Home Sick

Well my dream of staying is slowly fading and in a surprising way I’m kind of glad. It was after all a dream to stay and work but now if I’m honest I’m a little homesick. Sure I miss my family and my best mate and there are a few others who I wouldn’t mind having a pint with not that we’ve really kept in touch.

But the true home sickness and this will be a surprise to many and a few may gasp and exclaim and argue that I’m daft especially with the landscape and scenery but my heart belongs in the hills and mountains of Britain.

Yes I’m homesick for walking Snowdon and Tryfan or taking a cold winter hike across the moors or a drive to a remote part of the peak district and rambling down country lanes and through English woods. Off course the views and landscape in the land of the hobbits is amazing and I know as I look down from Snowdon or view the Cheshire plain from Kinder Scout my brain will flash back to those pictures and images of the southern alps and the quite one horse towns and question which one is better. People said NZ is Wales on a larger scale and they weren’t wrong.

I still have some months left and with my time I’m going to see this country again to make sure I have a full memory of sights, sounds and stories stored in the old memory bank. Sometimes you have to be without something to realise how much it actually means and while I could happily make the move I need to go back to see if my true loves once more and put the world to rights with a good old fashioned drinking session with my bestie.

A friend once posted a song to my wall which I think I have shared with you all before called ‘The Manchester Rambler’ which sums up my affair and passion for the outdoors. While I have now found a way to come back and work over here in the future  I find myself missing the peaks and Snowdonia ever more.

I’ve made some good friends and have had partook in many an adventure and while there have been high and lows how will always treasure my time in NZ and hold it close but the time has come to return to the UK and who knows I may realise that NZ was for me after all. But at the moment Im longing to walk down Market Street and go into Greg’s for a steak bake or chin wag and complain over a warm flat beer with Matt, or redeem my nector points and watch the BBC and take a walk in the British rain and wrap up warm not put on sun screen in Janaury. But at the same time I’m loving my time away and the experiences I’m living.

See you soon UK.

Advertisements

The Silent Majority

This has come about due to a comment left on my wall and may sound a little bitter towards the end that but rest assured thats not the case. Now as many of you know I am away seeing the wonderful delights of New Zealand and being the avid facebook and twitter user I have been posting away.

At first my updates were getting a lot of attention, I think the update ‘that’s my plane see you in a year UK’ had almost my entire friends list clicking the like button with many also choosing to add a comment, the ‘Likes’ may have just been a way to show they were celebrating me leaving the country and getting out of there lives but I’d like to think many of them are saddened by my lost and a tiny bit of their lives are that little bit more empty because due to my absence.

But as my time has gone on the comments or likes have dwindled. Maybe people are getting sick of looking at mountains dominating the the clear blue sky, or they don’t like pictures of seals or dolphins in crystal clear waters. Maybe they don’t enjoy forests that fade into the horizon or charming little settlements built on hill sides. At first I thought it was time difference. I’d tweet or update and post pictures during the day which meant that many in the UK were fast asleep and by the time they had woken my updates informing the world Im having a swell time would be buried under more recent statuses about the Burnage train being late or sign this petition to stop the Olympics in Russia ( the fact no one tried to stop the world championships, it’s always the Olympics, people did it with China and Tibet as that story had been dragging on for years and then along come the Beijing Olympics and everyone’s like Chinas policy stinks but this is another post. I’d like to add that I don’t approve of Russia stance but there was another big world event taking place that everyone seemed happy to take place).

I would off course receive one or two likes or maybe a comment, but nothing like the start of the trip where comments and tweets were in there abundance. It’s true that only a small handful of friends have kept in regular contact either through messenger, Skype, or tweet conversations and I often wonder whom Im tweeting for. Is it myself, after all who is reading or checking twitter at 3 a.m UK time. Who bothers to scroll back through there twitter feed to see12 tweets from me, and who actually takes an interest that I think NZ is a top place has after all I already tweeted that back in July.

To tell the truth I was thinking of chucking it in. Those who want to know will ask, or get in contact like the ones who already do, and maybe I’m just boring people now with constant updates of trains and wooden bridges or comments about supermarkets or images of sunsets, and white beaches or earthquake updates.

