The Ramblers’ Festival of Winter Walks is over but our new hiking boots remain resolutely free of mud. Christmas is accompanied by a bout of tonsillitis so painful I lie under a flannel in a dark room, adopt man flu position and cry.
Two weeks pass and we go nowhere. We cancel visitors, daub a large cross on the front door and watch a lot of telly. It rains. The Artist takes over all dog walking duties and I feebly contemplate tackling a mince pie. It rains some more and we’re a long way from the planned fortnight of winter walks across crisp ground in fresh-from-the-box boots.
New Year’s Eve arrives and the dog and I see in midnight in our pyjamas, everyone else asleep. I tuck into a mince pie and penicillin and Lionel (the dog) shakes for an hour as fireworks burst all around. We watch the middle bit of Silver Linings Playbook and, deciding I’m on the mend, plan a New Year’s Day walk along the beach.
2016 arrives. I pack gloves, hats and scarves and we head for Ogmore. It’s beyond raining but now it’s freezing as well, with a harsh coast gale thrown in. My son (nearly 10) asks where his coat is. I tell him I’m only in charge of gloves, hats and scarves and put him in a spare green cagole (women’s, small), feeling slightly triumphant as it’s from the huge ’emergency supplies that Mum insists we keep in the boot but no one will ever need’ box. We walk a quarter of a mile along the coast path and Lionel, a rescue greyhound, shakes some more at the multitude of terrifying small dogs running, lead-less, around his legs.
We abandon all notions of a jolly, brisk walk to welcome in the new year and pile back into the car for hot tea and, yes, mince pies. Christmas has been a wash out and the two remaining chapters of my imminent (actually, very overdue) trails book remain unexplored, and a good 1,000 words each short of the 1,200 required word count. We return to school and work, tripping over shiny clean hiking boots each morning in the hall, and it continues to rain.
The Welsh Government announces it’s the Year of Adventure and Rough Guides lists Wales as one of the world’s top 10 countries to visit. We swipe through photos of mist, wet dog and windswept hair (oh, and one The Artist sneakily snapped of me lying under a flannel in a dark room, crying) and think, oh, it’s an adventure alright. Happy new year!