Epitaph for the Unknown Solider
To save your world you asked this man to die;
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
It has been cold here today, bright, crisp, beautiful.
Mr Uphilldowndale has been up to the Lake District, he wanted to visit the cairn that has been started in Darren’s Memory.
Especially for mj, Barry Flanagan’s wonderful hares; striding out across the canal pond
Leaping through the trees
The poised, Large Nijinski on Anvil Point
And possibly my favourites, the petite Empire State with Bowler- Mirrored, a piece that is obviously appreciated by the local spiders
They look so deceptively simple in close up, as if given a a pack of plasticine anyone could knock one up (oh no, I’ve just looked at last years post and I thought Damien Hursts work looked like pasticine, I think my art appreciations need s mature beyond primary school)
In previous years the Beyond Limits exhibition at Chatsworth has comprised of sculptures by many different artists and whilst I knew I would enjoy the Flannagan sculptures, I do prefer the bigger more diverse event that I’ve posted about before I’m a bit puzzled that it’s described as a ‘selling exhibition’, could so many of Flanagan’s works be for sale at once? But then is anything is for sale if the price is right?
As a child I could never quite master the word dahlia, I always called them bdahlias, b’s and d’s were never a friend of mine.
My Dad grew lots of dahlias his favourites were spiky deep crimson varieties, they always remind me of him (and earwigs!). He used to insist each autumn on drying the tubers that he’d lifted from the flower bed (to protect them from frost) in the airing cupboard. My Mum was never impressed by this intrusion to her line dried laundry! I snapped these dahlias in the garden at Chatsworth House on Saturday, I nipped over just in time to capture the penultimate day of the Barry Flanagan sculpture exhibition. More photos to follow.
We’re still here, the boys and I have been on holiday this week, Mr Uphilldowndale has been dipping in and out of the day job.
It’s been not so much a week of rest and relaxation, more a case of downtime, which was much needed. Sadly news keeps reaching us of family, friends and colleagues who are, for a host of reasons, not having the best of times at the moment. I’m tempted to think that if I’d been on holiday on a desert island, with nought but a couple of palm trees a hammock and cold drink, a message in a bottle would have washed up on the shore.
It was suggested earlier in the week I should go out and hug a tree, and its true to say some of the most restorative time this week has been spent in the garden.
A good place to count our blessings and breathe…
We met in the Autumn sunshine to say our farewells to Daz H, Darren Holloway.
Hundreds of family and friends packed into the service, I’d stitched 43 club coloured ribbons for his club mates to wear, it wasn’t enough we were some short.
It was a service that flowed with fond memories of his life and loves, and captured him so well. Many, many tears were shed. This is my favourite photo of Daz, I think it is an iconic image of him: Daz in full flight.
Here are the words that were read at the service, written by a fell running friend Mr 1470, they too capture the essence of Daz.
"Some news just hits you like a bolt from the blue, so unexpected, so bizarre in its nature that it fails to register in your cerebral cortex. It seems like a dream, and you fully expect to wake next morning to find the earth back on its true axis.
After that initial hit, the news creeps insidiously into every pore of your being, overwhelming you with a sadness that just floors you, unable to articulate your feelings and leaving you alone with your thoughts and memories.
On this grey, cold Highland morning, as the mist parts and the hillside across the loch becomes visible, I can’t help but see him descending, as graceful as a gazelle on his favourite rocky, bouldery terrain, lost in a world of concentration, his face contorted with effort, his eyes locked in an almost thousand yard stare, his knee and elbow bloodied from some earlier fall.
He’s gaining now on his rivals (and friends!) and nothing will distract him from his desire to reel them in. I shout encouragement….”go on Darren!”….but there’s not a flicker, he’s immersed in his gladiatorial battle.
As the ground flattens out, he strains every sinew to hold position as the finish line approaches. He crosses the line, totally spent, not an ounce of energy left, having given 100% (as he did to everything in life).
And then, just as suddenly, his demeanour changes and he’s all smiles and handshakes and offering words of congratulations to those around him. But it’s not for him to slink off towards the cafe or the pub with the rest of the front runners. Cup of water in hand, he walks back up the last part of the course, cheering, greeting and offering encouragement to those of us who can only dream of the level of performance which he delivers time and time again.
The word “legend” is much overused these days. He deserves that title, for his mastery of the fells, for his ability to make everyone feel special with well chosen words, for his deep understanding and appreciation of the ethos, history and legacy of the sports he loved, for the total enthusiasm with which he led his life. I only hope he knew just how much people thought of him.
