So it’s April 16th and I’m sitting in my garden in 17 degree sunshine in the Peak District for heaven’s sake! Of course I’m wearing my long-sleeve cozzie, I don’t want to risk a chill do I? But, as they say round here, “It’s right luvly”. The lawn is a sea of celandines and the daffs are nowhere near over. But we have suffered a couple of invasions; the damn moles are digging tunnels, Tom, Dick and Harry, not to mention Fred, Percy and Rupert and depositing substantial earthworks on our hard-won wild lawn, wrested from the tundra over the past decade – might have to call “The Mole Man” if they don’t pack it in.
Also invading have been several sheep complete with lambs. As the valley is currently the home of three or four thousand of these iconic peakland beasts, it’s not surprising that a handful of them escape confinement to batter their way onto my hallowed turf. Nibbling my grass would’ve been OK, but these miscreants seem to have stored up a group bout of amoebic dysentery and befouled my greensward with remarkable generosity! Not only that; one day, while we were out, we returned to a scene of utter devastation. There was soil and compost scattered all over the drive and garden with overturned pots and planters and uprooted plants. The pattern of destruction was so geometric that we initially thought we’d been vandalised, but soon realised by the tell-tale wisps of Herdwick grey wool caught on the thorns of a ruined rose bush, that the culprits were ovine in nature. We deduced that a sheep (or sheep), having invaded our garden, had been nibbling Jane’s prized pansies planted around the rim of a large ceramic pot containing a large rose bush. It had then got its fleece snagged on the thorns and panicked, running all round the drive and garden dragging the rose and root ball, dispensing soil, compost and mashed rose to all quarters. It took an hour to clean up afterwards and the loss of a fine rose and a few dozen bedding plants makes it an expensive incident. Anyway, I’ve located several fine recipes for prime English hoggit and I’m oiling my old musket pending the next incursion. So I’ll soon be in competition with Hoo’s Herd – proper upland mutton this, none of that soft southern nancy stuff!
You’ll have deduced from the forgoing that health-wise I’m doing rather well. The wonder drug is, as billed – wonderful and I’m feeling fit and for an ageing dilettante, full of vim and vigour. Been out on my trusty E-bike quite a bit too. If it’s not raining I’ll nip down to town for supplies, weaving through the eight-wheeled stone tippers and errant 4x4s with aplomb. A good friend of mine, Jason, recently suggested we try a trip out on our bikes. He’d had a mountain bike for a while but hadn’t had much chance to use it, so we planned an excursion down the local Monsall trail. This was a blokes day out so Jason and I strapped our bikes to the back of the Land Rover and drove the six miles to the start of the trail where we set off on the 8+ miles to Hassop station and back. Neither of us was saddle-hardened after the long winter months so the excellent bistro at Hassop was a welcome relief, where Jason, with great restraint ordered a nice low-calorie salad. When the excellent salad arrived it was accompanied by a mega-mound of chips which, wracked with guilt though he was, he demolished in quick time – well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it? I myself had no qualms in ordering an excellent Moroccan lamb-burger which was similarly bedecked with a raft of chips – this didn’t touch the sides either. Well, we’d been pedalling furiously all morning hadn’t we?
I managed to get Jason out of there pretty swiftly as he was eyeing and enormous slab of cheesecake and we returned to the trail to make a leisurely return to the car. Later, after 17 miles of cycling the shortcomings of Jason’s racing saddle seemed to have wrought severe issues to his nether regions. His gait when we got back to the car was a fine tribute to John Wayne. My gel-cushioned saddle was less winceful, but I did detect a severe loss of sensation in areas where sensation would, in a chap, normally be rather important. But whatever the war wounds we had a really great day and a lot of fun and can’t wait to do another trip soon.
All this energetic activity brings me adroitly to an important request dear readers. On May 10th the Great Manchester Run takes place, where not only Jessica Ennis and Haile Gebrselassie will be competing, but also my son-in-law, Richard Parker will be running to raise money for The Christie Hospital; the amazing organisation which has been responsible for keeping ‘Yours Truly’ alive, fit and irritatingly verbose for more than five years! Richard is as fit as a butcher’s dog (although vegetarian) and is running the 10km with a high degree of competitively (new word – good init?) as he hates a being beaten at ANYTHING! So Haile and Jess better check their wing mirrors for his looming form. Anyway, the point is we need a bit of your dosh! A special Just Giving website has been set up so you can sponsor Richard direct at https://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Parker27 with all proceeds going to The Christie. So could I ask you if you can, to please be generous?Donations start at only £5, we’re trying to raise over £1,500 by May 10th when Richard will do the run. We’re already at nearly £300 so many, many thanks if you can help. The Christie are doing amazing work, after all, look at me! ………Err right, moving swiftly on…
Anyway, the caravan is due on 7th May and this will prompt a flurry of news items that I’m sure you’ll all be fascinated to read. Our exploits as we roam the highways and byways of Britain will be epic and I can’t wait to tell you about the intricacies of hitch-locks and movers and of Elsans and awnings, or as Jane likes to put it – Faffing about!
That’ll have to do for now because I need to get this out in time for Richard’s charity run. Many thanks for your continuing messages and good wishes and of course spiced with the usual seasoning of abuse – most important. But meanwhile best wishes to you all.