Lichfield to Rugeley
It was back to normal as I woke up on Saturday with nothing more than a pleasant day in Lichfield to contemplate. Mandy arrived in time for breakfast at Costa and then we walked around the shops. She bought a new outfit for her St Cuthbert’s Way walk next month, the same one I’m doing, as it happens.
Then her friend Jill joined us and we had a look at the impressive Cathedral followed by tea. Jill speaks Russian and so we reminisced about our times in Russia. I wish I had written a blog about my trip around the USSR in March 1986. There were so many memorable moments including the best meal of my life with the Soviet ambassador to Poland, his wife and I.
This morning Mandy & I breakfasted in the Premier Inn and then she drove me out of Lichfield and dropped me off where I could find the Heart of England Way.
And there she was, waiting for me as she always did. It was our last day together and we had to say everything that had to be said. We walked around the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was a popular place for horse riders, bikers and runners. The Heathland was a blaze of purple flowers and there were good views of the distant hills. It was a fine morning to be out on Cannock Chase.
We were coming to the end of the path. There was no notice board, no banners, no flags, nothing but a post with a sign saying “Heart of England Way” pointing south and another saying “Staffordshire Way” pointing north. Our time together was up.
We were both very young for our age. In the autumn term I was too shy to talk to her so eventually she asked me to take her for a walk in the woods. That was after Christmas. And then before Easter she received the news that she’d been waiting for.
“Have you packed?”, I asked her.
“Are you looking forward to seeing your mother?”
“It’s been a long time. Tim, please look after Mary”.
I thought I had grown up but two years would pass before I took another path and it was a dark and troubled one. Too many more would follow, some good, some not so good. But none would be as special as the first: the Heart of England Way.
Goodbye to the Heart of England Way