In the soup as five a day grates but prepared to put out fires.

 

For the first time I will write a blog for my personal site and my workplace. Issues in my life can impact on both so I will post this in both places.

I start the morning on a Sunday at a time I will refer to only as the unholy hour. I awake with a jolt realising it was a mistake allowing Tom          my cat into the room. He is standing on my bladder. Parkinson’s leaves me with the irony of an over active bladder. This involves bladder urgency which means when you have to go, you have to go.  Thankfully Tom moved off my bladder, but I was not so thankful he moved on my chest.

My dose of medication is lower over night, so my muscles stiffen up. I started to roll over to the edge of the bed, but my legs tangled in the duvet and Tom instead of getting off stayed on as though he was riding a rolling a log and was now standing on my side. I slid out of bed and he finally jumped off and I walked robotically to the bathroom.  Hearing the heavy rain outside was not helping.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Bladder urgency is one of the hidden aspects that can occur with Parkinson’s. Until I reach a toilet my concentration needs to be completely focussed to retain control. Last week we had a fire drill and if the alarm goes whilst I am on my way to the toilet and I go straight outside I will be a transformer and turn into a walking fire extinguisher. Although I am pleased with my trousers I am not vain enough to think they require their own sprinkler system. I am pre-warned about any fire drills as a reasonable adjustment.

Back to Sunday morning and after a bit more sleep it is time to clamber out of bed again and take my tablets before heading to the kitchen and breakfasting on the previous day’s leftovers. Tom hints that he doesn’t want his dry food by ignoring it and perching on the wet food box.

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On Saturday in the quest to make vegetables palatable to my daughter I had followed a process I saw on the TV. I grated a load of vegetables courgettes, sweet potatoes, carrot, onion, cauliflower and made them into fritters. They tasted ok and were grate but not great. My daughter ate enough of it to be polite and I felt replacing the sweet potato with sausage meat would be a vast improvement.  I also did battle with a soup maker using one of its own recipes which included the mammoth amounts of 900g peeled potatoes and 1.8 kilogram of broccoli so I reduced the quantities, substituted ingredients and made Sweet potato and cauliflower soup finishing it in a saucepan.   

Saturdays cooking not a complete disaster but did provide me the energy too play the best badminton I have played for a while on Sunday morning.

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Writing with heart.

I am surprised to find it is over a month since my last blog post and would like to expand on my last post “Pride”

 

It has been quite a month. My oldest daughter has visited from Lanzarote. My youngest daughter has started her GCSE year at school and my other daughter has come out of hospital.  I visited my daughter in hospital in London. I have turned 50 and have released “Cornish Reflections” my latest poetry collection on Amazon. I have been interviewed by Radio Parkies and received recognition for achievement at work.

I was going to say I have had an epiphany but that would be melodramatic. I have just reminded myself of things I already know. I recently entered some poems in the Torbay Poetry Festival Competition and haven’t won anything. There are cash prizes and my finances have struggled a bit in recent years. That is not why I write.

I have learnt a lot in the last few years about writing and in particular, poetry.  There are many better poets. My writing often works best in context portraying something of me or someone/something I care about. Winning a prize in a competition would be a validation of technique but it doesn’t matter because I have already one prizes.

 

Prizes of connection and understanding. Prizes of love and hope.

 

My poetry has spoken to people with Parkinson’s, has helped others with different health complications to believe I understand and to confirm to family I love them. One of my greatest ever experiences was when I spent the evening with the mother of a friend who had passed away. I listened as she read the book dedicated to her daughter. She read all the poems in a whisper and told me after each one how she felt it connected to her daughter. My poetry had reached out to her in a way I never expected. I am lucky to be able to write.

 

I always want to learn and develop so I can express myself better. More important to me when I write or in something I read is the heart and the soul within it.  

Pride

I haven’t been able to write my blog recently One of my daughter’s is in hospital having the hardest time of her life but that is not a story I am comfortable telling not yet. It is not my story and one of her talents is writing. She writes so well.

For a while I couldn’t write anything else, nothing else mattered enough and all seemed trivial. Some things have gone well for me recently but they are not at the forefront of my mind. I am very proud of my daughter she is wise for her age. She is the one that provided me with the key. The pride goes both ways. She is also proud of me. She told me she enjoyed reading something I wrote about work and messaged her. My nonsense posts on Facebook provide her with entertainment.

