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Amsterdam, Beer can and Tommy d…

How you doing? Thankfully it looks like there may be an end in sight to this…carnage. Well maybe not an end, but a better way,…a different way…oh you know what I mean…

How’s your week going? What day is it? I’ve found it hard over the last week but…not as hard a great old friend did.

I used to play a bit of rugby. Yes, yes…in the old days… I don’t think there is another sport like it…I love it and even now, approaching 50 I’d still happily and proudly put on any of the the old shirts I’ve had the privilege to…sweat in.

I’m sure you know what happens in rugby ..in short you and a team of 14 others throw an odd shaped ball around and knock the sh*t out of each other…One team wins. In this game TRY…ing is good enough; and someone looses, obviously…Everybody then retires to the changing room blooded, bruised and knackered.

Then afterwards the most amazing thing happens…the same two sides that have seemingly hated each other over the last 80 minutes have dinner or share a fair few pints together. No one is worried who’s shoulder just got dislocated! or who sidestepped who. Everyone is equal. We are all friends. Everyone in that room would do everything for another…

I remember a Welsh legend called Scott Quinnell addressing a room of bankers in the city he said. “I can walk into any rugby club in the world and feel at home, but stood here m in font of you lot I’m totally sh*ting myself”

It’s true. Rugby is a life long passion. The bond is so strong. Even if you haven’t seen a former teammate for years nothing changes. It’s as if time has stood still.

Every so often these legends comes along.

For me real legends are the talisman of clubs and teams. They’re not the captains, they are not the top try scorers. They are not the fastest to down a pint or the first that comes to mind when we’re analysing the previous nights debauchery over, say a cold ham and cheese breakfast platter in somewhere like, Amsterdam…

They are passionate, knowledgable, teachers might you say…They are connected, admired and universally respected. They are the first to notice the teammate that needs a post to lean on and always reliably conscious the morning after…oh and they never stop smiling. Rest in peace my friend.

Keep smiling every one. Stay close and remember it’s is never too much to put your hand up for help. We’ll always be there.

a legend
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I’m going on bear hunt….

If you are of a similar vintage to me and have children or been about them, you’ll probably remember the children’s book by Michael Rosen with the infamous chorus “we’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to find a big one, we’re not scared. It’s a beautiful day”….

So I have just turned 47 and decided to go on a bear hunt too! Yes its planned to be a big one, I’m not scared, I am petrified… but i do believe that when we wake up in a new day (and before we look out of the window to judge the weather, or cringe with those first thoughts about how we think, the day will unfold) that it IS a beautiful day.

On Monday (5th October) I am definitely…. well assuming the storms pass, the rain stops and everything in my life is perfect am setting off on a journey, in fact let’s call it an adventure from now…around the UK on my bicycle. WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING…. My bike is not a touring bike; I’m far from fit and my sparrows kneecaps and legs resemble a chess players not a grande tourer; I am not really sure where I’m going, in fact where i’m allowed to go and where i expect to be every night. I have a great job with loads of prospects and, where my self confidence is regrowing i’ll be on my own and to be honest i’ve never really liked my own company much. Oh and then there’s COVID, local lockdowns and the fact its getting damned cold…but you know what, I can’t wait.

I guess that’s a bit selfish of me, but I need to do this for so many reasons…And after all the family who went on the bear hunt had no idea what lied ahead either, they just knew that when they woke up that morning (a beautiful day) that the day was theirs.

My preparation has been terrible. I came up with this ridiculous idea 2 weeks ago and had planned to go last week but, the bicycle gods we’re watching over me. I knew my bike wasn’t perfect but on my first ride around the sodden country roads and villages where we live, the gears slipped under any power and believe me, current power is pretty low, or up any hills, in fact they are hardly hills in comparison to some of the gradients i’m going to look up to on my adventure. My bike visited 2 bike shops for a check-up and likely treatment. Let’s not mention the first though they did refund me which was kind (I wonder how often you’ll pick up on my sarcasm over the coming months). I called a friend, a friend who’s done many adventures like this one. Voltz bikes near Mansfield. The place was small, discrete and smelt of oil, this was promising. I met Ryan who took notice in what i was doing to ensure i’d make it and as soon as he put my bike on his stand he saw the chain was stretched and would test for other problems. “When were you meant to be going” he asked, “Tomorrow” i said as he raised his eyebrows. “Lets see what we can do” and I left with a warm feeling my bike was in the right hands. Two days later Ryan called “Have you got your lycra on, its running like a dream”. Thirty quid spent and Ryan even threw me one of his own brand T-shirts which i’ll talk about later on.

