Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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John and Andrea
John and Andrea Tippetts
Days S44 - S52                                                                   English Midlands
Rest day 16
Day S47                  A hugely satisfying rest day                  Day S48
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Scottish Highlands
Central Scotland
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North of England
English Midlands
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Northbound Home
Thursday, April 10,  2008


Miles: 0
Cum miles: 667.7
Percent complete: 68.8

Bed sign With friends, John and Andrea Tippetts
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More views of Ludlow
DS47 Ludlow feathers
DS47 Ludlow store
Oh, the sheer sybaritic enjoyment of it all! A late lie-in beneath a goosedown duvet. Radiators that work enthusiastically to make stepping out of a warm shower a joy. Large, soft towels off a heated towel rack. A relaxed breakfast with friends. A day spent looking out at the weather for a change, instead of living it.

Machine-washed clothes drying in the airing cupboard, and the anticipation of a fresh warm coat without a sweaty odor. A discussion of old times over gourmet coffee. The luxury of choosing from among Andrea's six gourmet cheeses, or her smoked salmon, and then having both!

Through all this, the freedom to walk around without a pack. No thoughts of blisters or ankle pain. No worries about getting anywhere on time. No mud. No traffic.

I am two-thirds through my hike. Back in Kendal at the half-way point, I could see an endless walk ahead, and gained only the satisfaction that I was at the end of the beginning. In Ludlow, with two-thirds done, I can feel I have reached the beginning of the end. Some 320 miles lie ahead, but I've done twice that already. True, finishing this walk will take a hefty effort, but the end-point will seem increasingly close with every passing day.

For all the talk of bad weather, spring has been racing across the land, the more noticeable in walking north to south. In the spell of barely two weeks, the hedgerows have budded to opaqueness. Farmers are furiously at work. I saw six tractors on one field yesterday, two furrowing, two planting, and two covering over.

The daffodils are profuse but slightly tired, ready to pass the seasonal baton to more durable flowers. Rabbits dart, and the older lambs are now running beyond the emotional tether of their mothers. A pheasant's thunderous wing-smacks startled me twice this week.

If I were contemplating this from abroad, I would be thinking as Robert Browning in "Home thoughts from abroad". But it's even better thinking his thoughts while here:

"Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!"

I've walked some forty days and 575 miles since my last day-off. You could say I've earned a break. I can't think of a nicer place to spend it than with John and Andrea Tippetts.
Time to replace my hiking pole boot
DS46 Hiking pole boots
Day S47                               2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                Day S48