So, Stephen and I finally went on one of the walks that we've been discussing since our first days in London. About 20 of us gathered at Tring, snaked through some farmland to an old village with a really cool church, St. John the Baptist--one of those with a cemetary where most gravestones are so old the names have disappeared. We stepped inside just a moment to see the tomb of one of the first parishoners. Usually, tombs have a lion or a dog carved at the feet of the one buried there to show if he died in battle (lion) or peacefully at home (dog). This one was a bit different as he had a green man carved at his feet. Stephen and I got bonus points for the only ones being able to identify it correctly and then knowing what a green man *was*, and here I thought that was an English icon. Oh well.
Then we headed up to into the hills and forest where there is an old manor house and random monument to the builder of the English Canal System. Standard English monument=concrete block for a base, with generic greek style pillar with piece of statuary on top. Here we stopped for lunch and there was a really neat little cafe being run by the National Trust. Stephen and I packed our lunches and ate them in the picnic area, but got tea and hot coco afterwords---85 pence for a whole pot of tea. I was a happy camper, or rambler as the case may be.
Up until then we'd been having pretty nice weather, not sunny, but warm and an overcast that made the fall leaves really vibrant.
Of course, we start the second half of the hike, the part going up into the chalk hills & Ivinghoe Beacon and through a Pre-Roman trail back to Tring, turning into a windy soggy raining mess. All of us who did have the forethough to bring along anything more than a raincoat (not waterproof pants, mud guards, gators, etc) were completely soaked to the bone and muddy up to our knees. We still had a lovely time though as people were in pretty good spirits, but we missed most of the beautiful landscape due to trying not to fall on the slippery paths and keeping the rain out of our eyes. The guide was awesome though and is planning on doing the walk again come spring when the bluebells are in flower.
But we survived no worse for wear, by the end my hips were starting to ache (and my right knee for some strange reason, same kind of ache in my hips too which does *not* bode well), but nothing a nice hot shower (bath would have been better), hot soup, tea and a nap couldn't fix. So that's good, and getting a pair of waterproofs for the rainy season like this would probably do a good bit for preventing the aching since cold + wet does tend to trigger what's left of my old injuries.
So we liked the group quite a bit, got some good talks in with other members. Very friendly people who love to get out and in the thick of things so to speak. We may not make any fast friends there, but it is nice to get out with a bunch of like minded people, get a feel for the local history, breath the fresh air, and see some neat country side.
Good stuff all round and another whole day of weekend left--just what the doctor ordered.