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