Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Re-enter mad person

A considerably easier journey in the car to yesterday’s end point – a lay-by opposite a garage intriguingly emblazoned with the message ‘Shirley’s Transport’. Odd trains of thought are part of the fun of walking long distances every day and some trains of thought are deeply peculiar.
I did have a chance for meditation and reflection during the early part of today’s walk as it was all on pavements. Well, for a while. Grass verges took over again but good old tarmac won the day as I approached Leek.
The day started cloudy and it had rained during the night. So, ever the optimist, I carried my umbrella, wore my waterproof jacket and promptly roasted.
At our first meeting I offloaded the jacket and umbrella into the Jag and Lorna updated me on all manner of things that she’d dealt with during the hour I’d been walking.
I reached Leek really quickly – as you do on pavements – and asked a lady for directions to the nearest chemist’s shop. Now, I was perfectly aware of where I was on the map, but still nearly fell over with surprise when she answered me in a broad local accent.
I found Boots, had a prescription dispensed, and then made a complete arse of myself when I tried to buy a foreign to UK adaptor. I queued for an age, reached into my pocket and found that I was 50p short of the necessary. What a twit; I’d left my debit card in my backpack which was still in the car. So I had to abandon the purchase, mutter an apology and sidle out of the shop.
Fortunately, Lorna was not far from Boots, so she bought the blasted thing for me and I hope to have some photos to put on this site very soon. I bought my digital camera in the Netherlands so the charger has a two pin plug. And I’d left my own adaptor at home. Really organised – not.
Lorna and I met at a comfortable pub called ‘The Three Horse Shoes’ and I had a very nice sandwich and salad. It was a timely stop for fuel as I then tackled one of the biggest hills I’ve encountered on this walk.
Funnily enough, I don’t get at all out of breath on steep hills – it’s the concentration on oncoming traffic that’s tiring. The biggest danger when walking into oncoming traffic has proved to be people overtaking vehicles going in the same direction as me. By the end of the day I’d had four lucky escapes when overtaking cars missed me by what felt like a whisker. It probably wasn’t as close as it seemed, but each time it filled me with such rage that I stood and shouted swear words at the offending motorists and made violent gestures while jumping up and down on the spot. Re-enter mad person.
Walking over the moor had all the charm of walking across the Solway Firth. It was an endurance test; occasionally I stopped to admire the incredibly spectacular views, but for the most part I had my head bowed looking at the grass verge with total concentration so I didn’t trip and break something. The vehicles flew past at seriously high speed and every time a large lorry roared by, I was buffeted to a standstill by the wind they created. Motor bikes sped past doing a ton or more and God only knows how they don’t all get killed.
One fascinating thing about walking along a verge is all the objects that you come across; and then your train of thought spirals away and possible scenarios play across your inner eye.
I saw enough gardening type gloves to open a small shop and bits of number plates which made me speculate as to whether they were the result of horrible accidents. And shoes, lots of shoes. Why are there always shoes strewn across our roads? Do people just chuck them out of car windows or what?
Finally, and after hours of saying under my breath ‘this too will pass’, I reached Buxton where Lorna and I had tea and biscuits at the splendid Palace Hotel. The girl behind the reception desk very kindly said she’d display concert shells and donation forms for me, and after a ten minute sit down and refreshment I set off on the last hour and a half’s walking.
I ended up at Dove Holes after walking 24 miles and the last few hours were all on pavements. The A6 has miles of pavements and when I did my last long walk, I actually fell asleep whilst walking along. I was following Alan Peart, a great friend and my biggest fan, who’d joined me for three days, and he covers the ground like a machine with extra long legs. I suddenly woke up and realised I’d been asleep for several seconds during which I’d covered more than a few yards. How the hell I didn’t fall over or wander into the traffic, I’ll never know. Maybe it was just another example of sleep walking, but that time without the gin…
I really could have done another four miles this evening, but I thought we ought to stop and Lorna was very happy to concur. She gets quite tired after a day nannying me; I end the day full of energy because physical exercise begets energy. Driving in fits and starts and wondering whether I’ve survived or not is evidently a bit of a strain and responsibility which leaves Lorna worn out by the end of the day. But she’s enjoying staying with her mum and being looked after. And her mum is an absolute star; the concert at Milton is definitely sold out and Mrs Washington and her committee have done a fantastic job.
Buxton is a different story unfortunately and we’re all hoping that sales of tickets will improve radically over the next couple of days.
Eight comps are going to wonderful BUXTON WATER who have sponsored me once again on a long walk and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all my sponsors and patrons again.
The support they’ve shown me has been marvellous – I only hope that millions of people will also take notice of what I’m doing and send their donations to the Opera Walk. It would be wonderful to make the future of the two Ben Funds more secure.
It was a nice short journey back to Rainow and Jill Phillips would have been proud of me; I cooked lamb chops and spring greens for my supper even though a sandwich would have done. And I started today with eggs and bacon and had loads more energy so I’ll have to try it again tomorrow. I may have to abandon the leggings, however, because when I’m walking through towns they provoke unseemly mirth particularly amongst the young – I suppose they do make me look like a refugee from a pantomime…..
Even though I’m doing all this walking I’m don’t think I’ve lost very much weight; and though I’ve always wanted elegant legs with nicely turned ankles, I have to say that I’m very proud of my good, plain, Welsh tree trunks that are serving me in stalwart fashion. As my old riding teacher, Mrs Esme Jack, used to say, ‘handsome is as handsome does’, and while my pins may be chunky, they certainly can cover miles and miles without any difficulty. So bugger elegance and hooray for strength and stamina!

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