Thursday, 19 May 2011

Off on a trudge!

I love the English language, because similar words can convey so many hidden meanings. How often have you heard the phrase "we are going for a walk" or "we are going on a ramble." Yet quite often what should have been said was "we are off on a trudge!" Some people enjoy walking whilst others can't find any real pleasure from taking part in the activity. I used to do a lot of walking years ago, at the same time, I also played a lot of squash and did a bit of jogging. Over the years squash took its toll on the knees and I had to have some surgery done on the cartilage in each knee. The long distance walking pleasure I used to get a buzz from came to an abrupt end.  Going up Jacobs Ladder and doing the Edale Horseshoe are now a thing of the past. Don't get me wrong, I can still walk good distances as long as there is a limited amount of the steep stuff involved. The surprising part of this is not the going up that's a problem its the coming down that seems to stress the joints more. A few hours of light climbing and descending can still result in a few days of joint discomfort.

Today we took the dogs out for a gentle walk round Old Moor nature reserve and the nearby Manvers lake boating complex. We met up with a couple of friends and let the three dogs have some fun in the water. After an hour at the lake, we made our way back to the car park at Old Moor. I opened up the boot, chucked my Jack Wolfskin walking jacket in the boot. Then I got the dogs to jump up in the back. Dropping down the lid, the car auto locked the boot and at that moment I realised the car keys were in my pocket.

First it was the panic realisation of what I had done. Which soon turned to deep concern for the dogs. The car was stood in the sun and getting quite warm. I phoned out our emergency breakdown service. I also phoned our friends who brought some cloth sheets so that we could shade the car. The breakdown service took over half an hour to get into the car. I am not going to outline how they eventually did it. Suffice to say that there was not a single mark on the car. I now have more respect for the anti theft and other security features of Audi cars. Vorsprung Durch Technik as the saying goes.

The Memsahib was quite laid back during the whole experience. And no dogs were harmed in the making of this classic "Foo Bar" of epic proportions.

This reminds me of a story from about twenty five years ago. My regular walking companion back then then was Arthur. One day we decided to do the Edale horseshoe because the weather had been good for several weeks and we knew that the boggy stuff on the tops would be quite passable. We had been walking for a while and we reached the bottom of Jacobs Ladder. I can't remember after all this time what started the conversation topic off.  The outcome was that Arthur decided he would do the rest of the trip walking backwards. To cut a long story short Arthur actually completed the twenty mile ramble walking backwards. I thought he was mental to even try. The curious thing was that Arthur had a long term Achilles tendon problem.  Which would sometimes flare up when we were out and he would sometimes have to remove his walking boots. He always carried a pair of leather sandals in his pack, just in case.  After this day out walking backwards, he never had the Achilles tendon problem again.

I remember it well, as I recovered from the knee surgery. I continued to do a limited amount of walking. But, I would have to carefully choose my route and one where I could easily short-cut back to civilisation. This usually involved doing footpaths along the old railways lines because the gradients were quite gentle. I also did a bit of canal walking because again the gradients were never so steep that I could not manage comfortably. The one thing I do remember was that the canal walks were not very good to undertake in wet weather. Conversely, the railway routes were always good even in the wettest of conditions. In the main because drainage was always good on the old railway lines. The canal footpaths were often a quagmire in wet weather.

Now, I seem to notice more and more people walking the canal towpaths. Far more than I saw during my convalescence walking period. The fishermen can hardly put the long rods out for people squeezing past. Julia Bradbury has a canal walking series on the BBC so I expect we will see even more. Its the same with the push bikes along the canal footpaths now. Last week as we returned back to the marina. Whilst passing through Jordans Lock there was an off road motorcycle traveling at a fair old speed along the towpath. The problem is that the bikers, walkers and off road riders don't pay anything towards the infrastructure upkeep, as the boat owner and fishermen do. I wonder what the new waterways charity will do to rectify that anomaly.


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