Category Archives: sport

All in a day…

September 3rd, Sunday – so a possible busy day as it is a working shift day. I awake to 06:30 alarm and didn’t snooze it for a change as today I wanted to go for a paddle on the River Frome before work. Once I had showered breakfast was accompanied with the view of two young hares in the front garden / drive. In conversation with visitors to my stall at yesterday’s craft fair I still realise that for many people a sighting of hares is rare or they have never seen one. We however are blessed so I watch them grazing on the grass that waits for its next cut, then chasing each other in the drive and under one of the cars.

After loading the kayak / sit on top I set off for Wareham. On the way through Stoborough the traffic is brought to a halt by a black and white crossing – cows on the mooove not a zebra crossing. Onwards to unload and park the car up on the Quay, free until 10 am. Waterproof, hat and buoyancy aid and I launch from the public slipway on Abbott’s Quay. I head downstream today to see how close I will get to the mouth of the river – an area I have told customers about but never seen for myself. The river has far more moored boats than when I paddled this way in the winter. Steady paddling past a wide range of motor and sailing yachts sees me pass Redcliffe then Ridge slipways and yacht areas. Eventually I reach the widening and tidal markers at the mouth of the Frome. I watch some swans, take some photos as evidence – 9 o’clock and a 35 minute paddle. Returning is harder into the wind and tide. It takes 35 minutes to return as well and I am pleased to have beaten the time we advise customers in motor boats to take. measured later the return journey is about 4.6/.7 miles in 70 minutes.

I collect the keys for work and unlock / set up a mini fleet in case any customers brace the wet conditions. I do a fair bit of bailing water and then settle in the hut/ office. No customers are forthcoming so closed for 1pm, everything re secured and a drive home via Swanage where the sea is quite choppy in the breezy conditions.

A quiet afternoon reading books, social media messages and then blogging while watching wind blown rain outside.


Reflections . . .

This blog has had a more retrospective / reflective role in the last 8 months as a new beginning fell apart and an alternative new beginning started. Last night I sat and read through all the posts from August 2016 to April 2017. It was good to see how low I had become and I was able to see that even on #rollercoaster days where my mood varies that I am in a better place.

So, how is life now we are in May:

This weekend I do my 14th and 15th shifts at Wareham Boat Hire – I have now manned the business on my own a couple of times and successfully set up and packed away. I have had a go in all of the boats except the SUPs which have rarely been out so far. I have learnt routines, how the various types of equipment work. I have a better knowledge of Wareham and am able to help visitors with questions. I really enjoy my days by the river in our sun trap. I have been fortunate to have only had one shift rained out. Last week Anne , while visiting, asked how I would score the job out of 10 for how happy it made me feel – my answer 19 !! Yes it is that good. At the end of the day I go away relaxed with nothing extra to do. I have started to paddle my own SOT kayak too in Swanage and on the River Frome. I will do more of this as it helps me when guiding our clients.

My artwork – I enjoy it but the being commercial aspect has caused variations in my mood and self doubt to come thundering in. In the next 16 days as we head into Purbeck Art Weeks (PAW17) I will:

– collect exhibition piece one back from L’Artishe gallery in Swanage

– drop off pieces, exhibition sheets and labels at Etches fossil collection in Kimmeridge, Verges piece for RSPB Arne and Corfe Castle canvas, prints and cards at Rollington Barn for PAW HQ exhibition. I will also have pieces on show at Art Workshop in Swanage

– make my home Open Studio (22) ready to receive visitors with signs, a silk flag, old examples of work and new pieces developed through the 16 days of the art festival.

– I must just enjoy the experience of chatting about my work, mental health linked reasons for starting. A lot has happened since the end of January, yes all that time ago!!

So life has enough to keep me busy. In addition there are family linked tasks that take up attention to. If you are in Dorset over May 27 to June 11 please pop by between 10 and 4pm for art stuff and contact me about other times. We have some guests booked but others are welcome.

