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Alas poor Seigfreid, I knew him not well.

Blimey, I don’t where to start. I’ve been a very busy boy these last few days.
I know, I’ll start at the beginning; if I can remember it! I can’t even remember where I left off last time.
I’m very pleased with the “Please sponsor us” buttons that Matt added last week; I’ll be even more pleased if someone ever uses them 😀
Where was I… Yes, Friday. I was late finishing work on Friday which was a bit of a bummer really because I had scheduled (In my mind) a 10k run, before going out on the town to get drunk and embarrass myself with my lovely friends Anita Barley and Krusty McBurton. “I’ll just have to be a little bit late for our shenanigans” I told Anita on the phone. She gave me a stern telling off and told me in no uncertain terms not to do it again. She’s a bossy madam that one.
And so to the run; I struggled a bit for the first couple of miles to get into my stride. I’ve had this problem since re-starting training, after to a long lay off due to debauched traveling around South-East Asia with my son Danny and my niggling injury which I may have mentioned in previous posts (Yeah yeah, we know. Enough already… OK don’t get stroppy! :D).
South-East Asia; now there’s a story that needs telling! Perhaps I’ll leave that one for another day 😀

Oh yes… the run, sorry. I was happy plodding away minding my own business when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a snail stormed into my path; unable to avoid the imminent collision I promptly squashed him flat under my left foot. I was inconsolable, stricken with grief; the poor fellow never stood a chance (no pun intended). Before I continue further let me just explain that I never run with an Ipod/MP3 player etc, as is the norm with a lot of runner’s, preferring to let my mind wander into it’s often very strange world; and it is a strange world (I live in a little bubble of a world, floating around in a bigger bubble that doesn’t often resemble the actual ‘real world’ as it were, but it’s very nice for the most part. You should try it.)
So my mind wandered and before I arrived home I had given him a name, Seigfreid, and decided that he was on holiday from Denmark, had a nice little suitcase and often wore a jaunty hat; a Trilby no less. (I told you I lived in a strange world). So that was that really, until the next day!!!
I was up early after not-such-a-raucous night as I expected, due to Anita and Krusty calling it a day at a pathetic 11.30pm, because Anita wanted a big fat kebab for her big fat belly (that’s not strictly true; although she does have a little pot belly from consuming too many McDonalds milkshakes and Snickers bars. Haha).
Anyway I was walking into town to collect my car when, by a strange twist of fate, I happened upon another snail who was the spitting image of Seigfreid. I decided instantly that this must be his cousin whom he had been visiting on his holiday. So I had a chat with him (in my mind obviously; I’m not a nutter) and it turned out that Brian (the new snail) was indeed his cousin. I apologised for my wicked deed and Brian graciously forgave me and explained that Seigfreid had had a good life and would have been pleased to go out quickly without suffering the indignity’s that can occur in old aged snails. That set my mind at rest and was much relieved.
And so I collected my car and headed off to meet Dave (Slater) at the local pool for some swimming.
Nothing unusual happened at all except for me getting distracted, as usual, by a lovely looking pool attendant and a very flexible young lady who was stretching in the adjacent gymnasium (there’s a common theme appearing here with my distractions). Why do they insist on having great big windows between the gym and the pool? I could have drowned!
I say nothing unusual happened… well it did actually. I managed a tremendously fantastical One Mile (65 lengths) in the pool! That’s never happened before. All thanks to Dave and his outlandish competitive streak. Once I mentioned to him that I had worked out how far a mile was in lengths he decided that we were going to achieve it come what may. Me and my big mouth.
Dave, it turned out, previously trained as a lifeguard, and is a particularly strong swimmer. Something I obviously wasn’t aware of before agreeing to go with him. It surprised me actually because for the most part I thought he was a big fat slob who likes smoking cigarettes and drinking beer (That’s not strictly true either, he’s only got a little pot belly; just like Anita’s) and who I thought would be a pleasant and sedentary swimming partner. Not so! I thoroughly enjoyed it though and was very pleased to reach such a marvelous milestone.

On Sunday morning at a crippling 06.45am (told you I’d been busy) my buddy Tim Barton turned up at my house ready for a blast on the mountain bikes around Cannock Chase. We had arranged to meet Mitch Bryan at the Birches Valley Visitor Centre with an intended start time of 08.00am. (Photo L to R; Mitch, Me, Miss Daisy)
And so it was that we roared into the tree’s bang on time; well Mitch and I roared into the tree’s, Tim kind of tootled into the tree’s. To be very fair to Tim he has only just taken up mountain biking and was always going to trail a bit behind me and Mitch. You may remember me mentioning Mark Bishton in a previous post; now Mark is a bit on the the stationary side hence I like to refer to him as Captain Slow (Thank you Jeremy Clarkson for inventing that nickname). Mark however is a comparative Roadrunner compared to Tim who shall, from this day forth, be known as Miss Daisy! Haha.
We enjoyed it though and I got to have a nice rest between sections whilst waiting for Miss Daisy, who then got no rest all because we’d had a rest and were ready to go again 😀

It was a blast though and I flung myself wholeheartedly in to the down-hill sections. I did have one little wobble which put the wind right up me. I was hammering down an area known as The Lower Cliff, Balls to Wall-Flat Out-Hammering-down when the front wheel decided enough was enough and started to let go. Holy Mother of God! My heart rate went over the rainbow and adrenaline spiked in an instant whilst I considered who might ring the Air Ambulance, the tyre scrabbled for grip cutting loose three times in the blink of an eye before grabbing hold of the off-camber trail and allowing me to live awhile longer. That focused my attention somewhat I can tell you but I still nailed it all the way to bottom before emerging out of the berms (banked turns) with a big smile on my face, partly glee and mostly relief!

