And we’re back. After a gap of six months, with various digressions and diversions, Walking Home to 50 continues. Like the last leg I did back in November the day started off in Chalfont St Giles. This time, rather than wandering past John Milton’s cottage, we were visiting a living author, Fred Nolan. The whys and wherefores of this visit belong elsewhere – suffice to say it was a very pleasant meeting and we left with a bootful of his Sudden and Angel westerns – accompanying the battered paperback (Trap Angel!, Sphere 1973) I had in my rucksack.
This literary mission accomplished, we drove to Langley Station, the precise spot I had reached when I last walked.
Having been metaphorically stalled here for so long it was good to return. Still in rehab mode, this walk was both relatively short (4.5 miles) and accompanied by Jennie (lest I fall, from grace or just on to the ground.) The route took in some Grand Union Canal and part of the London Loop. If everything revolved around me, the growth of blanket weed in the canal, the fading of paint on the narrowboats and the additions to graffiti on the underpasses would have been measured to quantify my absence, and the St George flags on the new canalside apartments would be there to celebrate my own slain dragon. But none of these things were the case so we were free to just walk and notice:
a heron, with its meal in its neck
features of rail and canal architecture collapsing into the natural environment
the M25 that we would drive along the next day, en route to my parents’ house, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary (a different but related ‘to 50’ journey)
some secret dust that has quietly accumulated next to said M25, out of the lines of sight of most drivers
and some other things we photographed and some we didn’t, such as dragonflies and the deferred bliss of just walking, in sunshine.