Monday morning blues, blue sky and sunshine that is, along with some rather large puddles so I thought the green would probably be a bad plan for my walk to work. It was a rather muggy affair and I arrived in the office rather warmer than I’d have liked to a full inbox. What a surprise for a Monday morning.
The lunchtime walk was delayed by several phone calls, the final one from Arabella. These turned up a few urgent issues to deal with but the sun was still shining when I left the office. Unfortunately this lasted about as long as it took me to get to the corner coffee shop. I’d planned to walk up into the park and sit with my coffee, enjoying the sun and seeing if the beautiful lilies I’d spotted on Friday were still flowering. In the end I sat at the table outside the coffee shop within running distance if the heavens opened. There were spots of rain but, thankfully, not the monsoon type rain of yesterday afternoon and evening.
Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I got back inside the sun came out! Never mind, tomorrow I will try again. The afternoon was all about sorting out the issues from this morning, checking out poppy supplies for November so I can order some more before the last UK turnaround and sorting out the requests for Dewie codes for library books. The last task is spreadsheet hell because half the books on the list have already been coded so all have to be searched on the spreadsheet before I request codes. Dewie coding is an expert job and costs a fortune so this is quite important. It would help if the requests were sent in the format they appear on the spreadsheet but that would be asking too much. At least this time it was a typed list rather than handwriting I can’t read.
Before I left the office Commando sent me an email to brighten my afternoon. It was a photo of Saint’s new signing, Osvaldo, and he wondered if he reminded me of anyone. All I can say is he will certainly make match day a little more interesting! We are off to the first home match of the season on Saturday and I have everything crossed he will be on the team. Football is something I’m pretty passionate about and, no offence to any of the current players, it’s been a long time since I’ve had some eye candy to keep me smiling if the goals don’t get me jumping up and down. There may be a sudden jump in ticket sales from wives and girlfriends.
The sun was shining when I left the office but, because of the heavy rains, I decided to avoid the New Bridge and the green again. This was quite fortuitous because I bumped into Bard as I walked past his flat. He was on his way to work but we did stop for a chat which was nice. With his odd working hours and me working five days a week we don’t see each other as much as we’d both like.
So now I’m home I guess I’d better tell you a bit more about what happened on Sunday. Less than a mile into my walk and the humidity had me flagging, even though I’d taken my coat off and stuffed it into my rucksack. Of course I couldn’t help worrying about Commando running on the road where there was even less shelter, at least I had the woods ahead.
Putting on a spurt of speed I really didn’t feel up to I did manage to get past the giant puddle before the little girl in the pink flowery wellies began her muddy splashing. Given the size of the puddle I’m not sure the wellies were going to be much use and I didn’t envy her parents having to deal with the resulting muddy clothes, especially not if they had arrived in the forest in a car. Hosing down may well have been in order.
Not far after the puddle I came to the log pile. The fungi had certainly enjoyed Saturday night’s downpour. There were beautiful ruffles of bracket fungus clinging to the ends of the logs as if they were all dressed up in their finest clothes ready for a party. Earlier in the year these same fungi were everywhere and their colours all shades of blues and greens. Now, just like the change in flower colour as the season progresses, they are oranges, yellows and creams. It wasn’t until I looked at my photos that I noticed the black bubbly fungus around the edge of the log, at least I think it was fungus, it put me in mind of caviar.
I wove a serpentine path along the trail skirting round one huge puddle after another, each a mirror reflecting the sky. Hopefully the road would be drier for Commando, although I thought he might welcome a drenching from passing cars. At the top of the highest part of the trail I sheltered under a lone tree and looked down at the purple, heather covered valley below towards the woods. As far as I was concerned I couldn’t get off the moor and into the shade of the trees quick enough.
Ahead I spotted trouble, ponies walking towards me along the path, going at quite a speed. Did I mention the ponies scare me? The problem is, although it’s illegal to feed the New Forest ponies, people do and they are far too tame for my liking, especially when a whole group of them start crowding round. It may seem cruel not to feed them but they have plenty to eat in the forest and they actually belong to the commoners so they are well looked after, although semi wild.
Luckily for me they must have turned off along one of the trails through the heather before I got to them because, but the time I got to the bottom of the hill where they’d been they’d disappeared. I did stop and look down over the purple moors but there was no sign of them at all. It did make me wonder about all the signs warning to keep off this particular area of heather because of unexploded World War II bombs. Obviously the ponies can’t read and I guess they walk these trails all the time but the thought of exploding ponies was a bit of a worry all the same.
By now I was just into my second mile and I imagined Commando would be into his fourth or fifth. Finally I’d reached the edge of Matley Woods, taking the trail around the edge to avoid all the campers. It was cooler here which was a relief. Mile two went past quite quickly and soon there was a decision to make, there were two paths ahead of me, one I was pretty sure, led to the kissing tree and, ultimately, through the campsite, the other I was hoping would take me towards Deer Leap. I chose the latter, although I wasn’t exactly sure where it went and it was less sheltered from the sun.
Twice now I’ve walked with Pete and the Care For a Walk gang in the opposite direction so, in theory, I should be able to find my way. Every time I’ve tried this route on my own though I’ve ended up lost, going in circles but I was determined to find my way past Matley Woods no matter where I ended up. Nothing looked familiar which was a worry but I told myself it was spring before and I wasn’t paying as much attention as I could have been because I was walking and chatting.
There was one dead tree standing amongst the carpet of ferns and I wondered what had happened to it? Maybe it was struck by lightning. A little further on I came upon a kind of teepee shelter under a holly tree. Who had built it was anyone’s guess but a holly tree didn’t seem the best place to me. Many years ago I went for a picnic in the forest in an area filled with holly trees. The lad I was with took great pains to spread his leather jacket on the ground for us to sit on but, between the spreading and the sitting, a holly leaf had fallen and he managed to sit on it. Apparently it was quite painful. I did try not to laugh. For some reason he didn’t find it funny.
My relief at finally making it to the other side of Matley Woods was somewhat dampened by the mud stretching before me. There was a trail, in fact there were two, but the mud was between me and them. I checked WalkJogRun to see if I could work out which of the trails went in the direction of Deer Leap but the sun was too bright to see the screen properly. Any Apple technical bods out there take note, it would be handy if you could fix this for the next generation. In the end I took a gamble and chose the route with the least mud.
Crossing the mud was a squelchy, tip toe, affair, skirting round the worst areas and trying to put each foot down carefully onto the most solid looking ground I could find. I was thankful of my hiking boots because at least I didn’t slip and I made it across with both boots intact, albeit very slowly. The trail, when I got to it, led through a grassy, rather boggy field with little islands of heather and the odd clump of thistles, spiky flowers close to the ground. I was out in the open again in the muggy heat but I had my eye on the line of trees on the other side of the field.
When I finally reached the trees the little bridge I came to looked familiar, maybe I’d chosen the right path after all. If I had there should be pine trees ahead. The bridge crossed a small stream, all dappled light and reflections on the water. Unfortunately the trees turned out to be just a narrow band along the edge of the stream and, in moments, I was back out in the sun with another field stretching before me. There were more trees ahead on the far side of the field but I could see this was just another narrow band with heather covered moors beyond.
So I was back out in the heat with at least another mile ahead before it was time to turn round. As usual I was lost. Once again there was more than one trail and I had no more idea of which to choose than I had before. What did I do? I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow.