2002 Q1 Vacation:  51°49.46251’N, 0°44.9946’W

Day 5: Sun 24 Mar 2002

00:00 – 01:00 GMT (B&B)

When I got home, my full intention was to go right to sleep.  But it took a little while to get there.  I played Solitaire on my computer until I won.  Then I went to sleep.

01:00 – 08:00 GMT (Sleep)

Even after that I tossed and turned a decent bit before actually getting to sleep.  But eventually I did.  No tree houses or mahnahmahna’s this time.

08:00 – 09:00 GMT (Breakfast)

A couple more things about breakfast.  The sausage is less dense than American sausage.  Also, the butter they had was labeled “Free Range Butter”.  I know what it actually means, but I kept having visions of little pats of butter with legs and arms sticking out the sides traipsing happily through fields of grass and dandelions. 


These are big breakfasts for me.  I mean, they aren’t as big as a Danny’s Lumberjack slam or anything, but I usually have those for dinner, not actual breakfast.  Even with all the walking around I’ve been doing the breakfast is probably still more than enough to last me for the whole day.  The only reason for me to eat at other times is just to do more exploring and see more restaurants and such. 

09:00 – 12:00 GMT (Nap & Rest)

After breakfast, I once again immediately fell back asleep.  Zzzzzz……

12:00 – 18:00 GMT (Walk & Town & Walk)

Before leaving, I had a brief conversation with Lynn Mason, the wife of the gentleman who had been dealing with me in the past.  The last couple of days a little girl, maybe six years old, had also been staying with them.  I had presumed that it was their granddaughter. Both of my hosts had remarked how “she never shuts up!” as the child babbled away.  “She only stops talking when she is sleeping or eating!”  At one point when I was talking with Mrs. Mason in the front courtyard the girl shyly looked out at us from the door.  “Someone is looking for you,” I said.  Mrs. Mason rolled her eyes, saying again how the little girl just never stopped and had boundless energy.  Then she told me that the girl was in fact not their granddaughter, but was their great granddaughter.  She was staying for the week during the Easter break from school.  She normally lived with their daughter, the girl’s grandmother.  Apparently just six months ago, the little girl’s mother had died at the age of 24.  I didn’t ask how because I didn’t want to pry.  But as Mrs. Mason said, it has been a difficult year for them.  Poor child.  It seems she has good family to look after her though.




Mrs. Mason had given me a few tips on where to walk, and I started out in the direction she recommended, but quickly diverged.  I started heading east along the A41, much as I had done the day before, but then I took a left onto the street that went behind Spindleberries and headed back in the general direction of town, but on a route a bit further north than the way I normally took.  By this point my knee was still a dull ache, but my feet were really hurting.  But again, I wasn’t letting that stop me.


I made my way into town, bought a Sunday Times, and headed for a coffee shop off the center square. 




I then sat upstairs in the coffee shop for about an hour just relaxing and reading the paper.  It was a nice little coffee place.


Then I headed out, deciding my plan would be to catch the canal tow path in the center of town, then follow it to where I had joined it back when I was looking for my random spot, and continuing on to where I had left the towpath, but then instead of heading left where I had gone to find my random spot, I would take a right and see where that would take me. 


So I did just that.  It was a nice long walk down the tow path.  I saw the part of it at the beginning I hadn’t seen yet, and then saw the rest of that walk again.  But even having seen it before it was a nice walk.  And it was slightly less muddy.  According to the Masons, it had been rainy for several weeks straight before I arrived.  Then aside from my first night, when it had been raining some, it had been clear, sunny and nice the entire time I had been there.  The temperature was just perfect for the kind of walking I was doing.  Such that you needed a jacket if you were just sitting somewhere, but where if you were walking and exerting yourself you could take off your jacket and keep nicely warm.









So when I ended up taking a right, it was just a nice walk down a country road.  I started seeing lots of air traffic though.  Ultralights, gliders, small aircraft, etc.  Just doing long looping circles around the area.  And then I saw a balloon coming from the distance.  I remembered the balloon sign from the day before, and started thinking that a balloon ride would be a great way to end the vacation.  I wanted to find that sign again, and see if I could arrange one.