I realised she still wants this contact that our shared interest in writing and reading are one of our methods of communication.   I can write now without worry because I also write for her. I write for the normality in our relationship. Whilst I wait for the hospital to find the solutions she needs I remind myself how lucky I am in my clever daughter

Charlestown to Fowey

 

It has been quite a day today. I was up early this morning wondering if I really wanted to walk today. The weather hardly looked inviting and I felt unsure about my preparation. I decided to go and drove off to leave my car in Fowey with Belinda following to take me to the start of the walk. After practising my gurning whilst Belinda took pictures I set off from Charlestown. The air damp but hopefully it would get no worse.

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I was carrying walking poles and as the walk started with an incline thought it would be more sensible to use them. I have arthritis in my left knee and it does not always like walking so the poles would give it support. To get the most benefit I needed to use them from the start. So I adjusted the length of the poles and off I went up the hill. The poles helped but I started to lean to one side as I walked because I hadn’t quite locked one of the telescopic poles and it shrunk every time I put weight on it. Giving up my walking leaning tower of Pisa interpretation I walked like a normal person.

 

Striding through the hazardous golfcourse that advertised the dangers of stray golfballs with repetitive signs. I was not fooled though because if I stood still and read the signs it was more likely they would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Signs were a curiosity and a number signs warned of dangerous cliffs that were fenced off but exposed gaps in the hedgerows on the tops of cliffs had no warnings. So far although grey was the days colour the rain was minimal until I walked into Par. The rain came down as I reached the spot of the walk  that was within half a mile from my house. Despite my armchair calling me I carried on as the rain got harder. After walking about 3.5 miles I stopped at 11.30 to shelter at the toilet block at Par Beach eating my sandwich as I watched the rain

 

   Twenty minutes later the rain easing I continued. Soon climbing the steps to the coast path above Par Beach I decided to use just one walking pole. The rain worsened and the wind blew harder and I just walked steadily. There were few other walkers and those there were had dogs. I allowed all  quicker coastal path users to overtake.

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Getting closer to Polkerris I looked down at the Rashleigh its pub. I was wet tired and ready for a cup of tea. Arriving at the pub at 13.15 I dripped through the door and found a table. I relaxed knowing I had gone just over half the distance but aware the remaining part was harder than had I walked so far.  

 

Leaving the pub relieved the rain had stopped I walked up the hill on the other side of Polkerris. A familiar route brightened as the clouds cleared and gave me renewed vigour. Unfortunately renewed vigour was heavy so I left it behind halfway up the hill. I walked on towards the Gribben a coastal tower where I would have my next break. My slow but steady progress took me to the Gribben and I stopped replenishing my energy levels with strawberries and blueberries.

 

With lighter rucksack and fuller belly I started down the hill towards Menabilly Beach. My toes pressing against the front of the boots made me hobble down the hill until I tried walking backwards and I was able to walk normally again. At least as normally as walking backwards downhill can be. Although more comfortable, having an accident whilst walking backwards would be hard to explain so I resumed my hobbling until I reached the bottom. Passing the beach and walking up the hill I entered the field at the top and halfway across my arthritic knee made it’s first protest. With less than two miles to go and the walking poles support its protest would be in vain.

 

Getting ever closer with increasing tiredness I just trudged along knowing I was nearly there and then I finally was. I stood watching a handful of swimmers at Readymoney beach unable to share my triumph as my phone died. It is 4.30 and in another 15 minutes I arrive at my car in the main carpark.

 

I have done it. In four months I have lost weight, increased my fitness and raised money for Parkinson’s. It has been a hard day but one that ends with a smile.

Thank you for reading I a have justgiving page if you would like to make a donation

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jonathon-BestCharlestowntofowey

Pontsmill-Viaduct

Another walk in at Pontsmill and the Luxylyan Valley as I wanted to reach the Treffry Viaduct at the end of the valley. I set off at 8:15 as I had arranged to meet an old friend for tea in the afternoon.

