I’m a sloth. A short fat hairy one.

It’s early January. I peer out of the cave expecting the usual grim, damp cold wintry weather only to be blinded by bright sunshine and a blue sky!Rear view of Failsworth Town Hall, library and Wholesome Cafe

Damn. So much for hibernating. I’ll have to get up and do something now. But what though?

I shuffle through the cave garbage for ideas, got some leaflets somewhere.

  • A walk: short, about an hour around Moston Brook
  • Nordic Walking: interesting, sticks provided, starting point the local park
  • Cycling: around the track at Boggart Hole Clough, an ‘inclusive‘ activity
  • Pilates: gentle exercise, over 50’s class in Blackley
  • Running: organised Park Run in Chadderton

Running was that? Don’t make me laugh. With all this fur? Nope, a walk’s more my thing, the shorter the better.

The Wholesome Cafe at Failsworth Town Hall was warm, comfy and bustling. I could have stayed all day but the group set off with a spring. Ann Bates led the way and I mooched along at the rear.Lots of variety packed into just one hour and we were back before I knew it. Taking a route alongside the canal, we went over bridges, through open fields and wooded areas, picked out the brook, up and down paths and steps. We paused now and then to chill out and listen to titbits of local history, courtesy of Alan Hampson.

You couldn’t get a finer group of gas-bags. I hardly got a word in edge-ways.Ann Bates (pictured) said “I’m planning regular, monthly, walks and some will be themed too. Covering different aspects of the brook through the seasons. Anyone’s welcome.”

Pooches seemed welcome too, on a lead, plus a brew at the end if you fancied it. I had a blast and it blew a few cobwebs away.

I was so inspired I went for a bike ride a few days later, courtesy of Simply Cycling.

The word ‘bike’ is a bit loose. I chose a tricycle. Don’t laugh. Broke my leg a while back so my balance is a bit skewed. To prove a point, I veered straight down a path and crashed into the gate before wobbling out onto the track.My pride was dented but the gate and ‘bike’ were undamaged, thank God, or I’d have disappeared into the distance never to be seen again.

The sports track at Boggart Hole Clough wasn’t too busy. I shared it with a gentleman rider keeping a good pace, a couple of youngsters trying out a tandem, a mother with younger child on a two-seater. Plenty of others came and went and no-one was disappointed.A bargain at just £2 a session, Simply Cycling have lots of different cycles to choose from, some curious looking. It’s ‘inclusive’ because anyone, any age, any ability or disability can have a go. There’s parking nearby, toilets on site and a cafe next to the boating lake further in the park.

Volunteers are on hand to help you chose a carriage and, in my case, get on the damn thing. I whizzed round and round the track until my legs were tired but it was good fun and I’ll definitely go again.Boggart Hole Clough boating lake and cafe

Details of upcoming events around Moston Brook are posted on the Moston Brook Friends facebook page. Simply Cycling run sessions at three parks across Manchester, including Boggart Hole Clough, just check out their website.

As well as pilates classes, North Manchester Fitness run a range of activities for all ages and abilities throughout the week in Blackley, Harpurhey and Prestwich. Visit their website for details and pick what suits you best.

So, is this short fat hairy sloth ready for spring? Mmmm…maybe but I’ll give my cave a sweep first and take a nap before I decide what to do next…don’t want to overdo it after all?

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From fair weather walking to bum shuffling

You can’t beat getting outdoors for a bit of fair weather walking. I like canal paths. They’re mostly flat, easy to access and you can walk for miles. Don’t launch yourself down any slopes though. I tried it already.At least A&E wasn’t too busy.  I swapped jokes with my buddy and we passed the time between triage, blood tests and x-rays. The nurse dropped her bombshell but the news didn’t really sink in. Words like “immobilisation” “back-cast” and “anti-coagulation injections” left me blank so I just listened politely.

Before long I was hopping off on my new set of crutches with “… whatever you do, don’t put that foot on the ground” ringing in my ears. I was baffled, bewildered and wobbling about all over the place.

Breaking your leg just above the ankle hurts. It hurts a lot. I’ve left out the bit between the ‘gravel slope’ and getting to A&E on purpose.

