The bus has stopstarted out from Sheffield to Fox House. The stopstarting shlep from Fox House, sweatily burdened under bouldering pads and bag full of shoes and food is finished.
Time to climb.
But maybe coffee and a teacake in this sun warmed hollow first.
Eventually the pad is positioned, shoes are on, aching muscles warmed, fingers chalked. Now it’s time to climb.
And the world shrinks, becomes childhood simple again. As it always does on grit or gres. Gone are the worries about cash flow, about family, about my health. All there is now is this few four metres of gritstone. Gritstone cold under the eggshell pale winter sky, kissed by a stickydamp wind.
Right foot high on that ripple, bouncestand quickly, rocking over into balance. Hold the balance, starfished against the rock. Breathe. Stand taller. Slowly arc up the opposite arm, walking my fingers over the stone. Hold the balance. Feeling, muscles remembering. There’s a brace of bullet scars; there. Enough, on this steep slab to full stretch hang by three fingers and one, still balanced on two toes.
Eyes now on the distant edge.
And now pull. Pull hard with that left arm.
And, coreclenching, scamper feet on smeary nothingnesses to a high ripple.
Eyes on the still distant edge, keep the momentum.
And pushpull hard to leap.
Eyes on the approaching edge, swing the right arm up and …
… miss …
… gravity takes hold.
That big pad looks not quite so big from four metres.
Half a second later, it’s back to full size as my body wallops into it. And the impact wallops the breath out from my body.
Ooft. Lay still, just for a moment. Breathe though, come on, you’ve been doing it for decades. Breathe, then you can swear.
Bugger(mostly okay then, I’m still swearing in English).
Vertical ballet? Hmm, yeah right, first walk through maybe.
Down jacket on, nibble fingertip flappers off, deliver hard stare to the boulder for a while(honestly, this helps), down jacket off again, and round two.
There’s hours yet before dark, world enough and time to play.