The world is a sadder place for the passing of such people. My world is a sadder place this morning. He showed me true friendship, kindness, support and inspiration. To say I admired and respected him would be a massive understatement. My thoughts are especially with those whom he loved and who loved him. It must be so hard to take in….."
And this was the music
The shock and sadness at Daz’s death remains, of course it does. The dark skies this brings to us all are chased with the light of remembering brighter days with Daz.
This is Wasdale, the sort of landscape where Daz was in his element,
We now know that Daz died from a rare heart condition, Left Ventricular Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy, the same condition that struck footballer Fabrice Muamba earlier this year. It is a rare condition, there is more information here, on a website for a foundation set up in memory of John Taylor, a fell runner and international athlete who also died of cardiomyopathy in 2002. There is something very difficult about understanding this condition, we can read and understand the science, yes, but not the emotions it raises, it just flies in the face of all we are told about exercise ‘keeping a healthy heart’. I think fell runners in particular will have difficulty with that.
I notice on the John Taylor foundation page, that one of the external links is to CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young. Some years ago I heard Paddy Jelen, talking about the death of her daughter, she did so very movingly and passionately in her quest to raise awareness of her daughters rare and often misdiagnosed heart condition, Long QT3. At first I hesitated to post the links here, thinking we’d really all read enough ‘sad stuff’ on the Internet in the last few days, but thought better of it. If Paddy can talk about it, I’d be a wuss not to post it.
Go read, please.
(Spud the dog will be back to his regular Sunday postings, some Sunday soon.)
We are rocked by disbelief, shocked and desperately sad to hear that Mr Uphilldowndales running partner and our dear friend Daz H, also know as Darren Holloway, collapsed and died during the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay event in Cumbria yesterday. Daz was 42.
Daz was a gifted runner, he could power up a mountain as though jet propelled, and most importantly for a fell runner, he could drop off the other side like a stone, taking the boldest, quickest route down. But that is just part of Daz, he was a competitive cyclist to boot, and some readers will know him as the blogger ‘Laidbackrunner’ but most of all he was a husband, dad and son, it is for his family and their loss that we feel the most.
Daz was a kind, compassionate person, his encouragement of other runners and his sportsmanship are legendary.
Daz and Mr UHDD ran the Bob Graham Round together in 2008, they spent so much time together training, planning, racing, here they are at the finish, at the Moot Hall (some may also remember Daz’s rather special tattoo, to mark the occasion?)
I’ll leave you with the comment Daz made on my post about the Bob Graham, as always with Daz, it was about others, not himself.
Our lives have changed forever for sure. The photos are great, recording a special time in myself and Mr Uhdd’s lives.
The memory of me touching the moot hall and then being told not long after by your youngest son that
‘MY DAD WONT BE LONG’ , had me in tears. I couldn’t hold them back and the lump in my throat as Mr Uhdd ran to the finish was unforgettable.
Daz, dear Daz, for us, you are unforgettable too, nor can we hold back the tears. And if there could be any doubt about what running meant to you, this post says it all.
I’m sure in years to come I’ll be able to think of how you died doing what you loved so much, in the Autumn sunshine on the glorious Cumbrian fells; but for the moment I can’t get past the fact that you’ve gone, gone before your race was run, that and the heart ache of those who loved you.
21:59 Edit… I should have included our heartfelt thanks to the emergency services and mountain rescue, and especially those of you who immediately stepped forward to help Daz, fellow runners, people out on the hill for the day, you stepped forward just as Daz would have done for someone else in need. You are special… you did your best, no one could ask for more. Remember that. Take comfort in that.
I’ve been intending to post photos of the lightning tree since Spring, you may have thought it dead. But it was not.
Life forced its way back out into the world
I’ve been searching for this poem since Spring, following a bit of a banter with Gerry, it was something about trees and seasons, I can’t now remember what. It would have helped if I could have remembered who wrote the poem, it was Roger McGough.
It is National poetry Day, so it seems fitting to have finally got my act together.
Trees Cannot Name the Seasons
Trees cannot name the seasons
Nor flowers tell the time.
But when the sun shines
And they are charged with light,
They take a day-long breath.
What we call "night"
Is their soft exhalation.
And when joints creak yet again
And the dead skin of leaves falls,
Trees don’t complain
Nor mourn the passing of hours.
What we call "winter"
Is simply hibernation.
And as continuation
comes to them as no surprise
They feel no need
To divide and itemize.
Nature has never needed reasons
For flowers to tell the time
Or trees put a name to the seasons.