The ridiculous yet somehow magnificent streak had to come to an end eventually. Every Christmas Eve since 1988, I have climbed the locally impressive Moel Famau in North Wales. But not this year. The pandemic is to blame, obviously.
It began on the eve of Christmas Eve in a Yates’s Wine Lodge on the Wirral. I have no idea how I ended up there, as I’d never been to a Yates’s Wine Lodge before, and I certainly haven’t been back since. I was there with a couple of mates, Bryan and Peter. We had a lot to drink, and Bryan suggested we pop up Moel Famau early next morning to walk off his inevitable hangover. In those days, I didn’t get hangovers, but I was still drunk enough to agree.
Somehow it became a tradition. Every Christmas Eve after that, I ended up climbing Moel Famau. A couple of times, I went up on my own, but I was usually accompanied by various friends, and their friends and families. There were plenty of dogs involved too. I liked to joke my annual Christmas-Eve ascent of Moel Famau was the closest thing I had to regular exercise.
I find myself surprisingly unbothered by the breaking of my 32-year streak. There are far more important things to be bothered about at the moment. But I do hope to start a new streak as soon as possible. If I can make the next streak last 32 years, I’ll be at least 89 by the time I break my personal record. It’s certainly worth a shot.
Thanks to everyone who has accompanied me over the years. Thanks to Bryan and Peter, wherever they are these days. Thanks to Mike, his dad, his late wife, Lynne, and his friend Geoff. Thanks to my dear friend Stense. And special thanks to Carolyn, her partner Howard, their three children, Hazel, Aran and Chloë, and their extended family and friends. As Carolyn’s children have grown alarmingly quickly into adults, our annual ascents of Moel Famau have become a central feature of their Christmases. Indeed, I like to think I’ve handed on the baton, and am just accompanying them on their annual ascents.
As traditions go, it’s a pretty special one. Let’s hope we can resume it together soon.