Experience to Extremes

9 July 2012

Sitting in the Florence eating breakfast. While they’re tasty, I still find the concept of beans being a breakfast food odd. Nevertheless, the standard English breakfast is quite good. Bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, and beans. Yum.

Not much to say yet today, but I’m girding my loins to elevate 700 feet in less than 2 miles. Then we’ll see about coming down off of the Kymin. Fortunately, that’s the start to today’s trip and if I want to come down via a roadway, I can. Also, right after that is Monmouth meaning I can take a break.

According to the map, after Monmouth there is some elevation, but nothing like the Devil’s Pulpit or the Kymin. Also the trails look good. Still not sure I’m making the 14.5miles to White Castle. We’ll see what time it is when I leave Monmouth.

I’m also starting to get nervous about tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m supposed to do half of the highest point on the trip, something like 2000 feet of elevation. It’s also in a very boggy area and might be difficult in wet periods. Did I mention it’s raining and muddy? Then on Wednesday I do the second half. There’s an alternate route along the side of the mountain that is safer, and I may take that one. I’m going to call the trail company when I’m in Monmouth and discuss it with them.

Today is overcast again and I’m sure I’ll get some rain, but none right now. The hat I have works well, unless it pours.

By the way, you might say that I should have expected more rain, given our stereotypical view of England. Let’s just say that they’ve had more rain in England thus far in July than they average in July and August combined. By like twice as much. I can see the Wye flowing out the window right now, and it’s flowing fast fast fast. The word I hear most about this is: unprecedented.

To describe the general countryside that I’m in, I would say think of a curvy, green, Ozarks. I’m not sure the elevations here are as much as the Ozarks, but the hills do seem high enough as I’m walking up :). There’s an ancient feeling to the landscape here, not simply because of the history. The hilltops are rounded and curved, like they’ve been worn down far more than the Ozarks have. Some of the farms here are on inclines that I suspect were dismissed in the Ozarks, plus there are lots of pastures. At one point the path passed through a pasture with 4 white horses with no fence between the path and the horses. Earlier, I’d been in a sheep pasture with a herd about 20 yards to my right. For some reason I find that interesting.

9 July 2012

Made it to Monmouth, a nice little 6plus mile walk. Actually today’s walk so far has not been too bad. The initial challenge was to walk two miles while gaining 700 feet of elevation. The initial part of the hill was the worst. That was about half of that in the first half mile. I took it slow and easy and made it to the top of Kymin with the Round House and Naval Temple.

The Naval Temple, for a Hornblower fan, is pretty cool. It’s a monument to the admirals of that war, and includes Nelson, Rodney, Howe, and Hood. In the lineup of admirals, those are some heavy hitters.

The Round House is kind of interesting, though I’m told it’s better on a sunny day. What *was* spectacular was the view overlooking Monmouth and the Wye Valley. You’ll see pictures… eventually 🙂

Then came the interesting part, coming down without mishap. There are several routes down, including one entirely on asphalt. I took the way down that looked easiest, but I might have been wrong. Then again I might have been right. Much of the way was through the lane between fences, a tight, rocky, steep descent. I managed to make it without slipping, but it was close.

I did, however, slip after I got to a much easier stretch and lost concentration. Nothing, huge, just down to one knee, but funny because I made the hard parts safely.

By the way, I’ve determined England’s a pointy place. It seems like most of the bushes along the path have thorns. There’s also many holly trees. And today, as I was descending I had to grab at a random branch to keep my balance. Yeah, you guessed it, rose bush. My hand looks like a kitten to town on it.

After that I was generally in the town. Right now I’m in the Punch Room Pub in downtown Monmouth, about to have lunch. I’m going to try the combo appetizer platter. I’m curious what buffalo wings are like here 🙂

Monmouth itself is a nice solid town. The town church was originally founded in 1102. Yes, I have a picture of an original stone.

Now, I have choices ahead of me. It’s about 8-10 miles to White Castle across fields without much in the way of elevation change in comparison to what I’m used to. If I finish here at 2pm, then I have to average 2 miles an hour. Doable… depending upon the mud and rain. I’ve probably averaged about a mile and half per hour so far, but that’s partially been because of the elevation changes and challenges. If the path is as kept up from Monmouth as they claim, then I’m good, but….

However, there’s a lot to do in Monmouth, not least of which is catch up on photos and what not. There’s the Nelson museum that of course I want to see. Also, I’m supposed to end up today at White Castle, which I’m going to want to walk around. What I may do is putter around Monmouth for a bit, and then get a taxi to put me up the path a bit so that I can have 2 miles or so to White Castle, and then with some time to walk around there around 6pm before my hosts for tomorrow pick me up.

