I like walking in the dark. I love the dark. I find it comforting and peaceful. This is the opposite to what most people feel about the dark. I love nothing more than turning off all the lights in the house when I'm on my own and wandering around the house in the pitch black darkness.
Unless I am forcing you to watch a scary movie. Then you cry and have nightmares.
When I lived in a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere during the era of my first marriage (Pip does not have the monopoly on multiple marriages), I relished the times I was alone in the house because there was no light other than starlight or moonlight. The hamlet consisted of seven houses and no street lights for miles around. It was utter bliss.
Except when you need milk fags or booze. Apart from that I'm with you.
Now its winter in Scotland, we see very little daylight. The sun rises as I walk Eddie at about eight in the morning and is already setting at three thirty in the afternoon. Its not quite the Arctic Circle and there‘s no sign of the Northern Lights, but its still pretty damn dark and to be honest, fairly bleak.
Each winter I ask myself the same question: should I buy a head torch? By the time I've made my decision its usually spring and its too late to bother. This winter, I was determined to act on my question and buy a head torch.
Echoes of Norwegian Walking Poles are reverberating through my psyche at the point.
The problem is, I associate head torches with knob heads. I have absolutely no idea why this is the case and I've never got to the bottom of it. It seems to me that if you're mad enough to take your dog for a walk in the pitch black in the middle of winter whilst its howling a gale and the horizontal rain slices you in half as you trudge through the mud, you're just about mad enough to take your chances with sudden drops, inclines and rabbit holes.
For those urban dwellers who fear for my personal safety in relation to murderers, rapists and muggers, good luck to them I say. Again, any malcontent who wishes to do me harm can lie waiting in the bushes in freezing cold, damp conditions for as long as they like. By the time they have warmed their limbs up to jump out at me and do their worst, me and Eddie will be long gone. Besides, I walk in places where there are lots of other dog walkers and someone with a black Labrador would no doubt spring to my rescue within moments.
Because I live in Edinburgh, every other dog is a black Labrador called Tarka or some such manly man name. (Tarka was the otter in Ring of Brightwater and was female, just sayjng) The owners are usually always female, wearing at least one item of clothing from Patagonia or Lulu Lemon (I have no idea what these brands are but feel I may not immediately gel) and walking with their school gate mummy friend who either has a black Labrador or working cocker spaniel called Tess.
At the weekends you get to see the same dogs, but with the husbands and occasionally the offspring, with names such as Archie or India. The children wear Jack Wills and the husbands clad themselves from head to toe in Gant.
This makes me physically wretch.
I adore Edinburgh.
Prior to lockdown, I walked Eddie by myself pretty much most of the time. Ever Patient Husband was always far too busy, tired or fishing to chip in. Things changed during lockdown and EPH took it upon himself to walk 10,000 steps a day which meant joining me on my walks.
At first this was immensely irritating and I wanted him to go away, however, I got used to his company and decided that walking with my husband was indeed quite a nice thing to do. Plus the transcendental meditation stopped me wanting to stab him and now I‘m on the CBD oil which means the world is a happy place once again.
As an aside, if any of you peri-menopausal ladies - I believe we're still allowed to refer to ourselves as ladies since the other week I heard that we had to describe the female of the species as people who menstruate (for fuckety fuck's sake! ). When we get to be people who don't menstruate anymore, do we have to call ourselves people who used to menstruate and therefore have babies, but don't anymore and therefore can't? Again, for fuck's sake!
I'm not entering into this as
a. It's annoying and
b. My sitting room ceiling collapsed yesterday and I'm still reeling from that.
Back to the CBD oil. It has made me happier, despite the outburst in the previous paragraph, I am calmer and have been able to see the joy in the world again since taking it. I have discovered though that one tincture a day is more than enough since two were making me very sleepy at 5pm, or perhaps that was the gin?
The gin! But worth it. I had a snooze on the sofa the other night for an hour. Joyous.