As usual taking pictures as I went I walked up the valley meeting another old friend on the way. The viaduct is impressive and very high. I find my way up the hill onto the viaduct about to admire the view when I receive a text. A plumber I have contacted said he will be at my house at lunchtime. I reply I will be there by 12:30. I eat half the pasty I brought to reward myself and take a couple of pictures.

 

It took me 2hours 15 mins to walk the 3.5 miles here. I have 1hour 45mins to get back. I set off faster but just a bit as I want to be back on time but don’t want to tire too quickly. I do find it tough to walk a bit faster but I keep an eye on the time and get back in an hour and 30 mins. Although pretty flat I have done seven miles in 4hours which is a good indication of my fitness still improving with a month to go to the sponsored walk. I weighed under 16 stone for the first time in over 2 years. Today hasn’t been about memories and the past but about the present and future. I am on target to successfully complete the sponsored walk on 4 August 2018 so please give generously.

 

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jonathon-BestCharlestowntofowey

 

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Thank you

Jon  

Wet Grass

Another walk and yet more memories. I parked at Trenarren and walked down a path towards the coast tracing steps first trod when I was 8 or 9. The path leads to Black Head a coastal headland with an ironic name for a beauty spot. I paused to take a photo with cows in the foreground that I call “Cows eye view.”

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On the rocks at Blackhead I caught my first seafish the unappetising Garfish. As a child I never wanted to eat my “greens” so a fish with green bones would never appeal. I also caught a pollack here the first fish I caught that I ate. My Brother and I were introduced to Black Head by a neighbour John Starnes a man who after my Father was a big influence on my life.

We had such a great time at Black Head s my Dad agreed to take us there. My Dad seriously unamused when my brother got the directions wrong and he drove the wrong way finally parked. Now was my time to shine despite my brother’s advice I guided us down the wrong footpath. My Dad never took us fishing again.

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It was a dreary morning damp but no serious rain as I walked down the path to Blackhead. I headed over the top to the end and looking over the top I looked down at a fisherman on the rocks. He was on the rock that I stood on when I last came fishing. I hadn’t been fishing for years. My reel was corroded by saltwater that had seeped inside so I took it apart cleaned it and replaced the line with new line. When I climbed down on the rocks I set my rod up attached the reel and realised something was wrong the line was the wrong side of the bail arm. I could possibly cast out but had no way of reeling it back in.  I had wound the line the wrong way around the reel. Other anglers wondered why I gave up so quickly. So no fishing that day and none since.

 

Today is not about fishing it is about walking so I leave Blackhead and walk towards Pentewan passing a stone tribute to poet and Historian AL Rowse that is inscribed with his words, “this was the land of my content.”  Nothing describes Cornwall better. A beautiful location and I am lucky to live here. Today I am not feeling quite as lucky and the path has not been cut. Wet grass drags against my trousers as I walk steadily on. This is a steep route with lots of ups and downs. Few people are walking today but everyone I meet tells me the path is not clear and I confirm to them it is the same behind me.

 

I walk on up step and down steps eating a homemade pasty to keep me going as my trousers become wetter and wetter. Even the cows find me a curiosity running all the way across a field before trying to eat my rucksack. Continuing to Pentewan I walk down the hill into the village my bottom half drenched. I have stumbled a few times so I decide it is time for a treat a blackcurrant and cream ice cream.

 

I have only walked three miles but I am surprisingly tired trousers heavy on my legs. My plan had been to walk back on the coast but I had stumbled several times unable to see my footing so I decided to walk back along the road. I set off up the aptly named Pentewan Hill. A long steep hill that I take step by step. The road narrowed by uncut hedges so I have to stand in the hedge every time a car passes. Slowly drying off I plod steadily on walking the three miles back to the car.

Another walk down memory lane and then home to a warm bath so my muscles can forget.

Thanks for reading

 

Time Travel Dreckly

Every time I have heard an explanation of the possibility of time travel it includes the need to achieve incredible speed.  I am Cornish and that sort of rush is just not necessary even for time travel. All I need to time travel is to walk.

A year ago I was at my biggest 17.5 stones. Today I am just over 16 stones and on the cusp of going below 16 stone for the first time in about 3 years.  On 4th August I will do a sponsored walk from Charlestown to Fowey on the coastpath. I haven’t walked that sort of distance for 4 years. T do this I need to take my body back in time to a fitter and lighter era.

