Words about the wind

Greetings my dear chums

I have decided to introduce the subject of Meteorology to this column. A branch of science concerned with the processes and phenomena of the atmosphere, especially as a means of forecasting the weather.

Us ‘outdoors types’ can expend much energy considering the weather in all its guises. It affects the planning of our jaunts into nature, and it has a considerable influence upon the outcomes of our expeditions. It is therefore a subject appropriate to these pages.

Today I shall begin upon the topic of wind.

Always remember that in nature there is wind not just on windy days, but on every day. In town, city types dashing about their business will only notice a blow should it happen to make their umbrellas unstable. They would think nothing of the beauty of a breeze so gentle that only a beech tree at the edge of the long meadow notices its passing with the merest flickers high in its canopy.

If your path lies high up over the tops these winds will always find you out.

Being in the outdoors throughout the seasons we become students of the airs. We enter a relationship with the wind, the breeze, the blow, the flutter, the gale and the gust as they change and react to the seasons, the length of the days and the height of the sun.

Remember our early year hikes? When the days are still and cold and short. Winter fights to keep its grip upon the land, until the wild winds of springtime rip the delicate blossoms from the tree, turning petals into blizzards of snow.

We are the ones who notice the gusts playing in lush summer meadows. We see the tall grasses dancing and prancing in the currents as though small unseen children are running hither and zither amongst the storks.

In high summer at eventide we breath the hot scents of the gentle whiffs and wafts that have traveled slowly all the day over a sun-baked landscape. We remember zephyrs, full and heavy with the delicious scent of cut hay, or pungent with the sweetness of bracken as it cools in the late evening.

Remember there is as much joy to be found in a breeze that barely glances your cheek as in the wild wind-rush moving through the forest canopy. Appreciate it, watch it, study it, feel it. Thrill as the gusts of Autumn build into mighty torrents. Screaming, whining and moaning, they career at breakneck speed sweeping away any who resist the power and might of the gale. Weather your path lies high up over the tops, or deep down in a snug dale, these winds will always find you out.

I urge you to standstill and steady in the gusts if you can. Then look around and listen. The sound in your ear is the howling gale. The only sight above, a sky filled by racing clouds. At your feet the water-course will froth and foam.

…… The only sound in your ear is the howling gale, the only sight above, a sky filled by racing clouds.

Finally as the year rushes towards its ending, busy winds send the leaves flying and dying, scurrying and hurrying down the lanes into piles tucked snug in the hedgerow bottom, to lie through the winter ready to feed the next springtime explosion.

There is much to be said upon the subject of the wind. It is weather to be appreciated.

Pip Pip

Ever Yours,
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor,
The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle

Poetry Corner….. ‘The Last of April’, a sonnet by John Clare

Poetry Corner is edited by Freddie Day, Poetry Enthusiast, Free Spirit, Chain Smoker and erstwhile Wine Correspondent.

 

My dear friends,
As the drama of April begins a second act towards decline, I find I become most melancholic over the rapid decline in a landscape only briefly filled with glorious springtime colours.

Daffodils fade from bright smiles to ghostly figures. Blossom petals dance away as clouds in the breeze. Whilst the Primrose banks close-down, retreating from summers advance, my delight and thrill in the energy of springtime fades too.

I tell myself that there are days full of sunshine and warmth to come, but that is hardly consolation for the loss and passing of a month so eagerly anticipated throughout the gloom of winter.

Should you find yourself in the same predicament, I urge to towards the writings of a hero of mine, John Clare; A writer of beautiful words, a man able to capture England’s green and pleasant land simply and exactly. He will, I hope, lift your spirits.

John Clare

Whatever my mood Mr Clare has a poem or a sonnet to match.  I urge you to seek him out and enjoy his lines. Indeed I often find myself turning to him as the season changes.

The poet John Clare, lived for most of his life in rural Northamptonshire. He was born in 1793 in the village of Helpston half way between Peterborough and Stamford, on the brink of the Lincolnshire Fens.

‘Clare’s truthfulness to the individual locality he wanted to describe would not permit him to use the conventional literary language of his predecessors, and he had instead to find his own language. His success in doing this removed him from the mainstream of English poetry’* .

