1000km attempt continues

In the (some would say futile) attempt to run 1000km this year I have started to run around a field near to where I work.  It has been working out quite well so far, I have been getting two 5km runs in on a lunch time Monday and Thursday plus my Tuesday evening run of between 8km and 10km, then on a Saturday I go to the gym in Haverfordwest to complete an 8km run on the running machines (they are very good machines there and the staff are very supportive and very encouraging).

Then on Tuesday I was chatting with a colleague who is a regular competition runner, I am constantly moaning (who me?) that I cannot run any faster today than when I started in January, the advice I was given was to go for sprint, walk sprint walk, do this 7 times in a row then finish off with a quick 3km gentle jog, stretch off and in just over a month I would be breaking my personal records for 5 and 8km runs.  Well I was well up for this so went for it on Monday, then again on Wednesday.  Woke up Thursday morning and I could not move my left ankle.

I am a stereotypical man so obviously the pain was unbearable and no-one else in the world could understand how bad it was! I am a borderline hypochondriac at the very best of times, when I genuinely have something slightly wrong I become the world’s worst patient.

But now I have a real proper injury / ailment – I have plantar fasciitus and a tendonitis in my Achilles heel!  I went on to Youtube (I don’t like doctor’s surgeries as they tend to be full of sick people) to look for advice on how to strap up my foot.  Oh my word! There are a million bits of different advice on there on how to strap it up, what to strap it up with what not to strap it up with and how to treat or not treat the injury.  So I went on to the NHS choices website to see what advice they would give me for treatment.  How non-specific can you get so I ended up resorting to calling my best friend Nugget (he who is now a personal trainer).

I have known Nugget for over 25 years now, we joined the army together and went through basic recruit training at the same time and he is one of my best friends in the world.  He was an usher at my weeding and when my son passed away he was the first person I told after our parents.  He was round my house like a shot, making tea and making sure y eldest was sorted out whilst my wife and I got ourselves put back together.  When his mother was ill I drove him back and forth the hospital to visit her (he only recently passed his driving test at the age of 42! Good on him).

But as soon as I explained what I wanted he got all technical, talking about metatarsals, Calcaneus bones blah blah.  I had to stop him and ask what was the best way forward for treating this, in simple steps that 1. I can understand it and 2. I could get back running to get the miles / kilometers under my belt so that I will have completed the 1000km by the end of the year.  He sent me a link on Youtube for a channel called The House of Leverage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMDQOHdAlKM .

He (Nugget) explained that this is how he would advise that I should treat it and there followed another link to how he would strap it up.  The second link was to 3v on how to strap it up by myself to allow me to go out and enjoy the bank holiday weekend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC7-eiy3M_U

For the first time in my life I decided to follow advice that I was given and what a result!  Instead of hobbling round like a 90-year-old arthritic with broken toes I am almost walking normally (still got a little limp as I am still a hypochondriac at heart).  I have taken no pain killers at all today and I have walked to town and back with my family this afternoon so we could have a coffee in the sunshine.  What a wonderful afternoon we had as well.  We are now refocused on our attempt at some of the items on our bucket list.  Champion.  Plus, our son will be home for summer from university by the end of next week. Hopefully my foot will be better so that we will be able to go for a game of golf.

Port Talbot Steel Works – my thoughts

Well the car is at the menders hopefully getting better (Monday they will be calling to let us know the state of the vehicle). So to get to work I have opted to travel on the train from Haverfordwest in deepest, darkest West Wales to the City Bristol in the heart of the South West of England– Cider country.

I have worked in Bristol now for coming up to 4 and a half years doing the weekly commute with regular monotony, up and down the M4 in all weathers, suffering some serious delays and seeing some amazing sites on the way.  The journey has now become tedious, especially Friday driving home as that is when delays and more delays are likely to happen – usually at the very end of the M4 as the difference in speed of vehicles coming off the motorway compared with vehicles on the A40 – a recipe for disaster, which is what often happens, but I am pleased that I have a good job with prospects for the future.

