Yesterday morning I’d run round Cheddar reservoir twice (doing about 9 and a half km meaning that together with Sunday’s run I had completed a half marathon in just 49 hours). I thought today would be a rest day, but we took a day trip to Brean Down and despite my son saying we should just go to the beach and not climb the headland, we went to look at the 19th Century fort.
What we didn’t realise was how long a walk it was to get there. It was very long. Not quite as far as I’d run yesterday, but a lot more hilly and for a good part of it I was carrying one or other of my heavy children. All in direct sunlight. It was an incredible work out.
Plus with sheer cliffs on either side and an unpredictable three year old running towards them without fear, it was also a terrible horror show for me as I imagined him plummeting to his death and did my best to keep him unbroken.
And was it worth it to see the fort…?
I’m a parent and I know I am supposed to say that history is important.
It was a bit underwhelming. Mostly due to the amount of work it was to get there. And the amount of work it was to get back.
As we came back along the headline my son kept saying “I told you not to climb the rock.” We should listen to our children.
I was glad that I had got fit because I think this might have killed me if I hadn’t been in training. But we had certainly earned the ice cream we had when we were finally down to earth.
After some beach time we headed over to Weston-super-Mare, which was maybe 3 miles away, but with no direct road was a half hour drive. I used to come to W-S-M a lot as a kid - this was the closest place with shops and a cinema and when I was a bit older the 126 bus took you there in an hour, so I hung out there with my friends. It was never the greatest place on earth - there’s a beach, but the sand quickly turns to mud and back in the 80s it was all penny arcades. In some ways it is better now, but after a weird meal, where the teenage staff at the restaurant looked a bit like they’d just chanced across a vacant restaurant and decided to try and make a go of it, having never been to a restaurant before, we made a quick jaunt to the shops. There is a new (to me) shopping centre, but the old shopping high street behind it is a shadow of its former (not particularly impressive) self. Like most High Streets it has given way to Poundlands and other discount stores, the M and S is now boarded up (I once applied for a job there in my year off, but they correctly worked out that I wasn’t serious about working there long term and I was unsuccessful). The WH Smiths where I spent my book tokens and birthday money and bought my first teenage singles (I believe Peaches by The Stranglers was my first non-jumble sale purchase) is still there, the coffee store that I used to run past to avoid the stink has gone and maybe replaced by a Caffe Nero. It’s all pedestrianised now, which is nice, but I struggled to find anywhere to buy a nice gift for my dad’s birthday tomorrow. It made me feel quite sad to see this once not totally appalling town and glittering light of my teenage years become slightly closer to being awful. But as I say, elsewhere things had improved and I guess the decline of the High Street is a universal thing and the tug of sadness I felt was more about the loss of youth than anything else. Talking of which, Youngsters toy shop was also no more. The Hornby and Subbuteo stuff I bought in there. And slime. And the fucking creepy Hugo doll
that I nonetheless played with a lot.
It was a crazy, emotional, exhausting day, but at least no one pooed on a pathway. And the struggle up and down Brean Down is the kind of childhood memory of pain, fear and disappointment (and also beauty and wonder) that life is made of. And no one fell off the big rock, so that’s a win.
You can now buy tickets to the live stream of RHLSTP at Leicester Square Theatre. The proceeds are going to charity (the Hertfordshire hospitals that treated me and the Museum of Comedy). It’s £10 per double header show or £50 for all 8 shows (we’re also doing a trial run on 29th August) BUT if you’re a monthly badger then it’s half price. It’s only £3 a month to become a monthly badger
and you can leave at any time, so you do the math(ematics)
If you are a badger you should have got an email with your special link or you can check out the members’ area of rhlstp.co.uk for info