I arrived at Wythall station south of Birmingham, having made an absurd journey since leaving home a week ago – like Geoff Mack’s ‘I’ve been everywhere’ a work trip had taken me to Gatwick, Reading, Sarasota, Orlando, Boston, Heathrow, Birmingham and now here. Feeling dazed and muted I wander back to the end point of the last walk and recommence walking towards Brighton, on a cold afternoon with the light already fading.
Now your Sunshine States and theme parks are all very well, but walking through fields and woods on crisp afternoon in smoky late-autumn air takes some beating. ‘This land is my land’…
Tired though I was, wearing my turtle-symbol hat bought to defend me from being ‘baked by the sun/every time I go to Mexico’ (Gulf of, vicinity) I stumbled through a few miles. Having been with people virtually non-stop for a week, being guided around, it was nice to be charting a solo journey again. My several roles and selves, other people, the boundaries between these and their dissolution: them’s tricky monkeys; dim motes of confused memory drifted through my brain. A gold sunset behind the trees brought me back to now, the cold/wet/muddy splendid animal moment.
Recrossing the railway line I had arrived on, I entered some woodland. The path looked clear enough on the map, but after a few calf-high soakings in mulchy water (‘lost in a dark wood’) I decided to hack my way back to the railway line and use it to navigate, walking on the stones next to the rails. Soon I reached The Lakes station, not a detour to Cumbria but a request stop on the line between Stratford Upon Avon and Birmingham. Cold, but happy to be en route.