Saturday, 8 March 2008

Cliff Top Etiquette

We have just returned from a week's stay at The Hen House, which was wonderfully relaxing and, although under two hours drive away and still in Cornwall, in an area totally different from here, on the Lizard peninsula. Leaves were coming out, there were some echiums in flower (I expect ours in June in north Cornwall).

We managed quite a few walks in the week, along sunkissed clifftops and treelined creeks. There were few people around as it was only early March. But, when we did see people we greeted each other as we passed by. Somehow we usually know the point where it is or isn't the required etiquette to greet people. This has always struck me as intriguing. Is it the volume of people you pass? Do you only greet people if you haven't seen another person for e.g. 30 seconds, and only along a country footpath? Or, is it related to your proximity to a built up area? Or is it the lifitng of the head to make eye contact? In Treknow, for instance, we all greet each other all the time, whether passing a stranger or someone you have known for years. If I had done this when I lived in London, I would have been considered extremely strange, plus there wouldn't have been time to do anything else! If in doubt, I always try to err on the side of greeting, for instance towards the start or end of a walk. It is always uncomfortable if a person does not respond, but this is undoubtedly informed by a different etiquette - that of the city, a foreign land, or some internal place the person is caught up in.

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