Last night was interesting, watching a video of my women’s choir singing without me conducting. They performed at a wedding yesterday, and I trusted them and David to be able to do well without me at the front. Which they did. I was very proud of them.
Philip suggested that he accompany me to the edge of the town this morning. Walking down the mean streets of Bridgwater to the footpath we passed an elderly man in a Star Trek outfit and a man repairing his window dressed in clown trousers. The drizzly weather started to match our moods at saying goodbye. As I was about to head off, Philip said some very kind things about my navigation skills. This was then rather undermined by my struggling to climb a stile to start the path, not noticing the gate he had opened for me next to it. It did mean we were laughing. I walked across the field to the motorway footbridge, and looked back to see him still waving.
Its been a lovely time, the only negative thing has been that my prime ice cream critic didn’t get the chance to have an ice cream in Bridgwater.
Having crossed the M5, I was relieved to see a confident footpath, along what looked like dykes. Looking it up later, I discovered these are ancient drainage ditches. I approached the brilliantly named Chedzoy village, crossing the waterway called Chedzoy Rhyne, to discover that this is where the battle of Sedgemoor took place in 1685. The fields I’d been walking past were where the dead lay unburied in amongst the wheat, only to be discovered after the harvest.
Chedzoy was the first of a number of little villages I passed through. There was no life apart from the houses, no shops or other amenities, only the names of the houses showing the roles they used to play - a blacksmith, a bakery, a school, an old village hall. And no pubs either. Of the four marked on the map on my route in a short distance, one was shut on Mondays and 3 were closed down.
There were lovely flowers in the hedgerows and outside people’s gardens, there was a rainbow flag, there were signs showing that there had been a jubilee party, but that didn’t raise my spirits enough at the way these places with a history and attractive buildings seemed to be lacking soul.
A lot of the issue appears to me to be that many of the villages have the busy A39 running through them. Cars, lorries and many buses transporting people from Glastonbury were constantly hammering through. It felt like the human element of a village had been forgotten. A walker felt very out of place.
I decided to cheer myself up with the wonderful playlist my friends have made for me. I veered from ‘Oops upside your head’, remembering many parties where we ended up on the floor, to ‘Sit Down’, which I could really have done with as it’s been a very long walk today. And then a flock of white doves flew across my line of sight as Pachelbel played.
As I approached the centre of Street things cheered up. There was bunting and shops, and importantly a slower road so humans could thrive better. Clarks shoes started here, set up by brothers who originally made sheepskin rugs and then slippers. They don’t make them in Street anymore, but the legacy conitiues with an outlet shopping village. I’d love to have some slippers, but that definitely doesn’t qualify as essential weight in my rucksack.
The walk today has been longer than anticipated due to some missing footpath rerouting again. So I took a welcome sit down and loo stop at the Bear in Street. I listened in to the conversation between Margaret, Hazel and Angela discussing the problems of having memory checks at the hospital, and having to get used to using a stick. They greeted me as I was leaving and asked if I’d been to the festival, with my ‘getup’. When I explained, they kindly gave me their coins for the charity.
It was great to see the Tor in the distance as I approached Glastonbury. The festival finished last night, and I watched a large group of people, all ages, being disgorged from one bus in order to catch another one. There were some fresh looking very trendy youngsters with great hats and tiny bags, and behind them a weary looking 40 plus man with a wheelie suitcase.
There really isn’t anywhere like Glastonbury. In a few hundred yards, I saw many crystal shops whilst listening to a busker on a didgeridoo. I was intrigued by a book on the erotic heart of early Christianity, and was tempted by more witchcraft supplies. I decided against soul therapy treatments, fairyland aromatics and shamanic healing, and felt sympathy for the weary pale festivallers wandering in desperate distracted circles.
On my way back to the B and B I wandered into the church, to discover a gong performance was underway. Most of the audience of ten people were sitting on the church seats. But mysteriously three were lying down in front of the altar. Because I arrived after it had begun, it was never clear why. Many of the instruments that the children enjoyed so much when I taught them were used, gongs, bells, shakers, drums were all vibrating through the fantastic space. Then, to my surprise, the musician walked up and down the very well spaced audience and in sequence shook a maraca, banged a tambour and played an Indian bell near our heads in combination with burning incense, whilst looking at each of us with a beatific smile. He then sat back down and played a note on one of the large bells and waited in silence. This precipitated a very English reaction of everyone watching everyone else to see if it was appropriate to move or not. Finally one of the lying down audience, a portly man in a vivid waistcoat and an excellent fez, made a move and we all headed for the door. Utterly memorable, utterly surprising, and it tipped a rather dreary walking day into something very special.
The Glastonburiness continued, in that I was offered an early evening session in the meditation room that comes with my B and B. On the principle of taking up every opportunity, I accepted. It’s essentially a furnished shed, but it was peaceful and a lovely place to stretch my tired muscles and rest my mind for a bit.
Early night tonight, with a long heavy walk tomorrow.
Distance travelled: 17 miles
Total ascent: 800 feet
Calories burned: 1940
Local tipple - Mango lassi
Dinner at Elaichi Indian restaurant - lovely change
Vegetable biryani with cucumber raita and lime pickle
New song of the day:
Eris Drew - Ride Free
I was intrigued by the spoken word elements of this, and enjoyed the trance feel. But the chord sequence was a bit simple.
Video of the day: