Note of warning: posting from my phone again, so giant photos!
Next day started sunny and clear. We breakfasted downstairs at the Cowley Inn. This was our first real English breakfast and it was good, good, good. Laid out on the side table was fresh fruit, wonderful yoghurt, jams and compote and cold cereal and granola. A lovely, middle-aged lady came round and asked for our orders. She looked and sounded just as you might expect. Then , joy of joys, she brought each table a French press full of coffee. Good coffee. Hoorah. At the Cowley (which we really wanted to call the Crowley, after Downton Abbey), a full English breakfast was offered alongside things like kippers, Welsh rarebit, and eggs Benedict. There was homemade strawberry jam, but also asparagus jam and onion marmalade. I bravely tried them all except for the rarebit – didn’t have time for that.
After breakfast, most of us started out for another walk. Cyndy had hurt her knee on the first day’s walk, so didn’t hike. Maureen opted to stay in town for the morning so she could visit the Ashmolean Museum. Though we’d been told the day’s hike yesterday would be about five miles, we actually hiked closer to eight. That’s a lot for me for in one day. My feet were sore but I was too excited for more green hills to care. Cyndy, however was limping. The evening before, while knitting in the sitting room, there had been offers of meds from every corner of the room. Ibuprofen? Steroids? Oxy? This gang was well prepared!
We walked from Birmingham back up into the hillside pastures determined to keep a slower pace. I offered to lead because that would FOR SURE keep us to a slower pace. Just a few clouds were out and about. Everyone was on the lookout for wool tufts. I finally attached my gallon zip lock bag to the outside of my pack so folks could tuck in tufts as we went along.
We travelled through many pastures. Each one surrounded by hedge groves and/or fences with a variety of intricate gates to open and close or go over…
Eventually we made our way down from the high ground, rested by an old church, then found our way to a main road. We were headed to a local “Steam and Ale” festival in Luddington. Sounds nice , doesn’t it? Only we had to walk along a road to get there and there was no walkway. Picture a tiny, winding road with tiny cars going along it, in both directions and at great speed. And when I say no walkway, I mean not even room for a bike lane. It was pavement and then shrubbery! So there are the seven of us, trying to walk along without getting killed. BTW, have I told you yet that pedestrians do not have the right of way here in the UK? I’m not sure it’s the actual law. But what I can tell you is that even in the small villages, if you step out onto the street expecting cars to stop you are very misguided. At SOA, you took your life in your hands. Here, well, I can tell you we were all very, very nervous. There was absolutely nothing we could do. There were no side roads or turnoffs. We just had to walk until we reached town.
I’m pleased to report that no one died that day.
And as a reward, we got to drink ale and ride on a stream train. We also had lunch at the cafe there at the Luddington train station. I experienced my first negative experience with Brit food: a cheese and chutney sandwich. Sounded good. Wasn’t. Had to order soup instead. And ice cream.
After the train ride, we hiked a bit more to the town of Winchcombe. Oh, wait, we took the train to Winchcombe. But then we had to walk a few blocks to Sudely Castle. So it felt like we were hiking again. We stopped to pick up a few things in a store. That’s where I took these pictures. Selfie of worn out Suzie. Muddy boots that felt like they weighed thirty pounds each. I was tired.
Should have been the end of the day. I was ready for it to be the end of the day. But no! More stuff to do! We walked another few blocks (turned out to be another 8mile day) to the grounds of Sudely Castle where we had tickets to see a performance at 4pm of (of all the possibilities, who would ever think of scheduling us to see) a circus! Yes! Gifford Circus, to be precise.
I was so unenthusiastic. Every part of me was tired. We had to stand in line, waiting to enter and my feet were killing me. The tent flaps opened and waves of people came streaming out. Then more people. Then even more people came out. The ladies and I looked at each other in astonishment. The tent really didn’t look that big! Was this some kind of Hermione’s bag, holding endless amounts of stuff on its insides?
Well, you’ll have to wait for Part 4 to find out! I’ve got to take a shower and finish packing up for my train ride into Glasgow tomorrow morning. I think I’ll be able to write and post more tonight. But the way this trip is going, I’m learning not to rely too much on what is supposed to happen. Let’s just say it’s my intent to continue tonight!