Here, in a sonnet written in 1821, he expounds his anguish at the passing of April. I share it with you today to prepare you for the end of springtime. In  ‘The Last of April’, his soft and gentle lines capture the beauty of the month and perfectly describes its passing:

The Last of April

Old April wanes, and her last dewy morn

Her death-bed steeps in tears: to hail the May

New blooming blossoms ‘neath the sun are born,

And all poor April’s charms are swept away.

The early primrose, peeping once so gay,

Is now chok’d with many a mounting weed

And the poor violet we once admired

Creeps in the grass unsought for – flowers succeed,

Gaudy and new, and more to be desired,

And of the old the schoolboy seemth tired.

So with us all, poor April, as with thee!

Each hath his day; the future brings my fears:

Friends may grow weary, new flowers rising be,

And my last end, like thine, be steep’d  in tears.

* (The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place – An Approach to the Poetry of John Clare) by John Barrell – 1972

As ever

Freddie 

A Quaint Talk About Long Walks – The Tale of the Walking Parson

Greetings my dear chums

Today I offer you a tribute to a man who’s whole life was dedicated to an outdoors lifestyle. Although little known about today, Arthur Nevile Cooper was in my opinion, the true father of the ramble, the man who encouraged us to walk and to wander and to explore the wonders of this natural world we share together.

I sincerely hope you find his life an inspiration.

Pip-Pip
Ever Yours,
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor,
The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle

Inside the fishermen’s church of St. Oswald’s overlooking Filey Bay on the Yorkshire coast, there is a small stone memorial plaque.  The wording is simple and unfussy:

‘In loving memory of Arthur Nevile Cooper

Vicar of Filey 1880 – 1935, Canon of York 1915 – 1941

Died 20th August 1943, Aged 93

‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their Strength

They shall walk and not faint’

 ‘Walk and not faint’ describes this lifetime perfectly. The Rev. Arthur Nevile Cooper was widely known to the Victorians as ‘the Walking Parson’. An unlikely adventurer, a popular writer and a much sought after raconteur. It is surprising that today apart from a small memorial plaque, he is almost unknown.

IMG_1336

His life was dedicated to improving public health. He firmly believed that ‘exercise was a joy and the open air to be the elixir of life’. He wrote, ‘the man who walks is the man who is well’. It was the gospel he preached throughout his life and one completely relevant to our lifestyle today.

As a young man he was keen on walking as a way to keep fit and healthy. Like many who enjoy the beauty of the natural world, he was also something of a romantic. He was inspired by the writings of English art historian John Ruskin, and much taken with passages from his epic Stones of Venice. He yearned all of his early life to experience what Ruskin described as ‘the delicious sight of a village nestling at the foot of the hill, where one might rest the limbs and refresh the body wearied with wholesome exercise’.

Arthur Nevile Cooper was the son of a Brewer’s Clerk; he was born in Pilgrim Place, Windsor, Berkshire in 1850. An appropriate starting point for a man who’s whole life became a pilgrimage. Born into a middleclass Victorian family, he was raised in a society where the difference between the haves and have not’s was huge.

In 1866, aged sixteen years, he began to make his way in life as a Civil Servant, working at Somerset House in London. A junior clerk with little money to spare for bus fares, he walked eight miles each day to and from his office.

In his writings later, he described the enjoyment derived from this daily exercise; ‘Passing though Kensington Gardens, Hyde and Green Parks and Pall Mall throughout all the changing seasons, no pleasanter walk could be found in London’.

After ten years in London he answered a higher calling. With a degree from Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1876 he was ordained to the Curacy of Chester-le-Street in County Durham.

He acknowledges that at his interview with the Rector, his eyes were opened to the splendid health he enjoyed. The Rector hope that he had good health as the work of his parish was hard. ‘I realised that during the ten years I had been in London I had never taken a dose of medicine and had only been absent once on account of illness and that was through toothache’. ‘My walking had saved the bus fares but the doctor’s bills too’.

From then on he believed that it was his duty to convert as many souls as he could to his way of thinking, and those today who enjoy the outdoors will feel his sentiments deeply.

