It was surprisingly hard not to cry. Steph had been such a good friend over the past few days. The chalked message on the pavement reassured me that we had been there.
The second book was too big to fit in my pack so I carried it awkwardly in my arms, conscious that I must protect it until I reached it’s recipient.
The owners of the B&B didn’t know I was coming and it had been a few years since Steph’s journey so I wasn’t sure what kind of reception I might find, but it was a lead. Ahead of me was just lots of map I didn’t know, but this was a possible oasis.
I followed the River Teign north to cross a footbridge in search of Sampsons Farm hotel and Nigel and Sarah Bell. Deep banked fast flowing and tree lined, the River Teign had a great presence. Standing on the footbridge there was only the sound of layers of jostling water, air and leaves. The banks looked unaltered and curved where they wanted. I felt a little guilty for not staying to appreciate such a wonderful sight for longer but evening was approaching and I was anxious to find my destination.
“Hello! I’m a friend of Steph Bradley. She sent me to give you this book she wrote.” I said to the slim man in an apron. Nigel looked at me blankly with a little confusion. He was friendly, despite seeming very tired. “It was a couple of years ago, she was walking and she stayed here.” Mild panic rose in me that I was not explaining things very well at all.
“Oh…ye-ehs, she was warking?” Nigel’s accent was the first I’d heard so far in Devon as he smiled trying to remember.
“Finally!” I thought joyfully, “Someone who was born here.”
“Oy rememberr, she ad er skirrt and flip flops on.” The smile widened.
“Yes.” I confirmed. “She wrote a book about her journey you see, and the hotel is in it. This one’s for you.” I passed him the large blue book.
“What a luvely thing! Sarah!”
Sarah blossomed from around a corner in heels and bright reds and blues of the 1950’s. Her dress and lipstick were an exuberant scarlet and her head scarf was floral and neat over her tucked up hair. The blue floral apron looked like it had found it’s ideal home. There would be no shameful hiding in a draw for this apron.