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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


Saturday, 9 January 2021

1.4 miles under the microscope

Back in Lockdown again. A daily walk from home may alleviate? Even if  it is only my shorty 1.4 mile circular. Today snow still lies.  Some newly bought grippy things for my feet have me eager like a kid with a new toy to give them a try.  A few yards up my drive and  a glance back reminds me of the gates I made for my neighbour back in the summer. 'Twas an absorbing and pleasurable project and a little smile comes on my face.

Another twenty yards and I am looking down my road at the grand old tree that overhangs; a couple of years ago a large vehicle was unable to pass and had a bad time reversing out of its predicament. Branches have been lopped since.

Only another thirty yards and a large boulder on the lefthand verge forms the end of a raised flower bed. Again, several years ago, my door bell rang and Denise from down the road had inexplicably managed to hit the boulder and ended up with her whole car perched on the flower bed two feet above the height of the road - could I help was the question. How the car was recovered remained a mystery to me but it would have needed some heavy lifting gear combined with much ingenuity. 

My road drops gently for another hundred yards then a steeper short drop to a T-junction gives me a minor panic when there is ice and I worry about going straight on into the wall on the other side. That wall bounds the house of a retired electrician who grudgingly came to do some work for me twenty years ago when I moved in. He was disparaging about the wiring in my house and when I asked him about doing a re-wire he said he wasn't interested. I wouldn't want to be involved with him and an insurance claim for his demolished wall.

A left turn and crossing the road has me looking down the top of the wall which granddaughter Katie has so often walked along even from a very young age - happy days. Katie is nine now!

A few hundred yards further on at the next T-junction our telephone exchange sits with a sort of abandoned atmosphere and a promising contender for worst architecture in Arnside. Across the road red and white safety barriers shroud the box from whence comes my Broadband - that is not unusual, but this time it has been extended to include temporary traffic lights. We have had our problems with Broadband but all has been tranquil for a month or two - perhaps we are in for another period of disruption as they try to identify gremlins in the system?

A right turn and I am passing the playing field where I so often approached from the other side two years ago, or is it more, after picking up Katie from school and I would sit around while she played with her chums. When Katie emerged from the school with her friends there was that great sense of release as they all charged off across to that field for uninhibited play. 

Next we have our modest war memorial and a British Legion flagpole which flies a Union Jack at half mast at approximately monthly intervals. Today, although painted white itself, it contrasts against the background of snow.

Across the road is the private dentist who removed a root for me then telephoned an hour later to tell me they had removed the wrong one. I was invited to go back and have the proper one removed - they generously agreed not to charge me the second time.

A left turn then another left has me climbing steeply up High Knott Road. At the top I look across to the nursing home where my next door neighbour visited her husband daily for a year or so before he died  - I'm not sure how many years ago that was but I bet if I research it will be more than I think.

High Knott Road is open on the left with extensive views across the Kent estuary intermittently obscured by shrubs and trees. The massive enviable houses on the right are elevated higher and must have the advantage of those views uninterrupted - they are the kind of houses you could go for a walk in. 

High Knott Road ends and becomes a track through Redhill Woods managed by National Trust. I notice they have been at it again with their strange obsession for felling trees.

Dog walkers abound. They tend to stop and talk to each other blocking the path - their space extended by dogs held out on leads and I have to creep round the outside "off-road" to get past.

The track exits onto Silverdale Road and straight across is the cemetery with its little chapel now used by Arnside Parish Council as a meeting place. The substantial ornate cast iron gates and railings remind me of a community minded local couple spending much time last summer refurbishing and painting them to pleasing effect, and still pleasing today but now decorated with snow.

There is one more personal resonance as I look down Silverdale Road towards home but that remains a secret. 

The boulder and raised flower bed where that car ended up

Looking across the road Into the electrician's property

Katie's wall

Our lovely telephone exchange, and across the road... Broadband box getting its periodic fix

Katie's playground

War memorial and British Legion flagpole

The incompetent dentists

A bit of rare winter colour

Our local shop. long may they survive

Climbing up High Knott Road towards...

