Another morning, up not quite as early. Wrote a nice long post about the previous day then suddenly realized it was time for breakfast. I’d been sitting in the courtyard of the Volunteer Inn, on a plastic bag because everything was wet. Joined the ladies for another breakfast, then we were all packing up out suitcases for transfer to the next hotel. Stuffed the necessaries into my backpack, strapped on my boots and headed downstairs. It was grey and misty. And then, we were off! (Like a herd of turtles, Anne would say.)
Our hike started with sharp ascent up and out of town. Halfway up the hill, we could already see that the views were stunning, the greenery was gorgeous and there were sheep everywhere. I was thrilled. Really, when I planned this trip, I had an idea this would be lovely but I did no research about the area at all. Just seemed like a good way to start my adventure. Well I couldn’t have asked for any environment that was more encouraging than this one. As you can see, I was in my element! There’s a picture of me that someone took, standing in front of a green field, arms wide, big smile on my face and the caption should say:”Here I am! Look at all this! I did it!” I was going to load it here but I must not have put it in the media library so I’ll have to go searching for it later.
Anyway, those ladies were moving! I was the last one up the hill and had to catch my breath. Then we found the path and started along it, passing trees and more greenery and occasional lovely houses and lots more sheep. The clouds moved in. The mist thickened. Soon the raincoats were on. Then off. Then on again. More walking. More sheep. More beautiful views. Raincoats back on.
Below us we could see big swaths of yellow. Turns out those are rapeseed (canola) fields. There were also fields of some kind of legume. And lots and lots of grass fields with sheep. I will try not to post too many pictures of sheep. But here are a couple more, one of which I swiped from Cyndy’s facebook page because it’s so lovely.
Okay. Enough sheep for now. But between the views, the mist, the greenery and the sheep, you can see why this was the expression on my face for much of the next three days:
At one point, the rain did decide to get pretty heavy. We put up our hoods and tramped onward. Actually, it was kind of fun. At one point we walked through a rapeseed field that was absolute muck. Those with walking poles really had an advantage. I was wishing I’d brought mine. It’s very reassuring to have a third point for balance. Several of the group walked with two poles and think it really helps them.
For much of the morning I walked by myself. Not far from everyone, just not engaged in the conversation. I really couldn’t believe I was there. And I didn’t want to interrupt that wonder by talking with people. I knew there’d be much more time for talking over the next few days. But that feeling of wonder — wow. Think of all the times you say you want to do something. And the hundred ideas that come and go in your head (okay, in my head). And how many of them never come to pass. But pick just one. One! And it’s the one that sits in your chest and doesn’t go away, even after days and weeks. Pick that one and say “I’m doing THAT.” And go through the weeks and even months of trying to figure out how, putting the pieces together, holding the idea in your head when no one but you knows why you’re doing it, and then waiting through the time it takes to get to the thing. I felt it was appropriate to take the morning to congratulate myself — “Suzie! You really did it. You got yourself here! You are walking through green, wet fields and looking at sheep and have time to think and relax and even to NOT think, if you like — all of that far away from where you’ve been struggling, struggling, struggling for the last year. It’s a well deserved break and you actually made it happen (with lots of help, of which I’m keenly aware). I can only say that it felt like a true morning of personal triumph.
We walked up higher along the hills, still surrounded by green fields falling away from us. Buttercups everywhere, along with other dots of red clover, something blooming purple and something blooming pink. At last we crested a hill and came upon Broadway Tower. I have just a few pics here. Mostly I was interested in lunch (which was wonderful) and coffee (which was also wonderful and we snagged some cream it so it was extra good). I noticed a couple guys in the cafe with full motorcycle gear on and looked out to see their BMWs lined up. For a moment, I felt nostalgic for all the time I’d spent on motor bikes. And how I’d always said I’d get Randy to Europe someday by proposing we tour the British Isles on motor bikes. Sure enough, the things I wanted to do got done without him. And now they’ll be permanently without him. I still like the idea of touring on motorbikes though. I suspect it makes navigating easier because you are driving from the center of the bike rather than the disorienting right-side driver position over here. I still can’t get over it. One of our taxi drivers commented that folks are always going to stand outside the car in front of his seat, waiting for him to unlock it. Then he has to tell them that he’ll be driving, thank you and watches them start, having gone to their customary spot and being told it’s wrong. Another instance of that “it looks like it would be normal but it isn’t” phenomenon I experience so constantly here.
After lunch and a bit of shopping (a lot of great stuff which I only stopped myself from buying with the mantra “If you buy it, you’ll have to fit it in your suitcase”) we headed back to the trail for another hour or so and then down into the village of Broadway. Very much like Chipping Campden, though a bit smaller. Every building was covered with lush, blooming roses and clematis. Absolute wowers. We found our oh-so-lovely inn, the Cawley House.
I think it was this part of the walk, the downhill to Broadway, where Annie and I just disolved into giggles a few times and had a couple of serious laughing attacks. Or was it on the bus back from SOA? I can’t seem to remember. I just remember cracking each other up so much that we couldn’t — and I mean couldn’t — stop laughing. I was reminded of my daughter Carrie with her best friend, Melanie. They used to do this all time. I think they still might from time to time. Anyway, I found my own Melanie. Annie, when in need of a good laugh attack, I’ll be heading to New Hampshire.
I was pretty tired at this point. Most everyone got to their rooms, unloaded and met to go out to dinner. I stretched out on my bed. My roommate for the evening, Laura (we switched at every inn) probably thought I was out for the rest of the night. I did rouse myself later and go out to look for food. This sleepy village was pretty closed down. Even the Broadway Deli and Market had closed at 5pm. I was too tired to consider walking farther to look for a restaurant, so I headed back to the inn. Then realized I was locked out. So far, at each inn, we’d only been given one key for the two people staying in a room. Roberta and I were pretty good about coordination the first two nights for our room key. But I’d forgotten to coordinate with Laura. So there I was, locked out of the inn and everyone was off to dinner somewhere. Luckily, through the magic of the iPhone, I was able to message Cyndy and get someone to meet me back at the hotel. Soon enough, everyone else came back. We gathered downstairs in the sitting room, pulled out our knitting and settled in for a night of chatting and knitting. Heather and Cyndy had procurred some wine and cider. Everyone offered me bits of food to substitute for the dinner I never found. By ten, everyone vanished to their rooms and the wonderful beds we’d seen earlier. Heaven!
Oh, and here’s the happy Suzie moment earlier in the day. I found it.