This week some things have knocked me off kilter but now over 130 days into my GOB diary keeping only 11 have ended as being below ok. I don’t always dismiss the negatives now and some of those dominate my thoughts but every day has positives of some sort and there is clearly another side to me apart from teacher and I have a future worth living. Those two aspects are huge compared to where I was mentally just a few months ago.

Alternatively there are also weekly news updates about the art work on AndyKnillArt blog.

How far can one’s life change?

On 24 August 2016 I moved to the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. My aim to start a new teaching job, live in a dream property in a fantastic part of the country. To rediscover more time to spend with the family, to get outdoors and to regain more stability in my mental health.

About 7.5 months on plans have changed but my life has changed so much and for the better too. If you regularly read my posts this will repeat some points from previous posts.

I moved to live alone while issues to do with our family home in Essex were resolved. I was in a beautiful house, surrounded by countryside but only 15 minutes from work. The weather was generally good to start with. The job offered much. However, it didn’t work for me on many levels and it didn’t help my mental health at all.

Living alone was a shock after so long – 25 years. Lack of communication with no landline, mobile signal, or broadband was a big upheaval for someone who spent so much time networking and communicating with others online. I developed work resources using online contacts and sites previously. Now I was forced to go cold turkey and I didn’t cope well with it. I would joke when ringing friends and family from nearby country lanes where I could walk to get a signal that all was ok. I genuinely didn’t miss tv and now still only watch a few programmes, often recorded first. The contact gap with familiar voices however was much harder.

Work, well there was a lot of change and the above aspects that were already impacting on my mental health were exacerbated by my limitations in not being able to do much work from home, something I had relied on previously. I admitted some of this but not the true nature of my thoughts as I feared being removed from the post. The only harm I would have done would have been to myself but my moods were on a much steeper rollercoaster than previously and the dips were frightingly threatening to my own mental stability. I also hid this from home, a mistake but I loved the area and knew the house had potential for the family. Unfortunately I got to the point, linked to previous experiences, where what I saw as criticism became a stick to beat myself with emotionally and a path to recovery got to the point where it was no longer an option. I had to make the job work or teaching and I would separate at last, that scared me as I did not perceive that I existed beyond my label as teacher. Well in November after the family had been here a fortnight the job crumbled – I did and I lost teaching as part of my life. I still have bad dreams,sometimes even nightmares about educational settings normally a jumble of places I have worked. It will take a long time to let go fully as 28 years and a term took a lot from me.

So what has changed?

I live in a beautiful house with three other family members – my wife, younger son and mother in law. Everyone has now settled in and we are starting with the better weather and lighter days and evenings to get outside and work on the garden more. The house has the services (still no mobile signal) that It lacked when I moved here. We have grown into it.  I would say we are all happier generally for the experience and look forward to seeing more how the area changes through the seasons.

Work – I am now working as an artist, I endeavour to sell some of my work, I have a Facebook page, an art blog. I have signed up for classes, craft fairs and the local arts weeks later on. I have met many very generous local artists and crafters who are willing to share experiences and advice on resources and services. Also I have a part time job that involves being in and out of water in the River Frome at Wareham, I love that aspect. Work is not stressful as before. I still be the chance to use my teaching skills when helping coach juniors at the Swanage Sea Rowing club.

Anne,  my wife and I have spent more time together since she moved down five months ago than we probably have throughout our marriage of 24 years as I am not working 60 hour weeks, lots of my work is done from home. It has helped our relationship which is now in a better place. I know Vi my mother in law much better and at 95 she continues to be an inspiration in her vitality. My son Charlie and I have had more time to go and do things together which I hope isn’t too much of a bi d for him, I enjoy it.

Fitness – I was told I could join one club when I moved here, the fact that at a few points  I have been there six days a week didn’t impress but it has brought me a much fitter health. I have made many new friends and I love that training has now moved back o to the sea after a winter on the ergos in the rowing hall.

Mental health – thank you to my new GPs at the Corfe Castle surgery who have been very supportive, alongside the great Swanage Depression Support Group whose company I enjoy bi-weekly. Being able to shed and share has helped a great deal and they have commented on how much I have changed from my start in November. New acquaintances have even been surprised that I have a mental health issue as I do t present that way currently.

