Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Monday, June 05, 2006

A very cross bunny indeed

I rose at 6.30am, stripped my bed, had some breakfast, carried all my bags outside ready for the off and waited for Lorna. And waited and waited…
She showed up at 8.15am, and I made it very plain I was seriously pissed off by her lateness. We then had to empty the Jag and repack it before driving nearly an hour back to Dunford Bridge.
I was a very cross bunny indeed.
I was expected in Leeds at 5.30pm and had a minimum of 24 miles to cover which was why I had to start on time. In addition, thanks to her faulty scouting on Friday, I was three to four miles short of where I should have started. So, I was furious if truth be told. I hate being late and I hate it even more when I’m late because of someone else’s inefficiency.
I left Dunford Bridge at 9.25am and headed steeply uphill in less than my best temper. My mobile suddenly trilled and when I answered it, I was instantly cheered to hear Toria’s voice all the way from Sydney. That brightened my day immediately and we had a very brief but enjoyable chat.
I marched at a very good pace to Holmfirth; talk about uphill and down dale. My legs seem to be getting stronger and stronger as the miles mount up and it now takes a monumentally steep hill to disturb my breathing.
As I gathered pace on the long hill down into the little town made famous by ‘Last of the Summer Wine,’ I felt ominous stirrings in my tummy which made me want to increase my speed while simultaneously needing to cross my legs.
By the time I reached the bottom of the hill, I thought my luck had run out and I was going to disgrace myself in public. But, fate stepped in – thank God; I asked a young woman waiting with her small son outside the entrance to a pub if there were any ladies facilities close by. She said she thought that the lady owner of the pub, who was about to open the door, would allow me to use the pub loo. Thank goodness, she did and I was spared a ghastly accident.
This long distance walking lark is marvellous for the bladder and bowels; if any of you suffer from constipation, just try drinking a few litres of water and walking a dozen or more miles each day. It works wonders.
I left Holmfirth on the Barnsley road and made for New Mills. I asked directions at a corner shop – which was just an excuse to buy a bar of chocolate. And then I walked on minor roads through lovely country for several miles. Lorna eventually caught up with me at Kirkburton after getting somewhat lost, and with new supplies of water I pressed on without stopping for a break.
Because of the late start, I was obliged to walk without stopping for the entire 28 miles it took me to reach the Grand Theatre in Leeds. I shot through Dewsbury and reached the outskirts of Leeds at around 4pm. But there were still 7 miles to do and I really didn’t want to be late for the people who were so kindly going to meet me outside the Grand.
So, I upped the pace, though my feet, legs and lower back were beginning to hurt and raced towards Leeds as fast as I could.
Poor old feet! Slap, smash, thump on concrete and tarmac hour after hour and the weather was hot and humid. I drank gallons of water which Lorna supplied every so often and people stared as I raced past them with grim determination written all over my sweaty, grimy face.
First Lorna and then Susie from Opera North guided me in to central Leeds on the mobile and I felt like a pilot being talked down onto a runway.
On and on and on; hotter and hotter; faster and faster; running across huge junctions and dodging and weaving between startled pedestrians.
Finally, I was walking up Briggate and then –when I thought I’d never make it – there was the Grand and the sweet people who’d waited outside to meet me. I arrived at 5.50pm and looked a complete and utter fright.
Kisses all round and Richard Mantle, the boss of Opera North, handed me a bottle of champagne. How thoughtful and I very much appreciated their effort and kindness.
We chatted for a short while and I met, amongst others, Susie who’d guided me in and Emma Hall who has been doing wonders organising the concert at Harewood House on June 13th.
Then Lorna and I were taken to the flats that Opera North have generously given us until after the Harewood House concert and we unpacked our things and retired to our separate new homes.
As we finished unpacking, I spotted something jammed under the front of the roof rack; when I looked, I discovered my blue baseball cap with my digital camera inside it. I’d been wondering where they’d got to and to my horror and disbelief, realised that they’d been jammed under the metal strut since Friday evening when Lorna dropped me off at Fawlty Towers. How in God’s name they stayed on the top of the car for the entire weekend as the car went up hill and down dale and was parked in a variety of public car parks I shall never know. Blinking amazing.
Having wrestled all my baggage into the very nice one bedroom flat, I unpacked and bathed my poor tired old body; for dinner, I had the tiny salad I should have had at lunchtime plus a couple of stiff whiskies and then went to bed. I hadn’t the energy to go out to do any food shopping. Everything ached and it was heavenly just to lie down. I don’t know how people run marathons; Tracy Connell, the daughter of one of my dearest friends, Vivien Bishop, ran the London marathon in 3 hours and 14 minutes. I just don’t know how she managed it and my admiration for her achievement was multiplied ad infinitum after today’s 28 miles.

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