Clones in North Face Jackets, etiquette terror and Grizedale Forest

A small swarm of blonde female clones wearing North face jackets, jeans and slightly pinched expressions surrounds me.  It would be nice to surmise they are also bitterly resenting paying six pounds to park in the car park but I suspect this is more a bugbear for me than for anyone else. And it will continue to be a bugbear for me until my last dying breath.

We are in the café at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District. One family has bought along a shape sorter for their baby just in case she is not intellectually stimulated enough as her parents rustle seriously about in branded waterproof clothing, sensible hiking shoes and rucksacks. My baby is happily gnawing on a packet of Morrison’s own brand wet wipes.

This is all my boyfriend’s fault for not letting me Google places where there was a murderer or a ghost for us to have a walk about in. He walks a ‘pleasant aesthetic walk that’s not all murdery’ apparently. So we are here.

I am wearing a turquoise minidress from which the crotch of my tights appears underneath so already the aesthetic pleasure of the walk is somewhat diminished. Good.

But never mind-there is a sculpture trail! I am looking forward to seeing big singing ringing things aloft suspended, abstract and mesmerising, walking through ancient woodland, communing with nature.

But there is a choice of three routes. Red, green or Yellow.

We follow the Red route-it is described as ‘Strenuous’ and uphill, hence the red for danger and I am excited and scared. Will we get lost in swirling mists, our desiccated corpses found years later? No because the Red route is clearly signposted, micro managed, pristine and the path could easily fit an Eddie Stobart lorry down it and the majority of the route is identikit pound shop conifers. Or the wasteland where they used to be which makes you feel sentimental over identikit pound shop conifers.

I keep looking for the amazing singing ringing sculptures but I have got them mixed up with a dream or something and just find the occasional small carved bird.

It is a scramble to the top but not a Strenuous one and we have a baby gazing wide-eyed on our unwaterproofed backs and a heavy rucksack filled with nonsense and junk food. There is a pleasing circular sculpture and a view, which nearly makes the car parking fine worthwhile. Nearly. But I am materialist to the core and eye the glorious nature surrounding us angrily and beadily spying all the potential free car parking spaces.

And now we have come off the empty perilous Red route we come face to face to people who have driven miles in sensible branded outdoor clothing to plump for the Yellow route.  And face-to-face means the perilous comedy of manners, which is  ‘To Say Hello Or Not To Say Hello.’

That is the question. Whether to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune by not saying ‘hello’ first and either thus replying too brightly out of guilt and seeming a bit mad and Jehovah’s Witnessy or muttering something like ‘heyllaaa’ because you haven’t formed your brain to mouth action quickly enough and it all goes a bit wrong and you spoil the walk for yourself. Or neither of you says ‘hello’ first and you feel desperately guilty in case the other walker was hoping you would say ‘hello’ first and is now despairing against haggard looking inappropriately dressed people for their rudeness and disregard of pleasant greetings on nice autumnal days.

Or you take arms against a sea of troubles and say ‘hello’ first and risk seeming a bit mad and Jehovah’s Witnessy when some people slink past saying either nothing, ‘heeylla’ or an appreciative response and a bright elderly smile.

The youth don’t seem to do ‘hello’s anymore. I know this because I nervously scout the oncoming pedestrian and try to work my greeting/lack of greeting/’heeylla’ accordingly.

It’s a minefield out there. A minefield with occasional carved birds, an overpriced car park and a lot of pinched blonde women in North Face Jackets. I shan’t be returning soon.

But I shall look for real nature.

6 Responses to “Clones in North Face Jackets, etiquette terror and Grizedale Forest”

  • Little Me Says:

    I have such happy early childhood memories of Grizedale Forest. I am sorry to hear it has turned into what you describe. Shall take it off my nostalgic list of places to drag my daughter to in a future trip home.

  • cyberfairy Says:

    To be fair, it is a nice enough place-I am a miserable old cow-but go early and beware of the carpark!

  • Heather Says:

    Ironically there are plenty of ghost stories attributed to Grizedale Forest – many of them related to Grizedale Hall’s history as a Germam POW camp. I have a fascinating medium’s study of it as my mum worked at Theatre in The Forest for years and years. Many tales to tell! x

  • cyberfairy Says:

    I Googled Grizedale Forest ghosts on the way there but nothing came up 🙁 Thanks for the info though-very interesting-nearly worth the terrifying car park to go there again now! Feel free to share the tales-am all ears…x

  • cyberfairy Says:

    Oh and what a beautiful website-it is a thing of beauty and you share my tastes for Victoriana and riot grrl music-*dances off to the sounds of Bikini Kill*

  • The Jazz Teacher Says:

    I like this and am of an age where I like things with my soul rather than with my forefinger. I thought the section about the greetings minefield was particularly funny.

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