67. The Extra Mile

I used to be on the lookout for fairies, but now it’s walkers, and not the kind with sturdy boots, cagoules and granola bars. I’d startle if I met anyone on a trek, but the stumbling undead?

A childhood in Germany, with forests of wild pigs and assault courses, to the cool woods of England. Giant tree-mushrooms, a forager’s delight, ever-declining red squirrels, cob nuts and that particular tea time, dappled, sepia sunlight. Children laughing as they hide in makeshift dens under rhododendron bushes. Finding the perfect bluebell knoll, in a tiny clearing. Nature trail signs and searching for new installation sculptures made from fallen trees and industrial metal. Overgrown Victorian train tracks (non-standardised gauge) and bridges with ornate brickwork over tiny beck streams. The obligatory ‘witches’ cottage, which was where they used to make charcoal, but local spookier stories seemed more believable.

Kicking puff-balls into a mist, tipping over fallen logs, scattering earwigs, woodlice and beetles, hugging the big tree, helicopter sycamore seeds, pockets full of conkers, treading crisp leaves into last-years mushy decay, with nothing but the sun and occasional road noise as our guides. Spongy, slippy moss and the snap of twigs slowly becomes well-trodden, drier, familiar tarmac.

Muddy boots off in the car, a swig of shared water then home. Whose turn is it to wash the smelly dog?

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64. Soundtrack to No-one’s Life

The ‘Baby Driver’ Spotify playlist lasts for one hour and thirty eight minutes. A happy coincidence (which I did not realise until afterwards) as this was the exact length of time it took me to walk to work. (I was getting in some walking practice for an upcoming city break to New York).

The combination of such a beautiful day and brilliant music made such an impression on me that I listened to the playlist in its entirety again the following day. Incredibly, it took me door to door a second time, but for a completely different journey. I took a bus, walked, then caught a train to a branch office in the next city to my hometown.

Serendipity indeed.