In the last week I have reflected that I have made more friends here than in the last 27 years. I am happy. I love my surroundings. I continue to learn new skills and things most days. Life has a future, I don’t know completely how it will be but there will be ways that don’t involve creating extra stresses.

If you get this far please comment or say hi on social media, in the street….

Finding your fitness match

I have always been active, the level of which has varied throughout my life. I have tried a range of sports both team and individual. I have increasingly done more of the latter but have now returned to an activity I did as a ten aged Sea Scout – sea rowing.

On a previous holiday to Mevagissey, Cornwall I espied the local club out rowing early one morning as I was taking photographs. I contacted them on their Facebook page and managed to go for a trial row – loads of errors but it relit a desire to row on the sea again. When I was a Sea Scout I had rowed with the 1st St Peters-in-Thanet group. We rowed from Broadstairs, Kent but also did trips up the River Stour towards Canterbury and went on trips to places like Chatham dockyard which was still a naval base in my youth.

So while on holiday in Swanage at Easter (2016) I saw they had a club and said if we ever lived somewhere like this I would want to try this. 5 months later I moved here and joined just one club to start with!!

I really enjoy my rowing with Swanage Sea Rowing Club. I am currently working towards participation in my first event in the Men’s B Boat for the Three Rivers event at Saltash in March. I am training four times a week on average – two indoor training sessions on the rowing machines and two weekend rows on the sea or today the River Frome downstream from Wareham.

I also assist at Juniors on a Monday evening which continues the interest I had in running clubs at Mark Hall School (2002 –  2006) and Bower Park (2010 – 2014). I realised today when chatting that I have been Erg-ing now for 16 years.

So, in conclusion – find something you enjoy and try it.

Learning about my body

I have now had two sessions of treatment after my trapped nerve and right arm issues in November / December. I asked people at the rowing club for recommendations. There were two favourites, on further research I have opted for Purbeck Rehab. whose holistic approach appealed.

Gina, my physical therapist has made me consider the workings of my body in a very different way and the thought process as well as movements have educated me as well as treat my body’s ailments. I have gone away and read about Chapman points, shared a conversation about “active release” treatment with one of my Canadian cousins who had prior experience of it too.

I have started to piece together in my head how much interlinking goes on that I just hadn’t considered before. In GOB 07 Jan. (Previous post) the tensing and movement above my hips seen in elements of the rowing stroke link directly to conversations had already. I find myself altering my grip on the oar to reduce elbow tension and so on. 

I will be interested over the full course of treatment to see how the balancing and linking of strength to mindset etc will hopefully produce a more effective and relaxed Andy.

What therapy experiences have you had that make you think more carefully about yourself?

GOB 07 Jan.

So it’s the weekend, must be some sea rowing in there subject to weather conditions. Writing this in afternoon, later have family arriving for a visit, so will include that in GOB 08. So a week that was mega positive for four days then unravelled a bit. Supportive friends on fb reminded me, and thank you that I am not recovered from mental health issues before Christmas either. So physio exercises done early morning when I first awoke and tai chi moves to loosen up some fairly tight arms and legs.

+ I slept overnight, about 5.5 hours in one hit – much better than previous night

+ got up when I woke around 6 a.m. and did range of exercises to loosen up including tai chi warm up exercises learnt pre-boys!

+ did full set of physio exercises 

+ after a while needed a bit more sleep and took opportunity, still awake in time for 10 a.m. Row but a little close to the mark.

+ SSRC (Swanage Sea Rowing Club) – boat prep for second boat, then 10 o’clock row on bow side at 5. Lean forward was good but work on leaning back as feet coming off deck and not enough clearance on recovery meant I caught a few crabs. Snapped one pin, then caught oar several times. Body tensed up was noticeable as trying to follow Barney’s instructions.

