Wednesday 30 December 2015

A very blurry Christmas and fuzzy New Year......

Christmas activities flashed by in a blur - literally. Neither are things looking good for the first few weeks of the New year. But hopefully, by the end of January, I'll have my Rt eye back and functioning properly so I can resume normal activities. Until then, life is restricted to 4 hour slots between squeezing drops into my fuzzy eye. The Consultant ophthalmologist, Mr Musa, seemed rather non-committal when first asked if I could run, but the word 'running' didn't appear on the list of things I couldn't do so I assumed it would be alright!
Setting off by the river - Christmas Day  (Click pictures to enlarge)
Since we met a quarter of a century ago it's become traditional for my wonderful partner and I to run on Christmas Day morning as a prelude to the day's indulgences. These begin with bubbly and nibbles in a neighbour's house at 11am, then continue unabated until bedtime with never an empty glass. I'm glad Christmas comes but once a year. I'm getting too old for such things!
Returning by the quiet beck in Hebden Ghyll - Christmas Day
The riverbank was surprisingly quiet as we made our way towards Burnsall under a blue sky with glorious sunshine, the only sounds being the chattering river and a storm cock singing loudly from a tree top, perhaps presaging the following Boxing Day gales.
Running on Christmas Day - because no-one said I shouldn't
Running along a rocky path where I'd previously fallen and fractured ribs I'd to be ultra careful picking my way along in a blurred semi-blind state. Intense concentration was beginning to hurt by the time we reached Loup Scar. I'd had quite enough and turned for home.
Pouring the 2nd bottle of bubbly (amazingly without spilling) - Christmas Day
Touch wood, my temperamental nether regions have so far survived their onslaught of festive fare. On Christmas Eve I'd staggered across to the car with our regular meat order in a bag I wouldn't have wanted to carry very far.  Perhaps all the wine and bubbly is making it more palatable?
Then relaxing beside a pile of presents. Cheers everyone...
Boxing Day was a bit of a stinker but I was told "We can't just sit here all day doing crosswords" so I'd to don boots and waterproofs to combat lashing rain, flooded landscape and impassable riverbank.
Down by the fish farm - bridge over Hebden beck on Boxing Day

Down the ghyll the ground was like a sponge, oozing water at each step, and it wasn't long before I was flat on my back down a slippery slope. Bang - courtesy of a very old pair of boots with no tread. Why wasn't I wearing more sensible studs?
A raging Hebden beck on its way to the Wharfe - Boxing Day
Another glorious day followed, too good to resist a 4 mile run into Burnsall and back along the Skuff. The temperamental and noisy River Wharfe had dropped sufficiently for us to once again use the path along its bank - just. Farther downstream the build-up of water later demolished an 18th century bridge, cutting off gas and electricity while splitting the market town of Tadcaster into two halves.
Path by the Wharfe as floods receded
Apart from a local lady with her dogs and an elderly neighbour sweeping away storm debris, we'd the circuit to ourselves. Not a mallard on the river, a rook in their treetop village or any bird in the sky. Even the storm cock was silent, presumably resting  until time to shout warnings of the next oncoming holocaust - Storm Frank.
The benign looking River Wharfe between Loup Scar and Burnsall Bridge
Away from the river an ominous silence brooded over the sunlit Dales landscape as we jogged gently home along the Skuff. Viewed from above through a camera lens the Wharfe between Loup Scar and Burnsall Bridge seemed peaceful and benign. Little did we know what devastation was about to be executed in its lower reaches......
......oh, my bleeper's going, time for more of those stinging drops.
Happy New Year everyone
......but until then, here's a little something to amuse.

