Coming Clean

This morning our friend Giles visited to collect me for a walk. Unfortunately his idea of flat terrain varied a little from mine.

The footpath from the Taddiford Gap was so narrow that when we met oncoming traffic, unable, like crows, to perch on a post, we needed to squeeze ourselves into rather awkward spaces.

Barbed wire fences lined either side of the path, so there was no point in grabbing theirs.

We walked along the path, watching others on the hilltops

and eventually arriving at the path alongside the clifftop with its view

across scintillating seascapes to the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

There we had the option of turning left

or right. This seemed the gentler route.

After we had passed the time of day with the walkers in the above two pictures, knowing that I had my limitations,

my concerned friend asked when I thought we would reach the halfway point of my capacity. “We’ve passed it”, said I. After a brief discussion we decided that turning back would involve slightly less distance than pushing on to Barton where it wouldn’t be very easy for him to pick me up.

It was no easier for him to pick me up outside the car park that was our starting point. At one point he suggested I rested on a tussock. “I wouldn’t be able to get up”, I replied.

Back I staggered and eventually with the end in sight, like the wobbling Italian Dorando Pietri in the 1908 London marathon, I fell over. And couldn’t get up. Considering the number of people we had met along the route, it was something of Sod’s law that no-one was around then.

Giles went hunting for a car driver while I turned myself onto my front, abused the knees of my pale fawn trousers and the elbows of my equally light hued linen jacket, and dragged myself to the the concrete post at the entrance to the car park. My hands clasping the top of the bollard I struggled, without success, to haul myself up.

Welcome voices heralded the arrival of my friend with Damien and his dog. The dog was confined to his owner’s car. The two men each took a hand and heaved – successfully. Back on my feet I was OK.

Now, when posting our trips over the last twelve months, I have not dwelt on the gradual decrepitude that has crept up on me. My knees really don’t work at all well, and remain painful, so any use after about twenty minutes is really tough. For “walk”, “stagger” should sometimes be substituted.

Today’s final photograph is of one of the last 6,000 surviving pillboxes of the 28,000 placed at strategic points across the country in anticipation of a German invasion during World War II. After that I needed all my concentration to end our journey.

You don’t have to know me very long to know that giving up is not in my repertoire. So I will continue to do what I can, but accept that I shall never take on such a walk again.

It was good to have done it again with my friend of more than 50 years.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s mild chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, and parathas, with which she finished the Sauvignon Blanc, I drank more of the Fleurie, and Flo and Dillon abstained.


  1. I’m so sorry to hear your knees haven’t bounced back as we had hoped. All the more admiration for you, sir. You are out there pushing your limits every day. And the only way to push limits is to now and again push a bit too far. I hope it wasn’t too much of a scary episode. xo

  2. Such beautiful views, Derrick, and I am glad that you were not injured when you fell. I’m 61 yet I can’t walk very far without stopping because of three damaged lower lumbar. Ouch. Be safe!

  3. Oh, gosh! I’m so sorry the walk was so troublesome! 😮 🙁
    But, glad you were not injured and are fine now. And glad you got such lovely photos. AND YAY for the helpers who helped.
    My hubby and I were talking recently about all the hiking we did for so many years…even hiking The Grand Canyon a few times. These days they’d have to wheel me down and back up in a cart…or I guess I could ride on a donkey. 😉
    (((HUGS))) ❤️

  4. Well done. I know my knee would not allowed me to make that walk so I am very very impressed. As they would’ve said in the Army, “Well done, that man!”.

  5. Yes, it’s very difficult to accept that “That’s the last time I shall ever make that walk”, especially when it’s one that you’ve done a thousand times before and loved.

  6. You are an inspiration, Derrick. I try to get down to and up off of the floor a couple of times a week to make sure I still can. Not fast and certainly not pretty. Glad you made that ramble.

  7. I’m pleased you’re OK. In some ways all those people seeing me in that position would have been embarrassing. That one other person is really all you needed. Sometimes even our closest friends don’t want to admit one or the other is no longer the fit healthy body we once were. Give it a few days and find your legs again but no more cross country marathons.

  8. Beautiful landscapes and a good time with a dear friend, but I’m so sorry that your knees are not working well. I’m glad you had help, and I hope you’re feeling OK now. 💙

  9. With a 20 minute walk, you are still doing very well Derrick, that’s nearly my maximum at the moment … and eighty is ‘nine’ years away … cheers my friend … oh, and I copied your photo of the Isle Of Wight … maybe it will replace the one in Perceptions …

  10. Derrick, I’m glad you’re okay, but sorry to hear of your ordeal. It’s hard facing our limitations as we age. I wonder if a walking stick might help? It would offer some balance and a place to lean while resting. I hope you’ve been able to ice and then warm your aching joints.

