The Long Walk

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We took a long walk a few weeks ago.
We had planned on doing some walking, but this one ended up being more ambitious than we had anticipated. It all had to do with my trepidation over public transport.  I grew up using it in Asia, where I could confidently flag down jeepneys and tricycles and get where I needed to go. But somehow, the Western public transport system is very intimidating for me. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s so organized, that it’s easy to miss a bus… Maybe it’s the fact that the roads aren’t full of friendly people that will go out of their way to make sure a foreigner gets to where they need to be.

I don’t know what it is, exactly, but the fact that we only have one car and I rarely use public transportation is weird, right? I am starting to do some freelance work, and I will be going to a property that is about a 25 minute drive from where we live. Knowing that the first commute by bus (and on foot) would be pretty stressful for me, Jeff took an afternoon off of work so we could all take the bus and get that first commute out of the way. How nice of him! Amelia was also up for the adventure, as she loves any form of public transport– which is extremely handy for all of us!
We took the bus from about five minutes away from our home, to our city’s main bus station. There, we got on the main bus that would take us way out into the country. Jeff talked to the driver and conductor about where we were going, and they decided that an earlier stop would be better than taking us to the closest village, Stanton. They insisted this would be MUCH better, so we got off on the side of a country road, in Walsham. With our phones, we navigated the country road, taking a wrong turn or two at first. We saw some pretty things.I never get tired of seeing these ancient churches in each village, still in use.And the houses in the villages are adorable, too.This was interesting! It looked a whole lot like it could be Downton Abbey– but it turns out that it is a retirement home (sign me up!)

After a good mile or so of walking, it became clear that we had made a mistake.  We were far from our destination. There were no bus stops, and if we were to find one, who knew when a bus would come by, anyway? So, we kept walking.

Luckily, I had packed lots of snacks for our lunch, and water. We tried to keep things upbeat for Amelia, who was beginning to catch on to the fact that we were not almost there, despite having walked for two miles already. The weather was gorgeous, the first genuinely warm day of the year. It was so pretty.

We stopped for the first half of our lunch on a broken old bench next to a barn, and listened to bird calls, and hoped no one would tell us we couldn’t eat on their property.

We walked, and we walked. And we walked.

Finally. Finally, we saw signs for Wyken Vineyard.
We saw it in the distance, too! We picked up our pace a bit, but it was still a good half mile away.

And then we were there. It was beautiful. (There were bathrooms, too!)  We went into the gardens to finish our lunch, and then we walked all over and took it in.

We visited animals, and saw what was growing.

Amelia took her boots off and enjoyed the soft, cool grass.We walked all over, more easily, now that we were at our destination.

…And then it was time to head home. This time, we walked to Stanton to catch the bus. It turns out that it was a pretty straight shot along very narrow roads, through a little village. We were tired, and Amelia was a terrific sport but very vocal about being really tired of walking. Since no one else was on the road, we did something very un-English, and sang at the top of our lungs as we walked. We sang Red Clay Halo, Three Little Birds and Goin’ Down the Road (feelin’ bad). That sure helped! The bus showed up in Stanton about 15 minutes later, and we road home. We walked home from the station, instead of waiting a half an hour for the one-mile ride.

Yes, this is Amelia, looking as fresh as a daisy at the vineyard after 4 miles.

So, all in all, we walked about six miles that afternoon. Things didn’t go as we had hoped, but we are able-bodied and the weather was beautiful. We live in a pretty and interesting place, and saw things we wouldn’t have seen if we had been driving. It’s one of those stories will put in our book of Things We Did, although we may shake our heads a little when we think of it. I recently read a really interesting article about the importance of family stories. It said that one of the single best predictors of how a person will weather life’s challenges is whether or not family narratives are part of that person’s life– stories about great moments, as well as challenges, and how those hardships were overcome. Our family is young, but we have already been on some very long, winding roads.  This one was a piece of cake, comparatively speaking, and I am glad to say we made the best of it.

