I’ve gone past him again on the hill, heard him breathing hard as I went past and then silence as he fell behind me. I push on downhill, nervous in case I fall, concentrating hard so I don’t, watching out for ruts and stones ready to rise up from nowhere and trip me up. I go faster and then faster still. I’m at my limit and then I hear his breathing behind me, feel his breath on my shoulder. No need to turn round, I know he is there.

I go faster, up the stakes, take more risks, the land beneath my feet now a blur, my only thought ‘if you’re going to beat me you’re going to work for it’.

We race like this for two miles, two people unwilling to give in, unwilling to give an inch, unable to slow a fraction in case the other detects it and senses that the moment has come for them to make their move.

Eyes focused intently on where we are going, running as nature intended, no thought put into it now, this is not the time for thinking, this is the time for doing.

A small uphill, I push hard, increase the pace and he is gone. The sound of his breathing recedes in the distance, hot breath replaced by cold air. He is gone, I have won this personal race within a race and now as my legs begin to ache and tire I slow down slightly and look forward to the finish.

It starts with a run on a familiar road, a road I’ve run before. I approach a stile, the stile I glance at as I run past. But this time I turn, approach the turn stile and climb over it. Wild, open moorland stretches out before me, a narrow, baked, mud track, twist and turning its way through the moor and over the horizon. I follow the track cautiously. Experience has taught me to respect the moors with hidden dangers underfoot ready to catch out the unwary and over confident.

Past a farmhouse on my left I send sheep scurrying in all directions, my movement and noise enough to scare them. Down a ditch, over a plastic bridge, I step over and round stones and rocks that have lain there long before I set foot on this moor.

And then the horizon changes as I begin to descend and the valley before me opens up. Fields of straw burnt from the heat of the sun, the tops of trees motionless in the warm air punctuated by the greyness of tiles made from Yorkshire slate, for now the only sign that man has made his mark on this land.

Down I go, through an old wooden gate, across a road, through a garden and past a sign that says beware of the bull. Warily, cautiously I look around before picking up speed to clear the danger zone as quickly as possible. The thought of two tons of bone and muscle terrifies me.

The field ends and the track goes through some woods, this is harder, more technical, more rocks to be careful around as nettles and thorns sting and cut my skin. They remind me that I’m human ant there will be only one winner if I fall.

I reach another road, one I did not expect and run to another stile where the hard work really begins. Up and up and up through reeds almost as tall as me, obscuring the ground below me which despite being a hard baked mud trail has steps made of wood laid into it at irregular intervals. I slow to a walking pace, it is more important to be careful then fast. I leave speed for another day.

Up and up the steps I go as they get steeper and harder to see. Every horizon is false revealing yet more steps to climb. In my mind I start to believe that this climb will never end and I will end up at the gates of heaven, but then it does and as I stop to get my breath back I turn round and take in the beauty of my surroundings. If this is heaven I can stay here for all eternity. Mile after mile of valleys and moorland. For me this is perfection.

And in the distance at the top of the moor is my destination, the white pillar signifying the trig point of the moor, the high point. There’s still some climbing to do, but with the trig point in sight it makes it a bit easier. The path has returned to dusty, dry trail. Still with stones and rocks to watch for but now with no reeds to obscure the view.

At the trig point I stop to take in my surroundings. The views are far reaching. I recognise places that down on the valley floor would seem miles away. I see a church steeple and know what church it is. So high up when down below. For now  am higher that it. I see other landmarks through different eyes, reservoirs of shining water, tower blocks sprouting from the earth and the folly that dominates this landscape. With the folly always in view you can never get lost in this glorious land of valleys and moors.

And then it’s the run for home. Down the path I have just come up but this time with a turn to the left at the bottom and along the conduit that should carry water to the reservoir but has nothing but warm, hard stone showing its face for the first time in years to a clear blue sky.

Down to my right is the forbidden land of Castle Carr, resplendent in a tree leaves and grass of the deepest green that stands out like a lake on mars. I wonder if all the water has been diverted here to keep this small patch of moorland alive at the expense of other parts…

But I need to concentrate on the path before me or  may fall in the conduit and give it an unwanted kiss. I plough on pushing myself as hard as I dare, wanting this flatness to end and be back on the ups and downs of the hills that I love and inspire me to better myself, push myself and be the best I can.

And after what seems like hundreds of miles I turn and I am faced with the final run in to home. A reservoir that shines like molten silver under the gaze of the brightest star I know. My eyes are temporarily blinded by the brilliance of its beauty as it reflects he suns rays into my eyes and I have to gather my thoughts and push on to the other side.

