Monday, 16 January 2012
There Is Always More
Now that we're finally getting some proper winter weather - glorious clear crisp frosty days - the urge to walk is strong in me, and, happily, in my number one son (actually the only son, but still number one). Accordingly we set off yesterday morning for the Surrey hills - where we discovered that, for once, the whole world was out and about too. Walking, running, cycling, singly, in groups, in big organised walks and runs - I have never seen so many people at large in those parts. They were, of course, all devotees of the kit-and-day-glo school of outdoor leisure, whereas the son and I sported, respectively, a well-cut black woolen overcoat and an ancient Donegal tweed (the lining is in flitters, I must get it replaced) - no kit in sight, apart from boots. We strode along merrily, a little stiff climbing getting the blood flowing and warming us to a contented glow - and, for a wonder, we didn't get lost. We therefore made a timely arrival at our destination lunch pub - only to find it packed fuller than a Soho hotspot on a Friday night. It was barely possible even to get in, and sitting down was out of the question. What to do? I had heard tell of another pub in this particular village, but had never come across it and had no high hopes of it being any good. We inquired of a couple of locals who were sitting outside and were told, after much mutual consultation, map-poring and conflicting directions, that it was a good mile away, and the simplest way to find it would be to go back to the main road and take it from there. This we duly did, and within a couple of hundred yards had come across a signpost to said pub, which was another 50 yards or so up a steep track (clearly these locals were not walkers). And it was pretty nearly perfect, with a snug interior complete with coal fire, friendly and efficient service, good food and beer - and a terraced garden commanding glorious views over the Surrey hills. How was it that, in all my decades of walking in those parts, I had never come across this gem? I have no idea, but I think it goes to show that, however well we think we know the world - or any tiny corner of it - there is always more. And it may be something wonderful.