The next time we say we’re going for a walk somewhere, I fully expect Amelia to ask, suspiciously, just how long it will be.  I will remind her that she walked six miles the other day, and that she did so beautifully. She may not have signed up for it, but it’s a part of who she is now, and I am glad. I am also glad for the difficult roads we have travelled– they have given us the gift of knowing that we can weather them, perhaps with grace, even.

Have you been on any long walks lately, literal or metaphorical?

This post was share at: Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday.


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24 Responses to The Long Walk

  1. Rocio May 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Beautiful post! I think this is my favorite thus far in your blogging. Well, this one and maybe the London food scene post.

    Long walks? Oh yeah! Both literal and metaphorical in this case–moving for Ph.D., then research in a foreign country, then back to the US, and now moving across the country next week! OY! Nonetheless, I know of no other blog that captures the spirit of adventure as well as yours. Keep up the good work!

    • Ariana Mullins May 9, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      Hi Rocio– thank you for your nice comments. We do like a good adventure, preferably if we’ve had a little rest since the last one! Where are you moving to? Wishing you well on that journey…

  2. Fawn May 8, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    We went on hike once during a family vacation near Lake Superior, we didn’t think it was a long trail…….but we somehow missed where we were supposed to loop back and ended up walking many “extra” miles like you guys. The sun got hot, the mosquitos bit in the few shaded spots and horseflies bit us in the sunny parts 🙂 We fondly refer to that hike as the Gitchagoomee (excuse the spelling) nightmare, as that was the trailname, minus the nightmare part. It was hard at the time, but we joked about everything and I recall it as a good time.
    I think times like these do build character and are good for seeing what you can endure. We did see things we certainly wouldn’t have had we had our shorter hike!

    • Ariana Mullins May 9, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      I’m sure that will be a good family story, and one that your kids remember later on when they inevitably get lost or a take some wrong turns on their own! Thank you for sharing, Fawn.

  3. Denny144 May 9, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    Several years ago , my daughter and I visited New York City and got totally lost. It was summer, a hot and windless day. We walked about two hours without finding the store we were looking for, despite going into shops and getting directions from the locals. My daughter finally sat down on the sidewalk and declared that she was not walking another step. She was 25 at the time. I flagged a taxi 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins May 9, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Oh, yes– a taxi can be absolutely sensible in those kinds of situations! That made me laugh.

  4. Joanna May 9, 2013 at 4:40 am #

    My metaphorical long walk was getting to Latvia, it took us from England via Denmark and Colorado, a bit more of a convoluted track than we thought it would be, but worth the journey.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the value of stories in families. When our children come to visit or we visit them, we spend hours talking about the stories and it continues the tradition of my husbands family. It was in the home of my husband’s parents that my children all get to hear the stories and know them so well, so well they could re-tell them too. I think it was one of the main reasons they loved to visit, because it was not as if we did anything very exciting when we were there, just talked a lot usually. I’ve noticed now that the new in-laws also seem to know some of the stories quite well too, helping them to feel a part of the story.

    • Ariana Mullins May 9, 2013 at 9:50 am #

      I imagine that it must have been a really interesting (although probably wearying journey!) We definitely had some detours on our way to England, but we were also glad for those, in the end.

      My grandpa is a story teller. He has written weekly letters to us and now hundreds of other people, starting when my family moved to the Philippines nearly 30 years ago. We have memorized much of his own history (and that of my grandma and their children) and he wrote an autobiography about his life. I love knowing these stories, and have a sense of history that I wouldn’t be so aware of otherwise. My daughter will read his autobiography someday, and I am happy that it is there for her. This is another reason why I blog– it’s to capture these stories for ourselves.

  5. Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    I LOVE your blog. Amelia is simply adorable. I love reading about your adventures and how Amelia is entwined in them. I live in California; traveled a lot, but never lived anyplace else. Living vicariously in England through your posts has been enjoyable. I shall now wait patiently for your next post. Thank you. 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      Hurray! So glad you’re enjoying our adventures and misadventures. Whenever someone tells me they’re in California, I immediately think of sunshine and good food. Enjoy those a little extra for me today!

  6. Anonymous May 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    I had to laugh! Sorry! Your broken bench, is a feed trough. Metaphorical, perhaps?
    Love the pictures of the country side and all the old homes. I wish we had such style in the US.

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

      Oh, we didn’t sit on the (watering) trough!! I guess I had that picture in an odd place– we sat on an unpictured bench– but glad you got a laugh out of it. And I agree with you about the architecture… One of my very favorite things about Europe. So much thought went into the design, and it’s so pleasing to look at. Not ALL buildings here are artful, of course– there are plenty of ugly modern ones, but the ratio of nice to blah is much higher here than in the USA.

  7. Anonymous May 14, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    We went on an adventurous bike ride (although not a walk) yesterday. We had a big sister injured along the way, and the younger sibling had to ride all the way back with dad to get the car and come pick us up. She couldn’t stay with us because only 2 bikes could fit on the car. They were able to ride back to the vehicle and little sister was proud to return with dad and rescue her injured big sis and mom. Unexpected, but everyone was fine and we still had a great day. I loved your story and the pics are delightful…thanks!

    • Ariana Mullins May 14, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      Oh, I’ll bet Little Sister felt so important, helping/ rescuing her big sister like that! Another good story for the family books. So glad you all had a great day anyway.

  8. Jess May 17, 2013 at 2:17 am #

    This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing about your wonderful “little” family walk. 🙂


    • Ariana Mullins May 17, 2013 at 10:14 am #

      So glad you enjoyed it, Jess, and thank you for telling me!

  9. Nikki Wall May 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    Wonderful pictures! It’s been a long time since I’ve been Suffolk-way. I hadn’t planned on walking for long, but we always go for a walk after our home-ed meet (as a group) and ended up being out for almost 4 hours on Thursday (not quite sure how that happened!)

    • Ariana Mullins June 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

      Four hours is a long time to walk– but sometimes it’s best, when you don’t plan it and realize later that you’ve been out for that long. I hope your kids enjoyed it!

  10. Amy Rottier June 3, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    You are in my very favorite part of the world, ever. Suffolk England; I lived there for 5 years in my teens, and I would live there now – there’s a little green monster poking his head over my shoulder. I can almost smell the grass and stone. I used to bicycle from my village to a friend’s house in Bury – along the A road! I can’t imagine letting my similarly-aged child doing that anywhere here in Maryland. Enjoy it!

    • Ariana Mullins June 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Hi Amy! Isn’t Suffolk so gorgeous? I love how rural it is, and one of our favorite things to do is just go for a drive, and stop to explore footpaths as we find them. We are definitely enjoying!

  11. Denise aka Nana June 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    You have captured my love for Suffolk County so well in your post! I was married to the USAF and lived near Stanton at Shepherds Grove back in 1980-82. I used to walk when I could with 2 toddlers. I loved going to the market in Bury. I spent some time in Brandon and near Fakenham at RAF Sculthorpe as well. I was very young and had little money so getting outside was what kept us going. I remember picking raspberries and strawberries one summer to make freezer jam. It was the best! I now reside in Mesa, AZ and there are times when I dream of those days in England with such a longing…so thank you for such a wonderful memory! ~Denise

  12. Mandy July 25, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    I’ve just found your blog! I’m from Norfolk, living in Colorado Springs. We’ve been in the US for 10 years. Wicken Vineyards is one of my favourite places. Especially to eat! We’re moving back to England next year after 10 years away (near Bury St Eds.) so I’m really enjoying your posts and feeling pretty homesick. Suffolk is indeed gorgeous. And green! Your Amelia certainly is a trooper!

  13. Anonymous August 11, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Love your blog posts and the photos in them.

    About this post:
    Britain’s just aboput the best mapped country in the world thanks to the Ordnance Survey (OS), so if you get an OS map of your local area you’ll not get lost next time you go for a walk.

    OS Landranger map (1:50,000 scale, which is 1 cm per kilometer) – ok for walking abd covers a relatively large area
    OS Explorer map (1:25,000 scale, which is 2 cm per kilometer) – larger scale so has more detail but covers a smaller area

    Both map types show public footpaths (across the fields an such like) and tourist info.

    You can get them from stationers such as WH Smith,
    or see

    You’re so lucky to live in Bury St Edmunds – a lovely part of Suffolk.


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