The usual thing to do in a walking blog at this time of year is to review the previous year and map out some plans for the rest of this year. Whereas I do have some plans (TGO Challenge (again)), bag some more hills, walk about a lot etc.), I'm not going to do that.
In fact, I'm not entirely sure how to express just what it is I want to express, So this blog post will be a kind of exploration of whatever it is that's been tickling my mind bollox over the recent Christmas period and beyond, in a retrospective sort of way. To put things into perspective, I am now 71 years old with a dicky ticker, type 2 diabetes and a lump in my thigh where a lump shouldn't be, caused by slipping on some wet grass a few years ago and detaching a muscle, which has now disappeared somewhere into my leg, leaving a bump. The leg seems to function well without that particular lump of meat, except that occasionally, such as if I attempt a particular contortion, it hurts.
I suppose the idea is that, whilst I've had a very long hill-walking career so far - the first entry in my walking log being at Easter 1964 (I believe this qualifies as a long time), at 71, as Mr McCartney indicated in the song "Two of Us" on the Let It Be album, "You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead" The "you" being everybody else and LTD that I regularly walk with. To be fair, it's more relevant to Lucky The Dog, who's future is much much shorter than his past. (This is what happens with pet dogs - he's my 5th or 6th) Basically, This Can't Go On Much Longer, at least not as long as everything that went before - all that getting lost, setting off on an unknown journey with butterflies rampaging around the innards, being too knackered to think straight, being hungry and wet and cold and hot... and all that......
It's the time of year when people plan ahead and, sometimes, make a list. When time is predictably very short, a bucket list may be drawn up. my old dog Bruno the Superdawg had such a bucket list in his final few weeks of life, at least until he couldn't do any more. I'm not ready for a bucket list just now (phew). But predictable time is on a countdown, maybe longer than I suspect, potentially a lot shorter, should I, or the wagon driver about to pull out into lane two briefly lose concentration on the A1(M) the ability to wander up some contours could be seriously inhibited. So, Stuff has to be Got On With. And the stuff I'd specially enjoy getting on with, so I have come to realise, doesn't really involve anybody else, other than the dog.
I'm not going to abandon any friends or the Ramblers (at least not yet) but it's not really possible to Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out with chatter going on, or discussions about The Route, or people who don't want to stop and have a look at nothing in particular when I do want to stop and have a look, or people who do want to stop when I don't. And people need to be spared the skinny-dip in a deep, green pool on a hot day. Or people getting scared and twitchy when it goes dark. All that stuff.
So, this year's TGO challenge will be entirely solo and, should I be spared, and the TGO challenge continues, so will the next two TGO challenges. And so will the long, dawn to dusk walks in the summer. There will be much sitting about. Larks, meadow pipits, curlew and snipe will be allowed to entertain me and there will be snoozing. LTD enjoys a snooze. Snoozes near waterfalls are particularly enjoyable. There will be long, dark and windy winter nights in little tents, parked in sheltered spots, not far from streams of clean mountain water. This is what I want to do.
At the moment it's chucking it down outside, so the main motivation is to light the fire and drink hot tea, maybe, even have Just The One McVities digestive, as LTD snores and emits noxious gasses close by. But quite soon, I'll be off on a short backpacking trip, probably just a bit up Weardale. I'll tell myself that it's training for the TGO challenge. I might do a blog post.