The Garrulous Jay – The Good Things In Life

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There aren’t many things in life I enjoy more than a good walk and good company. Tomorrow I am hoping to combine the two.

In fact, I am typing this from my room in The George Hotel – surely an auspicious name with which to start the long weekend – in Hayfield in The Peak District.

I have a number of key criteria for what constitutes a good walk. The distance needs to be far enough to make you feel like you’ve achieved something, but not so long your legs feel buckled and leave you lame for a week afterwards. (The requisite distance seems to reduce with age).

A memorable view is an important component. It needn’t be spectacular, but there is something cathartic about being made to feel small by comparison to the landscape one is traversing.

Weather conditions also have to be satisfactory, although I am struggling to define this and I think it can vary. Too hot can be at least as bad as too cold, and too wet is worse than both. The worst is limited visibility: if I only want to see three metres ahead of me I’ll sit in a steam room, thank you!

But a good walk can be immeasurably enhanced by good company and tomorrow I will be joining three friends from school: gentlemen I have now known for forty-one years!

The great thing about friends one has known this long is we have ‘history’, which means we can and will probably talk about everything and nothing with no sense of pressure or inhibition. Some of it will be serious, some frivolous. Much of it will be puerile and some completely unrepeatable.

To my wife’s exasperation when she asks me the sensible questions about my pals’ families, jobs etc. I will probably seem uninformed: these things may not even crop up in conversation. Not because we don’t care but just…because they don’t.

There may also be periods of silence. Unforced and equally enjoyable: I am sure me not talking for a while will be particularly welcome. What will certainly be the case is that being in each other’s company will mean the hours trekking up Kinder Scout will pass quickly and enjoyably (weather and fitness permitting).

I have no idea whether the culinary delights of The George over the next two nights will meet our expectations, but the beer on offer looks good so that’s a start.

Overall, what the next 36 hours will do, both as I walk and we talk, is remind me that we should all take time to enjoy ‘the good things in life’. I think it is important that we work to live, rather than living to work. I don’t believe the latter approach ends well, while I am convinced the former makes me better at the day job.