A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Walk In The Heat

I must admit, for one reason or another, life's been a little difficult since returning from Ireland. Some well-worn problems raised their ugly and familiar heads to haunt me, and I fell into some bad, old ways. At one point I nearly escaped to France. But you can't run away from challenging situations, can you? You will only take them with you. Changing countries solves nothing, for you always have to take your head along. In his blog The Goat That Wrote (do check it out, it's terrific), the Goat serendipitously comes across this cookie-cutter slice of wisdom: We carry within us the wonders we seek without us. (Attributed to Sir Thomas Browne.) Equally, I think, we carry within us the worries we misguidedly seek to evade by travelling.

Anyhow, yesterday, in the muggy, sweltering heat, I took a twenty mile walk down to Oakham, the southern terminus of the Viking Way. This church in Sewstern looks pretty ancient at first glance, but actually it's only mid-nineteenth-century. A guy inside, cleaning the aisle carpet with his Dyson, introduced himself as the Church Warden, then launched into a long and convoluted history of the diocese. Bless him, but I had to be on my way, so I made my excuses and left ...
        



After negotiating what seemed light years of flat farmland, cereal fields, straight, stony tracks and a roadway bloody with roadkill, I finally arrived at the quintessentially English, square church tower of Thistleton ...




At 'The Plough' in Greetham, Ian, the landlord, mixed me pint after pint of blackcurrant juice and lemonade - with lots of ice. I had water with me, but was worried about getting dehydrated. The day was very hot, and I still had many miles to go ...

The next village was the idyllically pretty estate of Exton. Here's the village green ...




... and here's one of its many lovely cottages. I haven't a photo, but many of the cottages had straw-thatched roofs ...




Exton church is a gem, and was well worth the extra half-mile detour...




Inside there's an unparalleled display of memorial carvings from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, including this work of art in stone by Grinling Gibbons, normally more celebrated for his woodcarving ...




If my depression had not entirely lifted, it had certainly been pushed into the background by the sheer physicality of this walk, and the stultifying heat! Oh well, as I said in this poem, bees come and go on the marjoram, depending on the sun ...

14 comments:

ksam said...

ahhh walking in heat! May have to try again here! Unfortunately my contemplated hike...has no pubs or inns!

Grizz………… said...

I have done no walking in our heat (low-90s˚F for weeks now!) as befits a boreal bear. Short ambles are about the best I can manage. A twenty-miler would be unthinkable. But I've enjoyed your post. And didn't break a sweat.

Hang in there, my friend…like relief from the heat, better days will come.

Arija said...

Beautiful places and a nice description but your state of mind worries me. If you need an uncritical sounding board, this old lady has an email. If you cannot access it from my comment, I can send it to you. My shoulders are broad, my hugs across cyberspace warm and comforting and often juts writing things out clarifies them for ones self.

I hope all sorts itself out anyway . . .

The Weaver of Grass said...

As my mother used to say Robert - remember that when you go you take yourself with you. Still true about everything today. Hope that cloud soon lifts. I hear you were pleased to see your visitors the other day. Lovely to get together.

Val said...

cant imagine that heat in merry England; love the countryside pictures. Walking and writing are the greatest ways to sort out those tangles - hope the way is easier for you soon

Mister Roy said...

Hope the wonders emerge into plain sight a but more as you walk.

Dan Gurney said...

Melancholy moods sometimes catch up with me too. Like you, I've found exercising outdoors whether walking, paddling, or bicycling to be reliably therapeutic. Mr. or Mrs. Melancholy Mood just won't go along on a walk with you! I think it must be the fact that the blood gets stirring with exercise and... Voila! Sir Sanguine appears.

Keep walking, and yes, geographical "solutions" to problems simply don't work. Been there. Tried that. Gotta face them.

Dominic Rivron said...

Great to see you the other day. Sounds like a great walk.

Oakham looks close to Rutland Water - a place I've often meant to check out.

GOAT said...

Hey SW, thanks for your kind comment. I hope you get on top of your problems as painlessly as possible (sorry, I'm alliterating again). Walking won't let you escape them forever, but nature, sunshine, rhythm and endorphins are so calming, I find.

Last night I was walking home from work in the dark and a woman I don't know pulled in and offered me a ride. "You live at the end of ____ Road, don't you?" Without even thinking I said, "Thanks, but walking is my greatest pleasure in life." I don't know whether that's a sad confession or what! I did sort of regret not getting in and getting to know a neighbour...

fireweed said...

Oooh . . . I know this area very well and have spent many hours walking in the area around Stamford and Empingham as all of my in-laws live in Rutland. Love the Stamford fair and Exton street market. My husband went fishing at Exton most weekends as a child. Apart from Oakham, which is remarkable only for its dullness, this is a beautiful part of England, especially in summer.

George said...

Glad you had such a great and interesting walk, Robert, and I hope your heat was not as bad as we've had recently in my part of the country. Combining the temperature with the humidity levels, we've had many days with the heat index between 100 and 120 degrees. Bloody miserable to even try and walk on those days.

While I support whatever you need to do with your life at any given time, knowing that there is a time and place for everything, I'm personally happy that you have remained in England for sufficient time at least for you (and perhaps Dominic) to join me on a couple of days of the Hadrian's Wall walk. I look forward to seeing you.

Ruth said...

May your shadows . . . vanish suddenly, and also for longer and longer periods. I admire you for staying, for getting out under the sky, for facing it.

KleinsteMotte said...

I love the tour you gave here. Hopefully your spirit has lifted and you are back on a more positive plain.

The Solitary Walker said...

Karin - a walk with no pub is like a yorkshire pudding without gravy ...

Grizz - after a few rumbles of thunder and some rain showers a couple of days ago, the oppressive heat has lifted somewhat ...

Arija! Your empathy winging its way from the other side of the world is so warma nd wonderful, I feel better already!

Your mother was a wise woman, Pat ... And yes, it was good to see Dominic and Karen ...

Val - thanks for your best wishes. Walking and writing are great therapies, that's for sure ...

Thanks, Roy ... and Dan, everything you say is right ...

Dominic - as Fireweed comments below, Oakham is dull (not a patch on Stamford). And the track round Rutland Water is too busy - cyclists coming at you from every direction, not very relaxing ... Good for watching ospreys, though ... Great to see you too!

Thanks, Goat. Alliteration is the pitfall of many a blogger, myself included. That, and the exclamation mark! (I'm slightly disappointed you didn't take that ride, my friend. You never know where it might have led you ...)

Fireweed - yes, lovely in some parts, rather dull in others, I agree ...

George - see you soon! Those temperatures sound far too hot for me ...

And thanks, Ruth and Kleinste Motte, for your comments. Feeling much better now ...