A rather disturbing start to the day as Ben Prater, our friend and ambassador is absent, apparently on holiday, so I spoke to Johnny instead , that’s ok I don’t mind being the 2XV, having parked up, checked signal and prepared the brief, ready to go – all rather disconcerting, but it was a good show with lots of budget and health and social care announcements and yet another ten year plan for NHSE. It’s rather like school curricula no sooner have you learnt about the Romans, then they are testing you on the Tudors, all rather confusing, but somehow we will plough a furrow through the rhetoric and confusion. We know we are on the right path, we just have to be focused and confident.
Well Malmesbury was waiting for us: Ann Wyatt, Nigel (Volunteer Driver and Companion), Tracy Manchester and Caroline Rudd – both from Alliance Pharmaceuticals – who took this day as their charity day and I believe have raised nearly £300 (what a great effort) along with vets from the George Veterinary Hospital – keen to pass a professional eye over Myrtle who lovingly sat on their feet, each in turn of course, as each tried to gain affection with a treat, there is nothing loose about Myrtle she is very open – favours can be bought.
Today was a rest day, ten miles punctuated by a luncheon hosted by Tricia Lawrence at Sherston Church. We have a time slot 12.30, so a route was planned, compass set and bibs of bright pink Dorothy House distributed. I have no idea what passer bye think of us as we storm off across the nearest stile heading for deep countryside in day glow illuminated vests, it seems to have a beneficial effect on cattle, who simply ignore us, no human can be quiet that stupidly dressed, however on the roads they have proven to be invaluable.
It was a beautiful Autumn day…again…how lucky have we been, the sun clearly shines on the righteous. A average pace was set, even a tortoise would get around the course today as it proved. We had plenty of time to pretend we were in the Alps, by sitting outside the Angel pub, basking in the sun, glasses removed to ensure no panda bear impressions. For those of us who have not been to Sherston, it really is worth a visit, not least as it is the source of the Bristol Avon. We arrived for lunch on time, the church has a cafe open three days a week and we were treated to homemade soup and a variety of precisely cut sandwiches, the sort you enjoy at a cricket match. Conversation, the highlight of the journey ranged from Grenadier Guards to companionship, gardening and spirituality. Kindly they asked me to talk about DH and our future journey, we engaged and have made some good friends.
Many of you walk and exercise and know that the hardest part is the chill sets in quickly as one cools down and on getting started again, the bones creak and the muscles tighten, both were prevalent amongst us all, but no sooner did we emerge from the parish church then we were struck by the warmth of the sun.
Walking due West, mid afternoon, means the rays are evenly distributed and the body, like a solar panel absorbs the heat, very welcome and delicious. We head west along the McMillan Way – a further five miles towards Badminton and our pickup, the hounds swam and carried wide sticks that brushed the back of our legs as they rushed and pushed past us without even an “excuse me” or “sorry”. Two fords later – so no need to wash Myrtle this year before Christmas, we arrived at a number of fields, bordered by stone walls and rather untidy hedges, pheasant country – bark, yap, bark yap, Myrtle was off, I don’t know why – as she never sees the ones in front of her nose, only those miles away and when she does see the ones under her nose, she has already sprinted at high speed past them, I might as well chase them myself, I would be more effective!!
We went past the parish church at Luckington, the location and church in which Fitzwilliam Darcy marries Elizabeth Bennett in the BBC production of Jane Austin – Pride and Prejudice. We sneaked in and an appropriate photo captured, all allowed. Its these little small entertaining adventures that bring the journey to life.
We arrived Badminton to await our pick up.
Something has gone wrong as Ann’s husband and Tom Pritchard – in my branded car – were nowhere to be seen. Apparently they chose to drive up to Badminton House, oblivious of any invitation, rang on the front door bell and were ushered in and left as the staff thought they were expected. They were clearly not, not least given their dress code and unshaven Love Island looks. Well of course they proceeded to walk around the house, Jon admired a number of the paintings, Tom was contemplating a new business idea, both considering helping themselves to a good gin and tonic in of the fine goblets and one or two delicious home cooked biscuits, when we rang them to ask where they were? I am told they panicked exiting the house rather more quickly than they entered. We all wish we had been there.
It’s been a great day and yet again we have touched communities that do not very often see us, we have reinforced our relationship with Malmesbury, the friends group and the community, job not done, just started.
Tomorrow its off towards Marshfield – the way home and free ice cream (14.30) with a community gathering in the Catherine Wheel at 18.00, come and join us. Its only 8 miles and we leave Badminton at 09.00.