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Friday, 17 April 2015


The clips were removed at my gp's surgery last week after my recent appendics operation. The practice nurse is a wise, middle aged, no-nonsense matron type. Beforehand I wanted to query the advisability of my forthcoming trip to Scotland to climb some Marilyns which would be three and a half weeks after the operation, and then embarking on a three hundred mile backpack later in May. Confronted with Wise Pragmatic Nurse I had the pessimistic sickening feeling of possible outright condemnation.

"Hill walking?" she asked sharply.


 "Do what your body tells you and use your common sense."

That was a relief. But now I am not sure if Common Sense and Body are battling it out between themselves both trying to fool each-other.  When I posit a sort of opinion pole on friends and acquaintances by idly sketching out my plans I sense thinly disguised thoughts assessing me as ill-advised, stupid, mad or obsessed beyond help. Well, I'm going anyway.

The complicated medical history of Left Leg has resulted in me having to wear hideous knee length, black compression stockings (forever). At first I thought this would preclude me from my preference for walking in shorts on summer backpacking trips, but then I hit on the idea of knee-length socks to cover the depressingly medical looking blackies.

On Wednesday I was on a mission to purchase long socks and soon discovered two things - firstly, since outdoories stopped wearing breeches back in the fifties long socks are now rare, and  secondly there seems to be a dearth of size Large socks in general (I wear size ten to eleven shoes). Gaynors in Ambleside had some monster long socks apparently designed for going to the South Pole, but not in my size anyway, and costing over £20. The Climbers Shop shook their head and advised me to go to a farmers' welly shop. Down the road at Blacks a pleasant young asian girl responded to my request as casually as if I was asking for a loaf in a bread shop - she went straight to a rack and took off  a pack of Peter Storm Midweight Knee Length Hiking Socks in a tasteful shade of blue, two pairs for £16. I was well suited.

Earlier at Lakeland Outdoors near Staveley I had had another abortive sock search, but found myself casually looking, with no intention of buying of course, at a good selection of trail shoes. As is often the case prices were not easy to see, but I picked up the pair I thought were most suited for me and then found that my impeccable taste had selected the most expensive ones on the rack, and of course I am now their new owner. Most trail shoes have silly names - Trail Blaster, Ventilator, Quadra, Intercept etc., but my new ones are exclusively low profile, just having their brand name alone: Scarpas.

Big Brother, RR, must be anticipated here before he adds a high flown crit. of my addiction to fashionable, pseudo scientifically designed outdoor gear taking precedence over the metaphysical attributes of great open spaces, but my previous footwear has worn out, and even though I am not normally concerned about my appearance from a fashion stance I do not want to be backpacking looking like a model from a medical supplies catalogue. 


gimmer said...

and why not, might I ask?
on many counts throughout the post,
my main medically orientated thought is the integrity of the healing of the surgical incision, in view of your history of skin infections at wound sites.
but I'm sure you have had good advice on that and think, if the weather holds, that it is a superb place to go at this time of year (and midge-free as a bonus!)

The Crow said...

I wish you good climbing, good hiking and loads of new friends along the way. Hope the weather behaves, too. Keep posting so we armchair travelers can go with you.

John J said...

'Use your common sense' eh?
See you on the hill then!

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - thanks for your comment doctor. I have said before you missed your way studying all that illogical chemistry - you should have gone medical.
The Crow - My first trip goes to a region where I am unlikely to meet many people on the hill, but those I do meet will be like minded which is ok in its own way.

My second trip backpacking passes through many small attractive villages and lower lying countryside where I will meet a cross section of people when I try to promote conversation with the aim of eliciting interesting stories. In particular I will pass through one of the prettiest regions in England called The Cotswolds. Unfortunately many rich people live there including the recently highly publicised Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame who was involved in a "fracas" with a fellow BBC colleague leading to his dismissal - I guess all that may have even made the news where you are, although I can hardly imagine you as a fan of Top Gear, either our original version or the US look alike. I just hope accommodation isn't too expensive there.


JJ - I will be keeping a low profile - I may have lied about the maturity image of that nurse...

...well fantasising beets common sense any day.

The Crow said...

"I guess all that may have even made the news where you are..."

As you know, I live in the global boonies, where worldwide news events will show up eventually, plus I don't have a television nor do I subscribe to any newspapers, so - depending upon how long Top Gear has been around - there's a better than even chance I won't know what the heck you're talking about. Thank goodness I have the Internet available to me. I wouldn't know anything if I can't find it with a search engine.

Still and all, I wish you well.

afootinthehills said...

In the absence of firm medical advice not to go, I think you are quite right to stick to your plans Conrad. Have a great time on both your trips.


Sir Hugh said...

afoot - Hi Gibson thanks for your reassurance. It's all a bit like the half empty or half full pint.

Mark said...

Best of luck with your trips - if you decide to go.

Roderick Robinson said...

Well you laid a trap with your headline - however I'll leave you to work that one out yourself.

The fact is it's easier to write entertainingly - and originally - about buying socks than ascending Sgurr Nan Gillean, as you have proved. The world of literary difficulty awaits you in the Cotwolds. However, a word of warning. You devote much of your time to saving weight and I can see the logic in this. But have you also thought of applying the same principle to an excess of adjectives. They may not weigh down your shoulders but they do weigh down readers' expectations.

I offer this partial sentence as a verb. sap.:

...before he adds a high flown crit. of my addiction to fashionable, pseudo scientifically designed outdoor gear taking precedence over the metaphysical attributes of great open spaces,

AlanR said...

Saw these. Thought they may be a good buy next time as they protect against ticks as well.