Thursday, 31 January 2013

There It Was: Gone!

And then, almost before we knew it, the snows of the last two weeks were gone. On Friday night we were slithering home from the pub in a wet, sleety blizzard. Now, barely 24 hours later, the sun is out, the roads are clear and the fields have reverted back to the gloopy muddiness to which we have become accustomed.

Since my last posting, we have managed a few local trundles: no outings really worth posting about in themselves, but a steady accumulation of miles collected traversing nothing more challenging than local lanes and fields.

We did a bit of “Path Wardening” on Sunday: a local resident had reported an access issue with one of our nearby paths, and, with the subsidence of the snow, we were able to have a look at the problem. A mess, no doubt, but do Rights of Way have a responsibility to address matters such as this? I don’t know, but I can’t help but think it is as much to do with poorly draining soil and the incessant wet weather of 2012 as anything else.

One way or another, January seems to have slipped by in the blink of an eye. But although we haven’t done as much walking as we might have liked, we have at least been busy on the planning front, and holiday prospects for the forthcoming year have been gradually solidifying into concrete plans – more of which in due course. One thing is for sure, though: we will need to be stepping up the pace a bit to be ready for the first of them!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Looking Back: Looking Forward (II)

Who knows where the time goes? Sandy Denny didn't, and I’m sure I don’t. And greater minds than ours have long pondered this question without arriving at a conclusive answer. If they can’t crack it I doubt whether we can. What I do know, though, is that another Christmas and New Year have ticked round, and at this time of year it is customary to both reflect on events of the past twelve months and look forward to the year ahead.

2012 proved to be another pretty successful year for walking, something we weren’t quite expecting to be the case given that Missy G’s scheduled op threatened to take several weeks out of our walking calendar. And, as every UK walker will know, it has been the wettest year on record – wet enough to dampen the waterproofs if not the spirits! – and underfoot conditions have at times been what is known in the trade as “testing”. Only in Britain could a bog between two walls be classified as a footpath.

All in all, it would have come as no surprise if we had been considerably down on last year’s mileage, a year in which we achieved our best-ever annual walking total. In fact not only did we come close, we actually beat it – 738.75 miles of pure recreational walking! It just goes to show what you can do if you get organised.

We spent the last few days of the year popping here and there, visiting family and friends, and squeezing a walk in as we could, taking the chance to walk in their part of the world as well as locally in ours: a couple of days in the Shropshire Hills and a few more around Dentdale providing respite from the social demands of the season.

As can be seen from the accompanying photos, the wet trend of the year continued right to the last – and then some! Still, settling down to our New Year’s Eve celebrations round the warmth of an open fire, we could content ourselves with a sense of achievement and bask in a warm glow not entirely derived from alcohol alone. Rather than rely on Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Bore-chestra, we saw the New Year in with Be-Bop Deluxe, Alabama 3, a Rolling Stones compilation and several bottle of decent Rioja. Satisfaction - in more ways than one.

Of course it remains to be seen how 2013 will develop, but we are already planning a few things that will hopefully take shape over the coming weeks. And, given the relative success of 2012, we shall be aiming for another record-breaking mileage – topping 800 miles would be nice, although we will have to go some to achieve that. OK, so we’ve had a slow start to the year so far, but there’s no harm in aiming high.

As for resolutions? Well I’ve made none as such, other than the usual: to do as much walking as possible and try to read more. Also I’d like to keep more up to date with the blogging (both my own and keeping up with others’) which has taken a bit of a node-dive in recent weeks. It's certainly good to have the renewed sense of enthusiasm the beginning of a new year can bring. 

Finally, on a slightly humorous note, we came across this scene while out walking on New Year’s Eve. As a way of summing up what this Christmas break has meant, I couldn’t imagine a more pertinent metaphor for a holiday if I tried!

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’m looking forward to another great year, and I hope you are too: a new year full of excitement and adventures from everyone that will no doubt be shared across cyberspace. If it’s anything like last year, it should be a good read.

To be honest, I can’t wait!