Monday 22 May 2023

Wayfarers return

Every year this century, The Wayfarers hiking club has organized a day-long up-and-down hike in the Blackstairs. We first heard about this annual event in May when there seemed to be A Lot of folks yomping and chattering down the lane past our yard. The following year, we tapped a 25 lt drum of spring water and left in on a crate out in the lane, in case someone was parching up. A tuthree years after that the weather was forecast to be super hot and dry. The Wayfarers contacted us and asked if they could be sure that water was available at our nearly half-way house because otherwise they'd make other arrangements for [emergency] re-hydration. My answer was "water is free, water will be available, even if we are not" and it was so.

Over the subsequent years we developed a long-distance relationship: me sending a message to say water would be; they being effusive with thanks. In 2007, we finally installed a stand-pipe in the yard near the front gate. Not just for random walkers you understand: sheep need water too. Recently, for a jape, I've been making a slab of flapjacks and setting out some chairs to make the water-stop more engaging. Sitting in a chair makes it easier to deal with blisters and who doesn't like a flapjack? 2019 was notable because someone left us a thank-you note and €2.50 appeared in the empty biscuit tin. It looked like a turning point in the profitability for Bob's Bix and Bevvies plc. But Coronarama put the kibosh on those dreams, because The Wayfarers cancelled their walk in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Y'have to respeck such tenacious concern for their members and the stewards of the event because, by a year ago, most other public expression of Covid measures had been thrown out the national window.

Whatevs, The Blackstairs Challenge was back on Sat 20th May 2023 and I contacted Wayfarers a month out to promise water. I was perversely looking forward to the event because my engagement was truly peripheral - the walkers were committing [or aspiring] to trek 30+km up hill and down vale while I could be sofa-bound. The day before I 

  • made two (2!) slabs of flapjacks - one with a hint of ginger to spice it up a bit
  • put out a table and a miscellaneous collection of seats
  • cleared up the corner near the tap

Up betimes on Der Tag, I flung open the gate; hammered in my "<W-A-T-E-R<" fingerpost; and waited for the horde. The Off in Killanure is between 0730 and 0830. As expected from previous years the first, excessively fit lycra-clad bodies trotted past the gate at ~0930. They were not the type to pause for water. Over the next 3 hours several dozen happy hikers turned in at the gate, and set off south a few minutes later "refreshed".  Everyone had to be through the next checkpoint before 1300 hrs, so it puts a finite window on the event as far as we are concerned.

Because you can never have enough signage, I tried to make clear what was in the biscuit tin. Somewhat to my chagrin, when we tidied up before lunch the tin was not empty. It had lost its biscuits but acquired €11.20! BB&B plc. may be a runner after all. To my utter chagrin, in the early afternoon there was a knock at the door and two Wayfarer stewards presented me with a bottle of Jameson. That was thoughtful and I accepted gracefully. These things shouldn't be thought of as transactional. Small kindnesses are the lubricant which keeps society trundling along. The next day I sent a note: "Thanks for the bottle of Jameson! It's a bit like the Marriage at Cana: turning uisce into uisce beatha. I know that you know that you don't have to do that. I won't drink it all at once. " Till next year, walking people!

1 comment:

  1. Aw that's really lovely, both of you and of them.