The Circle closes

Warning:

This post contains frank and robust language, if you are easily offended (you big snowflake) then you’d be best flouncing off now!

 

I’m fairly sure that I’ve pinched that header from Stephen King’s epic pandemic-themed “The Stand”, kind of poignant given the state of things.

So, what’s been going on?

  1. The world turned to shit – sorry, did you miss that bit?

2. The flat sale fell through, either as a direct result of point “1”, or because one of the below was a complete incompetent:

  • a. The potential buyer, who was a bit soft in the head and for a thirty-something year-old really should learn to speak up for himself.
  • b. Our Solicitors’ “Conveyancer & Team Leader” was at best, a dick!
  • The buyer’s solicitor got fired…or at least that’s what we were told. Personally I think the buyer’s control- freak of a father put that one out there as a delaying tactic to try and get the price down! Never admit you’ve got a purchase lined up folks – some twats will use the possibility of you losing your purchase as a bargaining tool!

3. Both Chris and I have been working from home…and enjoying it, well it’s hard to feel bad about a three-second commute!

There’s no two ways about it, working at / from home is a completely different experience, you get to have the TV or radio on – we’ve chosen to alternate as too much TV can be really quite boring and each mainstream internet radio station has a playlist of about thirty songs, and there’s just only so much Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa to which you can be subjected!

Now, it’s hard to deny that we are right on the border of comfortable working, the flat is too small for two people to live let alone set up an Argos table and two chairs and two monitors and two laptops every day…but we manage. And I drink a lot of coffee!

Of course I’ve still had to get out and about, whereas some people took every instruction and guideline from our wonky government as gospel…no matter how much we tried to get it mixed up, they said we could do an hour’s exercise, then someone who sounded like they knew what they were talking about said – there was no time limit…I was never going to stick to any time limit anyway and on V.E. Day (to which I still strongly object) I walked close to twelve miles…not in an hour!

I am lucky to live near “The Moss”, a large tract of agricultural land punctuated by the odd road, which only Southport cyclists seem to find worth venturing upon! Thus this leaves most of the area free for me to walk with limited fear of catching Covid 19 off someone hyperventilating, even I have to agree that I couldn’t say the same about a potential walk to either of my two local haunts, the West Pennines and Pendle. In essence, this is a compromise, however, it doesn’t feel one when you’re pounding the pavement on route to Longmeaneygate – yes, that’s really the name of a street, admiring the Cow Parsley and Ragwort, and by God has there been a lot of those aforementioned flowering weeds in bloom this year! In addition I’ve started to ‘Covert! – ‘oh really?’ I hear you wonder, no, nothing sinister, I plucked up the courage to walk through a small wooded area, purely out of curiosity really and its name is Pitts House Covert…I found this vaguely amusing. This little micro-forest has quickly become a favourite and when Chris joins me, even she likes it there, the Photo’s to follow.

So although I’ve not exactly being stomping all over the county (country?) I have been getting in the odd mindful walk to counteract the effects of otherwise being stuck in the flat for almost 24 hours per day, some days.

On a related note, hasn’t it been sodding hot this spring / summer. I’m not against that, but as we live in a first floor flat, lugging 15 litres of water down to hydrate the flowers etc does get to be something of a chore which is why I’ve practically basked in the odd fleeting shower – again photos to come, of the flowers – not me basking!

The lockdown in itself has been good for me. There, I’ve said it. There was no denying that January’s and February’s (God I fucking hate this laptop’s tiny keyboard!) stress over the flat sale and subsequent fail took its toll on me in terms of stress, the lockdown purely and simply took that away. No, I would not have wanted tens of thousands of my fellow countrymen and millions of people across the world to die just so I could destress, that would be ridiculous and inhumane. I’m just saying that for me, it’s worked out, by and large, to be quite therapeutic. I’ve even enjoyed shopping, albeit at the height of the “key workers are angels” phase it was obnoxious being treated as fodder by store workers – hey treat me as you would want me to treat you is all that I would want.

We’ve put the flat back on the market, and up to now: 16/6/2020 we have had three viewers. I was suckered in by the first one who was oh so positive about the place that I thought he was going to put in a bid there are then – I’ve learned, this means ‘I’m too embarrassed to tell you how much I don’t want this place!’ I don’t expect we’ll get any real interest until lockdown is well and truly over and even then it might not be until after Christmas, so we’ll just have to deal with living life as it is and not get stressed. I don’t like stress – it smells metallic, yes it does!

