I Survived!

September 28, 2010 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales)

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This weekend saw the annual Lads Walking Weekend. This is the one weekend every year  when I really suffer for my friendship and lack of fitness and exercise. The “Lads” consist of myself, my three closest friends from university, and various hangers-on such as a brother-in-law, a son, and a couple of friends of a friend. This year found us in Cornwall. On day one we took the coastal path from Treyarnon Bay and back across the roads and fields. And, on day two, we walked the coastal path from Treyarnon Bay to Newquay, the jewel of the southern Cornish coast……NOT!

I am pleased to report that I survived. Well, most of me did. I must admit that my knees were pretty shot after the stairs and steep descent into Watergate Bay. But, otherwise, my extreme fitness regime over the last couple of months (well, the odd whiz/saunter round the block on my bike coupled with the odd jog upstairs) seems to have worked. I was OK on the ways up. I was excellent on the flats. But, the downhill bits were agony on the old joints. I have the knees of an old woman. An old woman with bad knees.

To be fair, I do not feel too bad today. I am a little stiff (ooh er, missus), and the soles of my feet are a bit sore, but otherwise i am OK. I do, however, intend to feign great pain for a day or so yet, as my good lady wife greeted my return with a hot bath, a water bottle for my knees, and promises of massages to come. I think this is my reward for at least doing some exercise in preparation for the annual mid-life crisis and for surviving without a heart attack. She loves me she does. And, I intend to milk the moment for all I can.

I also survived the lies of my good friends.

My good friends clearly love my company so much and feared that I would bottle out on the walk,  so that they conspired together to create an elaborate web of lies and false incentives to ensure I attended. The most notable lies included:

  • We have to stay in the YHA on the first night but will stay somewhere lovely in Padstow on the second – lie! We stayed in the YHA both nights.
  • You can have a room of your own – lie! I was in a room with four bunk beds, all of which were occupied.
  • You can get a taxi back from Padstow – lie! They made me walk an extra 4.5 miles on top of the 11 miles I had already done.
  • We will not rush – lie!
  • It’s flat all the way – lie!
  • We will eat Rick Stein‘s fish and chips in Padstow – lie! I had to endure YHA cafe food for both nights.
  • You can have cake with your coffee – lie! No cake. And a Mars bar doesn’t swing it when you’ve been dreaming of coffee cake with a dollop of clotted cream.
  • You’ll enjoy it really…………….well, actually, I did.

I also survived the YHA experience. Just.

Those of you who have read earlier posts will know that I like my own bed, and, in the absence of my own bed, I like my privacy. As much as I love my friends dearly, I am never in a hurry to see them scratching their sweaty bollocks as they prepare for bed. Unfortunately, this year, sweaty bollocks were in abundance.

I opted for the top bunk. This was a mistake. We ate in the YHA cafe on both nights. This meant that several bottles of Betty Stoggs ale were consumed with which to wash down fairly unrefined cum stodgy meat based dishes such as, well, Betty Stoggs pies. Men are pigs. My friends are pigs. And, like all pigs, my friends are flatulent. Within minutes of lights out, our room was heavy with the odour of, well, Betty Stoggs and toothpaste and cheap deoderant (they at least have some standards), with overtones of sweaty feet and bollocks. The air, like some of the gaseous agents used in the First World War, had a somewhat soporific effect – or it could have been that I induced my own coma by trying to hold my breath for longer than was good for me. It is hard to sleep in an environment in which you can “taste” the air.

The top bunk was as close to sleeping in a coffin as I intend to experience for thirty or forty years or so. My head was wedged against the panels at the top. My poor, sore feet were wedged against the panel at the bottom. And, there was hardly room to turn over in. And, the mattress was hard. I slept on my good ear, in the hope that my bad ear would save me from disturbances. It was a vain hope as there were many disturbances. Not least the number of times I awoke with pins and needles in my left shoulder and arm – a consequence of the mattress, lying on my side, and, no possibility of rolling over in my confined space.

Thankfully, my roommates kept their snoring to a minimum. Or, at least, it was drowned out by their flatulence. One did talk a bit in his sleep – but no secrets were relieved. Not that that would have mattered. We have a rule that whatever happens on teh walk, stays on the walk. And, if anything ever did happen on the walk, we would find out if the rule had legs.

The two with the weakest bladders did make several trips to the bathroom. But disturbances from within the room were minimal. But, your average YHA is not best soundproofed. And, this was your average YHA. So, we were disturbed when anyone went to the loo, or took a shower. And the YHA was full, so such events were not infrequent. And, we were disturbed whenever they moved the tables in the cafe. Which was, at least an hour ahead of get up time, both mornings. Oh for my own bed. Oh for privacy.

That said, I have to say that the accommodation and facilities at Treyarnon Bay YHA were absolutely adequate, and a long way from my prior experience of YHAs at the age of 16 or so. In the old days, the average age of a YHA resident was probably about 20. I would guess that it is now much closer to 45. In the old days, you would have to perform a chore as part of your keep, such as cooking breakfast, cleaning the toilets, or vacuuming the TV room. In the old days the rooms were segregated – no mixing of the sexes even if you were related. Not that there was any shenanigans or playing away from home on this trip. No such luck! I was trapped in my room with three flatulent blokes! But, the loos and showers were clean, if few in number. The food was adequate. The service was fine. And the other guests were friendly – one a little overly so, but we avoided his attempts to integrate…….

In any case, I am told that I enjoyed myself. And so, I will endeavour to believe that I did. Thanks guys. And, ouch, my poor knees.


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