It never fails to astound me how Christmas itself, when it finally arrives, passes with little more than a blink. After all the build-up, with shopping and festivities and perusing (often with astonishment) the Christmas lists of offspring, and untangling lights and wrapping and pricing and decorating. Then, as quickly as you can wave a credit card through the air, all that remains is a fridge full of leftover turkey, an overflowing recycling bin, and a letterbox crammed with catalogues advertising everything, at considerably lower prices, that you just bought the week before. Oh, and children who are - at least for the time being - pretty damn content.
So one of my new year resolutions is always to slow down and just wallow in the whole Christmas thing a little more the next time around. Yet even as I make this resolution I know, deep down, that it'll just be more of the same and, in a way, that's what makes it Christmas. Other resolutions I make every single year without fail include losing weight, getting fit and doing something for myself. So the big difference this year is that, for the first time, there's a pretty good chance I'll follow through. Because with the whole Kokoda expedition on the horizon, I won't have any choice!
With this in mind I (with kids in tow) made an attempt on the 1000 steps today. These are a set of steep, winding steps dug into the side of a hill (mountain) in the Ferntree Gully National Park. Not long ago (correction - Lorraine [rather pedantically] informs me it was actually about a decade ago at least) plaques were included along the 1000 steps to signify the different sections of the Kokoda trek itself. So that the first plaque tells all about Owers Corner and the last gives the details of Kokoda village and the final battle. This excellent training ground is fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on my mood) situated only about a ten minute drive from my house.
From the very popular picnic ground, it's a good fifteen minute uphill walk just to reach the start of the (very popular) steps and enough to exhaust me already. Nevertheless, after gulping in air, I launch myself at the steps themselves. I stop at every plaque and pretend to read the inscription but really I'm only trying to survive. I notice, however, that I am not the only one using this ploy. Each plaque is surrounded by heavy breathing walkers - and I'm pretty sure (I hope) that it's not the battle information making them that way.
I reach 723 steps before I surrender. In the meantime each one of my children has passed me on the way back down, having already reached the summit. Unfortunately each one also stops to hold a cheerful conversation despite the fact that it is quite obvious I can barely breath, let alone cheerfully converse. However, if I found the ascent difficult, that's nothing compared to the descent. By the time I reach the starting point once more, my thighs have commenced a very disconcerting quiver and my retarded knee has started to object. Strongly.
In addition I can feel every single one of the chocolates, Viennese pastries and assorted other goodies I have consumed over the Christmas period. Not to mention all that leftover turkey plus the roast potatoes and pumpkin and gravy I kept making to keep it company. They seem to be coagulating as I walk/hobble/stagger. I resolve, again (and this time I damn well mean it), to start watching what I eat.