"It doesn't seem as foggy as earlier in the week, and it isn't cold."

"So I don't need a sweatshirt and a fleece?"

"Haha, you have to decide. I'm not falling for that one, so you can blame me is you are too hot or too cold," replies the Webmaster, helpfully.

"I'll take my gloves just in case."

It is mid morning. We set off down the lane. The winter sun is shining weakly through the mist.

"I said we'd meet them about 11:30 so we'll need to set off about 10," says the Webmaster. He is referring to a trip he has planned to meet his dad the following day.

 "Where are we going?"

"Stanage Edge."

"So is that about half way between them and us?"


"Have you got him a birthday card?"

"Yes, must remember to take it with us." The Webmaster's answer is surprising. He is not normally so organised.

At the bottom of the lane the dogs turn right onto the track through the farm, but we are not going that way today and we call them back. We round the bend and follow the lane along the side of the hill.

"How was the Twittersphere this morning?" ask the Webmaster.

"Don't know. I was reading the newspaper and watching reports from yesterday about Donald Trump's inauguration. He doesn't seem to have got off to a very good start. He seems to be arguing about how many people turned up to watch and his speech didn't go down very well, at least outside the US."

"Unbelievable. What's the world coming to?"

"Did you see the video of the former presidents in the crowd? It was raining and Bush pulled a raincoat over his head. It looked like he was trying to hide from what was happening."

"He's going to repeal the health care act. Unbelievable. How can that be a good thing? It was one of his campaign promises! Why did they vote for him? Unbelievable?"

"Is that all you can say? 'Unbelievable' about everything?"

"The world is full of stupid people." The Webmaster sounds annoyed, frustrated and resigned to disappointment. "I always suspected it. But now I know for sure. First Brexit and now Trump."

"You must be one of those out of touch elite people who knows better. Arrogant bastard!"

"Do you disagree then? Has anyone come up with any good reasons for Brexit? It's all bol**cks about sovereignty and getting our country back and regaining the empire. Idiots." The Webmaster is in an angry mood today.

We stop. A Kestrel is hovering above us, almost stationary. We stand and watch. It holds its position for what seems like minutes before breaking for a few seconds and then hovering again in almost exactly the same place.

"It's the same place we saw it before. Must be a good hunting spot." Maybe the kestrel will cheer up the Webmaster. 

A car approaches and we move to the edge of the lane, shortening the dogs' leads and pulling them in. The car passes. The kestrel moves off further along the ridge of the hill.

We cross the road and turn right taking the lane down into the valley.

"Trump is still claiming the only reason he didn't get the most votes is because of illegal voting. He's been sworn in as president and he's still going on about it. How can he really believe there were three million illegal votes unless he thinks the whole election is flawed?"

"I think he means that places like California let illegal immigrants vote. All the Mexicans. And he wouldn't expect them to vote for him."

"How likely is that then? Maybe a few people but not millions."

"Perhaps they should get some election monitors from an emerging democracy to check they are doing it right."

The dogs are weaving from right to left and left to right across the lane in front of us. As one moves left the other moves right as though they are attempting to plait their leads.

"Dogs. stop it," yells the Webmaster. They stop and look back at him. "Keep your dog under control," he instructs.

"Me? What about you. It was yours too."


The dogs are walking along the edge of the road, stopping to sniff at increasingly frequent intervals. Our progress has slowed, but at least they are not repeatedly tangling themselves now. 

"We haven't seen the buzzard for a while. I would have thought today would be a good day."

"I've heard it during the week. Up by the hill. But I didn't see it." 

"It's been too foggy. It seems to have been foggy for weeks. Grey, cold and damp. I'm glad I haven't had to drive in to the office everyday."

"The sun is coming through now. It looks as though it is brightening up for the afternoon."

We turn off the road and at the lowest point in the valley and turn to head up the path back towards the village. The ground is soft but not muddy.

"The gate is still open. The farmer must know the Old Dog has problems getting through the stile."

"Probably leaves it open when the cattle are inside."

"I haven't seen the cattle on Marshes Hill for ages now. Unlikely they are kept indoors. Most probably burgers by now," the Webmaster is hitting all the cheerful notes today.

"Have you seen the weather forecast for tomorrow?"

"No, but it will probably be like today."

"I suppose if it's freezing rain when we are having our picnic it'll remind us of your mum." I say, thinking of our first picnic with his mother. We shivered on a cold, rainswept Lake District hillside,  new year 2001, smiling false smiles and politely eating sandwiches while wondering what was wrong with the warm tea shop down in the valley.

"I'm glad they came back from France before Brexit," the Webmaster is thinking of his parents.

"I don't think your mum would be happy about it. Or Trump. She'd be on the women's march."

"I'm not sure she thought much of marches or protests like that. It's his first birthday since she died." 

We pick our way carefully across a muddy patch at the edge of the field. Deep tyre tracks have cut through the damp ground.

"The farmer's been down here with his tractor. Maybe that's why the gates are open." Once across the mud and through the next gate we are onto a firm track. It looks like an old, cobbled road that has fallen into disrepair and subsequently been patched with building rubble.

"We still haven't found an old map to see if this was the main way into the village."

The dogs are always slow on this track. Too many interesting smells. We try to hurry them along without much success.

"I used to run up here. Now I'm knackered walking slowly. How am I going to do that race in five weeks? We haven't done any training."

"What's this 'we' business? I'm not doing it. You'll be fine."

"Don't talk rubbish. I can't do a race after six months with almost no training. And even before that I was only running a couple of miles each time with the kids."

We arrive in the village. There is no one about. We trudge up the lane back to the hill, the dogs trotting along nicely. We turn off the road and follow a narrow path up to the top of the hill, cutting off the corner and by-passing the car park. A few groups of people are out walking. We reach the top. The sun has seen off the fog and there is a hazy view. We stand at the top and argue again about the identification of the distant hills. We really do need to bring a map and compass.

As we walk down the ridge of the hill a runner comes up towards us. We step aside and pull the dogs off the path to let him pass. He is moving quite quickly.

"See. That's running. I can't do that anymore. I can trade in my number."

"No, you'll be OK. It's only five miles. " The Webmaster doesn't seem to understand that age is taking its toll and five miles hilly cross country with no training is going to be more than a struggle, not as a race, but just to get round without too many 'walking opportunities'.

"Right then. So you'll come training with me from now until the race?"

"I didn't say that."

"Let's go straight down to the end. We haven't been that way for ages."

"It'll be muddy."

"We'll be OK. We've got boots on."

"What about the dogs? I don't want them dropping mud everywhere. I cleaned all the chairs yesterday."

"Well don't let them climb on the furniture. It's your own fault."

We walk on down the hill, past the house, over the stile and into the field where the red, one horned bullock used to graze with his two or three black and white herdmates.

"See, they're not here. Nor over there." The Webmaster points to a field off to the left, down towards the woods. "Burgers."

We reach the steep section of the path where it dips down to the bottom stile and the road. It is muddy but we don't slide.

"See it is OK. Not too bad at all," I say, just as the Webmaster reaches the bottom, steps towards the stile and sinks more than ankle deep into the mud.

"Grrrrrrr...." he complains. The Old Dog wades in behind and the Webmaster looks as though he is about to explode.