This warm, bright, morning I walked, with a little diversion, the two underpasses route via Sir Walter Tyrrell that I had discovered three days ago.
I took a different diagonal across the, in parts still waterlogged, heathland towards the inn, as usual following pony droppings as a guide. When I saw the Rufus Stone through the trees on my right, I realised I had a fair chance of emerging from the forest at the Sir Walter Tyrrell. Indeed, I did arrive at a magnificent oak alongside the pub. I have photographed it to e-mail to Berry for consideration for the Ancient Tree Hunt. My sense of direction continued to be devoid of error. This encouraged me to take a much wider diversion to Castle Malwood Farm.
Such paths as there were through the forest were often completely blocked by fallen trees, and had a tendency to dissolve into a shoe sucking quagmire. The freshly leaved and sometimes elegantly shaped trees glowed in the mid-morning sun as I made my way, not exactly unerringly, through the woodland. My reluctance to accept that a stream I crossed was an extension of the one I had forded the first time I did this trip brought about a minor error of judgement. Perhaps it was a less than somewhat minor mistake, for I completely overshot the farm and found myself confronted by scattered cottages. Whilst I walked along the road passing them, I came across two gentlemen on bicycles labouring up the hill. As I wondered whether they would be able to tell me where I was, the one in the lead stopped and asked me: ‘Are you local?’. Rightly thinking this was likely to prove a marginally embarrassing exchange, ‘sort of’, I replied. His friend sported white warpaint on his nose, rather like an Australian cricketer.
I recovered a certain amount of self respect when they asked me whether they could cycle to the Sir Walter Tyrrell from there. I told them I had just walked it, but I wouldn’t recommend cycling it. Having glanced at their steeds which were rather more thoroughbred than wild pony in nature, I told them about the fallen trees and pointed to the mud on my shoes. I described the first barrier they would find, and off they went, quipping that they might soon turn around and come back to me. This they did. I now felt it fair enough for me to ask where I was. I was 500 yards from a pub at Brook. So I retraced my steps as far as the stream, and followed it, which is of course what I should have done in the first place. I found the approaching drone of the A31 surprisingly comforting.
So there you are, my faithful doubters. A 50% failure rate. Everything back to normal. All is right with the world.
Speedwell greeted me on the verge of Lower Drive as I less than speedily clambered up from the farm underpass.
After lunch a further trip to Cadnam Garden Centre was required. This was to buy more hanging baskets and plants that any self respecting rabbit would reject if they were served up in their freshly growing salad bar. French marigolds and alysum are examples. Unfortunately alysum was off.
This evening’s feast was Jackie’s delicious chicken curry and savoury rice followed by syrup sponge and ice cream. With this I finished off the Lussac St. Emilion we had brought back from The Firs yesterday. Taking it away with us was on the instructions of Danni who said that her mother should not be tempted to imbibe for another week.