Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Beacon headtorcher

It was full moon last night, which as usual, meant a cold and cloudy evening. This didn't however stop six intrepid KCAC stalwarts running up the Beacon with headtorches then visiting the Swan for vital refreshment. I felt strong on the climb; I'm convinced the streak around Christmas plus the fact I'm the lightest I've been consistently for many years is helping. York brewery Guzzler was taken at the Swan along with various assorted bar-snacks. A good evening and great to feel a sense of doing something normal after a difficult month or so 

Saturday, 23 February 2013


It was mum's funeral yesterday; nearly three weeks after she passed away. The day went as well as we could have hoped and below is the text of the eulogy I delivered in church:

Firstly I would like to thank everyone for coming today to the church. I think the last time I was here was around 30 years ago and it’s great to see the church well kept and still going strong at the heart of the local community. Mum used to clean the brasses here a long time ago and I bet she would be equally pleased to see the church full of parishioners and visitors 

My mother Gwenneth Margaret was a remarkable woman; kind and generous with her time and affection. Mum lived her life with a well developed sense of fairness, especially regarding the treatment of her three boys.  Mum had a lively sense of humour and, as we can see today, a large number of friends. For anyone thinking who was Gwenneth Margaret, or ‘we only knew her as Margaret’, my mum was named after her Auntie Gwen, an academic and probably the first person from the family to go to university. Mum was a bright woman in addition to the characteristics I’ve already outlined.  She was well named, even if her first name was little known and used infrequently

Mum’s character can be explained with a few examples of how we, her three sons, were brought up:

Mum was a great believer in ‘giving it your best shot’. No football manager cliché‘110 %’ nonsense, just an encouragement (maybe echoing the scout motto) to always do your best, whether in academic study, at sport, or in your chosen career. This was not to the detriment of whether you enjoyed it, or how successful you were, but just a constant plea to try hard. ‘Did you do your best?’ Mum would ask, ‘if you did that’s all you can do’

When my twin brother Michael and I were little we were allowed to have a Mars bar as a treat, presumably to allow us to work rest, and play. Now, everyone will know that when you are small a Mars bar is quite a large treat so mum used to get one of us to cut the bar into two halves with a knife. The important bit that underlined mum’s sense of fairness (and her intelligence) was that the twin cutting the bar had second choice as to which ‘half’ he got. Mum didn’t need to oversee the operation. A chocolate bar could not have been cut more precisely into two if it had been done in a laboratory with a laser beam

I hadn’t heard the story until the days leading up to mum’s passing but while we were sat quietly with mum one morning David told me that mum bought him his first bass guitar and amplifier for his 18th birthday. This helped nurture a love of performing live music that has lasted nearly twenty years for my ‘kid brother’. I say ‘kid brother’ but David is now closing in on 40, a married man himself, and the father of a beautiful daughter of his own

Mum’s passing was incredibly sad and all the more poignant for how quickly she declined towards the end. However I think we can all take comfort in the fact mum died in her own home surrounded by her loved ones. During mum’s final days my partner Stef’s mother Vicki called to ask how things were. Vicki trained as a nurse as a young woman, so knows a thing or two about caring. She asked me several simple but important questions regarding mum’s welfare:

Is your mum at home? She asked. Yes, she hasn’t had to leave the house 
Is mum upstairs in her own room? Yes, she’s sleeping in her own bed
Is mum in pain? No, her pain is being managed very well by competent and caring nurses
Is mum alone? No, mum is with her family and several old friends have been to see her regularly

The answers I gave Vicki should give us all comfort and a degree of solace regarding mum’s final days

Mum died on Sunday 3rd of February barely two weeks after anyone, including her own consultant, really understood how unwell she had become. She said one day to Michael that she wasn’t ready to go, but faded away with her usual serene good grace and still displaying a wonderful sense of humour. There is a light that never goes out. Mum will surely be missed by a great number of people

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


It's been a tough week waiting for mum's funeral on Friday. I've spent some time over the last ten days or so writing a eulogy and I will probably post it on here after the event. My two brothers have 'approved' it and I feel a lot better for finishing it. There's just a small matter of standing up in a church I haven't been in for thirty years (I'm fairly certain the last time I was there was for my dad's funeral) and delivering it now

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Mum's funeral isn't for another week and a half and I feel like I'm in limbo. We're seeing the vicar tonight (the 'Young American' as we have come to call him) but I'm not spiritual; well not in an organised religion kind of way, so doubt I'll gain much from the meeting, other than hopefully a better understanding of what will happen at the church

A positive thing is we have received several emails and messages from women who were at school with mum and they have been both informative and highly complementary. Mum's early life is a bit of a mystery for various reasons and these words from people who knew mum in her formative years have been very helpful 

Sara lost her father at Christmas and the word is her family say it just takes time. Mum has barely been gone ten days and I guess they are right 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Hebden Gold

Our 'streak' seems a long time ago because both Stef and I have been struck down with vile colds (flu actually in Stef's case) and we've done very little running since last weekend. Yesterday however we did manage a short walk in the Strid Woods and a drive up to Hebden to finally see Andy Hodge's gold postbox. While we were there it seemed rude not to pop into the Old School tea-shop across the road, where frothy coffees were taken along with an enormous slice of fresh-cream Victoria sponge cake 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


My twin brother took mum on a helicopter ride from the Cat and Fiddle over the dams at Ladybower etc last summer as part of her 75th birthday celebrations. This photo was taken then. Mum loved the High Peak and passed this love on to all three of her sons. She enjoyed the helicopter ride and the day 'up in Derbyshire' immensely 

Monday, 4 February 2013

R.I.P mum

Firstly apologies for the title but I want folk to see this. It's not about the last lot of hill reps I did, or a night in the Swan, as you might have guessed already

My mother Margaret passed away yesterday peacefully after finding out barely two weeks before she had cancer. Our small family (both my mother and late father were only ones) are taking great comfort in that mum died at home in her own bed, suffered little pain in her final day thanks to the efforts of wonderful NHS and Marie Curie staff, and was surrounded by friends and family in her final days

The reason for this blog post is we suspect mum had symptoms for a good while before becoming really ill and ignored them, we think out of fear. Therefore I have a plea. If you have a problem and you're choosing to turn a blind eye to it at present please go and get it checked out. I'm arranging another blood pressure check asap for myself, because in spite of being reasonably fit, high blood pressure runs in our family and mine is borderline at best as I've posted before. If something is bothering you please go and get help soon

There'll be more to follow on my mum and her life soon