+remembered to message home mid two rows – remembering communication

+ sun came out during row

+ 11 o’clock boat was short so agreed to stay in boat, but swapped to stroke side on 4 – issues adapting to that, again tension got to me working on lean back, looking at ladies technique re. Nobody position which matches to work with Gina C. on body movement without tensing up, the tensing was clear to Mandy and others sat behind me. Felt good at having done two rows but in morning rush had forgotten drink so bought newspaper for home and drinks afterwards.

+ home – showered, lunched and then rested.

I have seen the last few days, as several of you have picked up, that I am too easily self critical and tense up very quickly. The ambition to be in a team boat is there but my rowing feels that it needs to be much more relaxed before I put myself into the position of a race. I think that with many friends returning to school, I haven’t felt a loss as such for not being there but awareness that I am not at / in work yet. It is clearly too soon and I have no clarity about what comes next and I suppose self imposed strain. That realisation is disappointing to me but this has been such a big upheaval, maybe I could be a tad kinder to myself too.

Picked up …

So Tuesday, I was looking forward to a trip to IKEA and also the gym. Gym trip was slightly flat, I stretched parts that haven’t been for a while – ached on Wednesday. Trip to IKEA was successful and other things for Mrs K. Agreed on returning home that I was not to start building shelves in the evening. 

Wednesday treat was appointment to have programme set at the gym. This went well, so a programme for two visits per week and cardio classes for other two visits. Then a chance to build new bookcase for room that has become my quiet space. Book wise I have some of our crime fiction collections plus various travel / geographical related books and some education books ( on the condition that if they distract rest they are to be removed). Tired later meant I was quite flat but recovered to do some sketching from own pictures.

Thursday was a mooch in Basildon and purchase some art materials. I was weary and napped then in the evening a warmup with new phone of 80 wall sits, 80 sec plank and 80 squats. Spin/ bodybikeclass was full on to tracks from Sham69, Sex Pistols … Very energetic and sweated buckets. In fact later despite putting 2 litres of fluids back in still slightly dehydrated.

Friday – due at GP later for follow up in raised meds- today is a slow tired day so backed off and just going with the flow.

No looking at work emails, know I have to see Occupational health before I return, still resisting it slightly but accepting my lot and using one or two targets a day. More successful at pushing any work related thoughts back out of my head but time drags sometimes.

Update completed…

Oh dear…..

Sunday afternoon I visited the gym as planned and did a workout, several things I tried I couldn’t sustain as my focus was limited to about 7 or 8 minutes. My mind is jumpy at the moment. 

My advice is to forget about work, it is for me something I find extremely difficult as I probably have far too much of me invested especially after carrying things last year. Monday morning started flat to good, I managed a few minor tidy / organisation jobs. Each one was a short task so focus was ok. I had Spotify playing in background. I then attempted some sketching from old photos of mine now available through Google photos albums. But the sketching would not settle, I was unable to commit / focus. I did some doodles, self reflected and a task I had considered wrote some key words / points about work difficulties but didn’t try to analyse. Then, in my wisdom, thought quick peek at work email just to be aware of what’s happening at an arm’s length idea. Fine until decided to look at borough job pages – interesting to see what schools were posting locally – often been a discussion starter with ex colleagues before about how things are. So there is a post for a lead geography practitioner at my school… . It was like I was standing on a tablecloth and a magician had whisked it away from under my feet and my mood plummeted. I fired an email off to the contact person and welfare contact. The latter got back to me almost immediately, part of a longer term plan, that reassured me that I wasn’t under threat as I had indicated I was afraid. However, different to previous plans going forward. That reply seemed to calm me. I went to make some lunch – I was shaking, my arms were difficult to settle. I had agreed I would go for a walk or to the gym but now did not want to be outside or around people. I retreated to the sofa initially and watched snippets of programmes again settling to anything was almost impossible. By 4pm I needed to retreat and rest. I cried myself to sleep and woke later and spent a neutral to low evening with the family.

What have I learnt, now a  new day has started? 

– do NOT go into school email system – leave until I have been approved to return

– days can change – see how my mind and body feel

– try to let go of this guilt ( see previous posts )

– try to “just be”

Tuesday, a flatter start, looked at own mail (NOT work). Switched devices back off, hopefully a trip to IKEA later to look at flat pack ideas for book storage. Maybe a gym session this morning but distraction and endorphin release as much as anything else. Fired off this post as a reflection point and sort of self admission.

