Kingswood to Shustoke
I stayed in a hotel called the Punchbowl last night and it was first class and for the same cost as the dreadful Punchbowl in Woodstock. They dried all my gear, cooked me a good steak and saw me off this morning with a fine breakfast.
I had to walk a kilometer to hopefully meet the Heart of England Way but when I arrived there was no sign of her. I was looking around wondering what to do when a man approached with a giant backpack and asked me if he could help. “I’m looking for the Heart of England Way”, I said. “Go over that style, walk across the field and she’s there waiting for you”. His very words. I wanted to dash off but he asked me where I was walking so I told him. He was semi impressed.
“How about you?”
“John o’ Groats to Lands End. 10 weeks. I’ve broken the back of it, after the Pennine Way”. His voice indicated respect. We discussed mapping. “What are you using”, he asked. “ViewRanger”. “Me too. You’ll need it on the Pennines. Zero visibility on Blowy Peak” or somewhere like that.
His name was Richard and he was a nice man. He was camping. We could easily have talked for hours but I was in a hurry.
She was standing where he said.
“I’m sorry for what I said yesterday”, she said.
“You were right”
“I was wrong”
We left it at that and set off towards Shustoke. We walked close together and there were no more tricks with the barbed wire fence. We were growing up by the day.
We came to the site of some HS2 enabling works. This is a new railway which may or may not be built but if it is built it will get people from Birmingham to London even faster than today. That will be good for London because we need some of that northern money. It’s just a shame they won’t build a proper fast train like you get in Japan. In my lifetime British engineers went to Japan and built the Shinkansen but they didn’t leave any notes so now we can’t do it anymore.
Our more immediate problem was how to walk around the works. All the paths and roads were closed and the locals were annoyed. They shouted at me that they didn’t want to go to London and they only want to go to Shustoke, if and when the road reopens.
I held her hand and we dodged the 50 mph traffic racing past us.
After that we stopped for a coffee at the edge of Balsall Common and I registered our names for possible track and trace. The Heart of England Way and I.
We walked a short distance to Berkswell for lunch and we registered again. The system was supposed to send a code for me to show the bar staff but there was no phone signal so I didn’t get the code but no one cared.
Later we passed under the M6 and there was a warning that the Police were watching us.
Just before Shustoke I was telling her something about Leonard Cohen when she shouted “Watch out!” Too late. I didn’t see the branch.
I went to A&E Nuneaton and they stuck a bandage on my head and I was soon back in Shustoke at the pub. I was the only customer. “Last night we had 85 eating for half price”, the landlord told me. “I’ll be glad when it’s over”.
Richard heading south
Alone in the pub this evening. It’s Thursday. Full price food.