51-57 Whiteside to Scar Crags

51-57 Whiteside to Scar Crags

NW Fells Buttermere

To say it was the most beautiful day of summer would be possibly not true. It was the only day of summer  – Saturday 24th August 2019 The Bank Holiday Weekend.  After 3 abortive attempts to take on rounds of 5 or more Wainwrights and only achieving 1 solitary mountain, over the previous 2 child-free weeks, at last, the weather had played ball.  After dropping off Ane (my gardening/spinning/Wwoofer from Denmark) at the bottom of Rannerdale Knotts we headed back to the base of Whitside.  Mark and Bheinn walked with me up the first 2/3rds but morale and timing meant they had to head back to pick up Ane, so I more or less started the “grande” round of 7 Wainwrights alone.

Whiteside was not very welcoming, the legions of flying ants had hot winged it over from Fleetwith pike and were there to greet me, so the spinning was more a post with the wheel then a concerted effort to create yardage.

On Hopegill Head I was greeted by runners coming towards me on the King Kong mini mountain marathon and was later greeted by email by a family who had spied me spinning.  Nobody spoke or commented but as I spun in the peace of the montain top I had been spied by a family lunching behind me on the summit.

Already having gained a lot of height on the first 2 mountains, on the walk from Hopegill Head to Grasmoor I had a sense of height and remoteness. I was high in the mountains in a stunning hanging valley, with blue sky and a stream to replenish my water. I sat for a moment, dizzy and overheated, until I realised I had my reading glasses on my head and I was magnifying the sun into my brain cells (that’s another 25 I’ve lost). The summer was certainly making up for lost time.  Grasmoor looks like a huge lump and the amazing plane you find yourself on at the top is quite something else.  I wondered if at Calvert Trust they had considered how or if people with limited mobility could me transported to the top to enjoy wandering around the top, picnicking and enjoying the best views I have ever seen of the fells.  I think you can see everything if you look East South East (apart from Whiteside and Hopegill Head which I had put behind me)

Wandope was a particular low point.  It is just a short lift up from the coll as you come off Grasmoor BUT as I wandered up it I could see the grass moving and glistening silver.  The flying ants (now low flying or landed) were EVERYWHERE!!!.  Spinning was limited to opening the bag, taking out the wheel, adding the bobbing turning it 5 times and absolutely NOT getting cosy and running.  Not sure why they all wanted to be there.  I suspect it was an altitude thing.

Eel Crag was thankfully ant free and the views changed from vistas of the whole southern and central fells to the Causey Pike,  Skiddaw and the path East towards Derwent Water and Stair.

The route to Sail was quite exposed and the sun had started to drop giving me the sense of how long the day had been and why I was feeling like I had done more exercise than I had for many weeks.  From Sail to Scar Crags was a zig zag motorway worthy of an alpine pass so I made swift progress.  On Sail I met 1 man only the 5th walker /group I had met that day. Where were all the tourists, mountaineers and walkers?  Considering the spectacular nature of where I was and the fact that it was the summer bank holiday it seemed unbelievable that I had met so few people.

I doubled back from the top of Scar Crags,  greeting the Swaledales and Herwicks grazing on the top, knowing I would be quicker on the path than heading towards Causey Pike and cutting direct to the track on the fell race route (however passing from below I could see the route of the fell race had caused a new path to be formed).  The phone rang and Mark worrying that I was overdue had headed out to meet me.

My best day ever. 7 spinning Wainwrights ticked.  I was surprised by lack of people and squadrons ants, and I learnt that it is not sensible to wear my glasses on my head when the sun is shining.

 

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Photoshoot Fleetwith Pike no 50

Photoshoot – Fleetwith Pike no 50

It was the call I had hoped for;  Cumbia Life were interested in my story.  Not just the Spin A Round challenge but the whole back story, the where the Spinning and Weaving business idea came from, why I was spinning Herdwick, how the business was growing.  Interview behind me and a first aborted attempt to stage the photoshoot postponed due to the uncooperative  weather not playing ball, late on a Saturday afternoon I met Phil the photographer at Honister Slate Mine with Ane, (my volunteer gardener with the Wwooff UK scheme, with her own portable spinning wheel – I was not alone) Mark and Bheinn. Starting at the slate mine may seem a soft option but trying to keep up with Phil who seemed to fly across the rocks up the mine tracks made this one of the quickest ascents I have made – and possibly the fastest photoshoot on record!  If you look closely at the photo you can see the thousands of flying ants which have settled on the bag. They settled in our hair, in the wheel bag, on the cameras, the lighting equipment, down our clothes and swarmed the summit cairn.

