I hate building demolition. There’s something sad and destructive in it. It could of course just be the North East weather.
A few weeks ago on a whim I signed up for the Memory Walk at Chester-le-Street in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. It is a fantastic cause and my grandma has dementia so it’s a personal cause too.
Now, it’s only 3 miles but it is worth bearing a few things in mind. First, I’m coming from a basic activity level of 0 and the fitness levels you might expect as a result. Second, I suffer from pains in my legs and lower joints so it’s going to be a bit of a push. Below I’ve written up the walk as it happened, only really cleaned up mobile-thumb-typing errors.
10.35 Arrive at Chester Park. Loads of people already here mostly in small groups. Quite a few elderly in wheelchairs.
Go to the gazebo with AS on to see if I need to register or sign in but no, it’s all done online. I’m given a tag, though, to write about why I’m walking to hang on a memory tree during the walk.
10.50 A guy is leading warmups. You need to either have the honed body of an athlete or be in a group to pull this off and I’m on my tod so I watch, kind of wishing I was in one of those categories. Ideally both.
11am Someone from Beamish is leading a Geordie folk singalong with Blaydon Races, Cushy Butterfield and Keel Row. Great atmosphere! Local MP Kevan Jones cuts a banner and we leave. The family in front of me are wearing the official t-shirts but have printed on a photo of the old lady they’re walking for. It’s a lovely, poignant touch.
11.20 Arrive at memory tree. A couple of people taking a moment. Most people taking photos. I’m fairly near the start so there’s not really many on yet.
Doubling back we can see the end of the walk. We’re pretty much back at the start now, I think that’s the 1 mile walk finished maybe.
Yes, a steward is directing us right to finish the 1 mile, and left to continue the 3 miles, so that’s half an hour and a third of the distance gone.
11.35 Passed the amateur rowing club. I had no idea there was such a thing here. There’s a group all ready to go out on the water.
A volunteer is sitting on a bench with an old man, probably in his 80’s or early 90’s. He can’t walk any further, but rather than give up and get help back to the tent he’s waiting and will rejoin the walk on the way back.
It is surprisingly hard to type on the move! Plus I want to enjoy the experience. My ankles are giving me some pain but the rest of me is fine. It’s quite warm but there’s a lovely, very welcome, breeze.
12pm Left the wilderness of the riverside path behind and cut through a housing estate. We are much more spread out now; only a group of 3 in front of me and none directly behind. Think I gave them a shock in the last wooded bit as the text alert on my phone sent the hunger games whistle out…
12.10 Keeping a nice steady rhythm going. It doesn’t matter that I’m alone or that my ankles are hurting or that I’m really hot. I feel calm and happy.
We are doing a circle, not going back the same way. I hope someone’s told the old man who was having a rest…
12.15 Arrived at finish line! I’m one of the early group back and met by smiling husband and kids. Got a medal and a perfectly timed bottle of water!
I would totally do this again. Get my fitness levels up and go for a more ambitious one too perhaps! I didn’t raise that much but it was so worthwhile; I enjoyed it, and I put myself out for something. I’m proud of myself.
I’m currently reading my way through Cooked by Michael Pollan, which I’ve been looking forward to since I first heard about it and was lucky enough to pick up for half price in Waterstones recently.
I love Michael Pollan’s food writing; he takes a great deal of responsibly for slowly changing my attitude to food and grocery shopping. I highly recommend Food Rules, for more on this. In Cooked, he turns his attention to what is actually going on when we cook; the chemical reactions for example. I’m about a third of the way through and I love it. There are lots of moments when I think “ah, so that’s why that happens…”, and it makes me want to try cooking something a slightly different way.
More importantly, for me at least, is the fact that it’s reawaking my desire to cook. I’ve enjoyed cooking for a while but not lately. I was struggling with depression again in the later months of 2013 and since January our family life has been completely overturned. But Cooked is helping me remember how much I like making proper, tasty food and rekindling an urge to get back into my kitchen, get my lovely recipe books down and spend some time planning meals that I will enjoy cooking.
An example, to ponder: Pollan has been talking about the chemistry of onions, followed by mentioning the fact that they contain powerful microbial compounds which help make meat safe to eat.
Cooking with onions, garlic, and other spices is a form of chemical jujitsu, in which the first move is to overcome the plants’ chemical defenses so that we might eat them, and the second is to then deploy their defenses against other species to defend ourselves. (Cooked, Pollan,
And now after all this talk of food, I’m starving so I’m off for some chemical jujitsu…
You know when you try to think of heroes – people you’re inspired by, whose example you aspire to? I’m currently sitting in the swimming baths watching my daughter’s swimming lesson and I think my children might be my heroes.
Daniel is 6. He’s quiet, intelligent and analytical. But he’s quietly confident, an intelligent leader among his friends, and a diligent, analytical hardworker. He has determination and he doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He’s caring and compassionate and draws people to him.
I want to be like my son.
Emily is nearly 4. She’s dynamite – she lands with a splash wherever she goes and she doesn’t know the meaning of quiet. But she is confident, funny and dances through
life. She has friends and she cares about people. She lives in the moment and she can focus when she needs to.
I want to be like my daughter.
My kids make me immensely proud; not just for what they can do, though what they can do constantly astounds me, but for the strong and wise people I see them becoming. They make me more than proud though, they set me an example, and this is a fairly new and startling revelation.
My children are definitely my heroes.