Physically, I’m sore but not particularly tired. Again, if it weren’t for the mud, I’d be blowing through this. That in itself is a little victory. The new shoes I bought have done well on the rough terrain. My knees and ankles are much less sore than I expected or deserve. From a sedentary lifestyle to walking 20-some miles of rough terrain in 3 days ought to hurt at least some.

Mentally, I’m in a very rough place right this second. I’m not feeling particularly fair, so I hope you don’t take too much offense at this, Kate. You express your emotions in pictures. I do it in words, and I have things I just need to say so I can process them.

Anyway, Kate posted a bunch of photos recently, and some of those photos hurt a lot. The photos of her family at the wedding only a month or so ago bother me. It’s like that whole trip was a fraud. Why did I have to stay and meet Kate’s family if I was two weeks away from not being a part of it? The entire reason I didn’t get to visit any of my friends was to stay meet the Hogans. Why did you even want me there? We had a good trip, I thought, but I guess I thought wrong.

And the pictures from Lilies are just hard. Again, it’s like it was all a lie. I’ll forever think of the day with Maerwynn with joy, but tinged with anger and sadness because the pictures of that day are Kate’s. And, oh yeah, that evening she dumped me. Joy.

And she’s also got pictures up of a new guy. I’ve never met him, so I suspect she met him after we broke up. Now I have no place to judge as I have been looking on OKCupid and flirting more than normal, but for some reason this bothers me. I’m not a jealous man, and I didn’t mind her flirting. It’s not like I wasn’t flirting too. I really do want the best for her and I hope she finds someone that works for her. I worry about her expectations of a relationship, and I fear that her unwillingness to communicate will poison her chances. Again, however, those are concerns that things go well for her in the future, not jealousy.

Nevertheless, I’m jealous of this guy, whether or not she’s actually seeing him romantically, and it’s really odd for me. It just hurts, and frankly it just hurts that we don’t communicate enough right now to tell each other these things. I guess the hardest part is that we’ve bunkered down into our fortresses and set up our defenses because we know we can hurt and be hurt by the other. At least, I assume I can hurt her but I’ve always had some challenges reading her. We hardly talk right now, and when we do we’re trying to avoid awkward conversations. I’m hoping that this trip will not only allow me to grow into a better stronger, though footsore, person, but also allow Kate the space she needs as well. Hopefully by the end of Pennsic, when we’re sorting through the way we life together for the future, we can reasonably easily talk about our respective futures with other peoples. Because despite my anger and frustration and disppointment and sadness that we’re not together, I really do love her immensely and want her to have a happy, joyful, and love-filled life, even if that’s not with me. Kate, if you do read this, I want you to especially read that last sentence and not stress about the angst and frustration in the other part of this. I really do love you and want the best for you.

OK, so the buffalo wings are sort of like Popeye’s spicy chicken. They’ve put the spiciness in the breading. The tandoori chicken “on a schteeek” is quite tasty. Interestingly their definition of nachos is essentially nacho chips, but no cheese. I make wayyyy better ribs, but I find barbecue over here to be slightly on the humorous side in general.

Oh, and I’m getting a lot of brains this trip. Brains Bitter, SA, Black, and others to be precise. Brains is a Welsh brewery, and as ou can see I’m working down their whole line. If I ever become a zombie, I want to be one in Wales. Braaaainnnz. Oh, and Fernando, there’s a scrumpy every where I go, as well as other ciders on tap. I even had one in your honor. And yes, Kate, I’ve had some lighter beers for other people too. I had two Dorothy Goodbody’s from Wye Valley Brewery last night.

Some random catchup notes before I forget:
– The Coach and Horses was founded in 1602. I am not sure if it was a Roundhead or Cavalier bar. It’s on Welsh Street, so called because it was outside the main walls where the Welsh had to stay. The current owner, Ian Weyrick, was born in Wales, but moved to South Africa as a baby and Zulu is his first language (of about 15 including Welsh and English). No offense to Josie, who was an excellent landlord, but if I come back to Chepstow I’m staying there. It’s more me 🙂

– The night life in Chepstow is fascinating. There are two dance bars open until 3am or so just down the road from the C&H. It just seems odd that a smallish town like Chepstow is the regional late night disco site.

– Despite those bars (and apparently you want to steer clear of them late at night because some kids want to bash some heads when they’re drunk), Chepstow is a lovely place to go.

– So far, Anne and Kate have done a bangup job at Celtic Trails. Both Josie at the Town Mews and Dennis and Kathy at the Florence have provided excellent food, comfy lodgings (I only hit my head twice on the beams at the Florence), and wonderful service.

– Again, communications may be spotty over the next two days until Hay-on-Wye. I really don’t know when I’ll have WiFi next.

One thought on “Experience to Extremes”

  1. It is interesting that despite Canada having a lot of British settlers we did not pick up the beans with breakfast thing. It is actually a French Canadian tradition rather than a British Canadian one.

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