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.