Boxing Day Walk with Church – 26 December 2014
Perhaps one of the few reasons that I – of all people – feel able to enjoy a gastronomically indulgent Christmas every year is this: the annual Boxing Day walk with church. Somehow, tucking into extra helpings of turkey at the Christmas dinner table seems forgivable because, by noon the next day, I’ll have walked off the excess. In theory.
As it turned out, this year’s Boxing Day walk felt a little less rugged than those of previous years. My iPhone tells me that we covered less than 7km – which, if correct, means we averaged just a couple of miles an hour. Despite the plodding pace – or, in all likelihood, because of it – it was an enjoyable walk and the fresh country air was thick with Christmas catch-up conversations.Meeting at a lay-by just beyond the Black Boys Inn on the Henley Road, our party of thirteen was down in size on recent years. Nonetheless, keen St Luke’s rambler Roger Clarke led a circular route up around Ashley Hill, past the Milton Sandford nuclear bunker, and back to the cars by 12:30pm. It was good to talk to my friend Luke Darracott (he writes at lukedarracott.com), who had me and my fellow walkers in stitches as he discussed his latest projects and adventures. I hope to go out to visit him in Madrid in 2015.
After the walk, a small number of us returned to Roger and Sonya’s house to enjoy the shepherd’s pie lunch that awaited us there. This is, in truth, just as much a part of the annual Boxing Day routine as the walk itself and, never one to miss out on a free lunch, my sister joined us for it too. (Harriet told our fellow walkers that she’d been unable to walk due to her boots being back in Birmingham… though I’m convinced her new 1,000-piece jigsaw had something to do with her decision.)