We left Mark’s Tay at 8:30, 15 minutes late, which always worries me as we always just manage to jog to our next destination with barely a minute to spare before dark. The issue this morning was Jane’s feet, and I’m sure our camera team would have loved to film the drama, but they have popped off to NYC for a few days. Jane went into town and bought some more walking/running friendly shoes to replace her Wellington garden boots, which replaced her leather hiking boots. She is tough as nails and never complains, but when she said she was “fine” the night before, I got quite worried. I liquid bandaided her feet, then applied donuts of molefoam, and covered that all with athletic tape. My feet don’t have giant holes in them (Jane’s on the left), but rather doughy bubbles on the pinky toes (mine on right). I can certainly see why soldiers got trench foot and gangrene over here – as I have towels between my toes right now to help get the moisture out – this country is so damn wet! My KEEN shoes are rocking, and my Smartwool socks save my life……80 pouring rain miles is just not what the doctor ordered on anyone’s body.
The walk today was quite picturesque through fields of giant yellow sugar beet (photo on left), winter wheat, barley, rare breeds of heirloom cows and goats. I’m getting very attached to this strange system of public right of ways through everyone person’s house, lawn, farm, fields, pasture, lawn, driveway, church, graveyard, woods, etc. Trails are absolutely everywhere you look, and it now totally explains why Brit’s are such infamous “trampers”. I get such a feeling of connection to the land – what is grown here, what breeds of animals they raise and what the animals eat, and how folks live – since you literally walk on it and not view it from a distance. These historic paths are defended by hiking clubs, and supposedly one could start a war trying to change one, let alone try to move a path from going through your lawn, herd of animals or freshly plowed field. It really made me think of the difference of riding my bike through Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish Menonite country). While that was beautiful, we always went around private property, and many fields were signed with Genetically Modified Food (GMO) signs, which certainly robbed some of the charm for me. I really want a few of these long haired short legged goats. Someday…
Luckily there were many more rocks, all made of glossy flint, in the fields today, and much less rain, which made for better tramping. Instead of growing corn to feed cows here (which cows are allergic to, by the way, which causes them to grow E-Coli, get sick, die, and fart methane), they grow heaps of winter kale here, as well as hay. But really, all animals are pastured here – where they eat grass like they should eat, and the kale and hay are just supplements during winter. Even 10 minutes out of London, you will see fields full of crops – farming is a way of life here. Jane’s family are dairy farmers, so she is a wealth of knowledge, and she is full of history and architecture information as well. I couldn’t be on a better tour of England with a better guide. The sugar beet that she is looking at above on the left is sometimes the size of a soccer ball, and used to make sugar. The below left photo is my KEEN shoe Smartwool snowflake sock (Save our snow!) – surrounded by a winter kale. My shoes actually feel great, the long miles are just literally pounding the life out of them.
I learned that estates like this lovely one on the right were not divided up to the kids. The property went to the first son, and the second son to the rectory, and the third to the army, then nothing for the rest. This is why English estates are mostly still intact and gorgeous.
We are now about to eat – we are Sun Inn, in Dedham, in Essex. My first home, where I lived as a baby was in Dedham, Massachusetts, which is named after this town….. How cool. Mum, if you are reading this, you have to send me some info of our English ancestors, and say happy belated birthday to my still very English (accent and all) Uncle Earle, who turned 103 years old yesterday!
Interesting piece of historical history – in the late 17th Century, we think? There was a tax on windows. Only richer folks could afford more windows, so that was how folks were taxed – based on how many you had in your house. Therefore, many chose to reduce their taxes by bricking in their windows, which you can still see today (house on left above). I got a kick out of the house of the above right – call it how it is?? “shoulder of mutton”????