5th December 2019
New Knees and New Adventures
Happy that I could go trekking, cycling and skiing after a total replacement of both knees I began to wonder what else I could do. I took every opportunity offered to me to find out.
Bog Walking in Estonia
When I was invited on a trip to Estonia I happily volunteered to try bog walking. I had no idea what this would involve but was confident I could handle it. It could not be very different from snow shoe walking which I had already mastered since the total replacement of both my knees. Of course snow is nice and soft to fall in. Disappearing into the muddy depths of a bog not so appealing. My footwear resembled large plastic tennis rackets. No poles. After some quick instructions such as, never reverse or you will fall over, always walk, only step on patches of a particular plant – and we were off. I was surprised how easy it was and soon got into my stride managing to stay upright and avoid the pools of water which would suck us in up to our necks. It was thrilling, another skill to add to my growing list.
Photography Workshop in Iceland
As I keen photographer I was keen to take part in a photography course exploring the extraordinary landscapes of Iceland. I was confident that I could walk on any terrain and sufficiently flexible to view them from all angles. So I booked myself on a photographic workshop in Iceland. I had plenty of opportunities for exercising here. I scrambled over mounds of moraine, climbed to the top of high waterfalls and strode along black sand beaches. My only real challenge during this trip occurred during a midnight quest to find the Northern Lights. We trekked over several moraine hills to an ice lagoon – no problem. But coming back the ground had a thin covering of ice and as my natural braking system was not yet fully restored I had a few out of control canters down the slippery slopes. Martin, one of our course tutors, decided to walk in front of me and I would shout a warning when I set off down a hill and he would then stand still until I cannoned into him. As we were both wearing padded jackets we could have been mistaken for two Suomi wrestlers bouncing off each other. This amused the pair of us but no Martin’s partner who insisted I use a more conventional method of control using one of her ski poles. The whole experience was another boost to my confidence.
Snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands
I was delighted when I was offered a trip to Ecuador featuring the Galapagos Islands. Even more so when I realised there would be an opportunity to go snorkelling while exploring the islands. I had not done any serious swimming since my knee surgery so I decided I should practice in the hotel pool. Breast stroke had always been my favourite stroke but following the reconstruction of my right knee fifteen years earlier I had been told to avoid doing it. But a few minutes after entering the water I found myself doing breast stroke – it was easy and painless but should I be doing it? I remembered some advice from my surgeon, Professor John Skinner, if something hurts stop doing it. It did not hurt so I carried on. I dropped confidently over the side of the boat the next morning and swam to the shore marvelling at the marine life passing beneath me. Another great experience with my new knees.
Working on a Conservation Project in Kenya
Always looking for new adventures I accepted an invitation to join a conservation project in Kenya. It was a wonderful opportunity to get close to the African wildlife. I was part of a group of fourteen people of mixed nationalities working in the Enonkishu Conservancy. We were observing and counting the animals return to this hitherto barren area following the rejuvenation of its grasslands. My accommodation was a tent a hundred yards from the ablutions block. It was a very strict regime but a very rewarding experience. I learnt how to drive a four by four vehicle and proved more agile than most at climbing in and out of the cage on the back of the vans on our twice-daily forays into the conservancy. It was a fabulous trip and very worthwhile.
Playing Golf on Kiawah Island
Kiawah Island in America was a complete contrast to my African experience. The resort was I was staying had five golf courses. It was also the ideal opportunity to see if I could still play golf. I had given up the game after a reconstruction of my right knee. However, that knee was now so much better following a total knee replacement that I was curious to see if I could still swing a golf club. I arranged to play nine holes. Prior to that I headed for the practice ground to hit some balls. It was amazing – I could still swing a club. I was so elated I played all eighteen holes and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Zip wiring off Bournemouth Pier and jogging are two other challenges that have been met successfully. What next I wonder?