The last couple of weeks have seen me taking more time “out”. No easy task for someone who is literally addicted to her work. By “day” I deal with clients looking to make their event extra special. Be it a wedding or a corporate client looking to make a lasting impression with their own customers. Then in my spare time I am getting all passionate and enthusiastic about women in business in my role as President of Moray Business Women. So there really is little space for me, or indeed those around me, some days. But having invited friends and family to stay for a few days, “space” was something I would need to make.
And it all began with a memorable trip 15 days ago. No, not that kind of trip. A trip of the “crumpled on the floor” variety. Holding my foot I knew this wasn’t looking (or indeed feeling) good. Argh! Not a cry of pain but one of the deep deep frustration. That afternoon our first guests would arrive and we had much planned – a plan to get me out of the office and start to learn to enjoy the moment. Spending it on the sofa or hobbling on crutches simply was not in the plan. And we all know Marie loves a plan right? And we all know she doesn’t always love it when that plan goes off piste right? That is unless it is to somewhere even more amazing than the original route was heading.
A trip to A&E and a sigh of relief later and I was home practising my rice. Hey – not cooking it. Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation. “I am fairly sure there is nothing broken, but you have damaged the ligament and soft tissue. It can still take up to six weeks so make sure you RICE, support it and no squash”. Well that’s my squash days over :D. Ok it wasn’t exactly “go home take an aspirin you will be fine in the morning” but I was prepared to look on the positive side and be grateful for no cast and no crutches. Because that meant I wasn’t immobile? Right? Perhaps if I ask ‘him up there’ if he might look down on me favourably he would help me heal. If not in time for the next couple of ‘family and friend’ weeks, then maybe for a very busy event September once all my guests have been and gone.
Ok, focus! Fast forward fifteen days and I am looking back on two fabulous weeks. Glyn and Marion were our first house guests. Now Glyn and Marion are famous for their own trips. No – not the “oops a daisy” kind of trips. I mean wind in their helmet, astride their Vincent, travelling the world kind of trips. That bike has been to so many continents it should have its own passport. These two are now in their mid to late 70s and not physically as mobile as they were. They are both sporting a third leg (stick) but they are by no means hanging their wheels up. The Vincent is being converted to a trike. Now if that doesn’t inspire you to live for the moment, I don’t know what will.
So less than 24 hours after my fall I found a pair of boots which would hug my foot, ankle and calf and allow me to gently walk. My beloved Glen Muick was on the visitor tour so I was not being left on the sofa – or in the car! Lord knows what we must have looked like, what with them two on their sticks and me carefully putting one foot in front of the other, stiff leg limping along. We didn’t go very far – just far enough to see the loch and watch four red deer on the hillside. Though I did manage to cover a mile and half in the entire day with a little pootle up and down the main street of “Royal” Ballater. Back home it was RICE for me but I awoke the next morning amazed to find my foot articulating better than it had 24 hours before. Yay – I could walk with my foot facing forward. I could even bend at the ankle. Before you all shout at me, this wasn’t me being stubborn, complacent, bull-headed, stupid. It was simply me listening to my body and I truly believe this little, early, gentle exercise was already helping the healing process.
Glyn and Marion went home a couple of days later, I went back to work for a couple of days or so and even managed to drive before Helen and James, family, arrived a week later.
Helen has only passed through this area briefly and James has never been to Scotland. Hi ho hi ho it’s off to Glen Muick we go :D. I told you I won’t ever tire of this place didn’t I? This time I could get my walking boots on. Helen borrowed my original pair of Karrimors and picnic packed we set off. According to Mr Smith, the weather was promised to be better “over that side”. Well it’s fair to say it was – sometimes. It was also worse – sometimes! Well they do say “if you don’t like the weather in Scotland wait a few minutes” because it really was changeable.
We love this area – love this walk. The circuit is a little under 8 miles though you can get it up to 9 if you take the track up to Allt-na-giubhsaich (Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s favourite retreat) and then follow the remainder of the “Lochnagar” route back to the start. With me still nervous of going over on my foot we opted to cross over the loch by the boat house and take the well made track/drive down to Glas-allt Shiel (the hunting lodge built for Queen Victoria after Prince Albert’s death).
Keara came too. Mr Smith and I watched as she went off with these two as they soaked up the views. There is something which really grabs at your heart when someone sees an area you love so much and instantly fall in love with it too. Walking becomes more about the stories, the little things. We laugh. We pass the time of day with other walkers. We laugh again as Mr Smith gets all creative with his camera. And laugh some more as Marie gets hers out and goes in search of a rival shot. We comment on the flowers and how much Helen’s Mum loves them whenever she comes here. We scour the hills for deer. Three pairs of binoculars came with us that day but not one deer graced us with an appearance. Not one! A couple of garron ponies – but no deer. As we debated which we should take as the final route back, the hips, knees and feet were all feeling tired. But “good” tired as Helen said in the car later.
Approx 16,000 boot steps were put down that day. Not a huge number in the scale of walks gone by, but not so shabby given I only had half a working leg on my right hand side! Meanwhile Helen has taken a shine to my boots – they were last seen getting on a plane at Inverness complete with two pairs of my boot socks. One last lingering look down to the braes from our dining room window tells me this part of Scotland has stolen a little of their hearts. We said our emotional farewells at the airport yesterday with promises to do this again – soon. So what do we think, readers? The Ardnamurchan peninsula (another place I will never tire of) and the scene of my 118396 boot steps last year perhaps? It’s ok, we promise not to make anyone walk that far – because we don’t need to. But I defy them not to find themselves walking and taking in those equally “silencing” views.
And as I write this there is a realisation. A realisation that precious times like these make me happy. So happy I could burst. I had to work one day this week and I found myself wishing I could pick that day up and move it to another week.
A friend of mine retired just a short while ago and has grabbed his free time with both hands. I have tried to imagine how I might feel when I am no longer defined by my work? Will I slide into depression as I lose my work focus? How long before I can step away from the office for a day, a week and not worry I have overlooked a diary entry, an appointment, missed an e-mail? Will I ever be able to make that shift? Will I be able to make new plans. Can I really live in the moment and enjoy the simple things too?
Yet, for the first time, thanks to both sets of guests, I truly feel a shift has begun.