Day 172 has seen 50 balls struck, 2.4 miles run, a surprise encounter and some hard work rewarded.

Recently identified as an essential element of my strategy to beat the beast, Golf was the Main Effort of the morning and as it was the last day of the school holidays I thought that I would take James and Heather too. So last night I sent word to come and meet me at the flat at 0900hrs with waterproofs ready for Golf in the morning and a run in the afternoon. Heather wanted a lie in but would join us on the run. James was late and didn’t get the bit about Golf so turned up ready for a bike ride. Once he had gone home, changed and returned we had missed the bus. That was an hour of Golf practice gone. I couldn’t shave off any time elsewhere because the run was just as important, as was cooking a healthy tea from scratch, as was morning and evening prayer and when trying to do it all on public transport I just had to accept that I would have an hour’s less practice. Initially I was hugely frustrated but then remembered that I hadn’t been back at Brucefield’s family golf centre in Bannockburn for many months due to a focus on trying to get as many miles under the belt as possible. I had never played golf before receiving half a dozen lessons and practice sessions off of Gregor at the Golf Centre and was not a natural golfer by any stretch even after all that tuition and practice. So I knew that I was going to have to work hard at it but that loosing an hour’s worth of practice is probably a good thing for the first day back. Take it gently, break back into it gently and don’t pile pressure on myself as it can only be counter productive.

We eventually reached the Golf Centre and were given a wonderfully warm welcome by Kirsty, Gregor and the team. We had a quick chat and before I knew it James was armed with a token for 100 balls for practice. I went to reach for my wallet but Kirsty reassured me that a promise is a promise so go and enjoy your Golf with James. I was touched and left slightly emotional by their welcome and generosity but got cracking. No time to waste. My plan for today was to set the first meter by which you could track my progress at Golf and as I stood on the driving range with my 7 iron and, with the massive amount to try and remember then coordinate in order to hit a good shot running around my head I thought that I should start with something simple. I would start with hitting consistently reaching 75 metres on a straight and true line. That made sense so put my first ball on the stubby rubber tea on the mat. Walked away, then walked back to the ball as if I had just reached it after a walk up the fairway. One can but dream!! I checked my alignment to the green, then my grip, then went through a couple of practice swings trying so very hard to keep my head stock still over the ball with the rest of my body relaxed and ready to whip around like a coiled spring, in a Bob Marley esk relaxed manner of course. My head was buzzing with everything that I had to remember. I brought my club back as I looked intently at the ball and…….released. I looked up as James exclaimed ‘cool Dad!!’ and saw my ball drop well behind the 100 metre marker. I stood in disbelief at first but that was most definitely my ball that I just saw drop. A smile crept across my face. 75 metres is too short. Perhaps I should set 150 metres as the first meter I thought as I lined up the second ball and just as I did James hit a sweet shot in the bay next to me. I had some competition! I walked away. Walked back. Addressed the ball and started my backswing. Thwack. The ball jumped up and dribbled away. I had just tonked the very top of it. I tried again and cut the grass with it. Tried again and looked completely the wrong way. I sliced it then I pulled it then I even managed to hit the partition wall between the bays. But after each shot I placed another ball, walked away and then came back and went through the whole business of taking the shot in my head again and again. I had to find a way to make the brain and body talk to each other so persevered without ever loosing my cool. Just started from scratch each and every time and slowly but surely my shots got better. I even knocked one out to well over 150 metres but it was inconsistent. Very inconsistent. So I had my first meter. Straight and true shots out to 100 metres with a 7 iron on a consistent basis. All balls expended in a slow and deliberate manner it was time to eat the packed lunches that I had made for James and I of egg mayonnaise sandwiches with rocket, watercress and spinach salad followed by a flapjack and a veggie pick and mix bag of tenderstem broccoli, carrots, red grapes, exploding tomatoes and brazil nuts while starting the journey home. On the way back we sat on the top deck of the bus and managed to sit behind a most delightful mother and her two daughters from North America. When I asked where they were from they told me Canada. Then I asked them to develop it further, ‘Alberta’ came the reply, and I asked them to develop it further again. ‘Medicine Hat’ came the hesitant reply. James and I were both confounded by this coincidence. Of all the seats on all the buses in which we could have sat we choose seats behind Canadians from the very same small Canadian Town in which James was born. We had a wonderful chat with them before then showing them the way to the castle.

Once home it was time for a quick change then an hours organ practice on the keyboard at home in which I struggled further with the tune I am attempting to learn. Then Heather and James turned up dressed and ready to run. Doune Ponds, up the steps, down to the Commonty walk then down to the disused railway line and back in. 2.4 miles run. Heather and James did brilliantly and once back at the flat we did 3 overarm pull ups each with a little assistance for them both from me before doing 11 press ups and 11 sit ups each and then a really good stretch.

A quick bath and change I popped down to see my 92 year old downstairs neighbour to see if she would like me to cook her some seared Beef Carpacchio for her while I cook for us. I was cooking for 4 but only feeding 3. Would she like the 4th portion. She had her own food and needed to use a haggis and tatties tea meal before it went out of date but couldn’t see how to prepare it. Could I show her. Stood there in my blue stripy apron I was perfectly placed to help. I Went in. Read the instructions on the packet and showed her how to use the microwave safely and effectively for hot food. Once heated, tested and served I was back upstairs and started to cook for the children. More Spinach, rocket and watercress in a bowl with quartered radishes and then I made the dressing for the salad and the steak Carpacchio. English Mustard, apple cider vinegar, Worcester sauce and extra virgin olive oil. Yummy. Then I prepared the steaks. I did not have the wafer thin Carpacchio steaks so improvised. I took the two steaks and sliced them in half to halve the depth of the steak and make nice thin and easy seared steaks. Then I wacked the heat up on the griddle and started to cook them. The children arrived back in perfect time commenting on the wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen. Very soon it was done and with the steak thinly sliced and scattered over the plates with the salad and lactose free cheddar cheese peeled over the top we ate. The children ate the lot. Clean plates. Always a good sign.

As I made tomorrow’s packed lunch and started washing up Heather hoovered the sitting room floor and the corridor in the flat for me and James dried up. Then James went to the park and Heather practiced and sang some more beautiful music before hugs and farewells so I could go to church for evening prayer and organ practice. It was a perfect close to a busy and productive day and saw me walking down to church humming Heather’s song with a smile on my face. I was in good time for evening prayer and I was glad for it because I needed the extra time. Somewhere between saying farewell to the children and arriving at the church my brain had stopped functioning.

I got the keys mixed up in the keyholes initially but got in and settled myself at the organ in order to start evening prayer, as normal, with a tune. It quickly unravelled and my fingers were tripping over each other. Each time I looked down at the key board and then back up at the music I had completely lost my place but then couldn’t find my place because I had appeared to have forgotten how to read music. All I saw was a jumble of black notes and I had no idea what each one meant. So the tune ground to a halt. I stopped and went back to start, quickly prayed for help and tried again. Same again. So I stopped again and went back to the start. Same again. So I stopped again and went back again as the frustration within me built. This time it worked. I smiled and started to pray. Prayers then tune then reading then tune then prayers then tune all went well. I was back.

Yours aye

Beat The Beast