Mitch was riding his new bike for the first time at Cannock, having given it a test run on our local trails a few days earlier, and was feeling particularly pleased with it. (It is a very nice bike too, he built it himself on a Yeti 575 frame). So on the last descent (Tackeroo) when I spotted him just in front of me I took great delight in goading him to go faster, telling him that he was riding like a little girl and to speed up or get out of my way! That engaged his competitive streak. I then spent the rest of the ride telling him I thought he was still slower than me even now that he had bought himself a new bike just to try and keep up, much to his chagrin. (That’s not strictly true either… he’s a much better rider than I am but of course you can’t tell someone that. I hope he doesn’t read this). And that was the end to another fine day’s riding. Mitch had to head off home so Tim and I rolled up to Swinnertons, the on-site bike shop, for a look at the shiny things. On the way up we bumped in to Pinocchio, Guardian of the Trail, and had our photograph taken with him like shameless groupies. Well it’s not often you bump into a world famous cartoon character is it? (That’s me on the left with Pinocchio).

 I went for lunch at The Durham Ox in the afternoon with some of my lovely family and got to see my cousin Nicola’s baby daughter, Charlotte, again. She lives in Vietnam and I have only met her once, a few months ago when we called in to Saigon especially on our way around S-E A. My how they grow! She soon be swilling pints with the backpackers in Pham Ngu Lao! (I hope I am too). (The Picture shows my lovely Mum and Dad with Great-Niece Charlotte.)

Monday evening saw me out climbing at Harborough Rocks with Dave, Deb Slater (Dave’s sister) and Louise Feeney; the sun shone the climbing was great and we all went home happy bunnies. It was Deb and Lou’s first time out on rock having honed their skills at the climbing walls. It is a very different experience when climbing on rock, you are more considered and more aware of the exposure, but they both climbed well and Louise even scaled the 12 metre high Trident Buttress on two different lines; that’s no mean feat without a rope.

Dave and I found a couple of really difficult Boulder problems late on and had we spotted them earlier I think we could have nailed them, as it was our arms and fingers were tired and we almost cracked them; but not quite. Definitely next time though.
(Picture left shows Dave climbing and me spotting.)
(Picture right shows Dave spotting, me perched on the ledge, and Lou scaling the Trident Buttress at Harborough Rocks.)

 And finally (thank god, I hear you cry), Tuesday, I had a very dull day finishing up the decorating in one of my bedrooms (I hate decorating) until Matt (Haynes) arrived and insisted we get out the Slackline for a bit of a bounce. I’m glad he did too, because it was lots more fun than hanging curtain rails and we whiled away a couple of hours before I had to meet Dave again at the pool.

 Me defying gravity on the Slackline and clearly using my outstretched tongue as an aid to balance and concentration

It was going to be a brief affair because the Adult Swimming was only from 9.00pm until 10.00pm, no problem thinks I. Yeah right, think again stupid.

Dave, now known as Gimp The Merciless, was intent on repeating Fridays “Golden Mile” in an hour! Thanks for that.

I’m much more akin to jumping off bridges in to the river or sliding down a weir on anything inflatable, or flailing off a rope-swing come to think of it, than I am at the thought of doing a mile of swimming in a boring pool.
We did it though 🙂 I managed a magnificent 70 lengths and I’m very pleased about it too, mostly because it saved me having to get up at 06.00am the following morning to swim again. No need.

Dave has now decided that we need to beat that next time, so I have had to explain to him that I am training for an endurance race not an Olympic Sprint, and that I need to swim slower for longer in order to achieve that. The silly billy.
My other highlight of the day was receiving a great big box of ‘For Goodness Shakes’… err… shakes, in the post, along  with another splendid tee-shirt. I tried it on and Matt kindly suggested that it was homo-erotic and that it showcased my nipples beautifully. Thanks for that too. I’m ordering the next size up.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed another epic tale of my very ordinary life and you’ll stop by again sometime.
Hang loose like the goose and don’t worry. If you’re healthy, and fit enough to do the things you want to do, you are truly a rich person and all your other problems can actually be sorted out. 🙂

About The Author

Neil Cottam

Neil is the founder of Chase The Rainbow. He has spent a lifetime exploring the outdoors, from a childhood climbing trees and scrambling his bike around old pit heads to hiking in the Himalaya and backpacking around Europe and Asia.

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