Running away from the summit, we re-convened about 20 m down to try again.  Scafell Pike and Great Gable forming the dramatic backdrop for the strange sight of a victorious spinster.

On the way down we disappointed Phil by being a family of very poor Sheep rustlers trying to sneak up on the resident Herwicks to turn them into media stars.

Following the excitement of modelling on a mountain top, and ticking off my 50th spinning Wainwright, strangely, I could not sleep.  Despite a career in marketing and promoting somebody else’s business I felt self-conscious promoting my own.  The sleepless nights were short lived. Now I am excited to see how my strange venture will be portrayed and what other calls will come…

49 and Holding

Whiteless Pike Number 49

Planning for what to do with my child-free summer holiday fortnight  – of course ticking off a serious number of Wainwrights. But this was not to be.  Why?  It rained solidly for 2 weeks.  I felt sorry for the campers who had chosen just these weeks for their holidays and felt sorry for me. My plans for a 2 day clear up of the NW fells above Buttermere, and a 6 top yomp from home to Wasdale became 1 quick trek up Whiteless Pike and many days setting up a weaving loom.

The day had started seeming quite benign. The sun was shining but there was a bit of a nip in the air warranting the inclusion of a thicker 2nd layer to be carried.  It looked like we were heading upwards to a perfect day for 6 tops between the car park at Buttermere and the Swinside Inn.  Mark was going to accompany me over Whiteless Pike to Eel Crag and then I would continue over Sail to the northside of the Newlands Valley and he would head back to the car and meet me at the Swinside Inn at Stair.

BUT mountains can be unpredictable.  What looked like a perfect day from the valley bottom turned out to be a dangerous folly.  As we ascended the wind speeds and gusts were knocking me off my feet.  The further route on from Whiteless Pike to Wanhope looked exposed, was another league into the higher tops and further underfoot.  Taking refuge in the lee of the top of Whiteless Pike we assessed the map and decided that a 2nd round would be required to gather up Whiteside and Hopegill Head and could then include Eel Crag and Wanhope. So Whiteless Pike became the 49th spinning Wainwright and a cautionary tale to be prepared for anything in the mountains including turning back even if you feel you’ve only just got started.

 

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

 

A lot has happened since I last wrote. I am the wrong generation to understand the need to for the constant update on Social media and as a result I am 20 Wainwrights ahead of where I was last time I wrote. Looking at the list I felt quite emotional at the thought that the challenge has already delivered so many wonderful experiences, and it’s hard to keep up. I have met so many incredible people out in the mountains sharing their achievements and motivations for being there. The Spin-A-Round challenge is delivering so much more than I could have hoped for.

June 2019

Ullock Pike, Long Side and Carl Side walking with Bheinn my son trying to remember when I was last up here. 27 years ago having taken the bus from Bassenthwaite to Keswick Mark and I had walked back along the ridge. He grumbled at the price of the bus all the way, pointing out it was cheaper to fly to Venice than get a bus for 7 miles (it was in the days of the 1p air fares).  This time there was no grumbling, but the realisation that we had walked in the wrong direction last time and missed the glorious views. Oh! and the ice cream at the Sawmill cafe.

Grike with friends giving my first “extreme” spinning lesson.

July 2019

Burbank and Gavel – walking home from a drop off 5 miles from home and appreciating the privilege to live were we do.

Lank Rigg – a Sunday stroll from home watching the local sport of hound trailing and wondering at the cacophony of  bridsong as the dogs disturbed the birds from their pastime on the fellside.

Binsey – the smallest option after dropping my father off at the newly opened Carlisle Airport and had wasted too much time in the garden centre letting  the day slip away.

