AS the celebrated Scottish poet Rabbie Burns scribbled in the year 1785: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley/an’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain for promis’d joy.” How true. In early July, amid the heat and dust of a Spanish summer, I made clear my intention to resume some serious mountain walking. Scarce had these words left my keyboard like chaff on the wind when the van broke down. It has been off the road ever since with a malady so incurable that four trips to the local mechanic have failed to address the problem. A shiny new set of spark plugs, replacement distributer cap, overhauled and retuned carburettor, and the testing of high-tension leads and various other parts, have failed to relieve its coughing and spluttering. Like Burns’ wee mouse it lies forlorn and incapacitated. But there is, at last, promis’d joy . . .
Every morning I raise my eyes to the mountains and yearn to be among them. Now the summer is drawing to a close, and the debilitating heat (more than 40C some days) has dissipated, fine walking weather can be sniffed on the breeze. Last week we had three days of rain, including a thunderstorm and hailstones as big as my thumb nail and as clear as glass. Seasons are changing.
I have a vague sort of plan to stroll up Cerro Salchicha, which at 1,546 metres (5,072ft) is the highest peak in the Sierra de la Contraviesa, and spend a night on its summit. I expect to enjoy uninterrupted views of the Sierra Nevada to the north, the Mediterranean to the south, and the Milky Way linking the two with its starry pathway. Sounds like an adventure. But, as I said, it’s a vague sort of plan and susceptible to the Burns factor.
Meanwhile, I have stripped the fuel pipes from the van and cleaned them (on the advice of friends), removed the petrol pump and banged it about a bit, and fitted a new fuel filter. This appears to have eased the problem, but I’ve ordered a new pump to be on the safe side, and once this has been bolted on I shall feel much happier.
Incidentally, I didn’t realise until typing these words that Burns’ oft-quoted line “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” and the wonderfully-crafted “We, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie/O, what a panic’s in thy breastie” were integral parts of the same poem, To a Mouse. Apparently, he composed the poem in his head (or heid, perhaps), after cutting through a mouse’s nest while ploughing a field. An astute fellow indeed. If he was around today I’d ask him to take a look at the van.
Until the next time. Hasta luego.