Incidentally the motorway service station at the end of the motorway is probably the most expensive service station I have ever been to.  I expect the fuel costs to be exorbitant but even a coffee and a cake (not that I eat cake very often as I am trying to get fit) are typically over expensive and taste better if you leave the wrapping on.  Yet drive 5 miles up the road and you are at the town of Crosshands and normal town prices.  How does that service station stays in business? I can only guess that the tourists who travel down the motorway to the picturesque and beautiful coasts of West Wales keep it in business as they stop off at the end of the motorway for comfort breaks and a quick snack.  I only stop there now if I need to use the bathroom, and only then grudgingly.

Anyway back to the thread of this story, I am traveling on the train from Haverfordwest to Bristol and have just gone by the TATA steelworks in Port Talbot which has caused me to write this blog.

With the owners trying to sell the place because they are losing so much money every day, I am wondering what will become of this place and all the steel workers?  Will they end up like the miners and the mining communities in the 1980s?  I was brought up in a mining community in the Rhondda, the miners’ strike of 1984 / 1985 proved to be the death knell for the mining industry and many of the communities that supported them.

Most of the miners cannot forgive Margaret Thatcher for killing the industry, me, I cannot forgive her nor Arthur Scargill for killing the industry.  She was to blame as she would not support an industry of national importance, he was to blame as he played straight into her hands, dragging the miners along with him.  Look at his house and his income compared to the rest of the miners who supported him.

The disruption to our youth from the strike was terrible.  It impacted upon our lives at school and at home plus the pain and struggle rolled on for years after the strike had finished.

Two of my best friends were indirectly involved, one a miners’ son, the other a police officers’ son.  They found that their fathers were staring at one another across the picket line. That in itself must have been surreal for both fathers, as they had previously been good mates and used to go drinking together in the local Conservative Club and Labour Club.  There was nothing unusual for a Rhondda miner to be a member of the Conservative Club back then, most people were members of both Labour and Conservative clubs – the Labour club for the weekend entertainment and the May bank holiday trip to Porthcawl, the Conservative Club as they had the best snooker tables in the valleys and went to Porthcawl August bank Holiday for a day trip; everyone was a winner!

Luckily both my friends decided that they would not let the politics interfere with our friendship, but that winter things were very strained as the strike went on and on.  I remember taking food into school that would go to the miners’ families so that they would have food.  I felt very superior when I walked to the front of the class with the tins of food my mother had given me to put into the collection basket for them, I then felt like a total heel walking back as I saw my mates face, ashen, at what he felt was his father begging for food as he was on strike.  I only very recently spoke to him about this and he admitted that the pain he felt that day was why he hated Margaret Thatcher so much.

I hear some of the words being spoken by the political classes about the Port Talbot Steelworks and they do not fill me with hope, it just appears to be political posturing with empty promises by a Labour Government who have run out of ideas, but I do sincerely hope that a real fulfilling long term plan and deal can be found for the steel workers and their families, the uncertainty must be so stressful and painful for them all.

Our favourite TV / Film shows

In work this week, whilst not having much to do, the conversation turned to favourite films and television shows.  It soon descended into a banter strewn hour as people revealed their favourite electric fish tank shows and big screen films.

Big winners amongst most people in the office, both young and old were Gogglebox and the Big Bang Theory, however, randomly, the younger members of the office plumbed for such shows as Pawn Stars, Friends, Goldbergs and Eastenders, the more mature member of the office went for shows like Antiques Roadshow, Coronation Street, Match of the Day (my favourite TV show of the week), escape to the Continent (what is that?) and re-runs of Mythbusters.

Films proved to be very contentious with actual arguments (even though they were good natured) starting.  James was adamant that the best film ever is One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest, Mike went for some random Chinese kung foo film and Big Si went for Cowboys starring John Wayne. I would go as far to say that Big Si was the most passionate about why Cowboys was the best film with his monologue and quotes from the film, I guess he has seen it more than once.  However, they were all wrong. The best film of all time is Grease.  I absolutely love that film (awella wella ooh) and I brook no argument from anyone, I am right they are wrong.