Scafell Pike, Lingmell – Mark’s birthday with great friends and energetic teenagers learning the dangers of the fells and celebrating everybody’s summit victory. The hubbub at the top of the pike is like no other mountain I have ever experienced.

Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell – totally alone on a Saturday evening, after an afternoon spinning with friends at ground level.

Armboth Fell, High Tove, High Seat – while Bheinn hiked Walla Crag with Scouts I met people who “KNEW” me from social media – Result!!! and had a run to the Mary Mount with 15 minutes to spare for a pint before we had to meet Bheinn from his Scout’s walk!

 

August 2019

Loft Crag, Pike O’Stickle, Harrison Stickle, Thunacar Knotts and around to Pavey Ark the LANGDALES the greatest names in the Lake District and the greatest classic mountains in a rare burst of August sunshine.

Followed by Holme Fell the 2nd  from lowest Wainwright summited. I opened my phone to take the obligatory selfie on the top to discover a list of crazy emails and messages about love and loss and business failures, flood and holiday baby-sitting arrangements possibly falling apart all needing to be dealt with.

Oh how I wish I had left my phone behind and done it like we used to (just heading to the hills), and how I wish I had written my blog more often as there are so many tales to tell. But I am learning and am perhaps not too old to embrace the social media age.  I have mastered Instagram, the clue being in the name “Insta” so for further adventures and more uptodate accounts I am much better at keeping up my social media at wildwoolworkshopennerdale  Instagram style………….

Going Solo – Souther Fell and the Top of Honister

Souther Fell : No 23

On Saturday 15th June 2019,  after a wonderful morning learning how to blend wool on a blending board at Mungrisdale – a simple and most effective process making ammonite-like rolags for spinning – I set out alone for the first time with the wheel to head up Souther Fell looming above.

Although tempted to shin over the fence and head straight up the shoulder I feared the wrath of the land owner who had specified that walkers should not cross the fields.  The map gave no clue to the direct access so I took the cowards decision to walk the long route to the west of the mountain.  I had hoped to sweep up Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell on the return journey, but feeling my age, or just not having walked my mountain legs in yet, I fretted my indecision. Head down listening to my internal dialogue I caught up with 2 ladies I was a aware were walking in a more relaxed and carefree manner.  I commented on their laissez-faire demeanor and they confessed they were out for a wander, not sure where they were going and hoped their discussion about the reasons for choosing a termination had not disturbed me – one being a midwife.  I had not heard, the negative chatter being so loud in my head. I wondered what I was fretting about and I determined that I should enjoy every step or the journey was not worth it.  As we fell into step they noticed the pack and asked about its contents.  I had not considered that on the outside it looked anything out of the ordinary on the fell and again I marvelled that others took so much more notice of their surroundings with open interest, again I pushed the worries away.  I was experienced, equipped, although the wheel might cause a few scratched heads on a mountain rescue call out – the first spinning wheel to be rescured, I had map compass, safety gear, I was in the place I wanted to be, if I did not complete 3 mountains, “who cares” I will have competed 1.

Hitting the summit ridge and seeing how much time and expired as well as my food, I decided 1 was good.  On the summit of Souther Fell facing the next great challenges of the mighty Blencathra and the lesser known Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fells I formulated a plan to come back after the next spinning group in Mungrisedale and set out before and not after the class.  I took my first selfie dropping the camera many times before I caught anything usable and followed another couple with 2 dogs down the shoulder and circumnavigated the fields I could not cross to the back road and on to The Mill Inn for a well earned pint.

Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable and Base Brown 24-27. Sunday 16th June 2019

This is what it is all about!  My family together on an easy to reach round of high fells.  Using the English equivalent of a cable car in the form of the road to Honister Pass, to take the sting out of the climb, we headed out for a round of the “G’s” and the “B’s”  as my mind summarised them, Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable and Base Brown –  numbers 24-27.  I wondered at the 360 degree viewpoints as we sat on Brandreth and then Grey Knotts and I spun.  We could see almost to our house and understood why there are objections to the artificial nature of uniform trees planted after WWI in Ennerdale compared to the serene unspoilt landscape of Buttermere/Loweswater. I looked up to towering imposition of Scafell and Scafell Pike and identified peaks in the Langdales astounded that all this was on my doorstep.  Bheinn and I dodged the weather just receiving a passing shower as we descended together into Seathwaite.  Mark had retraced tracks over Green Gable to retrieve the car. Bheinn and I thought we had taken the easy route direct to Seathwaite. Unfortunately I forgot that the most direct is often the steepest route. The wheel learnt to scramble and free fall, and I spent a lot of time moaning about wet paths artificially made of rocks aimed forwards. Excellent for ascending, treacherous if you put your foot on a smooth rock on the way down as I discovered twice.  Needless to say Mark was waiting for us at the bottom having read quite few pages of his book and I vowed never to descend from Base Brown to Seathwaite by the direct path ever again.

Spin-A-Round is a challenge to Spin Herdwick Wool on the top of all the Wainwright Fells in the Lake District, Raising money for the Lake District Calvert Trust
https://wonderful.org/fundraiser/spinaround-740bcfeb

The Escape Room – Fairfield Horseshoe

A Rip Roaring Romp

Having notched up 13 Wainwrights in stunning, clear, calm weather before the official launch on 2 June on Latrigg, the blustery, wet weather served as a wake up call that this was not going to be easy. And so I spent a week watching the weather wondering if I would be able to get the challenge off with a rip-roaring romp around the Fairfield Horseshoe on the forthcoming  weekend or would I be beetling up and down Binsey in half an hour and retreating to the Sun Inn in Bassenthwaite, working out how many years it will take to do all the Wainwrights one at a time?

The stormy weather played ball and passed through on Saturday so we woke up to a warm but cloudy Sunday morning and very out of character for my family the alarm went off at the usual 7am. To be walking out of Ambleside at 10:10am was quite an achievement, not least because the compass fell apart, so trying to  teach Bheinn  (12yo) how to orientate the map with a compass held together with an elastic band that had seen better days proved an early challenge.  Luckily the good weather stayed with us and visibility was 100%, so the orienteering lesson was more in principal than in practice.

The aim of the day was to tick off the 8 fells of the Fairfield Horseshoe (Low Pike, High Pike, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Heron Cragg and Nab Scar) bringing my total to 22.  A day to breathe in the the views and leave the cares of the day below us behind.  I hoped….

As we rose between Low Pike and High Pike I could hear a gaggle of voices behind me.  I looked around to see one man and wondered why I could not see the group following up behind.  We walked on and as he approached the noise of the crowd grew louder. I was shocked, when he passed, that he was alone apart from the millions of people listening, on the same wavelength, to the Cricket World Cup being broadcast to the world from the back of his rucksack.  My jaw dropped and as I exclaimed “Why? the broadcaster co-incidentally cried out to the open fell…“the question is why?” So as I puffed to the top of High Pike, and the chatter of the radio disappeared into the wind I was ruminating on the word WHY.  Why would somebody be so selfish as to bring the noise we come to escape into our little piece of heaven? Why would they think it is in the least bit acceptable to broadcast this to everybody? Why would he dare to ruin my day? Why do we come onto the fells? Why do I think my interpretation of use of the Fells is superior to anybody else’s?

The Question is Why

I know I walk in the fells to leave the cares of the world at ground level, for fitness, for self-fulfillment and achievement, to catch the wind, to catch the sun, to see the grandeur of the world to remind me of my small place among its majesty and to be among like-minded people, in short, to belong.

Being confronted by this disturbance from the real world  had touched on insulting  the senses of escaping in order to belong to something superior,  but I had to ask myself was I not doing something similar? Was my spinning wheel challenge not bringing the everyday into the world of the escape room?

