Sunday, 16 December 2018

Working With What You Have

There's a Lidl store just down the road from here. I can walk there easily, and often do. In town there's a Waitrose, but very rarely do I shop there. Yes, when it comes to the contents of my wallet, the basic principle of 'working with what you have' guides me unerringly to Lidl every time.

Working with what you have...

It's an interesting principle. But not necessarily a popular one. For example, at this time of year just about every commercial enterprise that you might care to name is hell-bent on persuading you otherwise. Even Lidl is stacked to the rafters with the rich and sticky wares of seasonal excess. Go on, it's only once a year. Load up, splash out. You. Deserve. It...

In the face of all those tempting goodies, and as you watch cheery, dimple-cheeked families wheeling their mountainous trollies through the check-out, it would be so easy to get down-hearted. Envious perhaps. Decidedly unhappy with your sorry lot...

Which is why Mr Visa invented the credit card.

Actually, you can take that principle and apply it to all sorts of things. Like your best-loved hobbies, say...

It's autumn. Every bush on the east coast is dripping with drifted quality. Your inland patch, on the other hand, has been dead for weeks. Dead. Dead-dead-dead. And then one morning as you walk round the pit...what's that out on the water, spinning like a little top? Bins up. It's a phalarope! A gorgeous juvvy Red-necked Phalarope! You can hardly believe it, and your hands are shaking a bit as you reach for your phone. There'll be a twitch...

If you've ever experienced something similar, you will know exactly what I mean. Such moments are priceless. It doesn't even take a rarity. Working with what you have helps you see birds in the context of your patch, wherever that may be. And it stops you wasting emotional energy on pointless envy every time you (unwisely) study the BirdGuides map.

I no longer live in West London's Colne Valley, where every gravel pit is home to bulging pods of gargantuan carp. In fact, Bridport is at least an hour's drive from almost all the sort of fishing which appeals to me. So I have to work with what I have, ie. distant venues. And I can forget huge carp. As it turns out though, I can have huge pike instead, which is fine. Very fine. And there are plenty of other appealing fishy targets too. It's just that the distance involved means I cannot go as often as I would like. So it's just as well that I have other hobbies. Like...

To be honest, when it comes to cycling I am spoiled. The only way I could be unhappy with my lot is if my heart's desire was mile after mile of pan-flat, super-smooth tarmac on which to bash out very rapid miles. Yes, it would look great if I was clocking up a 20+mph average for every ride, but thankfully I am not interested in that. And I love the hills. Love 'em...

August. Inland of Abbotsbury, looking towards Portland. What's not to like?

Which leaves...

With running I have recently been forced to accept an undeniable truth. Not counting nine months of womb, my body is more than half way through its 60th year. At this point in its career, many unwelcome physiological inevitabilities are at work. Like the fact that my muscles are much more eager to shrivel than grow. That recovering from a hard work-out takes two or three times as long as it did 30 years ago. That my maximum heart rate is endeavouring to be lower each year. And worst of all, that connective tissue takes so much longer to beef up than all the other stuff you need for injury-free running. The reality is that although I am technically capable of running farther and faster than I currently am, I simply dare not, because every time I open the throttle I get injured. Right now, for example, I am nursing a touch of plantar fasciitis. Basically this is a sore foot - pain on the underside of the heel/arch - a connective-tissue injury that requires careful management to facilitate recovery.

Cycling is different. It's perfectly possible to hammer yourself into the ground on the steepest of hills all afternoon, mentally begging for mercy at every summit, and then do it all again a couple of days later with nothing worse than sore muscles and a bit of cramp maybe. Brilliant. But try any of that masochistic stuff with running and you'll be out for weeks, as your tendons, ligaments, bursae, and other assorted gristly bits cripple you totally.

It's a shame really, because now that I've discovered I can still run, I want to see what this knackered old frame can do. Which means pushing it, testing it, stretching it. But it won't allow me to. Not yet. I need to be patient.

I'm trying hard not to get down about it. I need to remember to work with what I have...


I think a glass of wine might be in order. I can work with one of those...


  1. As you know Gav, I can identify with all of that.

    I didn't realise you lived so far from the fishing. Personally, I'd be fishing the sea using my freshwater gear and methods. Plenty of scope for mystery there. I wouldn't even know what I was catching half the time.

    As for the wine. One small glass maximum at the moment. A bottle in two days plus beer, plus G & T was a bit ott.

    1. Yes Ric, there's an awful lot of beach just down the road, plus some very decent mullet, but I just can't work up any enthusiasm for sea-fishing. And I have tried...

      Excellent self-control on the booze front by the way.

  2. Nice blog. I empathise with the issue of the dreaded onset of the 60's as my own fishing energy is but a fraction of what it was. Hey ho, cram it in when it's right and enjoy the old photo albums when it's raining.

    Those mullet are a genuine target - but beware, men become lost in their world and obsession lures. But it must surely be worth a dabble on a summer's day.

    1. Mullet are an unknown quantity to me, though I'm aware of their ability to beguile - a guy who used to work in the local tackle shop was smitten by them (and eels!). Yes, probably I should investigate next year...

      And many thanks for your comment :)

  3. I was going to start running but you have convinced me it is a bad idea. My grateful thanks…..

    1. Ha ha! Yeah, right...

      Actually, it does help if you have a masochistic streak. So I think running would suit you.

  4. Hi Gav - probly not suitable just yet but when your foot recovers (or for the other foot), 5 mins rolling a tennis ball under your foot can really help with connective tissue - couple of times a day every day. Or those muscle rollers that lidl sell every now & again are good too. Not that ever remember to use mine....
    Cheers, Col

    1. Thanks for the tip, Col. I've acquired a lacrosse ball for that very purpose, but I need to be a bit more disciplined about using it regularly.