Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hello from the village of Llandegla!

Very typical: I was walking down a street in the small village where I am spending tonight, got into conversation with this man in his 70s who is a big back packer, hiker, mountain biker, etc. Next thing you know, I am on his computer writing to you!

Amazing to me that I started to walk two weeks ago today. That I get on a train on Friday to London and then plane to the States on Saturday.

Why, some of you may wonder, have I decided to do this hike? My dear friend Frannie & her mom walked the Offa's Dyke Trail (or Cloi-vah Claud Offa, phonetically spelled in Welsh) in 1995. Since then, I've wanted to do it. But why solo? My map reading is...challenged...at best, so doing this walk on my own is improving my skills. Mind you, the acorns are quite well placed, if not hidden in some areas. But all in all, I feel more confident.

But most of all, I like solo travel. Going my own speed, so when I take 20 minutes to speak with a farmer in the middle of a field, I don't feel bad that I am holding someone up! Also learning about myself, reflecting upon life, seeing how my brain grows more quiet, and really love meeting people along the way--something that happens in a different way when I have traveled with friends.

Sheep talk:

I think that my sheep is improving, because now they do talk back to me. and I find I can understand them as well. Take this conversation I overheard yesterday:

(high-pitched BAAA) Mum!!

(low-pitched BAAA) Yes dear?

hpB: Mum!!! Where are you?

lpB: I'm right over here, by the fence

hpB: Mum!!!!

lpB: Stop shouting! I'm right here!

hpB: Mum! Can I go over to the next field with Billy & Nancy?

lpB: Yes, but have some milk first

hpB: Mum, not in front of the others! I've told you that a million times!

...and so on...

Call me Mr Ed

So much of this walk is through field of sheep, cows and horses. You go over 'stiles'--which are 2 planks going up & over the fence on each side--there are hundreds of these along this hike. Also sometimes through gates. All to keep the animals where they are. Two days ago, I entered this field where a brown Welsh pony was grazing. I also do a good horse imitation, so when I spoke to him, he came up to me & started head-butting me in a friendly way, as well as trying to eat the apple out of my back pack. I scratched his head & back, he pressed his head to mine & escorted me to the next stile, gently nudging me along the way.

Cow Stalking:

Twice this has happened to me: walking through a field of young bulls, they all check me out, and start following me as a massive group, but I am not really sure they are following me because when I turn around, they all instantly stop. Then I keep going, sense they are following, turn around, they have stopped but are definitely closer. Too funny! Feels like a cartoon!

The IPod in my head:

As I walk, I sing songs, sometimes out loud, sometimes humming . Yesterday turned out to be much reggae, today was female singer-songwriters. SCI, Grateful Dead, the Band, James Taylor, JP Orbit, Cat Stevens, Violent Fems, Willie Nelson, Kris Delmherst, New Monsoon...my inner Ipod is on shuffle and has endless megabites

Another reason why I solo-hike is to spare all of you my off-key singing :)

Ahh the fruit:

Strawberries, raspberries, bilberries, sour cherries...between the berries & getting lost twice a fe days ago, I was very late to the B&B, around 8pm. When I arrived, the very concerned husband said, 'welcome, take off your boats and I'll make you some tea just after I call the police and tell them you have arrived.'

His wife just laughed and said, 'I told him not to worry'

Go Speed Racer:

Having been in walk mode for so many miles, it is truly an oddity to see speeding cars. Last week, I was sitting on the front steps of a small building at the crossroads of 3 streets, having a snack with Axel & Janette--a couple from Holland who I've been walking on and off with since Thursday. Watching the cars speed by in all the directions...we were just amazed...not sure what to say...even giddy with so much fast motion. We laughed that it was performance art. It made me think of the movies Baraka and Koianiskatsi (sp?)

It is such a nice thing when I bump into Janette and Axel. He walks a bit faster, so Janette and I talk, eat wild raspberries and strawberries, and she is also a wild flower geek, so we teach each other the flowers we know. Yesterday we met while I was having tea along these 100s of year old canals. Like me, they had decided to not follow the Offa's Dyke trail up a mountain, but rather walk along the canal to the next village we were all going to stay in -- they in a B&B and me with a Andrew & Tracy of Couch Surfing. A lovely walk and we were very glad of our choice as we sat out a sudden intense thunder storm under a bridge.

Couch Surfing has been great! Last night with Andrew & Tracy, I felt like I was sitting with friends from the Bay Area. She is into spiritual practice & he into political blogging. They made a massive dinner plus wine and breakfast, and needless to say, I was a bit slow going today. 3 ghosts live in their house, along with two sweet small & scruffy dogs. I did witness 5 things mysteriously breaking, but saw no ghost with me own eyes.

Growing things:

3 kinds of orchids within 10 minutes of walking!, self heal, morning glory, St. John's Wort, veech, not to mention the trees: beech, walnut, chestnut, ash, maple, even redwoods, lots of furs and a crazy thing called a monkey puzzle tree, brought to an estate by an eccentric old chap a few hundred years ago.

and speaking of estates,

Last week when I was walking with Sal & Sue, we saw in the distance this huge estate. After a few seconds, Sue said, 'all that dusting' and Sal said, 'you'd spend all day washing windows'.

Raindrops keep falling on my head...not

I know I shouldn't tempt fate here, but I seem to be a few steps ahead and behind the big downpours of rain. But for last Wednesday, I've not been rained on but for a little spitting. 'Good thing you didn't come through here an hour ago. Huge storm!' I've heard on several occasions. Or I will stop for the day, and the rain begins moments later.

Right then! Time to hit the trail.

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