One of the problems I had with deciding to embark on this charity event is that I do not like asking people to sponsor me.  I have always believed that the main reason to achieve something is for your own betterment and self development.  Also, having notched up the best part of 100 marathons, and various ultras in the past, I find it difficult to convince anybody that I am doing anything extraordinary or challenging enough to warrant sponsorship.  I also do not like to disturb other people’s enjoyment. I think that just because I love doing something it does not have to be of interest to anybody else (perhaps I am too self contained for my own good).  I debated if  just seeing me with a spinning wheel might destroy the seclusion. or that I might be responsible for interrupting somebody else’s walk with a reminder of everyday life they have left behind by my request for charitable donation, even if that is only implied by my being there, I might ruin somebody else’s day. Could my actions be just as imposing on somebody else’s day as the noise from a radio?

When I put the question to my son as to why he likes to walk in the mountains he cleared up the dilemma

his list was :

Because it gets me away from my computer games.

It stops you nagging me to get away from my computer games.

Because it stops me getting unfit and fat.

Because it’s nice.

“What is nice about it?” I asked, “what feelings does it give you to describe that nice feeling?”

I feel healthy and I can eat lots of biscuits.

It’s nice when I get back to my computer games!

In a nutshell we head out into the hills to get away from it all so we appreciate what we have more fully when we return.

So  I hope my challenge is extraordinary and challenging enough to lift it from the everyday and not cause anybody’s enjoyment to be disturbed and that my own enjoyment of spinning will be affected by taking it with me into place we go to escape?

#spinherdwick #candocalvert #louetnorthamerica
Raising money for the Lake District Calvert Trust.  Donations can be made at:
https://wonderful.org/fundraiser/spinaround-740bcfeb

 

“Launching” the Spin-A-Round Challenge

“Launching” the Spin-A-Round Challenge

It had taken 2 years to get to the point that I could “Launch” the Spin-A-Round Challenge. Life, building works to our house, business and family matters had always contrived to take precedence, so  it was  on 2 June 2019 at 9am, 2 years after I had bought my mountaineering spinning wheel I set off for the summit of Latrigg above Keswick in the Lake District with Mark and Bheinn to Launch the challenge to spin Herdwick wool on the 214 Wainwright Fells. It was a 3-person job to carry my wheel, leaflets, sheep biscuits, chairs, table, banner and a shelter.  More kit than I plan to take for the regular spinning walks, but we hoped to host a picnic for the Calvert Trust volunteers and have a chance to showcase the spinning wheel and challenge.

The shelter had been a last minute decision and in the tradition of all all great, daft events it was erected for the first time, on the mountain, in the wind with the instructions tucked under my chin.  Assembly was easy, keeping it up was more of a challenge.  When I had considered the need for shelter from the rain, I had overlooked the fact that in the Lake District it is a certainty that rain will be accompanied by wind. The shelter proved great at keeping the rain off, however keeping it in place to stop it taking on a secondary role as a paraglider proved a full-time occupation for my helpers and supporters, so taking the idea of “Launching” an event to a whole new level.

Despite the inclement weather we were joined by a steady stream of passers-by, runners, dog walkers, parents carrying 2 children and regular Lake District visitors. Some who had made the journey specifically to see and support the launch and others, who found us by chance and thought it was the most “surreal” event they had witnessed on a mountain.

I felt very honoured that so many volunteers and supporters of Lake District Calvert Trust came out on this rather wild day and I enjoyed many conversations about spinning and the work done by the Trust to make this spectacular place we live in accessible for everybody. We were even featured on ITV Border TV (Link below), Fiona the reported captivated by the unusual notion of the event and my determination not to give up because of the conditions

The weather conditions were not as I had envisaged, but that served as a great reminder that the challenge was not going to be plain sailing, even if that was what the shelter thought it was made to do.

To support this wholly surreal challenge go to https://wonderful.org/fundraiser/spinaround-740bcfeb

Follow the progress on Instagram “wildwoolworkshopennerdale” or sign up to the Spin-A-Round newsletter by contacting susan@wildwoolworkshop.co.uk to find  out where I will be spinning next.

