Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Being her

House buying and selling is turning me into a stress bound monster I don't like very much.  I cannot believe what I've given it permission to do to me.  That has to stop.  I want to become the person I want to be, and trust me, this mental case is not she.

So trying to chuck it all to one side, and let be what it'll be, realising that there's some things I just can't do anything about.  Other people for the most part.

What I'd like to be is a fit, healthy, laughing person who giggles with her friends, is kind and warm and good company.  I'm always a work in progress ...

Friday, 20 June 2014

Something stupid

Oddly as I get older I find it easier to confess I like Robbie Williams.  I never had a problem admitting my liking for Gary Barlow, but Robbie?  Come on, Robbie?  But the lilting sound of Something Stupid melts my heart.

You know, I'm a fortunate woman.  Opportunities offer themselves to me.  I got to marry the love of my life, and I got to do the most important thing in the world for him, be next to him for 9 months while he approached death.  I got to love him until death did us part.  That's pretty amazing, he was pretty amazing, and for a while, I was pretty amazing too.

I got to work in a job people would have given their eye teeth for.  I know this.  Some told me.  And now I'm in another job which again is the quiet envy of a few particularly weird obsessive people.  And I'll take that.

I get to live in a place which people want to be in, and I can't fault it.  Except it isn't somewhere good to ride my bike, so I'm moving to somewhere that is.  I'm doing the thing where if I feel scared, I'm substituting the word with "excited".  I've already tried that one on my mum.  She bit.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Under pressure

Today is brought to you by Queen and Freddie Mercury, potentially in a white suit caring for the people on the edge of the night.

I like to sustain the pretence that I am in control of the important things in life, my choices, making my chances, driving things along.  So it figures that I am hating the process of house selling.  I am hating that having done everything I can to help myself (there has been a lot of emulsion in my life this last week) all I can do now is wait, and the dream I have for myself depends on whether someone wants to buy my house and whether someone else wants to buy the house I have an eye on. I'm not loving this very much.  It's starting to ooze out in my dreams and manifest itself in some typical anxiety symptoms.

In fact, I'm so aware of the anxiety and stress in my life that I've stopped using Strava for all my rides.  How on the earth riding my bike managed to change from something which relieves stress into something where I put pressure on myself to get faster I just don't know.  But Strava is now reserved for occasions when my sanity is intact enough that I get on with riding without caring.

Under pressure ...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My story

I had some plastering done this week, and the plasterer, aged 45, family man (as they say in the best tabloids) was curious about the miscellany of bicycles scattered around the house.  He was also kind enough to say there wasn't an ounce of fat on me.  Oddly, though, that did not endear him to me but I digress.

He asked me about my riding, lots of questions. How far do I go, do I ride, like, once a week, isn't it weird  how you don't see many women on bikes.  So somehow I ended up explaining and at the same time as explaining I was remembering.

It sounds like a sob story but it isn't.  My family didn't have a car.  There were multiple reasons for this, and the last one on the list, although relevant, wasn't the most important, that one was money.  The other reasons were the curious thing where my dad didn't have a driving licence.  It was years before my mum found out that something she thought had been a choice of his, not to learn to drive, wasn't. In fact, he had learned, he took his test, and on failing it, just stopped, gave up.  My mum had a licence but zero confidence in her abilities.  She came from a world where the expectation was that the man would drive, and the little woman might do the odd shopping jaunt now and then, but wasn't expected to be the main driver.  The other reason was, in fact, ethics, and the environment.  Even back then, in the 1960s, 1970s, my parents were passionate about their beliefs.  They believed we should be walking, or cycling or taking public transport because it felt like the right thing to do, in terms of fitness, in terms of environment, innately, they felt it was the right way to do things.  We were the kind of family where if there was an organic, wholesome way to do things, that's right where we'd be.  My mum made her bread by hand all through my childhood, our clothes were recycled pass me downs.  We didn't waste stuff, and we didn't load ourselves with unnecessary possessions.  A car would have been unnecessary.  As would more than one bike apiece.  Hmm.

Anyway, as I explained to him, to me a bike was transport from the age of 10.  That just stayed the case, a combination of bikes and public transport saw me through a lot of years, particularly when I was a student in London then worked in London where public transport actually functions, lots of it, runs regularly, frequently, and goes to places which you want to go.  Amazing, huh?  I told him it felt like flying, that at times you do want to take your feet off the pedals, stick your legs out to the side and yell wheeeee as you go downhill.

