Gilsland & the Hill on the Wall

“I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.” – Rene Descartes

The door slowly opens, and a short, plump and proper woman looks at me with wonder.

“Quite a warm one out there today for walking, isn’t it?”

I’m just grateful to have survived. The Hill on the Wall B & B is warm and inviting as I walk in and get settled in my room. The woman, whose name is Elaine, asks me if I made reservations at the local pub. I let her know that I haven’t, as I was just planning on having something delivered. She let’s me know that isn’t an option around here, and that the restaurant can get full quickly.

I need to shower first, and recover from the day before I even contemplate food. Besides, the village itself is about a mile and a half away, and I’m not sure if my legs can do the distance.

The cold water from the shower re-invigorates my body, and stimulates the need for sustenance. The evening has cooled down the day somewhat as I venture back out and head on down to the village of Gilsland to try and find the local pub.

Eerily quiet is this village, with hardly a soul in sight. I walk the empty streets, checking my phone GPS for the right path to the pub. I arrive just as a large group of cars are parking. It looks like a wedding party.

I enter the pub and am asked if I have a reservation. Sheepishly I tell them no, but the nice girl tells me to hold on a moment while she goes and asks the chef if he would be able to accommodate me. I don’t know what I’ll do if the answer is no….

She returns and tells me that if I order quickly the chef can serve me, as the wedding party has sixteen guests and if they order before me, it could be a couple hours before I am served.

Two ales, a salad and vegetable mousaka please.

I scarf the food down like someone that has been fasting for days. It’s funny how in tune with my body I am now, as I can literally feel my stomach breaking down the food and converting it into fuel.

I leave content. The sun is a brilliant orange as it makes its way to the other side of the world. The charm of the village of Gilsland is appreciated more by my senses on the return trip to the Hill on the Wall with a belly full of food.

The next morning I rise to stiff and sore muscles and high spirits. It is just myself for breakfast, and Elaine makes another lovely Full English breakfast for me.

Sipping my coffee, I notice a Maasai family sculpture in the corner.

I inquire about it with her, and find that her and her late husband traveled to Africa when they were younger.

Oh how we loved Africa.”

I let her know of my time in the Motherland as well, and how I fondly love it too. I can tell that when she speaks of it there is a twinge of sadness as her husband has passed on. I can relate to the pain of fond memories of loved ones that are no longer here.

This short, plump and proper English woman and I bond over this, however unlikely that may have seemed. It sets the mood for the next part of my journey, and how I come to terms with my time in the Motherland, and how it ended so abruptly.

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Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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