Thursday, 30th July, Bickenhall to West Buckland, 12 miles
Tommy and I enjoy a bit of the Herepath today through Thurlbear Wood, part of the Neroche Trail.
Where we pick up the path again at Netherclay,
before skirting around Orchard Wood on the bridle path and down the field that meets the lane behind the polo field near Taunton.
I have arranged a rendezvous with Emma’s sons, Charlie and George, who have kindly agreed to escort us over the motorway today. While Tommy and I wait in the car park of the Queens Arms in Pitminster, the bar maid kindly brings me half a pint of lager while Tommy dozes beside me. When the boys arrive, we head towards the M5 motorway and our destination, just the other side. The last motorway crossing we will need to do.
I had intended to go under the motorway but as our next pit stop is just over the next bridge, I decide it is worth it to save a detour of a few extra miles. I call Suzie on my mobile when we get close and she swings into action, summoning her friend, Ruth, to join us with her lovely Welsh pony, Blackie.
So we have Blackie leading the way across, and Charlie and George either side of Tommy to shield him from the onslaught of thundering traffic whizzing along in both directions below us (something this photograph is hopelessly inadequate to convey). He jiggles a little but the boys hold him firm, (notice the cyclist coming towards us, the escort I would have normally pressed into service!)
and no sooner are we across than Tommy is happily installed in a field next to Suzie’s cherished cows and doing what he loves doing best. Eating grass. Another journey completed, this time with the help of Charlie, George, Ruth and pony, Blackie. Thanks guys!
Later that evening, Suzie and I enjoy a sherry or two with Graham, a delightful retired army officer who has spent most of his working life in India, now a neighbour of Suzie and Patrick’s. He tells me that in his day, map training for young recruits was to send them off with a map that contained only contour lines and nothing else. Challenging. We also indulged his fancy for attributing army ranks to horses and agreed that Tommy would be a Sergeant Major! Not Officer material. No, I said, I’m the officer.