He spent three and a half years in Chester-le-Street, describing the parish as a ‘wide and scattered and full of coal pits.’ He walked many miles every day to attend to his parishioners. In 1880, aged thirty, he was appointed to the living as the Vicar of the small fishing community at Filey, on the Yorkshire coast. The parish he served for the next 55 years.

004a

He had married Maude Nicholson, and together they raised a family, two sons and three daughters. From his parish by the sea he was able to reach out to a much wider congregation.

Arthur Cooper first attracted attention beyond his parish when he decided that he should publicly demonstrate the health benefits of ‘tramping’ as he often called his walks.

At the end of a Sunday evening service, he picked up his blackthorn walking stick, a satchel containing a few personal effects, and set out from Filey for London. His aim was to walk two hundred miles south to collect a dividend payment due to him from the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, and be back in time to lead matins the following Sunday.

His tramp attracted the attention of newspaper editors along his route who reported upon his progress.  He must have been a memorable sight marching along the byways and green lanes through the English countryside, wearing what he described as ‘his walking costume’; a neat black trilby hat, short coat, knickerbockers, putties and a blue tie. He travelled light. ‘Take nothing but what you can carry’ was his advice for those who wished to follow his lead.

The degree of public notoriety that came from this walk gave him the perfect pulpit from which to preach ‘the gospel of tramping’, as he often called his mission. Over his lifetime he took full advantage of this opportunity.

Little did he imagine that his footsteps would lead us toward an almost national obsession for a ‘good walk’. Whether it be the dog-walk, or the Sunday stroll or a rambling day trip. The network of footpaths and trails which cover our countryside today are there in part because of the ability of this man to inspire and persuade others to share his passion for the outdoors.

Impressive as his walk to London had been, it was only the precursor to what was to come. The following year, once the celebration of Easter was complete, he left the parish again and this time was away for six weeks. He explains his absence in a typically understated and assuming way that became his trademark; “I casually remarked to a friend that I was going out for an evening stroll, and then and there started off for Rome”, a tramp of over 800 miles.

On his return he started to write about his adventures. His articles first appeared in the Yorkshire Post, and then in 1902 his first book was published, appropriately entitled: ‘The Tramps of the Walking Parson’.

Rev A N Cooper 3A

It received a favourable review from The London Standard which gave him the beginnings of a national profile. They described the book as ‘breezy and lively, written from first page to last with kindliness, humour and common sense’.

Encouraged by his success, other walks and other successful books followed. An amble to Venice, then a jaunt to Monte Carlo and journeys over the Pyrenees. He enlightened and entertained, recalling tales of his tramps from Yorkshire to Barcelona, to Copenhagen, to Pompeii and on and on.

The Victorians found much entertainment in his escapades. He had clearly struck a chord with his gentle style, leading readers to believe that they could improve their lives and their health by getting ‘out and about’.

As he travelled so he continued to write. ‘With Knapsack and Notebook’, was followed by ‘Round the Home of a Yorkshire Parson’. He received positive reviews from such diverse publications as The Spectator, The Scotsman and the Morning Post. ‘Fresh air blows through the book, and interest is to be found on every page’ was typical.

001-001

His advice to those who wanted to assume a healthy outdoors lifestyle was always practical and his encouragement unfaltering; He recommended pouring whiskey into one’s socks, claiming it kept his feet supple and free from blisters.

He encouraged his audience to be resourceful; ‘sometimes the overnights were not as comfortable as I’d wish. In Paris I remember a difficult night when the only option was to sleep on the hotel billiard table’.

Throughout all of his wanderings he held on steadfastly to his Britishness, recalling; ‘I remember once being questioned by a French gentleman in the Pyrenees as to whether I was afraid of being robbed. I answered that I had only felt one fear since I landed in France, and that was lest I should not get asparagus for dinner’.

As his popularity increased he became much in demand as a public speaker, capturing audiences with accounts of his journeys were ever he was invited.

In the introduction to his most popular book, ‘Quaint Talks about Long Walks’, written he said for those who were unable to hear him preach his gospel in person, he begins: ‘one night, I was addressing an audience of nearly two thousand people in Dewsbury, on the subject of my walk to Monte Carlo’. To attract an audience of that size, full of hard working Yorkshire mill workers, and to hold them with a subject far away and remote from their lives says much about the power of his oratory.

