It wasn’t really the day for a country walk, but that’s what was on offer, so that’s what I did. Our friends have a New Year’s Day party every year – first a walk, which this year was set for 3, 5 1/2 or 7 1/2 miles, then back to their place for soup and cheese. Several people make soup and we try as many as we can manage – they’re all always delicious.
The weather was not good, but we loaded Ben in the car (plus towels and a blanket for later) and arrived in time for a stirrup cup of mulled cyder, Adrian being a leading light of the local cyder club. They make gallons of it – literally, they forage for several tons of apples each year.
Only a dozen or so opted for the long walk. I’d intended to do the short one, but a friend looked disappointed, so I changed my mind and scrambled on the trailer to be taken to the start of the medium one. Her husband lifted up Ben, which would be beyond my capabilities. Later, seeing me being towed down a slippery path, he kindly took Ben’s lead and walked him the rest of the way. I felt a wimp, but was immensely grateful by the end because I’d have struggled. Mike and Ann, this couple are the people you’ve stayed with – as has Tim – at their guest house. The short walkers missed a turning and went a couple of miles out of their way, so looked tired when they got back. Russell intended to do that walk but changed his mind because of the filthy weather and spent an hour by the fireside instead, which was a great relief to me because I’d been worried about him.
It was so good to catch up with friends and talk to new village residents too. I should add to my new year’s intentions: to join in with things more. I used to go to WI, gardening club and other events at that village, but felt guilty about going out in the evenings and leaving Russell – but we don’t do anything here, we often don’t even talk much. It’s friendly enough, on our his’n’hers iPads or reading or occasionally watching television, but not exactly vibrant.
Which reminds me, last night (sorry, Facebook friends, you’ll be reading about this twice – or you could just stop now) I dismissed most of what was on television and put on the DVD of The Big Sleep, on my computer because the DVD player stopped working ages ago and I watch films so rarely it’s hardly been worth buying another. And within minutes, I spotted a detail I’d not noticed before, but which was very nice.
The film starts with Philip Marlowe (the peerless Humphrey Bogart) arriving at a mansion and being ushered into an overheated conservatory, where his employer is sitting amongst the orchids. And you can see his shirt getting damper as he gets hotter – it looks completely genuine. Then he goes out and speaks to the butler again and his shirt is still wet in exactly the same places. After that, he goes into another room to speak to Vivian (Lauren Bacall) and the shirt is still sweaty, but gradually dries out during the scene, completely realistically. This fantastic attention to detail , completely unremarked – it was a white shirt, so wasn’t that obvious – made me very happy.
The film and the book have only a tenuous link, really, but I love them both. And the book has one of my favourite descriptive phrases when, introducing Carmen, it says ‘she was … small and delicately put together, but she looked durable.’ Marvellous.