« Curmudgeonly Writers | Main | Autumn »

Ancient Feet: 49 - Boil-In-The-Bag

...He was sorting out his rucksack and ut some of the contents on the table while he reorganised his packing and, amongst the items was a boil-in-the-bag meal, which I picked up to read the label and was astonished at the weight of it...

Alan Nolan continuopus his hilarious account of a Coast to Coast walk with his mates - a walk which involved brilliant banter with almost every stride.

To purchase a copy of Ancient Feet visit

Signed copies of the book are available from Alan http://apn.thelea@yahoo.co.uk

We reached Reeth in the early afternoon. It is a large village with a number of shops, pubs and small galleries and is a popular tourist destination, being the main centre of population in mid-Swaiedale. As it was now warm and sunny, we were able to sit outside the Black Bull and relax with a drink. The Black Bull is set on one side of the large village green and, unusually, it is next door to another pub, the Kings Arms and only about forty yards away from yet another, the Buck.

Because we had reached Reeth so early, we were able to watch the world go by for an hour or so before moving on. We faced a dilemma over what to do over the next couple of days because we would have only ten or eleven miles to walk to Richmond the following day (and this after two short days already) but that ¦would be followed by about twenty-five miles to Osmotherley the day after. Apart from being a long distance, the stretch from Richmond to Osmotherley is the least interesting of the entire journey.

Don had already decided to even out the distances by walking on a few miles that afternoon, which he could do as he was camping. Indeed, he planned to walk on for each of the next two days and would not see us again until Sunday evening at Blakey. He was sorting out his rucksack and put some of the contents on the table while he reorganised his packing and, amongst the items was a boil-in-the-bag meal, which I picked up to read the label and was astonished at the weight of it. The advertising read Not dehydrated, so heavy, and you wouldn't want to carry too many, but no bowl is needed and they'll cook in the water you boil for a brew. The packaging also showed that this one was Beef Stew & Dumplings in Gravy.

'It's a bit heavy to be carrying around, but it sounds good,' I said.

'Yeah, but they all taste the same whatever it says on the label.'

'Why, how many did you bring?'

'Well, I worked out that I would need five for the time we're away, bearing in mind the nights I'm not camping and the nights we're all eating out together. I've eaten three already'

'No wonder you were struggling with your pack, if you were carrying all those as well as all your other stuff, but at least you've only got two to carry now,' I commented.

'Well, actually, I've got three.'

'How come?'

'When I went to the camping shop, I selected five of them but, when I went to pay, the bloke said I could have another one free because there was a 'three for the price of two' offer on. I told him that I only needed five, but he insisted and put another in the bag.'

'But, Don, you didn't have to bring it with you, you daft bugger.'

'I suppose not.'


Having been away from our wives and partners for a week, we began to wonder how they were managing without us.

'Pam would have no idea how to change a fuse,' said Tom.

'And that time when my arm was in a sling and I asked my wife to wire a plug, she just stood there ... like a woman ... looking at me as though I was an imbecile,' Don added.

'Christine's pretty good but, if we had a leak, she'd have no idea where the stop tap is,' Paul asserted.

'Yes, they just can't manage without us. On the other hand, we cope very well when they're away,' I said, to nods of agreement.

'Well, men are very adaptable and although women are very good at things like washing.'

'.. .and enjoy doing it...'

'it's not at all difficult, is it?'

'No, it's not like the old days when it was done by hand. All they have to do is put it in the washing machine and take it out when it's finished.'

'Actually,' Don interrupted,'when Jane was away for a couple of weeks, I did have a bit of a problem. By the end of the first week, I didn't have any clean shirts left and I didn't know how the washing machine worked.'

'It's easy; you just bung the shirts in the machine and turn it on.'

'You may be right but I wasn't sure. Anyway, I solved the problem by a bit of lateral thinking, which is another thing that women are no good at,' Don congratulated himself.

'Why, what did you do?'

'Went to Marks and Spencer's at the weekend and bought five new shirts for the next week,' he said smugly and awaited our admiring approbation.

'But Don, didn't you wash them before you wore them?'

'Why would I do that? They were brand new, so they must have been clean,' he said defensively.

'They may have been clean, but they would be stiff and uncomfortable, particularly around the collar.'

'They seemed all right to me,' he replied, perking up a bit thinking he had deflected what he clearly believed was an unnecessary implied criticism of his ability as a lateral thinker.

'Well, even if you were prepared to wear them without washing them, you would still have to iron them.'

'Why? You only iron a shirt after it's been washed.'

'Don, you didn't go to work in new shirts that still had all the creases from being folded in the box, did you?'

'Yes,' he said, reddening at what he saw as more aspersions about the effectiveness of his lateral thinking.

'When you get a new shirt normally, doesn't your wife wash it and iron it before you wear it?'

'I don't know. I just get it from the wardrobe.'

'I suppose women can be quite useful at times,' Paul concluded, to sceptical agreement.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.