Four miles

I had some really good news last week. 

Finally there is an end in sight to the ridiculous work situation that has been going on for the last few months. 

I was away in Liverpool for a gig over the weekend and as I looked in the mirror while I was getting ready, I actually didn’t recognise myself. 

I’ve not been able to run due to long hours at work and some really bad asthma days. My skin looks dreadful and I’ve got the spots and redness that I always get when I’m worrying too much. I’ve put on a little bit more weight than I’m comfortable with and my food habits have slid towards the junky end of the spectrum. 

This is everything I’d worked so hard to leave behind when I moved to Scotland, and so it has been incredibly upsetting to find myself back in this awful environment of fear and pressure.

Knowing the end is in sight helps enormously. Last weekend’s gig was a cracker. It came at the perfect time and it reminded me that there are many other ways to live your life. 

Staying with a friend from a few years ago kind of put me back in touch with myself – the self that stays hidden most of the time these days (and is the Flourish referred to in my blog title) but comes out when there’s some performing to be done on my terms. 

Liverpool is a really special city for me, it holds very strong and very happy childhood memories of a couple of day trips with an aunt who isn’t with us any more. More recently, it took care of my uncle during his chemotherapy. He described seeing the Isle of Man ferry being loaded up with bikes for the TT and wishing he was sailing away, and now I can’t look at pictures of the Liverpool waterfront without thinking of him and how relieved I am that he survived.

We drove around the city afterwards, through the docks, past all my friends favourite haunts and our next gig space. I love driving round cities at night, there’s an energy around the empty streets and motorways that really excites me. It’s much more fun on a motorbike than in my old Audi estate, but sharing it with F made it all the more special. 

I drove home on Sunday feeling revitalised and ready to get through the last few weeks of work.

Wednesday night brought me a little further back to myself. It was freezing cold, well below zero, icy underfoot. I ran four miles along a route I do regularly, a flat unspectacular trot along an old railway path. My headtorch batteries were badly needing a charge, so given the slippy conditions that I couldn’t quite see, I decided to come back along the main road instead. 

I noticed the patterns on the pavements as I reached the centre of the village. 

It’s a very small but subtle difference between living where I live now and where I lived before, and it seems a little strange but it’s one of my favourite things about living here. 

The pavements get gritted in the winter.

Sometimes I’m woken by a faint whirring sound outside accompanied by flashing yellow lights through my window. The first time I heard it I got out of bed to look, and there was a little white vehicle crawling along the pavements. 

I find pavemeng gritters strangely comforting, and when I see them they remind me of all the little things I love about being here, and all the things that are so minor on the face of it and yet mean so very much. 
I should be clocking 30-40 mile training weeks by now, but I know these will come when life is on a more even keel. The extra weight (that really isn’t much but is noticeable to me, and affects my asthma) will soon come off and I really don’t need to worry. 

It’s amazing what a little chilly slow run can do. 

 

Quick Release

Last week was one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had in a very long time. All thoughts of trying to stay calm went out of the window, and it ended up being a race to get to the end of the week in one piece. Nothing Really Bad happened, just what felt like a battering of events, deadlines and a couple of really late nights which when combined with the early mornings really knocked the stuffing out of me.

My week finished at about 3.15 on Saturday afternoon. The wedding I’d played for had gone really well, and a ruined kirk on the north east coast of Scotland was filled with love and happiness as two people got married surrounded by their friends and family.

IMG_6192

My harp and all the associated clutter was all safely loaded into the car, I said my goodbyes and got back on the road for the long journey back south.

Shortly after I pulled out of the village, I saw a sign.

Scotstown beach, ½ mile.

Time was tight if I was to be home for greyhound tea time, but I figured they would forgive me for being a few minutes late.

I turned off the main road, tried not to bounce too hard around (and sometimes inevitably through) the numerous pot holes and parked up at the bottom of the dunes. I had no idea what the beach would be like, but I couldn’t resist exploring just a little.

I got out of the car, rolled my jeans up and took my shoes off. The sand was wonderfully warm beneath my feet.

I ran up the dune, through the gap between the grass and down onto a gorgeous golden sandy beach. It was completely empty.

The sun shone, and the only sound was the waves breaking gently. I skipped along the sand, and then wandered into the sea. It was cold, but it takes rather more than that to stop me getting my feet wet.

I think I was there for about ten minutes. It wasn’t long enough, and yet it was.

Everything lifted in those few minutes, and I didn’t have to try very hard to put on a big smile.

IMG_6195

I realised how much I relax when I am by the sea, and promised myself I would find a way to come more often. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about where I might like to live on a longer term basis, and as I stood with the waves tickling my toes, I wondered if perhaps I could, or even should, factor in a nearby beach somehow.

The previous Saturday I had my feet in the waves at Brodick Bay on the island of Arran off the south west coast of Scotland. This week it was the north east coast.

Next Saturday, I’ll be in the mountains in Austria. No beaches there, but maybe I can find somewhere quiet in the hills to have a bit of a paddle, perhaps even a swim.

In a month’s time I’ll be on the island of Tiree celebrating my birthday by running round the island one day then hitting the waves the next.

It’s no coincidence that all the travelling is related to a break-up. Rather than waiting on someone else’s plans, I’ve jumped straight in and made my own and I feel all the better for it.

This is more travelling than I’ve done for a long while, and I’d forgotten how much I love getting away seeing new places. The best thing about living where I do is that I don’t always have to go very far from home to find an adventure to have.