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Mapping the World, or Maybe Just Rural Banffshire

Yesterday I set a new record for myself. I walked 7.17 miles. A new route which involved a walk of 110 minutes was the major contributor. And I did not stop once, not to look at the view, to take a photo, or to talk to a neighbour. And the sun was out.

As with all my first time walking along roads I had previously only driven, I saw things I had never noticed. Because one of the benefits of travelling by foot is the greater connection with one's surroundings.

One of our neighbours has turkeys. The distinctive "gobble, gobble" alerted me even though they were a couple of hundred metres from the road.

I saw a small gravel pit just behind trees at the edge of the road that I had never known was there.

And most important, I saw a sign saying "Footpath". Now that matters because although my new route was good exercise, it was comparatively boring visually. It has a long straight bit of road that seemed to take forever to get to the end of. About 22 minutes walk in fact, with no change in the horizon.

Mr Google provides excellent maps for planning journies and calculating distances. But it shows roads where there are no roads visible in the real world. There is a reason for that. Local authority catalogues of unclassified roads are in some instances decades behind the on-the-ground reality. And Mr Google reflects their records.

The "Footpath" sign, it was clearly a relatively new sign, was important because it indicated a current route for walking which I had assumed was a "ghost" road. I have been passing the other end of this track for a couple of weeks but had concluded that it looked unlikely to be something that went all the way that the map showed. The signpost at the other end is a game-changer. I shall explore that later today. A longer route and the prospect of a visually more stimulating route.

During yesterday, I had an exchange of emails with one of the Australian parts of our family. He is a bit of an athlete. Come on Stewart! Ross has cycled right around Oz. He is a lot of an athlete.

Maybe not quite as much as my Danish nephew Jamie, who has won orienteering world medals twice. His weekly training used to involve running 160 miles a week.

But the advice from Ross sounded good. It was about boredom in training. And I suppose my daily walks, only with the purpose of getting fitter, amount to training.

Having 'fessed up to Ross that I had a rowing machine glowering at me from the corner of the room from boredom through its not being used, I think his advice to use it as part of my fitness training is good.

It's not that the scenery as one's rows to nowhere is going to be very exciting. But a change in the routine of the training will help keep motivation. And the rowing machine will exercise another set of muscles.

Although it mainly exercises the thighs, as walking does, it will do so more vigorously. It can also slim down the belly, a consummation much to be desired, and drive higher heart and lung performance. I feel that arm muscle will benefit too.

One of the age effects is the loss of muscle bulk and, in particular, the reduction in upper-body strength that comes from that. Good advice Ross. Maybe this afternoon. NO .. schedule it in the diary Stewart. Won't happen otherwise.

And the diary has another meeting today. At the comparatively early time of 0830. With yet another technology. I have used ZOOM.US, Skype and the plain-old electric telephone for meetings up 'til now. Today it's Microsoft Team.

This constant chopping and changing between conference technology platforms is a bit-stress inducing. Prevents one from building up a stream of experience that would enable one to discover the capabilities and quirks of one platform. Creates anxiousness each time one uses a new platform. Will it work properly? What is the other end seeing? How do I mute the microphone when I merely want to lurk on the sidelines rather than be an active participant?

I have concluded that I like ZOOM best. Yes, I know that there is some debate about its security, believe me, you'd learn little and I'd lose less if you crept into our electronic room, but it is simple to use. And this morning I discovered one can use a photo as background thus pretending to be somewhere you aren't.

And that's back to creating variety in life that social isolation is fighting to create monotony in.

My late mother-in-law said of her relationship with her husband, "Divorce never, murder possible". Don't imagine that means that they didn't get on. They did. Albeit that Jim's ability to retreat to his shed to do his marquetry, provided the temporary escape and relief from monotony, that sustained an even-tempered life.

There's a lot of potential for boredom for a lot of people for months to come.

Read books. Go for walks. Meet online. Stay fit and sane.

Oh, if you want maps down the ages, look at the National Library of Scotland's maps archive at http://maps.nls.uk. Covers the world, probably the world's best. And nearly as good as physically visiting their map room in Edinburgh. Their old maps have all these "ghost roads" while they were still alive.

Now, will I shave before my 0830 meeting? Yes. Standards, standards. Some routines are worth maintaining.

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