Walk completed August 28, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 30 -- Hay-on-Wye to Kington 15 miles

River Wye from Hay
Where am I now? I thought I would be in Wales the rest of this week, but the route out of Hay-on-Wye crossed the Wye River, placing me back in England. The route passes back and forth over the border so many times, that it’s hard to keep track. I have it on good advice that tonight I’m in England. But tomorrow there will be at least three more border crossings before I end up in Knighton, which I believe is in Wales. All the border crossings make me feel like a fugitive from justice.

Hay (as the locals refer to it) must be the used bookseller capital of the world, with perhaps more used book stores than anywhere. Being somewhat of a bookaholic, I was tempted to explore the bookstores, but was deterred by the realization that I had to either carry or ship any purchases, neither of which was practical. So instead, I went to a pub.

Welsh (or English) lambs
The walk today was in pleasant weather, first along the Wye River, then moving into farm fields, pastures, woods, and onto high, grassy hills, with a small village and a church thrown in from time to time. There was nothing dramatic – only a lovely walk on a lovely day.

Charles and Chris

Charles and Chris, walking the Offa’s Dyke Path, were the first walkers I encountered on the trail today.

Richard and Alison
Later came Richard and Alison, father and daughter.

When I stopped at a pub in Gladestry for a bowl of soup, I saw Ben, with whom I had breakfast at the B&B in Hay. Ben is a professor of African studies at a university near London, and is walking ODP this week between sessions. He and I walked the final four miles to Kington together, sharing stories and generally enjoying the day. He heads back home tomorrow after walking to Knighton, so we had dinner together before wishing each other well.

Would you cross this stile?

© 2011 Ken Klug

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 29; Longtown to Hay-on-Wye 13 miles

Andy Robinson’s guide suggests going from Pandy to Hay-on-Wye in one day, because the route runs the length of the high ridge through Brecon Beacon National Park. I didn’t start in Pandy yesterday, so it would have been difficult to go all the way through to Hay-on-Wye.  As a result, yesterday I descended about 1200 feet from the ridge to Longtown. Today, I had to re-ascend those 1200 feet to re-gain the ridge. It’s a good thing that the full breakfasts provide lots of energy.
Rosemary and Jonathon
Once on the ridge, the walk was generally flat, with good footing. A brisk cross-wind from the west kept things cool, and I made very good time. Eventually I saw a group of about 10 walkers far ahead of me, heading in the same direction. I gradually gained on them until I was no more than 300 or 400 yards behind, when I encountered Jonathon and Rosemary coming from the other direction. They are walking Offa’s Dyke, and left Hay-on-Wye three hours earlier. Since it was almost noon, I concluded I would reach my destination about 3:00. (I actually arrived about 2:30, because J&R’s three hours included an ascent to the ridge, and I faced only a gradual descent from the ridge.) I never did catch up to the group.

Blocked lane
 I’ve previously mentioned how the footpaths often cross farmers’ fields. Sometimes the farmer is allowed to divert the footpath and re-route walkers around the public right-of-way if his crop would be damaged by walkers or if the nature of the crop would inconvenience walkers. As I approached Hay-on-Wye, I experienced another type of diversion. A lane was entirely blocked by a vehicle and trailer as gardeners were clearing out an overgrown yard. There was no way for me to go around, partly due to the high walls on either side of the vehicle, partly due to my big backpack, and partly due to the full breakfasts I've been consuming. Rather than move the vehicle, the homeowner had me detour through her garden into her house, through the living room and kitchen, and out the front door.
 Homeowner Gay
I wonder if the new route will be shown on future editions of the Ordnance Survey map.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 28; Tuesday, June 28, 2011; Llanvetherine to Longtown

I awoke to the plaintive bleating of hundreds of sheep in the barnyard beneath my bedroom window. I watched as the farmers herded all the sheep through a series of pens, finally diverting the biggest lambs (35 – 40 kilos) into a holding pen, where they were herded into a trailer and taken to market. That’s a PC term meaning to the slaughterhouse, the butcher and the table. The Great Tre Rhew farm runs about 800 sheep and 40 or 50 cattle. Trevor, who together with his wife Anne, now runs the B&B, moved to the farm as a child in 1940 and has lived there ever since. His sons still continue the farming operation.
I didn't get chopped up

Like yesterday, today’s walk went through small villages, forests, pastures, and across small streams. But the route also ran along the high ridge of Brecon Beacon National Park, providing outstanding views of adjacent valleys. The ridge and valleys appear to have been sculpted by glaciers long since departed, which left the characteristic “U” shaped valleys.

