Walking home (on a whim, instead of taking the bus) from the SHW station, I spot a small green sign hidden behind some bushes: ‘Public Footpath No. 68. Leading to R Park Road’. Of course I decide take it, not only because it promises to lead me home to R Park where I live, but also because a. it is a pure ‘foot’path; not an afterthought appended along a road for vehicles. b. it winds around the edge of a large sloping meadow, skirting H Hill and looking like a picture out of Enid Blyton.
And it is. Delightfully so. It runs along a green that is an exact likeness of the English countryside that I imagined in the many years when Blyton and her creations dominated my life. Wild holly and wild flowers bend over the path on my left. On the right is verdant, velvety grass. Best of all, halfway up the meadow slope is a bench. Put there for the express purpose of sitting in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing.
I discover that where the charming Public Footpath No. 68 meets R Park Road stands a small church, shyly hiding a rose garden along one of its walls. Behind is ‘The Hermitage’ where the vicar lives. I stand there, breathing the heady scent of late honeysuckle and high season roses. An old sign, paint peeling, announces: ‘Visitors welcome’. Who says that anymore?
A cyclist rings his bell and rides past me. And then I skip most of the way home.