But it was down to one comment on Facebook that shows there’s a silent majority who do follow with interest (I hope). A friend left a comment “I know I don’t comment a lot but rest assured I’m following your every step. We’re very jealous mate., enjoy every second and enjoy the hill…” So maybe not everyone needs to comment, and it’s a stark reminder that people follow your updates and the silent majority will always win out, but a like or two every so often shows that your not wasting your Internet time uploading photos where you could in fact be watching cat videos.

http://youtu.be/tLt5rBfNucc

Saying Hello to an Old Friend

I have cheated on her all to often in the past year and the last time I went to say hello she was so happy to see me and me her that we fell in love all over again. I hugged her at every step and just like the first time she took my breath away. I don’t know how she does it.

This was a camping trip with a friend… who’s original thought was a multi day walk in the peaks. Boring I know but he does seem to like the Peaks and to be fair there are a lot of nice walks and I enjoy that area of the UK as well, but I can go there on a day visit. He then raised the idea of the Lakes. Well we could do I said, but where? I’ve done most of the south-west fells. I haven’t but the places we were looking at I had done. I was off course slowly driving him to the decision of Snowdonia.

Like many people, my friend thinks he ‘prefers’ The Lakes, and feels they have better scenery and mountains and in some cases that can be true. I was never a fan until I walked the Pikes and climbed The Old Man and just as I was falling in love with this area of Britain I went and visited the girl I had been cheating on and before I had laced up my boots I knew that the Lakes had nothing on her.

So with a modest agreement from myself we had planned to go to Snowdonia. He had wanted to walk Tryfan, and I wanted to bag some of the Welsh 3000. I really want to bag them all before I go and this walk promised getting a good 6 of them in.

As we arrived at the foot of Tryfan, my friends jaw dropped with excitement, and we speedily placed our rucksacks on ready for the hike. We were going to conquer Tryfan from the North and the last time I had climbed her was from the south which I thought was a bit of a scramble. That scramble I remember was about to turn into a walk in the park.

What faced us was only made more difficult by carrying our packs on our backs. We both had light loads, but lets face it, you can have the lightest tent, sleeping bag, coat etc, but once they are all packed together you are talking about an extra 4-6kg on your back.

My mate was loving it, the walk was a mix of scree, climbing, walking, jumping (but not falling) although there were some hairy moments. Every turn and twist, every step of height came with a new challenge and a new view. This was why I loved Wales. A 2 mile accent was turning into a 3 hour climb, as we stood at the base of each new challenging assessing the best way to conquer it.

We reached the top, and were not alone as we saw some one jump Adam and Eve… something I have longed to do but once again chickened out despite the best efforts from another group using what I would call bullying tactics to make me try it. It might have worked on their friends but the fear of tripping, or falling and smashing my legs already played deep in my mind.

From Tryfan we stormed ahead towards the Glyders, and what a sight. This had been the first time I had conquered these and why I have waited this long was beyond me. the landscape was vast, and ever-changing. Were in another planet, or the moon. Maybe we were in a quarry, or some strange Sci-fi world. Next we would be talking to Captain Kirk and Spock the landscape was for ever-changing but the one image I have locked in my head is that of the Horseshoe of Snowdon.

In the distance, sat looking like she always does was the magnificent Snowdon in all her glory, in the way I had never seen her before. That was to be tomorrows treat.

After a long and very steep decent to the Nant Peris with several reminders to my mate that I had run on this road and up towards the Pen-y-Pass when I took on one of my favourite races we finally reached camp, only to divert into the local house for a well deserved pint.

Shortly after pitching we were back in and sampling the fine ales on tap and talking about what we always discuss when I meet this friend. A long discussion about trains. We got the distinct impression that our neighbours were listening in every so often and so they should have been as it was a enthralling energetic topic of discourse.

With the last of the 6 or maybe 7 glasses finished we trotted off to the campsite only to be jaw struck by the sky littered in the most number of stars I have ever seen, all shining as bright as the next, and in front of this backdrop lay Crib Goch and her impressive knife ridge. Being a city dweller I see stars, but never have I seen the sky mapped out like this it was like being in a planetarium.

Morning rose and my friends cold had fully taken hold. As the walk was cut early from the previous day due to time and the knowledge we would never walk Y Garn and get to the reservoir  used for Electric Mountain we had decided that this would be battled today as we could always come back and do the horseshoe on another day.

To cut a long walk short, my mate could not go on, and so we changed tact and headed for the car with the promise that we would return to finish the walk at a later date.

Even with this short spell in her magnificent gaze, the love I have for the area is even stronger and the thought of not being able to see or walk in Snowdonia for a year scares me.

This is one truly wonderful place and will remain my special happy place for years to come. North Wales and especially Snowdon always has a place in my heart.

My Party!

