Off The Starting Blocks

Thursday 10 May: Struck Down
Oh lucky me! This morning I have a double dose of the incredible multi-coloured migraine with psychedelic flashing lights and a hot knitting needle through the left eye. I’ve been experiencing the joy of migraines since I was about eleven and they’ve just become part of my life. They crop up during times of stress (like waiting to hear an important decision about a book!) or when stress is lifted (the classic ‘Friday night and holidays’ migraine). Certain food, stages of the menstrual cycle, bright lights, strong smells have all triggered attacks and these days – or should I say, nights – I even get them in my sleep.

I’ve tried diets, medication, meditation, nasal sprays, and set routines, all to no avail. I’ll occasionally go for months without an attack or I’ll experience weeks of cluster attacks. The best that I can say now is that the pain is no longer so great that I feel suicidal which, in all seriousness, used to be the case during particularly bad episodes so I guess that’s progress!

Friday 11 May: My Bum DOES Look Big in This
I’ve run eighteen miles this week in three six-mile chunks. Six miles is a good distance for me; a shorter run doesn’t really hit the spot, it’s over before you’ve got into it and any longer takes up too much time so six miles gives me a good work out both physically and mentally. It’s not mad, honest, it’s just one of the most glorious, life-affirming experiences I know, especially in this part of the world after the rain when the landscape shimmers in the watery sun.

Today I’m even in my summer kit ie shorts and vest. Unlike my faithful old winter jacket the vest stops at my waist making me feel horribly aware of my derriere. But who cares if a big wobbly bottom is roaming the countryside – there’s no one to see, is there? All the same as I run past a herd of bullocks I get the strange feeling that I’m running past the bovine equivalent of a building site. The bullocks all stop eating to watch me and just as I get past them there is a long and very loud, ‘Moowooooaaaarrr!’

Coincidence, I think, pushing on to see just ahead a man in a fluorescent jacket waiting by a car with chevrons and flashing lights. I get a little closer wondering if there’s been an accident when I see a sign on the car… ‘Wide Load’. It’s coming to something isn’t it when they send someone out to escort me through the narrow lanes? But no, even worse, a huge mobile home is coming towards me so I have to step up the pace and run like the clappers to get out of its way which means that both Man in Jacket and Mobile Home Driver see far too much of old Sweaty Betty here.

Saturday 12 May: Fowey
Watching Rick Stein exploring Daphne du Maurier’s Cornwall and her family’s home at Fowey conjures up memories of one of our Epic Voyages in an ancient wooden boat. Tom and I had been at sea six days when we reached Fowey in the early evening light. We were just crawling towards a visitors buoy when a newer, faster boat nipped in and beat us to it so we ended up mooring opposite the not very picturesque China Clay works. Engines throbbed throughout the night, the rain lashed down on the roof hatch, and the Unluckiest Mackerel In the World (ie one that Tom had actually managed to catch) was exacting its revenge by making its presence felt at frequent intervals.

A miserable time then? Well, strangely what I also remember is the sense of recharging our batteries at Fowey; having a strip wash in a bucket, feeling clean after a long passage at sea, then enjoying the deep sleep that comes with being on a safe mooring made the next stage of the voyage bearable. Mustn’t tell Tom though or he’ll think I’m getting too comfortable and then we’ll have to address the thorny matter of The Boat.

Monday 14 May: About A Girl
Scenes for my novel come to me like stills from a film so the ingredients for Chapter One were there but now, along with the time line I’m trying to find out more about my characters, beginning with my heroine. And just so I don’t spend too much time fannying around I’ve joined the Novel Racers (see link). Actually I’ve joined it a bit late since the race has already been won by the lovely Liz Fenwick, but the racers are carrying on anyway which will be great for me. As someone who’s been used to regular deadlines I’m more productive when I know I’ve got a target to reach. First check in with the racers is Friday. Gulp! Time to get writing.

