The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th September 2021

And suddenly it’s autumn. Mask wearing is increasingly erratic. Even I have forgotten to mask up on a couple of occasions. I am hoping this new feeling of relaxation is not heading for trouble. I have been comforting myself seeing figures locally dropping, the warm weather meaning we are outside a good deal and on the buses the windows are generally open. So the sudden drop in temperature is a bit worrying.

Sunday was lovely, which was great as Celia and headed off, booted and with packed lunches for Haslemere on the Surrey Sussex borders. We had each bought our tickets on Saturday though at different London stations. I had the better deal at Charing Cross with my ticket for some reason being £2 less. However, a couple of hours later the likelihood of my going anywhere was remote. I had sat down on the floor to do something necessary at the computer. When I finished and stood up my left ankle felt as though it had gone to sleep. I expected it to wear off in a few minutes, but instead it became increasingly sore and I hobbled painfully down to the neighbourhood gathering that was the annual Sausage Sizzle. Unsurprisingly I didn’t have sausages. I took a butterbean and pesto salad.

After breakfast I had managed to drop my ‘phone on my foot and it seems this ankle pain was a delayed reaction to the trauma. Anyway, after sitting for a while on the sofa with bag of frozen peas wrapped round my ankle I had an early night, swapping the peas for Ibuprofen gel. It worked. In the morning my walking skills were restored. Hurrah!

The walk instructions warned at places it could be muddy, but we hadn’t had rain for weeks (a situation that has changed this week with a dramatic downpour yesterday morning that included bouncing hail, and several heavy showers today) so we were quietly confident.

When we left London, the only hint that it was autumn was the mist. With sunrise now happening just before seven, it takes a while for the day to wake up. I have done several walks around Haslemere, it’s a lovely town surrounded by great countryside; the perfect combination. You may well recognise the first place if you have followed this page for some years as I am pretty sure I have posted a very similar picture, with a robin in it, or maybe just a reference to a robin. Obviously any walk with Celia at this time of year is going to feature fungi.

The trees were still green. We actually got almost excited when we saw a few brown leaves. Blackberries worth picking were in short supply, but I got enough to add to the crumble I shared with Octavia later. There was a fair amount of up. The walk notes used the word steep more often than I like, but it was nice steep, through woodland and on paths that twisted rather than heading up in an unrelenting slog. I kept checking the treeline to see how much further we had to climb.

I do love a fingerpost, and there were quite a few. The first three quarters of the walk were well way marked, so combined with the instructions we had no problems finding our route.

Why this footpath over a stream is described as shuttered I do not know. Can anyone explain please?

We were nearing Fernhurst, the lunch stop. Although we had brought food, we planned (hoped) to visit the pub for a cider and some crisps. We emerged from woodland to Hogs Hill Road. Someone likes old cars. Someone else had named their house with reference to the road name. Suddenly fellow walkers appeared from all directions. Fernhurst is evidently the lunch spot for several walks.

We sat on bench on the village green with a view of the pub, the sports ground and some pretty houses. It was all rather Midsomer Murders. Then we visited the church. Being autumn they had obviously been some harvest festival celebrations. Remember when you saw displays of fresh fruit, marrows, onions and potatoes? The sleeping bags rather intrigued me. Fernhurst has a very prosperous air, as does Haslemere, yet inside the church there was a poster about the local food bank. Increasingly food banks, once used by the few, are the only way some families manage to feed themselves. It’s an indictment of government policy, and when Jacob Rees Mogg says they are the sign of a caring society I could scream. Nobody should be paid so little they have to rely on food banks in order to eat. Caring government would be a better indication of a caring society.

Then we went over to the pub. I took the opportunity to photograph the two houses next door. We had our ciders in the pub garden. We weren’t alone. It was warm and sunny but not hot. The garden umbrellas remained furled. I met and had a cuddle with a lovely black Labrador called Florence. Then we set off again. This was the point I was rather dreading. Lunch stops often mean a descent into a valley, as this one had been, and so after lunch it means climbing again. But the climbing was fairly gentle, though muddy, as we were climbing up the path of a stream. I am rather proud of my accidental whirlpool picture of the finger post. It looks somewhat sci fi, and should I have tried to take it I know I should have failed. There were sheep at the top of the hill. I do like sheep. I just wish when I see them it didn’t mean they are going to end up on someone’s plate.

We reached Cotchet Farm, a chocolate box pretty building, opposite a signposted path to Black Down which we ignored, as per the instructions. We were heading to Black Down by another route. I realise that chocolate boxes no longer have scenes of pretty cottages or flowers on them as they did in my childhood. Has chocolate got a more sophisticated profile these days?

We had been doing so well. This is where we lost contact with the route as described in the instructions. Celia, who was reading them, has become something of a fan of the Saturday Walkers Club, which is where our walk details came from. She stoutly defended the directions and blamed the lack of signage. We weren’t the only ones looking baffled at fingerposts not giving the directions we were after. Maybe it’s a case of all roads lead to Rome, as some of the people and their dog, who we had also seen at Fernhurst, set off in a different direction to us at one of these junctions, but we met them again at Haslemere railway station. So we finished this stretch of the walk off piste. It was sandy and the views were wonderful. There was heather, bracken, even some fungi. The ground nesting birds escaped our attention.

At Haslemere the shops were shut and I needed to be back to eat dinner with Octavia. Octavia needed me to be back too, as I was supplying the meal. So we ignored the attractions of the High Street and headed for the station.

Next time we’ll go on a Saturday and make sure we have time to enjoy the charity and other shops, as well as a final cider before we come home.

Stay safe. Keep well. Enjoy the autumn.

20 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th September 2021

  1. Celia seems to be a shift-shaper well – her shirt seems lavender in the first pic and blue in the next. This will cause a problem with how to title the calendar of Celia Amidst Blackberries Wearing Blue. Myself is green with envy for your having such a lovely outing.

    • Another of her many skills…
      Bring your boots next time you cross the pond. These walks are all in easy reach of London, you can enjoy some days out, get ruddy and muddy and return to a hot shower and dinner!

  2. I think the descriptor shuttered refers to the shuttering of the steps. This is a technique normally used in setting concrete – a wooden frame is made into which the concrete is poured. The steps are surrounded on three sides by wooden frames just like those made for shuttering concrete..

    • Well do stick to your plan! you can increase the amount of time and the distance gradually. For me, walking is as important form my mental as my physical wellbeing. The Ramblers is a great organisation to join. There are walks of all different length, speed and difficulty and you usually meet a nice bunch of people to boot!

  3. It was a good walk, and such a treat as always to be able to retrace our steps with your photos – much appreciate the record of fungi. So pleased we got out before the weather turned.

  4. I am so glad to read about your walks..!
    Like Celia I also enjoy picking fungi. I haven’t yet found any during our walks. I envy you when I read about her fungi harvesting and when I see your beautiful pictures!!!

    • Another fungi enthusiast. My goodness, you are everywhere. She hasn’t picked any on these walks, but pre pandemic, in the autumn of 2019 she attended sessions at the South London Botanical Institute where fungi people brought in were identified. If we walked the day before she brought a collection box.

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