I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Monday, 29 August 2011

Bloggers Are Real People Too

The next day I woke to a dull, misty, rainy morning - but it was the only day of rain showers we would have. I say 'we' because by this time I'd met up with George of the blog Transit-Notes. From Wall I'd been shadowing a figure in a blue rainshell and red cap for about half an hour. I was pretty sure it was him. We crossed the river Tyne at Chollerford separated by only a few minutes...




I caught up with him at Chesters Roman fort. He was deep in animated conversation with two German walkers. Feeling once again part of some Stanley-Livingstone scenario, I cast round for something momentous and witty to say. But as I approached, George suddenly lost his balance at the top of a shallow flight of stone steps and fell backwards, recovering himself adroitly with his walking poles. Any brilliant opening gambits or pithy one-liners fled my mind as this colourfully-attired American hurtled past me. Instead I stuttered something like: 'It's amazing how much two walkers in blue raingear have in common, isn't it?' (I too was wearing a blue rainshell.) George beamed at me in astonishment. 'Robert!' he exclaimed. 'How wonderful to see you a day early!' (We'd actually arranged to meet up the following afternoon.)

Then began a wide-ranging conversation which lasted with scarcely a break for the next three to four days. George proved to be - though I'd guessed this already from his blog - one of the most charming, gracious, enthusiastic, intelligent, cultured and spiritually aware people you could ever wish to meet. After an hour or two's chat we felt we'd known each other half a lifetime. And that incident on the steps - which was, on reflection, a tremendous wabi-sabi moment - was the only less than sure-footed move he made on the whole trip.

Here's Chesters Roman fort in the rain...   






And here's George next to a trig point in the rain...





And here's George again at the Temple of Mithras (I think the rain's just stopped for a moment)...




The scenery just got better and better...




... as cultivated ground gradually gave way to wild moorland...



11 comments:

Ruth said...

I've been waiting for you to find George as much as I waited for you to find the Wall, so this is fantastic. How fun that you surprised him a day early! Scary about the misstep, but I'm glad to hear his grace recovered the moment and the rest of the walk.

You've described George just as I would have, and though I'm not a bit surprised, I'm glad to know he measures up to his blog persona in person. :-)

Your photos are spectacular, Robert, and I can only imagine how magnificent it must be to be there and see it all spread before you. I could listen to you (and George soon, I hope) talk about this walk for a long time to come, so do keep the posts coming. As I said before to one of you, I would have loved to be a little mouse on the wall listening in.

Friko said...

Hadrian's Wall is a magnificent witness to ancient history and for two such magnificent bloggers to meet up in the wild and windswept environs is tremendous fun.

I asked George if he would meet up with anyone up there and he stayed silent, but I knew all along it must be you.

I never did the walk, just sections about ten years ago; what a place for two men (I am not being chauvinist here) who have as much in common as your blogs appear to say about you. to discuss everything a blog can only lightly touch upon, in person.

Will we get a precis of the conversations?

George said...

To spend four days walking with the Solitary Walker and, thereafter, to still be considered a real person — what more could I ask for? Seriously, Robert, I'm honored by your kind words and the feeling is mutual. From the first moment I encountered you at Chester Fort, I felt that we had been friends since childhood. It was a terrific walk with great conversation, and I hope we will be able to take some other long-distance walks in the future.

I'm also grateful that I did not ruin the initial meeting by the "full twist with poles" that I executed when I fell backwards from the top of the steps at the Chester museum entrance. I continue to think, however, that any Olympics judge worth his or her salt would have given me a few points points for technical recovery, notwithstanding the undeniable lack of artistry.

Hopefully, I will be making my first posting on the walk later today. Have a good week!

Bonnie said...

How wonderful Robert! It sounds like two long-lost brothers finally finding each other. I sit hear smiling, wondering if my interviews of you two - way back when - might have initiated what seems to be a meant-to-be friendship. How long will you be on the same trek together?

Such delightful news! Please give George a big hug for me - and here's a big one for you! Can't tell you how this post has made my day. I jut feel so happy that you met doing what you both love - having already learned a lot about each other through blogging.

There surely is more to blogging that what most people think!

The Solitary Walker said...

What wonderful comments, one and all.

And George - how remiss of me - i didn't even mention your sense of humour!

pilgrimpace said...

This is a very rewarding and profound post - thanks Robert and George.

There's always the possibility that someone you know from blogging might be a disappointment in the flesh - I'm glad to see this disproved. (Although a bit of me wants to ask "Am I a real person?"

Andy

The Solitary Walker said...

Andy - we're all as real as we wish ourselves to be. Or, in other words, we create our own reality. Thanks so much for commenting.

fireweed said...

How wonderful that you two could meet up for four days of walking and talking! The beginning of a lifelong friendship, I'm sure.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for dropping by, Fireweed. I enjoyed also your comment about rosebay willowherb on George's blog.

ksam said...

Ahh this post made my morning!! Please do keep posting more of your walk together...again letting us peak over your shoulders!! It is an interesting and amazing moment when you meet in the flesh, someone you've talked to via emails and blogs for ages! For me it was someone from SA and then Nebraska, and Quebec...ahh the Camino!!

The Solitary Walker said...

Karin, I do so love your infectious enthusiasm - which is evident in all that you write and in all that you do! Yes, the Camino continues eternally...