21 August 2011 (Sunday) - Brenchley

I often blog about insomnia, but I’ve been sleeping well lately. And it’s occurred to me that I’ve been sleeping with just a duvet cover over me lately. In the past I’ve suffered from night sweats. I’ve not had that either. Perhaps overheating is the cause of my not sleeping? Having said that; I’ve been incredibly tired recently. Perhaps I need the sleep now? If so, I wonder why.

As I scoffed brekkie this morning I listened to the neighbours (the ones who don’t hate us). They were celebrating a birthday, and the birthday boy was opening his presents. He seemed very happy with what he’d got.
I wasn’t being particularly nosey – it was a warm morning so I had the window open, and next door use their back garden in the same way I use my living room. Hearing the young lad’s squeals of excitement was quite sweet really.

Seeing how it was a lovely day, we decided to go for a walk. I’ve mentioned before that ‘er indoors TM has got hold of a set of instructions for guided walks around Kent. Today we thought we’d try the walk around Brenchley: a particularly scenic village some twenty miles away. In the past I’ve raved about how good these guided walks have been. Today turned out to be something of a disappointment.
The instructions started off well; we walked past the war memorial, up a hill, and after swapping insults with a passing cat we went up some steps into an orchard. The instructions had us walking through a second orchard, and then across a golf course. I must admit that when we came to what seemed like the seventeenth orchard I rather suspected we might have gone slightly off course. My suspicions were confirmed when we met up with an itinerant pikey. He came out of his caravan and pointed at our AA guide sheet. He commented that he sees lots of people coming past his caravan brandishing those sheets trying to follow that guided walk. And all of them (like us) had gone wrong because they were all looking for a golf course which has long since been converted to other uses. The nice itinerant pikey showed us our whereabouts on the guide’s map (we were rather off the edge), and from that I was able to use “really skilful navigation (TM )” to get us back on course.
It was at this point that we found another couple of happy wanderers who were crying over the same set of instructions as we had. They too had wasted lots of time looking for a golf course that wasn’t there.
As the other hikers set off across a field (following my instructions) we followed at a distance. Whilst I was confident that I’d found the right footpath, I thought I’d like some degree of security by sending them ahead as an advance party. Should we have needed to have turned back, it would have been nice (for us) for these poor saps to have found out that fact first.
And as they marched off into the distance we found ourselves walking through yet another orchard. Very scenic – the ideal spot for a picnic. And so we stopped for our picnic. As we scoffed we met another pair of jolly wayfarers who also were carrying the same walk guide as us. They too had gone awry at the non-existent golf course, and we spent a few minutes griping about the fact.

With picnic scoffed we carried on. The next part of our route called for us to take a footpath through someone’s garden (OK so far…) and then take the path across a field till we reached a gully (OK so far…) and then, keeping the gully on our left, follow it in an easterly direction. Clearly the gully hadn’t read our instructions. The gully went south. Being far too wide to jump across, and with no other way of crossing being evident we followed the gully south in the hope that it might take an easterly turn. It didn’t. We eventually found ourselves at a road junction which simply didn’t exist on the map we had with our walking instructions.
It was at this point that I lost the will to continue. The walk was supposed to take three hours: we’d been walking for two hours and hadn’t covered a third of the route. Fortunately the walk was (roughly) circular and so it didn’t take too much effort to call up sat-nav and make our way back to the car.

The biggest problem with today’s walk was that we’d relied on the map provided with the route’s instructions. The map was reasonably detailed on the sections we were supposed to walk along, but it didn’t give a stuff about the bits we weren’t supposed to cover. Which is all very well until you leave the projected route. I always have several Ordnance Survey maps in my bag: unfortunately I didn’t have the OS map of the Tunbridge Wells area. I shall get it for next time.

And so home. Since it was on the way we popped into the Biddenden vineyard shop. I had a vague plan to get some beers for next weekend. But with bottles of beer at £2.50 each (!) I soon changed my mind. So we came home where I dozed a lot – it had been a rather strenuous afternoon….

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