For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

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Friday, 24 August 2018

Holme

Thursday walk with Pete - 23rd August 2018 - Holme

I enjoy my regular walks with Pete but often wonder what material I am going to find for a blog post. Today we had a number of fairly eccentric gardens presented to us at intervals, but there was no obvious connection, but they sparked off memories of such occurrences on my long walks

Sometimes, passing through  pretty villages, I note a succession of abodes with similar expensive fencing or fancy gates, or maybe a few houses together with solar panels on the roof. My erstwhile occupation involved selling and negotiating, and I have always been a sucker for a good salesperson. So I find myself imagining the professional who has had a good run in that locale, and I am not thinking of the bling adorned, BMW Sport driving, gift-of-the-gsb, sell-your-own mother type, more the suave, understated vendeur/vendeuse who has made such an impression flattering clients that they are only too pleased to recommend this charmer to their neighbours.

In between the quirky gardens an impressive hunk of stone with chiselled lettering, inlaid with gold proclaimed "Storth Ltd ." Behind there were extensive factory buildings, but no clue as to their operation. Later internet searching revealed their mission to be production of systems for controlling and handling slurry for farmers. I hope their control of slurry is better than their command of the English language - from their website:

"As the need for slurry storage increases due to government legislation, the value of slurry being put on the land at the optimum time and other outside factors, Storth offers an Above Ground storage in the form of Slurry Storage Tanks."

We enjoyed this little walk which we had taken against forecast showers which never materialised and therefore we may be seen as heroes. If we'd been drenched we would have been seen as foolish.



PLEASE CLICK ON FIRST PHOTO TO ENLARGE AND VIEW SLIDESHOW




The top of that field  is the line of the Lancaster Canal which Pete and I walked in sections a few years ago providing much interest and many blog comments




For Alan R
 I only take photos of ones that look unusual. Alan may say this is not so?







100 comments:

bowlandclimber said...

You missed a corny title there Conrad - Holme from Holme.

Sir Hugh said...

BC - I’ll have to set you on as a consultant.

AlanR said...

Thanks Conrad. The David Brown/case 1594 was built throughout the 1980’s. Not sure how many were made without searching tinternet. They did quite a few commemorative and limited edition machines but I’m not sure why. My guess, which could be wrong btw, is that they spec,d up the machines to use up parts to sell the machines prior to a new model coming out. The 1594 isn’t a rare machine but seeing a special edition probably is a bit rarer.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R - I have never wondered about the relationship farmers have with their tractors, but I may ask a few when I meet them from time to time. I suppose I think of a tractor as just being a working machine, but perhaps farmers have similar feelings for them as do petrol-heads for their super cars? Hence the potential attraction of owning a special edition?

AlanR said...

There’s also a large “one up manship” amongst farmers, so if a neighbour buys a Case 1594 then buying the limited edition is better than his. Also, just like cars it’s better to change them at 3 years or after so many working hours which registers on agricultural machines instruments. Dealers can use a limited edition as a carrot to persuade a part exchange.

Roderick Robinson said...

"I hope their control of slurry is better than their command of the English language"

Never forget that other eyes are reading your prose in an equally censorious manner. Once again - put not your trust in adjectives.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - None of us are ever perfect in that respect but there is a difference between debatable use of adjectives and other matters of what may be called style, or the occasional use of a split infinitive or whatever compared with downright ungrammatical, or even nonsensical sentences.

Roderick Robinson said...

True there is a difference - one's right and the other's wrong.

gimmer said...

I think a stiff letter to the BBC should come out of this discussion - the standard of grammar on the BBC website is appalling - of which egregious errors 'was sat' and 'was stood' are the most common, but 'different to' is appearing very frequently . . . amongst many others - a disgrace, considering they are supposed to have a public service 'mission' as well as ethos . . grrrr

Sir Hugh said...

Gimmer - "different to" is now universal and used much more than the correct form across the whole spectrum of BBC, so called intellectuals, writers et al. It is a pet sin that I take particular notice of. The same applies to the now ubiquitous "going forward."

afootinthehills said...

I can't say that any of this bothers me really. I'm not a lover of the liberal use of '-',as used by gimmer in his comment, but I'm not sitting going ...grr! I use it too - indeed many of us do. (I don't like exclamation marks too much either.)

As for writing to the BBC? A complete waste of precious time.





gimmer said...

a quiet moment at the coal face:
I use '-' (too ?) frequently to indicate a less consequential switch in sense and significance than '( )' or a complete change such as ';' or even ':', which, although being supposedly less dominant, denoting a dependent phrase, than ';', does not, to me, denote as full a change as a semi-colon: one might have thought it should be the other way round, but who ever said that punctuation had to be consistent or exactly 'correct' to convey fluidity and expressiveness . . . (another device in over-use, I can hear being muttered)

I try to use a sort of written conversational style in informal stuff like web-log comments, but for exact tracts, where, perhaps regrettably, but necessarily, thank goodness, Latin is no longer 'de rigeur' (so to speak), one has to have so many hanging and subordinate clauses that using the full gamut of grammatical and syntactical devices is vital to marshall the ideas within a single sentence - and by the end, one is never sure that one understands whether one has said what what one meant to say, let alone what that was, or whether anyone reading it can have any idea what is or is not being said or claimed. Like privacy policies of websites, perhaps.

BBC - I know it to be one of the many stalino-facistic pseudo-liberal establishments that have led us to our present crisis of national self-confidence but at least penning a diatribe will make them titter as they dismiss it as the ravings of the unenlightened.

afootinthehills said...

Gimmer - my comment was a light-hearted one as demonstrated by my own use of ‘-‘ and an exclamation mark, despite saying that I didn’t care for them.



Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - I have no idea what those symbols mean or where they originate from despite spending some time inter-netting and finding only references to computer programming that are way beyond me. Your first two sentences (paragraphs) rival Proust, although he sometimes goes on for more than a whole page with one sentence.

Sir Hugh said...

afoot - I suspect you are as much in the dark as I am? Although you have found out how to produce that symbol on your computer - I couldn't find it under Emoji and Symbols on my Mac.

AlanR said...

It’s all well over my head. My command of English is not great and as for comprehension. I could just give up. My English was tutored in an engineering shop where most words began with F or B. Having said that I bet there are not many well versed folk who could strip a 10 spool electro mechanical hydraulic spool valve and fix a leaking relief valve. It’s horses for courses.

afootinthehills said...

Alan - what you can do is so much more important in my view. It’s engineering and the sciences of all kinds that we should value. I get dismayed when I hear that so many young people seem to be turning away from these subjects. (I know you are a chemistry graduate gimmer, so don’t jump on me...)

Conrad - the ‘-‘ symbol is just me putting a hyphen in inverted commas. It does look like special character though.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R - Your writing is always clear, concise, informative and interesting. Although I can bodge about with wood quite successfully, metal and engineering defeat me. I have had enthusiasts show me perhaps a piston remarking on the dreadful damage it has sustained and I see nothing wrong. If I attempt car mechanics the spanner slips of the deformed rusty nut and I skin my knuckles ending up with black oil and blood soaked hands accompanied by expletives most people wouldn't expect from me.

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afoot - Re Alan R - d'accord. Re the symbol - crafty.

afootinthehills said...

AlanR - I echo Conrad’s comments re your posts.

Sir Hugh - is this a record for the number of comments made on your blog?

Sir Hugh said...

Afoot - there have been more on other posts but I can't recall exactly. I may have a trawl back to see if I can identify contenders.

Sir Hugh said...


Afoot - I have gone back a couple of years and found two with more comments, although by the time we have finished here they may be exceeded

http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/search?q=Tender+Trap. 25 comments - (you were quite involved there)
http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/search?q=Lake+district+retribution. 22 comments

gimmer said...

I was only playing about with words - whilst indulging our daily office ‘cafe-au-lait/croissants' mid-morning ritual we have adopted since June 23rd 2016 !
But putting semantics aside, I do think it is perhaps as, if not more, important for scientists and engineers to communicate in good English as for classicists and artists to understand science - or at least the sciences of 'life' . . . not that I pretend to be more than journeyman in either.

