Other, 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

Other, 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

Other

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

Other, 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

Other, 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

Other

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.

Other, Running

Father’s Day

A bunch of flowers in a vase with Father's Day Cards

About a month ago I was happily looking at training plans for my September Half Marathon and seeing which ones I might actually manage to stick to for more than a couple of weeks.

Running to train though has slightly gone out the window for now.

Running for my own sense of wellbeing has replaced it.

Last week we learned that my dad’s treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a type of cancer) was deemed by the consultant, to be not working. It had been a bit of a punt, but one we all thought, especially my dad, was worth taking. The alternative, which is where we are now, was ‘palliative care’.

The gentlest of phrases that means the biggest thing.

I laced up this morning and got out for my first run in nearly two weeks and had no other objective than to breathe.

My usual short but hilly 3 and a bit miler, so no decisions on which way to turn. Not fast, but steady and gradually my lungs opened up.

Dad had been in hospital for a week with his second infection, and we’d managed to get him back home on the afternoon before Father’s Day. He did enjoy the day with three of us kids and half his grandchildren coming to see him, but he was very tired. By the evening my big sis and I who were staying with him, seriously wondered if things were imminent as she spoon-fed him some pudding while his eyes could barely stay open.

We called the other siblings to come the following day, just in case, but the night’s sleep created an amazing transformation. He was attentive, chatty, alert, ate his food himself and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the rest of the family.

There are five of us children and we’re similar to each other but different enough to squabble about the best way to make carrot and coriander soup. Well, we all have an opinion! We’ve been coming, on rotation, to stay with our dad, for the last couple of months.

We probably all deal with this in different ways and there will be peaks like Monday, and troughs, but I am extremely grateful to be part of a large family so that we can all share the caring but have a bit of time out as well.

It doesn’t matter that I was as slow as a snail but today’s running has helped me relax a bit and ease my mind a little from the intensity of the last few days. I may give it another try tomorrow.

Other

100 years of my Grandma

A special thick envelope was delivered to my grandma’s house yesterday from the Queen.

100th birthday Telegram Envelope for my Grandma, from the Queen
The special telegram, to be opened today!!

Today she’ll open it and we’ll have a little Zoom celebration to mark her 100th birthday!

Sita Ma has been the matriarch of our family since forever, showing us, and sometimes, even the Brahmin, how to do the rituals properly for all our rites of passage. She has been our backbone and our centre, and it’s rather wonderful to see her reach this milestone.

A little sad to have to celebrate this and last year’s birthdays remotely, but conversely, that has meant including people from as far afield as Canada, India and Australia, beaming everyone, with the wonderful power of technology, straight into our living rooms.

In fact last year’s Zoom birthday was so well organised, with each member doing a bit of a turn. There were songs and stories recounted with memories of Ma. And all us 21 grandkids were involved in a video splice while lip-syncing to Happy (Pharrell Williams). My bit was cringe but we had a laugh! The whole thing became even more special than a regular get together.

One of the best stories told is of Ma when she was a girl growing up in Bardoli, in India. Mahatma Gandhi had an ashram there and she often went. Apparently when he was walking past one time, Ma told him his legs were too skinny!! I will always dine out on that one.

When I was very young, I used to go and stay with my grandparents during the week while mum went out to work and I even went to infant school there. I can’t remember much of it but I must have enjoyed myself as apparently I wasn’t that keen on going back home. It may have had something to do with me being the fourth daughter in our house and having my grandma all to myself in her house!

Me wheeling my grandma about in the park in her wheelchair
Ma and I in the park

It’s pretty phenomenal that a woman, born in quite a rural setting, who didn’t have much of an education, has lived through such world changes. She’s lived in India, Kenya and the UK. She was around before electricity was widely available and now FaceTimes!

This year’s party will be a bit shorter than last year as Ma’s stamina and memory aren’t as strong as they were. Instead we had a prequel Zoom yesterday when various friends and family members sang songs and hymns for her to listen to and join in with, as the old songs are always remembered. Today, we’ll all have our glasses ready of whatever tipple we fancy (Ma doesn’t mind a drop of whiskey) and we will raise them in honour of a very special woman.