Audrey and Rod
The only persons I met on the trail were Audrey and Rod, out doing a day hike from a nearby caravan park. I’m wondering what happened to the “Offa’s Dyke High Season.” Maybe it starts next week, when I’ll be somewhere else.

View from Brecon Beacon
I haven’t had any WiFi the past two days, but I’m told that there may be WiFi available at the pub. I’ll go over and find out. That’s the only reason, honest. If this gets posted tonight, you’ll know the pub has WiFi. If not, you’ll know the pub has beer.

Field of foxgloves
© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 27 -- Monday, June 27, 2011; St. Briavels to Llanvetherine

Redbrook from the footpath
Today’s walk promised to be a long one – 22 miles to be exact. I got an early start, and although the walk started out through dense forest, the day was already hot and humid, with no air movement. In about an hour I had arrived at Redbrook, dripping wet. I stopped at a convenience store and bought a cold sports drink and just sat on the bench to cool down. I also took the time to telephone tonight’s lodging to advise that there was no way that I could possibly reach the destination before dark, and alerted them that they would need to pick me up. Anne said that I should just call them when necessary, but most walkers arrive about 6:00 – so I shouldn’t be worried about getting there before dark. I told her that I was old, the weather is hot and muggy, and I move at my own pace – and that I would call her to advise of the pick-up point.

Colin, Bob and Brian
From Redbrook, the trail followed the River Wye all the way to Monmouth. Upon crossing the Wye River Bridge into Monmouth, I once again entered Wales, this time to stay until Saturday. Along the way, I met Colin, Bob and Brian, three Brits who were walking Offa’s Dyke. They had stayed at tonight’s destination two nights ago, which emphasized in my mind the distance I had to cover in one day. In Monmouth I bought a pint of milk, 2 sports drinks, and a sandwich for lunch. Considering the heat and humidity, I hoped I had enough liquids to keep me vertical on the trail. As is my custom in large villages, I got lost trying to get out of Monmouth. Retracing my steps cost me a good 20 minutes.

Path through cornfield
Once back on the trail, I found the route easy to follow. Unlike some of the other footpaths I’ve followed, the Offa’s Dyke Path is well marked (once out of the city), and you really do need to try hard to lose the trail. I tried hard only once, resulting in only a 5 minute detour.

Path through apple orchard
Outside of Monmouth, the wind picked up and I was hit with a smattering of rain. More importantly, the temperature dropped dramatically. No longer walking in a sauna, I walked comfortably in the rain in my T-shirt. As a result, my pace increased, and I arrived at the B&B at 6:30. I would have been on time had I not gotten lost twice. Darn.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 26 -- Evening Update

I ended the last post with the question "What more could a walker want?"  Well, Jackie, the proprietress of the B&B, saw my laundry drying in the bathroom, and thought I shouldn't be walking with mud stains on my pants.  (Remember my comment of a few days ago about my never being able to remove the mud stains?) So she washed and dried the whole load.

Then she drove me to the most delightful pub, the George, in St. Braivels, built in the 1500's.  While having my after dinner drink -- a 12 year old Highland Park scotch -- I met Dennis and Catherine.  We had a nice conversation, and they insisted that I explore the village castle which at one time was the hunting lodge of King John, but has now been restored to a youth hostel.  While I was there, a young lady asked me if I wanted to have my picture taken in the stocks.  Why of course.  But also of course, I had forgotten my camera.  No problem, she took the picture and promised to email it to me.

It turns out that Dennis and Catherine are neighbors of Jackie, and they gave me a ride back to the B&B.  So I guess I should repeat the question:  What more could a walker want?

© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 26 -- Chepstow to St. Briavels

Today is a rest day, so the distance is only 8 miles from Chepstow along the Offa’s Dyke Path. Offa’s Dyke is an earthen berm built by King Offa between year 778 and 796 to defend his landholdings from the Welsh – kind of like a Chinese wall, only it’s not a wall. And it’s not Chinese. It runs about 150 miles. Much of it has eroded away over the 1300 years since its construction, but there remain embankments which are 20 feet high. It passes through some beautiful countryside.