In the same but slightly different vein, it dismays me when i meet intelligent children (or even 'young people' ) who want to do the ‘notorious’ 'media studies' or other somewhat suspect subjects when they have obvious scientific and technical abilities and aptitudes - or, worse, become merchant bankers or lawyers: I suppose that is where the money lies, so who can blame them, but without 'STEM' skills and knowledge, 'the people perish' as surely as from ‘want of vision'.
Even the Honours lists seem to say it all about current values - the few 'scientific' (in the broadest sense) people in the lists stand in stark contrast with the hordes of meretricious 'entertainers' of all kinds (I'm not referring to proper recognition of loyal and devoted service here)
This was brought home to me vividly at a college dinner a few years ago when the brand-new graduate chemist with a good first sitting next to me told me he was starting work at a merchant bank the next day ! ‘What a waste of public money’ was my reaction (this was before student fees came in - more excuse today, I suppose) - I've always had the view that people should do some sort of 'service' to the nation after receiving their education at the nation's expense - almost consider those who decamp to other shores immediately being a form of treason - but as we drain other poorer countries of their skilled and able people, we cannot really complain.
Compulsion is not the answer, of course, but inspiration and example - by leaders, teachers - and remuneration committees !

AlanR said...

Hi Conrad, I used to take minutes at board meetings, it was something that chosen project engineers had to do. I enjoyed it but it was never my forte. I would much prefer training service engineers from both home and abroad. Spanner’s are well known for biting back btw and they are well versed in all swear words.
Not forgetting, thanks Gibson.

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - two books of invaluable guidance are always close to hand for me:
The Penguin Guide to Punctuation, and more entertainingly: The Elements of Style - William Shrunk Jr. and E. B. White.

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Alan R - Taking minutes is not easy. I have had some experience. I found it essential to write the formal transcript up as soon as possible after the event, otherwise I could not interpret the notes I had made, and relying on my woeful memory was no good.

afootinthehills said...

Gimmer - I agree. I would add one thing which I find disturbing: medical doctors in training who say they are not planning to work full time. I think that is appalling and it is even more distasteful here in Scotland because there are no tuition fees. Well, there are for English people who study at Scottish universities which I think is a disgrace, Shame on our government. I am now well off topic - sorry Sir Hugh.



afootinthehills said...

Sir Hugh - I also use the Penguin Guide but a fat lot of good it does me sometimes.

Sir Hugh said...

Typo in reply to gimmer above: co-author of The Elements of Style is William Strunk

Afoot - Two other books I find useful are: Mind the Gaffe ( The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English by R. L. Trask, and The Guardian Book of English Language.

Don't worry about straying from the subject. This kind of expansion arising from my original post is gratifying: it is part of what makes blogging worthwhile.

gimmer said...

Totally agree - wandering off the subject is often - actually more often than not, as it follows the drift and grain of the things that really interest the makers of the conversation - more interesting than the original subject itself - just like a good supper party round a stout* wooden table , lubricated by a good (few) bottle(s) of (for me, anyway) claret . . .
If tables could talk, what secrets and reputations would fly . . !
Style is one thing - choice - and style itself, do change; but good grammar - surely not ! whatever next - pyjamas to the shops, perhaps. I have to confess that I have read the first two these tracts, at your earlier direction, but take refuge in Churchill . . . and honour them perhaps more often in the breach than the deed. Not the other one , of course.
(* ps needs to be stout to withstand the banging of bottles and beating of fists)

Mark said...

Interesting conversation! Many teachers - and I'm one of them, I must confess - have very little grasp of grammar. I wasn't taught any at all outside of Modern Language lessons: grammar in English was seemingly regarded as superfluous. That surely doesn't bode well for the ability of future generations to build complex sentences like some of those on display in these comments.

Sir Hugh said...

Mark - from your blog posts you obviously have no problem with grammar as well as conveying interesting content. In my opinion there are two essential points to consider when writing: it should be a courtesy to your readers to give them the best chance of understanding, and most of all, read your first draft through carefully to eliminate unnecessary content and re-write where needed, and preferably repeat that more than once. I am not directing these maxims at you in particular, just generalising. All punctuation has SPECIFICALLY DEFINED PURPOSE which can be easily understood and should be correctly deployed just as much as one needs to observe the rules of the road - failure to do that results in chaos.

Sir Hugh said...

Gimmer - are you suggesting that Churchill was a better tutor of English grammar and punctuation than the standard works on the subject?

gimmer said...

not exactly - i'm quite sure of the precise detail but i was suggesting that some licence was useful - the specific instance I had in mind was along the lines of his making an ironic comment on punctilious complaints about something he wrote which had, strictly, slightly incorrect grammar, and which is pretty well known - something along the lines of a clumsy but punctilious rephrasing of the paragraph and culminated with the phrase you will recognise : 'and up with which I will not put' - indicating by example that a little licence was necessary to give life and expression to the spoken and the written word . . .
maybe it is partly because of his style and vividness of language that he is more read than the stylists - and got a Nobel prize for it, to boot !
so I was using this a token for the general approach - like the joint candidate whose speech to the electors of Bristol, after the main hours-long address by Edmund Burke, was the record-breakingly succinct 'I say ditto to Mr Burke' - and sat down. Both were elected.
(note i've gone back to lower case as it is too awkward to hit the caps when typing prone - except as in para 2 where it adds to the verbalised image: sorry about that)
(this post must be at or near the record for the number of comments on a single post - shows what can come out of tares and thistles if one really tries)

Roderick Robinson said...

A real dialogue, forsooth.

Are we writing for ourselves or for our readers? This can have a profound bearing on clarity. I know whereof I speak since I regularly sin when choosing audiences - "whereof" being an example: a deliberately obsolete usage to catch someone'e eye or rage.

It's amusing to detect ideology oozing from the seams in comments that do not set out to be avowedly (did you like that?) ideological. Yet another crime I am guilty of. Folks, I'm left-wing but wear my pariah-ship with a difference.

Capital letters at the beginning of sentences help the wearied eye. Gimmer excuses himself from this generally-agreed obligation by typing prone. A stroke of genius!
Keep an eye on Tone Deaf in the near future; my next post will be written underwater. Lacking corrective lenses on my snorkelling goggles I intend to dispense with all forms of punctuation on the grounds that I cannot focus on them.

But here's the most important point. There are limits to commenting on a five-mile walk. Freed from this restriction your commenteers may finally see the world as their oyster (A cliché, I know, but what's one literary sin among so many?). With this in mind may I award a sixpenny Booker prize to AlanR for his 19.15 comment; in upmanship terms he goes way beyond pathetic references to Proust.

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - thanks for the clarification. I think we are now at comment number 34 which I'm pretty sure is a record here. It could be many more. When I reply to several comments I include them all in one reply separating wit a line and using the commenter's name as a sub-heading. Many other bloggers use a separate comment reply for every comment.

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RR - Perhaps I could stop putting up further posts and just let this wide roaming discussion continue ad infinitum?

AlanR said...

There’s never been an engineer on the panel of judges for the Booker prize. It all sounds a bit biased. I will accept any award by the way. Thanks.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R - You are fortunate. In all 1152 posts to date Big Brother, RR, has only complimented me two or three times - even here he has rubbished my mention of Proust.

AlanR said...

At least you know of Proust, rubbish or not. It was never on my bookshelf. The book that gave me great inspiration was by RMWilliams.

Roderick Robinson said...

AlanR: British culture ensures engineers get the soggy end of the lollipop, and ignores their achievements. I sympathise and my first novel, Gorgon Times, attempts to compensate. Here's part of the back-page summary:

It's 1990, not a vintage year if you make things for a living.

Andrew Hatch had status and a salary as a traditional production manager. Now, in Damon Runyon's words, he does the best he can.

Clare Kepler, a high-flyer in the cleaner world of systems and electronics, seems insulated from the labour market but she too faces unexpected change.

Work makes us what we are.


On the the home-page of my blog, Tone Deaf

http://ldptonedeaf.blogspot.com/

there's an advert for Gorgon Times and an opportunity to read a selection of extracts. I should add British culture also discriminates against novels about engineers and the book has sold poorly. Perhaps it's badly written.

