On Saturday we decided to through caution to the winds, cock a snook at the constant rain and risk going on a walk along the canal. Suitably armed with umbrellas and raincoats and optimism that the rain would hold off just for one morning, we set off to catch the E8 bus and alighted at Elland bridge for the beginning of the walk. We have done this particular walk many times, its a pleasant enough walk along the canal towpath just as long as you don’t happen to be deaf. If so, you are in constant danger of being run down by the numerous cyclists who seem to consider these canal towpaths as their domain. They are requested to ring their bells twice in order to alert walkers to their impending presence, but this rule takes for granted that walkers are not hard of hearing and are able to move swiftly aside to let the bikers through.
As we began our walk, I felt quite optimistic, there was actually some blue sky to be seen and it was reasonably warm into the bargain, a good day for a walk I thought. Then we reached the canal towpath and my heart sank. Despite the fact that the towpath along this stretch of canal is tarmacked, it was covered in a layer of thick slimy mud. It looked like someone had tried to cover the path with thick brown chocolate. It stretched along the towpath in front of us for at least 4 or 5 metres or so.
Now anyone in their right mind would have turned around at this point and beat a hasty retreat back to the mud free road and called it a day. Any sane mother with an ounce of brain who can recall how her daughter is none too happy walking on anything but a flat surface, and who has endured previous slides and falls in just a tiny patch of mud would have turned back at the sight of it all. But readers, you all know me by now! Never one to be beaten by an insurmountable quest such as thick sticky mud, I simply took hold of her hand and we both gingerly plodded our way through the first mud patch. In my defence, I was reasoning that it was only this patch, after all (I reasoned) this path was tarmacked so it was surely just this area, and we would soon be walking on a nice dry tarmacked surface as we continued our way onward back to town.
We ploughed our way through the next patch, even deeper and stickier and harder to get through than the last one. I couldn’t understand it! What had caused this mud to appear on the canal path? As we struggled on, both of our shoes began to become covered up to the laces with slimy gooey mud, and we made some vain attempts to get it off with grass, puddles anything bar dangling our feet into the canal, and at one point I have to confess that I did even consider doing just that. By now, we had reached a sort of en passé. In front was yet another huge patch of thick mud, but behind us were all those patches that we had just struggled through. A vivid illustration of being between a rock and a hard place I thought to myself, as I looked guiltily at my daughter clutching grimly to the fence at the side of the mud covered path. What sort of mother was I? Dragging her Down’s Syndrome daughter on one perilous venture after another, and for one horrible moment I remembered the nightmare incident where I foolishly took her up the 275 spiral staircase steps in the York Minster tower and how that incident had left me with nightmares!
The lesser of two evils was to negotiate this last patch as there was a canal lock where we could hopefully get back onto the main road. As I stood there contemplating which was the best way forward, two cyclists rode past us, churning through the mud with their bikes as if it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Ah hah! Now it all fell into place! This stretch of the canal is a very well used route by cyclists, so maybe they were the reason why the mud was all over the path! They were covered in it, all the way up their legs, but the bikes went through it like a knife through butter. Meanwhile, we squelched our way through the remaining patch of mud, walked across the lock gates and out onto the main road.
We must have both looked a sight, with mud covered shoes on! Luckily there was a pipe gushing water out further up the road, so we both stuck our shoes under it to hopefully remove most of the mud. I had some tissues on me and we did manage to get quite a lot of the mud from each shoe, before continuing our walk along the road which is not a easy task in itself. Elland Road is a very busy road, lined with trees on either side and snaking continuously as it does from left to right, and yet for some strange reason, everyone seems to drive like lunatics on this particular stretch of road despite the poor visibility around corners. It has always been a notorious road for accidents, and I was more than a little apprehensive as we both walked along. The pavement isn’t all that wide either, so eventually I rang our local taxi service to come and collect us to take us the rest of the way back into town.
We decided to have our lunch in Wetherspoons for a change, and as we sat waiting for our meal, mud stained shoes tucked under the table in the vain hope that no one else would notice them, I went over in my mind the whole mornings adventures. Instead of being thwarted by the weather as we had expected, we had ended up being stopped in our tracks by mud, thick mud of the kind that I had never seen before in my entire life, probably churned up by all the cyclists who were probably revelling in it. And for me a stark and valuable lesson. Stop being such an idiot and admit defeat when its staring you in the face, and stop dragging your daughter through impossible tasks! I rewarded her for her all her endeavours with a luscious chocolate sundae!
Not a lot of photos I’m afraid, as I was far too busy helping Kerri and myself stay upright to take many pics.