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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!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Sunday, 8 December 2019


Sunday 8th December 2019

A few days ago, much to my surprise I arrived at fourscore years.

This being the nearest weekend, son daughter, and granddaughter Katie took me out for lunch.

When I was picked up I was presented with a magnificent cake made by Katie. I was emphatically assured that the whole design and making of the cake with its decoration was conceived and made entirely by Katie. Mum said she had no input apart from taking photos of work-in-progress

I am depicted walking with Katie, see clip from photo, alongside a river on a hardcore path, the latter made from crushed shortbread - Katie knows that shortbread is one of my favourites, and as marmalade is another it was so filled in the middle. She also gave me a card with a message saying "I love woking (sic) with you," she is better at cake making and design than spelling (for the moment?)

Please click first photo to enlarge

Lunching out after receiving the cake.
It was all an enjoyable surprise. I am just as soppy a grandpa as all the people I met and was puzzled by who eulogised about their grandchildren before I happily joined the club.


  1. As I said before - congratulations.
    That is a lovely cake, did you have to eat it?

  2. Happy birthday, sir, and many happy returns of the day.

    I know what you mean about grandchildren.

  3. I’ve emailed you, but happy birthday again Conrad. The topping on Katie’s magnificent cake is inspired.

  4. BC - I’m working on it.


    Michael L. Thanks. As for grandparents, there should be a great novel on the subject? There may be but I can’t think of one but my knowledge is limited compared with what there is out there.

    Afoot - thanks to you also. I was highly impressed with the cake. Thinking about it I realise that it reflects my walking more on the flat these days!

  5. Adorable! Congratulations and many happy returns from us both.

  6. Happy birthday Conrad. Glad you had a wonderful day.

  7. What a gifted grandchild is your Katie, Conrad! And, yes, grandchildren change our lives for the better the instant they come into our grateful lives, don't they?

    I am glad you had a wonderful day and wish for you many more to come.

  8. More evidence that time passes and we are getting older - your offspring and their offspring give proof that they have entered worlds, experienced events and adopted skills you have no knowledge of. Their lives gradually separate from those of their parents and this is how it should be - they are developing as individuals. A cake is proof of a fairly recondite skill (as far as I'm concerned); a cake that has a story to tell, even more so. You have been blessed and you deserve it.

    Just one caveat. Being soppy (your word) isn't a requirement of parenthood; I can remember being put off by adults who tried it on. Neither is being obvious, notably boasting about such banal matters as the age (always grossly mis-assessed) at which a child walks, talks, reads and comes top in class. I imagined that the best way to show interest was to ask questions but this too was a concept that needed elaborating. Questions should always be about what a child is interested in (thus, rarely about school.) and this can require research. Zach, for instance, is mad keen about soccer; to obtain a response I have to show I am au courant with soccer, even ahead of the game. Hard work for me but then conversation with kids isn't a simple row to hoe. They are taught to avoid contact with men in dirty mackintoshes but after a while many kids drop the qualification and reckon that it's better to avoid adults altogether.

    I always remember your birthday but I neither send a card nor do I wish you happy returns. The only happy thing about birthdays is being alive enough to recognise the date. In that you need no help from me. This year as a sequel to the Aachen Christmas market (denied me last year because of sciatica) we spent the night in Montreuil. There's a faint link between us regarding that town in northern France. Many years ago you and Ann asked me to recommend somewhere to stay during a quick visit to France. I offered Montreuil. It's a bit late to ask but did things go well?

  9. Happy birthday Conrad. You're looking good for 80. Seriously. All the best Alan and Sheila.

  10. Leaving aside the well-earned congratulations at having survived (even prospered) the due term plus ten, might I make the obvious comment on Katie's comment: as one who had to (by-)pass that blighted place frequently during the five year period I had an office in Guildford, I suspect that somehow she already knows that that place could only be tolerated, let alone enjoyed or even loved, when in the company of someone who could provide both welcome diversion (from the visual horrors) but also a sense of security in the maelstrom of its so-called 'traffic system': only in your presence could she bear, and then love, Woking, for its unique awfulness. Talented - psychic too ? - careful - The Pythia, whose divinations launched many a dangerous exploit, will be jealous and might ensnare her for the baking of sacred offerings.

  11. I too had an office in Guildford. In a Georgian mansion which was lovely on the outside but a cramped horror to work in. Gimmer should take heart that a newish road (ie, less than fifty years old) allows you to whisk past the cathedral at about 60 mph provided there's a tailwind and it's midnight on Christmas Eve. I hated the town, there comes a point when the excessive good health of the citizens becomes oppressive. Making me feel positively unhealthy even though I had just taken an interest in ski-ing and was fitter than I'd ever been. As to Woking I never managed to taste its essence. I was told it was the sort of town where the upper middle classes had taken hold and would never let go. Was it on the Woking Pizza Express that Prince Andrew claimed to have bestowed his rarely bestowed benison? Seems about right.

  12. Riuth, The Crow and Alan R - Thanks for your good wishes.


    RR and gimmer - Whilst I agree with your soppy comment I was ascribing it not to parenthood but to the kind of starry-eyed stories, and the kinds of boasts you refer to, that I had experienced from otherwise strong men when they embarked upon the subject of their grandchildren, and me now admitting that I have found myself joining the club, whereas before it was all a mystery to me.

    I don't remember asking about a French destination but I suspect it was when we ended up in Abbeville which I had been informed was famous for being a walled city. As we explored we were not finding the walls and I asked a gendarme, "Ou sont les murs?" The gendarme, as always with the French, pretended not to understand but after some head scratching he replied, "Ah! Les ramparts'" That's how you learn French.

