Red wine, snow and a conundrum

Dear UK government, I would like to apologise but I appear to have used up about two weeks of my allotted alcohol allowance in one evening. I’m very sorry.

Our good friend J came round for dinner last night and whilst we were eating Gill’s rich but still healthy chicken and squash cacciatore; decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies by laughing hysterically and generally having a very wonderful evening, we drank an awful lot of wine. Oh well, rules wouldn’t be rules if they didn’t get broken now and again would they?

Anyway, notwithstanding any long term damage, I appear to have got off quite lightly and a bacon butty and a good walk in the snow have restored something close to a feeling of general wellbeing.

While we were out on our walk a car slowed down alongside us and the driver made arm waving motions which I took to mean “do you want a lift?” I made arm waving motions back that could easily be interpreted as, “No thanks we are just having a stroll on this lovely snowy winter’s morning to blow away the cobwebs which have formed due to an over indulgence of red wine last night.” He didn’t seem to understand so he stopped, wound down his window and said, “Do you want a lift somewhere?” How nice is that? I’m sure he was genuine because he didn’t offer us sweets or anything. Anyway I declined, explaining that we were just having a walk without bothering to go into the details about the cobwebs and the wine. As he drove off we were infused by a warm glow induced by that ‘kindness of strangers’ thing that reminds you that the world is actually quite a nice place.

That’s all I have for today apart from the need to share something with you that has been bothering me for quite a while now. I generally love the English language for its complexity, versatility and occasionally downright quirkiness but can somebody please explain this for me:

If cannot becomes can’t and does not becomes doesn’t, if is not is isn’t and did not is didn’t, if could not becomes couldn’t and would not wouldn’t, had not hadn’t and has not hasn’t then why oh why is will not not willn’t?

And here’s picture of a very chilly Ribble Estuary from this morning’s walk.

WinterRibble1

We have a hill again

I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me to be able to say that we have a hill again. What I mean is that from our kitchen window we can, on a good day, see the hills of the Trough of Bowland. It’s been seven years since we lived anywhere with a view of the hills and I am thrilled. Even better, they are hills that come and go with the weather. We had been in the new place for more than two weeks before the lovely profile of Parlick and Fair Snape Fells revealed themselves one sunny morning. The fact that they are so distant and that they are not always visible makes them even more special. Today for example, you have to know that the hills are there in order to see them. They are so feint, so indistinct as to be invisible at first glance but now that I know they are there I can take pleasure in picking out the merest hint of an outline against the hazy clouds. Like an absent lover, they are there but not there and all the more attractive for that ethereal nature.

Fairsnape and Parlick. Big brothers in the Trough of Bowland

Fairsnape and Parlick. Big brothers in the Trough of Bowland

I don’t really understand why this outlook is so important to me. I think it is more than simply the fact that I like hills and enjoy walking amongst them. There is something about looking at high ground in the distance that invokes mystery and adventure. It’s a screen, a curtain hiding who knows what. Whenever I am walking in the hills the crest of a ridge or summit peak is compelling and I am driven to reach the top and to see what is on the other side. I suspect these feeling go back a very long way to a time when what was beyond the hills may well have made the difference between life and death. Between starvation and survival or between poverty and untold riches. Nomadic races, victims of war and gold diggers alike may all have looked up at a forbidding mountain range and weighed up the odds of danger versus reward should they make the journey to the other side. It’s no surprise that almost every low point between mountains and hills the world over contains a path, a track or a road that takes travellers from one side to the other. That lure of discovery is deeply ingrained in many of us I suspect. It certainly is in me.

I am looking forward to the next time I walk on Parlick or Fair Snape. It will be great to look east from their lofty shoulders, to discover afresh what lies beyond the view from the kitchen window.

On a totally unrelated matter I must share this spam e-mail with you that I received yesterday. It gave me something to giggle about and I hope it does the same for you.

Just for a laugh

Just for a laugh

 

A winter walk in the woods

We are taking a break from cycling having emptied the tank on last years epic journey. It’s the ideal opportunity to get back to doing some walking and we have been going out regularly pounding the local streets at a brisk pace to maintain a modicum of fitness. Finally, this weekend we were promised a nice sunny day so the question was where to go for a slightly longer and hopefully more inspiring walk.

Where we live on the Fylde coast is pretty pancake flat. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely area with picturesque villages and a network of quiet country lanes ideal for leisurely cycling. The only problem is, particularly when walking, you need hills to get perspective. To get a view of the landscape you need height and it’s height that we lack. However just a short drive from home we are blessed with what, in mountaineering circles might be referred to as a pimple on the landscape. At 266 metres Beacon Fell doesn’t do any of that ‘rearing up’ kind of stuff that the likes of Scafell Pike, or Annapurna do, but it does give spectacular views over the Fylde and butts up nicely against the slightly more impressive hills of the Trough of Bowland. The conifer wood that covers it looks like a warm hat when you view the hill from any distance and at this time of year it gives it an appealing, comfortable character that draws you towards it. Its modest height makes for a fine, gentle winter walk, especially if you approach it from Brock Bottom rather than driving up to the car park near the top. The Met Office promised us unbroken sunshine but what we got was cloud and a heavy snow shower but that just added a little spice to the walk and when the sun did make it’s appearance it was all the more welcome. This is a great time to spot an abundance of bird life but today the highlight was the close up view of both hare and roe deer. Sadly I wasn’t quick enough with the camera. Fortunately the trees and landscapes tend to remain conveniently still.

 

Tall Trees in Brock Bottom

Tall Trees in Brock Bottom

Moss covered wall

Moss covered wall

A glimpse of that promised sunshine

A glimpse of that promised sunshine

The promise of spring

The promise of spring

 

Catkin profusion

Catkin profusion

 

Just before the snow shower

Just before the snow shower

The dizzy heights - 266m

The dizzy heights – 266m

There are sculptures too!

There are sculptures too!

A glimpse through the trees

A glimpse through the trees

Enchanted forest

Enchanted forest

Fairsnape and Parlick. Big brothers in the Trough of Bowland

Fairsnape and Parlick. Big brothers in the Trough of Bowland

Blue sky at last

Blue sky at last

Another hint of the coming Spring

Another hint of the coming Spring

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