The day was sunny and warm, and consequently most of the people walking today were either families with small children or teenagers in love. I did not stop any of them to question why they were out here. I did encounter several groups of climbers, but climbers are only interested in talking if somebody buys them a drink at the end of the day.

Wye River from Brockweir
Today’s walk passed through forests and pastures before settling down along the tranquil Wye River. The Wye River is tidal until Monmouth. The high and low tide differ by some 30 feet – very noticeable at the river’s mouth, but increasingly less dramatic the farther upstream you go. High tide was at 4:00 pm today, so the river was full all along the walk.

With nobody to talk to, I arrived at the B&B at 4:00 pm, which is a miracle in itself given the inadequate directions provided. In many villages, people don’t use addresses – merely the name of the house and the postal code. If I put a stamp on my forehead, I would be properly delivered, but trying to work from a map is difficult without grid coordinates. After asking several people for directions, I’ve arrived at the proper location. I’m now sitting out in the home’s lovely garden typing this posting because nobody is home. I’m not exactly sure how long I should wait before looking for something else. Of course looking for something else would be a lot easier if there were cell phone reception here. If I do get this posted, you’ll know that either the innkeeper arrived, or that I gave up and found something else. It’s OK out here in the garden, but I wonder what I would be doing if it were raining.

Update: The innkeepers arrived about 4:45 and said that there was a mix-up about my scheduled arrival time. In any event, all is well, I’ve had my shower, I’ve done my laundry, and the proprietors are going to drive me to and from the pub, which is about 2 miles away. What more could a walker want out of life?

© 2011 Ken Klug

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 25 -- Rest Day in Chepstow

Today was my forced rest day. Unfortunately, my two nights in Chepstow were not at the same location, so I needed to carry my backpack for a good part of the day as I toured the village. There is a fair in nearby Glastonbury and a race in nearby Cardiff. There was also a festival in Chepstow. As a result, every single room had been booked. I had been fortunate to find a room for Friday on late notice. Di Swales, at Sherpa Van, always seems to be able to magically find me a space at the last minute. I now have her working on Pennine Way accommodations, and as we are moving into the high season, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that her magic will continue.

Chepstow Castle
My day was first spent attending to business details, like topping up my mobile phone credits and mailing used maps to George. Then I toured Chepstow Castle. Initially built in 1068, right after the Norman Conquest, the castle was expanded in the mid-13th century, and had final remodeling in the 15th century. Since then it has undergone maintenance and conservation, but no new features have been added. The time scale is as meaningful to me as being told that the Grand Canyon was carved 5 million years ago. I’ve heard it told that the human mind is capable of truly comprehending a time scale of only 2 generations older and 2 generations younger than the present. Even that is pushing it for me.

After touring the castle, I sat on a bench in the village square while deciding on something else to do. At that particular moment, a parade marched by. I’m not exactly sure what was being celebrated, but it was fun to watch.

Mags (holding rooster Ivor) and Bob
I then walked the mile to tonight’s B&B, hoping that the proprietors would allow me to leave my pack so I could further explore Chepstow without that burden. Unfortunately, they weren’t home. Fortunately, their neighbors, Bob and Mags, came by at that very moment. They invited me into their home for coffee and conversation, and allowed me to store my pack with them until I had finished exploring Chepstow.

Old bridge over River Wye

Back so soon?
 Surprisingly, as I crossed the River Wye outside of Chepstow, I returned from Wales to England. I’ll be in England for at least the next two days until the Offa’s Dyke Path again crosses the River Wye and I return to Wales.

Parade characters Karen and Hannah

© 2011 Ken Klug

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 24 -- Easton-in-Gordano to Chepstow (Wales)

Today’s walk would take me on a route across the River Avon, through parks in Bristol, through farmland pastures northwest of Bristol, and finally across the River Severn into Wales. It was to be perhaps the longest mileage day of the entire walk. The guidebook says 19 miles. I left the B&B this morning following the route through the village of Pill, to the cycleway which leads across the Avon. At the start of the cycleway, there was a gentleman relaxing on a bench reading a book. I gave him my usual “good morning” and continued on. He immediately jumped up, grabbed a small backpack, and ran after me. I was a little startled by somebody chasing me until he shouted my name. He identified himself as Don Gray – you remember, the angel of the Mendips.

