Susan Morrison: You’d better be ready to ramble

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We ARE safely returned from rural Yorkshire, and we have learned things about the countryside that might be of benefit to others.

As I mentioned previously, it is remarkably noisy. Not in the sort of headbanging, front row of T in the Park noisy, but that sort of whispering, giggling, “who’s that talking behind my back?” low-level rustling noise.

A walk in the country can lead to Stalinist-era levels of paranoia. You just know those crows hopping behind you are passing some vicious comment about your dress sense. I’m guessing crows love to diss fashion faux pas. They all look like particularly savage fashion editors in their achingly on-trend sable outfits and those beady judgmental eyes.

Ramblers. Just don’t mess with them. You will hear them coming. They are relentlessly cheerful and boundlessly energetic. Some of them are called Marjory. There’s usually an alpha male with a map around his neck. He thinks he’s in charge. The Marjorys know otherwise.

They favour wide brimmed hats like those sported by Australian stockmen as portrayed by Hugh Jackman. For some reason they have taken to using ski poles to walk about with, which makes them look simultaneously like mildly dotty cross country skiers who have failed to notice the absence of snow, and also faintly threatening at the same time. Those poles look sharp at the ends.

Should you hear ramblers approach, immediately make your way to the edge of the footpath. Ramblers coming through will take no prisoners, and if you’ve witnessed the full throttle forward juggernaut advance of leather-titfered, sensibly-booted, pole-wielding pensioners from Surrey you’ll know what I mean.

They will greet you. Very loudly. You must answer. Remember the poles.

On no account whip out your smartphone to check if you are on the right path for Robin Hood’s Bay. This will create a flurry of activity 
as the maps in clear plastic folders are produced and the fields will ring with the sound of much disapproving clacking of suspiciously white and even teeth.

Marjory will get Frank to explain to you that there is no signal, no signal at all, and yes, this is the correct path.

Do not point out the big sticky-up thing at the top of the rise behind them is, in fact, a phone mast, and the mobile signal is better here than in some parts of Edinburgh. Frank will tell you that is wrong, and in exhaustive detail. He used to work in 
telephones, you know.

Pipe down and don’t pick on me

But for all the disdainful cows, clacking crows and yomping ramblers, we had a joyous time of it on holiday, and of course returned home to the Domestic Emergency.

There is an immutable law of nature that states that white goods, water pipes and/or fixtures and fittings are permitted to combust, fail, leak or just stop working whilst you are on holiday.

Usually it’s the vital washing machine. We had that three years ago.

This time it was a pipe in the upstairs bathroom that quite clearly could not handle being ignored and unused for a whole week, and decided to make its presence known by quietly weeping all over the bathroom floor like an Essex girl spurned by a millionaire investment banker.

A straw poll around friends confirms what I have always suspected – an alarming number of us return to the Domestic Emergency.

You know what this means, don’t you? It’s not just the cows and the crows that tattle about us. Even our appliances plot behind our backs.

Herd the one about the sneaky cows?

Those cows, see them? Don’t trust them either. It’s something to do with those long lashes and that tanned look they’ve got. They look like Essex girls, with exactly the same bovine expression on their coupon.

Do not be fooled. Those girls might look like there is nothing behind their eyes but, trust me, those lassies can work out exactly how much you’re worth faster than a Musselburgh trackside bookie crunching the numbers on a suddenly fancied rank outsider.

Those fake bake queens of Champagne and chardonnay know if you arrived in a Ford or a Ferrari, and they pass that information on with synchronised batting of false eyelashes and carefully modulated giggles and, as one, the herd will close ranks against an outsider and cut them dead.

You watch, cows can spot the

townies and, as one, turn those cud-chewing faces away with disdain.


Distance. Country dwellers have a somewhat elastic view of distance. The difference between a corner shop in darkest Leith and one in remote Yorkshire is about five miles, as the crow flies, if it’s not distracted to sneer at a fashion fail. This is something of a shock to those of us who assume that a quick trip for a sneaky Mars bar can be done within the time constraints of a TV commercial break.