Saturday, 20 February 2010

the ballad of cursed anna

A walk through the Stour Valley today.  It is also part of the St Edmund Way walk.  I can quite believe that the Vikings could have tied the poor guy to a tree and filled him with arrows until he was "bristled like a hedgehog" - a sort of English St Sebastian.  Some of the trees are quite weird. I did sign the petition a few years back to try to wrestle our Patron Sainthood away from a foreign (fictional) usurper to a genuine English Martyr.  Also to wrestle the idea of the flag back from the Nationalists (Steve Knightley's line about the St George's cross in Roots by Show of Hands is wonderful: "It's my flag too and I want it back").  By the way, for the uninitiated, St Edmund's flag is a white dragon on a red background.  Now wouldn't THAT look great at an English Rugby match?

Ironically, I have wandered from my path.  Mrs Dave and I bought each other new walking boots for our birthdays this year.  Now you may think that that doesn't sound like a great present but what do you buy the man who has everything (besides penicillin)? Boots, of course.

As we arrived at Flatford Mill car park to meet our new friends at the inaugural meeting of a new walking group stemming out of our involvement with the DofE - I jumped out of the car to put my new Brasher boots on for their first ever proper walk.  I did try them yesterday around our town -  a walk by the sea to check them.  Lovely; soft leather, very comfortable.  As I started to tie up the laces, a riveted eye-hole (technical term) pulled out of the boot!  "Oh dear!" quoth I, "That's annoying."  Or words to that effect.  A hundred+ quid and the first time to be used . . .

One of our new companions was watching.  "Where did you get them?" he asked.

"Blacks," I replied.

"Take them back, they'll exchange them," he informed me authoritatively.

"Well . . . shouldn't I get in touch with Brasher?"

"No take them back to Blacks," he said.

"Are you sure? You seem well informed."

"I'm the manager at Blacks, I'll sort it out."

Can you believe it?  The first time we've ever met and he witnesses boots his shop sold break before they've even been used?  Classic.

Hopefully, I'll have a new pair of Brashers by the end of the week.  Further detailed discussion suggests that now that the boots are manufactured in China, the quality has gone down.  Typical - I've waited donkey's years to afford to buy decent leather boots, and as soon as I can afford them, it's because the quality has sunk down to my level!

The tree is on the Suffolk/Essex border (By the way, yesterday's is from Winchester).  I can imagine being challenged crossing this footbridge - I wasn't, but as the rest of the group had gone on, I was alone for a few minutes there.  Jonathan Kelly's Ballad of Cursed Anna came to mind:

My path led to a woodland
Far behind a rusted gate
I knew it was a shortcut
If I kept my walking straight
But then like out of nowhere
This wizened old man appeared 
Holding high his one hand
While the other stroked his beard:

Beware the cursed Anna's stare
This warning do I bring
For no one makes it through this wood
Coming out as they went in . . .


Mike C. said...

Walking boots are a waste of money in most of Britain, in my view. Better to invest in a decent pair of (black!) wellingtons with a bit of grip on the sole and cotton lining -- I've had a pair of Argylls for years (the ones with a red band on the top) and use them even in Wales unless it's very hot.

Sure, you might more easily turn an ankle in rough upland, but they're a lot more comfortable and will keep you 100% dry (ever tried waterproof gaiters with boots?)

Dave Leeke said...

I've been assured that the only gaiters worth buying are Gore Tex ones as all the rest perspire. These boots are really comfortable, though but the modern need by manufacturers to lower production costs continually means that the quality goes down.

Interestingly enough, guitars have got better over recent years. If you remember the poor quality of low priced guitars in the 1970s and compare them to modern cheapies, the difference is astounding.

Mind you, I think the poor quality of guitars in the 60s and 70s is why there was so much innovation and so many unusual guitarists that came out of that era. They had to struggle more - things are rather too easy nowadays methinks.

Mike C. said...

Hmm, must get me one of those "easy" guitars... Maybe I'll finally start improving.

Gaiters are rubbish: I've given up even looking for a pair. I suppose if I went walking in snow in the Cairngorms I'd feel differently, but for wet weather and boggy ground you can't beat wellies and waxed cotton waterproof overtrousers.


Dave Leeke said...

Okay, I admit that one still has to learn how to play them (although that never stopped me). I guess I meant that compared to last century, youngsters have it easy as far as learning to play goes: dvds, internet videos, school lessons, magazines, i-Phone apps for god's sake! etc.

But the most popular starter guitar now is a Yamaha Pacifica and loads of pros use them as a spare guitar. Most of our old guitars in the early 70s were unplayable. Un-tunable actually!