I didn't set out to push Gorgon Times down your throat but - quite honestly - your comment and its tone of voice, meshed neatly with one of my long-held beliefs. Also I doubt Tone Deaf will be to your taste. Unless you're in your eighties and overtaken by a mad desire to sing (properly) a Sarastro aria from The Magic Flute.

gimmer said...

I think that we have all gone well beyond the call of duty in our chewing over of this one: time for more meat, Sir !
(and a correction to line 1 of my previous comment - insert a 'not' in front of 'quite' - quite)
I enjoyed - and bought - Gorgon Times - as I mentioned long ago, and which comment brought howls of mirth from others, it brought to (my) mind the stylistically very different but curiously parallel Nice Work by David Lodge: both have become more relevant - even topical - in today's headlong rush to AI driven machines and algorithms.

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - I am on the case. As your comment came through I was working on the next post which will be up on the blog shortly.

AlanR said...

RR. I hope that you found my tone of voice acceptable. Sometimes, what gets printed in comments on blogs can be a little tongue in cheek. Especially from myself. I would never comment if I thought otherwise.
I agree with your quotation that work makes us what we are and that was my point exactly.
I shall look out for your book when I return to the UK at the end of September. Thanks.

afootinthehills said...

AlanR - ‘work makes us what we are’. That could easily spawn another hundred or so comments or a post. I am much more a result of what I did outside work - thankfully!

AlanR said...

Gibson. Oh dear , what have I done.

The Crow said...

Fascinating reading!

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R, afoot, The Crow - (and all others) - thanks for the splendid response to this post, this makes blogging worthwhile. My pageviews for yesterday finished up at 1528 but I think that is more a quirk of the mysterious operation of search engines and the inner workings of the Internet than a response to any particular post.

Roderick Robinson said...

The ashes continue to smoulder. That was very graceful of Gimmer.

gimmer said...

To labour the point: these comments about work and the making of oneself bring to mind a host of slogans, mottos and coats of arms :
a few which echo down the years:
Hoc Age (of course)
Labor Omnia Vincit
- under both of which one either suffered or prospered !
Arbeit Macht Frei
- for the privileged few;
Dominus Illuminatio Mea
- but only if you worked hard.

etc etc

Any more apposite ones in your book?

Which reminds me - another for your 'curious signs' collection

- the other day this sign appeared outside a quiet dwelling house in Kendal , of which only the top half was visible

'Girls - 11-15 - all services 25% off before 5pm'

so blatant ! in Kendal ! who would think it !

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - hoc age should be extended by whatever the Latin is for: "...or be thrashed."
(For general readers 'twas the motto at Bradford Grammar School.}

My own little maxim is: "make it happen."

Roderick Robinson said...

Gimmer: No more in my book. One has to be careful these days; there are no longer any brownie points to be gained from slipping in Latin tags. Out of Arizona, set in south-west France, has scads of French words which I decided to italicise. It seemed a reasonable decision but then one comes up with words like café which would look stupid (or worse: pedantic) in italics. But as the Scotsman said: "Nae one said twould be easy."

Hoc Age incorporates a degree of ambiguity. There were those at BGS who said a stricter translation would be "This do", thus subtracting the imperative tone and offering instead an exemplary flavour. Given my unhappy passage through that institution I naturally plumped for the imperative, as did a number of my mentors - painfully.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: Bringing the Comments up to a nice round figure I trust you never dream about WWIII

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I presume your concerns about my future dreams refer to my maxim of "make it happen." Well I have tried - I suppose I could re-phrase by saying "don't stagnate." I have tried to move on. I am now two posts beyond at number 1088 on this blog, but as you say the "the ashes still smoulder" here. Whilst it was not a particular ambition of mine to go beyond the half-century of remarks it seems to have been so for others from remarks I read, and others received outside these exchanges.

Phreerunner said...

“BBC - I know it to be one of the many stalino-facistic pseudo-liberal establishments that have led us to our present crisis of national self-confidence but at least penning a diatribe will make them titter as they dismiss it as the ravings of the unenlightened.”

Brilliant, as are many of the phrases in ‘The Long Good-bye’. (Note the hyphen.) Which book I’ve just finished.

The only bit of Latin I can remember is my old Scout Troop’s motto - Semper in excrementum ergo, solum profundum est qui veriat.

Sir Hugh said...

Phreerunner - The BBC do produce programmes every now and then that are above and beyond, and whatever political views you have, free expression and opposition are essential perts of democracy. Democracy is not a perfect system by a long way but it is the best we have.

We have corresponded before about Raymond Chandler and I am glad to hear you are now a fan.

I have tried to have translated your latin but only come up with "Always in the shit, therefore, only the depth of the veriat." which I can make little sense of. I only took it as a subject for one term before we were streamed into classes aiming for Oxbridge or otherwise catering for the imbecilic - needless to say I ended up int the latter.

Phreerunner said...

Conrad, despite their frequent dippiness, I'm generally a fan of the BBC, in particular some of the occasional gold dust you refer to. It was more the wording of gimmer's comment that appealed, not the organisation to which it referred.

As scouts, we always seemed to be in the sh*t, it was only the depth that varied.

Have fun, I'm shortly off to collect the Skoda from its n'th warranty repair.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: A Skoda on its n'th warranty repair! Quelle horreur! I'm on my third Octavia (over more than a decade) and am besotted with both marque and model. Ravished especially by those three letters DSG. An lo, we thought that 50 comments was a good score for a Conrad Walks post, yet here we are - you and I - well on the way to doubling that. And to add fuel to the flames do you spell your blogonom as you do in the hope that incautious readers (I am not an incautious reader) might mistake those initial letters for the prefix psycho-, thereby attracting intellectual kudos?

Phreerunner said...

Haha, I felt obliged to contribute a comment to this thread, perhaps because in some ways comments should arguably be assessed by way of the number of different authors rather than the total number of postings. But what does that really matter; we are enjoying ourselves.

It's a Fabia, nearly three years old, with problems from Day 1. On this occasion they agreed that the water leak may have been due to a hose that was loosened during the regular attempts by the engine to 'escape', when the Stop/Start feature fails to work. They said the software had been updated "which indicates that Skoda are aware of the problem". We'll see whether they are still ready to carry out repairs arising from a fault since new, when the warranty period is over.

When I started blogging, there was an 'Aktoman', and a 'Nallo Lady'. My tent is a Phoenix Phreerunner, and I'm pictured standing in front of it. Nothing vaguely intellectual here I'm afraid.

Roderick Robinson said...

I think you're wrong there. That hands-in-the-pocket stance suggests an easy superiority over the world at large, halfway between the boardroom (or possibly the Grove of Academe) and the Cairngorms. If you've got it, flaunt it, I say.

Phreerunner said...

You obviously didn't observe the orange Crocs!

Sir Hugh said...

RR and Phreerunner - I'll just let you two carry on. I will have an occasional look-in and then perhaps do a celebratory post when we get to a hundred.

Phreerunner said...

That's a bit of a stiff challenge, Conrad. We are away this weekend.

Re the Skoda problems, it struck me how things have changed since my dad started writing his post retirement diary in 1983. He had to drive all the way from Staffordshire to Lincoln to have 'the new trim' fitted to his new Maestro. Who would have dreamt of buying a Skoda then. And who would have envisaged problems due to 'Stop/Start' software and SD cards that stubbornly refuse to accept music for playing in the car due to being 'write-protected'?

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: Croc fashion is beyond me. I bought what I thought were Crocs to save my feet from the pebbly beach prior to my daily two-mile round-trip swim on the Greek island of Karpathos, and Sir Hugh said they weren't Crocs. Orange may be an immense solecism but I just wouldn't know. Mind you, if you dangle a participle I'll be down on you like a ton of bricks.

