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Reflections 2020 w21

How did man manage pre-time?

Was it a simpler process, just trying to stay in nature’s rhythm? Or was the invention of time a god send to a struggling species?

I only ask looking at the last post written and finding out it was 2 weeks ago, it feels like 1. And with a good portion of the world no longer a slave to the clock, are we going to see it as a restraint to our lives, or order, when it returns?

All I know is that one has made the decision to postpone my walk along Hadrian’s wall. It now looks as though it could clash with my sister moving south, and a camp at Dartmoor and Exmoor. And Spot and myself are not in any way fit enough to do it.

During the lockdown we had an hour to get some exercise, this was shared between the allotment and Spots walk. Today we walked for the first time in months the shortest old route. We are both stiff and it feels like we have just started walking.

We could do the wall walk, Spot has a K9 rucksack for when her age catches up with her, so that is not an issue, and I could just take more pain meds. But would it be pleasurable?

I’m not doing the walk for the ‘challenge’, or to say I have done it. It is on a list of places I would like to go to.

It is a walk that can be done in a week, but I allowed for two just in case I get distracted. It is the same with Dartmoor, I may just camp in one place for the two nights I stay there. Just to observe and absorb.

That is if I get there without the fog. As of yet I have failed to see the Brecon Beacons without a sheet of rain hitting the car window. I have heard rumours of sunshine there though. This is also a place I have yet to camp.

Though a lot of my equipment is unfamiliar, with only a couple of uses together, it has taken me down below 0degC with winds of up to 53mph, I stayed dry, warm and comfortable. Not all of the sleeping system was used either, so I am confident I could go to lower temperatures. Some equipment has been replaced with alternatives to work in this tent, for those times the weather keeps us undercover,  and the walking trailer has yet to have my maiden voyage with it.

By now one had planned to have done long day walks fully loaded on a regular basis, in preparation for the longest stretch of the Hadrians wall walk. But now I am only thinking of getting back to the regular walking distance with Spot.

I may even charge up the Fitbit.

Reflections 2020 w 18

The lockdown is starting to fade, or at least some counties are trying to phase it out.

My brother works as a painter, this week he started back at work, just in time for the news that he could have, if he was still on lockdown, gone fishing. I bet the air was blue when he heard that one.

As for me and Spot, we are taking advantage of being out longer than an hour, but having half that time taken by the allotment, and therefore a much shorter walk than normal, we are both stiff. Nowhere near the 8 miles 1-2 times a week and 5 for the rest we should be on.

I say we, but Spot has a K9 rucksack for when she needs/wants. At 11yrs old it is the best way to be out together whilst I get the greater distance to walk.

So as far as getting ready for walking Hadrians wall in August, we are far behind the cooking trials, I want to test them in the environment they will be eaten, with the same cooking methods. And we are far behind getting the miles in.

We are going to time the greater distances with full kit with the sun at this rate.

That is of course if Scotland is out of lockdown for the end of August.

One will aim for this to be so, it’s no harm if we are prepped but denied. This is part of the reason to try dehydrating ingredients and then vacuum packing.

They are to be a grab and go – should a camping trip come about. And the trips should be more common, as I attempt to reclassify a camp break from going to the coast. I would like to get to some more local spots one passes on the way to somewhere else.

Lets face it, if it’s piddling down, the view is pretty much the same no matter where you are. And if it is dry, then one hopes to appreciate and notice more of my immediate surroundings.

Reflections 2020 w04

Let’s start with some food, Chinese fish snacks to be precise.

One assumed that original flavour was just that, the original flavour of the snacks. But having two snacks in original flavour now – it is not. What it is, one cannot say, one can only say nah, not for me.

That was the lizard fish on stick snack, sticky as hell, and with the unusual original flavour. So I tried the other lizard fish snack, dehydrated fish strips.

This one tasted better, but for those in the UK, the flavour would compare to what we get as fish sticks in the fridge section, one has never been a fan of those. And once opened you need a fridge to store, no way could I eat a whole pack.

So a bust for trail snacks.

Then I went Indian…Bombay mix…Not a fan of this either.

East European next…Oshee musli bars…These I like.

On the plus side I have worked out the main meals for the Hadrians walk. One has just got to work on the dehydrating/rehydrating part of the meals to get them right though.

Some taste trials to come next month.

It appears I have ended with food as well. Oh well.

Now where’s my apple?

Reflections 2020 w03

Am I the only one that thinks of something, presses the internet search shortcut, and completely forgets what it was I was going to look for?

It’s happened multiple times today, each time one has only had to hold the thought for a few seconds, but no, it disappears. Not even a hint of what it was remains. One hopes it is not important, or useful, or even something one was supposed to do, this has happened numerous times in the past.

There is the train of thought one must not worry, it will come. But how do you know that that was in fact the original thought unless the recurring thought jogs a memory recall? And how do you truly not think about trying to remember as the hours tick on past?

I think I need to get the desk pad out again, which sucks as one has the habit of curling the edges which then annoy me as I type. Also random stuff gets written down on it – which has no context or explanation, leading to great confusion later, as one tries to decide if it needs saving when it is time to tear off the top sheet.

Also, it is a waste of paper in another respect as you can only practically use one side, often desperately trying to come up with a practical disposable use for the blank side. Because you do not want to save the original side.

Aggghhh, brain rabbit hole.

On an unrelated note…This week I discovered you can dehydrate sausage, completely. One would have thought it was far too fatty to even attempt but the hash brown, sausage, veg and dehydrated egg Spanish omelet/bubble and squeak looks interesting. Experimenting will commence next month.

One also has to start experimenting with bannock bread and ghee.

A decision also has to be made on some camping equipment – do I sell it? Or do I keep it? The pros and cons for the two pieces are about even, and in my current state of mind one can either not be bothered or be in clear out mode, damn the consequences. There is one piece of ‘luxury’ equipment one would be happy to trade for, but as yet the second run of production has not been done.

I call it luxury, but is it? The item is a 5v camping wind generator. An item that will power up battery banks whilst I sleep, which then in turn power my camera/video camera/charge AA batteries for my GPS (which, as an old model, second hand, eats them, 8 hours per set of Duracell)/watch/phone/headlamp, and that is just off the top of my head. The power bank works for about 4-5 days (without the GPS) but I always watch the power consumption. And I would like to take more video footage on future trips.

True one could take extra power packs, but all electrical power banks reduce life in cold weather, and then you have to have somewhere that, usually charges too much, to recharge the device.

Solar is out, even if one was not walking in the day, you have to turn the device to get the best benefit. And rain and wind are more common on my camp trips than sun. Wind power makes more sense in the uk, and the peace of mind of being able to make electricity in the middle of nowhere has a comforting aspect to it.

The generator is also not limited to camping, I could use it at the allotment or out sea fishing as well. It is not a camping only item.

Here is the conundrum though…Few wind generators for camping get past the prototype stage, and fewer still are practical in use. This one is not the smallest generator size packed away, weight wise there is little difference between close rivals. So carrying has its issues. And will a second batch be completed for this item??? Or was the first crowd funded batch the first and last to be made? Do I get one if I can/there is a second run, or do I risk them disappearing into the void of things that were a good idea but…?

I hate my depressed mind, one used to be more carefree, adaptive, and sure of my decisions, even the wrong ones. Now…Now it’s just bloody hard work.

Reflections 2019 w49

The quest for backpacking food continues…

And I have found a new candidate – Pork floss. Although one much prefers the Chinese name of Rousong. Basically it is pork shoulder cooked in soy sauce and sugar until it shreds into a coarse wool texture, somewhere along the process it is also dried. This makes a shelf stable meat product I think has possibilities.

I cannot tell you how many hours of watching youtube videos it took to come across this little gem.

One quick facebook message later and I know my local Chinese supermarket has it in stock, this time next week one will have tried it.

Also found this week are a snack called veggie straws, a mixture of kale (no surprise there), tomato and spinach in potatoes starch tubes. They taste like a french fries knockoff (an english crisp snack) with way lower salt content.

Common on the trail is baby food – the pureed fruit in tubes. This makes sense as it is a useful way to get fruit on the hike. Just one problem – they taste like pureed fruit, watered down pureed fruit, so watered down one can ‘taste’ the water. Not an option.       I side with all babies that pull their face when having these pouches.