So I decided to put a list of my daughter’s and my top 10 favourite TV shows and films in descending order:

My daughters’:

  1. The Dumping Ground
  2. Despicable me
  3. The Big Bang Theory
  4. Britain’s Got Talent
  5. X Factor
  6. Friends
  7. Tracey Beaker Returns
  8. Vevo music channel
  9. Youtube
  10. 4 Music

Mine:

  1. Grease
  2. Twin Town
  3. Eurovision Song Contest
  4. The Big Bang theory
  5. Gogglebox
  6. Match of the Day
  7. Keith Lemon’s Celebrity Juice
  8. Person of Interest
  9. Life on Mars
  10. Line of Duty

You will notice that there are no soap operas on either of our lists, also it took my daughter hours to come up with the above list as she seldom watches television during the week as she is so busy doing other things like football, lego and homework.  As always your thoughts and ideas are always most welcome.

Really?

Things have been a little stressful over the last month or so, firstly my mother has been very ill with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), work is struggling to land new contracts and some of the contracts we have are getting to be overspent, my son has not paid his rent (so we had to step in to help out), the car has broken down again and I am still working in Bristol but living in Wales so have to spend the week away from my family.

My mother will not give up smoking, which I am sure will only make her condition worse and not better.  I feel sure that if she gave up smoking the quality of her life would improve no end but they have such a hook into her I do not think she will ever give up; this is so sad that it is painful.  We would visit more often that is for sure, we don’t go to see her very often as the smell of cigarettes makes us all feel sick so we meet up with her for a couple of hours at a time, but this is not really enough, my mother is mission out on so much with my daughter and sons.  If I had one wish it would be for my mother to stop smoking. Sadly, this will not happen and so we all miss out.

As for work, that is so stressful, little work and what we have we are overspent on.  I have been made redundant before and I am now worrying about that.  There is always a promise of new contracts but they never seem to be signed.  This will put our move to Bristol in doubt as if there is no job we will not be able to get a mortgage.

My son not paying his rent is now turning into a regular event, I do not think he is very good at managing his money and neither is he very good at lying to cover this fact up. This will have to change as he will be moving into a new house with his girlfriend next month in anticipation of their baby arriving later in the year.  The normal procedure for when he fails to pay his rent is that we stop hearing from him for a week or two then his landlord gets in touch to let us know that his rent is late.  We try to get in touch with him to find out what is going on but all our calls, texts and Facebook messages get ignored, we end up paying the rent, a week later he gets in touch as if nothing has happened just full of apologies. Well next month is the last of our guarantor agreement with his landlord and he will have to look after himself, taking responsibility for his own actions or lack of actions from now on.  Not that I think we will abandon him but we will not be legally responsible for his problems.

I do not know why he lies to cover up the fact that he has not paid his rent.  Any ideas? I keep saying to my wife that in life we all make choices, and he has chosen to lie to us about this (and one or two other things).  I understand that he will be embarrassed about messing up but then lying to cover it up and protect himself just insults and hurts us.

The car is proving to be a nightmare.  We have learnt the lesson not to buy a car from a car superstore place that is for sure.  The two cars we have bought from superstores have both had major problems with them.  This is the second time that this car has broken down.  We have taken it to an excellent garage in Haverfordwest, Runway Autos, they are a family run business and are proving to be very good at communicating with us, I do hope that they are able to fix the car.  The up side to this is that we have had to walk everywhere for shopping, picking up our daughter from school etc. We have walked 38,000 steps in two and half days! At this rate my belly will disappear and I will be able to tick off one of the items on my bucket list.

The move to Bristol is proving to be a long and painful experience.  Our estate agent is about as communicative as a plank of wood.  Had better conversations with the wall than these people.  So disappointing.  But on the bright side we have now worked out how, when we sell the house, we will be able to move.

We had a great weekend in Bristol the weekend before last, eating at Za Za Bazaar, which is turning into a Bristol tradition for us now, particularly the sushi bar which takes a hammering whenever we go there.  We saw some amazing scenes in the city centre and had the best coffee EVER when we stopped off at a random café for a drink and a quick cake.  We were so impressed we took selfies with the coffee!