I can beat your Dad's Maestro - how about a late fifties' Austin Cambridge? And suddenly 100 comments doesn't seem like any achievement at all. A series - The Worst Cars I've Ever Owned - would easily gobble up twenty exchanges between us. Followed by The Worst Books I've Never Read (plenty of opportunity for fibbing). The two subjects could probably see me out but then I'm a good deal older than you.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: It's cheating, I know, splitting a comment into two but I just re-noticed your reference to SD cards working through the Skoda "media system". I managed to convert my whole 700-plus CD collection into mp3 format and transfer them to a 48 GB (?) CD chip. Only to find that the Octavia's system is limited to 32 GB. A little judicious trimming (Who needs The Trojans when one has Fidelio?) and I reckon I could drive halfway round the world without re-playing a single track. Assuming it was all motorway, that is. If not, well I was fibbing.

Phreerunner said...

RR - apologies for the delay, an active weekend has intervened.

My orange Crocs were bought in Ottawa early in 2007. Orange was the only colour in my size, and I wanted them for river crossings whilst backpacking. They have been superseded by some lighter and grippier Saucony Hattori shoes that are now even more worn out than the Crocs, which still live by our back door and will no doubt one day get the blame for landing me in hospital after slipping on the greasy paving outside said back door.

The Maestro comment wasn't intended to start a catalogue of 'Worst Cars'. It just happened to be the car on which my dad spent some of his retirement lump sum. As for 'Worst Cars', I remember arriving at his house in Lincoln to see a brand new mustard coloured Morris Marina coupe outside. My mother nearly left him. When I raised a critical eyebrow he simply pointed towards my gold coloured Ford Zodiac Mk IV and winked at me.

The Fabia's system is also limited to 32GB, but that's no use if your SD card suddenly decides to 'write-protect'.

Yes, you must be older than me; my life hasn't lasted long enough to enable me to commit 700 plus CDs to mp3 format!

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: You'd announced your intended absence and I was quite prepared to be patient. And see what riches my patience has brought me.

So that's what you're thinking as you stand dégagé, hand in pockets: "Actually, they came from Ottawa."

Interesting to explore the point when "walking", surely a UK admission that we lack imagination. becomes the much more serious "backpacking". I always feel backpackers are entitled to say, "I'm going out. I may be gone some time." without being accused of histrionics.

The closest I got to either was a month spent at the OBMS in Eskdale. One lesson I learnt: If it's raining (and it usually is in the LD) don't look for stepping-stones, just walk through the river. In the end you can't qualify the adjective "wet".

Ah, the Marina, definitive proof that UK car-manufacturing had thrown in the towel. On the other hand the Zodiac had crypto-qualities. I once read a lengthy article in Classic Car by someone who had restored a Zephyr, a Zodiac which simply lacked chrome hubcaps. No one ever restored a Marina.

As to mp3 conversion you don't know the half of it. Two hundred of my CDs were converted LPs. Now that's a real time-waster since the work can only proceed in real-time, providing ample opportunities for the re-discovery of forgotten favourites.

A car I subsequently hated was a pre-TDI diesel Passat station wagon. A car with a charisma bypass.

"Mustard-coloured" the ultimate limit in self-stigmatisation. Hurray for your Mum.

In my next comment I will be alluding to your website. I take it that's allowed under the impromptu rules we've set up for our squat on Conrad Walks.

Phreerunner said...

RR - at a time like that I was only thinking "please take the picture quickly, Bob, I need to lie down." It was after a long day walking with Bob and Rose in the Monadliath on 16 May 2007. It had been a 31 km day with lots of ascent, and Bob and Rose walk a bit more quickly than me so I had sore feet. I'd also met HMP3 for the first time that day. You can find my 'pre-blog' report on our topwalks.com website. I remember Bob digging a latrine trench for him and Rose to use. (I have never done that for Sue - but I do carry a trowel that I lend to her for hole digging purposes.) 'Backpacking' is a whole new world compared to walking, as your esteemed brother has so expertly demonstrated over the years.

That's all for now. I have many pictures from the weekend to 'process'.

PS Reference to my 'website', be it topwalks.com or 'Postcard' is fine, but do keep in mind that it is intended mainly for 'friends and family'.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: The admission that you "carry a trowel" almost cries out for one of my snarky comments but I intend this to be a civilised exchange. Besides, anything to do with latrines and related matters would arouse the ire of VR (my wife) with unsubtle charges about "public schoolboy humour". I did go to a public school in that my father handed over good money in a vain attempt to buy me a formal education; this proved to be a case of throwing good money after bad and very little of the instruction actually stuck. What knowledge I have of anything is attributable to auto-didacticism.

I am slightly put out by the fact that you suffered from sore feet. I prefer to think of you as a kind of Iron Man unperturbed by gradients, long distances, adverse weather, and rapacious camping site proprietors. I comfort myself that this occurred ages ago and that you have, no doubt, hardened in the interim. Heroes mustn't have clay feet, as the saying goes. Nor, it seems, sore ones.

The only reference I intended to make about your website was to do with acting as guide to third parties. I think you mention this is not entirely straightforward since the dependents of any third-party who chose to do, say, "a Carver Doone" (I should append a spoiler alert here to anyone who hasn't read R. D. Blackmore's novel Lorna Doone) could sue you for failing to keep their relation away from bogs (the sucking kind). I only mention this because my neighbour - a deacon in the Baptist Church but also a keen hill walker - volunteered to escort elderly locals on short undemanding rambles not far from home, only to find out he would be required to carry a rucksack-ful of life-enhancing aids. Water he could understand but he baulked at sanitary towels. Poor man has led a sheltered life.

Humphrey said...

Forty-four years ago I bought a four-track tape-player off a grrrlfiend - she threw in a '59 Austin Cambridge to, ah, sweeten the deal... One dark night crossing the Wicklow Hills the bonnet blew away (the car's, not the grrrlfiend's). Things were never the same after that.

Sir Hugh said...

Humphrey - Must have been a bit windy. Before I converted to technology for my maps I had an OS 1:25 double sided, laminated map of the northern Lake District which the wind caught on Halls Fell Ridge on Blencathra and off it went. I have often pondered at some bemused guy finding it on the streets of Carlisle and wondering from whence it came. I wonder where your bonnet ended up?

Phreerunner said...

Good equipment:
My Philips reel to reel tape recorder, circa 1966/7, is still going strong.
My first car was a Mini. It did occasionally break down, on one occasion threatening a trip to Wasdale for the weekend. A friend of mine, Linda - who I saw yesterday - kindly lent me her Wolseley 15/60. I couldn't get used to the length of the bonnet. Frequent stops were needed on Wrynose and Hardknott passes for my passengers to get out and tell me which way to steer the magnificent beast.

Phreerunner said...

RR, you are clearly not a backpacker, for whom a trowel is essential equipment, whether it be the bendy orange variety or the heavier folding metal 'U-digit' gold standard version.

My feet are now fine, thanks. Any problems were merely passing annoyances, and I agree that I shouldn't really mention the occasional blimp in that department.

Guiding for third parties is a relevant issue. Most clubs have insurance to cover their walk leaders. I set up topwalks.com when I thought I may need some income from somewhere. My former employer kindly solved that problem by paying me to finish all the work I was in the middle of when I left - my former colleagues having run away from this. I discovered that I couldn't get liability insurance as an individual, so I planned to get disclaimers along the lines of commercial operators like Collett's. I think they work in most jurisdictions, but not France - Collett's simply can't operate there. In the event I was always with 'friends' who agreed that we were all responsible for each other rather than me being responsible for everyone.

I'm lucky, perhaps, in that I've only had two incidents in all my (over 50) years of leading walks, etc. They were both on the same traumatic day. Julia broke her shoulder when her stirrup got caught on a gate and she fell of her horse, and then the person who had agreed to take Julia's car back home (a 300+ mile trip) suddenly developed an ectopic pregnancy. Oops!

From about this time of year my bag usually contains extra gloves etc, a first aid kit, and a tent. Just in case!

Phreerunner said...

PS I've never carried spare sanitary towels, RR, though I believe some folk do carry them on the basis that they are the 'towel?' equivalent of a Swiss army knife.

Roderick Robinson said...