I never stopped riding a bike.  I think there's some adults out there who can't picture getting back in the saddle because they stopped riding, and there is a perception that traffic is more of a problem now then it was in the 1970s.  I guess it's true to say that traffic has increased, but for city riding, it means for cycling in that it's slower moving, often queueing and it feels fairly safe to ride past stationary cars.

My answers to his other questions were that on Sunday I rode 130km, and that on a road bike 60km doesn't seem too big a deal, and that I rode nearly every day, not just once a week as he seemed to think was appropriate.

I tried to explain to him the need for more than one bike but he didn't get it.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

More, more, more

Give me more, I say.

In our attempts to make the women's after work ride a regular Wednesday spot, two of us committed to the ride yesterday.  This time, I meant business.  This time I took the road bike. Not the cross bike of the high volume knobbly tyres with the flat pedals and the disc brakes but the mincing minnie road bike with its precious skinny wheels and tyres and colour co-ordinated detailing.  I like my road bike.

Speculatively, I thought, Caroline asked me at the start of the ride whether I had any time constraints. Oh, I thought, she's working up to telling me she can only play out for a couple of hours.  Not at all, it turns out, for on confessing that I have nothing to go home for any time soon, it turned out she was gently putting out feelers for my potential for a pub stop.  It was agreed.

Oddly, we did the same ride as last week, and not oddly, we did it faster, it being easier to organise two riders than it is four.  There's less waiting for folk who haven't made it through a green light, there's less waiting for folk who can't filter through traffic or can't descend or can't climb or can't ride a bike (ok that's a bit harsh).  This left plenty of time for the pub stop.  And if it hadn't, that's what lights are for.

It's a lovely part of the world, the Delph and Uppermill.

Arriving here always feels somehow a bit special in a low key way ...

Hartshead Pike

Quite special with a gentle climb in the summer evening sunshine.

Friday, 16 May 2014

We ride

A couple of the women at work have started adding a bit of a loop to their commutes home on a Wednesday evening.  This Wednesday past I realised half way through the morning - ooh, it's Wednesday, I wonder if they're going out, I wonder if I'd be welcome, and the e-mail query was sent. I confess, I was a bit euphoric to discover it was game on for that evening.  Imagine, a lovely sunny day, all the time in the world (lights were packed) and four women with bikes ready to ride together in the evening sunshine.  Lovely.

Genuinely, I was excited about it.  I don't often get to ride with women, or if I do it's mixed groups on mountain bikes.  There was a certain amount of special about the idea of this on the road.  Women, not girls.  Women doing their thing, uninfluenced by blokes, no supportive spouses offering to carry stuff, no men being asked for advice on routes, in fact, no fuss whatsoever, just women and their bikes.

It was lovely.  Hannah in charge of the route and each of us in charge of ourselves.  There was a mechanical, we sorted it in a nonchalant self sufficient manner.  No fuss.  There were undulating ups and downs and whooshy bits, there were riders on the other side of the road, some of whom nodded, smiled, waved and others who were far too serious to acknowledge us.

It makes me smile, how road riding folk view others.  We were just women on bikes.  Happy.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Material Girl

My nesting instinct is having to find some balance.  I acquire new stuff, but this means old stuff must go, and consistently for me over the years, I can't bear to throw stuff out.  Useful stuff.  But not to me.   I'm embracing the challenge of working towards moving house, and it's made me really think about how I want to live, and it's made me feel guilty and capitalist.  What right have I to be so acquisitive? I feel guilty about my one person space requirement turning into yearnings for other things, kitchen diners for example.  It seems my nesting urge is leading me into some interesting places.  

When did I ever actually look for a home for me? Never.  I've never sat down and considered me, and me alone and what I want.  I've had rented rooms, rented flats, and I've bought in conjunction with another person, but never looked at what I'd like, just me.  

Turns out I want a kitchen diner. Is that incredibly avaricious of me?  Also turns out I want a garden, doesn't have to be a big one, but I want green stuff in it, not paving stones and not decking.  I want to grow herbs and to sit on the grass and read.

To make this dream happen I'm freecycling once again.  If I can keep getting a couple of items a day out of the loft then maybe by the time I come to sell I won't be carting accumulated crap of years around with me.  Goodbye router, goodbye third sheet sander, goodbye mitre saw, goodbye old vax, goodbye double air bed, goodbye dual action pump, goodbye fisherman's shelter, goodbye campinggaz coolbox that plugs into a cigarette lighter.  Goodbye to these things which haven't seen the light of day in nearly a decade.  And hello.  Hello to my future where I only take me with me.