Ultimately with regards to the year thus far, I do find myself harking back to the Amble in February walking along Catherine Edge with the brilliant “Everything I wanted” by Billie Eilish going through my head and just contrasting how different everything was then compared to now.

And as I am ready to click publish, we have just accepted an offer on the Flat – one circle closes…

 

 

 

 

Last walk of 2019

Once more to The Moss

Christmas day had been and gone and by now I was roast dinner and mince pied out! I needed to get out into the open air and felt the irresistable pull of the Moss after another successful crossing nine days earlier.

Once again the weather looked set to be kind to me, so it was up and out before 10 a.m. I took a very straight forward route, going from our street to Roe Lane and ultimately onto Moss Lane – no sense in performing yet another tortuous route when ‘The Moss’ was the primary objective. Once on Moss Lane there were a few spots of rain but nothing which took hold and I was minorly elated when I stopped to let an incredibly gorgeous horse rider cross in front of me and she gave me a lovely smile and thank you back, result! In addition another female horse rider left her horse in a paddock and I had a few moments of joy watching it roll around in a mud pool like an elephant on the Savana might do. I wish I’d have got that on video but I have the memory and that’s enough.

Guess what? It’s a horse, in a field!
Photograph of a pair of horses
I think it’s safe to say that ‘The Moss’ plays host to a number of horses

Turning onto Wyke Lane now and once the hair-raising corner was out of the way then I was able to relax and take in the scenery. A very well-mannered jogger overtook me and she bade me a good morning upon passing, again I found this very pleasant. The views on and from ‘The Moss’ today were somewhat spectacular for (it has to be said) a pretty much ordinary day. I had never noticed before just how many horses are stabled across the range of the Moss, my guess is there must be a hundred of them and each time I saw one close enough to get a photograph of them…

Also out and about en mass today where the cyclists. These were the serious kind of cyclists though, not just the ones who got their first bike for Christmas like you would see and almost have to swerve to avoid on the 25th of December, these were; more often than not; in groups. I don’t know the collective noun for this phenomena; peloton, pestilence or swarm? Anyway, there was enough of them for me to take up counting their number (and it is a human number of six-hundred-and-sixty-six!) as they often flooded past me and in one case they even had the audacity to be listening to a radio, stillness shattered – tick!

Photograph of a some trees off Wyke Lane
I believe this collection of trees would be refered to as a Copse…but it could be a wood!
Photograph of a collection of spent corn husks
The eerie sight of spent corn stalks, still gives me the creeps for unknown reasons.

I rounded the single most bumpy corner and caught sight of a really lovely copse / very small forest

and a few moments later some scary corn!

Photograph of some cars
Southport’s quietest road gets some traffic.

It shouldn’t surprise me to see the odd car, and by odd I mean rare, not zany, as the road is an antonym of a ‘rat run’ in that we drive there to get away from other cars knowing full well that it’s going to add three or four miles on to the journey.  The pay-off is of course that most of the road is designated national speed limit. That means the potential for traffic coming along a very undulating, single-track road at sixty miles per hour! But it’s okay, the people who reach 60 on this road only do it once and then learn very quickly that this should not be done as they mis-time a corner and go barrelling off down the ditch and into a field, trashing their beloved jalope as part of the process! Hence the reason why this on-coming procession (the photo on the left) was hutling towards me with all the speed of a charging slug! ‘The Moss’ (and yes I have now tired of typing that in ‘proper case’, has a section that I like to refer to as ‘the long corner’ – owing to the fact that it has a long corner (and therein lies the reason why I don’t write mysteries!) . I first noticed this on my second crossing (‘because everything is so brand new on the first time that a certain perception bypass occurs!) which was a somewhat icy affair. In essence there is a swing to the right, then a straight stretch of no more than a hundred metres, then a swing to the left – we could have just carried straight on really! It’s not that big of a deal really, unless you are driving a car, then the poor fools seem incapable of traversing this corner without reving the guts out of their respective engines and creating all manner of havoc – you have to see it to fully digest the spectacle. If nothing else then this gives the average walker (with a sense of humour) the chance to overtake cars with frustrated drivers in them.

