Here are the promised photos of my ill-fated expedition to Berry Greave last week, which has resulted in a lot of proprietorial tut-tutting from those people who don’t quite get this sport of extreme disability scootering.
First, there was the easy bit. The canal towpath. I can go to Tunnel End along Reddisher Road or along the towpath. Which I choose depends on the weather and how I feel. If the towpath is too wet, it becomes almost impassable for me, so I avoid it if it’s raining. Reddisher Road has the disadvantage of occasional traffic, but compensates for it by the views to Pule and Deer Hills, and a wonderful sense of airiness.
So, I use the canal when I want to be relaxed and quiet and the road when I want to feel the wind.
On the Berry Greave expedition, I used the towpath. A strange thing: when I am going west the canal is brown with peat; when I go east it is green with leaves. Why should this be? The sunlight hums with insects, and settles only on the surface tension of the water. It is magical. It is the England you will always remember.
From what was the Tunnel End pub, I get off road, turning left after the cobbles onto the footpath that climbs diagonally across the lower slope of Huck Hill to the lovely homestead of Orchard Hey. I can’t imagine fruit trees thriving up here, but it would be nice to try. The blossom would be glorious at this time of year.
Now comes the first really major obstacle, for we have to go through the yard of Orchard Hey farm, which was surfaced with sheep in mind, not electric scooters. It can be done, though, if you’re pig-headed enough and if you treat your scooter as though it had no feelings and only cost you a pound to buy.
Use your legs as stabilisers, if you can.
Eventually, you emerge onto what maps mark as a road but is, in fact, more like a dry stream bed. Winter frost has cracked it, farm traffic has churned it up, and repair work has consisted of filling holes with stone and a bit of concrete.
I blithely picked my slow but dancing way past The Hey and Berry Greave Farm, then, as the lane breasts the hill, a momentary lapse of concentration sent me and the scooter crashing to the floor. The scooter toppled over very slowly, and I remember shouting at Ruby to get out of the way, before my head hit the road and I found myself lying on the stones and being interested in the fact that it felt really comfortable.
I would have stayed there and had a bit of a nap, but Ruby did her First Aid by madly licking my face. Easeful oblivion, or even a light doze, was impossible.
So I got up to right the scooter . . . and fell down again.
This was ridiculous, but luckily no-one was watching.
I did it again, and gave the righted scooter a good talking-to, but it seemed to think it was a lot of fuss about nothing, which it was, I suppose. After metaphorically tutting and rolling its eyes, it took me home again, downhill all the way!
It is long-suffering, my scooter!
These photographs are to remind me not to be foolish again, but I shall ignore them. Life would be no fun if I just accepted my disability and age. The point of it all is not to accept, but to come to terms with.
It is not a surrender; it is a negotiation. It has to be.