Thursday, March 20, 2008


This will be the first year in ages that I haven't gone abroad at Easter. Over the past three years I have had Easter trips to Cologne, Amsterdam and Paris, and further than that I can't quite remember, but I doubt I stayed at home.
I'm not quite staying at home this year, but there won't be planes involved for a change. This year I'm heading to the Lake District for a bit of English tourism. Looking at the weather forecast I might start regretting that idea, but there's nothing wrong with spending a long weekend snuggled in a pub with a good book looking at the view!

I'm going back to my penniless student days and staying in a hostel. Not that I can't afford a B&B, but I kind of like the idea of actually meeting people rather than staying closeted in a single room and only emerging for breakfast. After staying with someone I barely knew in New York and getting on with her really well, I just thought I might give it a go. It's cheap, it has a restaurant and a bar, and you never know, I might meet like minded people. I haven't stayed in a hostel since I was in Rome in 1999 (when in a strange foretaste of what was to come, I got there and discovered it was marathon weekend. I thought they were all nutters).

The original plan was to do some hill walking, but with the weather forecast and the niggliness of my leg this close to FLM, I think I might stick to more sedate pursuits. Whatever I end up doing though I'll try to take some pictures and report back after the weekend.
In other news, here comes this month's charity appeal. I'm on a club place at London, but have a promise to my grandfather to fulfil. And if I'm going to do it, I'd better get moving because my visit at the weekend confirmed that he really isn't well. Doing it next year won't work.
He got polio years before I was born, and I've only even known him in a wheelchair. Since he got confined to the chair, he's been a tireless campaigner for better disabled access to facilities and so on. It's rubbed off. For someone without a disability I have a strangely detailed knowledge of what makes a good disabled bathroom. Some of them are great, like the fantastic disabled toilet we found in Spain, the only problem being that you couldn't actually get into the building to use it. I try not to discuss them unless I'm in the company of my family. Although in New York I did surprise a few people with my appreciation of what facilities Matt would need. Grandpa got an OBE for what he'd been doing back in the late 70s, and has carried on for nearly 30 years since then.
As well as the national stuff (he's judged things like loo of the year competitions) he's also been heavily involved with a local disabled living centre. He's a trustee of the charity, and he still takes an active interest in the running of the place even though he's over 80 now. And a couple of years ago I promised I'd raise money for them if I ever got a place for London. I have, so now it's time to come good on that promise.
Unfortunately, since he got so ill he hasn't managed to do much of the arrangements for putting me in touch with the right people to do publicity and so on, and I'm wary of inducing donation fatigue by pestering everyone so soon after New York. I'm really not looking for anyone to subsidise what I'm doing, I'd be running the marathon anyway, and none of the money will go towards the cost of my place, or any freebies provided by the charity. But if anyone does feel inclined to donate (and there are some people who on hearing that you're doing a marathon ask who for - it's them I'm aiming at mainly), it's nice to have somewhere to direct them towards.
Even if I only raise £50, I will be happy that it's £50 which is going to a good cause. I've seen first hand what a good job they do, and how much work it takes to keep them going. They're not a big charity and don't have golden bond places or snazzy running vests. But that doesn't mean they're not a lifeline for people who need them.
The name of the charity is the William Merritt Disabled Living Centre, and unfortunately they haven't registered with justgiving so I can't give you a link for online donations. Which means that my chances of obtaining donations via an internet appeal are slim because anyone generous would have to write a cheque and put it in an envelope. However, there's no harm in mentioning it. More information about the charity, and an address for donations, can be found on the website.


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