 

On a side note..Who has peanut butter and cheese on wraps??? Nasty, just nasty.

I cannot understand the hiking mantra of food is energy, so who cares what combo it is mixed in.

Ramen bomb seems common, for those that don’t know – Instant noodles and instant mash combined together with tuna, sausage or cheese, even a combo of all.

One is so glad one is a Trangia camper; even if it make meal planning more…Civilised.

 

Reflections 2019 w48

Another post a day late.  One did not feel like writing yesterday, my back has been , quite frankly, annoying the hell out of me.

Playing with the kids on Saturday pulled a muscle in my lower back which has irritated one of my disc bulges that I was just getting over again. Who would have thought hitting children with balloons, their game rules not mine, could cause such pain.

Therefore my insomnia has a new play pal for my attention, a constant distraction from sleep. I now have a lot of naps 1/2 an hour after pain medication.

Also, my mind is trying to work overtime on foodstuffs for a walking holiday next year. This may sound insignificant to most people, and to myself pre-breakdown it would also have been, but not now.

Now I have major depression and high to severe anxiety; this I know all too well. So in order to walk Hadrian’s wall next year one has to take several attacks into account. Overcoming these has taken the form of routines or patterns of familiarity. Food wise one has to have my entire menu for 14 days sorted bagged and labelled, so that eating is a routine and not something one can skip.

Not just labelled into meals…Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner.

But by the day. Including teabags to be had, when to have them etc. It is the only way I will not become overwhelmed by simple decisions. Normal tea or Green tea can become an hour of indecision, not able to do anything else whilst my brain buffers the information.

But, another concept that is going to be new for me, is keeping the food weight down. No cooking fresh chicken on this trip. And with being in the UK, there is no real supply of dehydrated meat that I would want to trust, except the very expensive stuff, which would also be too much for one to have in a week, the usual time to consume once opened.

With that being said, one has researched online, and I have to admit there has been a few surprises. Mainly in the dehydrating meals wise. My dehydrator is a simple one, it has no temperature control, and although it does say it can do meat – I do not trust it for that. Therefore the cooked meals are going to be out for home dehydrating, and have you seen the cost for the camp meals already done? Wow, I would need a small loan just to eat, and a blood flush to get rid of the salt concentrating in my veins from eating them for a fortnight.

To be honest, like most people who carry a Trangia cook set, boiling water and then soaking for ten minutes to eat a warm meal, is just not that appealing. It is why they are called a cook set. We can cook with them, and I have had some nice meals in a tent before…Wild boar, Pheasant, Ostrich, Kangaroo, Bison, Venison and fillet steak.

Just because one is in a tent does not mean one cannot eat like a king.

Spoilt and over the top.

Admittedly one was working unto 70hrs a week when those meals were ate, and getting a discount for the meats due to the job one was in.

So this time around one is going to have to work out meals based around dehydrated veg, I cannot imagine meals without veg, tinned fish/meat and a new thing one has found called TVP, a soy product, I will not call it a meat alternative, because I have yet to taste a meat alternative that is either…An alternative to meat, or, just better to to call it vegetarian/vegan. My brain is not left feeling conned when the taste just does not match up to what they say it tastes like. Sometimes one wonders if the person has even ate the foodstuff being copied.

I started the idea of the walk in October, I started the meal research in November, now  one is looking for recipes to try to create from dehydrated veg in December.

When is the walk you may ask?

Next August, I just hope one can get things sorted by then.

Starting a new habit or routine, even a new thing to become familiar, takes time. These meals I have yet to create have got to become all of the above, so I do not have to think about them to do them.

It may be even harder to do if some of the ingredients have got to have a gradual introduction to my food chain. It took me 12months to introduce courgettes into my diet, to the point I can eat a whole one in my meal today.

Luckily the veg to be prepped are all staples in my current diet, but will they work dehydrated???

Reflections 2019 w25

The wind blew at my strapped down Tilly hat as I crested the hill that was once a fort at Dinas Dinlle, sea spray travelling over the land in a fine mist, leaving the taste of salt with each heavy breath.

I love these dog walks with Spot.