Happy 100th birthday Ma!

Other

Dog Day Afternoon

Rocco the dog and Anne.
A happy dog when he’s with Anne

A sorry day today as Rocco, the grumpy 13 year old Pomeranian, has been sent shuffling off this mortal coil to Doggie Heaven. 

He’s had a great retirement with us but in the last week or so he started having seizures and when the vet’s tests came back, we wondered how he was still standing with all that was wrong with him.

Sadly though, even with the anti-epilepsy tablets, the seizures didn’t go away, so this afternoon we said our goodbye.

And I am sad, despite me not being into animals. He’s kept us company these past two and a half years. Barking manically when anyone came near the front door, so that robbers and postmen had second thoughts. Living in hope, whenever we got any food out that wasn’t his Bakers. He could walk the entire kitchen length on his two hind legs when he wanted to see what you had in your plate. 

He tolerated the grandchildren with a surprisingly benign temperament, partly because he knew they’d fling a spare chicken nugget his way every now and then, and partly because they weren’t wearing red and carrying a sack of letters (I have actually witnessed him jump on the back of the sofa, watching and growling as the Postie walked on the other side of the road).

He was Anne’s shadow, following her wherever she went. And they’ve kept each other fit, getting out for walks in all weathers. At the last, she cradled him when the vet did the deed and he went off peacefully.

All in all, it will be strange, not to put my hand out and have him roll so his furry tummy can be rubbed. He’s been a unique character and will be missed.

Other, Running

Dads and Dogs

I’ve been to my dad’s a few times recently and obviously brought my running gear. And I’ve realised that I’ve already created a default route.

I want to say that I’m one of those free, devil-may-care runners who, one day may go left and the next, right, and meander through new avenues and paths, always keeping it fresh and interesting.

But no.

I seem to pick a route and then stick to it, in this case, a 4 mile ish loop along the big roads from my dad’s. It has to be the main roads as I’m unfamiliar with the streets here and I get lost at the best of times. I know I have my phone to get me back on track, and time generally isn’t a factor, but, when left to my own devices,  I appear to be a creature of habit and routine.

A little bit like my dad really. We’re trying to change his habits lately because he has become a lot more unsteady on his feet in the last four months or so. So, as I said in a previous post, he’s been lent a Zimmer frame for the house instead of his walking sticks. But we’ve had to keep the sticks out of sight for a while to get him to use it!

He’s having to deal with a lot of changes at the moment. This week alone, he’s had an x-ray on his left shoulder as he can’t use that arm very well. He’s had a phone assessment with the NHS Occupational Therapy to check out what equipment he might need to make his day-to-day easier. He’ll get his own Zimmer now amongst a few other things and they’ll come soon to do his on-site check. Plus we’ve had a trip to the dentist as my dad’s dentures have given up the ghost and keep falling out. They’re making new ones but, because we’ve had to go private, they’re costing a fortune, but needs must. Tomorrow he goes for a biopsy on a large lump on his head. They say things come in threes but my poor dad has had a lot more than that to contend with and adapt to all at once.

And, despite his natural tendency to stick to the old routines, he has taken on most of these changes with surprisingly good humour and sanguinity. He’s had moments, obviously, where it’s felt a little overwhelming, but generally, I’ve been pretty amazed at how chilled he seems about things. I can still definitely learn a few more lessons from him.

And one more thing about the Zimmer frame: He’s still trying to tuck it well out of the way when he goes for his shower instead of having it handy. I asked him why and he said he didn’t want me to trip over it. It’s telling that a man with a gazillion ailments of his own is still thinking of his kids!

I’m glad I’ve come down this week but it’s turned into a bit of a time for Anne back at home too. Rocco, the grumpy Pomeranian that I appear to have softened towards a little, had a couple of seizures on Tuesday. At first Anne wondered if he’d overdosed on the pizza he’d nicked from her shopping bag the night before. But he has had a couple more since the vet put him on Diazepam. We’re still waiting for what his blood work shows up but it doesn’t sound great for the old boy.

It’s not surprising really, with all this heaviness,  that I appear to have got my first cold in a couple of years. It’s a sign, telling me to lay off my routines for a bit and take in all this change.