15.1 miles – ‘wetting rain’ followed by forgiving sunshine.
‘Wetting rain’ is an expression my mum used to use. It sounds ridiculous, I know, because rain is intrinsically wetting. What she meant was that kind of rain which is so light that you hardly noticed it at first, so don’t bother to put your coat on, then realise, too late, that it’s heavier than it had felt, and so got home cross and, well, wet.
My impression that I was no longer in The North was reinforced by a man walking his ten dogs, whose accent was definitely a species of West Country, rather than Birmingham variants I had heard as far south as stratford. (I refer to the man’s accent, of course, the dogs barked in pure RP.)
It’s hard to overstate how exceptional the small towns and villages are. Houses are all built in the local stone. Many dwellings date back several hundred years – the stone weathers so very well – but even the new builds are of the same stone. It means that each village feels like it has an integrity – and an individuality because the colour varies from place to place.
After Didbrook I sat down to have lunch. The phone rang; it was Guy (he’s the one who writes the Route Beer page on this site). He asked where I was, I explained, and he told me he was just half a mile away.
It turned out he had been stalking me all day. He had wanted to leap out and surprise me. He had set up in a field with a good view of the route he knew I would take and watched out for me with binoculars. Not knowing I had taken two hour-long breakfast breaks, he feared he had missed me, so retreated to a spot he felt certain I would pass. When I still didn’t turn up, he sadly gave up on the surprise element and phoned. If I had but waited another fifteen minutes for lunch his surprise would have succeed.
Never mind. It was a crazy and generous-spirited thing to do and we had a great celebration at The Lion at Winchcombe.