After traversing the long corner I turned right on to the street that I was meant to take on my last Moss walk – Pool Hey Lane. Again, as you’d expect this is very much a rural road, but it terminates a mile or so later at a junction with the A570, which at most times is the main arterial road of Southport. With this in mind I slowed down as I wanted to make this lovely peace last. Sadly, the Audi hurtling towards me decided that was not in its itinery for the day and I had to swiftly dart to the right so as to avoid the damn thing taking me out! This caused an extremely painful jarring of my ankle – which I have now managed to twist three times in as many months! The sky was already blue, now it was joined by the air as I vented my opinion of this prick! Why is it that all Audi drivers are the most self-entitled, arrogant bunch of ignorant gits on the face of the earth??? Yes, my ankle hurt, a lot. I stayed still for a few seconds wondering whether this was going to abruptly end my walk and would I have to ring for Chris to rescue me (being roughly five miles from home by now). Thankfully I was able to carry on, however, I am really dubious about my ability to walk February’s Amble now as one more twist might just render me immobilised, frigging Audi drivers!

Photograph of a beautifully lit field drain
Whoever thought drains could be so stunning?
Photograph of a two shetland Ponies
What’s better than one Shetland? Two!

All the same, before long I managed to get two more wonderful photographs which further endorsed the walk.  The photo of the stream on the left does its very best to gloss over the fact that this body of water is indeed a field drain. I have to admit that on this (and all other photos featured in the last few posts) I have let the IOS photograph enhancer app do its thing, I am certainly pleased with the end result.  Although I had at least another five miles to walk back to home, I knew that the photo opportunities were now coming to an end, so there was no stopping me when I saw these cuter than cute Shetland ponies >>> As it was the birthday of a friend of mine (Mark),  I decided to give him a call to say happy birthday and spent the next seventeen minutes (yes, I checked!) chatting away about houses and spaniel dogs, like you do! I knew that I wouldn’t be able to hear Mark whilst walking along Southport and Norwood Roads so had to say goodbye once I’d hit the A570.

I made my way a rather straight and clandestine route back along the Norwoods (Road, Avenue, Crescent) back home and celebrated a lovely walk to round off my walking year.

Total distance was around seven and a half miles, height climbed was negligable and as for song of the walk: I don’t remember there being one!

Belated Happy New Year folks, see you in 2020!

 

 

Last walk home from work of 2019

Well I wouldn’t say that I had put in a flurry of walks in 2019 but with the realisation that February and the amble were approaching rather quickly, the impetus was on me to do something.

November had seen me walking home from work twice in two weeks and it has become a tradition of mine to walk home on my last working day of the year, hence the title of this post! I’d been planning a route which would take me from Scarisbrick up to Churchtown, whilst avoiding romping through fields and thus keeping my feet dry. A number of routes eventually emerged that all shared one factor, they were a bit on the huge side, averaging around thirteen miles each! In time I opted to traverse Scarisbrick and take in the tiny village of Bescar, a first for me.

So I left work at around twelve p.m. and parambulated Ruff Lane, Mill Street crossed Wigan Road and Abbotsford, as is a staple for me recently. Then, once near Ormskirk town centre I headed down Railway Approach and onto Station Road, another staple, before crossing the notoriously unpredictable A59 at County Road via Yew Tree Road and ultimately onto Grimshaw Lane.

An unknown flock of birds orbits a field at Woodmoss Lane

By this time the clouds had morphed into a threatening shade of grey and although I did have an umbrella with me, I feared an imminent soaking! It was a hard decision to continue as opposed to go and catch a bus, but later one which I would be very pleased to have made. I passed the Kicking Donkey (an amazingly great name for a pub), and at this point decided that I would turn onto Moorfield Lane and head through Scarisbrick as opposed to staying with the longer route and yomping through Heaton’s Bridge. The price for this would be to effectively double back on myself in order to pick up Smithy Lane before joining Dam Wood Lane and on to take the illusive Bescar Lane. Even I am astounded at just how many “Lanes” are present in this area!

Photo of Bescar Lane Methodist church
Bescar, home of Bescar Lane Methodist church

From here it would be new walking territory for me up until Wood Moss Lane, which I had transited on a sunnier “Moss” walk in late spring. Bescar fits in with the key requirements of the rest of this enormous area colloquially known as “The Moss”, in that essentially, there’s nothing there. When contrasted with the rich and almost overstuffed views presented to hikers of the Lake District, this area, it would seem, has slender pickings with regards to the scenery!

It has to be noted that for the majority of this section I was walking upon single track roads, but as the sky was packed with a myriad of varying clouds this kept away the potential for fog, which offered a modest measure of security. Only a fool, even a well illuminated fool, would try this route any later in the day than three o’clock in Winter, though the prospect of a mist-shrouded crossing of this route does appeal to me.

