I woke to the sound of heavy rain offering a background to cheerful chat in the kitchen as breakfast was prepared. It helped to know that all my clothes would be dry and that I had a pretty could chance of parking my rucksack at the Youth Hostel for the day as I am back in Wells tonight.
Breakfast was a wonderful example of English holiday makers conversation piece, that is, it followed the theme of the weather persistently with optimistic forecasts based on the flimsiest of information and tales of wellies, macs and windbreaks all to be packed and carted to the beach. Of course everyone is still going to the seaside.
The meal was topped off by today’s quote of the day form the waitress, “Car drivers must go backwards” delivered with resounding confidence when one resident, attempting to go home, popped back in to ask the assembled company if a double parked car could be moved. It was followed by a stunned silence. Obviously not just me that thought application of this rule might cause problems!
I set off to meet my walking companion for the day passing my favourite sign of the day.
Once John and I had established contact, which is much harder when everyone is in dark head to foot waterproofs we decided to start with a coffee and let the ‘shower’ pass. Half an hour later it did so we set off for Walsingham. Although Walsingham is a pilgrimage destination there were no footpaths all the way there, John prosaically pointed out that people went by coach! In fact John has been a regular member of the student cross groups that travel to Walsingham at Easter walking in from various destinations. I learnt that they do not ‘process’ but they ‘throng’, on advice from the police. Language is an amazing thing.
Conversation as we walked ranged across many topics, the difficulties working in teams, variable leadership styles and the impact of poor leaders, employment law and changing careers midlife. I learnt about mental health issues, schizophrenia, the changes in thinking and body that occur for all in adolescence, stress and the concept of the Demands Capacity Model. We considered the concern about getting a diagnosis as an adult and how this cold help some people see the difficulties they had experienced since childhood in a different light. There is something about the rhythm of walking that makes free range discussion and the trialling of ideas much easier than It would be within the confines of an office or meeting.
John was able to show me Walsingham and the various sites of pilgrimage from an insiders point of view and it as astonishing place regardless of your spiritual beliefs. There are multiple chapels on the site overall including the conversion of the old station to a Russian Orthodox Church.
Having taken our time to look at everything we thought we would take the train back. Imagine my delight when I discovered it was a steam train. We waited in anticipation alongside small children squeaking with excitement and jumping about with enthusiasm as we saw it chugging its way towards us.
The track, train and all aspects of the service are run by volunteers so the tweaking, standing about and general faffing or engineering was lengthy.
The train driver was charming but we stopped 2 minutes into the journey, more inspecting needed, a problem with the air brakes we were told, they will see what they can do. We all leant out of the carriages watching their every move something was released/adjusted/tightened with a length of pipe and we were off. It was such fun and it is the longest narrow gauge line in the country to boot!
On returning to Wells next John set off for his 11 hour drive home. Thank you for your company today John and sharing your sandwiches and knowledge of Walsingham.
This evening I watched as whole families fished for crabs off the harbour wall amongst the arrival of boats that off loaded crabs of an altogether bigger size. I hadn’t realised crabbing and Wells were so closely linked but once you start to look you see crabbing buckets, bacon bait and people hanging lines into the water everywhere. I have never felt quite the same about crabs since I had to prepare 24 dressed crabs back in my catering days but catching them looked more interesting than stuffing them was!