Walking The Ceredigion Coastal Path 17

I recently began a walk along the Ceredigion Coastal Path which, as part of the Wales Coast Path, runs from Cardigan in the south over 60 miles to Ynyslas on the northern edge of the county. This is my diary of the event.

Wednesday 12th June 2019 16:30
Location: Camping on the Farm, Aberaeron
Distance: 3.82 miles

I’m back here again, we’re wending our way back out of Wales now and we are perhaps one of a handful of campers on the site. Today I ran up past Aberarth and back again, I didn’t cover any new ground but it was interesting to tread the path again. My belly was still full of chips from lunchtime and I’m not feeling 100% fit which was evident from how hard the run felt. This time last year I was chasing a 22 minute 5k, yet at last Saturday’s Park Run I only just scraped in under 26 minutes. The decline has come fast and I’m not sure what the primary causes are, too much Winter perhaps, not enough Spring.

The path was very much the same, along the back of the beach across a heavily pebbled beach and then up onto the grass and the ground rose perhaps ten feet with the beach and crashing waves below. A couple of times the path passed close to the edge where perhaps small landslides had stolen some of the path’s edge. Through Aberarth, where the stream now roared through under the footbridge heavy with the last few day’s rain and up onto the hillside where the sheep grazed. I ran through a field or two until I hit the 3k mark and turned round and ran back again. This time I could see the van in the field ahead and romped home knackered and happy.

I feel next time we’re up this way that a run to Llanrhystud would be a good way to start laying some of the demons of the walk to rest.

 


Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

There’s an eclectic mix of posts on here, from writing and poetry to banjos and guitars, art, photography and computing, so feel free to dive in and have a look around,

New to this site? Click here to visit my About Me section.

Follow me @ponyfolk on Instagram for my multi-medium art and @shadowthepoet on Twitter

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Go well!

 

Disposable Drawings

Early in my Journey, when I started learning to draw, I reached a place where I had created a ritual around drawing. Each sketch was unique and supposed to be an improvement on the last, like the beginner runner who expects to get faster and becomes despondent when a plateau is reached or gets slower. I had reached a place in drawing where the ‘should’ had become so great that it precluded me from picking up the pencils, and when I did pick them up and draw the self-pressure was intense. I stopped drawing around that time.

Recently I had an urge to draw trees, but not from life as all my previous work had been. I wanted to draw from imagination. So I looked up some tips on drawing trees and started drawing trees.

There’s a line in the Patrick Costello banjo tutorial book, The How and The Tao of Old Time Banjo, that sticks with me as it changed the way that I look at the arts now. I’ve always been an apologist for my lack of art and musical ability. It’s been real easy for me to just pass it off as not having received the gift of drawing and the gift of music. I wasted a lot of years in that belief until I discovered that both art and music can be taught. I should have realised sooner when I took up running and found that I had to learn how to do it. At school I bunked off cross-country but in my early 30’s, following the Couch To 5k program of its time, I went from fat and unfit to running a marathon in a short few years. The education system hadn’t taught me how to run, is it any surprise that it didn’t teach children to draw and to play and understand music?

Patrick’s advice was there right after the first few songs:

“Play this one a couple of hundred times and when you’re ready…” – Patrick Costello

‘Play this one a couple of hundred times’, man that floored me the first time I read it. I was so used to skipping on to the next thing without really grasping or practicing the previous thing. Play a song once, move on. Draw a sketch of something once and then move on. Here was the key to improvisation, practice!

So I decided to apply this advice to drawing and drew some more trees and then moved on to hares and rabbits.

All of the time using pencils I’d appropriated from hotels and drawing in my ‘music’ book, which I use for writing songs and writing out folk tunes in my own notation for banjo.

Next I treated myself to a sketch book and a set of pencils and that’s where things started to go downhill again. I had created a new ritual, the special book and the special pencils. Now each drawing had to be special and they just weren’t. They seemed to be getting worse.

So, to the moral of the story, i decided to make my art disposable. It’s not special, so don’t treat it like it’s special. And once I’ve sketched a couple of hundred rabbits and hares and trees, well, I might just be getting warmed up.

This one’s on a piece of paper out of the printer, I was going to wrap a book in it to post it, just to prove how disposable art is.

Maybe tomorrow.

For now it’s back to the banjo…

 

 


Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

There’s an eclectic mix of posts on here, from writing and poetry to banjos and guitars, art, photography and computing, so feel free to dive in and have a look around,

New to this site? Click here to visit my About Me section.

Follow me @ponyfolk on Instagram for my multi-medium art and @shadowthepoet on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself, your art, your blog or you world and discover all that is new in the world? Click here for my ‘Join the Revolution’ page.

Go well!

James

 

Chamberlain Road – Stoke-on-Trent

An updated version of my music video ‘Chamberlain Road’, with some video scenes from around Stoke-on-Trent:

 

Chamberlain Road

D                                             A
The incinerator’s burning late tonight
Hanging a cloud over all that I’ve known
The voices are calling out united
As they’re singing they’re victory home
D     C      Em
And I’m running down Chamberlain Road
D   C                Em
I’m running down Chamberlain Road

Walk with the old man to the Commercial
Sunday afternoon and a drink with the boys
They all wonder now if it was worth it
All those years of blood, sweat and toil
And I’m running down Chamberlain Road
I’m running down Chamberlain Road

We stood and watched in mourning
As they tore the old stadium down
No more Saturdays in the Victoria
When you’re queuing for the bus out of town
And I’m running down Chamberlain Road
I’m running down Chamberlain Road

The doors of the the Spode are all boarded
The factory’s a museum of what it used to be
They took all our coal and they burnt it
What did they leave for you and me?
And I’m running down Chamberlain Road
I’m running, I’m running down Chamberlain Road

 

Post Run Salamba Sirsana

After a long run there’s nothing better than a bit of leg inversion to help the cardio-vascular system get all that waste recirculated back to where it needs to be (think lymphs and lactates etc). When there’s no handy walls around to prop your legs against, a good old fashioned headstand does just the job.

