A lovely blog post entitled: Walk in Heaton Park, Manchester, in September by Jack Coupe, one of our carers with the Manchester Carers Forum.
I looked out of the window that morning and thought: “Oh no, it’s raining”, followed by “Who cares if it’s raining!” I love walking in the fresh air. My wife’s the same. We go for walks in the park most days. We don’t have a dog, so we walk each other. It’s one of the greatest things: to be out in Nature, hear the birds singing, smell the new-mown grass, the wind rustling the leaves. It’s like a movie in front of your eyes.
I was a bit concerned that they might cancel it thanks to the weather. But I didn’t get a call so I soldiered boldly forward. It always reminds me of the love I had for walking 40 years ago when a bunch of us at the YMCA in Peter Street used to catch a train and go out somewhere for the day with a packet of sandwiches and a thermos. It was a trek really. We’d climb what felt like a mountain to me and on the way up, you’d be shattered and thinking: “Why, why, am I doing this?’ Then you’d get to the top and see this beautiful patchwork quilt of fields and trees and lakes laid out in front of you and all the pain would vanish.
Now I’m older with a bit of arthritis but I still love it and I can’t praise the Manchester Ramblers and the Carers Forum enough for putting on these walks for us at so many wonderful places. The value of them is immense.
I was surprised to see so many people turn up in the drizzle but, you know, I think that’s because people can be lonely. When you’re a carer you often feel isolated. My son developed a drug dependancy when he was young, mainly cannabis, and there have been long years of struggle and heartbreak. He’s doing better now but I can sympathise with people going through the same thing. Somehow people can find that bulldog spirit that pulls them through, which I suppose is why this huge crowd turned up at a hotel on the edge of Heaton Park – the largest park in Europe, by the way – to walk, have a chat and have fun.
“Fun?” I can hear you saying. But it was. We had an amazingly good time. It was like “Singing In The Rain” – the old film. And it was all the more amazing to me because I’d had quite a grumpy start to the morning. I do sometimes. I have anxiety. My dad died in a road accident when I was seven and it’s like Sliding Doors the movie. I don’t know how I’d have been had he lived. I’ve always been a bit nervous and anxious since.
But then I put my boots on and it made me think immediately: “Wow, I’m getting back to my youth here when I was young and fancy free at the YMCA.” I was unemployed then but doing exercise and taking in their philosophy about cultivating mind, body and spirit gave me motivation. I got a job with the Royal Mail and stayed there for 23 years.
My mood changed and the walk was fantastic. In the distance saw the big stone, like an obelisk, planted to commemorate the Pope’s visit to Manchester in 1984. We made our way to the highest point in Manchester, topped with a grand-looking folly made of pillars, with a panoramic view out to Oldham and the suburbs. For me, I think the most moving sight was the memorial to the Battle of the Somme, a semi-circular wall made of up plaques in a collage dedicated to the soldiers who fell in battle. We all stood and read the inscriptions for some time. Took some photos. Took time to think of them.
We came back for lunch together and that was great too. No man is an island and talking to people, being with people, especially people who have just been part of the same adventure makes you feel better.
I can’t say enough about Margaret, Mags, Maggie and the rest of the Manchester and Salford Ramblers who organise the walks for us. Nor Miriam and the other staff at the Manchester Carers Forum. You are always greeted by smiles and they are not perfunctory either. They really care. Looking forward to the next walk now and seeing everyone again.