Christmas Walk

Present: Claire (organiser), Alan, Bruce, Sarah D, Bob, Maggie, Dan, Marion, Mark, Beckie, Paula, Si, Ali, Maika, Alison, Dave W, Richard N, Jim, Belinda, Rhoda, Ange, Mick, Dave H, Sarah M, Dave M, Gaby, Mike, Simon H

Although the day of the walk didn’t dawn as sunny and clear as earlier in the week (or indeed, the day after), it was still dry and crisply cold when everyone gradually assembled at the Wharf for a 9.30 prompt start. Well, OK, actually 9.40, after the stragglers had been rounded up and certain people had purchased their caffeine fix. We set a brisk pace along the canal, picking up Mark, Marion and Alison at Greenham Mill and Dave H close to Thatcham. At Midgham Lock we stopped and used the lock gate as an impromptu bar for the serving up of mulled wine made by Alan (in full “Swedish Chef” mode) and Sarah D, and mince pies made by Sainsbury’s (and supplied by Dan).

Serving up the wine

Wading through the mud

Small gaggle, heading for a pub

Thermos flasks empty, we then left the towpath and headed south-west, to tramp through some very muddy fields (was it really mud?), skirt the edges of Brimpton and walk in a cross-country loop to our lunch destination at Crookham. Everyone was full up after the three-course meal, especially those who ate the “spare” food, and the walk back across Crookham Common and Greenham Common was possibly a little slower than the outwards journey. It was completely dark by the time the advance party reached Sarah’s house, and 20+ people crowded in for more mulled wine, mince pies and stollen. Although the option was offered to stand outside with a fire like last year, strangely nobody was willing to leave the warmth of the house and all the muddy boots (and bubble wrap – Maggie!) stayed piled up in the hall until it was time to leave. The attempt to drink Sarah’s wine supplies dry had sadly failed, but the pile of empty bottles was nevertheless impressive. So was the stack of pizza boxes, for those who got peckish later. A few hardy souls then finished off the evening in the Dolphin – or perhaps it finished them off, if you believe the rumours…

Thanks very much to Richard N, Mark, Marion, Bruce, Maggie, and Mike & Gaby for contributing to the mulled wine.

Sarah Davies (words), Claire White (pictures)

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