A Wonderful Wollaton Walk

As hundreds of walkers gathered in the grounds of Wollaton Hall, there was a definite upbeat feel. We were all there for one cause, to help raise money for the Prostate Cancer UK.
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men, with over 47,000 men diagnosed in the UK every year. Every 45 minutes a man dies from prostate cancer, that’s more than 11,000 men every year. With 1 in 8 men likely to be diagnosed in their lifetime, there’s an urgent need to raise awareness of this form of cancer.
As we assemble, many are going through the ancient ritual of applying the war paint before a great battle, albeit under the guise of T-Shirts, caps, ban-banners, wristbands and the like, all adorned with PCUK logos. The compere starts the motivation with the count down to the off. Introducing one of the Directors to PCUK, who gives thanks for all those taking part in the day’s events. – More rousing words of encouragement.

More of a sombre moment as one of the fallen takes the stage to really remind us why we are there. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and immediately started his treatment to fight the disease. As is sometimes forgotten, the problem is a big part of the close family and love ones around them. Too many times we all fail to see the help and guidance that is given when we are at our lowest. This man stood in front of hundreds, told of how he was given the all clear after an operation, knowing that he will always have the nagging doubt of the cancers’ return. Knowing that his sons’ odds of risk had been increased. Knowing that he owed an immense debt of gratitude to his partner who helped him through. – And that’s why we are here – to help in anyway we can.

More motivation, this time physical with the ladies from a local fitness center as they took us through some warm up exercises, – the clock was ticking. Time for us to split into our different distance groups. A quick count down and we were off. We ascended towards the Hall with more of an amble than a walk, but the shuffling crowd turned into a line as people found their stride. Twice around the Halls grounds was the objective, but with the day rapidly warming up, this felt like a long way off. The first lap felt slow, people coming from all directions from their various routes, but this gave us plenty of time to take in the wonderful grounds and some of their inhabitants.

Now remember it wasn’t a race! But…you can’t help seeing the 9 people in front of you as a challenge. Two were running, there may have been more, but I had my sights set on the walkers. 2nd lap, I’d got my pace, taken on some water, time to push. The first couple were easy, they slowed on the hill, rookies mistake. Next was the elderly couple I’d been watching from the start. They kept an incredible pace, my self-esteem was knocked further once I’d caught up with them. I praised them on their efforts only to be told that they normally run greater distances. Refocused I pursued my next quarry, a woman that had surged pass me half way around the first lap. No time to stop and talk with this one. Revenge – albeit not severed cold on this hot sweaty day in June. Onward. I was soon in the wake of a well seasoned couple. Once again I joined them for idle chatter. As they told me of their previous year’s endeavours, by keeping their pace at 4mph and that there was only the slow incline to the finish they were well in on their previous years record… not good enough for me… I was off again. The finish was in sight. As I pushed on down the hill to the inflated Finish Arch there was cheering, even though many had been through before me I still felt a winner.
I will now have to spend two weeks in intensive care with exhaustion and dehydration – worth it!
That said…. I wish to thank everyone that has donated towards Prostate Cancer UK. – AND GENTS, KEEP ON CHECKING.

Welcome to UK-Shanty

There’s something quite depressing about driving through what’s left of Britain’s green an pleasant countryside in recent years. Villages that I used to visit or travel through on the way somewhere, have suddenly sprouted ugly new housing estates on their extremities. UkShantyAccording to the Housing Charity Shelter and other governing bodies, we are in the middle of a “Housing Crisis”. Apparently, another three million new homes must be built in England over the next 20 years to try to combat it.

I have had the misfortune of being involved in the thick of this argument of an “Housing Crisis”. Recently a local farmer, like many others, discovered it would be more lucrative to sell some land than to farm it. Within a blink of an eye, plans had been made to put 200 houses on the land. The bad news quickly spread and a local residents group was formed in protest against the build. Meetings were held and with little and no help from the local parish council, most of whom didn’t even live in the village, we expressed our views in the one-sided debate and managed to prove that the local infrastructure could not facilitate these houses. What with the already overstretched road network and the old sewage pipes, a major rethink was required. But while this was going on, another builder managed to sneak into the next field and build his houses on the perimeter, pushing the border a further quarter mile out. As always, too much money changing hands and not enough voices opposing.
Going back to my opening statement about how depressing it is, to add more fuel to my fire of despair, I recently travelled through one village in which I used to live, and l was shocked. It had been extended by a mile with the addition of two large housing estates. It was originally 3 miles to the next village, now it’s only 2.
It doesn’t end there, in the middle of our village there was a large house with lovely grounds, owned by a family that had been in the village for decades. The house was used as the centre point for fetes and other local events. We could wander around the gardens showing all their splendour in mid-summer. Unfortunately, the owners passed away and the house was sold…..Bulldozers came in and it’s all gone… replaced by half a dozen eye sores crammed in a cul de sac where no-one now ventures.
Another village I know had an office complex forced upon to it. The project was finished well over 5 years ago and there are still signs saying office space for let. Why were they built if they were not required?
It’s so disappointing when there’s still plenty of houses that can be renovated, large houses that could be made into flats that people could afford. Old factories that can be brought up to date and reused.

We were very fortunate a few years back to move into a relatively small village on the outskirts of Leicestershire. 20 years on with the village growing too fast and has become too busy, we are now thinking of moving to a nice quiet small village on the outskirts of…… ? Any ideas anyone? Where is safe from the expanding brick mutant? What are we doing? None of this can be undone, the beautiful green fields, trees and hedgerows – GONE! It’s time for us to stop the madness. Time for us to shout about it. I have a big soapbox to stand on.. join me.