4 July 2011

I don’t often get the opportunity to go back to my hometown but today I had that calling. Gail turned left at the gate and headed towards the coast road. I paused for a second whilst I contemplated the extra few hours detour. With the sun shining and the roof down, it was not a difficult decision. I turned right and headed further into the heart of Wales.

Driving around the side of Snowdon with a cloudless backdrop of blue sky, the scenery is breathtaking. Britain is at its best when the sun beats down, giving the rain a break.  I headed over towards Capel Curig then through Betwsycoed before heading across the moors.

There’s something about Denbigh Moors that is special. It is a bleak place, and if you have ever cycled or run across it, it feels like it goes on forever. Even in the beautiful sunshine you get a sense of the expanse with nowhere to hide from the elements. No trees just undulating heather as far as the eye can see. As a kid, I cycled regularly to the Brenig, a huge reservoir that supplies the water for Liverpool. It was one heck of a hill climb to get you to the top but once you are up there it’s another world. And then there’s the downhill challenge on the return trip that’s just insane.

Driving through these special places reminds me of so many memories that I had forgotten. I set out on a simple detour and it quickly turned into a special day.

Its so easy to find time to visit new places and neglect the ones we take for granted. Heading down the Denbigh high street, nothing’s changed that much; the same shops are, reassuringly, still there.

I headed over to the Lynch’s where John, my family doctor, friend and the greatest mentor a young boy could ever want, still lives. He was a man who gave me hope in myself when others around me were so quick to judge. Uncle John saw something special in me, deep down, that no one else could see. He has a real gift. He inspires and, even though he’s very ill and has not much time left, he still has that twinkle in his eye.

Sadly, John lost the ability to speak after suffering from an embolism 20 years ago, so although he understands everything, he is unable to communicate back through speech. And this, for a man who was such a great orator, is a reminder to me that life is not fair and you have to make the most of every gift whilst you have it. Nothing lasts forever and it’s easy to underestimate that life is about “the here and now.” You can dream of “one day I will be ….” but actually, being content and happy now is where it’s at.

It is so easy to get distracted by negative events. However, the stronger you can be, by not getting caught up in other peoples strifes, the happier you will be in the long run.

After saying goodbye, I headed towards Ruthin where I went to school. I smiled driving through the town as I saw the sign for the Ironmongers. You don’t see that very often any more, certainly not in Manchester. The school was quiet; there was no one around. I walked onto the front field and onto the rugby pitch. I walked over to the far side of the touchline where I kicked one of the greatest kicks of my school boy career.

We won by 1 point that day, and as I looked towards the posts I savoured every moment, remembering the confidence and belief my team mates had in me and I had in myself. I remember my housemaster calmly saying, “not bad Jones, not bad at all.” I winked at him as the whistle blew.

I walked further across the field to the cricket wicket. There had been a game the previous day and the worn lines and the mountain back drop have not changed. I will be able to revisit in another 10 years and I am 100% confident that it will be exactly the same.

In an ever-changing world, I don’t know about you but I hang on to tradition. That’s one of the reasons I love our house and land in Wales. It’s in the Snowdonian National Park and there are so many restrictions on change in that area that it prevents people from changing too much and actually this is a great thing. There are not many places you can visit 20 years later and they are untouched. In Snowdonia’s case, it won’t change much over the next 1000 years and long may that continue.

There does have to be a balance. I love change, I love variety and I am someone who strives to make a difference every day, yet I have this other side that is very steady. I am a creature of habit. I do the same things every week, at the same time. I go to the same restaurants and eat the same food. I suppose it helps me keep order of what otherwise could be a chaotic existence.

I better get back to my day job. I am running a little late today with my blog post after breaking one of those scheduled disciplines yesterday!

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