Kathryn Harries - Soprano

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Croeso i Cymru

Sue cooked us a splendid full breakfast with consummate ease and Lorna drove Diana and me back to Latteridge. Will and Sharon hadn’t yet surfaced and we’d arranged the night before to meet late morning somewhere or another.
We marched into Rudgeway on the A38 and then, undaunted in spite of recent experience, set off on footpaths towards the Old Bridge that crosses the Severn. It was a marvellous sight standing enormously tall and gleaming whitely in the sunshine. Yes, sunshine.
We actually managed not to get lost at all and surfaced near Olveston where we met W and S. Again, the best route for walking and enjoying was not the most direct one. We branched off onto a cycle path and then across fields. We found ourselves in a muddy and mucky meadow full of foreign cattle who, unlike their British counterparts, found us deeply terrifying. The big, butch bull took off at the sight of us and jumped a wooden rail into the next field; his comrades took their cue from him and it was like a watching a stampede in an old Western movie.
And then across the Severn Bridge. Five years ago I crossed it coming the other way, after 800 miles of walking and some five concerts. It had been a little breezy then, but now the wind was shockingly strong.
Sharon is only waif sized and she had to hold on to Will in order to avoid being blown away altogether.
We battled across, heads down, arms flailing and leg muscles weeping at the effort required to breach the gale. And then the wind dropped immediately as we reached shelter on the other side. We looked battered and windswept, but hey, we were nearly in Wales.
Another mile or so and we were standing in front of a big brown sign on the A466 which said; ‘Croeso I Cymru’ Welcome to Wales.
Photographs all round and then into the Jag, back to Olveston to pick up Will’s car and a speedy journey back to Uley.
14 miles (which brings the total so far to; 22, 22 ½ , 16 ½ ,21, 24, 25 ½ , 14, 20 ½, 11.3, 11.6, 26, 22. 177.3 to the Cardiff M. centre.)

A quick lunch at Tim and Sue’s and then Will and I hotfooted it over to Berkeley Castle.
As the cast arrived, we took it in turns to sing and play through our pieces and Will installed himself in an upstairs room (which actually had modern sockets and not the old round pin ones) and typed out the programme. The cast comprised me, Linda Ormiston, Hugh Rhys Evans, Heather Tomala, Angela Livingstone, Gillian Ford and Jill Phillips. A huge thank you to you all for coming to support the cause for nothing; and an extra thank you to Linda for compiling the programme when I ran out of time. For the fortnight before the walk started, I needed at least 50 hours a day to get through the work…I know I’m slow, but even so!
Rehearsal over, Will ran me back to Uley and we gathered our belongings, showered and drove back.
We should have collected an elderly friend of the Powells on the way, but thanks to my faulty hearing, I believed the arrangement had been cancelled. So, when someone asked an hour later,( and thirty minutes before the concert), ‘where’s Virginia?’ the awful truth dawned and poor Will was despatched back to Uley, yet again, to collect the faintly puzzled and uncomplaining lady from outside her house. Sorry Will and sorry Virginia.
Meanwhile, back at the castle – and what a magnificent castle it is – the crowds had finished their picnics and were making their way to their seats in the Great Hall.
What an amazing privilege to sing in the room where the Knights of the West gathered before riding to Runnymede to sign Magna Carta. It puts a certain perspective on things, especially when it’s very wet.
Jane Jones of Classic FM hosted the concert and she was simply marvellous. Without fuss or bother, she quietly collected all the information she needed from the artists and was the perfect presenter throughout. She immediately established a terrific rapport with the 140- strong audience and guided the evening with the same sure hand and delightful personality that makes her such a favourite on the radio.
The concert shells which had been printed and donated to the Walk by Cantate Print were a triumph – apart from one glaring misspelling of SPONSERS (sic). I looked really quite good in the photos – thanks to Paul Mitchell and Lisa the make-up whiz – and may have to consider a career in old people’s modelling!
The concert was a huge success and we made nearly £4,000 profit. What a testimony to the hard work of Tim and Sue Powell and their committee. And a very big thank you to Mr & Mrs John Berkeley who allowed us to use the castle at a very generous charity rate; and finally, another big thank you to all the castle staff who were extraordinarily helpful and patient throughout the rehearsal and performance.
The goodbyes and tidying up were done in a matter of minutes – musicians are like lightening when it comes to getting away from the scene of the crime! And for the last time today, back to Uley and bed. Hooray.

