‘D….where’s your rucksack??’
D and I were at Watford Junction. Our connecting train to Garston was just about to arrive, to take us to the start of our romantic country walk (taken from this Time Out book, which we’ve used many times). The ramble would end at St Albans, where D and I had planned to celebrate my 40th birthday together. Special, child-free time, the likes of which we rarely see.
A gasp of horror from D. And, a knot of incredulity in my stomach: my carefully picked outfit for the evening, along with my toiletries, spare underwear and ALL my makeup, was speeding its way to Birmingham New Street, on an overhead rack above the train seats we’d been sitting on, just minutes before.
Not the most auspicious start to our day. We’d already encountered a big hiccup in the plans for my 40th: the original arrangement had been to travel to Amsterdam for a couple of nights. But then Austin became unwell with his viral-induced wheeze, and it didn’t seem right to leave the country. If Granny and Grandad called at 2am to say his condition had deteriorated, it would be a darn sight easier to jump into a cab from St Albans, than it would be to swim home from the Netherlands.
Or, that is, to jump into a cab in walking boots, wearing clothes that were gamey from a day’s walking (if D’s forgetfulness had anything to do with it).
I was cross. I was upset. But D was suitably contrite, and made a score of telephone calls to make sure the bag ended up safely in Birmingham. So I stemmed the rivulets of disappointment. After all, why spoil our rare couple-time for the sake of some mascara and a frock?. Once I’d banished the sulks, what remained was pure enjoyment of a pleasant ramble through Herfordshire countryside.
Although the walk was pretty, it wasn’t the most beautiful we’ve taken from our Time Out book; the M1 and M25 rear their ugly heads along the way. But there was a good balance of woodland, open fields, historic buildings, and fine countryside creatures – butterflies, and cows a-plenty.
The end of the walk ran along the banks of the River Ver.
St Albans itself was delightful. Our walk took us into the city near Verulamium Park, the site of the Roman city of the same name (and whose ruins you can still see).
Our hotel – booked at the last minute because of our change of plans – was the Clarion Collection, which came in at just over £100 for a standard double room and was perfectly adequate for a passing visit. It was situated right in the centre of the city, which cut out the need to waste precious time travelling to and from our hotel.
Even better was the fact that we were staying practically opposite Singhli, an Indian Street Kitchen with astonishingly good food. We were wowed by the dry, complex heat of the chilli paneer, and were equally impressed by all the other street food platters we ordered: delicate vegetable pakoras, crispy amritsari fish, light, puffed prantha and deeply flavoursome aubergine sabji.
The dress I’m wearing in this picture was one bought from a fine charity shop in the city centre (the place has several). Dave spotted a cardigan that matched it perfectly when we were on a pants-buying foray into Marks & Spencer, and bought that for me too. So – bingo – as well as having a pleasant walk and delicious food, I also ended up with a bonus new outfit.
It was almost as though he’d planned it.
Have you ever forgotten your luggage?
I’m linking this post up with Time Traveller at Mari’s World.