Cast Out the Pesky The Weekly: Maintaining Britain's Standards
"Carpet Madness" - Outrageously foolish; "That's carpet madness!"

"Bigger than the bag" - More important or clever than the crass marketing that surrounds it

"Six inches" - Unimpressively average

"Behind the fridge" - Forgotten about, no longer a concern or factor

"Fright geist" - The dominant anxiety of the times
Walking With Oswald
Day One
If you find yourself with a few days free this autumn, you could do far worse than to retrace the ninth century walk made by Oswald, King of Northumbria. Though he triumphed at the Battle of Heavenfield in 834, Oswald is now dead. Yet much of the Britain he walked upon still exists today, in the form of ground; ground, moreover, that would easily be recognised as such by the feet of old Oswald were he not dead and instead beside you, chatting as you walked together.

The walk (look for the National Trust sign) begins at what, in Oswald's day, was a low hill overlooking a small, farm labourers' village, but which today is the video and DVD section of a Tesco Superstore. As you make your way out of the store and across the car park amid the sounds of shopping trolleys and the buzz of voices, if you half-close your eyes you can almost imagine yourself surrounded by the chainmailed soldiers of Oswald's army. I suggest you stop half-closing your eyes before you reach the main road.

A few short steps, or an even fewer long steps, over the footbridge and it's as if you're in another world. But you're not, you're just outside Alnwick. In the distance you can see the Cheviot Hills. If you can't, turn around as you might be facing the wrong way. Just as Oswald was initially, all those years ago, until corrected by a squire.

Day Two
It's certainly best that you spend the night in a local hotel, rather than waiting at the end of a footbridge for ten hours before beginning day two of the walk. I should probably have mentioned this last time.

There's a long section ahead of us, so set off at an unsustainable pace towards Rothbury. History tells us that Oswald himself began by jogging inland. This was because his vellum map had contracted from dehydration and cold and he believed Britain to be only six miles wide at this point. A few hours into the walk, you can pause at the precise spot on which he released this to be a mistake and, in fact, Tachycardia Knoll is a popular picnicking location.

" He must have felt the National "
As you reach the outskirts of Morpeth, there's time to reflect that you've taken a wrong turn somewhere and are actually a considerable distance further back than when you started this morning. However, you couldn't be more wrong. Although this isn't the route Oswald took, he travelled without the availability of regular cafes and guesthouses, in poor clothing and carrying a large shield and mace. To recreate the frustrating, draining exhaustion he must have felt, the National Trust has carefully misdirected you several dozen miles out of your way. Signposting this additional route was not cheap, so perhaps now is the time to buy some items from the National Trust gift shop; in front of which you now stand. Any extra contributions are voluntary at this shop that's the only source of shelter and fresh water surrounded by barren, wind-ravaged moorland for miles in every direction.

Day Three
An early start today. I'm sure the old legs are aching but you'll soon forget about that once you're deep into the spectacular, wild countryside where the weather can turn with potentially fatal results in the blink of an eye. An old tradition in the area, thought to bring good luck, is to tell as many people as possible where you're heading and when you expect to arrive.

Why Oswald himself made this walk is now long forgotten. Some experts even argue that what we call Oswald's Walk was actually made by another man, travelling along the coast of southern Belgium. However, few who've made the walk would ever try to diminish the huge emotional impact of it; many talking of the deep sense of history that abides with them for years afterwards as they attempt to rebuild their lives. As you reach Otterburn there are many tempting shops selling traditional craft items and pies. Otterburn folk are a friendly bunch and so warm is the welcome of the locals that many a walker has tarried longer than they intended and later on the walk found themselves stumbling across featureless scrubland, harassed by a chill, gnawing wind in the inky Northumberland night. Therefore we suggest that you save your money and press on without pause towards Keilder Water and its three, purpose-built visitor centres.

With the light fading and unearthly noises pursuing you through the endless ripples of boggy dips and crumpling mounds, only someone without an emotion to their name could resist the urge, on sighting the Forest Park, to scramble into a run, calling to those waiting, and waving their arms wildly above their heads. Did Oswald do the same all those years ago? We may never know, but I like to think he probably did.
1-2-3 o'clock, 5 o'clock rock

8-13-21 o'clock, 34 o'clock rock

55-89-144 o'clock, 233 o'clock rock

We're going 378 rock around the clock 611night
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