Humphrey: Am fascinated by your grrrlfiend, clearly a lioness with diabolical associations. Shrewd enough to recognise a plausible way of getting rid of a 59 Cambridge. I'd love to report that the bonnet of my Bond minicar departed this life in the Wicklow Hills but severance occurred more mundanely on Cottingley Cliff Road, said to offer great views of Bingley Moor. The latter half of that sentence is oxymoronic; Bingley and its environs are places to leave behind for good, not to contemplate. Just when I was about to choose between the noose and the cutthroat razor I was offered a job in London; with one bound I was free.

Phreerunner: I'm not sure whether my first ascents of Wrynose and Hardknotts out-trump yours. It was my first outing on my first motorbike, a 125 cc BSA Bantam. Cars descending the two passes forced me on to the inside of the hairpin corners where the gradient (an easy 1 in 4 at the outer edge) increases to 1 in 1 or even 1 in 0, normally associated with walls An incautious tweak of the throttle and the front wheel said goodbye to the tarmac. Happily I showed no fear, being frozen into insensitivity by an unseasonal Easter.

Julia's incident confirms all my worst thoughts about equine transportation.

You are quite right I'm not backpacker. I am part of the stay-at-home culture that writes about these and other matters. Mind you, critics can be just as savage as the wind roaring across the Col d'Iseran. And it was summer at the time..

Roderick Robinson said...

All: I've appreciated your efforts but you'll be relieved to know we'll never make it to a hundred. When Sir Hugh adds another post to Conrad Walks, this post, Holme, and of course its associated comments, will become invisible, pushed into a graveyard called Older Posts. Nobody goes there other than the indigenous blogger, scratching around, looking for past glories. Never mind, we've managed to prove that a tangential approaching to commenting on Conrad Walks can be just as fruitful as following in Sir Hugh's footsteps.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - That is not entirely the case. With the recent erratic behaviour of Blogger failing to send email notifications of comments I have taken to looking at Comments in Blogger Dashboard. If any new comments are made on older posts they will appear there. It is also worthwhile looking under the heading Spam - I have found the occasional comment which I now feel guilty at no having replied to which Blogger decided was Spam consigning it to that never previously consulted graveyard.

Thanks to all the contributors to this eruption of comments, but I agree with you RR, it is time to move on.

Did I detect a hint of compliment suggesting that following my posts may be "fruitful?" Wow.

I intend to show some of this content on my next post.

Phreerunner said...

Hold on, I thought the target was 100 ..

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: Yet again you have mistaken what I am trying to say. Yes, future comments will attach themselves to the Holme post. However the Holme post (with its comments) will no longer be shown openly in Conrad Walks; it will appear under Older Posts, an access facility which appears at the bottom right hand corner of the last visible post.

I hadn't thought it necessary to explain this in such detail. As more new posts are added to any blog the oldest ones are, in effect, archived according to parameters entered under Settings. Yes they and their comments (including recent additions) continue to be accessible but only if the reader clicks on Older Posts. Since there is nothing to tempt the reader to do this it is reasonable to assume they will remain unseen.

Another misunderstanding. You seem unaware that "fruitful" could be used ironically.

I previously lost the automatic email notification facility. One may enable it (piecemeal) by ticking the Notify Me box in the Comments system. However this is no longer automatic and has to be done manually for every new post.

I'm sorry you intend to recycle material from these extended comments. Hardly a test of your creative powers. As I envisaged this subversive project I imagined it would only be taken up by the elite of your commentariat and/or those endowed with well-developed powers of persistence. These worthies will now be faced with reading the same stuff twice and could fall away through sheer ennui.

Phreerunner: You are clearly a person who does things, not someone who only writes about doing them like me. I was delighted when you took up this whimsical project but then I foresaw the sequel explained wearisomely above. It would have been one thing for you to have written a whole slew of extra comments, quite another if there'd been a strong likelihood that these would remain unread. I didn't want to distract you unprofitably from your daily round. I wondered briefly if I should volunteer to write your comments for you and then (under my own name) answer the points you/I had raised. Immediately I saw the flaw in this, that such forgeries might not go down well with your peers in the accountancy business.

If, under these circumstance, you are game to carry on I am too. However I did wonder if an unrestrained diet of cars might prove to be a trifle laddish. How about: Kitchen Utensils I Have Never Used, Nor Do I Intend To?

Phreerunner said...

RR, it'll be a shame when we get to 100, your latest offering has generated much laughter.

Your Wrynose/Hardknott ascents definitely trump my W15/60 experience. I'm impressed that you could manage 1 in 0 gradients. Did you learn that as a circus performer?
Aside: our family has a rich circus history, though not personally. Writing about it is a 'Pending Project'.

I've just returned from a bike ride to discover some wittering about 'Older Posts'. That doesn't bother me, and like Conrad I was considering re-posting some of this so that I can find a good chuckle on my own blog when I need it.

I had to laugh at your Kitchen Utensil suggestion. I am currently reading my dad's 1983 to 1990 diary. He would have loved this sort of interaction and would have delighted in practicing the art of a wordsmith. He may also have delighted in listing such Never Used Utensils thus:
'Knife
Potato peeler
Colander
Scales
Mandoline (what's that?'
(Mother, if you read this - which you may well do - please note that it is rather tongue in cheek but it does reflect dad's recorded ability to 'go for a loaf of bread' whilst you cook the next banquet!)

Finally, regarding the authoring of comments. You may be pleased to hear that I resigned as an accountant in 2004. Possibly a wise move. One of my former colleagues who didn't resign has just been fined £150K for making an honest mistake that had no adverse financial implication for the parties concerned but broke a pedantic rule.
Rest assured, such comments as these are only a minor distraction. I suspect none of us would bother with all of this if we didn't enjoy doing it...

Must go - I have Kitchen Utensils to find.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - Yes I am well aware of all the points you make about the workings of Blogger. I was merely informing other blog authors that they needn't miss comments put on older posts. This has happened on my blog and it wasn't until email notifications started to fail that I started using Comments in Blogger as routine, and also looking at Spam where occasionally blogger place acceptable comments. Perhaps you misunderstood what I was saying? I see no harm in mentioning this on a newer post for the benefit of others because, as you rightly say, they are unlikely to see it here.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: Delighted you are keen to get to "the ton" and possibly beyond. By all means recycle this stuff wherever you wish. But, since I know what a mandoline is, let's start with that. In simple terms it is a wooden frame with a blade embedded in parallel; imagine the working surface of a wood plane but without the handle. Ostensibly one uses it to thin-slice vegetables, notably onions. But its real function is to take the skin, plus 1.5 mm of underlying flesh, from the user's knuckles - a task it is brilliantly designed for and which it performs whether the user wants this to happen or not.

Mandolines are also stringed instruments providing plinky-plunky accompaniment to Neapolitan love songs; I'm sure you can work out the connection. Culinary mandolines merely wound the user. But another culinary device, which deserves inclusion on our list, has the capacity the translate him to glory - a fancy religio phrase for reducing him to atoms. I am of course referring to pressure cookers. A bit like finding a use on top of the hob for a howitzer shell.

Any scales used in the kitchen needn't necessarily be inaccurate all the time but should have the potential to be, on a random basis. Thus to provide alibis for inexpert cake bakers. Since I rather like soggy cakes I cannot condemn scales out of hand.

A colander is a three-syllable word for a perfectly serviceable single-syllable word, sieve. (OK, the holes are differently distributed). Although colanders have been around since Neanderthal man starting reducing mammoth legs to a thicker variant of beef stock, they represent a trend towards pretentiousness in the kitchen. Many people (mostly Guardian readers, like me) take up cooking because of the vocabulary. Used judiciously it can suggest the quasi-cook can actually speak French. Here's a tip: to deflate one of these linguistic puffballs, ask him what the French is for a car clutch. These guys never know anything useful.

Enough for now. As I write I've been compiling a list of Politicians Who've Been Known To Tell the Truth. The initial aim was ten, a few minutes ago this dropped to five, now I'm struggling to find a third. I think I need time to let this simmer (see how I toss in such kitchenny words, casually like).

Phreerunner said...

