Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Happy Wanderer

When I was a child there was a radio request programme called 'Children's Favourites' on a Saturday morning, which every week seemed to have the same songs. One of these was 'The Happy Wanderer' and our Sepia Saturday picture prompt this week is of a group of happy wanderers setting off on hike of some sort.

I love to go a-wandering, 
Along the mountain track, 
And as I go, I love to sing, 
My knapsack on my back.

My Knapsack on my back.

.The earliest of my family to wander was my mother. She went on a hiking holiday in Wales with her friend Blanche, at the age of eighteen.

The family were not very well off financially and it seemed a good way to get out in the fresh air and see the countryside quite cheaply. The Youth Hostelling Association (YHA) ran the holidays and Mum  tells me that it was good fun. They slept in dormitories of four girls and in the evening there was singing and card games and some girls played the piano. Mum couldn't afford the proper kit so she had to 'make do and mend' as they said in those days. She already had some shorts and shirts but no tough walking shoes, so my grandfather banged some hobnails into her strongest shoes to make them more sturdy. She must have enjoyed it as she went back again the following year; she had already met my Dad by then and WWII was on the horizon, so it was the last break away until their two-day honeymoon in Derbyshire in 1942.

I wish my Dad had done something similar to my shoes when it was my turn to go 'youth hostelling' in the Yorkshire Dales on a school trip in 1967. Again, we didn't have the wherewithal for me to get kitted out just for a week's walking. My shoes were not the strongest and I recall they let the wet in! Nevertheless my friends and I had a good few days away. We had a lot of fun and met some lovely people and we still recall some of the in-jokes from that week away. The only downside was several of us being afflicted by a tummy bug and spending the last night near the bathroom.

My friends and I cooled our aching feet in the icy waters of the river.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"

Moments after the picture on the left, of me and our friend Nigel, was taken, he stumbled on some wet rocks and cut his head. My friend Hilary administered the First Aid as she was keen to practise. She went on to become a nurse! I seem to remember we were left to our own devices at this stage and there were no teachers around. This wouldn't be allowed today, and teachers hesitate before volunteering to organise trips and accompany students on any holiday with a hint of adventure in it. There have been some well-publicised accidents in recent years which have ensured that the Health and Safety rules have been tightened and teachers worry about parents suing. From experience, I can say that the Risk Assessments alone were almost enough to put them off. It's a good job Nigel was able to brush off his fall, and lived to walk another day.

Our packed lunches, made by fellow students, were very unappetising. We tried to palm them off on a passing goat, but failed - I thought goats would eat anything! What does this tell you?

These days I'm much better equipped to tackle the volcanic terrain of Lanzarote where I live. A good pair of walking shoes is a must, but for some climbs only a sturdy pair of boots will do.

Montaña de Guardilama, Lanzarote, August 2012
"To the right of the pass is then 'pencil-point peak' of Montaña de Guardilama, which offers Lanzarote's most spectacular viewpoint to those fit enough to brave the ascent." (Walk Lanzarote, David and Ros Brawn)

It was a climb of 630 feet from here, so I'm glad to have got that one ticked off the list whilst my knees can still manage it!

Montaña Blanca, Lanzarote, October 2011

An extendable stick with a pointed end is my favourite accessory - or I'd never make some of the climbs!Oh, and a hat to ward off the sun's rays, and a knapsack, of course, with the essentials like: camera to record the spectacular views and the milestone achievements; water to prevent dehydration; chewing gum and sucky-sweets; penknife (for hacking at fig trees); a plastic bag to collect figs, grapes, shells, anything; wet-wipes (the figs are sticky and the rocks are dusty when you have to use your hands to assist a climb; sticking plasters and a few euros for refreshment when we reach the nearest bar, café or sociedad.

I wave my hat to all I meet, 
And they wave back to me, 
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet 
From ev'ry green wood tree.

Wait for me John!

No blackbirds or greenwood trees, and very rare to meet anyone else to wave your hat to! Once we reach the top we congratulate ourselves, and each other, have a drink of water and a little rest and admire the wonderful views.

The next step is going downhill. This is sometimes  more tricky than the ascent, as the ground can be quite skittery.

Oh, may I go a-wandering 
Until the day I die! 
Oh, may I always laugh and sing, 

Beneath God's clear blue sky! 

Off you go laughing and singing to this week's Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors have made of the prompt below. We also have a Facebook page for serious Sepians (but we we have a lot of fun too!) If you want to read more about our wonderful Lanzarote walks you can hike over to my husband, John's (Caminante) blog: Lanzarote on Foot.


