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Inverallochy, Week 14: 2 April

Just when I thought I’d faced most of the terrors of middle age—absence of hair where it’s useful, copious amounts where it’s not, more pills to take each day than you’ll find in a packet of M&Ms, the NHS Scotland “poo test” for bowel cancer screening—I find a new nighttime dread has arisen: yawning so hard as to cause muscle strain.

Now, sometimes I yawn so capaciously I give myself jaw ache, so that for a time I walk around with the mirthless grin of a TV evangelist, or a method actor preparing to play the Joker in a Batman movie, and it’s not particularly unusual. But this is different: I yawn in my sleep. (And how is that even possible? Unless my dreams are so boring even my subconscious can’t be bothered to stay awake to watch them.) I wake up mid-yawn, with my body arched as if I was being electrocuted and severe cramps down the back of both calves.

Waves in the outer harbour

The cramps are painful enough to make walking difficult for a day or so afterwards. It’s one of my key tests for getting old—parts of your body that used to be there for you suddenly look shifty and stop returning your calls; and the ground, which always seemed so comfortably far away, suddenly looks a lot closer and harder. (Oh, my other test? You get a chocolate Easter egg and can’t be bothered to open it right away. You’ve changed, man…)

Snow on the hills behind Cromarty Firth

Somewhat to my surprise I’ve finished the first sleeve of the gansey, all the way down to the cuff, partly by knitting for most of Good Friday while listening to Bach’s sublime St Matthew Passion. (I’m back at work again; it could, all things considered, be worse.) The finished sleeve looks a little uneven because I’m using yarn frogged from an earlier, unsuccessful gansey; but washing and blocking should sort that out. For the record, I’ve used about 1,250g of yarn so far.

Daffodils and St Fergus’

In parish news, it’s grovelling apology time. Some weeks back Jenny sent me pictures of a very impressive gansey she’s knitted in Frangipani pistachio. The patterns are a combination of Gladys Thompson’s Filey X with others from Mary Wright’s book on Cornish ganseys, and it just goes to show how effective patterns from different places can be when combined. I’m sure this is what the old knitters used to do all the time, as the fishermen mingled on the quays and the women read, marked and inwardly digested. Anyway, sincere apologies for the delay and many congratulations to Jenny.

Finally, it’s officially spring. How do I know? We went for a walk the other day, wrapped up like eskimos against the sleet and the cold north wind, only to encounter a man walking his dogs in naught but a fleece and light trousers, and he upbraided us for being overdressed. Springtime in Caithness…

9 comments to Inverallochy, Week 14: 2 April

  • =Tamar

    I don’t know about yawning, but I find that in my case, leg cramps are almost always due to needing magnesium. Sometimes it’s zinc or iron, but almost always magnesium. I keep magnesium tablets next to the bed; take one or two with water, and within minutes the cramps are gone. If I’ve had too much calcium during the day, I take them just before bed. I also try to eat some almonds during the day, not just because I like them.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, that’s interesting. A friend who was a doctor’s receptionist told me that the best cure for cramp is putting the bed covers over your head and breathing deeply. I have no idea if this works because I’m always in too much pain to think clearly and desperately searching for a hard surface to rest the offending body part against!

  • Jenny in Victoria

    Thank you for the compliments, Gordon. It was quite satisfying to be able to choose various patterns from different sources and come up with a pleasing design. My husband loves wearing it not only for its warmth but he says it’s a head turner.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jenny, you’re welcome of course. From a couple of comments on the page with the pictures it seems to meet with widespread general approval!

  • ruan

    many years ago in another life, I used to listen to radio two with my dad and often heard terry wogan waxing lyrical on everything! but he had a song he played that made my dad giggle (didn’t understand why for many years) called the oldest swinger in town with such lines as ‘it takes all night to do what I used to do all night!’ thankfully my primary aged mind had no idea, while my rather older one is now giggling! and yes I have unopened easter eggs (more due to hiding them and forgetting where!) today I went to work with no coat! then watched the snow and sleet fall from my desk! underdressed or overdressed depends on what time you leave home!

  • Gordon

    Hi Ruan, in my naïve youthful way I used to think older people just weren’t trying somehow. Now it’s happening to me the penny is finally dropping! (Along with various other things, alas.) On the other hand, as you say, you can get the double part of your parents’ double entendres – which always reminds me of Terry Pratchett’s wonderful Nanny Ogg – who always thought a double entendre had only one meaning!

  • Jane

    I use magnesium cream, although it is available as a spray too. It is really good stuff, apparently it is an enabler to many changes in the body, and sadly lacking in our diets because the soil in which our root vegetables grow is not rich enough in magnesium any more.

    I do yoga too, a form called restorative and one broadly based on Hatha yoga, I do it in a twice weekly class and at home on my own, also good stuff!

    That is a fantastic gansey, and the recipient is truly fortunate! Take care!

    • Gordon

      Hello Jane, you’re the second person who’s recommended yoga to me this week. Mind you, the other was an annoying spry 20-something who was watching me critically as I rose from a kneeling position, resembling nothing so much as Henry VIII in his armour being helped onto his horse.

      Hatha yoga always brings pleasant associations, because I associate it with Colonel Hathi from Kipling’s Jungle Book, and of course the Disney version (“oh the aim of our patrol / is a question rather droll…”).

      • Jane

        It is all about the breath and letting go, well of everything, at times of stress a great help. The rest follows, we have a very dedicated teacher and our reward for the very early morning session is home made cake. Life can be so good!

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