I’d say that the best laid plans of mice and men invariably fail but now I sit and think about it I’ve never met (or heard of) a mouse that adequately planned ahead.
Honestly I’ve never been particularly good at doing this either and for the most part I just go where the mood takes me and hope for the best.
It usually works.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
When faced with a full on attack of ‘the Mondays’ yesterday I decided at the last minute to book the day off today and do what I used to do all the time – go for a random walk in the countryside.
Thankfully my regular twalking buddy isn’t hard to convince when it comes to suggestions of outdoor activity and she positively jumped at my idea that we explore the Lickey Hills. We’ve never been there before and it’s supposed to be quite pretty.
She arrived to pick me up at 9.30am and I was unusually (almost) ready to go. Whilst we nattered I put the finishing touches to my packed lunch (cous cous and mackerel with sweetcorn) and then we left the house.
Whilst I’m happy to drive I have to admit I also rather like to be driven when it comes to this particular friend. I recently discovered that her large techno armchair with wheels comes with heated seats and when a man regularly gets as cold as I tend to there’s very little that’s more enjoyable than hot buns.
Part of me abstractly worries that I’m rapidly beginning to associate a pleasant feeling in my bottom with time spent around her – but hey ho.
Worse things have happened.
When we arrived at the visitor centre it was fairly clear that we’d arrived in the ‘off season’ – although truthfully I’m not sure that the visitor centre has an ‘on season’ judging by it’s interior.
It appeared to be home to some of the sorriest examples of taxidermy that I’ve ever seen – none of which would be out of place in a Harry Potter movie…
They’re so bad that I find them unintentionally hilarious!
In contrast to the exhibits that were (ahem) ‘experiencing a serious love deficit‘ the lady behind the enquiries counter was extremely attentive and helpful. When we asked about the best route to take around the hills she took the time to highlight it for us on a printed handout of walks that was free to visitors.
As we left the building and headed to the corner of the car park we checked our gear.
Packed lunch. Check. Water. Check. Emergency banana. Check. Coffee. Check.
We seemed ready for the six mile walk – and headed for the start with our engines revving. There was no stopping us!
The day would be one of adventure and exploration! This was FREEDOM!!!
The little red arrow pointed the way to territories unknown that were filled with both wonder and delight!
At which point my friend unexpectedly tripped over an unusually pointy pebble and face planted the muddy floor.
I immediately stooped to grab her arm and help her up.
‘No no – hang on – I’ve hurt my leg.’ She said – and I took my hand away. She didn’t want to be moved, and instead picked up her glasses and rolled around to sit on her bottom.
A particularly nonchalant dog walker stepped around us without offering a single word of support, and was quickly followed by a visitor centre employee casually passing on a tractor – who also appeared to be very disinterested.
So much for the milk of human kindness…
Meanwhile my friend was catching her breath and I was a little worried.
She had mud all over her face and arms and was busy putting her spectacles back on while the seat of her trousers absorbed the muddy floor. She looked like she was in a lot of pain.
‘I’m ok – it’s not bad. I just need to sit for a bit.‘ she said – wincing and screwing up her eyes.
Given that what she was sitting in must have been both cold and very unpleasant I took this to actually mean ‘it really hurts but I’m being a big girl about it.’
After a few minutes of grimacing and further wincing she allowed me to help her to her feet and began to gingerly put weight on her ankle. It was clearly very painful.
‘We can go back if you want. It’s ok – I don’t mind.’ I said. ‘We could do a pub lunch or a coffee instead?’ I suggested.
‘No it’s ok – we’ll carry on. I think it’ll walk off.’ She replied.
‘Are you sure?’ I said again.
‘Yes – it’ll be ok.’ she replied.
I know better than to argue – especially with people who’ve experienced childbirth and already demonstrated to the world that they have a significantly higher tolerance of pain than men – so at a markedly slower pace than usual we began to follow the route that the lady had highlighted.
It was actually a really nice day for a mooch – although honestly a bit muddier than I’d prefer. The view and the sky was (at least intermittently) pretty lovely!
As we continued on our way chatting and talking about her mishap (and me continually asking if she was really ok) I began to see real live examples all around us of the desperately sad stuffed animals in the visitor centre.
Although I couldn’t get very close there were a couple of Jays ferreting around in the undergrowth and hopping in and out of the bushes.
The woods at Lickey Hills are actually really nice. There are lots of little branch teepees in evidence when you pass clearings, and it’s clear that there’s a quite a bit of activity around this area in the school holidays.
However I’m not entirely sure that the local council’s choice of carefully camouflaged bird boxes are completely in keeping with the colour schemes of the area.
Despite their uncanny, chameleon like ability to blend into their surroundings occasionally we still managed to pick one out against the forest canopy thanks to our miraculously keen eyesight…
It was at this point that something even more amazing happened.
My friend has for ages been saying almost everywhere we go that she sees Nuthatches.
However – mysteriously whenever I turn and look there’s nothing to be seen – leading me to question her obviously infirm and frequently tenuous grasp on reality.
This topic was also quite useful when it came to deciding on an appropriate Christmas present…
Then – out of the blue, in the undergrowth…
Could it be?
Say it’s not so!!!
A frikkin Nuthatch!!!!
We’d only both seen a REAL LIVE ONE!!!
However – it was at this point (as I was intermittently stopping to take photos) that I noticed my companion was gradually limping more and more.
After anther short chat I convinced her that now was not the time to be daft and that resting her ankle could in fact prove beneficial. She finally relented and we headed back to the car to go and get a spot of lunch (an unlimited salad in my case!!!) at a nearby Harvester instead.
It seems that it was just as well – as shortly after arriving home this afternoon (I walked into town for a coffee to get my step and mile count up) I got the bad news. Her husband had insisted on a visit to A&E and everything wasn’t completely tickety boo.
‘There’s nothing broken – but I do have a damaged ligament.’ my friend said, and forwarded the photographic evidence.
The poor lamb is now on crutches!
So – the day didn’t work out quite how either of us planned it to – but on the bright side internet it’s thankfully nothing that won’t heal with time – and we’ve also FINALLY seen a Nuthatch together – so it hasn’t been a completely awful day!
So I’ll sign off today by sending massive hugs to my twalking buddy and wishing her a super speedy recovery!