The A Word: Up Shit Creek

Don’t mess with the Bull!

So, what happened?  The official term is “up shit creek without a paddle”, a Scottish slang term meaning to be stuck in a bad situation without anyway of fixing it. The bad situation being shit creek and the ‘paddle’ being the solution.  Our shit creek incident happened last Saturday during our walk along a section of South Coast of Cornwall.

The main difference between the North and South Cornish coasts is surfing vs sailing.  We are located on the North Coast.  There’s an amazing rugged feel to north coast, the undulating dunes, jagged cliffs, and the amazing surf-bashed beaches.  The well-known destinations of Padstow, Rock, St Isaac, and St Ives are all located on the North Coast.

The South Cornwall coast is different.  You’ll find spectacular coastline, hidden coves and beaches, wooded river valleys and estuaries, fantastic sailing waters, cliff top walks, lush sub-tropical gardens and the superb fishing towns and villages such as Mousehole and Mevagissey

The walking can be equally difficult on both coasts for different reasons.  Last Saturday we were walking from Porthallow to St Anthony return a “moderate” 11-mile hike.  This walk started in the fishing village of Porthallow (pronounced ‘Prallow’), a cluster of whitewashed cottages with pilchard cellars and net lofts on the picture-postcard quayside.  The route also takes in the beautiful Helford River and the first leg passed without incident. 

On the return journey we were tempted by the idea that we could cross the Gillan Creek via steppingstones as it was nearly low tide.  This would save nearly 1.5 miles off the return leg and even though the steppingstones were not passable (too much slime) we decided to wade through the creek regardless.  This in itself was quite a challenge. Low tide was still over an hour away, the creek was a mixture of water and green slime and even with my shorts rolled up as far as they would go, I only just made it without falling in or getting wet. 

By the time we reached the scene of the incident we were tired and ready to finish.  About a mile from the car, the field we had crossed earlier was now full of cows and a rather evil looking Bull.  They had surrounded the only exit point.  We approached tentatively and tried to work our way around the herd towards the style, however, the cows had a different idea and completely surrounded us, leaving us with one escape route through an area of overgrown brambles.  With our legs now covered in blood ripped from the brambles, our only option was to jump a five-bar gate and wait until the herd had moved to a different area of the field which they eventually did.  On arrival at the car park we must have looked a bit of a sorry sight to the rather neat and tidy people who were sightseeing.

Moo-ving on I thought it apt to continue to talk about finding solutions to problems and “coaching” was a very valuable part of my career.  Many organisations offer a training budget as part of their benefit package.  This can be very valuable to employees to enhance their skills.  However, in some circumstances I think coaching is better.  Essentially, the difference between training and coaching is that training is about transferring knowledge while coaching is about enhancing the knowledge or skills you already have, mostly around improving results.

Training is excellent for things like new-hire induction, procedures, technology, and new governmental regulations. It trains something specific and can be a one-time event. 

Coaching, on the other hand, sometimes has a bad reputation because it’s so often used to deliver critical or constructive feedback.  If you can handle this, it’s a superb way of developing critical thinking and decision-making.

Unlike training, which is mostly group based, coaching is normally carried out on a one-to-one basis.  I was lucky enough to work with an excellent coach during my sales management career and I can honestly say that I had some real lightbulb moments 💡.  The ability to find solutions to problems has helped me through many of life’s challenges (apart from getting surrounded by cows!).

I write my blog to raise awareness of autoimmune disease and as my readers will know in addition to my ankylosing spondylitis, I have endured months of sinusitis which I thought was getting better.  However, it decided to move onto my chest so reluctantly I have succumbed to taking antibiotics.  Having a productive cough is a classic sinus infection symptom. You feel a heaviness in your chest and a rattling when you breathe on top of this, you may have bronchitis so it’s essential to get it treated.

I am on Day 2, so I’ll let you know how I get on.  I’m not convinced they’ll work though.  The doctor said in her experience they were more miss than hit and recently, researchers in Southampton have discovered a ‘hidden reservoir of bacteria’ in the nose that can prevent antibiotics being effective in the treatment of chronic sinus infections, so we’ll see.

Finally, this week I wanted to leave you with some facts on cows 😊

  • Cows can lie down for up to 14 hours a day
  • They can’t sleep standing up
  • They can eat up to 50kg of food a day
  • They can drink up to a bathtub of water a day or 60 litres
  • And finally, Cows have their favourite companions – just like us! I suspect the brown one with the ring through its nose in the picture took a real liking to Jamie and I last Saturday.

Whilst our Cornish adventure continues, keep safe, #stayalert and watch out for the Cows.

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