What can I say. This act of kindness from Ryan and his team at Voltz Cycles reinstalled my confidence in the fact that this journey was possible and is going to be alright….

Hero’s, Legends…Teachers and givers we are not alone….

How you doing? …I think it’s amazing that the lockdown handcuffs are coming off. I was on my bike today and there was no doubt an ‘air’ of…Relief…Maybe celebration – well it was nice for me to see 2 lovely ladies dressed for the beach in south Kensington…. Everyone was smiling. The young i get are happy and god they deserve it.

For me I’m glad for everyone else but at times it fills me with fear…I reckon i’m not alone…lets not forget too quickly this carnage we’ve all been through….

lockdown has given me a damned good excuse to stay in. I used to hate my own company. Honestly, I couldn’t handle more than a day. Imagine…

Its the evening. After work…err..Waitrose…Steak. “What size sir” God knows… well…large please because i’m not going to have anything else with it. Oh except Mayonnaise and English mustard. Do we have them both? Of course we do. Oh and perhaps a decent thirst quencher. Easy. Home. Cook. Happy. Hobbit or maybe Harry Potter set up. Eat. Oh it’s brilliant. 11pm. Shush…what’s that noise outside. It’s nothing. Bath. Bed, well nearly. It’s quiet isn’t it…? Oh yes, I recognise It can be suffocating to see and read about everyone else’s positivity and joy when we are anchored into…a different frequency.

I had a friend that switched channels recently. ..

A friend. A husband. A father. A hero. A son. A teacher. A giver… A legend….

The service was the best. Am i allowed to say that Rachel? It was an honour to be part of. Actually I wasn’t there but I am so grateful the family decided to live stream it. I’ve watched it 4 times already…I cry every time but also it gives me so much hope.

I’m not a deeply religious person but do me on favour please….Watch this…

Stay connected please. If you are… connect with someone you know isn’t…

Be thankful. Don’t ever get wrapped up in guilt or remorse. It’s passed. It can’t be changed but it can be learnt from, forgotten and built upon…We are all amazing.

Don’t ever loose sight of hope. You never know…you might be surprised…. wouldn’t that be amazing…Oh and smile, its fuxking infectious….

over and out

Handshake, Front brakes, Ill be there in two shakes….

That title kind of worked didn’t it… well what a beautiful day… well it is here in London anyway. What you up to?

Hope you are out and about? Stay hydrated (perhaps not with a milkshake but these are the best milkshakes in the world) oh and stay connected… it’s still hard but I can see the flat roads in the distance… can you?

Labels, Life, Les Misérables and of course Lycra…

How you all doing? I hope you are well…

It’s hard at times isn’t it? We should be used to it by now shouldn’t we? But we’re not. We battle on. We’re positive. We do our best to think about others. We start the day with a spring in our step. We run, we cycle, we get things done but often it fades doesn’t it…

I often label the fact that I have had a bad day by a few bad thoughts or moments in a otherwise ok day. Nighttime is often when the negative thoughts creep in. Does that happen to you too?

I was listening to radio 2 last week. They had a musical weekend. I loved it. I remember I was driving to see my boys. I often get a bit anxious going to the old home but a song from Bugsy Malone came on… ‘we could have been anything we…”, you know the one don’t you…and it changed my mood instantly. Isn’t that weird…how a song, a 2 minute moment, can alter my state of mind….

Anyway back to musicals week… if you didn’t know the best musical song voted for by the public was from Les Misérables but not the song expected. I dreamed a dream was the winner…

Listen to it, go on. It’s the most beautiful song about life before… then it turns dark… ‘And the tigers came at night, with words as soft as thunder, as they tear your hope apart..’

Hope and Dreams

It made me think…have we all changed a bit. Do we believe in hope more? I do. Do we dream more? I think we do but then that fog comes over and blurs it out doesn’t it…

“what nonsense”, “come on pull yourself together, dreams don’t come true”, “stop being irrational, grow up”

No, we must believe in hope. We must find time to dream, even if it’s just a daydream.

We all miss out friends and yes life can get a bit boring can’t it, but we have a lot to be grateful for. Normal is ok. Normal is ok. That’s not a typo I’m just reinforcing Normal is ok. Got it.

We will get through this.

