16 August, 2012

Cotswold: Day 2 Chipping Campden

We arrived late in the evening about 8:30 pm at the Red Lion's Pub, where we had reserved a room. I didn't know much about pubs, so had no idea what a room there would look like. But it was nice, very small and it was "en suite", a very French name for saying it had a bath and toilet included. So that is something to remember if you ever want to rent a room in Europe from a pub or B and B.

Unfortunately the room was located under the eaves in the attic. I had not quite so bad. It was clean and warm. And it was cozy. But it was small, which my darling husband reminded me of many times.

We went down for dinner and ordered typical English dishes: I had fish and chips and Dick had bangers (some kind of sausage). I felt so full when I was half way through, bloated. Both of us were very tired from the long day and left right after eating.

First, however, we stopped off at the Volunteers Inn were the people would transfer our luggage daily and took care of the details there.

The next morning we got up, packed and took our luggage down to breakfast. It was 8:30 am and the breakfast was typically English: eggs, bacon, sausage, fried tomato, fried mushroom and baked beans. It was a good thing we had such a good breakfast later in the day.

We took care of some details, like calling the bank about our credit card which had been denied.  They wondered if someone was using it in Europe. I just chuckled a bit.  We had a latte while looking at the directions our walk would take us.

It was a  bit overcast, so we took our rain gear and finally set off at 11:15. The first hour was very nice. It was mostly uphill, but more or less a gentle climb.

We got lost after the first hour. There were old signs for the first mile down the path and then new signs. The old signs we should have followed, but these green ones appeared, saying Cotswold way, circular walk. We didn't know what that meant, so we followed them as well.  Maybe a quarter mile two Dutch girls, tall blonds, appeared. They were taking the circular walk, which only went around Chipping Campden. We were way off, they said. Even going in the wrong direction. They had a map, but it was drizzling and they didn't want to open it. Understandable. So we had to retrace our steps through the forest and down the path. But now at least we knew which  signs were the correct ones.

I ended up walking a few feet behind Dick, but I didn't expect anything else. Then it began to drizzle, but ever so slightly and after 15 minutes I put on my rain coat. Unfortunately my rain coat is not rain proof, but rain resistant. So it wasn't long before I was getting wet. Okay, no problem. I put on a long sleeve shirt under the rain jacket, and at least I would be warm. In any case I had an Under armour tshirt and another tshirt under that. So how bad could it get?  Dick put on his rain coat, and it was waterproof.

Then it thundered when we were in the middle of an oat field and the sky opened up and dumped on us for more than four hours. There was no shelter, no place to get in out of the cold. And cold it became, as the wind picked up and finally the rain was almost horizontal into our faces.  For four hours we trudged through the field and the wind and the rain.

At first we only went through gates, both locked and kissing gates, but then we came across our first stile. It was a wooden fence about shoulder high for me, and there were some awkward steps made out of two by fours. I was terrified of slipping on the wet wood, scared I couldn't get my leg over. Dick wanted to help me, but I wondered what I would do if I were alone, so at first I figured it out for myself and after 15 or 20 minutes I managed to get over in one piece without his help.

The best walks were on the tracks, foot paths, even stone scattered tractor roads. The most difficult ones  on our knees and legs were the sidewalks and the tarmacs. But what I had not counted on were the pastures, rolling with beautiful grass, filled with sheep and sheep dung. I had to watch carefully not to fall or trip on a hole covered by the grass or on the wet sheep dung. My biggest fear was falling and breaking something. I think of Chiara and Rina racing mindless over the field, and then of  me,

We had wallked for a long time in the driving rain and the oat field, when Dick suddenly turned and yelled, "Fuggahwee!" He had had enough. But we had to keep going, because there was no place to stop.

Six stiles and three hours after the rain, we saw the Broadway tower. Ah, we've arrived, but no. Though we could see the village, it was at least two miles down the hill. So down we went and then up to the Tower. We weren't interested in the building and we were tired and aching. Still on.

Finally we reached the village. Where is Cowley house, I asked the first person I saw. "Not far," he said , "Just to the village green and then turn left."Each of us has an idea of what constitutes far and my idea was 10 feet, but we kept trudging
on. After fifteen minutes we asked another person. "Not far," he said, "just beyond the village green."

Where in the hell is the village green? I thought, but said thank you.

We kept trudging when suddenly a car pulled up. "Gesteland?" he asked. I was so deep in my trudging I hardly noticed. "Gesteland?" he asked again, but just a bit louder."Yes?" not recognizing him.  "Everyone's looking for you."

1 comment:

  1. OK, don't leave us hanging with that last line, Mom--good cliff-hanger :)