The Long Good Friday

Ollie’s last full day with Leo and Chris before his family returns to UK. So a VERY full and physical day! Dave and I pulled the boys out of bed at 4.30am (ouch) to join our mate Gary in a trip to our Chinese friends in Knoxville (Kung Fu and serious weights too). The three barefoot and shirtless boys immediately fell asleep again in a heap on the back seat…

…but the obligatory ice bath certainly woke them up, and they spent an hour with the Chinese bodybuilder trainer and his latest ‘stable’, which still includes Caz, a local US guy now in his early twenties and now winner of several national competitions.


It’s just free weights in this cellar beneath a Chinese restaurant, but the results are impressive.


While the boys were occupied with new weight mates, Gary Dave and I joined the more serious martial arts training. It was here we learned to do spear bending on stomach and stuff like that, and Gary learned the ‘art’ of balancing on one spear point on his stomach (as explained in Against All Odds, this was something which was later to save his life).

When the young’uns rejoined us, we all did some serious stretching for flexibility – stuff which ultimately enables stuff like this:

IMG_7442ss (6)


Our long-term friends Li and Yao and their nephews who have taken the ‘American’ names of ‘Sam’ and ‘Alex’ alongside their Chinese ones (meet them here Loving the Boy and here The Power of Love), see great potential in all three boys and Ollie, all of 10 years young, should be mighty proud of that, for praise from these guys is praise indeed.

The Chinese provided breakfast for us in their restaurant; on the way back we passed near the Clinch River swimming hole, so that became inevitable…


…followed by a welcome hot chocolate from Cody who, as I have told lots of times, lives nearby in a ramshackle place in the woods. No S&M adventures there for these young lads, of course…

However, they said they wanted to do something in which each had to depend absolutely on the others, to ‘seal their bonds’ again or some such. After some thought, after lunch, because it was a weekday and Chad’s gym therefore open in the afternoon to selected younger guys with everyone else remaining suitably clad (!! – that means shorts on), Dave and I settled on the trapeze. Ollie’s dad Colin came along too.


Trapeze is a fantastic exercise for the whole body – especially if you can do it on the beach in the sun like that guy. But here we got each boy in turn to hang from the bar by his feet (heels wrapped behind the ropes on each side) and then suspend one of the others beneath him by hanging on to his ankles… the lower boy has no control over what is happening, so it satisfied their demands! Of course, we stood by just in case… Ollie is really amazing, supporting the older and heavier ones without any sign of stress or complaint about his feet hurting (which they do, quite quickly) and so, in the end, we let them swing as well – preparations for the flying trapeze, maybe, in their future…

Natasha (Ollie’s still-gymnastic mum) is skilled on silks, so I see a future for both Ollie and his younger sister doing this stuff too…


We thought that we might have worn them out by then, but no chance… in the secluded area behind our training cabin, we left them sunning themselves and wrestling around, drawing up plans for their future training before they can meet up again. Leo will come with us to Wales in the summer, and Chris has been working on his dad either to let him go on his own with us again like last year or even for his whole family to join us at Cefn Derwen. Either will be most welcome.

There then followed a solemn ‘ceremony’ to reaffirm their friendship in fitness, to which we were not invited: it involved drinking a lot of water first and then a refreshing shower afterwards… so I’ll draw a veil over that except to say that I’m afraid Leo might have got the idea from Dave and I some while back…

So, sadly for all of us, Colin and family fly home Saturday. But the boys have the summer to look forward to and Leo and Chris, of course, will continue to spend hours together every day along with ‘Ryan’ once Easter is over. Outdoor training is always fun:



…and builds great results to be shown off…


…down by the river or by the sea…


…or even on the way there…


So, all of you, don’t be afraid to shake up you body a bit: use it, improve it, and then get out in the open and do what boys do…


…OK, that too!

open air gym

…enjoy yourselves!


About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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