I couldn’t face Christmas shopping this morning, so instead I walked. And walked and walked and walked. There is something about the rhythm of the step that clears the head and makes the brain function better.
The walk was a close encounter with herons, geese and a dozen or so other wild beauties with wings, but I wasn’t quick enough to snap them all.
The weather also gave me something to think about. When I started the walk, it was cloudy, then sunny and bitterly cold. After walking the first mile, the hail came down. Half way through the second mile, the rain started, but by the time I reached my destination, five miles down the path beside the canal, the sun was out again and the temperature was up.
The locks on the canal are always mesmerizing. It’s the sound that gets me. And then the perpetual motion of the water.
It draws you in and hypnotises you, even if your nose is getting frost bite. After a good ten minutes in a water induced coma, it was onwards to cross the bridge. Sadly, there were no billy goats and no trolls beneath. So on I walked, passing a solitary bench, its seat full of memories of bottoms past, perched peacefully while eating sandwiches or drinking pop. Ah, those lazy hazy days of summer…
Now I need the loo. The path stretches into the distance. Where is the wonderful cafe I’ve been told about? A place of sanctuary, with excellent coffee, large slices of chocolate cake and loos? I trudge onward. I am the only human left on the planet. The hail stones start to fall. Will I be found frozen stiff by the next lock? When I reach Lock 2, the rushing water has the desired effect. I cannot see or hear anything anymore!
My bladder is screaming for relief. Then, just as I begin to sprint, panting and wondering if I should disrobe there and then and attempt to pee into the canal, (there is a rubber ring on a wooden stand near the waters edge, but if I fall in, no one is there to throw it to me!) The oasis appears! O joy… And there is a fire! And the loos are spotless! And the coffee is amazing!
I sink into a leather sofa and enjoy. The walk back, all five miles of it, is forgotten for the moment… After a large latte and a huge slice of fruit cake – choc cake is off today – I talk to the waitress and she tells me of her plans to leave England for warmer climes. I tell her about my wonderous walk along the water, leaving out the bit about needing the loo, of course. She is unconvinced. She is eighteen and sees only the wet, cold, dank countryside outside. She chatters on about Australia and New Zealand while I listen and wonder if she has a point. The hail is coming down in bucketfulls. I can hear it hitting the windows with a spiteful intensity. It’s after me. It’s bitter out there and I’m not eighteen. I must be mad. But then, suddenly the hail cloud passes over and the sky is blue again. A wintry sun appears and send gold beams across the water… I put on my coat and say goodbye to the young adventurer. I have five miles to walk back to my car. I must brave the rain, sleet, hail and a freezing wind that has just decided to send me almost cart-wheeling past several puzzled ducks.
Best foot forward. My step on the homeward journey is slower because I am weighed down by cake and coffee and it gives me time to think about all the beauty around me. My bladder holds out and I reach the car with a sense of satisfaction. Whatever the English weather throws at you, there will always be a cafe on the horizon and, if you are lucky you may see a heron.