Friday, May 19, 2006

And then there were four

And off we went again; we had to pack everything up inside the cottage and then stuff it all into the car. It made us realise for the umpteenth time what a good job Will did when he packed the car in the first place outside the Coliseum. It’s never been quite as good since!
Back to Dauntsey Lock and we were now heading northwest for Chipping Sodbury. Diana’s foot was still troubling her but she’s made of steel; she soldiers on regardless. Her determination is reminiscent of those formidable Ladies who ruled India and put the Great in Great Britain! She’ll kill me for that.
My blister really is so much better since I took out the insoles from my trainers. They’d been recommended and I’d trained perfectly satisfactorily in them – but slap, slap, slap on tarmac and concrete proved their and my undoing.
Will and Sharon were to join us for a bit of walking today. They’d both taken time off work and were driving from Surrey to Malmesbury, or thereabouts, sometime late morning.
We crossed the M4 and went cross-country on what looked like a direct route to our first meeting point with the ever patient Lorna. Joke! The farmer, whose land we had to cross, obviously had it in for walkers because there were no footpaths signed and everything was overgrown or barred. We trudged through a horribly claggy and muddy field only to find ourselves on the wrong side of a river. So back we trudged carrying most of the field on our shoes and, cursing the farmer, finally made it across a weir and onto well maintained paths and then lanes.
As my foot was now pain free, I kept up a good pace and Diana followed at a speed that was comfortable for her. This meant regular phone calls to check on directions as the gap between us widened.
We met Lorna for refreshments every so often and before lunch Will phoned to say he and Sharon were running late; no surprise there, then. So we carried on and, happily, stayed relatively dry. The wind was still very blustery but as the land lay were lower we looked less like two drunks.
Will and Sharon joined us at around 3 pm and then, with grim inevitability, it started to rain really hard. We all were soaked – but I have to say, remarkably cheerful.
By this time and sadly for W and S, we were on a B road – that’s B for bloody busy – and we were obliged to walk in single file. Several leaps into the hedgerows later and one swift climb onto a wall to avoid being crushed by a container lorry, and we decided to find an off-road alternative.
We were lucky enough to find a series of footpaths that mirrored the main road. But the big disadvantage was that the grass and crops through which we waded were soaking wet. And in a matter of minutes our shoes, boots, socks and trousers were too.
It really didn’t matter, however. Once you’re that wet, you just get on with it and we had a great walk and great talk all the way to the other side of Yate.
Lorna took Will and Sharon back to their car in Acton Turville while Diana and I carried on walking; we tried some off-road and ended the day as we began; cursing a miserable landowner for failing to properly mark the footpaths. Mud, mud and more mud attached itself to our sodden shoes and boots and it was with huge relief that we clambered over our last gate and onto the nice clean road. I ended at Latteridge after 25 ½ miles.
And I still could have done another 4 miles which was very encouraging. Then the forty minute journey to Uley in Gloucestershire where we were all staying for two nights.
Jill Phillips, Diana and I were being put up by Tim and Sue Powell – two of the nicest, kindest people in the world. Will and Sharon were over the road in another beautiful house and with lovely hosts and Lorna was a short drive away in yet another magnificent house owned by a charming couple with three young daughters.
This walk is turning into a tour of the most desirable homes in Britain!
After bathing, changing and putting things to wash and dry, we had a delicious supper cooked by Sue, lots to drink and fell into our respective beds with gratitude.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A couple of old drunks?

It was raining – how very surprising – and all our clothes from yesterday were still sodden. But the sky looked marginally more promising so we could but pray for an improvement in the weather.
Lorna drove us back to the lay-by where we’d finished and Diana and I set off north-east on minor roads. The A4 was a complete no-no. It was far too dangerous.
What a relief to be walking in quiet country lanes and the hills were ridiculously exciting after days of walking on the flat. Suddenly we could feel muscles that had hitherto been redundant and there was a strange kind of delight in puffing up and down the short sharp Berkshire hills. The sun came out, a breeze got up and as we walked we admired the glorious views. To our left the densely packed crops in an enormous field rippled in the wind. It looked like a gigantic Mexican Wave and with bluebells, violets and a myriad of wild flowers in the hedgerows we were seeing England at its best.
We walked through Ramsbury – an idyllic, pretty village – and on to Ogbourne St George. Lorna had set up table and chairs ready for our arrival and we had a lovely lunch on the grass verge whilst hanging on to all our belongings; the wind was growing stronger and stronger.
In our inimitable fashion, we set off in the wrong direction. But spotting our error in a matter of two hundred yards, we turned round and got it right on the second attempt. When you’ve got blisters, every extra step is a disagreeable one!
But the good news for me was that, having had to remove the insoles from my trainers because they were soaked, I discovered that without them my blister ceased to pain me. So, I shan’t be using them again.
We followed the Ridgeway and began to cross the Marlborough Downs. The strength of the wind was unbelievable. We had fantastic views in every direction but had to battle to stay upright.
Leaning into the wind, which was blowing from our left, was a great idea; until the wind suddenly dropped and we fell the other way.
Diana and I reeled our way across the huge rolling expanse of downland like a couple of old drunks. Absolutely hilarious and absolutely knackering.
When we found a little respite in the lanes by the ancient hill fort at Barbary Castle, we still lurched about like sailors who’re back on dry land after months at sea.
I can only liken the force of the wind to putting your head out of a car window when it’s travelling along a motorway at about seventy miles an hour. It was really difficult even to breathe; we both ended up gasping for air out of the corners of our mouths and contorting our lips like old fashioned baritones!
We ended up at Dauntsey Lock, just short of the M4. A good landmark to finish a good day and a total of 24 miles. Diana treated us to supper in the lovely local pub at Wootton Rivers and I limited myself to Guinness. Gin is off for the time being!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A moralled tale...