Don has probably walked with nearly every lejoger or jogler who has passed through, including Daryl May, and more recently, Jack Frost. My recollection is that he also walked last year with Steve, Russ and possibly Andy and Alfie, and Pete and Gyp. I think he missed JP, and don’t remember about Gary, Rich, and Goeff.

Nostalgic gas pumps
I asked Don how he knew where to find me, and he said he follows the blog and merely waits at an obvious “pinch point” where everybody must go. He knew that if I was going to cross the Avon today, I had to use the cycleway over the bridge.

Blaise Castle
Don narrated our walk like a tour guide and opened my eyes to things I would have otherwise missed. The route out of Bristol passes through some fabulous city parks, and Don pointed out where the property had been formerly estates of extremely wealthy landowners. Blaise Castle is a mock castle built by the landowner in Victorian times, merely so the landowner would have a view of a castle from the home.

Following Don
Perhaps as importantly, Don gave my brain a rest day, because he knows the route and all I had to do was follow along.

Don at Severn Bridge
We finally parted company at the Severn Bridge where I walked on to Wales, and Don returned home.

A brisk side-wind with spitting rain was blowing the entire walk across the bridge. About ¾ of the way across, I was overtaken by a cyclist who had large pannier bags affixed to his bike. I knew he wasn’t just riding for exercise, so I hailed him down. Gary is a young Scot, lives near Glasgow, and is cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats. He left Land’s End four days ago. Hmmm, three weeks vs. four days. I wonder what bicycles cost in the UK. There’s probably a store in Chepstow. At least cycling would transfer the pain from the feet to another part of the body. Oh well, pain is pain, and which body part is affected is unimportant.

My feet are sore from walking, but nothing serious. Tomorrow will be a forced rest day, because I bypassed Cheddar and now I’m a day ahead of schedule. Having booked Offa’s Dyke in advance, I now have two days in Chepstow. I’m actually looking forward to the rest.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 23 -- Evening Update

In May, 2010, while Janet and I were leading hikes in Yosemite for our friends in the Outback Hiking Club of Southern Utah, we met Neil, an Englishman from Bristol.  Neil has maintained contact with me ever since, and when he learned I was near Bristol, he popped on over to see me and take me on a short tour of his city.  The primary thing he wanted me to see was the famous River Avon suspension bridge, which we got to see at sunset.  Thanks, Neil, for a fun evening.

Lost-a-lot and Neil

© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 23 -- Thursday, June 23, 2011; North End to Easton in Gordano

Today’s route took me north through more of the drainage canals (known as rhynes) in the Somerset Levels, and then east as I work my way around the estuary of the River Severn.

The sun was out most of the day, with only occasional light sprinkles.

In a thick forest, I came across the ruins of an old building.

The first person I met on the trail was a local walker named Richard, doing a loop walk from his home in nearby Portishead. We were walking in opposite directions near Charlton Farm when we met. I had observed how well maintained the farm is. Richard pointed out the buildings are no longer farm-related but rather a hospice for terminally ill children. His comment brought back the sobering thought that while I’m playing, others less fortunate are leading their lives the best they can, including children who will never have the opportunity to do what I’m doing.

Jackie and Benji
But some creatures are more fortunate. Benji is a rescue lab. Sadie from the Hartwood House of a few days ago was also a rescue lab. I presume that they are former hunting dogs who no longer had hunting abilities and were rescued rather than being destroyed. I’ll try to get clarification on that the next time I come across one. Or maybe David or Jackie can add a comment to the end of this posting clarifying the rescue status.

I arrived at Easton in Gordano early, and used some time to book future accommodations. Jack Frost has made the task easier for me, because I can use his sources when I stay in the same town he did. Jack is well-liked, and when I mention his name I get a reduced rate. That should please Jack, especially since they are also putting my room charges on his credit card. I hope he isn’t reading this.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 22 -- June 22, 2011; Blackford to Yatton (North End)

Unable to find accommodations in Cheddar, I decided to leave that village and all it has to offer for some other time. That gives me an extra day to get up to Wales, and I’m not sure how best to use the time. I could tour Bristol, but everybody I’ve spoken to says that Bristol is a place to be avoided. My instincts are to head up to Wales sooner than I had planned and use the extra time there. (I’ve already got reservations in place for a full week in Wales, so the extra day must be used before the first reservation.) I’ll make that decision sometime tomorrow.

