John Walker's Electronic House

Adventure #1: 200 Yards Behind My House

by on Jun.07, 2006, under Photos

One of the more stupid things I ever did was live in the tiny village of Winsley for two years and never explore it properly. It was partly because my social life existed in Bath, so spare time was spent there, and partly because I’m stupid. Before I moved away I decided to walk around the area I’d only given cursory exploration, and discovered a little too late that I lived somewhere exquisitely beautiful.

Since moving into Bath I’ve never taken it for granted. I walk the ten minutes into town most days, and never fail to enjoy the architecture, the peculiar alcoves and stone passageways that mysteriously cut narrow ways through the walls, and the fantastic skyline of spires and steeples against whatever colour the sky may be that day. However, true to form, I have been here two years and entirely ignored whatever may lay behind me.

One of my favourite things to read are Rev Stu’s travel pieces. Obviously he writes extremely engagingly – there’s a reason he’s the man half the games writing industry have made their careers by copying – and in these pieces there’s a far more personal touch, despite the infuriating impersonal pronouns throughout. And like so much of what I do in my life, I find myself lamely copying him, but on a far smaller scale. So here is the first of this week’s three adventures.

Nothing is so intrepid as walking 200 yards behind where you live, so that’s where my journey took me. The thing is, the 200 yards behind me are near-vertical. The hill on which I live begins relatively steeply, but keep going past my flat, around the corner, and it looks more like a wall than a road. I have lamented the incline when visiting the local GP atop its first peak, but on this particular clement evening my plan was to keep on going up until I ran out of up to go on.

The aim was to secure the very best view of Bath imaginable, the collection of gleamingly white and beige buildings sitting conveniently in the bowl of a valley. So with camera out, I tromped up the hill with a vigour in my step, snapping photographs in front and behind.

minus naked children

A streak of tiny pink came rushing toward me from uphill in the form of a seemingly unaccompanied, entirely naked two year old boy. Two thoughts: 1) if this kid is lost and scared, what on earth would I look like helping a naked toddler in the middle of the street. 2) I’m holding a camera and now surely only seconds away from prison. My camera hastily shoved in a pocket to ensure no onlookers mistook me for some manner of documentary paedophile, I was relieved to see an entirely clothed mother come around the corner trying to retrieve her escapee. Awkward smiles were exchanged, the tiny streaker’s broad grin given a friendly hello, and I continued on my way unarrested.

I have no sense of direction. I don’t mean: I have a bad sense of direction, and often make mistakes. I mean: I have no sense of direction, like deaf people have no hearing and dead people have no pulse. I’m not being self-effacing. I’m not exaggerating for comic effect. Look, what’s wrong with you, why can’t you just accept it? I have none. As if the region of the brain responsible for it were entirely missing. When new to Bath I once walked for fifteen minutes in a straight line and finished back where I started. That was scary in the extreme. Although I still suspect the town of some sort of Dark City shenanigans.

I have NO idea what this is

So this means any unaccompanied journey for me is fraught with possibilities. I’ll set off in a direction, not really sure which, and then attempt to remember any landmarks I might walk past in the hope of ever coming home again. Deciding I wanted to make what would be a very short walk a bit longer, I turned right instead of left once as high as I could get, and managed to walk in what would have appeared to onlookers as a calculated and ingenius circle. Unless they were close enough to hear me mumble, “This road just seems to keep going down, and in the wrong direction,” followed by, “I’m going to have to head back soon because this is getting silly,” and then finally, “How the HELL am I HERE again?!”

postmen must want to kill themselves

So that achieved and some exercise performed, I plodded off the other way to get some views.

Bath is endlessly beautiful, and utterly peculiar. Turning corners reveals constant surprises, and the hill behind my house held plenty. There are no patterns to the architecture, other than the presiding rule that only Bathstone may be used, and no red bricks at all. So a road can contain something like this:

what a lot of fires they must have

And then this:

well la de da

Next door to this:

And then you turn right and see this:


However, as nice a place as it may seem, it’s not safe for graffiti MANIACS.


More views were snapped from the vantage point of a seemingly three foot high wall, but of course walls on near-vertical hills don’t stay three foot on both sides, revealing a good twenty foot drop the other side. But it looked pretty.

I can't see my house from here

And then excellently, in my usual fashion, I decided to trudge in a random direction to see where it took me, to find that it took me to exactly where I’d started, only realised when I recognised the same grafitti on a gate. I am dumb. But also lucky. This is where I get to live.

I live one trip and deathly stumble from here

3 Comments for this entry

  • Maddy

    I was just skimming through your website and I saw a strange picture of what can only be described as one of the speakers that appear in the ground in Tellytubbyland.

    I used to live in Oldfield Park opposite Hayesfield School and the train used to go behind the house, but the garden was massive, so you couldn’t really hear it unless you were out there.

  • charity

    bathstone is so lovely. nice adventure!

  • wiper

    I’m strange. I find Bath to be horribly ugly. Probably something to do with me disliking the look of Bathstone (it’s not yellow, it’s tar-coloured, and I’ll be damned what anybody else tries to tell me).

    And all the people I’ve known from there (that’s one person then) have been complete English-supremacists-with-incredibly-posh-accents-who-maintain-they’re-not-posh types.

    This is not a good thing.

    And the bars are far too expensive.

    High five on the ‘no sense of direction’ thing though. I managed to be /an hour late/ for a job interview in my home town centre once because I thought I’d take a different route. My home town is /NEWPORT/. How I managed to get so lost, or be so late, in the town (well, city, technically) I lived in for 18 years, without being mugged or owt, I’ll never know.

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  • the thoughts of a mind » The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill

    […] Remembering my Adventure 200 yards behind my house, and the excellent wall on which I had sat at one point, providing an even more spectacular view of the city, as well as one of those brain-confusing 3ft drops on one side, and 20ft on the other (Bath is steep, people), I ventured out into the peculiarly clear air. […]