Liking and hiking…

I've been shortlisted for the UK Blog Awards 2016 Final.

MY mobile whistles on top of the ridge, so I have to look. And what do I discover? Only that somebody I don’t know has started following me on Twitter.

Now I like Twitter and I am easily distracted by Facebook, but it is good sometimes to step away.

The signal snaps as reception is poor round here. I put away my mobile and enjoy the moment. And what a moment it is. A walk with old friends across this inspirational landscape in the sunshine and sleet; flesh and blood friends, not social media friends (although the two do coincide, too). This is not to disparage social media, but sometimes actual life should take precedence.

This turns out to be one of the best walks we’ve been on, a nine-mile loop out of Rothbury in Northumberland, that soon rises to a ridge above the town, with fantastic views in all directions.

The Simonside Hills are well worth putting your boots on for. This dramatic sandstone escarpment provides mostly easy walking and the sort of panorama where you feel the earth curve.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have taken the phone on that walk; not sure why I did, other than habit and the opportunity to take mostly poor photographs. Those shaped by their habits, and it has been said that I am one, can be habitually absorbed by social media.

It’s a modern paradox, I guess: social media connects us in many positive ways, yet it can disconnect us too, taking us away from real life. Maybe real life is now a mixture of the two, friends and experiences you can see and touch; and those viewed through the digital kaleidoscope.

I like both – but sometimes you can’t beat real life. You can like it without having to ‘like’ it by clicking a raised thumb or a heart. You can, you know, just like it.

Anyway a group of us had a lovely time staying in a National Trust bunk house at Cragside, the astonishing Victorian pile built by Lord Armstrong, the pioneering industrialist. According to legend, Armstrong had not taken a holiday in years and, worn out after organising a conference of the British Association, he visited Rothbury. He had happy childhood memories of the area and decided to build a house there. And what an astonishing creation, all towers and turrets and other admirable archaeological trickery, and the setting is sensational and beautiful. The house is very large but still sits in the landscape rather than dominating it. We didn’t go inside, but did walk round the grounds.

Back home, we have something to eat and catch up with Masterchef. I have a doze – all that driving, you see – and only then do I hack through the email thicket to discover that a publisher has arranged for me to interview a crime writer later on today, at a time I can’t do. Ah, yes, checking emails.

After that I put some pictures of the weekend on Facebook, and then sit down at the laptop to write this blog. All of which suggests that real life and social media life have tangled roots.

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