I left the B&B in good spirits, fully fed, and with a brisk step. The overcast sky persuaded me to put the rain cover on my pack, but I knew I wouldn’t need it. For at least 10 minutes. That’s when the skies opened up with the biggest deluge from the blackest cloud I’ve ever seen. I had about 20 seconds warning, which was just enough time to throw on my rain jacket. There was no cover to get out of the rain, but fortunately there was a strong side-wind, so I took shelter in the lee of a building.

Start/finish sign in Yatton
 The squall passed by in 15 minutes, and the rest of the day was dry. But no matter, my pants and feet were as wet as if I had waded through a river. I decided to follow roads rather than tackle the muddy pastures. I headed straight to Axbridge, where I changed into dry socks before picking up the Strawberry Line, a rails-to-trails walking and cycle path that runs 8 miles  from Cheddar to Yatton. It was a lovely walk, dry under foot, and in a park-like setting.

Out of Axbridge the trail passes through a long dark tunnel, lighted only by small lights similar to lane markers embedded in the trail. I could hear people passing in the other direction, but could not see them. I hope they were behaving themselves.

On the other side of the tunnel, I met Mike, a local taking his morning walk. We had a good chat all the way to where the Winscombe station once was. At that point, Mike remarked, “I’m getting off here.” I continued to chug along all the way to Yatton.

I could tell I was getting near Bristol by the number of commercial airplanes taking off overhead as I walked on the trail. When I arrived in Yatton, that conclusion was reinforced by the airport shuttle vans that drove by.

The hotel I reserved is the only one I could find north of Yatton. It appears to cater to the quick turn-around trade – folks arriving on late flights or folks spending the night near the airport for early flights. I had second thoughts about the hotel when I tried to book the room. The reservation clerk was clueless, as was the receptionist when I checked in. Other than the moldy shower, the room is not terribly bad, but the restaurant can be best described as plastic. It is run by a chain whose insignia is an H inside of a horseshoe. I don’t think the tables have been wiped down for days. Even the menus are sticky. I ordered the safest thing – a hamburger. It wasn’t bad, but the soggy fries that accompanied it were unpalatable. Such a disappointment after the good pub food I’ve had the past 3 weeks.

There is supposed to be WiFi in the bar, but my computer can’t find it. It appears that management and staff are all on the same “why bother” page.  Why bother to wipe down the table -- it'll only get dirty again.  Why bother to put soap and shampoo in the bathroom -- they only get used and need replacement again.  Why bother to cook good food -- this customer won't be back but another will take his place.  I hope this isn’t where England is headed.

Oh, well, the room is big, it’s only one night, and tomorrow I’ll be within a day of Wales.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 21 -- June 21, 2011; Temple Farm to Blackford

Long, straight farm road
 My boots and most of my clothes were still wet from yesterday. Fortunately, today was dry. Today’s walk was through what is called the Somerset Levels – flat farmland, very similar to the farmland in the San Joaquin Valley. The walk wasn’t particularly scenic, because large flat farms aren’t scenic.

In fact today’s walk can be described as a monotonous trudge, with no traffic or rain to complain about.  Trying to navigate through the farm fields provided the only occasional sparks of excitement. The fields are barely above sea level, so an intricate drainage system has been established. In other areas I had become trapped by hedgerows bordering the fields; here it was the drainage ditches. Care had to be taken to carefully follow the footpath shown on the map (but not visible on the ground) in order to cross the field and arrive at the very point where a small plank had been placed across the ditch. For me, GPS is a necessity in such situations, and I’m getting very good at route finding.

The only person I met all day was Peter, a New Zealander who is cycling from London to Spain. He plans to ride to Plymouth, take the ferry to France and continue on from there. We met in the only pub on my route, which is about a mile from my B&B for the night.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find accommodations for tomorrow night in Cheddar, so I’ll just bypass that village and continue heading north tomorrow.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Day 20 -- Monday, June 20, 2011 -- Crowcombe Heathfield to Temple Farm

I stayed last night in Crowcombe Heathfield at the Hartwood House, run by David and Rosemary Freemantle. The house is an elegant home on about 8 acres of gardens. My bedroom and bath were very nicely appointed, rivaling those of any five star hotel. There was no mobile phone reception, so David allowed me to use their land line to book accommodations ahead.