Did I mention I was off to New Zealand later in the year. I didn’t? Are you sure? Something like that I would think it unlikely I’d keep that news to myself. Well in case you hadn’t seen the tweets counting down the days, or the Facebook status’ that express my desire to get on the plane before the end of June then I’m off to New Zealand.

Now to celebrate this fact I need to see people before I go, and due to the nature of the job being friends with people for a considerable amount of time, I have friends dotted all over the country. So with no work till I leave I am using this time to see them all as I know they all won’t and can’t come to what ever I do for my leaving party. The trouble with this is that it seems everyone is free the same weekend and all want a piece of me.

Leaving that matter to one side, this post is about my top leaving party ideas and is in no way a suggestion or hint to friends and family to take up the slack and organise it on my behalf.

Now I don’t want to do a drinking session. It will be fun, but then where’s the difference between a birthday, christmas or a normal night out. I want something I will remember and enjoy and not wake up the next day trying to work out what has happened.

So at Number One it’s a weekend away. Now I know this excludes a lot of people and only the best of the best will be able to come, unless we hire out all the cottages or caravan park. This weekend away fits into several ideas. We could do a canal holiday, something I have always wanted to do and never got round to it, or a camping holiday, a holiday cottage, both in Wales and both involving Snowdon.

The other idea which will be more likely and is more of a possibility is that of a pub crawl, but one that see’s me going to all the bars I have drunk in while in Manchester. This may seem like a lot, but it’s not. It would mean starting in Northenden, then going to West and East Didsbury, before hitting Withington and Fallowfiled and then to Oxford Road, Denasgate, Northern Quarter and the general city. I imagine many have changed hands or even names and I would only include those I spent any real-time in. This would have to be a full on day or weekend affair as the amount of travelling will surly interrupt the very purpose of what we were try to achieve.

Apart that, I have very little ambition to get any of this organised and no doubt Ill be slipping away under the cover of darkness without really saying goodbye to anyone. The leaving doo that will probably take place will include a lot of drinks and hopefully those few people who mean most to me.

Leaving Party

I have already touched on this briefly, but as I look at pictures on Pinterest I find myself thinking that I need to go to Wales again.

We all know I love the place. But how cool would a weekend away in a cottage with just the couple of best mates that I have. Drinking, walking and talking. Exploring all the North West Castles for one last time.

At the moment it is a dream and will stay as such as they will all have excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly attend. Some with good reason others because they can’t take time out.

While I’m missing people now (not seen some for months)… I think it is good practice for when I do leave. After all I won’t be seeing these people for a year and who knows I might not even chat or talk to them again. For me this trip is a big deal… bigger than getting married, having a child. I want my friends to be there for me. This is only going to happen the once and while I am doing this for myself, I still need the comfort of my mates.

But it would be nice to have one last good bye…just in case I didn’t see them again. But maybe that’s just me… Maybe I know I won’t be seeing these people again. They may well be under the impression that in a years time we will be drinking again in the local (not that we have local). However anything can happen in a year.

It would be good to do a proper leaving party… and maybe my friends have it under control but I do fear that I may end up exiting quietly only to log on to Facebook in NZ to find messages of ‘Have you gone? We didn’t get to say goodbye’

The real question is should I bother to organise my own party. I suggested this to a friend, who said ‘You can’t do that!’ a couple of weeks later he sent a text asking what I wanted to do? To me that was as good as organising it…

If I am honest, then I don’t want a fuss. I want those who are close to me, and spend as much time as possible with them… Doing the things we have done together like drinking, walking, camping, cycling all just for one last time. If we really get to it, then there is only a handful of people I would like to attend, and I can count them off on one hand.

Off course I wouldn’t object to a big piss up as well, in a bar with everyone who I know.

Never Easy

Well just as I was going to put my hand into my wallet and allow all the moths to escape my eye gets drawn to a job advertisement that is right up my street.

I was already to take the plunge and buy the air fare to New Zealand but then I see the job. Now I’m in two minds. I need to get to NZ before the end of July as that is when my Visa will run out but this job is so ideal for me I don’t want to miss out. I have found cheap flights but now am wondering if I should book them or wait to hear back from the job. I know that I will regret not going to NZ (my best mate informs me of that) but what happens if I turn down the job of a lifetime that could see me escape the world of theatre and start my dream career of working in the out doors and eventually Snowdon.

Why is it that my life is never easy. This always happens. I spend an age planning or thinking about a job or holiday and the day I make my mind up then like a bus another job or plan comes along.

Darn it. Thats what I say.