Politicians Who've Been Known To Tell The Truth:
I've led a life that has largely avoided the attention of politicians, but
1) I believe that Paul Rose, my MP when I lived in Blackley, was a man of principals, one of which was to be Truthful.
2) Patsy Calton (nee Yeldon). She was a lovely person who was also Truthful. I spent three years with her on a Biochemistry course at UMIST, where we were both in the Hiking Club. There were less than 20 on the course, so we got to know each other well. Her early demise in 2005 was very sad. Re-reading her obituary has brought tears to my eyes.

gimmer said...

There are so many potentially fruitful leads amongst these more recent posts which i missed whilst cavorting in southern europe that it is hard to know where and upon which to offer my own pfennig worth (as these no longer exist - or, perhaps, if one believes the reports of the imminent implosion - or explosion - of the euro project - have made merely a temporary exit from the currency and hence the metaphor {metaphoric ?) stage - maybe I should say 'cent's' worth) - so many interesting leads that wind on and towards the century target - will this post then deserve a regal telegram (how is it that done nowadays ? - an instagram or text message from the Palace - one could go on)
Anyway, the other day I was invited to an 'informal' party up in the hills above the local burgo, and was somewhat non-plussed to be ushered into a 'house' bearing the discrete plaque "Palazzo Sxxxx" and find that, say, english style evening dress would have been down dressing in that company - but that the black t-shirt and black jeans, the smartest kit i could muster, were met with a rather subdued circumspection from the host and his friends, whose most recent ancestors had apparently been regular wearers of a not wholly dissimilar garb significantly less than a century ago.
So maybe a new loom around which to weave this thread would be to invite recollections, not of old bangers or roguish statesmen, but of sartorial howlers that ended 'well' (or, perhaps, apparently so . . . one can imagine the aquiline sniffs after one has left their company !)



Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: This subject turned out to be more serious than I intended. But no matter, I don't rule out seriousness, just as long as it doesn't turn into solemnity.

There is a matter of principle here. One is more likely to find truth among backbench MPs than those sitting po-faced on the front bench weighed down by ministerial or sub-ministerial responsibility. Many backbench MPs - of either stripe - have shelved higher ambition and look for nothing more than to be become "a good constituency MP". Going by reactions from both sides of the HofC it seems fairly clear that the muirdered MP, Jo Cox, was one these. And I have to say that my local MP, a Tory, Jesse Norman, behaved faultlessly towards me and VR on a couple of occasions, knowing that our inclinations were leftwards.

The problem starts with promotion and the gaining of a little power. It is not so much that power corrupts, it imposes compromise. Learning to live with compromise is essential for anyone who inherits a department. (I should add that Jesse Norman has taken over a smallish department but that was after our dealings with him).

A good specific example was the late Robin Cook, a powerhouse in opposition, but unmanned when he became Foreign Secretary, a job where fibbing is an essential qualification.

I appreciate your response and I'm sure your examples fill the bill. But my proposition was defective. It would have been far harder to have compiled a list from politicians who have tasted office.

Gimmer: Welcome back to the land of no-compromise, since it seems you travelled from the land of irony. Good to see your sense of political history was unblunted by the hospitality you received and you were able to cast a sardonically retrospective eye on your fellow guests. But then the problem surely lay with that easily misinterpreted adjective "informal". It is not for nothing that "dressing for dinner" was introduced since it provides confirmation of that strange hymn which purports to render God's politics:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them high or lowly,
And ordered their estate


When Graham Greene was invited to stay with Evelyn Waugh, Waugh warned him that dinner would be a black-tie affair, sort of apologising for this "affectation". You could say Waugh was taking a risk given that Greene ("a writer should always maintain a sliver of ice in his heart") was a master of recycling experiences which would have caused most of us to shudder with embarrassment. But then Waugh himself was no amateur in these things. Perhaps Match null best described the subsequent meal.

I fear I have nothing to offer on sartorial howlers. By a special dispensation, possibly enshrined in Magna Carta, journalists have been allowed to pursue their dark arts dressed in the utmost scruffiness. And the trend has continued downwards for many years. You may remember I didn't even wear a tie at Nick's funeral, being able to defend myself on the grounds that I was there professionally as well as emotionally - reading stuff I had written. I do have a "soup and fish", unworn this last quarter-century.

Phreerunner said...

RR, I managed to get through an entire career with one very occasionally used DJ. When I stopped working that was recycled but I kept my newest suit (now at least 16 years old) for use at weddings and funerals. So, no sartorial howlers here...

I agree with you on the subject of politicians. Especially Jo Cox.

Regarding the Mandoline, the kitchen utensil not the musical instrument, we were lucky enough to acquire on that has a gadget on the top that spikes the vegetable as it is sliced. There's a small amount of 'wastage', but in several years of use, this gadget has never claimed any flesh and the Dauphinoise potatoes for which it is principally used have been superb.

The Mandoline doesn't however feature in another of our favourite meals, which is preceded by a lobster racing contest whilst G&Ts are sipped and drawers are ransacked in search of instruments with which to continue feasting.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunning: I hope this doesn't sound patronising but this is exactly the sort of comment I hoped this project would generate: in subject, style, attitude, selectivity of detail, brevity (when this is needed), and implied background. Not that your other comments were in any way inferior, simply that a well-defined "rhythm" has emerged, providing an impression that you could keep on going until we reach Comment 1000. It's no doubt un-English of me to come up with such a judgment, a bit like criticising your pet, choice of interior colours or your taste in reading. But for me such a reaction is the habit of an editorial lifetime and I do it because the qualities I touch on above are comparatively rare.If you are offended let me add I'm equally hard on my own stuff. This morning I trawled through all ninety-plus comments, and immediately noticed that many of mine are much too long.

Your final sentence simultaneously charms and baffles me. Far from asking for an explanation I am treating it as a piece by TS Eliot, skilfully crafted but impenetrable - a paradox that only poetry can encompass.

I wonder if we might stray into technology as a source of beauty, an extension of the belief that if a thing works well, we as connoisseurs of nuts and bolts tend to regard it also as aesthetically admirable. On brother Nick's yacht the main winches, elegantly fashioned in bronze (I think), showed an irresistible simplicity of line that made me want to buy one and put it on the mantelpiece. Except that this would have betrayed its very nature; part of its attraction was that it did necessary work.

Phreerunner said...

Regarding your penultimate paragraph, RR, I am enthralled by your comment.

Your editorial prowess appears to have mutated 'Phreerunner' into 'Phreerunning', which has me perplexed as to whether there is some subtle intention that I'm not bright enough to spot, or as my old English teacher used to say "lack of attention to detail, boy. Go and stand in the corner for five minutes."

I have been an editor myself. Given that I was educated in the '50s and '60s, and the contributors were educated in the grammatically barren '70s and '80s, I often thought I'd have saved time by starting from scratch with some of the pieces rather than wrestle with the rubbish presented to me. But as most of the readers were educated in the latter decades, I now realise that it didn't really matter and that the editorial process was completely self indulgent (that's the wrong word, my brain has turned to jelly).

gimmer said...

That 'final' sentence could well be a coded message for the promised uprising - its apparent absurdity concealing the call to arms of an outraged citizenry, sick of panaceae peddled by heart on sleeve (or is is bleeding heart) . . .
No civilised gentlefolk could mutely witness such cruelty to sentient beasts - so it must have some such purpose. Lay on, MacDuff.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: Sorry about the corruption of your blogonym. I have wondered why. Perhaps it's because the straightforward noun doesn't necessarily imply movement - ie, you could have retired from running phrees. The gerund hints that movement may still be possible.

"been an editor" Ah, yes. To have known power over others' intellects. But now, since the vocabulary of grammar has been discarded, grammar can't really be discussed.

Short commons here, I'm afraid. I'm off to Wild Wales and have run out of time. I intend to return to the aesthetics of technology when I'm back.

Gimmer: So panacea had a plural and you've been waiting for this very moment to use it. Remember the Wadham motto: If you've got it, flaunt it - but preferably in a foreign language. Please allow me a commercial break, now. Je reviendrai(or does it have a final s?)

Roderick Robinson said...

I am heavily, if sub-consciously, influenced by the way things look and work. Though I reserve the right to change my mind.

