Bloody Walking 

Some expected outcomes out of bloody long walk training… 

  • Long gossip sessions with Moulder, while doing our training walks of 20 and 23.5k
  • Sore feet and legs and hip flexors
  • Enjoying that first cold IPA even more than usual post training 
  • Sunburn, cos I don’t learn anything ever

    And some unexpected ones, including:

    • Seeing the lovely bits of Melbourne I’ve never really seen, eg port Melbourne
    • Noticing that lungfuls of wattle aren’t good for me 
    • The truly magnanimous gestures of people who have donated to the cause (being mitochondrial disease)
    • And last but not least, a pimple on my lady bits. 

    Feel free to donate here (to the cause, not the ladybits) 

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    BLW*

    Yesterday was Sunday, and after three false starts, Moulder and I finally honour our training schedule and meet up to train for bloodylongwalk.

    The bloodylongwalk, you see, is exactly that. A walk from the Yarra Bend in the east of Melbourne, around the Yarra, through the city and all the way down to St Kilda. 35 k all up.

    Back story: The things that seem a good idea after a bottle of wine, eh? Like moving to Ireland for a year. Or quitting law. Or using a home bleach kit. 35k is, after all, a bloodylongway, but I am a good walker. I do over and above the WHO mandated 10,000 steps day most days, and for me there is nothing nicer on the weekend than strolling up the creek, listening to a nice relaxing crime podcast and then picking up a latte. 35k was rather somewhat of a stretch target but hey, why not eh? Good cause too, (being mitochondrial disease, which I hitherto had no idea about), which is important. But there is an element of whatthefuckhaveIgotteninto. Too late now Bwidge.

    Sunday dawns lovely and sunny but windy. Nose reacts predictably and starts leaking on cue. Do chores, get shopping, drop the Husband off to his mate’s house for annual Baffhurst festival and head into town, armed with sunscreen and new brooks walkers. Nofuckinproblem.

    Find Moulder at Flinders St. Find coffee. Start striding up Swanston st. Debrief on week that’s just gone; interviews (me) and creative stuff (her). Buy bottles of water. Snark at bloody people walking bloody slowly on footpaths on their bloody androids. Feeling positive. Always nice to have a good catch up with Moulder. Chat chat.

    Talk turns to goals for today.

    ‘We should aim for 20 today.’ She means kilometers, guys.

    ‘We’ll take it slowly though right?’ I say, anxiously. My legs are at least a foot shorter than hers.

    ‘Yes of course’ she says. This will be an interesting test of our compatibility as walking partners.

    Up we go to the pretty Carlton Gardens, past the expensive looking SLRs and tourists. Through Gertrude Street and up Brunswick St, past trendy people having their second bloody Mary of the day. Ah the labour in vain, that was awhile ago. On to Edinburgh Gardens, table-tennis and hipsters and French bulldogs and cider stubbies. From there up the Park St trail and the exact spot I stacked my bike years ago. Hello what is that beacon of hope I see on the horizon? I see a pub! Could it be? The Terminus Clifton hill! YES. What a great joint. I’m not allowed to go in though, which is probably fair enough.

    ‘You know what we should have at the end of this?’

    ‘A beer’.

    ‘Two beers’.

    ‘And fries from lord of the fries’

    ‘And BURGERS. OMG I am getting hungry’.

    This is nice actually. Where are we? We’re at 8k by this point and feeling good. The wind’s a bit blustery but the sun is pleasant on our arms. Only way to get to the trail is cross over and go past my old house. Was it always that small? And look there’s a pot plant in my bedroom window. I need to wee, I wonder if my key still works?

    Busy part of the trail now. Many joggers and cyclists. We start to go into single file. Memories emerge, I used to walk along here every weekend. What a lovely part pf the world. The city emerges from behind a hill. Oh we must be on home stretch now. Halfway, please?

    Yup. 10.2.

    Feet check. Not bad. Shall we stop?

    Stop for wees and rice crackers and a stretch at the Convent. Granola would have worked better as nourishing snack but we’re doing ok. Sit on grass, feeling the ache of underused calves.

    Set off again. It really is very pretty on the trail, walking along the river and the greenery. Notice wattle tree. Too late, breathe in lungful of yellow nastiness and cough like someone in a tb ward. Yucky!

    Puff on inhaler. ‘You’re alright, let’s press on!’ I feel like the fat kid in Stand by me.

    See fleecy sheep at the children’s farm. He looks very hot in his thick wool jacket. I do hope someone is helping him out soon.

    ‘Ok, so once we hit 20, we find the nearest pub.’

    ‘No, we are going with plan a, and getting burgers.’

    ‘Awwwwwwwww’, I say, probably a bit like an 8 year old.

    ‘We’re doing it. Don’t moan’.

    (I moan)

    ‘Here, have the rest of these rice crackers’.

    Hummph.

