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Saturday, 28 January 2023

Calling in on Bro

When younger, Bro walked long distances, Land's
End to John O' Groats, the Bay of Biscay to the
Mediterranean via the Pyrenees. Sustained himself
with pots of tea and cakes. the cock-eyed hat is deliberate

Brother Sir Hugh is suffering from an unspecified lurgi. He lives 200 miles away and we hadn’t seen him face to face for several years. Why not pay him a comfort visit? On the return drive VR noted: He tended us more than we tended him. Competitive ill-health, you might say.

We invented a couple of reasons for driving round the adjacent Lake District. This included the voie sans issue road to the end of Haweswater (a lake) which probably sounds like bad planning. Not so. Going, we were against the sun, coming back, the light shone from behind.  The same road could have been two separate routes in different counties.

But the abiding impression of this two-night visit was the intensity of the conversation. Normally talk quality depends on the subject matter but not this time. When speaking to a family member one has known for eighty years, the need for explanations, background stuff, dubious nostalgia and preferences disappears. What’s left is new, revelatory and shot through with enthusiasm. Getting rid of the material that dilutes and – thereby – slows the conversational pace is highly advantageous. The sentences are more likely to parse.

Brother Sir Hugh lives in Arnside, a precipitous village overlooking the wide estuary of the river Kent where it spills out into Morecambe Bay and eventually the Irish Sea. A backdrop of lowish hills acts as prelude to the Lake District’s higher and better known peaks (Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Helvellyn, etc). 

A place that’s good to look at but something of a menace close-up. Viz: 

Arnside: Self-explanatory, really


  1. Pardon my absence. Fighting with updates, Safari, Chrome and Google (World Menace if you ask me), and I wasn't able to comment. It is always wonderful to touch base with family---I have none left, immediate from my childhood, and it is an empty hole. This visit sounds like you both may have needed that.
    Definitely stay out of Hidden Channels and quicksand. SM

    1. Sandi: I thought Safari had more or less "cocked its toes". What's hateful with software these days is that you can't buy it, only lease it, which means a new payment ususally comes around just at the most awkward time. As to the visit I think both Sir Hugh and I surprised ourselves, we genuinely enjoyed each other's company.. That doesn't always happen with family relations.

      Regarding quicksands, etc, some day I'll recount the unhappy story of the Chinese cockle-pickers in Morecambe Bay. A case of ignorance not being bliss.

  2. It would be interesting to know just how many topics of conversation there were. 'Twas good to see you both.

    1. Sir Hugh: Very few subjects as such. More to do with behaviour and relationships.

  3. That must have been good to link up after so long. I bet the hours flew by and whiskey or wine flowed freely. Did you do all the driving yourself? If so I take my hat off to you.

  4. Avus: Only VR drank (a few glasses of sauvignon blanc). Sir Hugh and I are both on blood thinners. I was, however, able to introduce him to 0% San Miguel lager which is the closest in taste to its alcoholic sibling. Sir Hugh did the driving round the Lakes in his Kia (the car that has everything). I drove Hereford to Arnside and back. It's not a drive I looked forward to - speak to me not about the junction of the M5 and the M6. But the passage of time since I last did it turned it into an almost novel and congenial experience. Also the satnav played an important role going north, resurrecting a very rural end to the journey which I could never have remembered. Interesting, the satnav chose a different return journey that was almost all motorway. Not much fun but virtually no traffic jams, thus a high average speed.

  5. How satisfying it must have been to spend time with your brother. I can only imagine the extravagance of the conversation.

  6. Colette: "extravagance" - well chosen, eight out of ten. Stay with me, you're learning.