“I'm going to re-virginate.” Announced Pip, as we drove from one car park to another in order to find the type of weather she was happy to walk up a hill in. It seems that rain and wind doesn't constitute suitable weather for walking up hills in Pip's world.
In what sort of strange alternate reality is this undertaken for fun?
”Really? What does that entail?” I enquired whilst battling to keeping a deep sense of scepticism out of my tone.
”It involves me....” continued Pip confidently, “not having sex for months on end and then auctioning my virginity to the highest bidder.”
Can I just point out here that I‘m not expecting to get much....
Now, we'd both been watching the fabulous BBC drama called “Harlots” depicting the comings (literally) and goings of eighteenth century whores, so the notion of auctioning ones virginity was not novel to either of us.
”Splendid.” I replied. “Turn right here. Ooh, there's a cafe and it looks open.” I exclaimed hoping that we had put Pip's latest sexual exploits or lack thereof, to bed.
For weeks and weeks I had been plotting our latest walk and hadn't told Pip anything about it. This was because I was anticipating some degree of resistance. So far, we had walked for many miles, mainly through flat, English countryside and it had not escaped my notice that we needed to practice walking up actual hills.
Last time I checked Nepal had quite a lot of hills and some of them are quite large. Even though our trip has been postponed until this virus thing stops bothering us so much, I am determined that we ought to at least resemble ‘match fit' when the trek finally comes round.
Pip won't mind me saying that she is not the fittest of women. Her idea of exercise is to trot round Aldi looking for Prosecco bargains and then skip excitedly through B&M Bargains seeking out storage units in order to feed her cupboard tidying obsession.
This is true.....
I have therefore made it my mission to ‘get her into shape'. Any shape will suffice, just a shape that means she doesn't expire on top of a Himalayan foothill and ruin the trip for everyone (mainly herself). Plus, I'm not sure I want the wrath of Special Precious Boy on my return.
I had carefully selected a walk with no less than three hills. A big one, a little one and a medium sized one. I felt that this should really get our heart rates going and test our mettle in the face of a proper challenge.
Just thinking about it makes me feel a bit sick....
I had successfully hidden the instructions from Pip so she didn't start whinging too early in the proceedings. However, it‘s quite hard to hide a big fuck off hill when you're at the bottom of it. They tend to loom above you and there's no amount of chat around Jenny Agutter's pert breasts that can distract a person enough to avoid looking up at the giant hill and exclaiming “I'm not fucking going up that!” in a voice loud enough to make the sheep pay attention.
Having conceded defeat at the foot of the first big hill, which would indeed have taken us into the eye of Storm Aiden, I felt determined that we would at least make it to the top of the medium sized hill. The weather had cleared, the storm passed and there was nothing stopping us from succeeding in our mission.
Can I just mention at this point that Bec suggested that we gave up and went for lunch instead?
I hadn't realised just how difficult it would be to coax, cajole, bribe, shout at, rant in front of and drag a five foot one woman of a certain age up a bloody hill. I do behavioural, leadership and organisational change stuff for a living for god's (small ‘g' on purpose as I'm an atheist and anyway, some of you might like pagan gods and goddesses) sake and this small, determined and very stubborn woman in the form of Pip was stopping me in my tracks.
Is there such a thing as ‘hill phobic?' If there is, then Pip has a large dose of it. Through a series of negotiations, public shaming and stamping of feet, I finally stopped Pip from returning to the security blanket that is her car, sorry Gertie and got her to turn around and start walking up an actual hill.
Reader, we were still only on a tarmac road. We hadn't even got to the grassy hilly bit at this point. She actually said, and I quote “if we can just stay on the road I'll be fine.” FFS! I'm not sure how many roads they have in Nepal in the foothills of the Himalayas, but I'm guessing it's not many. We'll be flying by very tiny, dodgy plane to the middle of fucking nowhere and walking from there. No roads. Nothing. Just some tents and those flags they so fond of in Nepal.