Now some of you like some previous colleagues will question why I blog these things, they are on the web, anyone could read them. This blog represents me, I have problems with mental health but I also do so many positive things too. See I know there are good aspects that I can regain, after all it’s only a few weeks since I travelled down to Hampshire and shared teaching ideas with other teachers. My sketching for relaxation through programmes like #teacher5aday has inspired a half term homework project on sketching for others to join in after showing friends what it has done for me. My blog posts are like a diary of sorts or a notebook, if you don’t approve, don’t read, it’s that simple.

Yep, ……., Oops…

Saturday – gym was good, did some exercise before class and still able to give it my all. At home helped son with an assignment for Monday for his BTec. The slipping into teaching role was welcome at first. His disorganisation and gaps in knowledge of the task led to an increasing stress feeling. I finished Saturday mentally exhausted. 

Did spend lots of time chatting online and sharing World Mental Health Day images, posts, poems…that I found and chatting about sketching and #teacher5aday.

Sunday – low / flat – lowest point since Tuesday, so move away from return to teaching role. A walk and brunch at local country park – Thorndon South. Issues starting to filter through my head – will start to note down but not try and analyse yet. Can I try and sell idea of my time off as a sort of sabbatical to assuage my sense of guilt for not being there in the classroom? Watch end of Russian F1 Grand Prix, then some more RWC. later this afternoon I intend another gym visit as I can almost hide away without locking myself in a room or curled up in a ball and benefit from it at the same time.

In conclusion, I tried too early to do something teacher-y, I need to switch off, my mind difficulty is that guilt assuaging as mentioned above. New positive mention and wellbeing teacher5aday Homework for half term with a vehicle for more sketching which won’t be an issue as I return to Norfolk and lots of potential subjects.

Patience isn’t easy, but I’m working on it…

So Wednesday was a good day after two BD (Black Dog) days. Well, good news, the week continued positively and I had three positive days consecutively, but I was worn out on Friday. The new gym subscription saw me exercise Wednesday and do Bodybike class (all indoor cycle classes depending on trade name involve same sort of thing) on Thursday evening. I also went to the Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market, Essex with my wife and Mother in law, the gardens were lovely and I admit they sparked ideas for planned long term project with science department at school linked to John Muir Trust Award scheme and Greater London National Park proposal… A slip but a positive one. 

Friday saw me very weary in the morning but a visit to local nature reserve without lots of young families on the Wind in the Willows trail meant it was quieter. Identified two new unknown spottings – immature cormorants and their lighter fronts and Pintail ducks. Watched New Zealand v Tonga in the RWC and played taxi drive for youngest son.

In the evening on Twitter found myself drawn into chats about teacher workloads and new GCSE specifications – or lack of approved final specifications. So yes, work related but again one of the key pressure areas for departments this year preparing for September 2016. I had chatted with a few colleagues on Facebook on Thursday evening and it was nice to have some contact again. I feel guilty when absent – not surprising and I know, … Also completed paperwork so I can see Occupational Health and rang employee support service who I will recontact once I have had second GP review.

It’s Saturday, I woke early and watched YouTube clips which means I will have to get Cedric my cello out again soon and challenge myself to play after watching videos by the 2cellos who I was aware of already but also Emil and Dariel, two American teens who are the junior equivalent of the Croatian pair. This morning sees me doing the 9.15 Bodybike class. On Thursday after class Andy, the instructor, enquired about how my running training is going – doing a 10km on 1 November – I admitted lots of cardio but no running as I find exercising outside alone my mind wanders and I am avoiding that at present. It turns out he and I have both gone through the #mentalhealth mill and he offered support which is appreciated too. As he said even though I struggled at times on Thursday, I was in the class and I finished it – two positives.

So, for those of you reading my posts and commenting on here or via Twitter (@aknill) thank you for your continued support it really is valued.