Keep peddling….

Over and Out

Experience, memories and cheap UV driving glasses…

Oh shit.. I didn’t think things could get any worse but over the last year I’ve really struggled at night… sleeping is one of thing isn’t it…but then driving, oh no Middle age headlight glare.

I look a right twit in my cycling gear, though obviously I’m not cycling as its dark and I’m in a car. I always wear my tweed cap when driving, do you have a tweed cap? You should. And now these yellow lensed goggles. What must people think…

I don’t know about you but when I was on my bear hunt, my bike ride, my adventure I didn’t care at all what I looked like, what others thought or.. what I thought others thought (hummm) but now I’m back and staying in, and feeling like I’m not moving forward sometimes, those thoughts are creeping back.

It’s ridiculous isn’t it. It’s not real. It’s all made up by my mood and my head. Interestingly when I’m busy, active, engaged and communicating it doesn’t happen. I bet you knew that anyway didn’t you?

Although we seem to be coming through this it’s more important than ever to try and stay busy, have some structure, get on the bike or go for a walk. Force yourself. And stay connected. I know how hard that can be…but we all know it’s great medicine. Hopefully we’ll all get to finish.

The only other advice I can give you is embrace the tweed, just not on a bike ride… humm I wonder if they do tweed reinforced cycling hats.. my idea, my idea.

Over and Out

Messages, orders and our perception of them are often misconstrued…

k no

Yeh, this is another difficult time but we have been here before… we know deep in our heart what we should and shouldn’t be doing. We must think beyond our bubble however hard, and whatever that means we have to put on hold, for now.

I miss my boys but I can’t be with them now and that’s hard but insignificant when I hear of a friend of a friend that took their life yesterday and the clear and present dangers every day re COVID…stay close, remember the good not the bad, don’t be a martyr…this is not the time, be open and lead from your heart. We are all amazing, we are loved. We can do it

So who’s the turkey now…

So who’s knackered after Christmas Day? It’s odd isn’t it, that one simple family day or spiritually, day of giving thanks to our creator! Is always such a whirlwind..

I guess we overindulge don’t we? Try and cram as much as we can into the short day? Everything’s got to perfect hasn’t it?

I’m of the mindset these days that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. We don’t need to do everything at a ‘Flash Gordon’ pace… instead just being with our families or our friends or maybe just a neighbour who’s on their own too is more than enough.

I hope you are all staying connected as best you can and not worrying about perfection…. seriously we are all fine just the way we are… but you knew that anyway didn’t you.

Turkey sandwich anyone?

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional….

Today, that’s Sunday…is a day for relaxation but it’s often when we’re not doing much that the gremlins can start playing with our minds…

It reminds me of a day in Northhumberland 2 months ago on my bike when the cold rain and wind was battering me. It was miserable and because my mind was locked onto my miserable thoughts, nothing that day would be positive…seems obvious doesn’t it yet we hang onto so many old, past thoughts and experiences…

Making this ‘positive’ video, or it could have be calling a friend helped me to ‘let go’ or ‘snap out’ of the misery.

The past is the past and if we look forward with our eyes open the sun might just come out. It did that day… and it did for my friend Nick too…

Happy Sunday everyone

So what did I find on my bear hunt….1. People

Over the 47 days of my bike ride…/adventure…/bear hunt…/physical and mental struggle..OK physical and mental struggle is a bit deep… but it was quite, hard at times. I guess you knew that…

Anyway people. Why do we need them anyway? I don’t know about you but there are a few adverts on the telly recently that bring tears to my eyes at the moment

Both focus on company and companionship. You get that from people.

You’ll have your own opinions but for me the old man who lost his wife recently and the homeless man are both scared and subsequently desperate. Both have lost all sense of self worth, they are lost…yet they both display huge amounts of bravery

It might have taken days or weeks for the old man to make the call. Can you imagine him, every day pacing up and down trying to make the call for help but never quite achieving it. The fear of picking up the phone, worrying, or putting out others is irrational isn’t it…but to the old man it’s very real.

And to sit on the street, knowingly dirty, probably smelly, with nothing, begging for help…All manner of thoughts swilling round this mans head, including how he is possibly being labelled by people that pass him…well the ones that even notices he is even there…and then to swallow his pride to ask for help only to be ignored and refused time after time after time…

Yes of course…they both have choices, they could try a bit more couldn’t they…do other things… these men are brave. A bit of help and they might well be back on their way again.

