I’m finally getting into a northern hemisphere sleep pattern. I have had to force myself to stay awake beyond 7.30pm and slowly but surely I’m sleeping beyond 3.30am. Hooray! It’s had its benefits though, speaking to the family back home, writing for my blog followers, posting on Facebook, but no television. The rare times a television has been available in my room it’s hardly been worth watching. Reality TV rubbish I can’t watch more than 2 minutes before changing channels and I’ll bet that I can watch 5 programs in 2 minute increments and give you an accurate synopsis of all including the names of the winners of game shows.
Sometime back on the trail I saw the first chestnut tree, it’s not that there haven’t been lots of other chestnut trees, it just that the high winds had given the trees along the Tiverton canal a good shake and the chestnuts ? had fallen to the ground. You can tell how close to Christmas it is by how ready the nuts are. They are a winter nut and the only ones who can appreciate the chestnuts in September are the squirrels who gather them up and store them until they are ready to be eaten. I love chestnuts, I remember as a child roasting them on top of my great aunts old wood stove until they popped. In Spain and Italy and I’m sure other places street vendors set up pop-up stalls and roast them right there on the street, serving them in newspaper cones. I love it!
There are many interesting comments that people make when they hear what a madcap idea I have embarked upon. Amongst them many have commented on the the small villages or towns next on my itinerary. “Where are ya’ orff ta next”. I’ve heard too many respond, “there’s nothin’ ta’ see there,” when I tell them, then they go on to mention the larger cities.
But what do you look for in a place when someone says “there’s nothin’ ta see there”? Can they not get excited about hearing the silence, the birds in the trees, the cows lowing in the field, the drivers who drive backwards to let the big lorries through and then strike up a roadside conversation? My time roaming the countryside between small country villages and towns has been so rich, people, landscape and accommodation? What is there in the city? People, a lot more people, too busy to stop and chat but more so preoccupied with the shops that are available, but no money to buy. Give me a country town of a handful of people and I’ll give you a happy and rich time.
I thought two days ago as I arrived in Gloucester that if weight bearing exercise is good for building bones then mine are the size of an ox and if my bones are the size of an ox then my weight is not a problem, yes/no? ??
Actually its been the best weather for hiking, sun that warms the soul and tans the skin, chilly breezes that make you pick up the pace, not so much the rain, not my favourite really but it’s not been that bad.
2 days later
He’s arrived. He got off the train and I didn’t realise it was his train and poof ? there he was in front of me with a big grin on his face. I must admit I was over the moon to see Peter too. I can still hardly believe that he’s here.
Actually I can! He’s thrown my little routine into chaos, I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know why he felt the need to totally empty his backpack, but he did! So this morning he just put it all on the bed and told me I would have to pack it because he didn’t know how!?
He was concerned that the pack would be too heavy and I must admit I was hoping he would take a kilo of my stuff but that was not going to happen as I could see. And I can’t understand why, I may be carrying a heavier pack but I could hardly get everything into his backpack? But I did and we hit the road later than we should have.
Rule # 1. Remember you’ve a backpack on your back when you walk through the door.
It was a relatively short walk to Tewkesbury approx 21 kms, but in the first 20 minutes I had some foot surgery to perform on Peter’s foot. Two blister blockers later we were on our way again.
Rule # 2. Training should take place in your boots before you leave home.
We followed the A38, the shorter route knowing there was a footpath. It’s not the prettiest route, we could have chosen to follow the River Severn but I like to commit to the plan I set and Peter wanted his first day to be the shortest route ‘breaking him in’ so to speak. ? Totally exhausting!
The footpaths are narrow mainly, so Peter has been walking ahead of me, single file. Whenever I call out to him he turns around, packpack to the road, to hear what I have to say. I can see Peter making the next news headline as the oncoming vehicles drive perilously close to his backpack.
Rule # 3. When carrying a backpack remember you ARE carrying a backpack.
Peter struggled with his hiking boots opting to change into his runners and we’ve decided to leave them behind in Aberdeen when we leave at the end of the trip. His Colombia boots with only a few hours of wear will go to someone in need and just before winter embeds itself for the season.
This is where I tell you that it’s been a silent takeover, surreptitiously, he’s done it. Just a quite hello here and there and before you know it, he’s got conversations all stitched up. In a short 10 kms, he’s got the history on the life of Matt, owner of the mobile food truck along the A38. Matt makes good cheep bacon and egg burgers. Yum! Peter got all the info on the fellow who pulled up on his massive tractor which incidentally he backed into a parking spot as though it was a Mini. He’s only a young fellow who is trimming the hedges and then there is the young woman who is moving to Leigh south of Tewksbury. She is currently decorating a new house and her husband is the reason for the move, he’s working on the local farm. Her dad incidentally who was with her, a retired fellow, used to work for Ramset Fasteners. Now there’s a name well known in Adelaide.
Matt’s food truck was a real drawcard for passing traffic, good fresh food and fast as well as a talkfest opportunity for Peter and he still had 11 kms to go!
Tewkesbury is a gorgeous town so very steeped in the history of the War of the Roses. The Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471 was one of the deciding battles in this war and a medieval festival is celebrated in Tewksbury in July each year, (yep, we missed that one as well). It is reputed to be the biggest medieval festival in the northern hemisphere. The program includes a re-enactment of the battle on the original battlefield which is adjacent the Abbey. Homes along the Tewksbury Road display banners of the various notables who fought in the battle and a brief detailed description is posted at their gates.
I find it quite moving really knowing there was horrendous bloodshed almost outside the door, people fighting for the right to rule. I was surprised that Tewksbury Abbey did not have a greater representation of memorials for those who died in the battle although a video does mention that many sought refuge inside the abbey.
We are staying in the Abbey Hotel but don’t get too excited the building has been here 700 years, Peter said if there’s a fire we will just jump out the first floor window. I’m not sure he realises we would be jumping onto a glass conservatory at the rear of the building.
We’ve travelled all day today from Tewkesbury to Worcester by bus and then driving all the way to Lanercost, at the start of Hadrian’s Wall. It’s been a good day on the motorway no hold ups/delays. We’ve seen the greenest green grass and where there were boundary hedges in the south there are now stone walls. As we’ve driven we have seen the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales on one side and the Lakes District National Park on the other and in the distance the North Pennines. Superb!
As I’ve mentioned previously we’ve kept this part of the itinerary fluid and we have been fortunate to land in another beautiful spot. The autumn leaves this far north are more advanced, we have seen an amazing display of colours and I find it hard now to choose between the rich and wide range of greens or the yellow to honey coloured to russet coloured leaves. I love seeing the wind catch in the trees producing a shower of colours.
We’ve asked a few people the best place for dinner tonight and the Duke of Cumberland in Castle Carrock has come well recommended. We discovered that the pub has won the Best Country Pub in the Carlisle Living Awards. We had to try it and it was a real winner! Two ladies run the pub, Julie and Leslie, it’s cosy with a roaring fire at one end, tastefully decorated and easy listening music playing in the background. For me it was a winner, with a good range of cold beers on tap and food that was out of this world. We had Lamb Henry with jus, mash and veg and home-made mint sauce, we were warned about the large servings so we opted to share with some extra vegetables on the side and I’m glad we did because only a man with a man size appetite could have eaten the massive portion. So now we can highly recommend the Duke of Cumberland to you.
Tomorrow we are off to explore a section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Borderlands ending up in Berwick Upon Tyne. I’m in history heaven.
We’ll see you in Scotland!