Susan Denham-smith is hoping to spin Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association LTD wool on all the Wainwrights. #spinningwool #wool

Posted by Fiona Marley Paterson ITV Border on Sunday, June 2, 2019

 

Taking a Spinning Wheel Mountaineering

Taking a Spinning Wheel Mountaineering

I was very impatient to try out the chosen wheel, so having picked it up from The Threshing Barn https://threshingbarn.com/ at Farfield Mill https://www.farfieldmill.org/ we set out for the the most easily accessible but remote-feeling place on the way home – Ravenstonedale. This is a limestone plateau, which means the top is relatively flat and made up of regular shaped blocks, making siting a piece of industrial equipment on a relatively stable platform quite easy.

To my relief, my first observation about the wheel was that it was so small I did not need to take a chair with me but could perch on practically any rock and have enough space between my knees and the treadles to give the wheel some momentum. To my delight I found it was very stable, took less than a minute to put together and was very stable on the most rocky of surfaces.

The only minor niggle was that the bag was not padded enough, but I was able to remedy that by buying some upholstery foam from Dunelm and cutting it to fit the wheel.  I guess the wheel/bag were not designed for mountaineering so I was planning to really put them through their paces. Even with extra padding I am able to fit extra clothes, food and drink into the bag and all in all it weighs less than my husband’s camera bag.

And so I was ready to start the challenge to spin Herdwick Wool on the top of the 214 Mountains in the Wainwright Pictorial Guides.

My First real mountain Climb was Blake Fell in the Western Fells in May 2017.  The plan was to start the Spin A Round Challenge from then going forward, but those of you who know me well will, remember that 2017/18 was a very busy time, renovating a barn so I can teach spinning and weaving classes and provide accommodation to walkers and crafters in our remote ex-farmhouse and barn, and celebrating many 50th birthdays.

As well as being a personal physical challenge for me the Spin A Round challenge needed to benefit other people to be truly worthwhile. In 2016 The Lake District Calvert Trust had organised the Go Herdwick Public Art Trail where local artists and organisations had taken part in decorating a life-sized fibreglass sheep for display and auction.  I had enjoyed visiting the colourful artistic sheep with my son and niece and thought my spinning Herdwick idea would link really well with this love of all things Herdy in the Lake District.

The work that Calvert Trust do is also close to my heart. They provide challenging outdoor activity breaks for people with disabilities.  I have never had personal need of their services, nor anyone close to me, but I have taught in adult education with people with all sorts of physical difficulties and always had the sense of “there but for the grace of god go I,” and what would I do if I did not have the freedom to go where I wanted when I wanted, with the limitations our able bodied-centric society puts on us?  Life and physical fitness is a precious gift that I could so easily take for granted and I wanted to use my good fortune to make a difference while I could.

After some explanation, I was able to convince The Calvert Trust marketing team that I was serious and “extreme” spinning (without a bike), on mountain tops could be a thing and so the partnership was born.

It took me, however, 2 more years to create the space in my life required to organise the launch date. Permissions, advertising, press releases and shelters for the likelihood of Lake District rain! all needed to be put in place.  So on 2 June 2019 I will be spending the day on top of Latrigg, joined by volunteers and supporters of Lake District Calvert Trust  oh! and a few hundred mountain runners who will be in the trials for the national Fell Running team and any body else who will be enjoying a day out on an easily accessible mountain with stunning views (if the clouds part) of the central Lake District spinning Herdwick wool.

 

Choosing a Mountaineering Spinning Wheel

Choosing a Mountaineering Spinning Wheel

I can’t imagine in the history of googling that many people have ever googled “Mountaineering Spinning Wheel”.  I have seen people with drop spindles taking them around the world and with them to feed the goats, but I did not want to spin with a spindle. I wanted to make an impact.  Sitting on top of a mountain with a spinning wheel that looked like had earned its place to be carried to the summit.

Once I had navigated my way through the pages of physics explaining the balance in “Light Weight Wheels”, fishing reels and fitness clubs I found a whole reference to historic wheels, with weights and values.

My options boiled down to 4 wheels: The Ashford Joy, The Babe Pinkie, The Louet Victoria and the Bosworth Journey Wheel.

