Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A stroll along the waterway

Lorna arrived after a long and dreary hold up on the A48. There’d been a horrible accident involving a National Express Coach and five cars. A dreadful way to start the day.
And then we were off; back to Bassaleg and on towards Abergavenny.
The day started wet and stayed wet. But as the wind had dropped I was able to use my big, plaid umbrella for the first time. I bought it for 10 euros at least 10 years ago in Montpelier after being caught in a rainstorm of tropical proportions. I got it from Monoprix and naturally, it never rained again.
Getting out of Newport was as big a challenge as going through Newport but, thanks to a friendly florist, I found the Brecon and Monmouth Canal and embarked on a really delightful section of the day’s walk.
It was lovely strolling – well, sort of strolling – beside the peaceful waterway. Goodness knows what size boats ever used the canal because the bridges and weirs, as well as the extreme narrowness of the canal itself, could never accommodated a normal sized canal boat or barge.
I passed the time of day with the handful of people I met but, for the most part, I had all sorts of birds for company and masses to look at on either side of the canal. Bill Oddie would have been in his element because the waterfowl were plentiful and varied. Ducklings and goslings; baby coots and moorhens; prehistoric looking herons, which flapped languidly away at my approach, turned the walk into a glorious nature ramble. It was brilliant, but wet. Wet underfoot and wet from above. The umbrella was a godsend for my upper body but no good below the knee. So, as usual, I spent the larger part of the afternoon with soaking shoes and socks pondering time and again the seriousness of this terrible drought we seem to be having. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s due to the two dry years we’ve had, but don’t tell me that a large part of the problem isn’t to do with the pathetic way the water companies manage their pipes and reservoirs. And while we’re on the subject, does anyone else remember that way back in the 1960s there was talk of a National Water Grid. What ever happened to that? Ok, rant over.
Canals do meander, so at about 5.45pm I followed a footpath and regained the road. Only to discover that I was still five miles from Abergavenny. The rain was pouring down but I refused to stop so far short of my goal.
I walked along the pavement for at least twenty yards and then it disappeared. It was me, the traffic, the pouring rain and the very wet grass verge. What fun.
I walked on the road when I could but had to keep leaping onto the grass to avoid being mown down. I was wearing my very fetching white baseball cap and failed to spot a triangular road sign until it was too late. I hit the top of my head so hard that I nearly passed out momentarily and I must have been quite a sight as I reeled gently about on the sodden verge trying not to fall into the path of the gigantic lorries that passed every ten seconds.
That really hurt and I didn’t know whether to swear or cry – so I shouted rude words very loudly for several seconds and then carried on.
Lorna shadowed me for the next hour and I made it to within a mile of Abergavenny. I dripped my way into the passenger seat and nearly fell asleep several times on the way to Cardiff. I walked 26 miles today which was very pleasing. We had a delicious Indian take-away and I went to bed quite early as the wine with dinner made me even sleepier. You know you’re getting old when you can’t keep your eyes open after 10pm!

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