David, Rosemary, Sadie (sitting),
and Sir Lost-a-lot
 After breakfast. David helped me package the Pennine Way maps which I won’t need to carry until I reach Knighton at the end of my portion of the Offa’s Dyke Path. He then drove me to the Crowcombe post office so I could mail them ahead to Knighton. (Of course he drove me back to Hartwood House, so there is no gap in the walk.  At least not yet.)

A few years ago, Crowcombe, a village of about 400 residents, lost its post office and had no grocery store. The residents banded together and set up a crew of volunteers to run a new market and post office. Volunteers order and shelve the inventory, clerk the cash register, and support the post office. The market is highly efficient – it even uses optical scanners to scan bar codes and manage inventory. The village is understandably proud of its achievement.

View from Quantock Ridge
The day started overcast with rain forecast for the afternoon. I’ve learned not to believe the forecasters, so I decided to venture into the Quantock Hills for my walk to Bridgwater. The trail climbs steeply to the high ridge and then follows the ridgeline for the full length of the mountains. The high ridge offered 360˚ views of the surrounding farmlands and of the clouds which were quickly heading my way.

When the rain hit, the trails turned into flowing rivers of mud. I got lost in dead end pastures twice, but eventually worked my way back to the trail by listening for the cascading mud flows. I then worked my way back to the road, deciding that battling traffic was better than battling the mud. I won the battle with the traffic, arriving at Temple Farm alive; the mud won its battle however, and I may never get the mud out of my pants or socks. 

The only person I met all day after leaving Hartwood House was Francis, who was cycling from Bridgwater to Cornwall. Cycling in the rain has got to be more unnerving than walking in the rain.

The long-term forecast for the rest of the month is unsettled, rainy weather. I’m glad the month is almost over. Maybe July will be dry.

Temple Farm is located north of Bridgwater.  I added the extra distance Monday because I was unable to find accommodations in Bridgwater.  The extra distance Monday means a short walk Tuesday.  I hope the pub is open.

© 2011 Ken Klug

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 19 -- Sunday, June 19, 2011; Roadwater to Crowcombe Heathfield

Today could have been a bad day, after yesterday’s 10+ hour marathon. Last night was spent at Wood Advent Farm, outside of Roadwater. You may recall that I had mailed 10 pounds of supplies from Pendeen to myself at Wood Advent Farm. Because today is Sunday, the post office is closed, so I was unable to mail them farther. Accordingly, I had the prospect of carrying the extra 10 pounds today. But Diana Brewer saved the day by agreeing to take the package to the post office tomorrow. So I exchanged the maps I’ll need for the maps I’ve already used, re-taped the box, and left it with Diana to send to George and Ann. Tomorrow, I’ll mail the Pennine Way maps to Knighton, where I’ll pick them up after Offa’s Dyke. So the weight issue is no more.

Today’s walk was mostly on high forest trails with gorgeous views of the surrounding hills.

Jason and Rob
It was Sunday, so I expected to see many people on the trails, but apparently the only ones brave enough to attack the mud were Jason and Rob, two mountain bikers.

House near Stogumber
The sun poked in and out of the clouds all day, and the countryside which England is known for came alive.

Father's Day dinner
I decided to have dinner early in Stogumber before heading to my B&B. I treated myself to a full Father’s Day dinner.

Barbara and John
At the pub, I also met a charming couple, John and Barbara. They used to live near Bath and their house was adjacent to the Kennet & Avon Canal, so they were amused when I told them that Janet, Keith, Cathy and I had walked right by, and were disappointed when we weren’t invited in for a drink. John recently celebrated his 90th birthday, so I couldn’t resist asking him if he served during WWII. Of course he did – he had enlisted into the RAF in 1939, and later served in the Royal Navy. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t part of the D-Day invasion, but he served in both Africa and Italy. That was also my father’s tour of duty; I know there were many soldiers and sailors there, but it would be ironic if they had been in contact with each other. I would like to think so.

© 2011 Ken Klug