So as I kept walking down this street, I was thinking that from the general direction and such it should bring me back close to Asbury Clinton, where I had eaten the day before.  Which means I should pass that sign again.  Good.  I continued watching the balloon as it passed over me, then I noticed too more in the distance.  I would definitely have to do this.


Eventually I came into a residential area, and then back out to the A41.  I was not out as far as the Duck In though.  I was somewhere a little closer to Aylesbury.  So the question was if the place where I had seen the balloon truck was to my right (toward Aylesbury) or to my left (toward the Duck).  I was starting to feel like I was ready to sit down for a bit again, but I wasn’t yet ready to actually stop anywhere for a real meal.  I had decided that I should start following the policy of waiting until I was actually hungry to eat.  So I decided to head toward the right back toward Spindleberries.


As I walked the couple miles back, I kept looking for the balloon sign.  The further I got the more I suspected that I had in fact gone the wrong way.  I was not going to see the balloon sign again.  And at this point I had been walking too long to feel like turning around at this point.  But this would define my mission for the next day.  Find the balloon place.  Find out how much it cost, and see if I could do it.  And also, find the airport where all those small planes were coming from.  I could tell it was very close.  Perhaps some of those were also (like the balloons) a tourist type thing where you could pay something and they would fly you around the county to take pictures and such.  You never know.  That would also be fun.  And even if all that turned out not to be possible, finding the balloons and the airport would give me something to do the next day.

18:00 – 20:00 GMT (Relax and Regroup)

Once again when I got home I lay down.  I don’t think I actually slept much, but I just lay there flipping channels mindlessly as I got my energy back up to go out again for dinner.

20:00 – 22:00 GMT (Beefeater and Exploding Feet)

When I finally decided to go out to dinner, and was getting ready to put socks and shoes on, I noticed something for the first time.  Not to continue to be all gross about my body’s complains about having to walk six to 8 hours a day every day for 5 days in a row (hey I sit at a computer all day and veg on a couch watching TV at home all the time most of the time, it isn’t used to this kind of treatment!)…  but I’ll continue anyway.  My knee had been hurting, as I have mentioned, and my feet had started to hurt later.  And I had noticed after the first day some blisters on the bottom of my right foot.  But no big deal, blisters on the bottom of feet I’ve had before, I know how they work.  They aren’t too bad.  But now I noticed that the big toe on my left foot was all swollen.  Specifically under the nail.  All red and puffy and pushed upward.  As if a big bubble was lifting the nail out of where it was supposed to be.  It was all red and angry looking.  Like it could explode at any moment.  There was a woman I’d gone out with a handful of times a few years back (haven’t talked to her since) who had lost a toenail after kicking a soccer ball the wrong way.  I was thinking of that.  This big bubble thing is going to grow, it is going to explode, my toe will be all bloody, and my nail will fall off.  And perhaps, like this woman, the nail would never grow back properly.  How lovely. 




Oh well, nothing to do about that now.  Put the socks and shoes back on, and out the door to go find dinner.  I was planning on walking all the way into town, because I had said early on that I would not eat at the same place twice on this trip, for the variety and all.  But by the time I had gotten to the Plough Beefeater, the place I had eaten the first night, my feet were complaining mightily, and with my new awareness of what my toe looked like, I decided I would cut my losses and just eat that the Beefeater. 

So I stopped, I ate, I read some, I wrote a couple postcards, and then I headed home.  The whole time I was thinking things like.  “Hmmm, if my knee goes out completely, what exactly will I do?”  And “If my toe explodes, how will I avoid getting the stairs at Spindleberries all bloody?  That is probably worse than mud.”.    Oh well.  I got back to Spindleberries just fine, and with no major incidents.  The feet and knee still hurt though.  But that was OK, I was getting quite used to it by this time.

22:00 – 00:00 GMT (Collapse)

When I got home, I was ready to crash.  The Oscars were going to be on in a few hours, and I thought about staying up to watch them.  But I zonked out well before they started.