It isn't the same at home, the local pub. Is it? Am I just in too 'trendy' or busy a suburb? Are there suburbs where you would have the experience I had this afternoon? I popped into the pub at the start of the town of Royton. It snuggles under the motorway and there is little else nearby, but once I negotiated my backpack through the tiny two-door entrance I was face to face with a large bunch of drinkers all staring at the door. Disconcerting. They often seem weary of you and appear to be wondering what the hell you are actually doing there, so I inevitably ask the stupid question of whether, despite there being ten people at the bar, they are open. 'Not for food'. 'A drink?' 'Mmm.' Once some cash has been handed over the bar, (today after the publican asked me if I understood the money here, and I responded, yes, but not the accents, how much did you say?), they relax a little and ask where I am headed. I wanted to be headed into accommodation so I asked if there was anywhere around to stay. I love it. The ten people in the bar start brain storming (or as a I read somewhere recently, this is now more politically correctly termed 'thought showers'). They wanted to firstly send me up the hill I had just come down to a Travelodge. 'Oh, but that would be seventy-nine dollars on a monday.' Then there turned out to be nothing for miles in any given direction. There were the 'no, we can't send her there, it's full of brothels'. Really? I have never seen a brothel in all my travels on this route, but I guess they would have to be somewhere, and here is obviosly close to that where. 'What about John Lees' farm?' 'Ooh, yeah, they do a great breakfast there I hear.' 'Oi, Bill, have you got John's phone number?' One man called, another looked at my map to make sure I was where I was. One drew me up another map to get to the farm. Another told me about their trip to Melbourne, to the 'G for the cricket. They were all in consensus about how many people the "G holds. Hundred and ten thousand they believed. One of the ladies told me about her house in Spain and how it's okay for the men down there to order a sherry at the bar. Would never happen here unless you were ordering it for your great aunt. It's beer or nothing. The hand-drawn map was fabulous and I am now in a room at the Three Gates Farm (www.threegatesfarmbandb.co.uk). It is unfortunately too far for me to walk anywhere for dinner, but I am looking forward to that great breakfast.
Tomorrow, with any luck, I will actually be on the Pennine Way. Eek. Here come the hills. I am quite excited. I do hope it starts to get a little warmer though. I am looking out my window and it is misting up. It is beautiful though, and this does keep the bugs away, so maybe I will be careful of what I wish for.
I'm inside and rain is falling on the roof. This is a good thing.
Good night to Stake Hill, good night to you.