  1. Great post, Nell. My doc reckons that walking is the next best exercise to swimming. We do quite a bit hereabouts, but we do miss the coastal footpath around Cornwall, where we've tramped many a mile.

  2. Loved to read your post! I remember the song was popular in Netherlands too, in a Dutch version: Een frisse ochtendwandeling... I recognized the chorus, cann't miss!

  3. Hi Marilyn, I have thoroughly enjoyed all your wandering stories in the post. You guys sure are in great shape. What a view of the island from the top of the mountain.

    Kathy M.

  4. "Wandering" is in our family's blood too. My grandfather and Dad were both good walkers, and so am I, but I don't get out nearly as much as I should these days. Too much blogging and blogs to catch up with.

  5. I enjoyed your Happy Wanderer tales and well remember singing the song at a Guide concert.

  6. I loved your blog this week. It brought wonderful thoughts of great walks. Of YHA with my children, of YHA as a student in Europe, and even of YHA in my 50s with a male friend of similar age, a boys' break in Venice (You don't have to be a Youth...you just don't have to mind people with bad socks). What smart parents!!... that they should honeymoon in Derbyshire. So did I !! And I have a strange attraction to volcanoes, I am jealous, but have never been to the Canaries.

  7. When I was a Girl Scout, we used to sing the Happy wanderer song.

  8. Fun adventure! I loved the part about the lunches.

  9. I know I have heard the song before but I can't remember where.

    I am afraid that some of those hills look a bit too high and hard for me!

  10. That's one of those songs that stays in my mind all day...The stories and photos of your youthful hike were most vivid. I don't think I ever had quite that adventurous hike till I was an adult with children (sometimes with me, sometimes not)
    Loved seeing your hike up the mountain...what a climb, but what a view.
    I'm an armchair hiker due to breathing limitations these days...so I tell everyone to hike wherever they want right now!

  11. Val-deri,Val-dera! Hey! I went there Youth Hostelling in 1967! Maybe We Ran Across Each Other?

  12. What great photos of your hikes. So nice that you had a nurse along with you. Or at least a future-nurse.

  13. A fine post. Hiking on an island, big or small, seems a popular trait of the people that live on one. Are there any efforts to re-forest parts of the Canary Islands? Or is it a too arid climate?

  14. They bring back memories, I recall scenes like that from my walking days. All that went to pot when I stopped smoking. Go to the Gym now - trying to get back into it.

  15. Yes - we sang that song in the States too. I associate it with Girl Scouts, but I'm pretty sure we sang it in elementary school too. Thanks for taking us along on your hikes.

  16. Wow gal you really do some hiking. I have always lived in the country and a small town and walked every where we went. A great post, I enjoyed reading.

  17. I remember that song too. I used to use to walk a lot but never on a hike, just from here to there. I like the way you incorporated the bits of the song into the post. And I envy your walkable knees and feet.

  18. I remember that song from days as a member of the YWCA. We used to go on hikes and camping holidays - great fun with a group of girls. As a teacher I have followed this with my classes and have enjoyed many school camps and hikes. Pity so many kids these days spend so much time indoors on computers and phones.

  19. Judging by your photos there is no room for tree lovers on the island :-)

  20. A great tradition of wandering. Your memories provoke my memories : from those hours spent in childhood listening to "Uncle Mac" on Children's Favourites, through to recent memories of that magnificent Lanzarote terrain.

  21. That first song sure brought back some memories,
    mostly school outings.
    Nice to be prepared for any eventuality.
    Nice that you had a future nurse on hand!!!
    Goat wouldn't eat it, eh?!?

  22. What fun it is when these themes bring back memories. Sometimes I think that's the best part of Alan's themes, the memories of all of us, unleashed and exposed. Of course seeing how everyone relates to each theme is quite wonderful too. I hope all is well!

  23. I'm afraid that song is irrevocably linked to that comedy show (was it The Fast Show?) with the family of ramblers, all reluctant except the dad leading the way, always getting lost.

    My mum was agrophobic and my dad has no initiative so we only ever went on one walk that I can remember as a child (we only went to the swimming baths once too!) so I really didn't 'get' walking until my best friend in recent years dragged me out kicking and screaming. Don't tell her, but I'm starting to love it - and I love your Lanzarote pics! More appealing to me than wet Wales, where our nearest hills are. May your knees keep up for a long time yet!

  24. Nothing nicer than going on a hike or a cycle ride on a fine day in good company. Aren't we lucky we have cameras nowadays to help us recall them more vividly.