Why do some places completely change your mood? As you step in you immediately feel better or worse. While the neck sags when arriving at Gatwick airport, the feet start to tap when I arrive at darling Marylebone station. Architecture, size, crowd, mood and light all have an effect. Why else would I smile at a Muslim family and seconds later give to a toothless beggar
Trevor and I are on our way for a ten mile ,rated moderate, walk around Chequers. Our station is Wendover (white waters) just south of Aylesbury. Half the walk will be over the charming Chiltern Hills and rest across the flat Vale of Aylesbury.
We start by climbing Coombe Hill to the most imperial and commanding Boer War Memorial. Beautifully placed, the spire can be seen for miles, the 150 men far from their Buckinghamshire homes who died for their Empress on some kopje crest are well remembered. Did they know “The meaning of the broad Karoo, The Bush,the dusty loam” The monument has been hit by lightening twice, had its bronze plaque stolen and during the War was camouflaged so the Luftwaffe couldn’t use it as a landmark.
We push on by the PM’s country home and onto Great Kimble(bell shaped hill) and the Bernard Arms. Here John Major entertained Boris Yeltsin who demanded a bottle of vodka but was told they only served shots. No doubt Sir john smiled his innocent smile and looked into his luke warm pint. Sadly my book is out of date and the pub closed seven years ago. A mile down the road, The Swan is fine.
All Saints in Little Kimble has some of the best medieval murals in the country. The Reformation and its beneficial effect on the British personality was easily worth dose of iconoclasm.
But the stars of the return walk through the growing wheat and the sleeping lambs were the red kites. These heroic birds with their wide wingspan, once common ,had almost died out by the turn of the century. The last fifteen years has seen them successfully re-introduced into the Chilterns and elsewhere. And though from a distance they can be confused with equally grand buzzards, close up they are more beautiful and their flight more graceful. Back for a late tea. Happy day.