Just over a little stream a goat comes out onto the rough track to meet us and I scratch her between the horns. When she feels quite done she hops it back over the fence to the field from whence she had escaped, seemingly especially to have a little head massage. The sun beams down on us, and it isn’t long before we have stripped off all the clothes we can, tying them about our waists and hanging them from our rucksacks.
It hasn’t been hot and sunny all spring though and it isn’t long before we hit the quintessential enemy of the humble flip flop. Eve and Matthew are kitted out in their walking boots, but I walk flip flop clad as always and so the patch of thick sticky black mud holds up only my progress and we laugh at the sods of wet earth that continue to cling to my feet as we clear the muddy track. I smile, shrugging.
We eat our pack lunches on the grass next to a winding stream. Bullocks in the field gradually begin to gather on the slope above us, and when they reach critical mass, we move on.
It isn’t long before we hit the main road. It is mid-afternoon and time for Matthew to catch a bus back home.
Eve and I bid him farewell and head off to find the legendary Arthur. Ninety three and a half, my friend Arthur French, is now sadly in an old folk’s home. Arthur was part of Transition Town Totnes till he could no longer get to the meetings. We find him in Denbury, just a mile or so from our destination for the night to present him with his half year birthday present; a limited edition copy of the tales of my walk.
When we arrived in the dining room Arthur was talking with a middle aged man with a coat and bag and an elderly lady was sat opposite him.
“Ah, well I will leave you to your new visitors!” said the man smiling as he collected his coat and bag. “See you soon Arthur.”
We are quite humbled by this kindly elderly gentleman, who bids us sit down for tea and biscuits and calls over the care workers to provide us with cups, introducing his friend, an elderly headmistress who can no longer speak, and including her in all of our conversations. It feels very significant to be weaving our two walks together in this way; Tales of Our Times with the Buzz Tour.
Arthur grew up in Stonehouse near Stroud and they used to catch elvers (young eels). A man used to come around and collect snails to eat. His father grew enough on his allotment for the whole family (vegetables, not snails). He learned to swim in the canal but then gradually the canal grew too dirty and they had to build a swimming pool.