Sledging, Weaving, and the Meaning of Life

Shipley Glen

So you might have noticed a few changes.

I went sledging up on Shipley Glen when we had all that snow the other week. Never done it before but off me and a friend went. There is a bit of a quarry used by bikers and skateboarders and of course it was perfect for sledges. We found a nice gentle slope, slowly building up to the one in the corner of our eye, a long steep run with a big U bend at the bottom which ended in a face of soil or a big rock, couldn’t quite tell which.

We were soon joined by a young boy, Bradley, and his dad. He was the perfect kind of dad, watching carefully, giving encouragement and advice, but holding back enough so his son had the space to explore and try things out for himself.

My friend did the big run but I only watched. Eventually with her encouragement and reasoning I sat myself at the precipice daring myself but unable to do so. It looked like an almost vertical drop from the top.  Surely when I hit the bottom I would just stop and my legs would buckle beneath me and fracture. And wasn’t that a bit of icy water over there, what if I went off course and drowned or got pneumonia. And was that a rock or was it just soil, and what would happen if I crashed into it? To be fair I had just re-read Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome, where the thwarted New England Lovers undertake a suicide pact by sledging into a tree only to be forced to live out the rest of their maimed and withered existence under the care of the miserable and hypochondriac wife they could not bring themselves to cuckold.

So as I sat there wondering whether I should or I shouldn’t Bradley’s dad saw me and he said, “The trick is to just do it”. And I realised in an instant he was right. I was prepared, I was wearing warm clothes, I had a sledge under my bum, I had accidently gone down a run backwards and survived, my friend was at the bottom with a mobile phone just in case one or more of the emergency services was needed – the only thing holding me back was me and my fear of the unknown. Without another thought I kicked off and down I flew and it was bloody brill. I was up there in a jiffy to do it all again, and again.

A while back a temperamental old floorloom came across my path and took over my life as well as my home. I cannot remember a time when I did not weave. I am doing things I could never have imagined. I am actually, out of nothing, creating cloth. I had a great time last year making and showing rag rugs and it gave me a taste of what a life as a designer/maker could be. But could I really call myself a weaver? I started to make a website, I designed stuff to put in a shop, even found my first enthusiastic potential stockist, but what if it all went wrong, what if people thought I was an arse, what if no one liked my stuff, what if no one brought it, what if I should have stuck with the rugs, what if, what if, what if. The thing is I’ve got that sledging run in my head now – I was scared of something, there was something I thought I couldn’t do, but I did it, and I survived and I loved it. The trick was to just do it. So this is me kicking off and whizzing down that slope. My new website is Wheeeeeeee


4 thoughts on “Sledging, Weaving, and the Meaning of Life

  1. How mega brilliant I haven’t really sledged since the big freeze of 1963 when we used large bits of polythene sheeting in the slopes of the school grounds 🙂 I have just got into weaving. will check out your website

  2. Thank you, you are so right – the feeling of doing something you were scared of is not to be beaten. I need to remember it too, you might just be my equivalent of Bradley’s dad 🙂

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