Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Trip Start Oct 10, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, January 29, 2012

For Christmas, my darling husband, bought me a book. This book stood out amongst my other presents, mostly because it wasn't some form of body-cleansing product. Whilst the rest of my family played with their presents, my only option was to have five showers to try out all my different creams, moisturisers and potions.. or read my book.

The book is entitled 50 Walks in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Oddly enough it lists 50 walks of between 2 and 10 miles, within spitting distance (or at least a short drive) of my home. The dog needed walking and the sky promised to hold off on the rain, so we headed out to Tenbury Wells to see what the guide had to offer us.

The first problem, naturally, was that the bridge across the River Teme was closed, and is expected to remain closed for months and months. In fact, there is a rumour that repair work on the bridge will take so long, that bushes and vines covered in mistletoe will grow up all around Tenbury. All the shops will shut and only a handsome prince with a machete will be able to hack his way through. The locals aren't happy. Princes are difficult to find in Sleeping Tenbury.

I digress. The council had tarmacked a field next to the bridge so we could park and walk across into the town centre. I recently bought a retractable dog lead for Pal. The idea is that we can branch out into sheep territory instead of being consigned to the forest all the time. Pal needs to run, but I don't totally trust him near sheep - hence the sproingy lead solution. Anyway, this was the first time we had used the new extendible lead and it was a learning process for all of us. Before we even got into town, Pal had managed to execute two perfect trip-wire procedures on innocent pedestrians.

The route took us through town and out the other side onto the Berrington road, past the prosaically named Bog Lane. We crossed a lot of fields and skirted some serious seas of mud. The sheep got out of the way, whilst Pal shook with suppressed excitement at the end of his long lead. He didn't, however, bolt at them. There were a lot of stiles to climb over. At nearly every one Pal managed to find a small gap to squeeze through, making it awkward to pass the lead across from Mel to me. Mel had begged for the fun of the new lead. It had oodles of novelty value, so he got the job for the whole of the walk.

Just as we were coming to the end of a seemingly endless chain of fields, Pal spotted a rabbit. The rabbit bolted off to the left, through the thistles, just in front of Pal's nose. Pal, quivering with excitement, leapt forwards at full throttle. The lead payed out at high speed, then hit the 8m limit. Mel, holding tight to the handle of the lead, flew acrobatically through the air, landing on his face in an ocean of mud. He slid forwards, as if he was a head-first luge finalist at the Winter Olympics, eventually coming to a halt when the dog wisely decided he was getting strangled and had better stop.

I have to give Mel credit. He didn't get upset. I mean the child had mud from ass to apex. He had mud inside his ears and gluing his eye shut. Using the drinking water to try to wash some of it off, just left him looking like he'd spent a weekend of guerrilla warfare with the TA. Pal didn't look a bit guilty. It was clearly the rabbit's fault. There was nothing for it. We set off again - mother and mud-monster.

Just past the next farmhouse, the guide's instructions seemed a little vague. We had to ask two separate passers by if they could interpret the directions for us. Mel oozed gently while I talked. Eventually we chose the right path. It took us past a country club with golf course. Some men in gaudy checked trousers were playing golf. They clearly had more disposable income than we did. They paused mid-stroke, staring in disbelief, as we walked/squelched through their car park. I'm sure a tumble weed blew past.

Past a mill and some cute log cabins, the guide book directed us through someone's back garden. The instructions were clear, but it did look quite private. Given that the owners had tied the gate shut with baling twine, we retreated and followed the metalled drive instead. Out on the lane, there was a signpost pointing directly into the garden of this house. It really is a public footpath, straight past their conservatory.

There is a fruit tree nursery off the lane, with a 'mind-boggling array of trees'. We followed the trail, prepared to be boggled. It took us ages to cross from one side of the nursery to the other, passing thousands of trees, sometimes double stacked in pots. There truly were an enormous number and variety. Apparently the nursery specialises in rare varieties of fruit trees.

Just past Bednal Bridge we stopped for a snack. It was lunch time, but we hadn't planned on being out much past lunchtime, so I'd only packed a muesli bar each. The guide book taunted us with an 'abrupt bank'. An abrupt bank is their description of a 45 degree bank, slick with liquid mud. Mel used his initiative and let Pal tow him up. I took my time, sliding backwards nearly as much as I stepped forwards. At the top we passed through an orchard. The floor was littered with fallen fruit from the autumn. There were yellow apples mixed with purple plums. The smell of fermenting harvest drifted in the air; wine for the birds.

Mel gripped my arm.
"I don't want Pal to pull me over agai... aargh!" he said, tripping over his own feet and landing on his knees in deep mud. Pal was totally innocent this time. Mel stood up. The boy had clods hanging from his knees. I tried to hug him, but couldn't find a clean space to put my arms. I settled for laughing at him instead.

The last part of the walk took us past back gardens, a meadow full of apple trees loaded with mistletoe and alongside a church into town. The final alleyway ran from the church back to the main street. Back across the bridge was the car. I made Mel take off most of his clothes before getting in to the passenger seat. His jacket was starting to flake dried mud.

On a more positive note, I think I've found a use for some of those bathroom smellies I got for Christmas. I hope they are good at getting mud out of your hair.
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