If wargaming is our first love (and it is) our second is hill walking. We are very fortunate to live in a beautiful part of Spain which is well known for its walking opportunities. That is the main reason we choose this area, and one of the first things we did when we arrived fourteen years ago was join the very popular Costa Blanca Mountain Walking group. It is a mainly ex pat group of Brits, Dutch and Germans who meet twice a week to explore the hills and valleys.
About five years ago we started a weekly walking group for our local U3A. It was so popular that we formed a second group a couple of years later. Organising, and taking part in, two walks a week requires a considerable amount of time. I also do a blog of each walk, and post on Facebook recruit new members.
All of this comes to an abrupt end during the hot summer months. This year we have done one walk a week in June and September, but none at all in July and August. So we have a lot of spare time on our hands. And because it is too hot to walk, it is also too hot to do much else between mid morning to late evening.
During the walking months our wargaming comes a poor second to the walking. But from June to October the campaign and the games it produces becomes our main source of activity and enjoyment. Instead of two or three afternoons a week, I devote a large part of every day.
One result is that I usually take on a new project to fill the long, hot days. This year I reorganised the whole campaign. That involved creating a higher level of command, a sort of grand strategic level. It also involved making a whole raft of new maps. All was completed just a few weeks ago, just in time for the start of the walking season again.
You will all be well aware that this has been a trying and difficult year for us all. For Jan and I here in Spain it means that our walking season ended in March. Overnight we were confined to our house overnight. We were only allowed to leave to do essential shopping or visit the doctor, and then only one of us. No such luxury as being allowed to exercise once a day. You can imagine how difficult this was, when we were used to doing two 5-6 hour walks each week.
From July we have returned to the “new normal”. Here that means that we have to wear face masks every time we leave the house. But at least we can leave together. And there is no restriction on movement or what we do. We are allowed to meet in groups of 10, either at home or outside. And, joy of joys, we don’t have to wear face masks when we are “in nature”. The definition of “in nature” in unclear. But it is generally accepted that we can meet 10 friends to walk in the hills, and can remove our face masks as soon as we leave the town or village.
The situation is getting bad, particularly here in Spain. We have the highest rate of infection, hospital admission and deaths in Europe due to coronavirus. Parts of the country, particularly Madrid, have much stricter restrictions. But we are fortunate to live in a lovely little village 20 miles inland from the busy coastal towns of Denia, Calpe and Benidorm. Here we live a reasonably normal life, and count ourselves very lucky indeed to be able to do so.
But we won’t be able to visit our grandchildren in the UK for Christmas. We have already missed their normal summer holiday with us here in Spain. And, most of all, we fear that during the coming winter months we may return to the harsh restrictions which made life so difficult in the spring.
Fingers crossed that we will continue to produce one blog entry each week, rather than the two or even three of recent months.