Julia and I went for a huge walk on Wednesday.
We meant to have a 2 hour-er. But we had a 4 hour-er. I know what you are thinking......but no, we never got lost. We just forgot how long the road was.
We started off full of enthusiasm for the road ahead and in praise of the glorious weather for the time of year. As I think about it now, it's only mid October and so we haven't skipped winter at all, we still have 6 months of perpetual darkness to come. But, we were pathetically grateful to leave the thermal undergarments in the drawer for another week.
We saw stuff like this.
And there was quite a bit of this
And a bit further on, some of these
By then I needed to break out the emergency chocolate. Photographerising takes it out of you.
I really felt that Kendal Mint Cake was called for but it makes Julia go a bit funny.
We arrived after an hour and a half, at a beautiful village which was very fortunate as we were gasping for a cup of tea.
Extremely Helpful Elderly Dog Walker #1 did not take pleasure in telling us that the pubs didn't open till 12 and there was no cafe as it just wouldn't be able to pay its way.
Later, we begged to differ because we had to elbow our way into the throngs of people that were stuffed into the local shop. Socialising in a queue seemed to be the village speciality.
We decided to look for somewhere to sit, and found this and it had a bench near it.
But there was a man in camouflage bathing in the river and we didn't want him to feel like he had spectators.
So, after taking advice from Elderly Dog Walker #2, we went up here.
It was an Aladdin's cave of stiles, gardens, purple chicken runs, allotments, tree houses and general marvellousness.
And then, and then......the thing that made my week... We met John Fisher, he was a little bit flirty in an old school way and Julia and I loved him. I started it, I told him I was admiring his building...and I was. So he invited us in to take a look. Here he is.
He told his rather spooky story of moving here from Guildford only to find that his wife's ancestors used to own the building next door and the farm down the road. He tends not to think about it too much cos he finds that the hairs on the back of his neck stand up when he does.
Here is their outbuilding roof . I am a bit worried about it.
I also went up the ladder to the dove cote - amazing when you think how many hundreds of years old it must be. I really wanted to believe it was Wattle and Daub but Julia tells me it's much later than that. Shame!
Just when I thought my day couldn't improve any further, I met Maureen -John's wife.
Isn't she beautiful!
They really made our day with their kindness and their stories. John and Maureen used to love keeping quails until rats burrowed underneath the enclosure and dragged the birds down the holes head first. They had to have the remaining one re-homed as an orphan. Maureen misses their sounds at breakfast.
They both look so youthful and content that I can only imagine that their's has been a long and happy partnership. I'm sure that they have had disasters and tragedy and triumph like everyone else, but in my slightly envious imagination, a shared life full of respect has given them fantastic complexions and they move like waves -separate yet never far apart ; each instinctively inclusive of the other.
I was genuinely sad to leave them but we had to move on before this epic journey saw us snowed in until Spring and so we reluctantly started another leg of the journey- but one of us (me) left vowing to move to this welcoming and beautiful village.
On the way out, we passed this
and thought it was odd because it was at the bottom of this:
That's when we made a fatal mistake and took the scenic road back to avoid the main road,
because the scenic route had lots of enormous lorries that we hadn't forseen and no pavements at all. And lots and lots of bends. And very tiny verges. And the skeletons of many ramblers who had made the same mistake, flattened into the tarmac.
And the scenic route was 1.5 miles longer than the slightly less scenic route.
And we were nearly hallucinating through tea deprivation.
And we were trying not to be grumpy
And wishing we had made a will
And we had NO Kendal Mint Cake.
By the time we got to the Garden Centre and sat down, we were unable to get back up to go for a wee, despite being desperate. We were overjoyed at not having to put one foot in front of another. We had been walking for 4 hours and were a little light headed - delirious even.
We ordered tea and paninis and I heard Julia say that her friend's daughter had a knitting disability.
I took that on board, reflected upon the poor girl's affliction and and wondered for just a few seconds what that entailed.
Did she drop every 3rd stitch?
Did she find sleeves tricky?
Then I began to giggle.
Then I giggled a bit more and told Julia why I was giggling
and then I couldn't stop giggling.
And Julia's shoulders shook as she started to giggle, and found that she couldn't stop.
In the end, a whole coach- load of lunching pensioners were trying not to stare as two middle aged ladies wiped tears of hysteria away just to replace them with fresh ones.
We stopped in the end, when our paninis arrived and we were on our 2nd pot of tea.
Julia told me about the READING disability and we looked at photos of John and Maureen.
Yes, we'd had a good day.