I took the first turn-off on the left as this would then convey me back down towards much busier environs, an A-road no less at Kew / Meols Cop, the dividing line must be fairly obvious to those in the know but sadly, I am not in this elite group. the road did seem to have more corners than I remembered from September, but I thought this was just my memory playing tricks on me, the Christmas lights coming on almost in waves was a pleasent distraction. After the best side of half an hour I saw a sign which read “Snape Green”. The realisation hit me like a sledgehammer, I had turned-off too early and had not been on Pool Hey Lane at all. In essence I had strayed back a mile or two towards Ormskirk once more! Hence dear readers, I had again fallen victimn to the phenom which sooner or later afflicts all walkers, left-turnitis, the unconscious act of turning left before we need to do so.

Photo of Stickman and son
Love these two characters whom we’ve driven past for most of the year.

Ordinarily, this would fill me with a certain shame and aggravation, today I simply shrugged my shoulders safe in the consulation that I had originally wanted to do a much bigger walk anyway! I turned right on to Southport Road and crossed it. I was a little sad to see the gorgeous Dawn Redwood tree devoid of all its needles but this was alleviated by the spectacle of the enormous Weeping Willow, again leafless but with a lovely display of this years wood growth. The traffic noise was near deafening so accustomed had I grown to an almost absence of sound during my miles through Bescar and the Moss. I had feared that dusk would soon be upon me, but this was not the case as the light continued to hold on like it was a spring, not winter, evening. This severely reduced the impact of the Christmas lights turning on, next year I’ll endeavour to set off a little bit later!  Before long I was passing ‘The Stickies’. The owner of one of the houses on Southport Road is either really lonely or had a wonderful sense of humour as these two characters to the left of this text demonstrate. I had wanted to photograpth ‘The Stickies’ on a number of occasions when I walked past but for some reason always seemed to miss them. So somehow it seemed fated that I had this opportunity virtually shoved down my throat today!

It was a hard decision not to call in at McDonalds at Kew as I neared the junk-foodery! I figured I would be stuffing my face enough over the next ten days as it was and I wanted to get home to see Chris and Pepper. At Kew roundabout I opted to cross over the busy road and make my way home via a route which I knew to be much quieter, Foul Lane and Wennington Road.

Foul Lane is a one-off, a mystery, a maverick and enigma all rolled into one. This is a road which should be put to far better use than it currently is. For now it skirts around the side of B&Q, traverses a roundabout then transforms into a ghost/waste land. I don’t know what was once here, but it’s gone now! Of course there is still a rather delapidated “Park ‘n’ ride” and to be fair; it did look in use…I don’t know what those drivers would have done if this car park had been out of service – those three drivers, who could quite easily have parked at the front of the estate on the now much bigger and emptier car park. The reason for my apparent disdain is that Foul Lane terminates / is blocked off for no good reason whilst the bottlenecks at Meols Cop next to the commercial estate are the stuff of legends, bad legends! It’s madness! An entire new stream of traffic could be taken off the Norwood Road Stretch and diverted here and over towards Cobden Road and….there must be a reason for this state of affairs and if I knew it, I’d probably disagree. The pay-off for me is that whilst all of the central-west traffic attempts to squeeze its way along the Norwoods, my route was so quiet and calming. Admittedly, for the more rural-focussed among us there is not much to see, I crossed over Cobden Road and onto Wennington Road and into my kind of area, hundreds and hundreds of front gardens, and most of them postage-stamp sized!

I filtered my way from one block to another, all the time the sky was just not playing ball, darkness was not descending, it was getting close to four p.m. on the third shortest day of the year damnit, where was the dark? I’d been planning this walk to tie-in with my ill-fated “Winter Wonder Walks” but for that to happen, well the Christmas lights in people’s houses needed to be visible and they just were not. It was fast approaching four o’clock and my feet were getting quite hot by now so I decided not to delay my return by waiting for darkness to fall, especially as that would’ve looked all kinds of creepy!

I made my way to the Spar petrol station in order to top up on beer – alcohol free beer as dry January is just around the corner! I made it home for 15:55, three hours and fifty-five minutes after leaving work (or thereabouts). It was only later, at the beginning of January that I checked the distance walked of my route (my fitbit can be a bit optimistic) and was overjoyed to have my suspicions confirmed, 12.2 miles according to Google Maps > Measure Distance, what a result. This was the second furthest that I had walked all year (sharing the honours with the rather boring and extremely hot walk over Birkdale Cop, many months earlier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The total distance was an impressive 12.24 miles!