• neil

Day 64 (20 May): The sun has got his hat on

I’m all bright-tailed and bushy-eyed this morning. A shield maiden from the land of Noggin the Nog (or so it says on her C.V.) has sent me a charming David Hockney clip in which he talks about the importance of paying more attention to good news rather than the bad news which is the meat and potatoes of the media. We so very often overlook the overwhelmingly good news.

Spring is here. And it is free.

The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing in the blossoms and it is a wonderful time to be alive.

Spring is huge news! We should set aside more time to lie on our backs (I’m not suggesting anybody change profession) and look up at the sky, more time to wander down hollowed-out and venerable country ways, more time to smell the wild flowers and listen to the music of the insects. Look Dad! No headphones!

If haystacks still exist then go to the nearest one right now and dance around it. You can sing anything you want. Even rap if you feel you have to.

I think this is what has me so hooked on long distance walks. Not rapping. I can only think of a dozen words which rhyme with bitch. No, I mean the liberty to partake of beauty and be absorbed within it.

It can seem a bit grim and spartan, clawing your way out of a warm and comfy, albeit smelly, meat sack before the sun rises. But once you are out and walking with your buddies the cows on their way to the milking parlour* or turning a corner on a hillside to sea a valley drowned in a sea of mist like a silver mere, then you are on a natural high. And, hobbit-like, you get to have second breakfast somewhere round about ten o’clock. You tuck into your tortilla and juice feeling justified, thrilled and excited to see what happens next, because any good thing is possible on a day like today.

I was just doing a mental ‘compare and contrast ‘ exercise, reflecting on the differences between walking in Sicily and walking in Norway. In Sicily I would descend from an obscure mountain track and find myself on an equally lost mountain road. Passing cars, a rarity, would slow down and wave. Not the cars of course. The driver would ask where I was going and would I like a lift or, on one occasion, did I need the bus fare? The idea that I would be walking in the hills by myself for pleasure seemed as remote and distant to him as my end of day destination was to me. ‘But it is Easter Sunday - come eat with us!’

In Norway things were very different. Occasionally I would stagger out of endless woods (the mosquitos have lost a lot of weight since I left) and find myself on a long straight gravel track. A car could be seen approaching from a good kilometre away. The driver would invariably look straight ahead. No slowing down, waves or smiles. This should not be taken to imply that Norwegians are unfriendly. Simply more reserved (not too hard a target) than Sicilians. They didn’t want to be intrusive. When I needed help the Norwegians couldn’t do enough.

Both the Norwegians and the Sicilians were helpful, friendly and charming. The Norwegians just button it all down a bit more.

Which leaves me wondering. How often do I misinterpret people? How often do I interpret peoples intentions or emotions based on my body language and behavioural codes and get it all completely wrong.

All too often I reckon.

I was tickled to read yesterday on the BBC website that the U.K. government has announced that as a result of leaving the E.U. and the UK’s new ability to set its own rules and charges, baking powder, garden shears and mirrors are set to get cheaper from 1 January .

Cars and and all imported food will likely become somewhat more expensive. But come on folks! Garden shears, mirrors and baking powder! Give the government a break. There will never be a better time for looking at yourself cutting the hedge with a mouthful of cupcake.

Enjoy the big outside!



* There is a little video of me here, interacting with my buddies the cows last Summer somewhere in Norway.

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