He clearly enthralled wherever he was invited. He made listeners keen to get out and explore the world around them. His enthusiasm for outdoor exercise and an unshakeable conviction of its health benefits made him a man before his time. The poor living conditions and health of the masses would have concerned him deeply.

He had the ability to connect and communicate without superiority or condescension across all parts of society, and a true gift for empathy. He would have been greatly encouraged as he looked around his audience that his gospel reached those who toiled and laboured long in factories and mines and mills.

He would have been gratified, as J.B. Priestley was to describe later, ‘to see folk streaming out onto the moors on Sundays… with the enthusiasm for the countryside that had bred a race of mighty pedestrians’. Arthur Cooper should surely take some small credit for that.

Today, I sometimes sit quietly in his parish church overlooking the sea; I look at his stone memorial and think how appropriate it is that two of Britain’s magnificent long distance trails, The Cleveland Way, and The Wolds Way pass by within sight of St. Ostwald’s Church. The Walking Parson would also, I think, be pleased.

End

Tales from The Last Minstrel…… Preparations for Tramping

This week I have imposed upon myself the task of saying something to you concerning  the proper preparation for your tramps, and the rewards you may expect to reap from your endeavours.

For many outdoors activities much preparation is necessary, for a day’s walking these are reduced to a minimum. The time of year makes little difference, and the weather does not make much, for the open air to my mind is always enjoyable.

However my friends never skimp upon the necessaries for tramping, it could be at your peril if you do.

Boots

Comfortable boots and good quality socks will see you right over the sternest terrain. Avoid a heavy coat, for your difficulty after an hour upon the trail will never be how to get warm, but how to keep cool. The expense of a good set of waterproofs will be repaid many times over, whilst an extra layer and spare socks folded at the bottom of your sack will be reassuring and most welcome should they be needed. With a hat at your discretion, perhaps a stick and gloves, you are set for whatever a day upon the hill or dale may bring.

Bowland Dales Rev Day 7 13082011 Gisburn forest to Trough Barn 006

A map and a compass always please, it would be foolish to be out without. Remember, familiar or not with the landscape, we are all blinded should the weather be foul and the cloud base fall. Be prepared with food and beverage to match the day if light refreshments will more than an easy distance from your track.

Heed my advice and you will be ready to be off.

You will do well to have a simple goal to walk to. My experience tells me that the reason why so many pedestrians give up is because they are too ambitious with their endeavour to begin with. The terrain and the contours will limit you, as will your stamina and ability to persevere. During your first days, pick easy targets or decide upon circular routes which are eminently doable. You will quickly learn your pace, and with it you will begin expand your horizons. Remember gently does it at first.

And to your rewards……….

IMG_0067

Nobody can appreciate the delights of walking save those who experience them. What with hours in the open air, the body always in motion, the muscles taking exercise and then rests and meals which you feel you have earned, all combine to make a satisfied mind.

No cold or nor chill, nor ache nor pain, can survive a few hours’ walking, and all one’s cares and worries go the same way. I have never yet returned from a tramp without a longing to be off again, and I am never free from ‘the tickles of the feet’.

Walking is an education. It fixes the mind on the course of rivers, the height of the mountains, the flora and the fauna. It is an infallible cure for low spirits and the ‘blues’, and teaches one what a deal of kindliness and good humour there is in the world, only waiting for us to enjoy it.

Godwin Bream
Ockle Head Mountain Inn.
Lent MM XVI

Another Cleveland Way…. ‘on a fine day in January’

My Dearest Chums

‘In 1969 the Cleveland Way took its rightful place as one of Britain’s premier walking trails. This dramatic horseshoe shaped route loops for 110 miles through the magnificent scenery of the North York Moors National Park.

