Monday, 7 April 2008

Picnic weather

Coming to the last few pages of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” last night, it was fun to read of his experience of sitting out in a snowstorm just as members of this scattered Benefice had done yesterday lunchtime at the Daffodil Day.
With two friends he was walking up to the 2,960 ft summit of Bow Fell, the sixth highest Lakeland peak, and the weather had turned increasingly wintry.

“We made it to the top without incident. I counted thirty-three people there ahead of us, huddled among the fog-whitened boulders with sandwiches, flasks and madly fluttering maps, and tried to imagine how I would explain this to a foreign onlooker – the idea of three dozen English people having a picnic on a mountain top in an ice storm – and realized there was no way you could explain it. We trudged over to a rock, where a couple kindly moved their rucksacks and shrank their picnic space to make room for us. We sat and delved among our brown bags in the piercing wind, cracking open hard-boiled eggs with numbed fingers, sipping warm pop, eating floppy cheese-and-pickle sandwiches, and staring into an impenetrable murk that we had spent three hours climbing through to get here, and I thought, I seriously thought: God, I love this country.”

I have had one similar experience when on January 2nd, in the mid-1970’s, some friends and I clambered our way up to the top of the 3982.89 ft Ben Lawers in the Scottish southern Highlands. It was snowing and blowing a gale, and after traversing a knife-edge saddleback with heart-stopping drops to either side, we got to the summit of the Munro and sheltered in the lee of the cairn.

It was there that I discovered that one item of food you do not take to the top of a mountain in winter is a Mars bar. The caramel had gone solid in the cold, and was virtually inedible. On the other had, the coconut in the Bounty bars we had were still soft and moist, and they were a very welcome boost of energy.

No problems like that yesterday. The two slices of quiche that I had – tomato and bacon, and mushroom – were delicious, and there was something primitive and comforting about sitting in shelter as the snow swirled around us, the cold flakes settling on our knees.

Now it’s Monday morning, and outside the study window the white stuff is coming down again. I think I’d better see if I have any Bounty bars in the cupboard!

1 comment:

  1. I love Bryson. He's really got under our skin. I love his comment about Bradford. "Bradford exists purely to make other towns feel good about themselves."

    Amen to that, Bill!