  11. I’m sorry you had trouble on your walk, but glad you got see this beautiful place again and even take pictures to share with us. I, too, was wondering if a walking stick or sticks would help.

  12. When we are young, we don’t know how precious our mobility is, we just take it for granted. Foolish youngsters we were.

    Now we appreciate even more the ambles you share with us, Derrick.

  13. I am sorry your knees couldn’t keep company of your indomitable spirit. And yet, the abandoned trekking adventure is not without a whiff of inspiration. The portrait of your friend is a masterpiece.

  14. That looks like a beautiful walk, though it hurts to think about you falling and not being able to get up. I am glad you are alright, and you were able to spend some time with an old friend

  15. Knowing you still have knee problems, I’ve always been impressed by your treks into the forest. Many times I told myself I should take a leaf out of Derrick’s book and get out more before my body seizes up altogether.

    When I first saw these images, I wondered how you’d managed to climb so high along these clifftop trails.

    I’m sorry about your stumble and even more so with the struggle to get back on your feet, and I sympathise with your painful endeavours.
    The day is looming when I’ll find myself in a similar situation.

  16. Ah, Derrick, I have been aware that you choose (with good reason) to make as little as possible of life’s more challenging elements. I can imagine it was bittersweet acknowledging the thought that there will be no further walks of this type. I’m so pleased you are ok and that despite the fall, you have some good memories of this walk with your old friend. Surrounded as you are with beautiful spaces and with such a devoted chauffeuse, I know you will be out and about still. Just with a quiet nod to your limitations ❤️️

  17. That’s quite a path and quite a view. I’m glad you were able to share the experience with your friend and with us, albeit in different ways.

    Knowing our limitations is one thing; coming to accept them quite another. From time to time now I tell potential customers that the job they need doing is beyond me. Varnishing a mast from a bos’n’s chair comes to mind. I learned the old saying about the ounce of prevention and the pound of cure quite early in life, and the older I get, the more sensible it seems.

  18. Sorry to hear about your increasing decrepitude. Friends can be encouraging, and they can also encourage us beynd our limits. But they’re great.

    I don’t think you mentioned your marathom running in a Knight’s Tale, but I’m wondering if your training, pounding London’s streets, might have contributed to your knee problems.

    Whatever, I hope you manage to stay active.

  19. Sorry to hear about the fall Derrick. Unfortunately I have no helpful advice as I’m in the same boat. I’m planning a Land’s End to John o’ Groats trip for next year (by car). Forty years ago I planned to walk it, now I realise that even by car it’s going to be hard work.

  20. Testing your limitations is not a hobby that is likely to have much of a future. Although to return from your walk with these impressive shots is remarkable in itself. I’m hoping your photographic skills can continue to be demonstrated – perhaps more Modus-based in the future?

  21. Oh my! I can relate to that fall and the inability to get up on your own. Been there, done that! Glad you had help and made it back safely … and a bit wiser, huh? Always good to acknowledge our aging body’s limitations.

      1. Yup, we hate to admit it, huh? I want to continue forever to do what I want as kind as I want whenever I want. But I guess life’s not designed that way, huh?

  22. It was quite a challenging walk and you photographed some beautiful views. I was just marvelling to myself how well you have done since your knee surgeries when I came to the part where you discovered it was too much, then fell over and got stuck. I am glad that you didn’t break or twist anything and hope you are not feeling too bruised a few days later. I’m sure you couldn’t have thought of attempting it before the surgery and I still think you are doing wonderfully well, even if you can’t do as much as you’d like.

  23. I am glad you got help eventually, and must say you are inspiring how you do not quit.
    I have a friend who is 90 and works 3 days a week. She has a walker and an oxygen tank, but she goes, wind or weather to her job in town she has been at for decades.

    You all put me to shame! Inspiring! I must not quit either

  24. Hi Derrick, having to accept that you can’t do certain things any more or that you have to do less of certain things is the hardest part of getting older. I see with with both of my parents and my aunt. They all do to much sometimes and end up in bed for the afternoon. If I remember correctly, you are 80. My mom is 83 and my aunt 87. Like you, they both do well though.

  25. Ah Derrick, it is hard when you cannot walk far. I’ve been thinking recently that you are glossing over some details about your health. But you are lasting very well. Remember that- and you still get out and about with your lovely wife.

    Today we walked around Stonehenge with a 64 year old friend and her arthritic knees were giving her real gyp. We have a 58 year old friend who cannot stand for longer than 10 minutes due to an arthritic spine. Life is a lottery and you have a good ticket!

  26. I hope that I can go like you two go when I am your age. More than that, I hope I have the perspective that you both seem to have: you find reasons to laugh, things in which to be interested, food to appreciate, people to love and people to be curious about. I hold you both up as examples for my own life – old bones and all. <3

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