We always forget, there is always another option, or perhaps we know there is… maybe we know the answer but there is just a mental block stopping us do it. Baffling isn’t it.

This is the difficulty with mental health issues. I wonder what both these people used to do…. maybe sportsmen, military hero’s, engineers, office workers, loving dad’s…maybe one was a banker that earned a fortune before that mental twist set in. Maybe one has written books, presented at large conferences or maybe they were just normal people…with people they loved and friends that loved them.

So why are they both alone.

Why are they both seemingly at the end of the road?

Should we just give up on them? I mean we’ve got our own problems haven’t we and we’re so busy…

This is my message and why I did this ride and why I write this blog.

They are not at the end of the road and we can’t let people go there…

Don’t try to fix them or do everything for them…just support them.

A friend of yours might just need an ear or would love to hear from you in a text or a phone call and know you are still there. Don’t let them down. Please.

Right lecture over. I mean message over. Now where was I….

God I’ve met some amazing people on my ride. I’ll never forget you all. People like the the two above. People who have mental health problems and perhaps some people that have no worries at all any are feeling awesome…..anyway they are people like you and me…that all love, need and benefit from communication and companionship

Just a small few of the people I met on my ride
And a few that weren’t on the ride but were with me…if you know what I mean

I’ve got to know people I don’t know… does that make sense. You know what I mean don’t you. People who have followed my blog and I receive notifications every day of new people reading my blog. WordPress says I’ve had nearly 2000 individual people read my blog. Amazing. Thank you, all of you.

Friends, they are people too aren’t they. My friends have been amazing, truly amazing, so supportive and generous. Thank you.

Most of all I hope I hope it’s been worthwhile to you and, you people get my message, remember it, but more importantly do something amazing…. call a friend, an old friend. Make sure they are OK. Save a life.

Sounds like a goodbye…

No….You are not getting rid of me yet… I have plenty more, themes, metaphors, messages and semi amusing anecdotes of course…to write about in my bear hunt…synopsis

They’ll be flapjacks and maybe even a bear or two…don’t worry their won’t be too many 😉

Hope you are well?

Over and Out

Day 48 sort of… I’ve been all over the place, surely I’m nearly there now…

Next Sunday, that’s the 13th December I’ll finish my ride / bear hunt… officially.

I’ve been all over the place…well done England’s coast. 2132 miles. Skegness to where I started is about another 60, why don’t you come and join me for a mile or two? More details to come…

As I mentioned last time getting back seemed like a little bit of an anticlimax. I was warned, wasn’t I Justin. Just want to mention this great man… without Justin’s encouragement and kit for my ride their wouldn’t have been a journey…

So with help from friends, 48 days of character building stuff including a fitter mind and body, why would I feel flat? Well nothing had really changed had it? Course it hadn’t. Any problems, thoughts, situations or consequences were still there, though no doubt far easier to see.

For me my mental health issues were entirely self made. I’ve talked before about how little things can manifest haven’t I. Funny though isn’t it how we don’t always recognise it if it’s happening to us. Easy to see it in others though…

I’m going to continue my blog till next Sunday with ‘highlights’ if you don’t mind. Like the people I met. The things I saw. The routes, that sort of stuff if you can be bothered reading.. but for now…

I’ve been asked a few times..What 5 things have I leaned about myself on this bike-ride

…at the time people asked me I couldn’t answer this but I did already know…honesty is great and I’d like to share them with you…This blog has become a bit of an outlet for me… but you knew that already didn’t you…

So…What 5 things have I leaned about myself on this bike-ride

1. Well…I was a bit of a nightmare at times to live with or be around. Hmmmm sorry about that. Easy to see now. Difficult to accept at the time.

2. Friends and family will always provide the love and support we need. That’s natural isn’t it but we can push it away and eventually they might give up. Not stop…that never happens but they will seemingly…give up trying, that is natural isn’t it.

3. I’m ok. We’re all ok. I’m not perfect but that’s ok isn’t it. Others may have more money, a bigger house, different friends, a different or seemingly better job etc and that’s ok. That makes life interesting doesn’t it, imagine if we were all the same.

4. My mental health issues were a figment of my imagination..:hummm… The guilt, the anxiety, the anger, the jealousy, the lies, the lack of pure confusion and at times carnage…the lack of confidence, the sleepless nights worrying about the let downs etc were all made up and a result of me, that’s a fact. Of course at the time they were very real but now I know that my sick head had made them up.

