Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DN19 Daffodils in Worcester
Days N15 - N24                                                                      English Midlands
Day N19 - Worcester to Bewdley
Day N18                    The receptionist from hell                   Day N20
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Southbound Home
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Time of departure: 9.00 am
Time of arrival: 4.15 pm
Place departed: Worcester, Worcestershire
Place arrived: Bewdley, Worcestershire

Miles: 16.3
Cum miles: 313.4
Percent complete: 33.8

Bed sign Horn and Trumpet, Bewdley  **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 25 ($50)
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Ye Olde Talbot Hotel in Worcester was adequate if short on value.  The room was fine if one grants them the right to provide no heat in early April after a warm day.  I didn't much like having to access my room through an enclosed public area that positively reeked of smoke.  But what irked most was a silly little exchange at reception on departure, which went like this:

R (receptionist): Was everything OK?

Me: Yes, it was OK, thanks.

R:  Only OK?  What didn't you really like?

Me:  Well, the breakfast menu offered some stuff that you didn't have.  In fact, for eggs they could only offer pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs, or dry old scrambled eggs.

R:  Instead of . . .?

Me:  The menu mentioned eggs benedict, which I thought I'd try, or poached or fried eggs . . . But that's OK.  I'm ready to check-out and go now.

R:  Well, did you order those the night before?

Me: No.

R: Well that's the problem then.  You should have ordered them yesterday!

Me: Well, OK, but I'll just check-out and go now . . . But I'm curious. No one mentioned pre-ordering breakfast.

R:  Perhaps you checked in late?  We can't pre-order after a certain hour you know.

Me: I didn't check in late.

R:  But you didn't order breakfast in advance, either, did you?

Me:  No, no one asked.  But, well, I think I'll just check-out and leave now, if that's all right.

R:  Well, eggs benedict, we like to prepare them the night before.

Me: What about poached or fried?

R:  Poached we can do without a day's warning.  But, fried, we like to prepare them the day before.

Me:  What?  They said “no poached”.  But I'm curious, you need to cook the fried eggs the night before?

R:  I didn't say "cook"; I said "prepare"!

Me (losing patience): Well, what preparation is involved that has to be done the night before for a fried egg - that isn't needed for a poached egg?  And why don't you make these requirements clear on check-in?  I am prepared to learn the poached-egg rules, the fried-egg rules, the eggs-benedict rules, and any other expletive rules, if I'm told what they are.

R:  Anyway, it's Sunday.  What do you expect on Sunday?

Me:  I just expected what's on the menu in my room and in the restaurant.  But, hey, it was OK.  Please just check me out.

R:  Well, I didn't prepare the menu, you know, but if you want to make a problem about this, I can call the manager.  He'll probably be mad that you bothered him.  I see we gave you a good price on the room.

I stepped out into the street glad that my lashes were over at Ye Olde Talbot. Worcester looked like a pleasant place and far nicer than Gloucester, the county seat to the south.  Scullers were on the Severn. The sun shone.  My stomach was full of good things like fruit, mushrooms, yogurt, brown toast and marmalade, orange juice and tea even if it wasn’t full of eggs benedict or poached or fried egg.  My clothes were clean and even dry, thanks to the room hairdryer.  My knees weren't hurting, and my blisters probably weren't getting worse.  I'd walked over 300 miles and believed I could do many more.  Jenny would be calling me when she woke up in Florida.  Life was good.

In any case, as an engineer, I'd observed the beams in the Olde Talbot breakfast room - and one, of largish span, was sagging.  Moreover, it was supporting a beam of even larger span that was also sagging and supporting much of the hotel. If it were my property, I would have a structural engineer look at those beams, even if they had lasted 500 years safely. The intersection of these beams lay right above the cereal counter in the breakfast room.  Now as I thought of the receptionist, I came up with a tongue-in-cheek headline:"Receptionist eats Coco Pops when hotel collapses, gets flatulence . . .”

Worcester is pronounced "Wooster" and Worcestershire is pronounced "Wooster-shuh". For some reason (Americans, take note), Worcestershire sauce is "Wooster sauce". What's in a name? From this pronounciation difficulty and no other cause, a great sauce has been marginalized in American retailing.

After hiking for five to seven miles, I had the feelings I am now used to after that distance. Self-talk: "That's enough. I'd like to stop now." My destination of Bewdley still lay three or four hours ahead. I stopped for a homemade sardine sandwich lunch near Astley, where there was a monument to Stanley Baldwin, uniquely the four-times Prime Minister. Not wanting to litter such a place, or anywhere else, I carried the empty sardine can for quite a few miles before I found a litter box. That empty sardine can put thoughts in my head that surfaced when I next met Arthur Bourke-Stewart.

An equipment matter became an issue for me today. My boots were wearing out, mainly in the heel area. That's not right after only 300 miles, and new hiking boots are expensive locally, per American values. There's no knowing how long the new ones would last either - or where I could find them in the villages and towns I went through, and what would they do to my blisters?

Since only the heel area of the sole was running out of tread, maybe a cobbler could do something?  If, that is, cobblers still existed, and didn't want me to leave the boots for a week and walk around in socks. Maybe I could fix the boots myself using one of the car mud-flaps I frequently saw on the roadside, and rubber cement?  These were my thoughts as the route - largely country lanes - got annoyingly hilly, and I clutched my oily sardine can in one hand, my hiking stick in the other - and wished I was already at Bewdley.

Then it occurred to me that the boot problem was "just money", and unimportant in the big scheme of things. And that reminded me that the solitude and strain of the trail could make one lose one's perspective.  I'd seen long-distance hiker blogs that have revealed this. As mentor Mark Moxon said, you have to dig deep to walk this sort of distance.  Well, I was digging pretty deep, and needed to keep a proper perspective regardless.

When I found The Horn and Trumpet on Dog Lane in Bewdley, I joked to the pub occupants that that name was appropriate, because I was dog-tired. My room was barely adequate, but after a bath, with washed clothes drying on a hot radiator, and my journal completed for the day, it was still only 7 pm, and I had the energy to head out.

Bewdley, at a glance, has more pubs per mile than anywhere else, as well as more patrons per pub. I had a pint of bitter at the Cock and Magpie on the river at Coles Quay, sitting outside in the fine evening weather.  I enjoyed the moment and the beer, and another customer remarked that he could see that I was enjoying myself, so I said I hoped he was enjoying himself also, and wasn’t the weather wonderful for so early in the year.

“Yes,” he said, “thank goodness for global warming. Usually, it’s pretty cold here for another month.”

“Just right for hiking,” I said.  “Not too hot, not too cold – and dry!”

So he asked me where I was headed, and I told him, and he said he hoped the weather would be “nice for it” tomorrow, too.

Leaving my newfound friend looking at the swans on the Severn, I took myself to the Vhujon Indian restaurant on Load Street for a pretty good lamb dhansak with boiled rice and onion chutney. The lime pickle was good too. 

Hiking, as with most other preoccupations, works better if you leave time to unwind at the end of the day.
Day N18                      2007 and 2008 Daryl May                         Day N20