|Gliding, September 2014|
So, first, my glider flight. This was a birthday present from the lovely Mr M and Lola II, and replaced the one that had to be cancelled in Lincolnshire because of the high winds. Lola II and Mr M took me to a nearby airfield, and we were welcomed at the Clubhouse by all sorts of friendly people willing to share their stories while they addressed some sort of problem with the glider. There was another visitor ahead of me in the schedule, so we had to wait quite a while, but the weather was pleasant and warm and we could have a bit of a chat and watch the launching and landing procedures.
The gliders at this club are launched by a winch rather than being towed up by a plane, and it is quite spectacular to watch. In just a few seconds you go up at a 40 degree angle from zero to sixty miles an hour at 1200 feet. Barry gave me the safety talk and went through the instrument panel before I strapped on the parachute and climbed into the tiny cockpit in the front. It was all dual control, and the flight was designated a 'trial lesson' so in theory I would be given some flying to do, but Barry did ask me to keep my hands away from the controls while we took off.
So far, so good. From this point onwards, however, it didn't go so well. I was rather looking forward to the take off, as I have no problem with acceleration in normal planes or on motorbikes. Unfortunately, as we were thrown up into the air, my stomach somehow didn't go with us, and within just a few seconds after being launched I started to feel very sick. As we circled on a thermal, Barry talked a bit about what he was doing and I directed the fresh air blower into my face and tried very hard to think about something other than the nausea.
The scenery was pleasant but the sensation was not. Barry let me have a go at driving for a second or two, but very soon it was time to land, and to be honest, I wasn't sorry. With nowhere to throw up except on my own lap, I was really glad to have avoided that outcome. Barry marked up my log book - we had been in the air for 13 minutes, although it felt much longer. Lola II was ready to protest at the short duration of the experience, but I reassured her that it was fine, and please don't make me go up again...
I couldn't eat anything for the rest of the day. Advice via Facebook and from friends suggests I could have a go at using the very effective motion sickness treatments available over the counter, because the package includes a second flight within two months. We'll see.
Then the two weeks of mayhem started. Within these two weeks: I went to the Diabetes Education Club at Warwick University, where my colleagues gave a talk to a group of interested health professionals (Doctors, GPs, Nurses in GP practices and Dietitians) about the very low carb diet options that we offer patients; I spent two days in London being trained as a DESMOND educator; my oldest friends from school came to visit; I participated in a public meeting organised by the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Diabetes UK to consult service users about what they want from their Diabetes Services; I went to a comedy gig to see Marcus Brigstocke at Warwick Arts Centre; I attended a branch meeting of the West Midlands British Dietetic Association all about the gastrointestinal tract and various disorders that can arise; another friend came to stay before going to a show at the NEC up the road; I have played in a badminton match (we won!); I have been to see a film and done two runs of about 30 minutes each. I have also renewed the car insurance, and been to the optician. The car has also celebrated the milestone of reaching 200,000 miles by starting to act a bit flaky if it's left without being used for a day or two.
All of these things were worthwhile, satisfying and mostly enjoyable (except for renewing the car insurance, which is one of the most painful and frustrating tasks in the whole world). The one I was looking forward to the most was the optician, and over the next week or two I shall be trying out different contact lenses, followed by receiving my new, varifocal glasses. As an indicator of advancing age this step is unwelcome, but in terms of being able to read comfortably again, I am looking forward to it immensely.