When I was a small child, I used to derive distinct pleasure by doing the various ‘puzzles’ with which publishers of children’s comics used to fill out the pages of their publications. Among these was a genre known as Dot-to-Dot. You, the infant reader, were presented with a pageful of dots, each uniquely numbered: 1, 2, 3… and so on, up to about 30 (or 70 for advanced readers). And what you did was to join the dots in ascending numerical order, to be amazed by the image of a castle or a fairy or whatever which would appear before your eyes.
As an adult, one gawps at these grotesque parodies and asks ‘Surely, the child might have been encouraged to have a go at drawing the thing unaided; it could hardly have made a worse job of it.’ But to do so would be to miss the point. The pleasure, you see, is not in producing an exquisite image, but in the mesmorising joy of moving one’s pencil across the page, guided by simple instructions.
It’s a pleasure I rediscovered last week, regaining that same childhood delight by constructing my route from Cape Wrath to Hastings. And you know, it really is almost identical to my pastime of 58 years ago. You have your Ordinance Survey map up before you on your laptop screen, and you just click your mouse at the next corner or junction in the path or road. My new puzzle is, it has to be said, a little more ambitious, joining, as it does, some 7,957 dots and describing a route of 1,230 miles, but as you’ll see, if you look in my revamped Route page, the principal is exactly the same.
So what else?
What else is that I’m too darn busy, and I dread to think how I am going to get done all I have to do before setting off from Hastings in three weeks’ time. Short posts, I think, for the next two Sundays! However, I cannot fail to acknowledge what it is that makes Hastings Country Park a place of unsurpassed beauty at this time of year…