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Picture of Doodle - a 
black cat

Welcome to Doodlecat, where we enjoy the pleasures of life (with a slight bias towards the outdoors). This page is regularly updated with news and views plus information about any additions or changes to the various parts of the site. It acts as Doodlecat’s Blog too, so the odd rant considered opinion may pop up from time to time.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Outdoor Stereotypes

This little series owes much to the Telegraph Magazine's "Social Stereotypes". During the summer months I don't do a lot of walking, at least not a lot of hillwalking, on account of various nuisances such as excessive heat, midges, midgets (schoolchildren) and ice cream vans and burger stalls in all my favourite parking spots ... along with their bloated clientele who clutter the countryside oh, for at least 200 yards from the car park. At least that seems to be the perimeter of dropped crisp packets, cans and sweet wrappers.

But enough of my misanthropic rant, and back to the series. For those unfamiliar with the Daily Telegraph, Victoria Mather has written a series of sketches, spendidly illustrated by the drawings of Sue Macartney-snape, which accurately lampoon middle class "types".

I thought it would be fun to cast a similar, but less coruscating eye over the "types" that we regularly encounter. Here is the first of a series of (currently) ten ... but there may well be more.

The Octogenarian


cartoon of elderly walker

You first see Fred tottering along the narrow path ahead. A thin figure with a fringe of wispy white hair around the rim of his knitted hat. His improbably small rucksack is faded canvas with leather straps. The only concession to the biting wind seems to be a thick woollen sweater with holes in the elbows. The only recognisable pieces of modern kit are his Rohan trousers  (tucked neatly into socks) and a cheap pair of Regatta boots. No poles, no apparent waterproofs, although the rucksack might just conceal a light jacket. He looks for all the world as though he has absent mindedly strayed from an old peoples’ home and somehow become  lost in the wilderness.

You catch up and pass a few words. He apparently knows where he’s going and seems perfectly relaxed. “Oh just a little stroll – not up to the walks I used to do when I was a lad. “

An hour later, after a tricky heart stopping scramble you reach the summit cairn. Lungs heaving, you stop for a rest to ‘admire the view’ – or more truthfully, wait for vision to be restored and the hammering in your chest to subside. Ten minutes later he ambles into view. Not out of breath nor seemingly interested in stopping.

“Having a rest?” he enquires. “Well, it is a bit of a haul up that last bit. Here, have a barley sugar – that’ll get you up and going again”.

From deep within his trouser pocket he produces a sticky sweet covered in grey fluff. You mumble thanks, but he’s already gone to “Bag that wee Corbett before teatime”. You stagger to your feet to see that a small figure, moving improbably slowly, has already crossed the boggy bealach and is halfway up the next hill.

Dispirited, unable to face the swamp below and the near vertical heather beyond, you take the short route back to the car. The only other vehicle is an elderly Rover 400. Through its open window you see its elderly occupant pouring tea from a flask and contentedly eating a sandwich.

Yes, it’s him.

“It’s been a grand day,” he says. “Nothing like a day in the hills to put a spring in your step.” He observes your weary stiff legged gait. The thump of your sack hitting the ground. As you heave your gear into the boot you become aware of someone standing next to you. A kindly voice says, "Here – have another barley sugar. And don’t worry lad. You’ll get used to it in time."

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8 Comments:

Blogger Alan Sloman said...

I used to walk with a bloke like that every Sunday afternoon...

August 22, 2011 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Ha, ha, granddad ;-)

August 22, 2011 at 8:16 PM  
OpenID peewiglet said...

Wow, brilliant! I'm very, very impressed!

You should approach TGO with them. They could have one every month. Great stuff!

August 22, 2011 at 9:07 PM  
Blogger londonbackpacker said...

All I can say is "Brilliant"

August 23, 2011 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Byeways said...

Not sure we should be encouraging this: every one of us is going to see ourselves featured here before this series is over.

It will be impossible to resist the temptation to keep popping back for a peek though, so I might as well follow this blog and be done with it.

August 23, 2011 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Oh dear, I've started so now I guess I'll have to finish! Next one in a few days ;-)

August 23, 2011 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Andrew W said...

I missed this one originally, but terrific.
That is until you do one of me!

August 27, 2011 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

That is until you do one of me!

Aha - there's one hadn't thought of. The fenland hillwalker. Ta!

August 27, 2011 at 11:17 PM  

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