National Recovery Walk Birmingham

On a (surprisingly) sunny Sunday near the end of September them fearless Basement chaps set off for the annual Recovery Walk which was to be held that year in the tropical climes of Birmingham and which promised the usual blend of fun, insanity and flawless organisation.

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This last element (organisational perfection) was proven to be evident very early on as not one but two coaches arrived to whisk the ebullient assembly with all speed and luxury off to the Midlands. However, this excess of transport did little to dampen spirits or call forth omens of disastrous futures and everyone piled on to the selected coach full of hope, optimism and quite a lot of tea.

Recovery_walk_Birmingham2Of course this was a recovery event logistically configured by recovery people so inevitably we arrived in Birmingham possibly an hour or so late and with no real idea as to what we were doing or where we were supposed to be going (but the weather was lovely so no-one was really bothered).

Still, we found the starting point and set about grabbing as much free stuff as we could before at last beginning the walk miles behind everybody else. It was at this point that Colin, feeling jolly peckish, disappeared into the ether and the rest of us plodded off in entirely the wrong direction, only to realise we were going the wrong way and, a quick U-turn later, finally got on the right track.

The weather truly was spectacular and was a perfect backdrop to our undertaking and the people of Birmingham came out in their 1000’s few to stare at us uncomprehendingly as we sweated our way through the streets of their great city. We even picked up stragglers from other recovery groups which added to the unity and solidarity of the day.

Eventually we managed to find Colin (by following the trail of discarded pasty crusts and crying children) and arrived at the park where the event was being held.

We were welcomed by what can only be described as a thong (sorry, throng) of revelling recovery-ists; with a live band, stalls and tents aplenty and of course the sparkling clean and medically sterile row of transportable water closets, and we picked our spot (sounds disgusting but I mean chose our area).

After a brief period of lounging around and taking photographs people started wandering off in search of food and more free stuff and the fun began in earnest. Some folk went off and had a bit of a dance, some folk went off for a lovely ice cream, and some folk, like me, queued (for possibly days) at the burger van/haute cuisine cubicle only to be told that they’d run out of food for the moment and went off instead to forage for vegetable samosas at the vegan peace and love station (which would in fact prove to be a mistake later on).

Recovery_walk_Birmingham3The day was turning out to be a very good one and later on into the afternoon Michelle, that plucky recovery warrior and all-round gaffer began to activate her plan to unleash a ‘flash mob’ on the unsuspecting many and got up to begin the dance. Although, this writer isn’t sure whether five people really constitutes a ‘mob’, dance they did and splendid it was.

With the live music, including a gospel-style choir in the background and the astonishingly lovely sunshine beating down upon everyone, the group quite peacefully lounged around enjoying the atmosphere and chatting with members of other recovery groups from all over the country, and a tangible feeling of serenity seemed to settle over everyone. Our coach driver had even come and joined us and she also seemed to be having a super good time.

After a bit of general reflection and sunbathing the afternoon quietly wound itself up and everybody made their way back to the coach for the return leg, happy and contented with a day out well done. And even though the journey home did seem to last a season it did have the feel of a trip to the airport preceding an 18 to 30’s holiday to Torremolinos, with lots of laughter, lots of love (and not enough fag breaks).

Recovery_walk_Birmingham4On arriving back in Halifax the whole (or most of the) merry bunch took their seats for the Chinese buffet and swapped stories and anecdotes whilst gorging themselves with mystery dishes, planning their next courses and even puddings whilst only just beginning their first ones (it was now that the samosas had been a bad idea) and the day drew to a happy and utterly worthwhile end.

I am sure that everyone who came along on this fine adventure had an utterly splendid time and would like to thank Danielle and everybody involved in organising the day out, and will also definitely be looking forward to the 2014 Recovery Walk taking place in the excellent city of Manchester.

Richard

Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue  6