Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A miraculous cure

What a wonderful place and what marvellous hosts Suzy and Colin are. Hot baths, a lovely supper and delectably comfortable beds ended the day and we awoke ready for action. Another full breakfast; I’m going to be the size of a barn door by the time I finish this walk.
Back to Barkham in the Jaguar – what a stylish vehicle – and off in the direction of Shinfield and Newbury. I’ve developed a nasty blister on the ball of my right foot and am trying to forget it; if you hit it hard enough and often enough on the tarmac either your brain or your foot gives up hurting, I’m not sure which.
We had a lot of walking into fast traffic today. On the map, the roads look like quiet minor ones; in reality they were rat runs. We wore our fluorescent tabards (so the motorists could see us before they hit us) and eventually we reached Aldermaston Village without being squashed flat. Not a lot of fun but most certainly a challenge.
Diana and I spotted a footpath heading in the direction we wanted so, after a warm cup of tea and a biscuit, we struck off across the fields towards Newbury.
What a contrast and what a relief. We could walk side-by-side, have a decent conversation and enjoy the scenery at last. And it was really lovely. Only two days walking from central London and it was another world altogether.

So, somehow or another, Diana and I clocked up 16 ½ miles in tolerably fine weather, ending up on the Kennet and Avon Canal. What a treat after dodging cars, lorries and coaches all day. It still astonishes me how far one can walk in just a few hours.
We stopped around four thirty at Midgham station and headed back to Standlake. The concert was at 7.45 pm which gave us all time to tidy up a bit and repair our feet.
I had had a sore patch developing during the day but didn’t realise until I took my shoes off just how bad the blister was. When I cut away the Compeed Blister Plaster, I inadvertently removed quite a lot of my foot. Oh Lord, had I forgotten the ludicrous amount of pain a raw blister can cause. I looked through our medicine box and tried one thing after another, and none of them actually enabled me to walk even a step.
Then I looked in Johnny’s parcel and discovered a magical pack of ‘Second Skin’. It was a miracle – literally. I followed the instructions and instantly I could walk, and the pain went away. How extraordinary is that?
So, dressed in my finery and able to walk around in my socks (but not high-heeled shoes), I met the gathered throng and prepared to entertain them.
Given that I accompanied myself like the late, great Les Dawson on a particularly bad day, it passed off reasonably well. I sang tolerably, my bad foot survived the rigours of pedalling, and the audience was most tolerant of my ham-fisted playing.
Jill Phillips, my great friend and veteran of the John O’Groats to Land’s End Walk five years ago, read as brilliantly as ever and had the listeners in stitches. And when Lorna and I closed the 45 minute concert with the duet version of Ivor Novello’s song ‘We’ll gather Lilacs’ everyone seemed to have had a good time.
Lorna is/was an opera singer but for one reason and another has relegated singing to the back burner. Singing the duet rounded off the concert perfectly and I think whetted her appetite for performing once more. And so it should; she has a lovely voice and it deserves to be used.
Lots more marvellous food and drink rounded off the day and when Colin did his sums at around midnight, we seemed to have made £800 or so for the Ben funds. Good.

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