Visit From an Old Friend

For some one whom I have not seen in a long time, well I say a long time I think it as been almost a year when we both hung out he did make a brief appearance back in September last year but it was such a quick visit it wasn’t anything worth writing home about. However now I suddenly hear from him again. I suppose I should explain that this ‘Friend’ is not really a friend, nor is he an enemy or someone I have distaste for. This ‘Friend’ goes by the name of Doubt.

Last night I was running the course (excuse the pun) through my head looking back at my training, wondering if I have done enough weekly miles, did I do enough 20 mile runs, should I rethink my game plan and go for a 4.30 time, rather than dreaming of a sub 4.  And then there is the weather, are people going to bother to come out and support if it’s raining, will my mates bother cheering me on. I know I have gone on about it, but so far no one seems to acknowledge this is a big deal and maybe it’s not but for me it’s the biggest challenge I have taken on and Doubt knows that, as he edges closer to buddying up once again.

He has started planting the seeds into my mind. ‘Am I going to finish’ ‘Will I wake up’ ‘Should I rethink the entire game plan’ ‘Maybe I should have tried the energy products they’re using on the course’ ‘Will my energy gels and drinks I use be good enough race day’ All of these thoughts are swirling around my brain making me dizzy, making me sick. People who are colleagues have gwaped and gasped at the notion of 26.2 miles as a nice little sunday run and have even gone on to question my madness where my friends and when I say friends I do not include all them in this following paragraph.

Where as my friends don’t seem to be there, only two have confirmed they may be on the course to support me, a lot think because I’m a runner then I will be able to walk the course easily, which is the exact opposite of what I want to do. Yes I’m a runner and yes knocking back a 6 mile or 10 mile run is easy but this one on Sunday has a wall and so far in my training I have not seen it. People tell me it is around mile 18-20 but I have run that distance and saw no wall. It’s fine because my good friend is being supportive telling me it will be at mile 22 and there not a cat in hells chance I will be able to run through it as a result the Manchester Marathon will be my first DNF, you can always rely on Doubt to offer reassurance.

Now don’t get me wrong I don’t expect a big team bus with everyone I’ve met coming out to support me, but I am about step into the breach, the unknown, yes I run, yes I have run 20 miles but this, this is new and yes everyone can say it’s not that hard Mrs Brown aged 67 did it in London. But I’m not Mrs Brown, I’m me and this is unmarked territory I have no idea if I’m ready for this both mentally and physically and to have the support of my friends who see what a big deal this is and support me through it would make the whole day seem a lot less ominous as I can tell you now I am ‘Shitting it’ (Pardon my French) But yet again this is Doubt dealing the cards, making me think I will be all alone where in fact my Mother will be there, and hopefully two of my good mates.

Now maybe it’s just a big thing to me, but it’s a marathon, and how many people can say they have done one. According to my running mags, only 0.6% of Americans have run a marathon in 2011 and the USA is mad for the 26 miles. They reckon that in the world only 3-5% of the population have taken on the task. And maybe thats why I want my friends around me, to celebrate my achievement to share in my happiness of conquering this milestone. For some people it’s getting there dream job, getting married or having a baby, buying a house where for me it’s running and entering competitions.

I always find it odd when I turn up to races and see my fellow runners with their friends and family at the start and finish and I’m there on me lonesome. I have my mum at the race on Sunday and I hope some of my mates will be there as it’s not just crossing the line but all the months of training and sacrifice. It’s the years of being sat on my arse and drinking and smoking – looking back and thinking that the old Tom wouldn’t have been able to do that, the old Tom wouldn’t never have even entertained the notion of running to the shop let alone 10K or a full marathon.

I think a lot of people don’t have a true notion of the distance involved. But as I sit and carb load and rest my legs alone, the only friend I have to speak to is that of Doubt he was there for the 10K and there at my first half, and he’s here now. He even said he will be there on Sunday somewhere along the course. Even now he is trying to break me down making me think I have no support and it is just me. He is slowly pounding on the pressure playing every tactic be it emotional with friends or causing me to question my own sense of belief.

The only thoughts I have running in my head to get rid of doubt is that…

1. I’m doing this for my self

2. I enjoy running

3. How many other people can say they have taken this on

4. Enjoy the day

So Doubt, do me a favour and do one, I don’t need friends like you around me.

I do hope its nice weather and not this cold windy wet weather, as I do want my mates to be out on the course cheering me on along with hopefully the other spectators.

I will leave you with this final thought. I am not sure who wrote it but I hope I will be able to say it on Sunday along with the other 8000 runners.

“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2 I knew I was too tough to kill”