January 21st 2018

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Its catch up time, but first I must reveal that after about 15 years I have finally purchased some rug stickers; they stop the rug slipping all over the oak floors, so I can finally sit on the floor, my back to the sofa and not slowly slip down till my chin is resting on my chest. Well done me, they cost £2.39 from Amazon, took a day to arrive and about 5 seconds to order. This makes me think there are other simple tasks I could complete with little or no  effect on my stress levels or blood pressure, in fact i’d say I am calm as my dog Benny is now.

Saturday was the day of the walk. The 8 miler, the walk that takes us through parish to parish, from Shrawley to Astley to Great Witley and I wouldn’t be surprised if we ventured into Abberley; there in Dragons lie. N had this bright idea to do a big walk, there’s an old disused quarry, well disused by the quarrymen (John and Paul) but used by  folk to swim in when the weather is fine. Please kids or anyone who may be reading this who is of a weak of suggestible disposition, please do not swim in quarries, the water can be cold and lifeless, but it doesn’t mean that evil lurks at the bottom living amongst the shopping trollies and sunken crisp wrappers. Be safe folks.

We’ed leave the relative safety of Shrawley by walking up towards our monastery where you can stay with the monks and eat gruel with the monks and sit in silence and sleep in a cell (thats wheat they’re called FFS) and be woken up very early, but you can always escape to the pub; hooray, but theres a curfew; boo. We turned just before the monastery and walked into the woodland where the wonderful old sandstone bridge crosses Dick Brook (!) Theres a few snowdrops and as I followed M and N up the hill to Astley I realised that I possibly wasn’t quite ready for the walk, I felt woefully underprepared like someone who’s just taken a trip and realises he has to have lunch with his parents in 45 minutes, that type of situation. I had no water, no food and a dog who tugs on the lead and roads to walk down where he would have to be on a lead. The wellies were fine, Ray Mears suggested I buy them, and I have a great deal of comfortable walks to thank him for with his wise wellington council. At the church I had to grab Benny, he’s awful at coming in so far that he doesn’t really come at all, it seems to be on his terms at the moment, I must get some little treats to bribe the fickle hound. Strange, he follows me around like a solid invisible shadow at home, i’ll do myself an injury one day for sure, he sneaks around stealthily and that will be the end of it, i’ll join the great unwell and the Broken Hipsters before long.

There was a beautiful Mill which I pass occasionally in my car, it flooded badly and the air ambulance had to rescue someone from a cast iron table in the great (I mean terrible) floods of 2007, of which we were a part of. If you knew who I was and what I looked like you may recognise me from Mid-lands Today in June of that year, showing the camera around my water wrecked little home. The person was house sitting for folks at the mill, the water came like a tsunami and her scrambled up onto a cast iron table with a couple of Spaniels, one didn’t make it unfortunately, and thats when the helicopter came. Sadly very sad stuff, we were lucky, other parts of the area such as Tewkesbury were out of their homes for well over a year.

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The kids there, I’m assuming there are some have the most amazing tree house, you can see it to the left of the waterfall. The footpath took us down past the treehouse and waterfall and past a kind of open air bar with a few sofas on the covered veranda, what a lovely place to live and have a drink. If I was on one of those programmes where they are looking for a house in the country or in another country, and the presenter and glorified estate agent would bring me to the open air bar I can imagine my self looking at my wife and saying ‘Glass of Wine” as I stood basking in the vista, they always say that, always.

We crossed the road and then walked up a very steep road towards the quarry. It was ar they spoilt that M realised that really he should be at home because he was going to a birthday party later on, but really not that much later on and so now, 20 minutes after he should have been at home, he was as far away from home as he was going to get on the walk, this was around 4 miles out of the parish, away from our comfort zone, and there was not anything he could do apart from initiate a faster pace which for me wasn’t great and really not wanted. The climb up to the top, above the quarry and to the ridge was tough going, slippery and the views were cloaked in mist, shame really. Plus there was no water but there was a half empty promise of there being a tap, failing that N suggested I hold suck some moisture from some moss; I’m not an animal, and I’ve standards. That moss was looking mighty juicy.

The ridge walk was splendid, I love a ridge walk, its my favourite type of walk with views  to either side I think, except we were in primordial forrest, thick as you like and a place called Shavers End to the east and The Whoppets to the North. This is why I love living in England; the names, I’ll trade you me Penistone and you can give me your Twatt, I’m not cursing they are real places, with real people they demand to be heard.

All the time at the back of our minds we are thinking to our selves what sort of reception M will be walking into upon his return, and then where I can get a drink from.

Walking back a different way we strolled past a large pond with some ducks and a couple of swans. We looked at them for some time and then one of them started, like Jesus did (allegedly), to run on the water flapping his wings heading straight for us. I wasn’t scarred and so made sure everyone else was ok and there had been no involuntary toilet incidents, all dry.

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N was recording the walk on his walking app and much to my irritation we had been speeding up pretty much through the entire walk, I was exhausted and needed bacon and tea and strolling down the undulating track back through Structons Heath meant I was entering familiar territory at which Benny was sick, tacking up everything which he had had for breakfast, wisely I had not had anything before going out as I may have well been joining him on that person’s verge.

I got home, we all went our separate ways, no coffee was shared and I dare not sit on a comfy chair for fear of passing out, problem is as I may have mentioned most of our chairs in the lounge are all too slouchy for me now, I’m not 25 anymore and so the lack of support when sitting on the chairs makes me spread like Jabba the Hutt. This is the reason I sit on the floor, which wraps things up rather nicely I think you’ll agree.

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