My heart pounds with the exertion my body has with the short but sudden climb, lungs filling with fresh, clean air; Welsh air. I hear only the sound of the wind and crashing waves, glad I am not trying to fight the sea to catch a fish or two, not even the bleating of the sheep can be heard. I know not if they are hiding in a far off field or just behind the wall, silently waiting for the wind to die down. Even the seagulls hang in the air as though they are in a painted seaside scene.

The only other people I can see in this quiet place are other dog walkers, some are clearly taking pleasure in the weather, others look like they wish they had cats. It’s not cold, but some are dressed like it was the middle of winter, accompanied by a bloke in shorts. My smile as we pass seems to convey my humour at the sight, much to the annoyance of the person wrapped up, which in turn makes me smile more. Not in a mean way…OK it might be a little mean.

I never get bored of doing the same walks over and over again at the coast, or in the countryside. I find a peace with the empty space, a quiet in the natural sounds, the voice in my head has nothing to find fault with that cannot be easily forgotten by something to see. Yes I may just sit and cry, emotionless, yet calm. Not knowing why, but accepting the release of pressure.

These are the times I know there is hope, because these are the times I do not need to lean on the medication.

They just do not happen often enough. But I am Grateful that they do at least happen.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2019

Reflections 2018 w27

Spot is not having a good week.

Her back legs/hips are stiff, and it could be for a number of reasons.

  1. On Monday she tried to wrap my legs and stick with her lead, this lead to a near trip, which resulted in her letting out a high pitched squeal, what it was I did to her I do not know, but it could be the cause.
  2. She has been suffering in this heat, even with all the tricks I’ve been using. One will be buying a cooling mat next week to add to the temperature defences.
  3. She is stubbornly not drinking enough in the day, instead leaving it till late afternoon/early evening to get her fill. Even when dehydrated. Water melon has been a godsend in combatting this, but it is not enough. She is not impressed with iced water either.
  4. She also started the week off being slightly blocked up, again connected with the dehydration, and licking my sisters dog – a walking furball dispenser.
  5. She misjudged a jump over a board in the garden – this resulted in a thud to the inner thighs of the back legs, she will allow massage nearly all day.

But it has changed how I am looking at days out with her, as at 9.5yrs she is not getting any younger and arthritis in Jack Russel dogs is common, but I do not want to leave her behind one what is ‘our’ days out, even in the future.

So one has to look at alternative ways to cope – just in case she cannot walk any further – half way round.

A couple of ideas look promising,  but the one I like the most, and the one that will allow greater distance walks (potentially) with her, is also the most expensive.

One now has to work out what to sell in order to buy it; but I may try one of the cheaper alternatives for the shorter walks.

https://www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2018

Reflections…Week Thirteen

IMG_0167Positivity section bellow the intro.

This week has seen a bit of a flurry on the blogging side; even as I write this it somehow still feels surreal.

I have just seen my blog on another website, not on the WordPress site I had the invite from but a different website. I am not disappointed my work ended up there, more surprised it had over 30 likes in two days, so for me it is great exposure, it’s one of those sites Facebook sends me to on clickbait.

If you had asked me at the very tentative beginning of my blogging if I thought I would be asked to guest write on another site, I would have thought you strange at best. I honestly thought it would end up like all journalling to that point… Short lived. Especially as there was no enthusiastic charge unto the breach.

Now my ego has had a massage, a shoulder rub of sorts, the kind that says – “it’s worth it.”

I still don’t know in which direction writing is going to take me, but I do know I can connect, even a few at a time, through it. And if that message is one of positivity, a positivity that can have a change effect, even by accident, is it not then worth pursuing?

Here is such an attempt.

Try this out when you walk, it will surprise you how  effective it is, well it surprised me.

From now on, no matter how sh***y you feel, no matter what the weather,  no matter how tired you are or how alone you want to be, headphones on or off, big dog, little dog, Black dog. I know the feelings of wanting to be alone and the effort it will take to do this, I started at two, I also know that the excuses will come easily, if you let them.