A short climb, a stretch of sticky tarmac and I am back at my car. It’s been hard work but worthwhile just to experience the sensation of running in some of the most beautiful land in the world.

they never see you when you’re alone
with the tv and four walls for company
the walls that talk back to you if you listen long enough
the tv that’s stuck in an endless time warp of bygone shows
repeated, repeated, repeated
these are your friends for today
the only ones who will see you
they’re here for you when you’re alone
watching the sky turn from white to grey to black
bottled up feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
bounce off the walls going deeper inside you every time
words form slowly one at a time as they
take off into the universe in search of someone
to share ideas and thoughts with
tears form as slow as ice cracks
drying on your skin before they can flow down your cheek
you don’t even notice them
as the day drags on longing to be over
you turn to the bottle your one true friend
and share some hours together
blocking out the numbing reality of life
till you wake up in a daze tomorrow

Rachel Cullen writes about dealing with her inner chimp and beating him

Gallery  —  Posted: February 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

A heart warming blog from Rachel of how words can change a persons life. You don’t have to meet someone to change a life, you just have to be you and tell your story as Rachel has done.

Gallery  —  Posted: February 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

If anyone would like to buy Rachel’s book, Running For My Life, here is a link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Running-My-Life-built-better/dp/1911274848/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517665539&sr=8-1&keywords=rachel+cullen


Rachel talks about trolls, bullies and the different journeys we all experience

Gallery  —  Posted: February 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Rachel has her book published and you can buy it now!

Gallery  —  Posted: January 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

Today I’m sat at home feeling sorry for myself as I battle a cold and a cat that insists on biting me just when I’m least expecting it.

In addition I can’t remember f you feed a cold and starve the flu or if it’s the other way round. I really need to google it but will this just confuse me even more?

Yesterday I was back in uni and made good progress with my research reading about coding and doing some too.

I like to get in early so around 1am I went for a walk round Bradford city centre, a place I have grown up with and have many fond memories of.
I always remember Bradford as a vibrant, bustling city, full of life and difference reflected in the people, the shops, the conversations, pretty much everything you can think of.

Back when I was a child and a teenager Bradford was somewhere to go where you could lose yourself for a couple of hours in the shops, pubs, cafes and markets and come away wanting to go back.

It had a dip in the 90s as the author Bill Bryson described in his book Notes from a Small Island, a very good book if you get the chance to read it. I remember reading about Bill’s description of Bradford and how distraught I felt at some American coming to my home town and write about it in such a derogatory way.

Now I understand what he meant and why he wrote about Bradford in such a way.

Instead of heading for the Broadway Centre which is still relatively new and as such is modern, clean and busy, I headed for Kirkgate Market a leftover of the brutalist architecture of the 60s and 70s. This building evokes many memories of the wrong kind for people from the older generations because of the way Kirkgate Market came about.

My own personal recollection of events is that the Bradford Council at the time decided to pull down the old Victorian market that had stood on the space for many, many years and replace it with a concrete monolith.

As with many Victorian buildings the old market was full of charm, grandeur, splendour and was a truly great asset to the people of Bradford.

But it was costly to maintain so the decision was made to knock it down and replace it with something more modern and efficient but with no redeeming features.

The people of Bradford were not happy. The council did not care.

And so yesterday I walked in Kirkgate Market again past all the pound shops that now seem to have taken over Bradford and through the other side without feeling any emotional connection to it as I have done with many other buildings. It’s just a relic from the 70s that should never have been built in the first place for me and other towns and cities have kept their Victorian buildings that now serve as a jewel in the crown for their city centres.

And so I left Kirkgate and headed up towards Joh St Market and past endless rows of mobile phone shops, betting shops and pound shops frequented by cheap tracksuits…

And then round and down the other side and more of the same expect that To Let signs appeared far to frequently interrupting the mobile phone shops and pound shops.

One image did stand out in my mind though as I walked down Darley St past the old Marks & Spencer’s premises. Two old down and outs sat on the steps sharing a can of lager but still smiling and happy with their arms round each other despite the cards that life had dealt them they still had each other and could still find happiness amidst desolation and despair. I found it a very heart warming scene and wish I had taken a photo of them…

I went into the Broadway centre for my shopping and things did change, modern buildings, contemporary shops but still no less busy and still tracksuits going around popping in and out of shops, eating chips and doughnuts and making the best of life.

And that seems to sum up Bradford or me. It has never been a city with its own identity but one trying to compete with Leeds or Manchester or any other big city rather than looking to its roots and making the best of what it has to offer and its historically important heritage.

And because of this trying to be something it isn’t mentality Bradford has become something it shouldn’t be, run down and like the ghost town in parts that Bill Bryson went through.

Parts of Bradford are bouncing back and regenerating and showing that there is still some life left in Bradford but I fear it may be some years before I see the Bradford I remember so well from my childhood, bustling with people all enjoying themselves and living life to the full. But I hope I do see it in my lifetime.