#fail as they say, here it is again:

Run Forrest Run

I hadn’t heard that for a long time, at least a month or so. “Run Forrest run”, the street heckle of adolescents vying to impress their peers in a world where shouting catchphrases from a film that was screened before they were even born is the pinnacle of a street heckle. C’est la vie, kids will be kids. Last Monday we were out for a speed session. Running is often thought as a pastime where the ‘jogger’ pulls on their trainers and plods around the same route three times a week before going home for a hearty breakfast or piece of cake depending on the time of day and day of the week. Fortunately the reality is far more interesting and technical. There is a maxim in running:

“the only way to run faster is to run faster”

Is this intuitive or counter-intuitive? If I tried to run faster then I would run out out of steam before I’d finished my allotted route for the day, so runs are broken down into different types. A typical set of runs for the week might be the ‘long run’, perhaps on a Sunday morning this is the longest and slowest run of the week used to build up endurance. A ‘tempo run’ might then be next, from a technical perspective this is a run where the pace is just below the lactate threshold ie you are still flushing out the lactate quicker than it is building up in your legs. It is fast and it is hard and it is maybe 20 minutes long. Another run might then be some kind of technical speed run, this could be sprints over short distances, sprints up hills or sprints around a running track. Basically a burst of speed followed by a jog or walk rest period all broken down into sets. This is what we were up to that day.

There is a wide pathway between two warehouses near where we live, it is about 150 metres long and has bollards at each end with four equally spaced lampposts along it. It’s a short warm up jog down to this path from the house and then we do some plyometric exercises to work down the lampposts to the bollards at the far end. High-knees, heel-flicks, sides-steps right foot leading, side-steps left foot leading and then striding out like leaping gazelles down to the bollards. Our speed session here is a pyramid set of sprint to the first lamppost and jog / walk back, turn and sprint to the second lamppost then jog / walk back, then the third lamppost, then the fourth then back down to the third, second and first. Then rest and repeat. We happened to coincide this week’s run with lunchtime at the @MarksandSpencer warehouse where a flock of yellow hi-viz vested workers were crowded around a picnic table in the carpark’s designated smoking area. “Run Forrest run!”, the lone cry came from that direction as we hurtled toward lamppost number three.

The best comedy is fear based we were told a couple of weeks ago by a stand-up comedian, he had told us how he prepared for a gig by watching the audience. Picking up cues and generalisations on class and maturity and education to try to pin down what he thought they were most afraid of. This, he said, is where the humour lies: in taking peoples fears and playing them back to them and exaggerating them for the laughs. All laughter is fear based.

What generalisations could I make about our audience? This wasn’t a group of adolescents on a street corner vying for popularity among their peer group, their ends, their homies. This was the frontline of the retail powerhouse of the high street, this wasn’t just any old warehouse employee, this was after all an M&S warehouse employee.

“Run Forrest run!”, the peak and pinnacle of heckles on a bright Monday afternoon, from a grown, mature, functioning member of society. Perhaps working in a warehouse is no different from being at school? Clocking-in, clocking-out, performance tested, being told what to do, bossed around? It’s been a long time since I worked in a warehouse for extra cash whilst studying for my A Levels. Perhaps things were different then, perhaps Forrest Gump hadn’t been made back then, perhaps nobody ever ran past while we sat outside in the sun.

Around that time I was attending Aikido sessions at a nearby village hall. It was a small club, almost all the regular members were black belts, first, second, third, fourth Dans with a handful of other belts. In the summer we were occasionally disturbed by the local youth banging or jeering through the open windows. On occasions like this merely closing the curtains would make the problem disappear – the common heckler outfoxed by a curtain. Now you see it, now you don’t. On other occasions where this didn’t work, Sensei would invite the youngsters in, to sit at the back and watch our group of judo-suited, barefooted and be-skirted performers dance the dance of Aikido. This usually upped the ante for us as well as the throws and holds became more exaggerated and acrobatic. Often times the kids would laugh and squirm and be gone in five minutes, but occasionally some were fascinated and would stay and watch. This was a great lesson for me in the craft and practice of Aikido, not just as a practice but as a way of being as well. There are no attacks in Aikido, everything is a deflection of an attack, using the inertia of the attackers force to deflect or throw them away in a circular motion. Thus hecklers are invited in to become part of the ceremony rather than confronted, their fears are allayed and they are heard and welcomed into the community. It is there for them if they choose to take it. I wonder how this can be translated to the hecklers on the street or the M&S Car Park, I can hear your fear from seeing something different but it is here for you if you wish to find out more and overcome those fears.

“Run Forrest run”, perhaps this can be your running mantra, after all he ran right across America as I recall in the film, that’s a long way from smoking on your lunch break in the M&S Warehouse car park.

Come join us on Saturday morning at #Parkrun, 09:00 Hanley Park, there will be over 350 of us there waiting for you.