I have two smallish double-ended spanners for nuts in the 9 - 12 mm range, both serviceable. One has two ring ends, is rough cast and plated, with a thin ridge round the circumference, a byproduct of the moulding process; both ends are "stepped" for better access to awkardly placed nuts. The other is ring-ended and open-ended; the sides of the open end are finished to a high polish and the shaft finished and elegantly shaped into a cross-section based on two opposing shallow arcs. Technically the "stepped" ends increase the efficiency of the first spanner. So why am I always convinced that the second will do a better job?

Contrarily:

Most wine from the Antipodes comes in screw-top bottles. Bordeaux wines, especially the expensive ones, stick to corks (in some cases longer than normal), the arguments being that these organic stoppers are traditional, have worked well (more or less) for hundreds of years, and the Portugese cork farmers deserve our support. But wine is for drinking and the screw-tops bypass the need for the corkscrew and its dubious efficiency. Thus, three seconds vs. several minutes, more if the cork breaks. With drink I'm no sentimentalist.

A passage from a short-story, presently incomplete:

"Let's meet in a hotel bar," she'd said. "You pick."

It came down to two. The first had been re-furbished less than a year ago: large white expanses, concealed but bright lighting, chairs with stainless steel legs, the booze back-lit on glass shelves. The other was predominantly brown with inviting easy chairs in soft fabric, lamps with dark yellow shades and an oak bar-counter fashioned to last a thousand years.

She arrived slightly tired and sat down, possibly with relief. "This place looks... very modern," she said, smiling.

"Clinical?" he asked. "Yet you're not clinical."

The bar was already doing what he intended. She was eight years older than him and that was half of her attraction. The hard lines contrasted her humanity, her womanliness. Might even have suggested she was vulnerable if he hadn't known better. He felt moderately confident he'd say the right things tonight.

Phreerunner said...

Wow, that's impressive, if a bit deep for me ... passing by the computer on the way to my cycling shorts ... but I think I'd have chosen the inviting easy chairs in soft fabric.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: Yes, but the narrator wasn't choosing on behalf of another fella. How about this then:

SONNET
Damnit, I really do miss ski-ing


It wasn’t all delight. At Crans I caught
A tip, tearing my shoulder at the ball,
Cracking the socket, facing a distraught
One-armed descent to the Swiss wailing wall.

The joint was luxé*, sniffed the harridan,
Who passed as nurse and told me not to shout,
While yanking at this helpless Englishman
Facing a bill her work would bring about.

All those Swiss francs! A tax on future days
Of hissing skis maintained in parallel,
Of turns that contoured down the snow-slick ways,
Of moguls charged, of schusses flown pell-mell.

A click! They heard it first. And then an “Ah.”
Adulthood ceded at the cookie jar.

*French for dislocated.


But then I'm not sure how many walkers go for downhill ski-ing, although some have tried cross-country. A skier's aims are almost directly opposed to those of a walker. With ski-ing it's not what you do, it's how you do it. One commonality: both sports take place in beautiful locations.

A shared dilemma: skiers/walkers have love-hate relationships with their footwear.

I recall my longest walk - over four Lake District passes on the penultimate day of the OBMS course. One disadvantage: our group of three was denied the usual arithmetical relationship with the task at hand. Walkers are both encouraged and discouraged by numbers - distance done vs. distance yet to do, also seen in terms of time. But no one had told us where the end was. When I finally sat down in a barn near Buttermere my legs had become autonomous, they jerked spasmodically, apparently wanting to continue walking.

Whereas you and I know where the end is.Ten to go. Five more monosyllables from you will do it if you're tiring. At least you aren't weighed down by a rolled-up tent made much heavier by rain. Consider the best title ever for a book about mountaineering: Conquistadors of the Useless, by Lionel Terray.

Phreerunner said...

I enjoyed that one RR, some excellent content to distract me once again at the start of a busy day!

I'm a walker and a x-c skier. My footwear is comfy and the two activities only overlap on the rare occasions that walkers stray onto the piste. That is unhealthy for all concerned.

I can also relate to your skilfully composed downhill sonnet, having spent four days enjoying that activity in 1996. I remember the year, as the Atlanta Olympics took place whilst I was in hospital having my cruciate ligament (that sadly didn't 'click') replaced.

I recently went to a talk on how to organise a charity walk. In this case the speaker was taking a group the easy way up Snowdon on a summer's day. He was inclined to refuse passage to anyone wearing trainers, but all he could say about those who planned to set off in new boots straight from the box was that the leader should take some plasters. He got a bit rattled when I, who the other attendees knew to be an experienced walks leader, stated that personally I would be inclined to suggest that the boots go back into their box and the comfy trainers be used for that walk.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: Delighted to see you're not tiring. I was always astonished that downhill ski-ing didn't bring about an undesirable familiarity with my cruciate ligament. But then I wasn't all that hot off-piste and that's where knee problems are most likely to happen.

I did try x-c ski-ing once, found it quite pleasant (a more efficient way of going for a walk) but it wasn't what I was looking for. One salutary discovery. I was on a 10 km circuit and ahead of me I saw a youngish couple both dressed in blue and yellow. Swedes! Feeling fit I caught them up and, given their nationality, I felt quite proud of myself. We chatted for the rest of the circuit. I sort of hoped the three of us might then share a gluhwein but as I made to leave the circuit they waved me goodbye as they started on another 10 km! My pride melted.

Ah boots. Mine, acquired new in 1953 for £5, are still up in the attic - I could hardly throw them away, could I? It would be like discarding my left leg. Initially they were furnished with tricounis and hob-nails and it is amazing to recall that in those days climbers were still scratching well-polished holds off well-polished routes in the Lake District wearing such boots. Vibram soles replaced the nails quite quickly until climbing ended in 1959 when I moved to London and got married a year later.

I was to remember what I'd left behind about a decade ago when I went on a summer holiday to Kitzbuhel. My wife and elder daughter took the ski-lift up and down the Hahnenkamm but I chose to come down on foot, in trainers, frequently jumping from one boulder to the next. The next day it was clear that my legs, and especially my knees, belonged to a very old man.

Taking up singing at eighty stopped me from moping. Singing is a far more physical activity than most non-singers realise. Breathing becomes a more conscious act than hitherto, fitting in gulps of air (while disguising the fact) according to marks you've made on the score. Gradually you discover another version of yourself since the trained voice is quite different from the chattering machine you have used over the years. And then there's the realisation that the score itself is a series of instructions handed down directly from Mozart and/or Schubert. I've always enjoyed music but I still don't know where the sudden late urge to take lessons came from. A mystical visitation?

gimmer said...

A little off topic but , as you might say, RR, every syllable counts towards the 'target' - one of the pleasures of this extended campaign by an experienced commentariat is the relaxation of the evisceration of the 300 word rule - the longer mini-essays allow for a much-welcomed expansion of lit and wit and even, perhaps, windows into the soul.

Phreerunner said...

Singing! I just can't do it!

Those early boots must have been better made than the ones I had. I used a series of 'Helvellyn' boots that were discarded after the soles fell off - usually on the hill...

Sue and I love x-c skiing, as evidenced by 141 postings on my own blog under the 'Skiing' label. I'd probably have another go at downhill given the opportunity. I believe the equipment has changed since my one and only attempt in 1996. My ACL incident was in fact very innocuous - at the end of the fourth day I was encouraged to try a black run. Half way down I paused for a rest and overbalanced, the skis didn't release and I twisted my knee. A bum-slide to the bottom and that was it.

The more you exercise your knees, the less they may complain!?

Roderick Robinson said...

Gimmer: I like "experienced commentariat", perhaps because of its multiplicity of syllables.

I've never been able to explain the 300-word limit on my posts to anyone else's satisfaction. The most obvious parallel is that when I attempt verse (always verse, never poetry) I am uncomfortable with any format or style other than the tight confines of the Shakespearean sonnet (Three stanzas of ABAB, ending with a rhyming couplet). I have tried vers libre and on one occasion I did achieve publication but because I'm still very much a beginner I'm embarrassed by too much freedom.