The new inclusive society

Posted: January 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

I read an article today in the Independent newspaper about how the snowflake generation is possibly killing comedy because comedians are very careful about what they write now for fear of offending anyone and this got me thinking about just how inclusive and understanding is the latest politically correct towards everybody which is how I understand them to be.
As a fifty year old male growing up and living in an industrial town in the heart of West Yorkshire I have seen and experienced many cultural changes. These changes have included, race, religion, sex, gender, inclusiveness and political correctness among many others.
Inclusiveness has always fascinated me not least because while it purports to be inclusive it is, in my view as exclusive as any other form of culture can be and here is why I see it as such.
Currently inclusiveness and political correctness is centred around two topics. They are gender and offending people.
I was brought up in a time when gender was make and female. You were taught that at school and in society and you accepted the gender norms. People’s sexuality which is a different subject to gender for me, was coming to the fore in the 70s and 80s, with more people coming out as homosexual or lesbian. I don’t have a problem with anyone’s sexuality and never will. You are what you want to be.
Similarly offending people was dealt with very differently when I was growing up. If you was offended you avoided that person, you did not befriend them in an attempt to try and change their view. You accepted that people are different and have different views and opinions to yourself and found a group of people who shared similar views and opinions to yourself to be friends with.
This is much in the same way that if you was watching something on television that you didn’t like or which offended you, you switched over to watch something that was more to your taste rather than watch it to the end and then complain about it. At the end of the day you have a choice what you watch so why watch something that offends you just so you can complain about it?
But now it seems as if society has changed how it views these subjects and in some ways has taken on a far more sinister standpoint.
If we take gender we now have people who call themselves gender fluid and who experience gender on a spectrum and can be experiencing female in the morning and male in the afternoon. I don’t have a problem with this as each generation develops human evolution a little bit further and experiences life differently to the generation before.
Where I do have a problem is when this is forced down my throat and I am forced to conform to the views of others and expected to respect their views and change mine overnight when they have no respect for my views or for how I have experienced life.
If we take for example toilets. Toilets are now expected to be gender neutral and both male and females are expected to use the same facilities. My problem with this is I want to use a toilet that is designed for males, but in doing so I am apparently offending some members of society because I still see people made up of male and female.
But I am offended too. I am offended because no one is asking me about my experience of society, how I was brought up and how I was influenced by society during my time growing up. I am allowed to offend others but not to be offended by them it seems.
This leads me onto my next point which is about growing up in a different generational culture. There seems to be a particular stance these days whereby you must apologise for how you behaved in a previous era because your actions then are compared to the societal norms and expectations of now and judged accordingly.
While I fully appreciate that some of mine and my contemporaries behaviour would not be acceptable now I believe it is equally unacceptable to expect us to apologise for our behaviour and actions back then when what was and was not acceptable in society was different because the norms of society were also different.
Why do some people find it acceptable to expect different generations to apologise for behaviour and actions that conformed to the accepted norms and standards of that particular time? I really do not understand this.
Yes of course I behave differently to how I behaved back then but this is due to my evolving with society and understanding that times change and what was acceptable back then is not acceptable now. And this is the same throughout history.
Why should I apologise for something I cannot change and which was done with the best of intentions according to the values of that time?
And it seems as if you can be offended by anything these days and the recourse action is to force people to change their opinions, values, behaviour and actions to fit in with how you see the world. It does not seem to occur to these people that they can accept that people are different and not everyone will have the same opinions and values as them and this will result in different behaviours and actions that may offend them.
The simple answer is avoid people who are so different to you that you are offended but also appreciate that in a fully inclusive society some people will have a different opinion and this may offend you but you do not have the right to force someone to change their views just to suit yours so you aren’t offended.
And this to me is the crux of this new inclusive society that some people are trying to create. It isn’t inclusive. It is exclusive.
It is exclusive because if you have a different opinion they will not debate it with you, they simply ignore you and exclude you. It is exclusive because if you are from a different generation and find it difficult to understand their views and opinions they exclude you. It is exclusive because if you still want to be called a male or a female they exclude you.
What this new inclusive society is doing is stifling debate, stifling creativity, stifling the development and growth of society because it wants everyone to conform to a narrow understanding of what it is to be human and does not recognise and appreciate the immense difference and diversity that exists with humanity.
Yes we can all respect someone who different to how we experienced humanity when we were growing up and who wants to do things in a particular way and live their life as they want to, no one should have a problem with that. But when you are made to feel small and insignificant and your views and opinions and your life don’t matter simply because you was born in a different era and have different cultural values and expectations than that is as far from an inclusive society as you can get.