Sad farewells to Standlake and the Websters. We packed up everything yet again and had to empty the Jag before we could cram all our belongings inside.
Then off to the Kennet and Avon Canal to start a day of canal walking. Oh, the pleasure of walking beside a canal compared with the ducking and diving we endured all day yesterday.
Throughout the day we had a great time enjoying varied scenery to the left of us and the calm, steady meandering of the canal to the right of us.
Cattle, sheep and horses dotted the pastures and ducks, coots, Canada geese and swans sailed or scuttled on the brown, sliding waters.
We saw lots of young birds trailing in the wakes of their anxious mothers and every so often, a train whizzed past on the track that parallels the canal and the A4.
When we started at around 10.30am, we had a chat with the gentleman who ran the pub beside the canal at Midgeham. It turned out he’d studied singing at the Guildhall at the same time as Bryn Terfel. Unaccountably he disappeared before he could give us a donation – ah well, you can’t win ‘em all.
We stopped in Newbury to have a cup of tea with Lorna in a car park; and she pointed us in the direction of the nearest facilities. The issue of ‘personal relief’ plays an important part in long walks. I’ve ‘gone’ all over Britain and this walk is no different in that department from all the others. This time we were lucky and could use a proper loo rather than struggling behind a hedge in the pouring rain.
Speaking of rain; what happened to the drought? From Newbury onwards it rained steadily and very wetly.
We stopped for lunch further along the canal and in the time-honoured tradition beloved of all British campers, sat in the rain eating our salads and watching the world go by.
Two ducks provided entertainment; every time a car approached, they dashed into the middle of the lane and stopped dead. Every vehicle had to come to a standstill, at which point, the ducks strolled with a leisurely waddle to the other side. It happened at least six times, so was apparently their way of brightening up a dull, damp day.
We walked into Hungerford rather wet and bedraggled and joined Lorna for a really hot, fresh cup of tea and cakes at a handily placed tea room. What a pretty place Hungerford is and it is a terrible shame that it will always be remembered as the sleepy town where Michael Ryan went on a murderous spree, which ended in the deaths of many innocents.
As we left the tearoom and regained the canal, Diana was surrounded by at least forty tiny ducklings; they dashed around her, skittering between her feet with absolute confidence; a very funny and endearing sight.
Then the rain came down in earnest. We passed a very handsome young fisherman who had caught the biggest river fish I’ve ever seen. I had to take a photo – of the fish, of course!
Finally, we ended up on the A4 in pouring rain. The sky was dark and lowering and water was falling out of the clouds in waves. We were lucky enough to have a pavement for a couple of miles but then it disappeared. Suddenly, we were faced with what had once been a pathway and was now a neglected grass verge covered in – yet again – nettles, brambles, sopping wet cow parsley and holes and ruts inviting a broken ankle at the very least. Why is everything designed for the motorist? Why can’t councils keep roadside pathways in decent repair?
Well, by the time we stopped three miles further on, we were soaked to the skin from the rain and the splashing from cars and lorries driving through the standing water on the road. Not their fault, I hasten to add; the road was awash with water. It certainly is a terrible drought…
Over and over again I have discovered that Britain is now almost entirely geared towards the car. Bugger the pedestrian, horse rider or cyclist.
Lorna picked us up in a lay-by 7 miles short of Marlborough. And driving along the A4 proved to me that it would be suicidally dangerous to walk along. We resolved to look at the map and find an alternative.
We stayed at Bella Mathieu’s cottage in Wootten Rivers, south of Marlborough. Bella is the most photographed face ever for Vogue, Harpers etc and she is a great chum of Jill P’s. It’s a beautiful cottage but slightly damp and without heating. This made drying all our sodden clothes something of a challenge.
When we’d unloaded the car and settled in, I took my right sock off with some trepidation. Revealed in all its gory ghastliness was a bright and bloody mess of titanic proportions. It wasn’t actually as ghastly as it looked, thank God; the Second Skin had leaked everywhere under the pressure of a day’s walking and my blister had bled into the general mess.
It cleaned up reasonably well and more Second Skin knocked the pain on the head. I also, rather mistakenly, had a generous swallow of neat gin which unsettled my stomach.
Jill cooked us a delicious roast lamb dinner and I toddled up to bed around ten leaving them to watch the gloomy news and even gloomier weather forecast. Lorna repaired to the annexe for the night and when Jill and Diana came upstairs an hour later, they found me fast asleep on the bathroom floor…snoring very loudly.
I’ve no recollection of how I got there; it seems I sleep walked from the bedroom to the bathroom, did what I had to do, and then simply continued sleeping on the floor.
Diana, who has seen me do this from time to time over the last 44 years, put her hand on my shoulder to wake me up and I apparently said I was fine but busy sorting out all those Chinese…
The moral of this tale is, don’t drink neat gin on an empty stomach when you’ve walked 21 miles in pouring rain.