As to my posts, writing style is as important as subject matter. Perhaps because I spent six years in the USA I favour a laconic approach and controlled brevity is a useful crutch.However this protracted series of exchanges here on Conrad Walks may have grown out of a sense of indulgence, my equivalent of chocolate (ie, custard doughnuts). I particularly enjoy the ebb and flow of second, third and n-th thoughts.

Phreerunner: Can't do singing? Taking lessons may be the answer although not everyone is as lucky as I was. An immediate rapport with V my teacher, being bowled over by her powerful soprano voice, and the challenge - in my first lesson! - of a great Mozart aria (O Isis und Osiris, The Magic Flute). It was probably the latter factor that did it: the suggestion that I might tackle a masterpiece straight away, that I didn't need to go the Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star route.

I'm appalled by the irony of that ACL injury, even if doing black runs in the first week may have given you the wrong impression. I am, however, comforted by the fact that it didn't keep you away from the mountains. Walking, perhaps because of its pace, is a wonderfully satisfying activity. Two things stand out from the walking I've done: the fascination - even thrill - of self-navigation, and the special kind of self-communication walking encourages, somehow enhanced by the physical effort involved and the slow onset of fatigue. A walker is self-contained and that can be a source of modest pride.

What sort of thoughts pass through your mind as you walk? Obviously you process the slowly changing visual information you experience, also you revise and re-revise the numbers that define distance and time. You assess your physical state and remind yourself of procedural matters such as stops for refreshment and to take photos. But are there more abstract themes and do they recur? Does joy inform your progress? Do you feel secret contempt for those who don't walk? Are you ever bored but disinclined to accept the fact? How often do you admit - only to yourself - you'll be glad when this particular walk is over? Are you able to convert the effort needed in a steep ascent into genuine pleasure (ie, as it happens, not when it has passed)?

Am I (me, RR, now) overdoing the introspection lark?

Roderick Robinson said...

The Pacific Ocean - and in particular the distances involved - has fascinated BBC4 recently. Getting shipwrecked there has frequently meant a death sentence. A couple of mariners managed to survive after others in their open boat died and were turned into meals. But it was the comment one of them made afterwards that gripped: to die of thirst, he said, was surely the worst death of all.

These days people can hardly cross the road in downtown Hereford without clutching their water bottles. Others sip while propelling their trolleys through Tesco. I assume serious walkers carry an adequate supply even though water's weight can - literally - be an inordinate burden when you're counting the grams in your rucksack.

What little serious walking I've done has been in the Lake District.This was aeons ago and I never carried any water, there didn't seem to be any tradition for it then. If I got thirsty I used to drink from mountain streams (now considered a no-no) but the funny thing was I rarely got thirsty. Walking absorbed me - body and soul - and it seemed as if my normal needs (including food) were put on hold. Only when descending Great Gable, with the Wasdale Head Hotel in propect, did thirst - as a pleasing impulse - make itself known. And then to be quenched by beer, not water. Strange really. Many of those days I recall as atypically hot.

But can being satisfied mentally (as I was when walking) drive off a perfectly natural desire? Much later in my life I did some sailing with my brothers. Again the weather was clement and refreshing myself wasn't a priority. Certainly not while helming, when every particle of my concentration was directed obsessively to the top of the mast and the position of the burgee.

Perhaps I suffer from the same shortcomings as the US President Gerald Ford (who took over from Nixon) and of whom it was said he couldn't chew gum and think. Perhaps I'm unnatural.

Phreerunner said...

RR - well done on keeping this going. I'm afraid I've not watched any TV recently so I can't comment on that. I have however done a bit of cycling and walking, both of which activities have been made more pleasurable by the judicious application of 'drinks' breaks, usually as a means of washing down cake.

For example, yesterday I felt obliged to enjoy a surprise day of summer. The 'Y Garn and the Glyders circuit' is fairly easily achievable from Timperley in time to both have breakfast with and get home to cook tea for 'she who works'. However it's a fairly serious mountain walk. I counted the people I saw 'on the hill', with encounters varying from schoolchildren to students and old farts like me. 71 is a rough total. I spotted just one water bottle, being savoured by a guy on top of Y Garn (you could describe the ascent as 'thirsty work'), though I have no doubt that like me, most of the people I saw were carrying flasks or water bottles in their bags.

This does of course contrast with the 'Couch to 5km' brigade, who seem to find a need to sip water every few metres. There's actually a danger to their health from taking on too much water, but overall they probably benefit from the activity so I'd be the last to knock it, other than to question the need to re-hydrate quite so frequently.

Drinking from mountain streams is not a no-no. Such water is delicious, but is best taken from near the source of the water. We all have 'dead sheep' stories! But if you can find any water on top of the Glyders (and you'd be doing well to even get to the summit of Glyder Fach) you are a better man than me. It is however a wonderful spot to pause above the Ogwen Valley and Tryfan for a while with a sausage sandwich and some chocolate caramel shortbread washed down with a cup of tea, as I did yesterday.

Roderick Robinson said...

Phreerunner: Our experiences interweave, sometimes linking up, sometimes drifting apart. I am rarely able to sate hunger with anything sweet. I remember camping with a pal at Wasdale Head. Early evening. He pulled out a whole cake and began to gnaw on it. Laboriously I peeled potatos, boiled them, drained the water away, and mashed in a can of corned beef while he looked on with mild interest. The cake would have done nothing for me, might even have stuck in my craw. The hash was ambrosial.

You're right, you'd never have found me up on the Glyders, then or now. Getting myself up steep slopes required long sessions of self-hypnosis. But that doesn't stop me using those sort of surroundings fictitiously. Here's a lightly edited passage from Gorgon Times

Parked in the destination layby, the rock shoulders of Tryfan to the left, chilly Lyn Ogwen to the right, Hatch took off his helmet. “You’re a bloody good pillion passenger.”

She had turned away and was looking up at Tryfan. “One of my rare talents.”

They threaded their way uphill between boulders, found one with a surface that tilted away from the slope, allowing them to lie down and watch climbers on the first pitch of the route immediately above. Although the road was a mere 150 metres below, the altitude was sufficient for a wind-rustled tranquillity, underlined by the slowness of the climbers’ movements.

“... This is Milestone Buttress. The way up to the left is called Direct Route. It’s the only rock climb I’ve ever done. But there’s more to it than that.”

“A man, for instance.”

Celia sighed. “In the end all our moving experiences boil down into clichés. Yes, a man.”


A lot went into Gorgon Times, I was profligate with my experiences. At the time I didn't realise I was going to complete another three novels and find myself, in October 2018, a third of the way through yet another. I'm not saying there will be room for any outdoor stuff in Rictangular Lenses but it's best to be selective - even frugal - not to burn up vivid memories in one wasteful bonfire. Celia is a subsidiary character in GT. Tryfan and what it led to changed her as a woman, but she's no more than 2% of the narrative. You see from my profile that I renounced my West Riding birthright, finding it mean-spirited and provincially cramped. Perhaps I should been more parsimonious with the detail as West Ridingers tend to be.

Phreerunner said...

Brilliant. And I had you down as an editor, not an author. Gorgon Times receives rave reviews and can be picked up for a bargain price. I'll be getting it. Meanwhile I'm reading my dad's diary. It relates his failure to get his first and only novel published, despite his meticulous writing, re-writing, and further re-writing, all on a typewriter before the days of word processors. There was a lady author, now quite famous, on the radio yesterday. She related the story of her first novel. It still hasn't been published.

I skipped Tryfan yesterday. Over twenty years ago it was an ideal venue to take my young son on his first mountain walk, as you can only see a few metres ahead, and the scrambling is as easy or as hard as you want to make it - subject to one being happy to 'scramble', which my son certainly was.

I'll leave the 'coup de grâce' to you, RR. Well done!

Roderick Robinson said...

In the kindest way possible Phreerunner has offered me No 100 (perhaps I should do it in verse form, set to Old Hundredth). But he shouldn't have. It's been a dialogue and dialogues, like duets in music, are shared exhilaration; someone gets an idea, someone else expands on it. Fusion! A grandiose thought, perhaps, but aren't dialogues one of life's greatest opportunities?