Its starting point is near to the medieval sandstone cross in the market town of Helmsley. This way-marked route leads walkers around and across stunning and often remote moorland scenery to collide head on with the North Sea at Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

IMG_0375

DSC00319a

IMGP3735a

From here, with the waves at the walker’s left shoulder, the path careers south hugging the coastline. The route enjoys magnificent seascapes and samples the delights of a series of iconic seaside villages, hamlets and resorts before finishing its roller coaster ride on the edge of Filey Bay overlooking the dramatic Brigg. It is an outstanding adventure that can be sampled in parts or undertaken whole’.

IMGP3771a

IMGP4179a

That description of the Cleveland Way will be familiar to many.  A dedicated walking route which is much loved and enjoyed by ramblers and holiday makers. For the most part it is a completely separate leisure amenity, away from roads and traffic, with a strong identity and purpose.

Today it is perhaps difficult to imagine that until relatively recently walking to places was a necessity rather than a frivolity; Rambling was certainly not a leisure activity, paths were an essential way of life. They were used and followed because they afforded a degree of certainty that a destination would be reached. A well trodden pathway offered some safety to the traveller, it was dry underfoot and easy to move over by man and beast whatever the time of year. There would be good general views of the landscape around, ensuring early warning of approaching dangers.

The idea of a Cleveland Way hugging the coastline would not have seemed at all a good idea. Who was interested in a view when livelihood and business were at stake?

I recently came across an interesting account of a walk along another ‘Cleveland Way’, a walk taken at the end of the nineteenth century, before we became a nation changed forever by the industrial revolution. A time before the motor car was king, when speed and convenience had different meanings, and when the ‘leisure industry’ was an unknown concept.

It recalls a journey taken for the purpose of business in January 1900 between Whitby and Redcar, a journey on foot of ‘a little over twenty-six miles’. Today the Cleveland Way covers the route between Whitby and Saltburn-by-the-Sea (almost to Redcar) completely at the edge of the North Sea, and the rambler has to walk over fifty miles to achieve the same goal.

Before you get excited at the prospect of an ambitious days’ outing, I have to tell you that the 1900 route is mostly followed by today’s modern A171, a fast and busy road from which you would gain no benefit and an awful lot of vehicle emission fumes if you were ever foolish enough to attempt the route on foot.

However, on ‘a fine January day’ in 1900 the route was a day’s walk full of charm and interest. Here are the highlights:

‘Business took me to Whitby and Redcar, and pleasure suggested that if it was a fine day I might walk the distance between the two’.

‘I decided to take the coast road by Hinderwell, and left Whitby a little before ten. I might have gone by Ugthorpe over the moors, but the recollection of a former day spent upon them, when I was twelve hours on a slice of bread and butter, was not inviting to a man who weighs fifteen stones’.

‘I climbed the steep hill leading to Lythe Church, in company with the village policeman, who pointed me out Mulgrave Castle embowered in the woods’.

‘I looked down on Kettleness, which has wonderfully revived since the day when the entire hamlet fell into the sea in 1829, owing to a landslip’.

‘I met with a farm labourer, with a shepherd, and with a railway clerk, but not a single tramp did I meet on the road’.

‘I passed through the largish village of Hinderwell, which owes its prosperity to Palmer’s Iron Works in the neighbourhood, and where evidently the sight of a pedestrian was unusual. It was a little after twelve, and the children were leaving school. At the sight of me they either composed or struck up a song:

“He’s got his pack
Upon his back
And so he goes to Jericho”

‘I began the toil up Boulby Bank, said to be the steepest road in the North Riding. I fell in with a carter who told me that “nobody ever went up Boulby Bank who could help it”. He advised me to stick to the contour along the line of telegraph posts’.

‘It was half-past one when I stood at the door of the tiny public house in Easington and enquired if I could have any luncheon. “Certainly”. Cold ribs of beef, apple tart, bread, butter and cheese were produced as though travellers wanting luncheon were an everyday occurrence. “How much to pay, please?” “One Shilling!” I was not such a fool as to spoil the place for those coming after me by paying more than was asked, but I made a note in my pocket book, that this broke the record for dinners in my experience’.

‘Down the Cleveland Hills I strode, past Loftus with its brand new church and Brotton with its teeming population of miners, after which I was glad to strike the field path leading to Saltburn. I reached Redcar soon after six, having accomplished my twenty-six miles in eight hours, and having been in the pure open air nearly the whole of that fine January day’!

