Friday, 19 August 2016

Day 7 - Rivers and Woods, and the taste of Northern India

After yesterday's exhaustions I got up a little tentatively to see how my ankle had slept. It was still stiff but not too bad, so after a hearty boiled egg for breakfast I headed off from Marlow.

Incidentally I should add that last night's host Swiss Cottage B&B and seen the GSC programme on BBC South TV last month!

Marlow seemed a very pretty little town with its red white and blue bunting up and the shops all getting ready for business - I'd made a start at 920am.

My hope today was to have a leisurely 10 mile day and then see how the ankle was doing.

Basically the injury had occurred in the dress rehearsal of Much Ado during what became known as he 'commando slide' of Benedick's down the umpire chair...those of you who saw it will know what I mean. Anyway that was nearly 6 weeks ago, but with the 100+ miles I've put it through it hadn't started to grumble. Fingers crossed for today.

The first 5 miles were very easy along the Thames to Cookham. Had a lovely chat with a dog walker who had recently abseiled down the Spinaker Tower in Portsmouth for charity...her dog was called Rolo, a colleywoodle - a colley poodle cross.

Lots of very fine houses along the river with their own slipways. It has been interesting to see that the different landscapes I'm walking through dictates the different ways people live: farms, woodland cottages, villages, rivers....cows


Cookham a very pretty village and the manager of the Bel and Dragon let me film a bit in there...a gorgeous low-beamed 15th Century inn, with brilliant cartoon artwork on the walls by Tim Bulmer. Loved the Shakespeare one!



I'm really looking forward to editing the film I've been recording along the way. Not so much a diary as a documentary I hope.

After Cookham it was back to the countryside and the woods, heading for Burnham Beeches. I think sometimes we forget how much woodland there still is in England, and how dense it can be.

Found a brilliant little pub in the middle of the woods - The Blackwood Arms - who did the best fish finger sandwich I have ever had.


Also an opportunity for me to dry my feet and change socks. Yes today was my soggy feet day. It has rained almost non-stop all day, on and off drizzle or full on downpour. Now I've not minded this for two reasons. Firstly most the way today has been through woodland, so I've been protected from the worst of it. And secondly I am a bit of a pluviophile...that is like the rain, and rather enjoy walking in it....accept when GSC has a show obviously!

I don't know why, but there is something about being in the rain that I find fun and exhilarating...of course so long as you're not on your way somewhere and getting drenched - wet jeans are possibly the worst. Maybe it's that sense of being out in the elements...but like being by the sea and getting hit by the spray, makes you feel alive.  Plus the rain makes a great sound, sort of comforting I think, and reminds me of summer holidays in a caravan in Devon! However, there was a worry that my walk guide was going to turn to mush...

Having reached my 10 mile destination, my ankle feeling good , I decided to press on another 4 miles, thus knocking off 4 from tomorrow's 24, which at this stage is a huge psychological boost. So now I headed to Fulmer. On the way I crossed through a beautiful heathland called Stoke Common, where yes my old friend the cows were grazing! But neither of us bothered each other and they kept on grazing...one mooed - I don't think I've ever SEEN a cow moo before, heard them, just nor seen the them...I've seen sheep bleet and horses neigh, but not cows moo!

Saw this interesting feature...in someone's garden!


My day finished around a dinner table eating the most delicious home-cooked meal from north-east India. My hosts not only came to Fulmer to pick me up but also invited my to dinner with their other guests: an IT specialist from Germany and two girls working at Pinewood Studios for the summer. Jude and Jeanette have been such warm and firmed lay hosts and the conversation flowed like we had all known each other for years. Such a range of conversations I wouldn't know where to start, but the evening was perfect example of what I have come to experience on this adventure. That no matter where you're from or what you do, as humans we all have a common desire to share and be good to one another. The kindness, friendliness and support I have received on this journey has been truly remarkable, and yet seemingly effortless.

On another note, thinking back on the conversations at dinner tonight which ranged from Sri Lankan policemen to how you pronounce Fairy Tales in German to owning a car, I am sure that as Shakespeare moved across the country on his journeys to and form London he would have encountered such richness of conversation and life (and especially once in London). I've not had to go to Sri Lanka or India or Germany or Bath tonight to glean information about those places or their people, just in the same way I'm sure, that Shakespeare never had to visit Italy or Denmark or France to place his stories there.

This walk has really taught me many new things and I can't to see what tomorrow brings! Penultimate day - Day 8!

Today's stats:  15 miles | 4 hrs 35 mins | calories 1200

Total mileage : 117 miles

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