How important are navigation skills to a successful marriage?


People often say that when choosing a mate you look for what's familiar. Thus, whether you like it or not you end up marrying someone who shares traits with your parents. If you think about the phrase, 'no one gets under your skin like your partner', and how easily this can be substituted for mother or father, bam, it hits you. It hits you like the various mouse innards my two cat monsters leave me to stand in because they're 'fond of' me. There's love and horror in equal measures.






When I think of the similarities between himself and my Pa there are a few:

My man is very practical like Pa

He's a gentle man like my Pa

And the other weekend, after many years together, it dawned on me there is another starling similarity. If you go on a walk navigated by himself, like Pa, there is a tendency to A. get lost, and B have to walk through hostile landscape. In both scenarios you must be willing to take risks in terms of bodily damage and whether you'll ever make it home.


Pa and me on another walk

My favourite walking memory of Pa was the first time we went abroad. It was 1985 I think and Ma, a holiday obsessive, had gone big - Austria! It was amazing. Ski resorts in the summer are beautiful most importantly because they are devoid of the cold white stuff and are free of the idiots who like being cold and wet (at some point I'll talk about my views on sliding for entertainment). As part of the holiday 'fun' (I think they blew the budget on getting there) Pa found that if we did a number of walks and got the requisite stamps we earned ourselves a badge.



The badge we won

We'd got a few walks under our collective belts and then Pa found one that sounded right up his street. At this point Ma should have been alarmed, but love does funny things to your brain it seems. So we dressed for the occasion. I, ever the fashion icon (see photo above), wore a skirt, blouse, knee length socks and white plimsolls. So we set off. Ma and I complained quite a bit as upwards was our only trajectory. I think the word I'm grappling for is 'vertiginous'. As we climbed ever higher and higher we were passed by a sole walker all bedecked with rugged walking boots, all terrain gear and walking poles. Bit OTT we laughed. Not so when we hit snow and I slipped from the path and lost sight of my entire leg in the snow. It was at this point it became clear a skirt and plimsolls were not great barriers to the cold wet snow. To be fair I found it a huge adventure as we sat atop a rock surveying the surrounding slopes wondering how we were going to make it back without climbing ropes and/or a team of huskies. Ma was not so enthusiastic and may well have been dreaming of a hunky mountain rescue team that would whisk her away from Pa and his navigational skills and a child that didn't have the sense to wear trousers on such a walk. Now I come to think about it, when we went for walks after that she quite often sat in the car and graciously let us have 'father and daughter time' as her gift to us. Pa carried on making jokes and having no clue where we were.



Carn Euny

Back to today - himself is known amongst some of his biking pals as Dory. This is defined as someone who just keeps going. I've found him a Dory sticker from Finding Nemo for the bike in remembrance of the times I've sat on the back in the full knowledge he had no idea where he was going while he 'just kept swimming, swimming' for miles.


So we decided to head to Carn Euny the ancient village near Sancreed for a picnic lunch and a walk. We wandered up to the ancient village and then out the other side ready for our stomp. Five minutes later we were back at the car. He then proceeded to pour over the photograph of the OS map he had taken (so he didn't have to carry it); enlarging it and comparing it our GPS position on google maps. He was getting ever more irate as he couldn't work out why we had walked in a circle. I stood for a bit whilst he grumbled and murmured and I then coolly wandered over to the car park map and said, 'we're here' and explained why we went in a circle. No 'thanks' were uttered after this interchange.


View over the moor

Then we set out again hauling our backsides over the same hill we'd traversed before. He was about to carry on back on the same path in what I fear would have become a never ending circumnavigation of the carn when I suggested we try the, you know, 'other' track. We wandered over wonderful moorland with heather ablaze until we reached a road. Guided by his mini photo map he stated the church in the distance was St Just. I pointed out it was St Buryan. I'll leave you to figure out which one was correct. Before you think I am some sort of navigation savant, nothing could be further from the truth. I was just having a lucky day, but boy was I smug.



Heather on the moor

We then traipsed along until we found another path that would lead us back to the carn. When that path necessitated the use of a stout stick as a machete, clambering over barbed wire and unstable gates to climb, it slowly dawned on me; in a disaster scenario my man, just like my Pa, would not be a safe bet if you wanted a direct route to safety. However, if, like me, you like a frisson of danger on your walks my man is the one to pick. Although, if it all gets too much I can learn from my Ma and have a snooze in the car whilst he loses his way and meanders through swamps, mountains and probably a very steep ravine.

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