Driving me up the wall … Part 2

L and I arrived far too early for our climbing induction at the Colchester Climb Project.

We built in loads of contingency to our travelling plans because the roads at that time in the evening were normally full of slow commuter traffic.

We sat in the car outside the Climbing Centre.

We can’t go in yet. Too early.

We chat.

We don’t watch the clock.

We chat.

We realise we really have to go in.

We are greeted by a jolly chap wearing a bobble hat (and other clothes!) who asked us our shoe sizes so we could be issued with climbing shoes.

“They should be tight” he said.

Mine were excruciatingly painful so I asked for a size up.

Then Alex appeared (aka Aly) who was to be our instructor this evening.

A slim, bubbly lady with a great sense of humour. Also wearing a bobble hat.

It is chilly in this warehouse of climbing walls.

We were joined by Jeremy, a fellow inductee (is there such a word?) a charming Finance guy from the City, we learned, who looked remarkably fit.

Aly (who was simply an awesome trainer too by the way) has us doing warm up exercises before she leads us to the first wall.

She explained about the safety issues in some detail, what to watch for, how the walls were structured.

I did not want to go first so avoided eye contact with Aly.

Jeremy stepped forward and off he went up the wall.


I was next.

L looked on, hoping I would survive.

I surprised myself by following Aly’s guidance and reached the top and got down in one piece.

L did the same and when she got down we just hugged for a bit.

More relief than a need to keep warm.

A shared emotional experience.

We tackled other walls with gusto.

All encouraging each other.

No competitive egos here.

After 40 minutes Aly offered us the option of a cup of tea or a further 10 minutes climbing.

It was a no contest.

Tea always wins for L and myself as we watched Jeremy scale a few more walls.

We will be back.

We do hope we see Jeremy again too.

Next time with a family audience perhaps to confirm that we really did do it….

Taking it for granted …

You never really appreciate what “feeling ok” really feels like.

From your body perspective I mean.

Not worrying about bending down to tie up your shoes, reaching up for that box on the top of the cupboard or just sitting down comfortably.

Until you cannot.

Without a sharp twinge of pain or intense discomfort.

The Pilates session went well, I thought.

My stretches and sit ups much improved from last week’s class.

I’m making great progress in getting my abdominals out of hiding and working for a change.

Until the next day.

I really could not reach down to pick up one of my shoes …. where did that sharp pain and discomfort in the small of my back come from?

I tend to resist taking painkillers at the first twinge if I can – I just assume it will wear off in a few hours.

It didn’t.

I had two days of being careful in how I sat down, struggled to do basic movements and worried about getting fixed in one position.

I had been taking my usual flexibility and laying down comfortably (in whatever position) for granted.

Oh how I longed for a return to “feeling ok”.

I’ll not forget in the future to appreciate how my body has to cope with life in general.

Normal service did resume, eventually .. but my memory of what it felt like to be incapacitated for a few days will not fade ….

Thank you body for reminding me to not take you for granted.

And please remind me in future that I need to know my limitations on those Pilates exercises …

Random Nature …

A few years back a mail order company sent me an advert for an activity tracker.

I normally ignore random advertising but the deal on offer looked attractive so I took the plunge and ordered one as part of a sudden, impulsive, need to get myself fit.

My plan was to get myself into a walking regime on a daily basis.

Off I went, experimenting with different local routes, different distances and different gradients!

The walking changed my perspective in a way I was not expecting.

I was used to travelling everywhere by car.

I slowly realised I was missing out on so much by driving everywhere .

On foot I was now in a different environment, seeing different people (and often their dogs!) and nature close up.

I started to notice trees.

What magnificent living structures they are!

I started to notice the colours of nature, the variety of plants and bushes, the seasons.

I noticed how the sunlight might sometimes reflect differently on the leaves at different times of the day. The sun’s changed position after just 10 minutes of walking can change everything.

I would suddenly stop when I noticed the beauty of it all and just took a photo or two on my phone camera.

The photos became a collection of what I had been missing.

Thank you random advert.

I still reflect on how small interventions can make big differences.

Perhaps the advert was not random at all.

Breaking the Ice ….

It was an unexpected invite to a friend’s 40th Birthday Party.

The venue was a very nice pub/restaurant with a large garden at the rear.

As my friend is a sports coach and I attend one of her many Spinning classes I felt privileged to be asked to attend.

However I wanted to make sure that nobody else in my class might be offended if they were not invited, so I kept the news secret.

I turned up on the day and was swamped by fellow party goers all congratulating my friend on her birthday. I did not know most of them although a few faces did look familiar.

The guests seemed to arrive in waves throughout the afternoon.

There were stories and reflections, anecdotes and memories. 

All ages and all just delighted to be there.

All of her guests were very approachable …. in no time at all I was sharing stories and finding out how they connected with her. I often forgot to ask for names but this is because I often forget them just as quickly.

It was such an easy yet challenging (for some) environment – just meet, just chat, just share.

When I was making my way home I reflected on the power of communities, of networks, of connected friends.

So useful and so motivating.

She had invested in these friends over the years and her return could be seen in the way they greeted her.

And the way she recognised and greeted all of them.

She had definitely left an impact on everyone’s lives and would continue to do so.

It’s a great life – if you just take some time to make a difference …

Spinning….. incognito.

Our brand new sports centre had just opened and there was frenetic activity as you walked through reception.

Queues were forming, classes were booked and some of us were trying to work out how to get through the new turnstiles with our newly issued cards without setting the alarms off.

The new spinning studio, full of high tech stationary bikes, complete with “Ibiza like” sound and light shows plus a full size video screen looked impressive.

The bikes were in dire need of upgrading in the old sports centre (we had probably worn them out) and this time we now had a fully specified rev, calorie, distance counter display flashing in front of our new bikes as we built up speed in this first class of the new regime.

Special, personal, wrist bands, coded against your membership number, were able to link via wifi on the bike to the large video screen facing us all.

This showed illuminated circles for each bike (there were 25 in the studio) and, if you were connected, you could show everybody how fast you were going. The numbers in the circles reflected your revs per minute. If you exceeded 120 revs per minute the yellow discs changed colour to red.

Who were these cyclists constantly in the red?

Most had names underneath.

Why were they racing along at 130 + revs and showing us all up?

I could see my personal rev counter on the screen, with no name underneath.

I could tell it was mine because I deliberately slowed down so I could isolate it from the bank of other dials.

I do now have a wrist band, which I purchased after the spinning session.

Methinks I will just use it for gaining entrance to the new centre and leave it in my rucksack in the locker for future spinning sessions.

I have decided to remain incognito until further notice…