What a Difference a Year Makes…

Claverton Valley - Bath 2018

Crazy that August is drawing to a close already and shocking that I have neglected the Journal section of the Blog. Truth is, life has been quite hectic as I ease my way back into work, adjust to the peculiar joys of being single and maintain an increasingly diverse social life. On top of that, both my daughters had their birthdays (sixteen & nineteen) recently which always both drains the bank account and ignites a sense of the relentless passing of time; thrilled that they are both rounded and grounded in equal measure equipped with a global view and wide-eyed curiosity as they embark on their journey’s in this crazy world.

And what a journey it is and an email from a friend this morning has crystallised my overriding feeling of mid-life serendipity. A previous boss sent me a picture of myself taken in Spain three years ago during a booze-laden trip with a few mates. The picture was taken as we were eating breakfast outside a café after a night on the strip and my bloodshot eyes, puffy face and bulging midriff tell their own story. I was well over seventeen stone back then and trapped in a corporate existence dominated by excess and blind ambition. Of course it was great fun, but the impact on my physique was horrendous. When I left the job and ditched the associated lifestyle a year ago, losing weight and getting fit were my priorities and, praise the Lord, I have largely succeeded in achieving these goals.

Cycling most days, easing off the booze (to a point) and revising my diet have all contributed to a four stone weight reduction and a far clearer mindset. I am fortunate to live in Bath, which is surrounded by amazing cycle paths that provide the motivation to go for a ride especially during the recent halcyon summer heatwave. The Claverton Valley is my favourite route and typifies the true beauty of the English countryside what with the meandering river Avon, shimmering canal and Brunel’s railway all cutting a swathe through its steep wooded slopes.

The early mornings are best as the air is fresh, the paths clear and the wildlife plentiful; a gossamer mist hangs over the water pierced only by confident herons swooping to pluck dozing fish from just below the surface; the smell of smoke from silent barges with their curtains still drawn and the distant rumble of an imminent freight train all add to the romance of the moment as I bomb along, drenched in sweat with a burning fire in my legs and favoured music in my ears.

After twenty odd miles, it is exhilarating to reach home by eight to enjoy a pot of fresh coffee, the news on Radio 4 and a hot bath before a stint in the office scribbling copy or talking to clients; all light years away from my old corporate life which increasingly seems like a very distant memory.

Many of the images below were taken by my good friend Anne Seymour and more of her work can be viewed on her site here: https://www.annseymour.co.uk/