...the nursing home where my neighbour's husband spent his final days

This and next two - enviable houses you could go for a walk in - High Knott Road

Into Redhills Wood - National Trust - the phantom tree fellers

Dog walkers block the path and hinder social distancing


  1. At 10X magnification that is 14 miles and if you go up to 100X you have achieved 140miles. Impressive.
    Thanks for sharing your local walk, it was great. Have you thought of a video for Arnside's tourism board?

  2. BC - A tourist video? That reminds me of Peter Sellars and "Ballam, Gateway to the South."

  3. A lovely post about your mini walk, and thanks for sharing some of your memories,

  4. Ruth. Thanks. It is so easy to take things close to home for granted and worth a refreshing look every now and then.

  5. Balham.
    You could start with the Golden Gate of Arnside - the railway viaduct and go from there.

  6. A nice reflective commentary Conrad, thanks for that 🙂

  7. I loved reading this post. It reminded me so much of something from the end of My Dinner with AndrĂ©. There it’s a cab ride, not a walk: "I rode home through the city streets. There wasn’t a street — there wasn’t a building — that wasn’t connected to some memory in my mind. There, I was buying a suit with my father. There, I was having an ice cream soda after school.“

  8. Paul and Michael - Thanks for your comments. I suppose if I pondered hard enough I could fill in the gaps with even more insignificant retrospection. I wonder how that might compare? I will have a think, but the sequels are rarely as good as the originals. I was not familiar with the Andre film but having looked it up I am a little flattered to be compared with such. Surely his name should have an acute accent on the final e ? In my researches I've not seen it used.

  9. All - following my suggestion above. I’ve just realised I may meet Marcel going backwards. I may be spared by not having knowingly tasted madelines.

  10. Here's one of the problems about telling a story in the first-person. How am I, the reader, to believe you realised you were smiling when you saw the gate? Adverbs also become problem. Eg, "Hello," I said wittily. A judgment you are not entitled to make. And didn't. I include it as an example.

    These are minor matters but they become major ones in a first-person novel, where most experienced novelists avoid the difficulties by allocating the narrator a subsidiary, mainly observational role. Otherwise when he/she triumphs in some way the reader may be put off by the fact that the I-person - who is by definition in control of the story - is manipulating the details in an unseemly self-glorifying way.

    The alternative, especially favoured by English writers, is to have the central character as a complete fool, failing at every undertaking. Lucky Jim is one example. The risk is that this may become monotonous. Hancock's Half Hour (on radio) had to deal with this problem. Hancock was a failure but sometimes he succeeded; this uncertainty augmented the humour. Notably when Hancock played a character in a thinly disguised version of The Archers and was facing being written out of the story; suddenly the role was reversed and he took charge of the series. Giving himself these memorable lines:

    "Oh, look there, coming towards me over the field, Mr and Mrs Gargery, Old Dan and Polly the barmaid. Waving to me, happy. Oh look, a big hole has opened up in front of them (Sound effects: various screams). Ah, they all seem to have disappeared."

  11. RR - I presume from your first paragraph that you did not identify other examples of that particular lapse. I did sort of unconsciously make a deliberate effort to minimise the use of the first person singular. I think if I tried I could have had a clean sweep there.

  12. How can you "unconsciously" make a "deliberate effort"? And "sort of" doesn't get you off the hook.

    There is of course a modified version of the Royal Family's impersonal ("One felt one was smiling..."); the interrogative: "Did I smile?", the different choice of verb "This amused me..." and others. If ever you feel trapped in a sentence, imagining you've run out of options, strip it back to its basics, the straightforward present indicative, then add the bells and whistles.

  13. RR - Yes I realised that was contradictory after I had posted and hadn't properly expressed my meaning. Re-write: ...for some unidentifiable but instinctive reason I found myself trying to avoid the first person singular.

    I have a mental block about your objection to my smile. To me that is just a factual observation of what I witnessed and as such a physical entity, not just an abstract feeling. Why would I the writer be finding it difficult to believe the reader wont believe me, unless I had some record of mendacity?