Monday 25 January 2016

All my eye.....

I'm counting down the hours to the next operation, on February 4th, when a new lens will be fitted to restore sight in my Rt eye. Mr Fayyaz Musa, a Consultant Ophthalmologist who will perform the operation, assures me sight in that eye will be better than it was before. I can't wait. The last six weeks that included Christmas and New Year have been a little indistinct.
Getting back into my stride.....(Click pictures to enlarge)
  Unable to read properly, or drive, or focus clearly on anything, life has been very much 'on hold'. I've become accident prone, bumping into people and objects, knocking things over (even spilling wine!) and breaking things - but luckily nothing of value, yet!  Religious activities have been suspended too, mainly due to inability to read Service or hymn books, or read lessons, especially in our dimly lit village Church.
Running the empty trail.....
Running also went on the back burner due to feeling wobbly on uneven terrain, off balance and unco-ordinated, which knocked my confidence a bit.  Normally I love running alone in wild and lonely places but there was an air of vulnerability about my solo plod along the fringe of Grassington Moor in last weeks snow and ice. My form has definitely deteriorated since 'seeing through a glass darkly' but will hopefully return with the coming of Spring when 'flowers appear on the earth and the time of the singing of birds has come'.
I recognized this visitor - eventually
And speaking of birds, neither have I been able to identify birds at the feeding station by my kitchen window. Goldfinches, long tailed tits, thrushes, robins and cheeky sparrows were a joy to watch and added another dimension to my own meal time rituals. For the past few weeks they've just been blurry little brown things but they're gradually becoming clearer. I didn't immediately recognize the pheasant eyeing me from the barn roof, thinking at first it had rather a long tail for a wood pigeon!  Hopefully, all will return to their proper perspective, and colours, after next wek's operation.
Crossing the bridge over Gateup Ghyll
This week's running pictures were taken on a Saturday morning circuit of Grimwith Reservoir where I sensed a little speed coming back into my legs. Although scores of cars filled the parking area we'd the 4½ mile trail almost to ourselves. We got the impression drivers just sit in their cars and gaze across the water.
Which is probably more sensible than some of the antics we get up to in our dotage!

Monday 18 January 2016

Love it.......

An elderly lady on the bus was relating how children she'd seen in Ilkley were ever so excited, shrieking with delight and snowballing, at sight of winter's first significant snowfall. Her implication was that only children can enjoy such conditions and lamented the fact we were getting old. Well, I didn't do any shrieking but must admit to being quite excited on waking up Sunday morning and gazing out the window onto a white wonderland. After breakfast it didn't take very long to don my neglected running clothes, fix Yaktrax to my trail shoes and set off up the ghyll, wallowing in virgin snow.
Up the ghyll   (Click pictures to enlarge)
Although sub zero it was sunny at first so was able to run comfortably with a couple of thin layers, gloves and headband. But as I trundled up onto the moor it clouded over with a threat of further snow. At 1,100ft in a light wind my Garmin registered 28ºF, but felt more like 23º, so time to drag out a windproof jacket to counter the chill.
Enjoying this....
Meanwhile my wonderful partner, a National Park Volunteer Ranger, was scheduled to patrol Grassington Moor. However, due to accumulations of snow and ice, her car launched into a skater's waltz on the approach road and refused to go uphill to the parking area at Yarnbury. It was fortunate we'd put a bag of sand, and a shovel, into the boot before she set off so was able to extricate herself and return to Grassington for a much needed cup of coffee.
Hebden Beck shining like quicksilver
I'd had the moor to myself as I trundled upwards early morning but met a few brave hikers advancing carefully over the ice and snow on my way down. Yaktrax generate a sense of smug satisfaction, enabling one to cope easily with slippery conditions whilst others are teetering steadily along with concerned looks on their faces. I believe some take umbrage, regarding me as a 'show off' as I confidently tootle past, and are loathe to return my cheerful greetings.
About to meet the first walkers of the day
Unfortunately, my trusty camera doesn't share its owner's  enthusiasm for winter landscapes and is quite unable to cope with a combination of matt blacks and dazzling whites. It managed OK when blue sky and sunshine highlighted the few remaining landscape colours but as the sky clouded the camera lens cast a dense blue haze over everything. Disappointingly, none of the photos reached the required standard and 90% were deleted. Roll on the next big snow when I can experiment with different settings. Or a different camera.

Monday 4 January 2016

Happy New Year everyone.......

Well, the festive season was certainly good while it lasted. All the little demons that plagued me throughout the last three months of 2015 sulked and hid their faces in the light of all that peace and good will from Christmas Eve onwards. From the gastronomic excesses of Christmas to the haggis, warming malt and scintillating firework displays that welcomed the dawn of 2016, Old Runningfox and his wonderful partner had much to be thankful for. Most of all, for the gift of each other, kindred spirits whose togetherness makes the world a better place to live.
Muffled up on a freezing New Year's Day run by Loup Scar

While thousands of noisy revellers thronged the streets of London to welcome the New Year we spent the evening quietly in front of our TV.  Then, around 10.30, came our traditional Hogmanay meal of tatties, haggis and neeps leading to the midnight chimes, a toast to the New Year before watching the incredible firework display centred around the London Eye.
After scraping ice from the car windscreen on New Year's morning we drove back to the Dales on surprisingly quiet roads. We'd the same thought in mind, to get home, get changed into running gear and record a few miles to open our 2016 account. And that's exactly what we did.
Keeping to the flat stuff along the Skuff
 After one or two tentative runs I'm getting used to running with only one eye, but still felt happier keeping to ground that was reasonably flat - two miles along tarmac and two miles along the riverbank. It seemed all the cars missing from the roads were parked en masse in Dales villages. Hebden, Grassington and Burnsall were heaving with nary a parking space to be found. Maybe something to do with New Year resolutions and keeping fit?
Next day it was time to exercise our minds, with various cryptic crosswords, as the heavens opened once again, livened up the beck and turned fields into a muddy morass.We've discovered that at times when no newspapers are printed we can download Guardian crosswords from the internet to keep our brains active. Or semi-active in my deteriorating state!
Yay, back among the rougher stuff two days later
There was another brief weather window on Sunday morning that had us donning our studs and, for a change, setting off up the ghyll to test my blurred sight on the rougher terrain. Beyond the old Miner's Bridge the track becomes rockier and I'd to concentrate on lifting my feet to avoid tripping. But all went well, we'd a good run and back home to beat the rain - just.
Running for home down the ghyll - to beat the rain
At my next hospital appointment, possibly in the next seven days, I should be given a date for the operation I'm told will restore sight to my Rt eye. For me, that will make for a Very Happy New Year.
For everyone else, regardless of circumstances, may 2016 be a year to remember - for all the best reasons.