Different times indeed.

IMGP1148

Pip-Pip
Ever Yours,
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor,
The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle

Poetry Corner

IMG_1302

‘Leisure’   by W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

 

‘Leisure’ is the work of Welsh poet W. H. Davies. It originally appeared in his highly recommended ‘Songs Of Joy and Others’, published in 1911.

As an outdoors lifestyle enthusiast, I hope that you will be able to relate well to the sentiments expressed. I encourage you to think about the sights and sounds of nature which you may unwittingly be oblivious to in your haste to achieve your stated daily aims.

William Henry Davies lived from 1871-1940. He was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. His father was a Publican. After an apprenticeship as a picture-frame maker and a series of labouring jobs, he travelled to America, first to New York and then to the Klondike.

He returned to England after an accident whilst jumping a train in Canada, where he lost a foot. Upon his return to Britain he led a poor, hard life living in London lodging houses and as a peddler in the country. He married in 1923, Emma, who was much younger than he. His first poems were published when he was 34.

Most of his poetry is on the subject of nature or life on the road and exhibits a natural simple, earthy style. He also wrote two novels and autobiographical works, his best known being ‘Autobiography of a Super-Tramp’.

(Poetry Corner is edited by Freddie Day, Poetry Enthusiast, Free Spirit, Chain Smoker and erstwhile Wine Correspondent.)

 

A Cheery Christmas Message from the Editor

Victorian_Christmas_Card_-_11222221966

My Dear Festive Chums

Seasonal greetings.

Allow me to wish you and yours a splendid Yuletide!  I sincerely hope that your expectations are exceeded, and that a joyous time is had by all.

The office has closed down for the festivities. Another busy year is finally at the ebb.

I have witnessed my loyal band of contributors exit the building, all setting upon the pathways towards their ‘Noel doings’. They were led as always by the Chief Outdoors Correspondent. Glorious was in high spirits, resplendent in his ‘best’ Harris Tweed three piece, crowned with a festive paper party hat, mistletoe at the buttonhole.

I see this year that he is in league with Mr. Godwit Bream, our ‘new-boy’. Godwit seems eminently comfortable amongst the jollity. Also in tow are usual platoon of faithful followers, any one of whom would willingly follow G to the ends of the earth if he asked.

There was Oscar Long our intrepid staff photographer, Freddie Day, free spirit, chain smoker and wine correspondent, and the redoubtable Harry Trout, field sportsman extraordinaire. Judging from the chaos and giggles Harry caused whilst attempting to wish the typing pool ladies a fond ‘bon noel’, has he already partaken of a glass or two of the Scottish drink.

A goodly number of our valued clericals also bridge the gap during the festive season. It is gratifying to see the whole team band together to wish the season well. They were heading no doubt towards a favoured hostelry for the final toasts to the season.

As the rattle and chatter fades, a pleasant hush descends upon the empty office. In the unusual quiet I am conscious only of the background sounds. Remnants of the Christmas fuddling are tidied away by caretaker and cleaner busy working towards a ‘shipshape’ office in preparation for the extended shutdown.

It is during these final few moments that I can sit at my typewriting machine and compose this seasonal message:

To all those who frequent these pages, I wish you the Merriest of Christmases.

I thank you  for your valued support this year.

I can promise you that I have plenty of the ‘good stuff’ in mind to deliver over the forthcoming year.

If you are truly serious about improvement to your outdoors lifestyle then I recommend wholeheartedly a regular subscription to ‘The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle’.

I can assure you that the contributors to this publication will be going ‘all-out’ to delight, surprise and entertainment those who visit this place, and who consider themselves Adventurers”.

The gift of the season to you all.

 

Pip-Pip
Ever Yours,
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor, The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle

Christmastide 2015

The Gentlemen Adventurer’s “Quest for Deira, an Odyssey to a Forgotten Kingdom” ……. The Groundwork Begins

Dear Chums

It is all well and good just packing up and charging off after Deira, but what are we actually looking for or intending to find? We need a period of planning and research before we can truly establish our goals and objectives.