    Sidle along Yarra and climb up to Bridge road, and we’re on the final bit now, taking that bullet road back to town. The normal creeping feeling of nostalgia I get in Richmond is tempered by the soreness in my hips and knees. “Jokingly” suggest stopping for a beer / getting tram but get laughed at. Moulder begins to edge ahead and I begin to feel like my hips are creaking like they have rust in them.

    Finally, we find ourselves at the last set of traffic lights. That’s 20k! We’ve done it. We (me) limp into Grill’d, order burgery and beery goodness. Stone and wood never tasted so good.

    What’s the moral of this story? Take more than  rice crackers. Be prepared for soreness and whingeing. And remember there is always a beer at the bottom of the rainbow.22282053_10155180578850756_2871321646965037632_n

    *not baby-led weaning, that’s a blog for another day.**

    **hahah kidding. I’d rather poke my nipples all day with a fork

     

    My two cents (which I’m not giving to a cab driver)

    Yeah, so I know every Melburnian has an opinion about this and opinions are like arseholes cos everyone has one, but only I have the edit rights to this blog so – stuff it. Time for me to mount that hobby horse.

    My very first encounter with a Melbourne cab driver was on Collins St in 2004, on my second morning here. I was on the way to an interview and was told it was easy enough to get a cab to the interview location. I was in my high heels and pantihouse and brown pinstriped suit (it was the 2000s) and nervously waved at a cab who had stopped at a pedestrian crossing. It was a bright morning and even if I known that the top light being off meant they weren’t available I wouldn’t have been able to see it.

    He wound his window down, looking at me over his glasses, and I asked very tentatively, ‘ah I don’t suppose you could take me to….’

    ‘I AM ON THE WAY TO A BOOKING YOU SILLY BITCH! CAN’T YOU SEE MY LIGHTS OFF?’ He screamed. Flecks of spit burst forth from his mouth in his fury as he yelled at me through the window. ‘CANT YOU SEEEEEEE???’

    As he roared away in a cloud of diesel, I burst into tears. Great way to be the morning of an interview. I dried my eyes, crossed my fingers and got on the number 48 tram which neatly deposited me outside the building where I was having an interview. But it’s not something I have forgotten. (Got offered the job though, so that’s something).

    I am afraid to tell you my experiences of cab drivers have not hugely improved since then.

    Like the time that one played ear splitting trance music and couldn’t hear my pleas to turn the music down and put the back passenger window up (it was July), then was unable to find Edinburgh gardens (really).

    The time they forgot my booking, so I was late to a wedding.

    Or the time that a driver didn’t know where the MCG was.

    Or perhaps the time that a driver was so incensed he had to make two drop offs after he had dropped my friend off, that he sped down a one way street in Fitzroy, flying over the speed humps. I got out – would have rather taken my chances walking another half a hour in the dark.

    Or the time one tried to kiss me outside my flat in Richmond after I had passed out in the back (revolting, and no I didn’t report it. At the time I was in a rough patch and felt too much like it was my fault for being drunk.)

    The most recent taxi experience was a corker though and just reinforces my reasons to take alternative transport. Work handed out cabcharges over the weekend we had to be in the office (fair), so I booked a cab to come and get me. This driver narrowly avoided a collision on Mt Alexander Road, then headed to Spring St end of Bourke, not Spencer as I said, (not once but THRICE.) ‘Oh sorry I thought you said Spring’ he said. This cab driver then handed me his business card and said he would love it if I considered his services in future. I just said, sorry, probably not, but thanks for the lift. (I’ve gotten more assertive in the last 13 years).

    Just goes to show if you have a monopoly the quality of service goes way down. So yesterday when I read about the protest staged by the cab drivers out at the Tullamarine, I had a sincere ‘what the fuck’ moment. I am genuinely sorry for those people that have been stuffed about by extortionate taxi licenses handed out by the state government and this is affecting their livelihood. That sucks. But I can only speak as a customer, one who has suffered a few times, and one who opts for ubers when she can. We live in a free market economy that is consumer driven and this is what happens when competition is introduced. Step up, or move on. And blockading the airport, I fear, will not win you any  support either.

    Letting off some steam

    Things I would like to do right now, but for whatever reason, will not:
    1. Tell Steve in the pod over from me that if I actually hear another thing about his new puppy Lola’s walking routine / bowel movements / vaccination schedule I will actually leap over the partition and beat him about the head with my keep cup;
    2. Go home and sleep for 14 hours;
    3. Wake up and see that my eyebags have mysteriously been removed and that I look normal, fresh faced and not the 47 years I currently feel / look;
    4. Eat a whole loaf of fresh warm bread smeared with salty butter and vegemite.
    5. Go to a café , sit down to a coffee with eggs and some salmon, and write some stuff.

    Have not written anything remotely interesting for weeks with the transformational thingo at work. (See, even my words are suffering). It’s been training materials and other such stuff, and I feel non creative and uninspired. But have four days off coming up, and first I shall drink some wine and let off some steam.