My first desire was to go for the Babe Pinkie.  The lightest of them all and with a name like that who could resist?  After a long email exchange with  the woolery.com I discovered that although ultra light weight, it was made from plumbing parts and was unlikely to be robust enough for mountaineering. Even after I explained that English mountains very rarely took more than 2 hrs to ascend and have very little requirement for ropes and karabiners (The Woolery is in America) I figured 214 ascents would be more than this light weight wheel could cope with.  In addition the treadles were designed for children’s feet and mine are a size 9 (43) plus walking boots.

Wanting something more substantial than a plastic toy, and ruling out the Bosworth Journey Wheel (even though it was designed in a carrying case and I had been offered the opportunity to buy the most historic example in the country)  I had to chose between the Joy and the Victoria.

If you google Ashford Victoria you get train times.  So having made that mistake, I now know the difference between the two makes and models.  The Louet Victoria is lighter than the Ashford Joy by 3 kg and comes with a carrying case.  My decision was made and my pennies spent on probably the 4th most expensive purchase of my life (House, Car, Racing Bicycle, Spinning Wheel).

Why Would I Spin on Mountains

Why Would I Spin on Mountains

(Written Autumn 2016)

Dawning

Today I could see that the curtains were starting to part. Not completely open, not letting in the glorious sunshine of potential, but the glimpses of light that shine through the blinds. Well maybe that was last week. Today I dared to peep right through to the window and it all looked technicolour.

The fog did not descend suddenly, it rolled in slowly as one awkward decision, upon another life-turn enveloped and suffocated, until I was living in the space at the bottom of my bed under the duvet, metaphorically I mean. Life looked dull and faded, like slogging through the rain behind your parents on a Sunday walk when there is a film on TV you have yearned to see all your life.

Each day I got up and went through the motions, but the purpose seemed to have disappeared.

Long Runs

I had always run hard, always with something to prove. At first just to show I could go longer and further than others, to prove I could drink a pint and still fit into “that” dress. Then the fascination that I was truly something unique dawned, but I never quite believed it. That was the key. I never quite believed it, I was just never quite good enough, in my eyes, and often in the comments of those who should have known better – but worse still I believed them.

So when life, age, the need to bring up a child and the need to earn a living, started to strain and tug I still did not quite believe I had been that athlete. I stood lost not sure who I was at all.

I stopped running when the angina pains came, but the Drs found nothing wrong. I stopped believing I was worth it. I stopped putting myself first because my body decided I was not worth it. or was it my mind. I watched re-runs of “The Biggest Loser”. When I was fit not believing I was already that athlete they were striving to be, then as the stones (not pounds) went on I stared in disbelief that I was in the same boat. I too had stopped believing, I too had stopped putting myself first. I had tried too hard to conform to be loved and approved of, I had not held onto my precious self.

I started to see me. I stopped trying to pretend I could cope with being part of the have it all generation of 40 something women, who had spent their lives adapting to new technologies (from manual typewriters, through Amstrads, Word Perfect, Apples, Windows, laptops, telephones, carphones, Nokias, smartphones, tablets and Facebook…. and started to shout from the treetops that it was difficult and great, but that after having a family, running a toddler, group, running club, craft club and renovating a house and barn I was not on the proverbial “its now or B&Q scrip heap”, if I did not get a good job and have a stella career. Women were now being fully represented in all areas of work and it was not unusual, but they still have to juggle all the family duties. The jobs are there but the support in child care, flexi working, school visiting hours for pick up and set down, parents evenings, performances etc, are not. WE still carry the can. WE are still expected to do everything else. I could not cope doing everything else.

I was still trying to become the thing I thought I should be when I left school – an independent career woman working 40+ hours a week. My worth defined by my salary.

The Penny Drops

And so the penny started dropping. I am married, I have a family, I have a husband who by luck of birth is the one who earns the most. I am the one who can do the building, DIY, run ultras, cook (sort of) do marketing, speak German and Italian (sort of), type, weave, spin. I started to accept I was not of less worth because I had less money.

I then started to recognise the messages I had heard all my life, about striving for the things that you always want to do with your heart in order to be successful, applying to me. With me it was handicraft and running (in the hills and sometimes round and round tracks). This was me.  This is what defines me.  This is what makes me unique, driven, whole, and this is the blog of that re-connecton with who I am.