Seven weeks in one place! In a way it seems strange to be packing up again; I actually unpacked my suitcase when I arrived, putting things in closets and drawers, rather than just using the suitcase as a storage unit for my clothes, as I'd been doing since mid-July. I'll probably do the same in London, since I'll only be there for a few weeks. The bus leaves Exeter at 10:45 Tuesday morning, and Chris is being kind enough to drive me there to catch it, rather than to Totnes, which is closer to here, but which would add an hour to my onboard time.
I took Hebe out for one last long sunny walk yesterday, to Aveton Gifford this time, a direction we'd not gone before. It's another small village about two miles away by road, though a five-mile round trip using the public byways and footpaths and bridleways. We did end up on the road for a bit by accident, when I took the wrong turning out of a farmyard, but got back on the bridleway after only 15 minutes of squeezing up against hedges every time a car came by. The road's a lot busier on a Saturday than during the week. The bridleways were fairly easy to follow when they went in and out of fields, because of the beaten-down hoofprinted areas in the grass, but when I came to the turning for the footpath that led due south to the village, there was nothing more than a signpost pointing vaguely in that direction, towards several hundred acres of sheep-filled field. "The gate's somewhere over there," it seemed to say. "Just keep walking and you'll find it eventually." Which I did (eventually) though it was a stile and not a gate. Hebe ducked through the opening between the hedge and the post while I climbed over, and fortunately she was able to squeeze through the bottom wedge of the next stile, but at the third there was no alternative but climbing over. I hauled on her collar as she scrabbled her back legs against the slippery steps, and she got hung up for a few seconds at the top, but made it over safely if ungracefully on her butt. I was a bit worried that she'd be stiff this morning, but she was running around happily in the upper field before we came back down to let the ducks and geese out. I'm a bit stiff, but am stretching my legs and back whenever I get up from the computer to do a bit more packing.
The sky's overcast again, after yesterday's sun. I took deep breaths of the cold clean air as I walked, looking out over the stream-filled valleys, often hearing nothing but the sound of my shoes swishing through the grass and the dog panting next to me and the last leaves rustling in the copses at the tops of hills. It'll be quite a change, navigating the packed sidewalks of Picadilly surrounded by people instead of sheep. I'm looking forward to it.
Georgina and Chris and I will have a farewell feast this evening - I'm going to make stuffed mushrooms with basil and gluten-free breadcrumbs, and a salad of marinated baby bell peppers and arugula. I hope the skies clear after the sun goes down; I'd like to get out and watch the Geminid meteor showers. It will be harder to see the stars in London.
On November nights the moon