A show in Manchester, a couple of walks, a motorbike accident, a new bicycle, and a whole lotta stumbling around in the dark.
Well, it's officially Dark. I'm never quite ready for the darkness to fall in the winter—I always underestimate the length of the nights. The nights start to get truly long in November; the sun sets at like quarter to four and stays set until almost 9 am the following day. The result is that you start work in the dark and you end work in the dark. I'm glad that the NHS is understanding about taking a break in the middle of the day, and I'm glad that Ghyll provides an excuse to get outside for a walk (and away from the computer) around lunchtime.
Still, November hasn't been easy.
We started the month off with a trip up to Greg's Hut in the Pennines for a bit of fitting-out work in the wake of the massive renovation/restoration that was undertaken (by professionals!) back in August. They repointed the building and put up new roofing timber and sealed the holes where the wind and weather were getting in and blasted off all of the old lime wash on the interior walls.
Our job was, mainly, to refit a new sleeping platform—tongue-and-groove rather than plain plywood this time—and put up some of the amenities: candlestick holders, notice boards, shelving.
We ambitiously brought Ghyll up with us, anticipating a rough but not unbearable stay; unfortunately, it was a little bit much for the little tyke. He whined for most of the day, frustrated to not be able to play with the gruff old folks pottering about the bothy with drills and nail guns. In the evening, Sam elected to take him back home, while I'd stay up at the bothy to help finish up.
Back down to Manchester for Sam's birthday! Hot dang do I like Manchester: it feels like a distillation of all of the good parts of a larger city. Great little corners to hide away; tons to do; a potent sense of intimacy. Great city.
We were there to see The Mountain Goats at the Albert Hall (no not that one, that's in London). We had dinner at Almost Famous as well—another gourmet hamburger joint but with the twist of irreverence and gratuitous helpings of blue cheese. Counting my lucky stars that I've thus far evaded contracting an acute case of gout.
Midmonth, on a three-mile trip to one of Ghyll's obedience lessons, I locked up the front wheel of the motorbike and came off. I was only going around 30 miles per hour but the ground is hard at any speed. Luckily my gear took the best part of the impact and I was left with only a bit of a hobble where the bike fell on my leg and a tweaked shoulder & left hand.
The bike's also in remarkably good condition, considering that I crashed it: a bent headlight bracket, a couple of burnt-out bulbs, a cracked instrument panel fairing. Most of this can (I assume) be coerced back into shape by enterprising use of a pry bar and mallet—once I've got use of my left hand back.
With shoulder and hand out of commission, and with leg bruising healing up nicely, I got back into running a little bit more seriously. I don't think that I've ever been able to describe myself as a Serious Runner (nor do I now) but I'm at least more serious about it now than I was before. This latest burst of spontaneous motivation is mostly due to reading Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I'd like to get maybe 60% as good at running as Murakami (who, similarly, considers himself Not a Serious Runner) by the end of the year.
In pursuit of which goal I've advanced by daily alarm by 45 minutes to get out for a quick run or cycle before work. On colder days I really struggle to coerce myself out of bed, but on successful days I sit down at the computer with the warm self-satisfaction of the exhausted.
Hell, Sam's even joined me a couple of times, in preparation for a bit of a bike tour next summer. Which, speaking of which, I've got a new one (a bike): a Dawes Galaxy upon which I intend to accrue memories and memories across kilometers and kilometers countless.
Walking with Ghyll also afforded us a couple of opportunities to get out into the countryside—on a walk through the marshland behind the industrial estate on Portrack Lane in Middlesborough (okay, maybe not the countryside) and amid the erstwhile mine workings on the moor above Hamsterley Forest. Marked the latter as one to revisit with the bicycles.
I think a lot of existentialist thought has been coopted by Main Characters online, probably because existentialism centers personal meaning on the self, which means you get a bunch of literally self-centred people walking around thinking that they know something the rest of us don't.
Well, it's 4:30 pm and the sun's been down for like an hour, so it's time for supper. A busy December awaits.
2022 was a year of real highs and lows. We got a dog, climbed a bunch of mountains, learned to ride a motorcycle, re-learned how to ride a bicycle, travelled to Europe, travelled to the United States, read a whole bunch, and wasted a buttload of time.
That's October done and dusted. A bit of general upheaval but we all made it through in one piece. I went to a conference!