5. The good news is it gets better. Time will tell. Time is important, and luckily this bikeride have gave me some of that to know that everything and almost anything is possible. It may require some really hard work and dedication. How many times have we told our children or heard it mentioned that “we only get out of life what we put in”…

If you have any struggles, perhaps these things I’ve mentioned might help you see the…obvious. Of course recognition is one thing… Once we have seen them there is still work to do..:

While I’ve got this blog / forum I want to thank all of you. Yes you, and my bike of course, my bike is amazing and I couldn’t of done this without her. That’s obvious isn’t it…Yes there were a few punctures along the way and a few bits of minor surgery required but we made it round. Who knows where we’ll go next…

…I went on a bear hunt, it was a big one and I’m not scared… it’s a beautiful day. If we come up against problems there is always a way through, around or over them. Remember that my friends…

Over and out…I don’t think so

Day 47, delayed, lost, are we nearly there yet….

Although it’s been cold the last few days.

Now…which day am I talking about exactly. It’s Tuesday now so this is two days ago. Come on…Catch up…

Blakeney
The marshes

Anyway the cold, it really gets into the bones when we get older doesn’t it.. I suppose It could have been raining… You’d think that I’d be firing on all cylinders a couple of days from home but I wasn’t….

It was raining…Also ‘The Wash’ was looking difficult to navigate round traffic-wise… The A17 and A52 are both roads that have those daunting ‘number of accidents this month is…’ on and the side road routes all go across rather than round or up to Skegness and I as staring to feel a bit flat if I’m being honest.

Flat….

I don’t know why because I was listening to the radio this morning. So it’s still Sunday, whilst demolishing my morning pile, and they were talking about Adam and his apple. Yes they do that on Sundays. I wonder why it’s just Sunday? I find it all very uplifting, and it’s so straight forward isn’t it?

Anyway they were talking about why Eve was created. Basically it was for company… Doing this bike ride solo has taught me a lot. One thing is for sure; It’s definitely made me appreciate my own company more but I now appreciate others I think far more than I ever did. Maybe that’s just because I’m alone I’m saying that. I don’t think so.

Anyway I won’t go on but I hope everyone out there getting company. We are all meant to be together and work in harmony aren’t we. Humility is a very misunderstood word but it’s so easy to practice. I’ll make another mental note about that. Anyway please remember what you have today. It might not be exactly what you want…but we could have all just ended up sat there looking at a that bloody apple…

Rewind. I didn’t make it out to see the seal pups on Blakeney point but friends did. Thanks to my friends for the photos and picnic. Yum.

Hello chaps

Blakeney point and its neighbour, Scott Head in Brancaster look man made as they hold in the vast north Norfolk nature reserve before the beech opens up from Thornham to Hunstanton. Great little signpost names as well. I wonder who thought up of these places:

Stubborn sand, Tipsy Head, Foulness and Cabbage Creek

Old stuff…It’s ok isn’t it?

It was near Holkham and that vast hall and beech that’s famous for films with galloping horses, cads and dainty heroines where I first met the 3 amigos… 3 cyclists I guess in their late 20’s dressed in black working hard, nose to tarmac.

They had a good loud tone about them and beat me to saying hello in unison. No chance I could stick with them, or could I?

Hummm…

The Holkham estate runs on and on, beautiful parkland and pristine estate houses. This is one stately home that’s not fallen foul after generations of port guzzlers to the now spiders and their webs…

The family seat maybe
Beautiful Parkland
Pride (oh yes) and prejudice?
Estate homes

Ahh there they are again. The 3 amigos. They must have done a quick loop to the Kensington on Norfolk, Burnham Market. My budget wasn’t going to stretch to a £10 coffee and donut so my plan was to stick to coastline round to kings Lynn.

Hunstanton was my next market and… what.. there they were again. Stationary this time. Oh dear a puncture. Hehe… I stopped for a chat, nice lads full of gusto. We were all like that once weren’t we….

Anyway I left them too if, feeling… in front of them actually. Novices.

As I started to round the corner to Sandringham. I wonder if the spiders have got in there yet. Probably not. The road into Kings Lynn started to get big and busy. You are joking… guess who’s on my tail… yes it’s them again. I never knew their names but we all enjoyed the banter and constant fun throughout the day no doubt.

Working mill

So Kings Lynn and a good 44 miles done today. Well last Sunday. What happens next….

Over and Out