All great wanderers have at least some idea of what they are wandering toward. A goal, an objective, a standard by which to measure their achievements. I thought of Shackleton again, then of Livingston, and of course Hillary. Adventurer’s all, successful by varying degree, but all had a plan, an aim, a route to follow.

That was what we needed; Our trek through the foothills should be time spent collecting information, building a picture of this lost mysterious kingdom. I hoped that it would present us with questions to answer, and with that would come our own plan. Hopefully our goal would become ever larger before us, as it surely did for Hillary during his long hike toward base camp in the Himalaya.

IMG_2282

I sent Glorious off to search the unfamiliar grounds of ‘the Google’ for the lost kingdom and report back. His efforts proved disappointing, not his fault I hasten to add. It seems that the planets combined digital knowledge, after a search of several million text pages, produced results that were ‘thin’ to say the least. The lost kingdom of Deira didn’t want to give up its secrets easily, which made our target even more tantalising.

At the Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle we have the old fashioned skills of the ‘hack’ in abundance. When it comes to ferreting out a story we are almost peerless. I put my correspondents to work upon this singular task and gradually over the days and weeks, we have together built a kingdom. Ancient archives have been searched. Museum store rooms have been combed, and miles of dusty shelves trawled. An endless river of script, papers and journals waded through, examined and re-examined. Our harvest, our crop, the knowledge we currently hold about the Lost Kingdom of Deira I will present to you in the pages of this Chronicle over forthcoming editions.

By springtime, as the season improves, I am confident that our quest for Deira will begin in earnest. What we have discovered already will I hope ‘wet’ your appetites for the thrill of the chase that lies before any true adventurers, like Echo and Glorious, who dare to search for the Lost Kingdom of Diera.

IMG_2279

Pip-Pip
Ever Yours,
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor, The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle

Tales from The Last Minstrel ———————————————————————– Ideas of solitude

‘Of the success of the poem on its first appearance, the Monthly Review for May, 1808 remarks: Mr Scott’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’ kindled a sort of enthusiasm among all classes of reader…… it carries us back in imagination to the time of action; and we wander with the poet along Tweedside, or among the wild glades of the Ettricke Forest’.

This week I have imposed upon myself the task of saying something to you concerning the idea of solitude; and particularly the joy of solitude in wild places.

IMG_0051A

I am prompted to this exposé following a recent encounter with a gentleman adventurer just returned from an experience of great solitude living in a remote cabin deep within the boreal forest region of Canada. This vast area, dominated by coniferous forests, particularly spruce, and interspersed with immense wetlands, mostly bogs and fens.

During our conversations and chatter he recounted the experience of his self-imposed exile. I was prompted afterwards to seek out my own jotted ideas and thoughts and indeed the expression of others that I have collected on the matter of solitude over the years. I now repeat them verbatim, I leave it to you make sense of the sentiments however you will.

From ‘Consolation of the Forest’ by Sylvain Tesson:

‘I came to this place without knowing whether I’d find the strength to stay. I left knowing that I would return. I’ve discovered that living with the silence is rejuvenation’.

‘I knew of weeks of silent snow. I loved to be warm in my tiny cabin whilst the tempest raged’.

‘Its good to know that out there, in a forest in the world, there is a cabin where something is possible; something fairly close to the sheer happiness of being alive’.

From ‘Notes from Walnut Tree Farm’ by Roger Deakin:

‘Obscurity is what the writer needs to get on with work well away from the public gaze. Under the glare of lights is the last place you want to be, so, moth-like, you burrow away into some basement. Or corner of the country where you can talk to yourself, pace about and think’.

From ‘Waterlog’ by Roger Deakin

‘Another of the fenmen, Don Dewsbury, described to me standing alone upon the banks of the big Hundred Foot Drain in stormy weather, and the thrill of feeling the bank shaking with the sheer weight of the water’.

From William Hazlitt (1778 – 830), English writer:

‘The idea of walking to find solitude has also a dimension of therapy, that a temporary removal from society might act as a form of psychic balm’.

‘ One of the pleasantest things in the world is going on a journey, but I like to go by myself’.

From ‘Ramble On’ by Sinclair McKay:

‘Many walkers exploring woodland are looking for the feeling of mystery. That sense of entering a realm conjured by Rudyard Kipling in “The Way Through the Woods” ……….

