My legs hurt, every step of today’s 15 miles was agony on my thighs. However, my feet feel fine – the flipflops are doing their job.
Am strangely content considering the state of my legs, at one particularly painful moment I did stop to ask myself if there wasn’t something else I’d rather be doing …and there wasn’t – I am very clearly doing exactly what I should be – amazing what we will go through when we are on the right path!
I think I hate cars! As the day wore on and I slowly, very slowly today, less than 2 miles an hour I reckon, made progress along the minor roads between Preston, just outside of Kingsteignton and Alphington, on the outskirts of Exeter, I mused on the fact that there was no safe stopping place along the whole route – not even to lean against the banking, for fear of being squashed flat like the dead badger, and the totally decimated rabbit I found on the road. I railed against the inexplicable decisions we as a species have collectively made to ensure slow travel is at best difficult and at worse downright dangerous in some stretches of our land. What a differnce this second day where there was no possibility of walking lanes as there had been on day 1.
From the idyllic Samsons Farm, 14th century remnant of a slower time, and breakfast with Sarah Bell, resident artist (www.watercolourworkshops.co.uk ), wife of Nigel who I blogged about last night, and illustrator of the Archer’s Cookbook, I made my way along the road to Chudleigh past clay works and passed by fast lorries carrying clay. The landscape was dead and souless – it was such a vivid iamge of how our society damages its environment. I recalled Nigel telling me it was very special clay, good enough for the porcelain of bathroom basins and toilet bowls
Not only do we deprive the land of our human waste – putting it back into the cycle of food compost food, but in addition we gouge huge chunks out of it to put our waste into !
Chudleigh made up for the walk along the road, a good bowl of soup in a main street cafe and I was ready for off.The first hour’s walking after that was the easiest of the day! All too soon my legs started to complain again and the ups and downs Audaye, my host to be in Exeter, had promised added to the strain – how long can a hill go up I wondered, and then wished it back when I discovered the down the other side experience was even more painful!
Halden forest – I liked it – there are some lovely old trees along the edge of the road, all clothed in lime green moss, glowing and luxurious, like a thick pile carpet covering – but further in all I could see were conifers and I thought hmm, not forest at all, plantation, money, wealth, exploitation. The word Forest to me conjours images of native woodland so thick and deep as to bring images of bambi, and hidden glades full of hermits, wise women, faery folk and teaming with wildlife.
Private – seems to be a word I am seeing a lot of – yesterday’s priory, today whole chunks of forest land, how can any one think they can own a tree I found myself asking…
Down into 3 tiny hamlets one after the other – Clapham, Shillingford St George, Shillingford Abbot, and not an inn to rest weary feet, quench parched throat, nor post office from which to communicate with far off places and to meet and exchange a word or two with neighbours in the queue, nor village shop from where to purchase local food….just a bus stop in the middle hamlet, grateful though I was and sat a while. Sad, I never met a soul all day – all tightly armoured in their metal boxes on 4 wheels.
I really honoured my feet , what marvellous things, how versatile, how useful, how practical, how perfectly designed for the natural environment, how little valued next to those speed machines that shot past without a second’s glance at the landscape.
What strikes me most is how differently I am entering each new place. Alphington, outskirts of the city of Exeter, suburb, yet…when walking in …village, developed from church land – Deacon drive, Vestry avenue, Chancery Meadow – how evocative, how clearly stating its origins before it became subsumed by the encroaching city.
Slowing down, really noticing my environment, lamenting the evolution of the car , the road, dreaming of a vehicle of the future – it seats 12 like a little bus, it has an ambulance compartment, and storage space, both inside and on the roof; multi purpose useful community -o-bile!
Then Audaye, inspiring with tales of an Exeter man developing pony drawn machinery that uses the best of new technology – light weight climber’s rope so pony doesn’t need to carry great swathes of rope, new springs that weren’t in existence when agriculture first became mechanized. I like this – sometimes I get the feeling there is the belief we have to go back to the past to live a life with less oil, for me we take the best of the past with the best of the present into the future with us and that is exciting – I hope cars don’t make it through the selection process though!!!!