happened many times in his life.

When Hershaben was collecting Dad’s memories of his childhood a few years back, he told her that he had gone to Nairobi when he was 12 years old. The journey involved travelling from Pethan (his home town) to Mumbai with friends from the village, sailing on the steamer to Mombasa in Kenya, where he was met by Bapa (grandad), who took him on an overnight train to Nairobi. When I was 12 I could barely walk to school by myself, never mind do a journey like that.

He lived with Bapa for a year, in a rented room. In the evenings they made the dinner together (where Dad learned to make chapatis!) During the day he went to school while Bapa went to work, until eventually they were joined by his mum and sisters.

In Nairobi, Dad was eventually introduced to Mum, who apparently lived only a mile away, and they married in 1962, on May 6th.

Life changed again when they moved to the UK. Dad arrived first, on the same plane as Devjimasa (one of our uncles). His first job here was apparently as a fork lift truck driver, so that runs in the family1. He was followed by a heavily pregnant Mum and Shilaben a few months later.

As the years have gone by, Dad has had to become more adaptable at managing his polio as it became more impairing. I remember him hammering extra bits of rubber onto the soles of his shoes to keep his foot flat. Later, when he needed orthotic boots, he just got out the sewing box and adapted his trousers to fit. He never made a fuss.

I’m not quite sure at what point I realised that Dad wasn’t like most other dads. I’m not talking about his disability here. But the fact that he did so much for us as kids. I do remember thinking that he never really sat down while Mum was doing housework. He would either dry the dishes, do the ironing, or get the hoover out. He’d do most of the food shopping, and taught us how to compare prices properly to make sure we were actually getting value for money.

Dad cleaned and prepared the chicken and the fish, ready for mum to cook. He laid out five almonds each, vitamin C  and cod liver oil tablets ready for us in the mornings. I still can’t eat a whole apple because he used to chop up our fruit for us.

He taught us to swim, and ride a bike. Our little red bicycle with solid rubber tyres had stabilisers added and taken off so many times it had worn away the frame! He was in a house full of women until Dipak was born, but that didn’t stop Dad showing us all how to wire a plug and change the fuse, And teach us car maintenance, basic carpentry and decorating.

I thought that was what all Dads did, but I since learnt that he was pretty unique. Shilaben remembers that some of her friends in Coventry never left the city, but Dad and Mum took us on all sorts of trips. Granted, a lot of it was to see family, but we also visited the sights of London, safari parks and beaches and, of course, at least one trip to India whilst we were young.

Dad took us to the library each week and insisted the books were read before returning. He and mum regularly read our school reports and attended parents evening. This may be standard practice now but at that time for a father of 4 girls, it wasn’t so common.

Dad was always asked to do the lahkhwanu2 at weddings because he was so systematic and trustworthy. He was secretary for the Prajapati Samaj in Coventry for years and took pride in keeping the culture of our community alive.

Being the dutiful son, he called Ma and Bapa over when they were getting older. Bapa sadly passed soon after  but Ma was with us for several years and eventually Dad took early retirement and became a full time carer for her.

The Covid Pandemic has forced huge changes on most of the world, and I know that Dad really missed seeing people during this time. But again, he adapted. He got the hang of FaceTime so he could see his new granddaughter Thea. He learnt how to ‘Zoom’ and joined the Coventry Samaj bhajans. He told me that this ‘Zooming business’ had made more people join the bhajans than before the lockdown because people didn’t have to leave the house!

The national drive to get people to wash their hands more was again pre-empted by Dad as he has always been a stickler for hygiene and had drummed into us from childhood to wash our hands as soon as we came into the house – from anywhere. So he was ahead of the game even before this became a ’thing’

It would be nice to think that we, as kids, have learnt some of Dad’s adaptability and organisational skills. I, for one, often have lists written on carefully chopped bits of scrap paper, tucked away in various pockets to aid my memory. But I can’t say I’m the most punctual of people.

We have lost a wonderful Dad, an excellent teacher and role model and it feels far too soon. But we will cherish our memories of him and try to make him proud.


  1. Mum was a fork-lift truck driver for many years at Britvic, later on. We absolutely loved that we had the mum with the coolest job for a woman, plus we had a never ending supply of fizzy drinks!
  2. In pre-internet days, a desk was set up with two responsible people fastidiously recording the presents or money that people brought to the wedding.