Home alone with my phone, a bottle of water, the TV controls, painkillers and my foot stuck out front on a cushion, the words “what the hell am I going to do?” rattled through my brain.

Well, two months on and I’m back on two feet. So here are some tips in case the same thing happens to you.Bum shuffling: Get used to it. Crutches are down-right dangerous even on the flat. You’ll get to a step or flight of stairs and be stumped. My ace husband made tray for my pot leg to help the shuffle go even smoother – like it?

Knicker flicking: There’s a knack to getting dressed and undressed that involves flicking your smalls into the air and catching them before they hit the floor. You have to avoid dropping anything on the floor because you can’t reach it without tongs. Tongs, the sort you flick bacon over with, are essential.Wine capping: Carrying stuff, especially drinks is really tricky. Find a plastic lid that fits your wine glass early on – it’s very important. You don’t want to drink your wine stuck in the kitchen because that’s just weird, unless you’re at a party. If you can’t find a lid that fits, the hell with it, just drink the bottle.Toe flossing: Not being smelly is a challenge when you can’t have a bath or shower so work out how to stay clean. Make sure what you need is within reach. If you need help, ask for it because no-one can read your mind, even if you think they can.Wheelchair ironing!?: I was lucky; we got one second hand (a wheelchair not an iron) and it was brilliant. Also, the big supermarkets have battery powered scooters. Just bear in mind that some go faster than others and don’t always stop just when you want them to. Take it from me.Toe warming: Wriggle your toes. They get cold though when you’re watching watch TV so warm them up. My mother-in-law will knit you a bobby hat for them or you can borrow mine.

Do whatever it takes to feel better; sleep, catch up with friends, read, listen to the radio, watch cricket. Your broken bone won’t stay broken but, when it all gets too much…

…swear loudly and launch your crutches across the room –  you’ll definitely feel better then!

LAB Wellbeing

A flyer about a new LAB course lands in my in-box and this statement catches my attention: “…aimed at adults who can self-identify with mild to moderate mental health and wellbeing problems.”

The course is a pilot at the Simpson Memorial Hall and is being run by Chris Higham and Sarah Jones from the Proper Job Theatre Company.I’ve been on a LAB course before. They grab you because they combine being inventive, interesting and challenging with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

I arrange to go along and find out a bit more.

“We help build emotional resilience” Chris explains. “Look at how you view yourself and introduce the idea that you can better yourself if you want to.”“Sounds great, but how?” I ask.

“At the start, everyone sets themselves a task or challenge. It might be something they want to do more of or less of, something new or something they want to change. It can be anything really but it has to be something they can complete by Friday.

If your dream is to get fit and run a marathon you might want to set your challenge to a jog around the block as a first step. It has to be something you can do within the week. Everyone’s target is different but usually it’s physical or mental health that people on the course want to improve.”

“Well, I want to lose a stone!” I butt in.

“Ok, but bring it right down, make it sizeable, so rather than have a massive goal that you fail, it becomes something you can achieve instead.”

He’s got me thinking. I decide to join up and meet the rest of the group. Like everyone else I feel a bit awkward at first, we exchange the usual polite niceties but then it’s straight in.By mid-week we’re chatting away like old friends. Our efforts are displayed around the room; sheets showing SMART objectives, a problem solving cycle, Challenge by Choice diagram, a working agreement and lots of collages.

Chris and Sarah are both brilliant at what they do and capture everyone’s interest effortlessly.

Sessions begin with a physical activity, nothing onerous but enough to wake your body and brain up. These are followed by a series of either team tasks where you work together, individual creative activities or mental problems and quizzes to resolve.They’re not all easy, some really stretch you, some are just a good laugh. Discussions are held throughout when the group reflects on what they might have done differently etc., and each day ends with a brief time to relax.The week closes with a chance to share the challenge we’d each set ourselves. All of them were achieved. Not big strides maybe but steps in the right direction.

A dollop of self belief and I left feeling good.

For more details about LAB Wellbeing and the LAB Project, including future course dates and who to contact, please visit the Proper Job Theatre Company website.

Elsewhere on Another Music there are lots of activities and links to local groups that you might find useful or interesting. The local library, the council, the noticeboard at the supermarket all have information about what’s going on nearby and how you can join in.

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