And yaks there will definitely be yaks!
As with any truculent toddler, I had to take this slowly and pretend we were just doing things that didn't involve walking up hills.
”Let's just cross this bridge by the reservoir and walk on the other side.” I offered gently.
”Ooh, look! There's a hare.” I exclaimed excitedly whilst simultaneously accidentally letting go of Eddie's lead and watching him and then Pip run into the heather in hot pursuit of each other.
“Great!” I thought, “she's at least started at the bottom of the hill and is off the tarmac.”
We started our ascent. Within seconds, Pip said quietly, “Did I tell you I was scared of heights?”
”No, you failed to mention that when I asked you if you wanted to go trekking in Nepal.”
We then had the whole discussion about how she doesn't ever remember me asking her to go trekking in Nepal or agreeing to go. I think this may come up again in the future.
I was walking behind her on a very narrow path with a steep drop to one side and a deep, menacing looking reservoir at the bottom, so she could only go up.
Pip had managed to catch Eddie by now and was heroically trekking up a proper, grown up hill without tarmac whilst keeping a tight reign on him so he didn't chase sheep or hares. I was bringing up the rear, enjoying the benefits of my walking poles in a bit (lot) of a smug manner which must be quite irritating for those people who chose not to have poles.
I am extremely proud of Pip. We made it a third of the way up the side of a large hill without her flaking out, having a panic attack or whinging too much. We could definitely have made it to the top, but my reserves of arse kicking were depleted by then and anyway it was already 2:30pm and the light fades in Scotland at about 4pm in the winter so I didn't want to risk finding ourselves at the top of the hill being rescued by the local Mountain Rescue Team huddled together with nothing but a packet of chocolate oat cakes and a Tibetan Terrier/Havanese cross whiny dog for company.
Bec did also admit that she was fucking freezing so was really pleased that I put my foot down.
Plus, I had to build Pip's confidence. We need more time. It's a good job our trip had been postponed because it gives us time to build the hill walking techniques we're so badly lacking. I suspect those universal rainbow unicorns are involved somewhere.
Pip womanfully acknowledged that she had been woefully underprepared and that she ought to purchase some waterproof trousers and a new, warmer jacket. I had been labouring under the misapprehension that she understood mountains and hills because she never tires of telling me how many times she's run up fucking Snowden and how she used to run up the Cheviot hills nearly every sodding day. I'm not sure which universe Pip lived in when she thought she did these things, but it wasn't this one.
I did do these things - Although I didn't run up Snowden in truth - I ran down it. In those days Dear Reader I was as half the size I am now and half the age and twice as fucking fit...
Up until this moment, I had felt quite inadequate because I've never run up Snowden or the Cheviots, however, things change and I now feel a mild sense of hill superiority because I can actually walk up one.
Bollocks. Bec has never suffered a moments inadequacy in her entire life.
When we reached the bottom of the hill, Pip did indeed slip on the mud and slide on her arse into my walking pole. I laughed a lot and pointed at her, then offered my hand to help her up. She had zero dignity left.
My dignity deserted me at the first temper tantrum I think.
We rewarded ourselves with the remainder of our Marmite sandwiches and an apple whilst staring at the babbling brook in front of us. Meanwhile, a young couple sat down about three metres behind us to do the same (not sure if they had Marmite on their sandwiches.)
Pip and I looked at each other with expressions that said ‘what the fuck are they doing sitting there so close to us when they've got a dirty great big sodding hill and literally hundreds of acres of empty space to sit down in.' Great friends don't always need words to express deep annoyance at weirdos or exchange a private joke.
We triumphantly made it back to the safety blanket that is Gertie. Unharmed, still friends and laughing about our exploits.
Pip has now ordered and received an appropriate pair of walking trousers which she tells me are ‘rock chick' walking trousers and has faithfully promised that we will be walking up at least two hills on our next adventure.......
I dont remember promising two...