So, its dark, very dark and I find myself walking in The Hermitage, a delightful little enclave of woodland, a pretty stream with an artisan ( It would be) coffee house at one end and a duck pond at the other. There is no moon on this particular night and I am relishing the prospect of wandering along the muddy path, through the leafless trees along the side of the raging stream in the pitch black. It's been raining for days and the mud is thick on my boots, Eddie is in a half sulk because whilst its not raining at the moment, his paws are muddy and he doesn't like that.
I started day dreaming, fantasising about the luxury yacht I'm going to buy one day with the royalties from my newly self published first work of fiction, calculating how many copies I'm going to have to sell at $1.22 royalty per copy to save up for the £4.5m yacht I've had my eye on for a few years. My head starts to hurt with the calculation and then I am blinded by a light fit for the lighthouse on Cape Horn.
“Fuck! That hurts. ” I exclaim inwardly.
Some twat is coming towards me with a Labrador (colour unknown as I am temporarily blind) called Max and is shining their “I'm a proper hill walker” head torch right in my face. This is rude and as if this wasn't enough to send a woman of a certain age over the edge, it was shortly followed by a huge morass of cub scouts adorned with high vis. waistcoats and shouting in their shrill pre-pubescent voices about nature and shit.
My yacht musings were brought to a swift end as I navigated my way around the scene. Eddie was now out of his half sulk wildly sniffing for sausages or cake because as we all know, where there are small boys, there are usually sausages and cake and whilst Eddie is temperamental, he's not totally stupid.
The Hermitage is well known to me as I've been walking in its environs for over ten years now, so I veered off the path and headed up a muddy slope towards the hanging logs that all my children have one time or another hit with a stick to make a tuneless noise whilst I have stood back and said things like ‘that's nice, what a lovely noise‘ which as all parents know, translates roughly as ‘shut the fuck up, can we get on with our walk now as I need a sit down and have another coffee to get me through the rest of the day. '
Safely up the muddy slope and into peace and quiet, I commence my dark musings once again, this time focusing on the Italian villa in the wine region of Puglia. I've never been to Puglia, but the wine is lovely so I'm guessing the region is too. It's pitch black once again, the calmness has been restored and I hear the screech of an owl. 'This is bliss. ' I think to myself. How lucky am I to have such bucolic streams, woodland and owls on my doorstep.
'Jesus Christ! What's that? ' This time, the words were audible, although unheard because yet another hoard of cub scouts were descending from the muddy slope opposite me, this time they had four para military junters in charge all wearing fucking head torches. It was like Blackpool's promenade on acid. They were all singing Christmassy songs in an overtly cheerful way which was beyond irritating. I'm now blind and my ears were beginning to bleed.
I can't comment here as I am laughing too much.
I marched off in the opposite direction, unable to conjure up my Mediterranean retirement in any form whatsoever and console myself with attempting to take arty farty photos of trees and the moon, which has now appeared as if by magic. I've not mentioned the unicorns recently, but I feel they had a hand in restoring my equilibrium with the sudden appearance of the moon at just the right moment.
Eddie started looking at me impatiently wondering why we'd stopped when we're supposed to be on a walk, which means we must walk at all times. Dogs are so literal.
So, we head back, hoping to avoid the cheerful cubs and their high vis vests. Happily, they've gone and Eddie and I walk back to the silent Coffee Lodge entrance to The Hermitage (where Mick and Amy serve the best scones ever with hot tea and coffee during the day) only to be faced with the yummy mummy's and daddy's of the cubs waiting to pick their little cherubs up from their night time adventures. Every other person has either a bastarding Labrador or spaniel with them all called Teale.
The cub commandants have finally turned their head torches off and I realise that if you're going to walk in the dark, it should be properly dark with all the risks that not being able to see clearly involves. I conclude that head torches are most definitely for the wimpy people of this world whose idea of a night walk is so illuminated that it may as well be conducted in broad daylight.
Thank the sweet Lord that I am not going to be confronted with walking poles and a head torch. I'm thanking any listening deities for their small mercies
I smile to myself as I walk back up the hill home, smug in the knowledge that a large bottle of gin and some high grade CBD oil awaits...