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I have excellent walking boots and today I will find out if I can wear them again.  When my weight grew it never occurred to me that my feet would get fatter and the boots I had trekked the Inca trail in would become unwearable. These boots are made for walking not to sit as an ornament in my porch.

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I put the boots on and get ready. They seem comfortable but I will carry my trainers in my rucksack just in case. I used to do a lot of walking and my crowning achievement was in May 2011. Today I will only travel to Lerryn a riverside village but I will be well equipped with my rucksack and coat as well as my boots from my Machu Picchu. These relics of my past will help my present build my future.

 

I have chosen a straightforward woodland walk much under tree cover which will shelter me from the sun. Unlike some of my other destinations it has no childhood memories but my first footsteps here were alongside Kirsten. My first serious relationship, that bequeathed several routes through the glory of the Cornish Countryside.

On arrival booted and ready to go, I looked across the river and the line of stepping stones that surmount the low tide. I can see my oldest daughter Rhi, striding purposely across as she herself remembers the past. There are many family memories here. It is the place my second daughter Shan lost her Mother and Fathers wedding ring. An inexpensive trinket that to her was a priceless expression of her identity. Thankfully someone handed it in, at the local pub.

 

I can hear the birds in the trees as I walk body in the present as my mind slips between natures surrounding beauty and thoughts of the past.  The golden daffodils and carpets of bluebell have passed and now is the time of the striking foxglove   This is the first place I walked with Liz, Rhi and Shan after we met. Two adults each with a child that we had hoisted on our shoulders. A care free time full of hope that went unnoticed but absorbed in every breath.

 

I walk alongside the calm of the river taking pictures as I go. I walk at an unhurried but steady pace, my boots thankfully at peace with my feet. I am getting close to the halfway point now and will soon be in St Winnow and then I come to my first stile.  Stiles are structure using steps that allow the crossing of a fence or hedge.  Such benign helpful objects that I did not anticipate any problem.  I stepped onto the stile stepped up and lifted my leg to step over at the top. I couldn’t lift my foot high enough to get it over. I tried again changed the angle but no joy.  Third time lucky by using my hand to support on the top post of the stile I got my foot over. One down and one to go.  I sat there for a minute pondering how to get the other one over. It was like I was on a horse without knowing how to dismount. All I could thing was I didn’t want to have to ask strangers for help getting my leg over. Again using my hands to support my weight I somehow got my other foot over. There would be nil points for style but I was over.

 

I walked on with my thoughts back to my childhood. When I was little my Mum had a record by Lonnie Donegan and the song filled my head but with new lyrics. Putting on the agony
Getting leg over stile
Dignity of young folk

Been missing for a while
As I get my leg over
Watchers can’t but smile
Christ it is agony
And nil points for style

 There were ten stiles on this walk and although ungainly I got across without as much struggle as I had a method. This was fine until I came to a stile of a different type. This stile was a bit like a fence with horizontal planks of wood. The top hinged so you could lift it and step over the lower ones. Problem I needed to hold it up while stepping over but my stile method involved me using my arms to take the weight. I somehow struggled over keeping the hinged plank from my decapitation.

I should explain I get some tightness in the muscles in my inner groin started several months ago after playing badminton  and is much better but muscular injuries seem to take an age to heal. It affects my flexibility and fortunately I have no plans for any gymnastics.

 

 

I walked into St Winnow hoping for a cup of tea at the farm museum. I walked this route with Ilona about 4 or 5 years ago but walking is not her passion.  The highlight for her was the friendly cat we met as we drank our tea outside the museum. Well this time no cat and no cup of tea as the museum was closed. I walked out of St Winnow and into the fields up the hill before looking back and taking pictures. I continued through the fields finding stiles to cross the hedges. I leave the fields for the woods and my final ascent before crossing a field and walking downhill back into Lerryn

 

 

The stepping stones covered so I use the bridge to cross back to the car. I buy myself a honeycomb flavour icecream. Double scoop of creamy cold luxury in a waffle cone enjoyed as I amble slowly along the river. Memories of the past, combine with todays walk helping me to a new chapter in the future. I head back to the car smiling as I  think of a Dr Who once said “My body is a Tardis.”