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.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thank God for Anthisan

The stinging nettles left our legs tingling in a peculiarly special and unpleasant fashion that had absolutely nothing to recommend it. Vicky gave us a tube of the above mentioned miracle cream and we were well and truly sorted in a matter of minutes.
A fabulous full breakfast with not only Vicky and Bernard but the world’s looniest and most hard-working vicar, Simon Douglas Lane, set us up for the day. Simon drove us to the station and thank God I asked him where the 200 foot crater we’d been warned about was situated: Right where we wanted to go. Of course.
He offered to drive us past the obstruction – and him a man of the cloth! – but I refused. I am compelled by my conscience to walk every step of the way and on the last walk would always backtrack a little, when I resumed each morning, to make sure that I didn’t miss a single yard. Pedantic is as good a word as any…
So Windsor was off the menu and Diana and I decided to head for Ascot. This was an excellent idea as it eventually took us through Windsor Great Park.
No prizes for guessing; we got lost; but with the help of a ranger and a dog walker near Smith’s Lawn, we got back on track and found Lorna at Black Nest Gate. Lunch in the car park of a Chinese Restaurant proved to be just the job and after a bit of foot repair, we went into and through Ascot.
I took the opportunity to pay off my daughter’s overdraft – Toria lives in Sydney and somehow had drifted a little into the red. That, of course, is what mothers are for.
Bracknell was interesting in a perverse sort of way – it’s a bit like Telford; full of roundabouts and underpasses. It took me a day to get through Telford on the Long Walk. Mercifully, we got through Bracknell in a matter of hours.
Then we had an awful stretch of road to negotiate in order to reach Wokingham. The A329 is bad enough in a car; on foot it’s a nightmare. Suffice to say that we managed and because it was the rush hour we were quicker than the traffic. A veil can be drawn over the rest. We survived, and that was enough.
A good day all told, but Diana’s first-day blister got worse. She’s perseverance personified and it was only at the 18-mile mark that she decided to stop rather than make the blister even worse.
I raised the pace and did a swift four miles to Barkham where I ended the day. 22 ½ miles and south of Reading.
Lorna then drove us up to Standlake in Oxfordshire where we were to spend two nights in the most idyllic house imaginable and with the delightful Suzy and Colin Webster. After hours of map reading at walking speed it’s a shock to the system trying to negotiate your way at 60 miles an hour, and after 8 or 9 hours on your feet, it’s REALLY nice to sit down.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Opera Walk Diary

Here at last is the first – and massive – post on my new blog site. I owe Matt Hasteley (the designer of this great website) and my son William a big thank you for making it remotely possible for me to keep a diary this way. Computer technology and I are on nodding terms only and I can manage only as long as I’m told precisely what to do and when. I’ve never known what went on under the bonnet of my car, even though I’ve been driving for 38 years; and as far as this computer is concerned, I have the brain capacity of an amoeba.