Hwyl fawr!


elizabethm said…
oh so much here makes me jump with recognition! we learnt to sail (in a sort of way) a few years ago. haven't done any for a couple of years, does this mean we won't? what is time for? used to run, stopped when I was ill, should I go again? Ian gets (or did for 30 years) frequent and killing migraines. taking betablockers has stopped them. going to have a look at novel racers now. thanks for so much to think about!
JJ said…
Hi Chris

Welcome to the Novel Racers. Where do all your lovely paintings come from? They are completely gorgeous. Sorry to hear about your migraines; I get them too, but won't try to offer any remedies as it looks as though you've already tried them. I hope you're feeling better soon.
migraines -yuk! hadn't had any for yonks then in January got hit by a cluster! Your description is spot on! But where do they come from and why?
As for boats - we spent a glorious canal boat holiday on Brecon - Monmouth canal -wonderful -except when we got home my land legs never came back for a does Ellen Mcarthur cope I wonder
Suffolkmum said…
Migraines - me too. Mine started age 11 too, they went away for a few years in my 20's then came back with a vengeance - and stayed - with pregnancy. My triggers are all like yours. Good luck with the novel racers, deadlines sound like a good idea. Had to laugh at the 'wide load'!
toady said…
I suffered from menopausal migraines which thankfully have stopped now. I used to find a hot damp facecloth held over the eye was soothing/
countrymousie said…
Thank god I dont have migraines - so many people seem to. Poor you. Gosh I am impressed that you are able to run and keep fit. Cant run to save my life. I might run to save someone else's I suppose! Get well soon - love mousie
Just been catching up on your blogs-wanted to see if any news about the book.-STILL have my fingers crossed!

So sad about your dad-lovely memories of him. It is strange but it was never a mother I missed with Nan bringing me up. But I always wanted a 'daddy'-secretly envied some of my friends close dad and princess relationships.

Sorry to hear of your migraine-I get them sometimes with my drugs.

I so admire you with your running.

Keep up the good work-lovely reading your blogs and new 'format'.

warm wishes
muddyboots said…
migraines. l'm lucky don't get them, hubby does. l too saw Fowey with RS on TV, great prog. we all enjoy sailing. Running a definate no no.
Inthemud said…
How dreadful to be afflicted with such terrible migraines, I've never really had a proper migraine only headaches, so cannot imagine how you feel, my niece has them and sometimes she is paralysed down one side for hours, bit like a stroke.

Good for you out there running, who cares what you look like!

Warm wishes , till next week
muddyboots said…
no chris, it definately wasn't you. this was an elderly, wizened old bat whose husband looked as though she had sucked him dry,he just went around appologising [sp?] constantly.
Coo good blog busy week, I get Migraines after strees but if I am lucky can kill the B thing before it starts providing I eat MEGA amounts of chocolate, infact its one of the signs that I am going to have one !

That and a sick feeling in the back of my neck about 24 hours before it hits me. Seems to me as I get older they are not as bad either. I remember the ones that felt like my head had been repeatedly slaammed in a lorry door. Don't need to hit my head against the wall now eiether which used to help!
Milkmaid said…
Poor you with migraines, I've only had them when pregnant with no2, she now at only 12 gets an odd hormonal headache
Impressed with your milage, I was knackered after 3 miles, but know what you mean about getting a buzz from it, am going to keep on running
sheepish said…
Hi welcome to the Racers, you will probably overtake me soon as my progress is slow. Sorry about the migraines, have you tried Acupunture or Osteopathy.

I run as well 4 times a week [5/6 miles at a time] whatever the weather and often have inspirational ideas for my wip while out running. The trick is remembering them til I get home!!!!

I can't imagine not running it's like a drug keeps me sane and lifts a mood better than anything I know. Catch up with you Friday.
Pondside said…
Hi ChrisH - so good to read what you've been up to all week, although I'm sorry to hear about the migraine. Mine disappeared with menopause, so here's hoping that yours will fly off too.
Running??? Please believe me, I know about these things - there is no way that you have a big bum with all that running.
Glad to hear that ideas are coming on now - and the Novel Racers sounds like just the thing.
Best of everything for the week to come!
PreseliMags said…
Gosh your sailing memory brought back my own memories of days and days spent sailing as a child. I remember falling asleep on the boat listening to the clinking of halyards on masts. Sailing is full of such evocative sounds and smells. Food always tastes better on board too!
Milla said…
would hate migraines (well, durr, obviously), used to get neuralgia across my face as a child and that was pretty *loody nasty but, touch wood, nothing sense. I love that painting, the upright one, gorgeous. And don't forget to let us know immediately about the novel. Lovely to have a pic of you, too, so it's easy to imagine you.
LittleBrownDog said…
Many thanks for your suggestion about racers - I'll definitely check that out.
annakarenin said…
I get migraine and besides excessive alcohol stress triggers mine. Started when I was very young and is from my dad's side of the family. My sister has developed them recently aswell. Horribly depilitating when they come I hate them. Just read Suffolk and funnily when I was pregnant was the only time I never ever got any, don't think I can use that remedy again though.

So funny the wide load quip and glad to hear you jhave got going on no 2.

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