Saturday, 13 August 2011

Walking the Ridgeway

I want to walk the Ridgeway before I die. From end to end.

Where should I leave the little grits while I walk the week? Maybe I could give them away? How about various adventure holidays?

They would never want to go on the same week.

Perhaps they would walk with me?

I bet, after the first hour, Tiger would be all, How far do we have to go? and How many days?

Maybe I could leave them in Hong Kong, and sneak back here? No-one would notice I'm gone.

Or Dig could look after them! They could feast on raw potatoes. Again.

I must walk here because the chalk landscape - from White Horse Hill, round Dragon Hill, to Wayland's Smithy, is so beautiful I fall in love with it.

So I'll walk the whole. Until then, photos from the tiny slice we see today.

Oh I'd like this comfortable feeling - all pastoral historic romantic where my feet are lost in earth and my heart gone to cloud - yes, I'd like it very much, because a half hour of spiritual repose with a pretty landscape is as close to comfort as an old hippie's going to get.

But it's not going to happen, is it? It can't ever happen. Because the hard miserable grit of reality always intrudes on tranquility to make a grand depressive moment.

Which means I spent some of my time on the Ridgeway in a fight with a dog owner.

First, let me say, most of you dog owners are sensitive to these signs, and to me and mine. For which I thank you! You keep your dogs on leads or see the impact you have and keep Fido under clear control! I can see that! Country code, social responsibility, awareness of others, etc. etc. Truly. From my heart. Thank you. You have no idea what help you are. Because with my dog-phobic tribe I can reason. I can say, Look at the owner, not the dog. Do they look in control of their pet? Do they look as if they care?

But there is always one dog owner who couldn't give a toss. They stride past the 10,000 signs. Maybe they're the same person who has no voice control over their animal either, and probably thinks the signs don't relate to them, but no-one can possibly mind, because Fido wouldn't harm a fly.

Well, even there I'll give the benefit, because ignoring the rules has to be okay sometimes. And I sort of expect it from the English, with their strange subservience to rules at odds with their bolshy independent streaks.

I'd go so far as to argue how this rule-breaking behaviour is sometimes necessary. What about the Ramblers? And without the hunt saboteurs the hunting debate wouldn't have moved much. So yes, of course there is a place for poking at the status quo.

But please do it consciously - because you know what you do, want to have an impact, change the way we accept the world, push the culture on.

So what does the rule-breaking dog owner achieve today?

I have Squirrel, barely able to breathe as she flips into panic at Monster Dog hurtling straight for her; she's clinging onto my arm and sinking us both into an iron age ditch like death is nigh. And here we are on one of the most beautiful sites in all England.

I could fucking weep.

As I yell back about the dog control, yes, in a stock grazing area, after I just reassured my children, it will be okay, there are signs, and now my daughter is knee buckled in sheep shit and fear, what then for the willfully ignorant owner who watches this display of human fear and shouts back, What's the problem? He's not bothering the sheep!


Reader, words were exchanged.

Just let us pause and be grateful that the family I married into have influenced me. My sister-in-law was raised by Quakers.

So, apart from that moment, the Ridgeway is beautiful. One day I shall walk it. Where should I leave the children?


cheerymishmash said...

We're just back from being there! - beautiful isn't it - Chi's all for moving there...until he finds the next beautiful place ;) Hope you get to do your big walk, we're hoping/planning on walking Hadrians Wall next year :)

Nora said...

I hope you get to go on your walk. Surely Dig is capable of taking care of the children for one week? He is their father, after all. Or is he not emancipated enough? Have you mollycoddled him?