The dismal drizzle descending, as I dragged myself from my laptop and set off for the two underpasses walk, soon developed into a steady stream, only slightly abated by the leaves on the still clad trees upon which it spattered.
Today I began from the Malwood Farm end. My nostrils picked up the scent of a bonfire as I passed the farm. I was drawn to it. Lingering longingly, struggling to summon the determination to continue through the soggy forest, I thought of my Facebook friend June. It was she who had the perspicacity to question my sanity when she realised that I went ‘out each day regardless of the weather’. I wondered whether she had a point. After all, the peaty scent of a glass of Talisker would have been rather preferable to that of woodsmoke.
I assume the board placed against the wire fence was to prevent sparks setting the forest alight, not to block off the smoke, like the board Mike Kindred fabricated for the log fire in the sitting room at Sigoules. Mind you, there was about as much chance of the forest being set on fire today as there was of stopping an uncapped chimney from blowing smoke into the house.
The tracks through the forest are now more disrupted. There are more fallen branches and more sucking mud patches. The pony pits in the clayey parts are beginning to fill with ochre coloured water, and the rivulets are filling up again. Elsewhere the clay is still firm, rendering it similar enough to that fired and formed into London concourses to warrant signs warning that ‘during wet weather floors may be slippery underfoot’.
I set off with such confidence that I know some of you will find it difficult to believe that I perpetrated a slight navigation error. How was it that, instead of emerging opposite the Sir Walter Tyrrell I came face to face with the fence around the farm that I had skirted so recently? Please don’t ask. ‘Blow this for a game of soldiers’, I thought, and headed back along the fence to the sandbagged ford which is now serving its intended purpose. Miraculously, I made the correct left turn.
Next time I will emulate Hansel, making sure to use white pebbles rather than breadcrumbs. Any of my readers unfamiliar with the Grimms’ folk tale of Hansel and Gretel will be able to find it on Google, but its relevance for my difficulties in successfully reaching Sir Walter, is that first pebbles, then bread, were used by the boy to lay a trail to help him and his sister find their way back.
This afternoon I boxed up a collection of DVDs for Mo and John to transport, with my obsolete iMac, to rue St Jacques. They are going to join the builders there and use the place as a base from which to seek their own French home.
Our two new friends dined with us this evening on Jackie’s French Onion soup; British roast chicken with Italian mushroom risotto and salad; followed by English Bread and Butter pudding, all cooked, as always, to perfection. We began with Antoine de Clevecy Champagne brought by our guests, and then served Maison des Papes Chateuneuf du Pape 2011. Jackie was disappointed that we didn’t have any English wine, but she enjoyed her German Liebfraumilch 2012. We had a most enjoyable evening.