Category: nature

thing 28: ‘into the new place out of the blue’: a tale of two bridges

Unknown territory, of which I could definitely say there be dragons. I was going to Wales.

On my only previous visit I’d toiled up Snowdon in a whiteout (cloud, not snow), been put out to discover that some entirely able-bodied people had taken the train up (I mean, really) and then, that evening, shared with Susie a quantity of intoxicants sufficient to leave us spending what felt like hours in front of the telly, watching in a state of rapture the finest programme ever produced. When the credits rolled I don’t know if we were more disturbed to (more…)

thing 25: ‘swimming with the fishes’: sun, speedboat, snorkel

Yes, I know it means dead in Godfather-speak. But it’s what makes snorkelling different from swimming: that you can see you’re swimming with the fishes. So I’m going to call thing 25 that anyway.

Crete, early September. Still around 30 degrees; sea deliciously warm, sky a cloudless forget-me-not blue. We’re towards the end of a two-week stay and unfortunately, because of some health problems (which aren’t mine and must therefore remain private) quite a lot of it has been pretty bad—a debilitating medley of stress, heartbreak, fury, frustration, exhaustion, helplessness… It’s all gone on for years and most of the time I just get my phlegm on, so to speak, and “deal”, but lately I seem to be finding it harder to do so—or perhaps am less willing. Here I am in a lovely place, on holiday and in sore need of relaxation and refreshment. Instead I find myself howling tears of desperation in the middle of tourist-crowded street while people try to sell me lunch, leather goods and windchimes made of shells. More Mike Leigh than Francis Ford Coppola (and  (more…)

thing 24: ‘the marvellous journey’: St Bega’s way, part (iii)

You know when you’re driving along in the rain—the kind that your wipers can’t really cope with, and they go into a sort of frantic ineffectual fastwipe which is slightly silly, somehow, in the way that a powerwalk is—and you see walkers trudging along the verge, heads bowed, sheathed almost entirely in rustling nylon, their huge packs, also nylon-sheathed, rearing behind them like a doom they can’t shake; and you think casually, in passing, ‘Poor bastards’? Well. On day three of the pilgrimage, those poor bastards were us. (more…)

thing 24: ‘… and miles to go before I sleep’: St Bega’s way, part (ii)

It was one of those days Messrs Ordnance & Survey tend to put on the covers of their 1:25,000s: deep green hills, and water sparkling under a sky whose few meringues of cloud only emphasised the depth of the blue.

Usually, stopping for a squint at the map during a trudge across the rain-wreathed landscape, your cag hood rustling about your ears and your face screwed up against the wind, you regard these images with a sort of resentful disbelief. (I call this look ‘the (more…)

thing 24: ‘he tells her that the earth is flat…’: St Bega’s way, part (i)

‘[It is without any perceptible trace of actual regret that] we regret to announce the cancellation of the 5.01 Northern Trains service to Carlisle’.

At least I think that’s what the announcement said; Margaret and I were too busy exchanging dismayed glances to notice all the details. Fortunately the patient staff at Lancaster found us an alternative service and we’d only be an hour delayed. Unfortunately, they’d also had to find the same alternative for the other 759 people who’d hoped to get the cancelled service, so (more…)