There was a bit of a temptation to catch the bus this morning. The sky was greyish, it felt chilly, autumn in the air, I felt tired. For heavens sake it’s only Tuesday but I was in the kitchen quite late last night throwing together a Creamy Sausage and Bacon Pasta Bake. Actually I’m quite excited about it because I went out into the garden and cut the first of my yellow courgettes to use in it. I’m very easily excited.
The getting the bus feeling was so strong I actually had the money in my hand when I left the house. There was a bit of a bad girl good girl conversation going on in my head and, right by the bus stop, the good girl won so I walked up the slope instead. It was a close thing though. By the time I got to the river the cloud was beginning to burn off and there was a real mackerel sky, promising a nice day ahead.
Today was mainly about booking forms. A huge pile had come in over night and my in box was full of them too. Sometimes I think my entertainers get together to gang up on me. So the morning was a long round of check, scan, log, email off and file. All around me brochure production fever was taking hold. People checking copy, changing copy, correcting mistakes, swearing and sounding rather panicked and desperate. Thank heavens I’m not involved in that any more now I’m not a marketing slave. If you only knew the blood sweat and tears that go into producing brochures I’m sure you’d appreciate them much more.
Alice and I walked up into town at lunchtime. It was a dash round the shops kind of thing rather than a stroll but we did pop into Costa for skinny frapachino on the way back. There had to be coffee in there somewhere.
The bus wasn’t calling this evening when I left the office and I walked over the New Bridge across the green. I was half way over the bridge before I remembered about all the rain and the chance of mud, by then it was too late so I carried on. As it turned out it wasn’t too bad, slightly spongy underfoot but no actual mud, unlike the New Forest on Sunday.
When I left you yesterday I’d just negotiated a muddy field and crossed a stream into another field. As usual, I was lost. I stood for a while looking across the field at the two choices of path, one went across the centre, the other seemed to follow the line of the stream but not close enough to offer any shelter. Neither looked very promising and nothing looked at all familiar, I thought I should maybe cut my losses and turn back. As I stood there trying to make up my mind I noticed something quite curious about a gorse bush a little way ahead. It seemed to be covered in something that looked almost like frost. Of course I had to go to have a closer look.
The strange, frost like, coating turned out to be a gossamer thin spider web. Up close I could see hundreds of minuscule spiders and jewel drops of rain decorating the spiny gorse. Quite beautiful. My little detour had led me a little way along the path running by the stream so I figured I might as well continue in that direction and see what happened. I mean, how lost could I get?
The trail I’d chosen was no more sheltered than the other but, as WalkJogrun buzzed to tell me I’d walked three miles, I came to purple islands of gorse and ahead there were trees. The sky was beginning to cloud over too which was quite welcome as long as that didn’t mean torrential rain. The waterproof wind proof coat and pink hat would protect me but they’d also make me even hotter. In the heat I’d probably look like I’d escaped from an asylum too but then I’m used to looking stupid. Even without the coat and hat I was getting through my water at a rate of knots. I’d have to ration my sips if I didn’t want to run out.
On the other side of the heather islands the path disappeared but I could see a railway tunnel ahead so I made for that across the sodden grass. Someone had kindly spread some gravel over the muddiest places so at least I didn’t have to risk losing my shoes. By now I knew I’d taken a wrong turn, probably back when I left Matley Woods, because I knew there’d been no tunnel on my walks with Pete and the Care For a Walk gang. There was little choice but to keep moving forward though.
As I got closer I thought I could hear a train and, sure enough, a few moments later a train whizzed across the bridge. Through the tunnel I got a promising glimpse of trees, maybe I would finally get away from the sun. Another train sped over head just as I stepped out of the tunnel making me jump. I wondered where all the trains were going?
After a short, pleasant, walk through the band of woodland I came to another wooden bridge. Halfway across I stopped to look at the view downstream and, crouching to take a photo through the wooden rails, managed to capture not only the dappled light and speckles of blue sky reflected in the water, but also a spider web stretched across the gap. Breathtakingly beautiful. If only I could capture the singing birds as well.
On the other side of the bridge the wood came to an abrupt end and a rather pretty, heather strewn, field opened out before me, complete with grazing cows. Better still I could see pine trees not too far ahead. There was, of course, more mud to skirt round, but I managed this quite easily. The cows were more of a worry, they were munching away on the heather on either side of the trail. All I could hope was that they would be too interested in eating to bother much with me. At least the path looked dry.
Two cows in particular seemed a little more curious about me than was comfortable. They were very close to the path so I hurried on past, trying to look all nonchalant but prepared to run if need be. Somewhere in the back of my mind I seemed to remember hearing you should never run from a charging cow, or was that a bull? For all I knew they could have been bulls, I didn’t hang around to ask. Before you say anything I can see the udders in the photo I took before I scurried off but at the time I wasn’t paying attention. I’m also pretty sure cows can run faster than me, in fact more or less everything can run faster than me. The thing is, if you don’t run, what are you supposed to do? They don’t tell you that.
Thankfully they did nothing more than stare but my hurrying took me smack bang into a huge quagmire stretching right across the trail. This took quite some getting across involving a detour across heather that turned out to be slightly less solid than expected. The mud and squishy heather seemed to go on for ages but, on the other side, I could see solid looking ground and pine trees.
The first of the pine trees were far smaller up close than they’d looked from a distance. Nothing more than saplings, looking rather like a field of Christmas trees waiting to be cut and put in someone’s living room in December. For some strange reason the tune to Jingle Bells started going through my head and I couldn’t seem to get it out. So on I walked, acres of little Christmas trees all around me with Jingle Bells on a loop in my head while the sun beat down on me and my water bottle seemed to be emptying at an alarming rate. Really, you couldn’t make it up.
To make matters worse my stomach was growling. This was the point I realised I hadn’t packed any walking snacks in my rucksack. How did that happen? Back at home when I grabbed the rucksack out of the cupboard I remembered thinking about snacks, I remembered filling my water bottle, putting in a few ice cubes from the freezer to help keep it cool (they’d long since melted and what little water remained was now warm), I remembered checking I had blister plasters and lip balm, what I didn’t remember was actually putting said snacks into my rucksack. It was gone midday and my small bowl of granola at eight o’clock seemed an awful long way off.
On I went, through the Christmas trees, trying not to think about food or water or being lost. Right then I’d have given anything for a tiny packet of chocolate buttons or some yogurt covered raspberries but maybe there were some in my bag somewhere. When I found somewhere to stop and sit that wasn’t actually wet and boggy I’d have to have a search.
Just then a rabbit dashed out from the trees, stopped, looked at me and dashed back. How hungry would I have to be before he looked like a good meal I wondered? Still, if I couldn’t even manage to capture him on the iPhone there was zero chance of me ever catching him for real and, even if I did, I’m not sure I could have killed him. He’d be more likely to end up as my pet.
Then I noticed blackberries growing amongst the heather, grass and little pine seedlings. Mostly they weren’t ripe but a couple were satisfyingly black so I stooped down and picked them. They tasted amazing even if there was little in the way of energy in them. I felt like Ray Mears or an ancient hunter gatherer eating the fruits of the forest. Obviously when it comes to hunter gathering I’m firmly in the gatherer camp.
All this talk of food is making me hungry and I have a rather nice pasta waiting for me in the kitchen. Commando texted me at work to say it was awesome and I don’t think I can hold out any longer so the rest of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.