The newt world order

January 14, 2008

Yes, the title is particularly misleading. This post has nothing to do with amphibians, nor their emergence as our (probably deserving) overlords.

Instead, I’m going to tell you about walks in the country in England.

First a quick description of my terms – well, term: when I say country, I feel confident in saying that anytime you see two patches of greenery bigger than a footy field that are more mud than grass you’re probably in ‘the country’, even if it’s not even an hour on the train out of central London. Suddenly it turns into a weird mixture of field, rolling hills, and ticky-tacky box-shaped housing. If you look another couple of hundred metres beyond the train-tracks you’ll see some houses built before the ’50s, and possibly before the 1850s.

The funny thing about the English hobby of rambling (as opposed to bushwalking in Australia or tramping in NZ) is that you can walk from some convenient town for five hours, and in the course of that walk pass through three villages, including two pub stops, and have high tea in the meantime, before catching your train home. My experience of bushwalking in Australia is: get off train, walk for five hours through dry bush while praying that the water you brought with you will last the distance, pray also that track finishes where it started, and catch train home, parched and hungry. Much more satisfying! You really know you’ve been on a walk!

It seems to drive a small economy, though, the walking thing – we stopped at a little pub called the Stag and Huntsman at midday the other day, after walking for a pleasant couple of hours along the Thames, and luckily we were dead on midday – by half past there wasn’t a seat in the house, and the collection of hiking boots in the entryway was second to none by the time we left, nothing you’d find in an Australian pub, half the clientele were in (as I suppose they call them here) stockinged feet! Quaint, I like to think =^), but rather civilised.

The pub food (most important, besides the locally brewed ale – I keep saying that English ale actually makes sense when it’s sub 10 degrees outside) was not so bad, though huge – Linda ordered the chicken liver pate, and I got the ploughman’s lunch. There was probably 3/4 of a kilo of pate, with 4 large triangles of white toast, sad salad and Sauerkraut of the most scooped from a bucket description, whereas mine consisted of a pickled onion (pretty good) the same sad salad and Sauerkraut, but with a brown roll, chutney, and half a kilo of Oxford blue and Cheddar*. We were keen do set off and do some serious walking afterwards. And we didn’t stop for tea in the next village. We just kept walking.

Henley. Check it out.

Henley 01

Jo, the ball’s in your court.

*Amounts may be exaggerated for comedic purposes. Though not by much.



  1. OK, why ‘newt’?

  2. No reason.
    Or maybe because I was talking to the Newtons over at Remarkable Rocket the day before

  3. Mmmm. Cheese & paté. Mmmmm.

  4. yeah funny how you just come to have that geographical cultural referent of a big emptiness in the middle of your continent. that becomes a part of you and when you’re in countries that are crowded from coast to coast something feels slightly askew.

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