Gordon Nightingale

“I’d walk a country mile.” But what does “mile” mean?
How do I know how far I’ve walked or just how far I’ve been?
“That’s easy!” comes the answer, “Allow me to explain.
There are many types of mile, and ours equals 80 chain.”

First there’s the English mile; used also in USA
The Roman mile, the Italian mile (are different by the way).
Then there’s the Croatian mile and the Austrian mile too,
The Irish mile, the German mile, and the British mile… Phew!

Let’s not forget the Portuguese mile and the strangest mile of all –
The Scandinavian mile or mil, pronounced “meal” if I recall.
The Scandinavian mile is the approximate distance between two towns
And approximates ten kilometres or somewhere there around.

Of course there’s still the Nautical mile (about 2000 yards).
Or 1.151 English miles, (a bit too far for lards).
1852 metres, it is used for planes and ships,
To measure long distance travel when they take you on your trips.

But now a Country mile? Just how long is that?
Does it differ when it’s hilly to when the land is flat?
Does it compensate for bends and twists and detours through the scrub?
The informant looked astonished and his shoulders gave a shrug.

In towns with many landmarks, the mile tends to be estimated short.
On a dead flat road with distance markers it measures as it ought.
On country roads with bends and hills and few landmarks for to judge,
The estimated mile is always the furthest way to trudge.

So, you see a country mile is so much longer than a mile.
Any swaggie can tell you in ribald terms, enough to make you smile.
Say the swaggies and the stockmen as they amble into town,
“Don’t ever let that country mile get you down.”


Gordon Nightingale is an author and poet. Although no longer a Daylesford local, he continues to make occasional contributions to the Wombat Post.