I remember once *begins filling pipe-bowl with tobacco* when I was walking on the Cheviots in 2008, I think it was. *packs tobacco down with thumb*. It had snowed heavily for a few days before and the snow was about six feet thick on the tops *puts pipe in mouth* *takes pipe back out of mouth* but on that day, you see, on that day it was beautiful weather. Not a cloud in the sky. Quite stunning, in many ways. *puts pipe back in again* *lights pipe*. Now then *accidentally inhales too much and brings up a lung* the top of the snow *wipes eyes* had frozen into a crust, so if you were careful, you could walk on the top, but if you trod too heavily, you’d go straight through. *goes to put pipe back in mouth, but thinks of something else to say first*
Of course, on the Cheviots *jabs mouth of pipe at the reader for emphasis* the top is blanketed. Blanketed, mark you, with peat bogs, up to six feet deep. Well, you can only imagine what it would be like if you fell through. *puts pipe back in, leans back in wing-backed armchair and puffs contentedly* I fell through, of course.
Fortunately I had a stick I had cut from the hazel coppice at Easton Farm Park and finished with a piece of red deer antler, which stopped me going all the way in. I was halfway up a short, steep hill, some miles from the nearest road. Not another soul had I seen all day, as I walked on the crisp, clean snow beneath bright, sparkling skies of purest blue, light wisps of cloud just gathering about the top of The Cheviot itself behind me – Scotland to my left and England to my right. The right leg went in first, followed swiftly by its companion, leaving me dangling off my stick and praying fervently that I had put the antler on properly, as the integrity of that joint was all that now prevented me from reaching an icy grave that day.
I don’t quite know, now, how I did it, but I suppose the adrenaline starts to pump in moments like those and, after a few moments contemplation of my predicament, I suddenly found hitherto untapped reserves of strength, hauled myself out and continued on my way.
*taps pipe out into ashtray*
When I got back into town that evening, all the B&Bs were closed, because the weather was so bad, so I had to check into quite a posh hotel. I chatted up the manager a bit, who I’m pretty sure was Bowling from the Pavilion End, if you know what I mean, and got upgraded to their best suite, with an enormous bed and beautiful bathroom. I bathed in luxury before descending for dinner in an almost deserted restaurant.