After months of preparation – and more than a modicum of strife in the latter stages – May 14th finally dawned and it was time to set off for the Coliseum in St Martin’s Lane, central London.
Or not.
We discovered a little late in the day that we had too much stuff to go into Will’s car; so we packed the rest into his girlfriend Sharon’s car and drove in convoy up to Weybridge and the Cribbins’ house.
Gill and Bernard Cribbins (yes, the film, TV, radio and theatre star) have been unbelievably helpful with the Opera Walk. Gill had the most professional donation forms on the planet designed by Taurus Print of West Byfleet and she and Bernard have given me wonderful advice, support and encouragement throughout the gestation period of this mammoth project.
We left Sharon’s car in Weybridge and then headed into London; only to discover that Wandsworth Bridge was closed and there was a gigantic parade to do with either Chelsea Flower Show or Chelsea Football Club. I never learned which.
So, it looked as if I was going to miss my own departure – a surreal and dreamlike experience which only dissipated when we changed direction and battled through Clapham instead.
Oh joy! We finally reached the Coliseum, loaded all the gear into our fabulously smart Jaguar Diesel Estate (kindly donated by Guy Salmon of Thames Ditton) and joined the party inside the Coli.
ENO management had very kindly laid on complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits and after a couple of press interviews and a quick hello to the galaxy of stars who’d sweetly come to wave me off, we all finally adjourned to the foyer for the goodbye.
It was bloody marvellous. Members of the ENO chorus had given up their Sunday lie-in to sing for me – and appropriately they chose ‘Keep Right On to the End of the Road’ and ‘When You Walk Through a Storm.’ How very prophetic that turned out to be…
Johnny Graham Hall made a lovely speech and gave me a large parcel full of wonderful foot goodies. And boy have they all been useful. I thanked everyone for coming – without making a complete fool of myself and then it was time to go. It was time to hit the road for real and become a gypsy again, roaming the highways and byways of Britain.

Another surreal experience; walking out of London with the intention of reaching Cardiff was bizarre in the extreme.
Accompanied by a group of my dearest friends, I walked up the Mall to Buckingham Palace; and as we were all wearing Opera Walk T-shirts and Carolyn was carrying a Welsh Dragon tea towel, we did get some strange looks. At the palace, Carolyn, Julia and Hilary wished me luck and turned back for the Coli.
That left me, my best friend since I was eleven, Diana Watson, and her son Richard to accompany me out of the metropolis.
Diana was going to walk with me for the first week and it was great to have her company, as well as her rather useful ability as a map reader. I’m generally ok but have to admit that I quite often go wrong. And it’s more than a nuisance if you go seriously wrong on foot. It’s alright in the car or on horseback but when you’re on Shank’s pony there’s a huge incentive to get things right first time.

On we walked, dodging the strolling Sunday crowds and passing familiar landmarks left and right; the Albert Hall, Kensington Gardens, Hammersmith Flyover all rapidly dwindled from sight and, in what seemed no time at all, we had our first meeting with Lorna Washington, the project manager of the walk, in Chiswick.

A quick sandwich, renewed supplies of Buxton Water – thank you Caroline Juin at Nestle – and it was off along the A315.
We decided the A4 would be less than pleasant so chose to meander through the heavenly delights of Brentford, Isleworth and Hounslow. I stopped for twenty minutes to do a phone interview with the Daily Mail and Richard showed me how to use the GPS watch I’d been sponsored by great friends of mine, Julian and Vivienne Bishop and Coast and Country Estates of Fishguard, West Wales.
I couldn’t even turn the blasted thing on – but Richard, with the confidence of all young people confronted with gadgets, pressed all the right buttons and told me in words of two syllables what to do.

Around tea time, Richard was encouraged rather firmly by his mama to go home (revision for important exams), and Diana and I walked on alone. It was beginning to feel like ‘ten green bottles’ – and now we were down to two.
I cannot lie and say that the A30 is an interesting road to walk along; and how anyone lives under the flight path from Heathrow I shall never comprehend. But the miles rolled by and eventually we were obliged to leave the A30 a mile or so short of the M25. We followed a cycle path and to our astonishment found ourselves on Staines Moor. This was something of a surprise. Fields, cattle and hedgerows were unexpected to put it mildly – and of course, we immediately got lost. I don’t know why I ever go off road as I always go wrong.
We found our way off the Moor, along an old railway embankment and eventually reached some houses.
We were directed towards Wraysbury by a very nice and somewhat startled young man and his instructions were impeccable. What he did not take into account was that every plant known to man had erupted in joyous abandon over the previous few days and what had once been passable was now a wasteland of stinging nettles and brambles.
Two miles later and stung to buggery, we fell into Wraysbury at the station and called Lorna, who was by now beginning to worry about our whereabouts.
The joy of a hot bath and a fabulous dinner in the company of new friends Vicky and Bernard cannot be adequately described. Fantastic doesn’t even come close.
Comfy beds, Nurofen to ease the stiffness of a first afternoon’s 22 miles and a quick foot massage on a rather wonderful machine lent to me by physiotherapist friends, Angie and Sue, brought the day to a close.
Not bad.