2020

Day 4 – Ghost Town

Reading to Wallingford

This pilgrimage is very last minute and because of the pandemic and all the uncertainties of lockdown and second waves, I thought it best to plan and book every day. I dislike doing that because it removes the spontaneity of the experience. I think there is something wrong with the website I used for the planning. I’m convinced I walked farther than 28Km yesterday when I crawled into Reading at 4.30pm and today was meant to be 28Km but I breezed into Wallingford before lunchtime.

Nothing much happened. I left Reading on the Thames Path. The weather was dull, grey and cool and soon I was lost in my thoughts. A chap who was walking his dog asked me where I was going. I told him Holy Island and he said he’d been there last year and told me not to miss the fish and chips in some place which I’ve now forgotten. Anyway I’m allergic to fish and chips so it doesn’t matter.

It started to rain and I put on the rain gear. At Goring I stopped for coffee at a little cafe. It wasn’t anything like the Lockdown Lodge. The inside was sealed off and there was one table outside which was occupied. The two girls were very apologetic but what could they do with the virus raging through little Goring? I pretended to be tired and eventually they put a second table outside for me, carefully avoiding Penelope’s poodle parlour next door. That gave them the idea for a third table which was quickly occupied as well.

So, breakfast was a bacon baguette which couldn’t have been worse.

The half price ‘eating out’ Government subsidy runs from Monday to Wednesday and last night I had to resort to Burger King because every restaurant was full or closed. Now it’s Thursday and Wallingford is like a ghost town. My hotel, “The George” is completely empty. The bar, the restaurant and all the rooms too. I had booked and paid for dinner but the menu was missing everything advertised outside. The choice was a club sandwich.

I asked the waitress/barmaid how they were coping. Her view was that the half price subsidy was a disaster. “everyone is going to catch the virus on Monday”. I said it was like a ghost town and she said “If only. We’re normally full of Americans on coach tours. They come for our famous ghosts but now they’ve all gone and so have the ghosts”.

The Goring cafe…

The church in Goring. You can’t miss the blue plaque which proclaims Lewis Carroll preached here. So?

The George in the Ghost town of Wallingford

Full price dinner at the George (a Club Sandwich). No takers.

I had a warm welcome at the nearby Dolphin

9 comments on “Day 4 – Ghost Town

  1. Tonight is a unique chance to get thrown out of an empty pub for being disrespectful about their most famous preacher!

    • I’ve been thrown out of two empty pubs so far but we won’t go into that …😷

  2. Vicky W

    Kia Ora Tim, I really empathise with you over missing the spontaneity of not knowing where you’ll sleep tonight. That was one thing I loved about the VF and the Shikoku pilgrimage. I also loved the challenge of getting by in another language and I’m sure you’ll be missing that too. You are walking through gorgeous places and alongside water so enjoy the scenery and fantasize about what might be for dinner tonight! Kia kaha, Vicky

    • Yes Vicky but I’m just so lucky to be able to attempt a pilgrimage this year. I’m coming across so many young people who can’t contemplate anything at all. The Thames Path is delightful and gorgeous. You’re right.

  3. Loving the blog and the photos. Thankyou

  4. Margot

    Oh Tim how lovely and what a treat to be walking !! Here is Melbourne we are in stage 4 lockdown, permits required out of the house, short one hour exercise near home, 8pm curfew every night. It’s winter too – dreaming of the day I can walk again. I’ll follow with interest xx MARGOT

    • Hi Margot. It’s really good to hear from you. I hope those measures are effective and that you can get out soon. These are difficult times and I feel “survivors guilt” being able to make this pilgrimage while everything is so difficult for so many people.

  5. I do hope things be one better soon. Enjoy the tranquillity and scenery. Such a shame that things are so quiet!

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