    You have both done a classic politicians trick of side stepping from one subject to another by linking Woking to Guilford. Not having visited either, as far as I can remember I can't empathise with your effusions. I did look at the map to see if I may be warned of any long distance paths that may pass through either. Woking does have the Basingstoke canal which looks like an interesting possibility and Guilford has The Wey South Path, and more dangerously for me The North Downs Way running to the south, a route I am currently looking seriously at.

    I like to think I am fairly well informed about current affairs but I think I will have to wait to be enlightened by a possible forthcoming episode of The Crown that will cover the royal story that you, RR, refer to.

  13. After all that I suspect that you will have to take Kate with you if visiting Woking.
    I could recommend better restaurants than Pizza Express, with or without Royal Approval.

  14. We've previously seen evidence of how artistic Katie is, but that cake really was outstanding.

    Your birthday sits nicely in my memory, thanks to being sandwiched between those of my sister and my gran. Thus, as we sat over lunch in Ironbridge last Friday we had a discussion as to your age, dithering between whether it was your 79th or your 80th (the reference point being, of course, how old you were when we met you in a field in Somerset in 2008). I'm pleased to say our mental arithmetic did finally come good and we reached the correct answer.

  15. I got the date of your birthday in advance from the foreword to your LEJOG publication, courtesy your daughter.

  16. I think you should check the secondary meaning of "effusions" and compare it with the tone of my comment. Also re-examine your claim to be well informed about current affairs while simultaneously admitting ignorance about Woking's Pizza Express.

  17. BC - Probably not a bad idea.


    Gayle - I would never doubt your mental arithmetic.


    afoot - resourceful as ever.

  18. RR - Effusions - secondary meaning in my on-line dictionary:
    outburst, outpouring, gushing, rhapsody; wordiness, verbiage.

    "Outpouring" will suffice, especially if read as a little tongue in cheek.

    I did qualify my claim to up-datedness in current affairs and one can't be au fait with EVERYTHING!

  19. No it won't do. Outpouring: (1) something that streams out rapidly. (2) an outburst of strong emotion.

    Nor will "tongue in cheek" - speaking or writing in an ironic or insincere way. How are (your) irony or insincerity justified and/or desirable in this case? What point do they make?

    Nor will "politician's trick". Guildford (with a d) and Woking were both first mentioned and interlinked by Gimmer. My response was to his comment.

    Nor will your disavowal of "soppy". Soppiness is mainly recognised through its verbal expression, otherwise by comment.

    "The gendarme, as always with the French, pretended not to understand". Suggesting your question was perfectly understandable and he was being whimsical. In fact the phrase "walled city" is an English translation of "ville fortifiée". Had you asked a policeman in York "Where are the fortifications?" he might have been equally whimsical.

    There's something more important here. More often than not foreigners speaking French may get the words right but, without realising it, often err - to the the point of incomprehensibility - via bad pronunciation. Nowhere more seriously than with two numerals "cent" and "cinq", hardly distinguishing between the vowels in either. Parenthetically many French "-in-" words are not given enough nasal wellie. I have been a regular sinner but it was brought home to me by a Frenchman speaking English. I got him to repeat what he said and dimly I realised neither the sentence nor the vocabulary could be faulted but all was betrayed by vowels reduced to honks, grunts and squeaks.

    Prince Andrew. He was skilfully interviewed about Epstein by Emily Maitlis, generally reckoned to be a triumph of apt and concise questions, and frequently referred to with the clip repeated. She pointed out he remembered one date very clearly. Eagerly he agreed: yes, on that day he'd done something very unusual, he'd taken his son to Pizza Express in Woking. Smugly he added that was something "he didn't do". I wasn't alone (see BC's comment) in being unable to envisage Andrew dining in a chain restaurant in public. Perhaps it happened but I couldn't rid myself of my doubts. Amazingly, he thought he'd done marvellously; then the roof fell in. I think it's fair to say Woking's Pizza Express played a key role in Andrew's deflation.

  20. RR - I can't believe I hadn't picked up on Pizza Express - I watched the interview and my memory which has never been good failed me.

  21. i'll bet he would remember that, because as far as I know (not being a 'watcher' of either tv or royals) he has two daughters but no sins (a typo originally but maybe prescient).

  22. I had the good fortune to meet you near Orton in 2002 I think you where doing most westerly to most easterly I was doing a slightly meandering coast to coast I asked for directions thinking you looked a bit dodgy to be honest but I’m sure I had a similar look i remember your comment 21 days without rain. Really nice to see your still mobile at 80 wether you like it or not your an inspiration
    Happy new year

  23. Steve - Welcome to the blog - new commenter are much appreciated.I don't recall that meeting but I have a poor memory so don't be offended. The only times I have walked through Orton on long distance walks were:

    2010 - 8th/9thJuly when I was in fact walking "furthest east to furthest west" (Lowestoft to St. Bees Head - that became The Broads to the Lakes when I fell and cut a vein in my shin descending Nam Bield Pass and hobbled out to Patterdale.)

    I have also walked in and around Orton on many other occasions on day walks.

    My records for 2002 are a bit sparse, but I was spending most of my outdoor time in Scotland finishing off The Munros.

  24. Congratulations Conrad, albeit belatedly due to my failure to keep up with you.
    Wishing you many more happy days in the wilds, with like minded citizens of the world.

  25. Phreerunner - Thanks for that. It seems a long time ago now, but I'm still plodding on. I did a sprightly 8.5 miles yesterday in a good time for me.