This has nothing to do with smallholding and everything to do with the onset of my nforties and the realisation that if I am to keep Hapless Pup Poppy separated from her chicken enemies I need to be in tip top shape.
I have recently taken up running-or what Mr Longsuffering used to refer to as shuffling and I have since downgraded to a scrape. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those evangelical motivational missives, far from it. Now my scrape is usually a 5km loop from our humble abode, down to Welcombe Mouth and back via the path by the stream. Today however as the kids hit half term bickering point I took the opportunity to scuttle gratefully out of the house for a bit longer. Bounding off down the hill (this didn’t last long as ladies of a certain bosom size really should resist the urge to bound) I was feeling great so decided to extend my normal route. Off down to the beach I went, I even had an encouraging shout of, “Keep it up! Nearly there!” From a parked car. In retrospect they may not have been shouting to me as I couldn’t see the occupants which was a bit odd.
Charging down the track to the beach, with more than a passing resemblance to a lame elephant encased in a balloon full of sweat in my waterproof, I did have a moment of misgiving when I clocked the planned route; The South Coast Path up out of Welcombe Mouth towards Hartland, but it looked fairly short and I had walked down it a few times with the dogs a couple of years ago. Of course reaching the bottom of the hill I found my misgivings multiplying in direct correlation with the amount of incredulous looks I was getting from assorted walkers.
Any vague notion I may have had of running up it was quickly discarded and I adopted a brisk walk. Then I equally quickly remembered why I had left it a couple of years since my last attempt at the path. Firstly I’m really not great with heights, at all. Secondly I am far too unfit and old to be doing this. Hanging on to the gorse for dear life, to the point of having to stop to pull the thorns out, I dragged myself up the hill refusing to look at the drops and whimpering gently if abusively to myself. By the time I got to the top of the worst bit my legs were so wobbly I looked like those runners who stagger all over the place as they reach the end. I really thought I would have to walk home. What I would have given for the better Brownlee brother to come and hoik me over the finish line, though I probably would have pulled him over.
For some reason the top of the climb was a lot further on than I remembered and by the time I’d lurched as far as Embury Beacon I was imagining I was on the inside of the earth like a hamster in an exercise ball, destined to always be running uphill. I think this was when I stopped noticing the pretty blue butterflies and the calls of Stonechats and Chaffinches and started seeing the eager buzzards circling overhead and the stairway to heaven. Ignoring the concerned looks of some sedate walkers I finally reached the beacon and the path was blissfully flattened out. I stopped feeling the oxygen deprivation and settled back to my gentle scrape, although even the grass was against me and it was catching my barely in the air feet and tripping me up. I did spot my shadow at one point and realised it looked like someone standing still and doing an impression of a cyclist making their way home from the pub after a lock-in. Finally I got to the field with the mast in and back down the road for home. Safe to say I shall be sticking to a flatter route from now on and not getting ideas above my station.
PS Thank you for all your kind comments after the loss of Harry Dog in February. We are pleased to say that Hattie Dog joined us in April and has been taken under Hapless Poppy’s hairy wing so I’ll no doubt be sharing their combined exploits soon.