    Choose your own (weekend) adventure

    Ah, finally it’s the weekend. Time to relax, rewind and recharge after chaotic work week. But wait, you have guests over for dinner on Friday night. Do you:

    a. Feed them copious amounts of red wine
    b. Have passionate debate about workplace equality
    c. Introduce them to Cards Against Humanity or
    d. All of the above?

    You decide to retire at approx. 1 am; do you:

    a. Take your contacts out, scrub face and put jarmies on
    b. Face plant pillow but remember to take shoes off, or
    c. Bed? Nah this patch of floor’ll do

    You’re confronted with a hairy back next to your face when you wake up in the middle of the night. Do you:

    a. Puzzle for several hung-over seconds and then suggest to husband he may want to head back to the girls down at BackSacknCrack salon
    b. Realise your darling 32 kg dog has lodged himself between yourself and husband due to severe anxiety, or
    c. Turn over. Probably just a nightmare anyway

    You have high hopes for your productivity on Saturday. Do you:

    a. Go for brisk walk in cold weather, then cook hearty vegetable rich meal?
    b. Stay indoors and drag blankie from bed to infront of telly and sook for most of the day
    c. Stomp around the house in your obi wan Kenobi dressing gown, or
    d. Receive call regarding drinks in Croydon and make miraculous recovery?

    Do you, at this moment, wish to

    a. Find the lost jewels of Nabooti,
    b. Return to atlantis, or
    c: Return to the Cave of Time?

    Green friends

    Every morning I’d pull the bungalow door closed and set out on my way to the station, about half a mile away, up a leafy lane and through the village. To get to the lane I would have to walk around the cricket oval, at the back of which we lived. The bungalow was plain and furnished with all sorts of hand-me-downs, but it wasn’t the worst place to dwell. The rent was cheap, and we had no neighbours apart from the gang of swans who liked to hang out on the pitch covers on damp day. Every morning, as I walked around the oval, the club greenkeeper, a mild cheery man in his 60s, would already be at work, come rain or shine, and wave his customary good morning greeting at me, accompanied with ‘light of my life! There she is!’

    Chris was recently retired, an elder at the cricket club, with a love of all things cricket and gardening. He drove a shiny BMW and had worked at Coutts as a banker to the extraordinarily rich and famous, but you wouldn’t have known this to talk to him. He had big bushy eyebrows, crinkly happy brown eyes and a shock of thick white hair. There was nothing pretentious about Chris; if I hadn’t known any better I would have thought green-keeping was his career. But I did know better, even in my 22 year old naiveté, and I knew that anyone who had even a passing association with one of the more prestigious cricket clubs in Surrey would not be gardening for an income. The people the cricket club were a mix of people from the village – stockbrokers, bankers and lawyers living in the dormitory shire while working in the City during the week. Their lives were private schools and wearing fascinators to church weddings on Saturdays, and holidays in Majorca or Marbella. And this is where I lived.

    It was an odd friendship between a chubby gauche young woman and a retiree – but it was a close friendship. I didn’t see him as a kindly old uncle or a substitute for a father. He was just a friend. I’d take strong cups of tea out to Chris as he was working on the green; and at the end of the day I’d pull him a pint of London pride and he would tell me everything he had done that day and how the pitch was looking for that weekend. We both enjoyed those chats.

    On pleasant evenings we would sit in the hazy English twilight; I’d smoke my silk cut and he’d tell me stories about Coutts and banking with the royals; and the London fog of 1952. Sometimes we just sat in companionable silence as the midges came down to feed. And sometimes he’d tell jokes regarding her indoors and I’d tell him about how I missed New Zealand and the hopes I had once we went back. I thought of marriage and of children. My partner was thinking the same thing – but he wasn’t planning any of those things with me. He was the reason I was living at the cricket club. Once he ended things, I couldn’t remain there in the UK; and the day I left I went and said goodbye to Chris, who was watering the middle pitch, as usual.

    ‘I’m sorry darling’, he said. ‘I’m not very good at saying goodbyes’. We hugged and I pretended not to see the tears in his warm brown eyes. I think he murmured something about keeping in touch but we both knew quite well that was probably not realistic. My ex would soon move my successor into the place I had occupied with breathtaking speed and I knew that I would never see that place again. In most ways that suited me, but I missed one friend.

    And every time I have been back to England since (a few) I have thought about looking him up, but I haven’t.

    Sometimes friends really are for only a season, literally; or a reason. But I’ll remember this one for a lifetime.

    Fully sick

    It probably takes longer than a week to facilitate a completely new mental health outcome in terms of being grateful (although I think overall it has been useful). This week has tested my patience though – I have been sick for the last four days – chills on the plane and a dry sore throat on Monday morning morphed into full blown fluid-on-lungs chest infection. Feeling sick but moreover, bored AF. However, some kind person has uploaded the Flying Doctors onto youtube, so have been comforting myself with that inbetween taking decongestant and guzzling lemsip. So today I am grateful for The Flying Doctors being on youtube, the wonderful wonderful hairdos (hairspray and perms FTW), and how romantic it made the outback look. (I met Robert Grubb once, and he would have to be the nicest celebrity I’ve ever met).