Pick a time or place to do this that has the least negative emotional impact on you, doubly hard if just getting outside the door is a monumental task, such as a dog walk route you regularly take or the little diversion on your walk home from work, your weekly walk around the park even. You may have noticed I walk, Spot, my ever faithful Jack Russel, has kept me going outside, out of the door, for most days; but I need the open space to do this technique. Adapt it to suit your way.

For those of us that wear a mask, this will sound all too familiar and will almost be ‘second’ nature, but will have a different outcome than the usual dance.

Practice your smile because a good looking smile is key, even if it FAKE!

As I stated earlier I started with two for the first week, after this I challenged myself to Three. I am now on seven, yes I know it’s anal to keep count at this point but it’s what I do.

Smile to the chosen number of people each day, on a dog walk this should be relatively easy. Look them around the eyes and Smile, the best smile you can do, and say a greeting, whichever you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to stop and talk, heck you don’t even have to slow down. They don’t need to hear you, so headphones are not a barrier and they don’t have to make eye contact back, so no staring!

You will get some odd looks to start, this takes time to take effect, but eventually you will get a repeat pattern of people who see you smile. If you live in an over crowded area, pick out stall people, you don’t even have to shop, just make it easier on yourself to do this.

Here’s the science:-

When you smile within a certain group of people, other dog walkers for instance, you will get noticed because of it, especially when a pattern  starts to take place. The greeting is an added bonus. As people start to recognise you as the person who gives them a smile, they don’t know if it is real or not but its natural to believe it is, they will start to smile back. This way on your journey you have strangers that smile when they see you, take it on face value it is genuine, it will have a tendency for both of you to genuinely smile in time anyway, so why not start with that belief.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Your smile has a great probability of having the person smiled at, smiling to at least the next person they walk past. So if you have chosen three as the number to smile at, and each of them has the chance to smile at a minimum of one other, on your chosen route, that means six have been smiled at because of you!  If they smile at one it’s nine. You may even cheer someone up who needs a ‘friendly face’, even a strangers on a street.

Smiling is infectious apparently and we subconsciously like places that are ‘friendly’. The chain effect of people smiling at one another makes for that  friendly place, this in turn draws the same people back and they in turn catch the smiling bug. Without conscious thought those smiles turn to genuine ones.

Try something that seems to have been forgotten, something free, something that can improve your mental health as a by-product.

SMILE 🙂

Be radical!

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Hartshill Park (Mare’s Field)

As a child, teenager, and even as a young adult, this park had many an hour spent within its boundaries, less so as I have gotten older.

In my memory banks my Nan told me the name – ‘Mare’s field’ – came about due to a stables and horse field being on the boundary, and therefore that is where the children were found, especially when foals were born. Whatever the reason it came to be known by this name, the official name – Hartshill park – seems to be the name replacing it, even locally.

When I was a child, the bottom pond was the biggest attraction, the upper pond was always too densely covered with duck weed , rendering it useless for pond dipping, it grew so thick that one might think it a grassy area and walk straight into it at dusk. Thankfully it has a fence surrounding it now.

The lower pond now has a little wooden ‘bridge’ over the overflow, which makes getting to the area that was best for dipping easier. Frogs, Newts, Sticklebacks,Water boatmen, Pond skaters, Dragonflies , Damselflies as well as Butterflies and grasshoppers were the catch to be had, there may even have been minnows and toads as well.

To get to the pond back then was a dirty trek, even on a good day. The tracks, as I remember, were made with red ash, dusty in the summer and messy in the wet. I am glad to say most of the track is now tarmac or stones only a couple of places remain in the muddy state as I remember. There has been much work done on this park since my childhood and all for the better.

The park itself is situated atop of and on the side of, what is affectionally called, Stoke bank. This makes for an undulating pathway going around the park, with plenty of steps that could be incorporated into a walk to get the heart rate up even higher. There are several benches around the park to take a break and watch the world go by, to let the heart rate come back down again.

A couple of carparks are available, and refreshments can be had from the local shops/petrol station. There are no toilets however. The park is not wheelchair friendly, even though the path is, unless you want a coronary trying to push someone around it.

If you’re in the area and fancy a park that will get the heart pumping in a short amount of distance, give Hartshill Park a try.

It makes a nice change from all the flat ones.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/stoke-on-trent