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|WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GILBERT WHITE Selborne to Oxford
THE FOURTH DAY 30th APRIL
A day of minor dramas, but thankfully NO RAIN!
Drama One was the late arrival on parade of Captain Oates, and his chum David, who were partly sabotaged by a late departure from Selborne, and partly by inefficient usage of Tom Tom! When the walkers who were present and correct were warned of the delay, the obvious rejoinder was that ‘they may be some time…..’
Drama Two was a large field of rape, which had grown since the last recce. Grown men (and women) have been known to drown in fields of rape, let alone small border terriers, and today it looked as though that would happen too, while the path so carefully reconnoitred in February was extinguished by the rampant plants. In this photo Capn Oates is to be seen, cunningly camouflaged in foul weather gear (wrong yellow Bryan!) battling through head high rape seed. The lesson is that rape looks delightful from a distance – indeed this blog has featured it in photos of the wonderful views seen on this walk – but close too they are less welcome and downright inconvenient on a carefully recce’d walk, albeit in a different season.
Drama was Three was the loss of one of our party, who had to be rescued by the support vehicle and Sherpa Irwin, but not before she was accosted by kind policemen who demanded to know why she was loitering on a corner of a junction in Mortimer, and who then offered to stay with her while her lift got lost in the Berkshire countryside.
I thought you might like to see a photo of the support vehicle, artfully posed with rucksack and sticks, at the end of the walk on Day 2 – all part of the publicity campaign. Later today, the sign and Sherpa Irwin did valuable service on a piece of road near the finish, much frequented by white van man en route from one pressing appointment to another, where we poor walkers were threatened with being squashed under their tyres. Thankfully none used the kind of unspoken language reminiscent of the V sign dished out to back-marker Fleur on Day 2 – clearly they are politer in Berkshire than in Hampshire!
Lunch was taken rather earlier than yesterday, with no mummurs from the troops about timing, after we had managed to get through the erroneously-named Burghfield Common, at Sulhamstead Abbots church. The vicar was on hand to tell us about the building, including the sundials on the outside left by the original masons, and lunch was taken in the very welcome sunshine. SA church is half in the gift of Oriel College, which is a nice coincidence. We were told it was raining in Selborne, but there was no sign of it on our route today.
Nature Notes: The birds were less frequent today, or maybe the ornithologists were thinner on the ground, but we saw a lapwing near Beech Hill, and a number of red kites, and heard lots of lovely birdsong Stitchwort has been added to my list of flowers, and there were wonderful violets and bluebells near Sulhamstead Abbots.
And finally …… by popular request, a photo of Captain Oates in full costume, with Ellie Roberts, the owner of the pony led by Bryan out of the Wakes on Day 1. The pony’s name was not Christopher, but Captain Oates’s was. Sadly the snow-covered legs are not visible, although those walking with Selina yesterday would have spied them doing good service keeping out the rain.