A week ago, I was physically and mentally desperate to get OUT after not only a whole week spent mostly indoors but what felt like months and months of inclement weather that made it necessary to prepare for even the shortest venturing out of the front door as if it was a polar expedition.
So when Saturday came and I knew I was going to be on my own and therefore not under any schedule other than what daylight dictated, I decided to walk to a place where I have often cycled to, but never gone on foot.
Knowing that it was going to be a distance of at least 15 km (around 9 1/2 miles), I figured I should leave the house no later than 2.00 pm in order to make it back home before nightfall.
Therefore, I made sure I finished ironing, dusting, hoovering, wiping the floors, emptying the bins and doing some groceries shopping in time for a quick cheese sandwich around 1.00 pm, and was ready to leave a bit before 2.00.
It wasn't the best of weather, and I knew there were going to be some wet and muddy patches, so my wellies (see previous post) were the obvious choice of footwear (they are also very comfortable because they are a bit on the big side, allowing for an extra pair of woolly socks), and I took a brolly with me as well as my camera.
Every time I turned a corner or a new stretch of path began, I took a picture.
The fields are still bleak, and there were hardly any people about, as you will see if you endure this post long enough to look at all the photos.
And yet, there was something very soothing about this almost featureless bleakness.
My mind was not challenged in any way, making it easy to sort out the whirling fragments of thoughts, ideas and memories. My feet were leading their own life, just taking me steadily further on; I know those paths too well to have to think about where I am going.
Having reached the outer rim of town, it's uphill towards the oldest of the four water reservoirs here.
I do have a thing about doors and doorways. Wonder when was the last time someone used this gate.
The water reservoir is at my back now. The monument to the left is to mark the site of celtic tomb.
A better view of the water reservoir. It was built in 1936 and is a popular place for rooks.
Now south, and uphill. This bit is not very popular with me when I am training for the CityRun!
And downhill, although it doesn't really show on this picture.
West again, towards one of the farms dotted around the fields.
Asparagus are growing underneath these ugly plastic covers.
Past the farm, and south again.
Looking back, the water reservoir is on the horizon, right in the middle here.
...and south, right through a nursery.
Some VERY oddly shaped trees there!
And a strange looking army of sorts.
On past the nursery with its rows of greenhouses...
across a road, and another farm coming up...
...where I see this cat, not exactly basking in the sun, but enjoying a quiet moment without too much wind and rain. Just a few minutes before, what had been a mere sprinkle had turned into proper rain, and for a moment or two, I had considered breaking off and going back home. But I did have my brolly with me, and was wearing my wellies, and the rain stopped and did not come back for the rest of my walk.
Past the farm and round a bend...
...towards another farm. Most of the farms around here sell their produce in little shops directly on their grounds, some are dairy farms, others sell more eggs and meat, while others again offer a variety of fruit and vegetables. One of them have a rather big shop plus a café-restaurant which is very popular, especially with families with kids, because the kids can run around and look at the animals (goats, pigs, sheep, horses and ponies), and the restaurant is often rented as a venue for weddings and other celebrations. On Mother's Day, you have no chance to even get your foot in the door, it is so packed. Their cooking and baking is excellent, with their own procude according to the season.
But now let's walk on, slightly uphill again...
...and to my left, now for the first time, I can see the place I am headed for: this group of trees.
So I am not wasting any time and walk on.
There is always enough time for a photo, though, and this immense field of reeds, much higher than I am, I find very intriguing. There is no way one can see further than a few steps in, and of course, something like this always triggers off my imagination.
Past the field of reeds (by the way, I don't know what they are grown for. One possible explanation is that the reeds are used for thatching, but in my area, there aren't any thatched roofs.) and slightly downhill again.
You can tell it has been raining - hooray for wellies!
But doesn't the sky look a tad bit lighter over there?
Or maybe I am only imagining it.
The motorway crosses here, but every now and then, a tunnel allows walkers, cyclists and the odd car to pass underneath.
Out of the tunnel, I touch the outer rim of one of the small towns near my town.
But before I'm actually in that town, I am out of it again. The group of trees I am headed for is now visible again on the horizon.
Only a few more steps...
...and here I am. As expected, nobody else has chosen to come here today.
This stone is not a natural stone. It has been sculpted from gravel and covered in some kind of cement to look like a real piece of rock, specifically to hold the plaque in its middle. Want to know what the plaque says?
It commemorates the 22nd of September 1888, when the German Kaiser stood at exactly this spot to inspect the troops of two of the regiments stationed nearby, and those regiments' towns later erected this monument. I guess it left a lasting impression on people back then when they had seen the Kaiser in person. We don't know the offical name of this place, but when we talk about it in my family, we always simply call it the Kaiser. So when I told my sister of my plans for the day and I said to her I intended walking to the Kaiser and back, she knew what I was talking about.
Having reached my goal, I felt a sense of accomplishment. The running/walking meter on my mobile phone told me that, until here, I had walked a bit over 10 km. And now, before the weather could turn nastier again, I was heading back.
Not wanting to do exactly the same route twice, after the first stretch...
...I took a left turn and down a rather steep hill, although it does not show in the picture. When I do this route by bike, it's a great hill to race down!
Arriving at the bottom and looking back, the Kaiser seems already quite far away.
The next bit leads towards the motorway again...
...and through another tunnel underneath it.
Now I am coming past the farm again where I saw the black cat.
Across the road again and past the nursery's greenhouses...
...and the weather has definitely taken a turn for the better!
Last year in August, I wrote about an evening with friends: http://librarianwithsecrets.blogspot.com/2011/08/evening-with-friends.html
and the place where I spent that evening is just visible on the horizon now.
Lovely to feel the sun on my back as I head east again.
By my long shadow you can tell the afternoon is progressing, and I want to be home before the evening.
So, on I walk.
And on. Do you know what this wooden "gallow" is for? You find these all around here; they are stands for birds of prey such as buzzards.
Another farm coming up.
Walking past the farm, there's a suburb of my home town.
But I am not going there, I'll stay on the fields as long as possible.
The farm coming into view now is the one with the restaurant I was talking about earlier.
During winter, the café is closed, otherwise I might have been tempted to go in and have coffee and cake, but I am walking past it, towards the suburb again.
A lot of new houses have been built here over the last year. This was all fields until not that long ago.
The shadows are getting longer.
And it is not quite as sunny anymore as it was for a glorious little while.
Good job then that it is not very far now.
Up here, and back into town; another 15 minutes from here, and I am home.
Have I deserved that coffee and cheese sandwich now, or what? And so have you, for bearing with me!