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?