Monday 21 December 2015


Dunno what sins I committed to deserve such retribution but currently I'm battling a gang of little demons conspiring to stop me running and cut me down to size. "Let's give him a good dose of flu for starters, that'll zap him" the little blighters had said back in October. And it worked, possibly because I missed having a flu jab this year. It sent me to bed for a wee while, feeling weak as a kitten. As it does.
It's not quite this bad, but bordering on it......
Then they said "Let's make sure he's totally zapped. How about activating his diverticulitis. Oh, and let's stir up his IBS for good measure. That ought to drain the goodness from his system and stop him doing all that silly running he seems to enjoy". And they were right, it did stop me. I was reduced to walking streets of my home town like a zombie while becoming quite knowledgeable of all the best loos and refusing to venture into unknown territory.
Who wants to run in weather like this anyway? A November view from my study
Then the crafty sods must have noticed I'd started working out in the gym, pumping iron and using a treadmill in an attempt to get fit again. It wasn't long before they came up with their Coup de grĂ¢ce. "There's only one way to stop him, let's blind the b-gger, he can't run if he can't see".  And they very nearly succeeded. In spite of having one of the best eye surgeons in the world (Mr Fayyaz Musa) to perform a cataract operation, the demons somehow sneaked into the theatre to make jolly sure things didn't quite go according to plan. I left the theatre with only one functioning eye, my left, the weakest of the two, and strict instructions to neither bend down, lift anything heavy, go swimming or get soap in my eyes. A disaster.
 "So far, so good eh, one down and one to go" I can imagine my nasty little demons bragging in a cackle of ecstatic glee.
Drops that govern my comings and goings......possibly for months ahead
So life is currently confined to 4 hour slots between 4 sets of drops - with a 5 minute rest between each drop. Patience is not one of my virtues, and my memory isn't too good either. I've bought a timer and set it to ping every 4½ hours throughout the day. Not that I always hear it over the loud music, radio or occasional TV. And it's the farthest thing from my mind when I'm sat in my friend Abdul's chippy down town, or dreaming of warm faraway places over a cappuccino in Caffe Venezia. I've to be careful. Buses past my home in the sticks run only every two hours.
Victoria Tower beckoned me upwards on Sunday - glad my camera can still see clearly!
It was a beautiful day yesterday, though bitterly cold, and Castle Hill was beckoning through my kitchen window. I donned my running shoes, just to enjoy the feel of them again, and set off with a camera to enjoy the day as best I could.  It's a strange sensation walking with only one eye. Unless I cover my right eye its blurriness affects the clarity of my left eye which is a bit disorienting. I'm a little nervous crossing roads in traffic and frightened of bumping into people walking the pavement. Of course, I'd always blame them!
Gorse flowering on the slopes......
I'd no such problems walking through open fields and strolling gently uphill to a favourite viewpoint. The sun shone bountifully. Little brown birdies (couldn't see what they were) chirruped among the flowering gorse, possibly sheltering from the icy wind that stung my face. It was a delicious wind that prompted a feeling bordering on ecstasy as I wandered around the perimeter of the hill I've circuited on scores of occasions during morning runs. Even as I walked plans began to form in my mind. Half of me was endeavouring to bring panoramas and misty horizons into focus. My running half was taking measurements, working out sensible distances in suitable open places for strides or repetitions.
While walking home I stopped to take a photograph of a herd of sheep. A friend caught up and predictably asked the stock question. "Why aren't you running?"
 I had to laugh...
'But those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint' (Isaiah 40, v31)    Photo from the Internet.
Words of inspiration and power at times like these.  They roll around in my head while putting drops in my eyes, before going to sleep, or while 'lifting my eyes to the hills'.

Talking of hills I've been reminiscing (again) about Munro-bagging experiences with Stuart Scott while pondering over his excellent photographs. Here's another of them.
A winter jog over Bidein a'Choire Sheasgaich and Lurg Mhor (Photo courtesy Stuart Scott)
To shorten the distance to those remote Munros we'd spent a wild sub zero night in Bhearnais bothy after being wind-blasted off our feet during the approach over the bealach from Gerry's Hostel at Craig. I remember waking to find a starving mouse picking crumbs, or something, from my beard. I flicked it away and it went skidding across the floor to collide with Stuart! Then, while washing up after breakfast, Stuart's plate got caught by the wind, blown into the swollen river and washed away at great speed never to be seen again. I remember it as if it were yesterday - yet often have difficulty recalling what I was doing a couple of days ago!
Oh dear, Heston Blumenthal is pinging to say it's time for more drops, so enough of my ramblings until the next installment.
Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the time when I can Run, run, run...
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone....Cheers!