Yet if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night air cools on the trout ringed pools.
Where the otter whistles his mate.

I once listened to an old sailor recounting his voyages across the Southern Pacific Ocean on a supply ship restocking remote islands. He said that during the night-time, as the officer of the watch, he would stand on the bridge engulfed in the complete darkness of that vast of the ocean. Often, he became overwhelmed by almost the unbearable silence and solitude. Sometimes he would look up toward the magnificence of the universe and feel that just by reaching out he could pick the stars from the sky with his hands.

‘I find my perfect solitude spending the ‘over-night’ camped deep within an English woodland. It is early summertime. As the balmy evening closes, I listen to the myriad sounds of the Weald, and watch the dying sun fall through the trees to reach its setting , at last, allowing dusk to settle upon the land.

I build a small campfire, tending it as the kindling flames grow. I sit quietly as the darkness wraps itself around me, staring beyond the brightness of the fire and its warming comfort into the pitch black chill of the night.

A final peace descends upon the forest, the solitude and silence is broken now only by the crackle and spit of my fire and occasional unexpected noise from action by the woodland creatures, around to whom my night-time is their day-time.

Eventually I will fall into sleep, only to be nudged awake in the darkness by the sounds of the natural world that surrounds me. Gentle rain falling on my shelter’s roof. Courtship songs, sung by lovelorn foxes away in a distant spinney. An owl calling to its mate as it makes the homeward journey with a meal for their brood.

At the end of night, I am awoken by the beginnings of new light from the approaching dawn. I hear the first bird notes from a fledgling chorus, and thrill when, from the warmth of a sleeping bag, I hear more and more singers join the choir a dawn chorus. The sound builds into a full and vibrant crescendo of life. This song of summer, is accompanied by the glory of the morning sunshine. Brilliant light floods through the leafy canopy to reach me and warm the forest floor.

Finally I experience simple pleasure from reviving my fire from its last embers. I boil a kettle over my blaze and brew hot tea. I drink it sip by sip, allowing its warmth to revive me both physically and introspectively. By degree I am led back into the world that has continued in my absence’.

This is my solitude.

Perhaps you ought to write down your own expression of solitude and dwell upon it. You will derive benefit, I’m sure.

IMG_0614A

Godwin Bream
Ockle Head Mountain Inn
Advent MMXV

The Great Tea-Shop Proclamation

With his tea-shop proclamation that our next adventure should become an odyssey, Glorious had cut straight to the nub. I always expected as much from ‘The Chief Outdoors Correspondent’. He regularly went to the crux, to the heart of the matter, his readers expected no less.

Reflection upon the Odyssey

Odyssey is a much under used term in the outdoors lifestyle business these days. Hijacked by classical scholars, the word hides behind its ‘fashionable’ front-man, Mr Homer:

‘ODYSSEY’, an epic poem attributed to Homer, describing Odysseus’s adventures in his ten-year attempt to return home to Ithaca after the Trojan War’.

But other definitions seem totally appropriate for our needs:

‘ ODYSSEY, a “long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune. An intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest’.

As Editor I had of course considered pushing the boundary even further in the search for a fitting description for this venture. During my deliberations I concluded that ‘expedition’ or ‘exploration’ in the 21st century surprisingly sounded a little ordinary. I had dismissed as plain entitling our endeavour a ‘trek’ or a ‘tour’. I concluded that a ‘pilgrimage’, a ‘vagabondage’, or even a ‘peregrination’, as grand as our intentions were, was perhaps over-egging the pudding somewhat.

No, an ‘Odyssey’ would do just fine. Although perhaps I could include a ‘quest’ as well.

Glorious considers the Quest for Deira

We deliberated for some time on exactly how this ‘odyssey’ should be written up for our readers. We both agreed that an ‘Odyssey to East Yorkshire’ might on its own not be the page turner we were after. Then we hit upon it:

“The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Quest for Deira, an Odyssey to a Forgotten Kingdom”

It is time to begin.

Pip-Pip
Ever Yours,
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor, The Gentlemen Adventurer’s Chronicle