Saturday, 7 June 2014
A walk in the rain and the trees
in the countryside near Lichfield
After the warm summer sunshine that seemed to bathe all South Staffordshire, I awoke this morning to heavy rain and a thunderstorm in Lichfield.
I had a room at the front of the Hedgehog on Stafford Road, on the northern edges of Lichfield, looking out to the south across long swathes and stretches of the Staffordshire countryside. From early this morning, the rain was coming down incessantly and heavily, and the lightning seemed to light up the fields and trees for miles beyond me.
It was a beautiful weather to experience, despite this being summer. But, while the temperature soon rose to 20 or even higher, the heavy rain put paid to my plans for a morning walk in the countryside before strolling into Lichfield Cathedral for the mid-day Eucharist.
And any thoughts of joining one of the tower tours in the Cathedral were quickly jettisoned.
I stayed behind in the Hedgehog, enjoying the opportunity for some unplanned reading, and ventured out into the rain once or twice for a walk in the grounds and through the trees, looking down the embankment to the west onto a rain-soaked Cross-in-Hand Lane, or catching a glimpse through the rain and clouds and must of the spires of Lichfield Cathedral and Saint Mary’s Church to the south.
As the rains eased a little, I become a little more adventurous, and headed out for a walk through the trees and by the fields alongside Stafford Road, as far as Featherbed Lane.
The rains had not truly ceased, however, and I was wet again by the time I got back to the Hedgehog. But three of us had a wonderful lunch together, reminiscing about friendships that have lasted for over 40 years, and about times in Lichfield and Rugeley the early 1970s.
For starters, one had beer-battered mushrooms with caramelised garlic and parsley mayonnaise, and two of us had the pear and stilton salad, with dressed leaves, Cropwell Bishop stilton and roasted pear; for our main courses we had one tomato pasta (giant fusilli pasta in a tomato and olive sauce, drizzled with English herb oil and served with garlic bread) and two Scampi Medleys (crumbed scampi and prawns, served with garden peas, tartare sauce and seasoned chips). We shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio, and finished our lunch with tea for one and two double espressos.
Eventually the sun was breaking through when the time to leave came. Instead of catching a taxi to Lichfield City train station, two of us decided to walk down Beacon Street into Bird Street and the centre of Lichfield.
There was the customary stop at Saint John’s Hospital, where the chapel is very truly my spiritual birthplace, before catching the train through more countryside in South Staffordshire to Birmingham New Street and on to Birmingham International Airport for the flight to Dublin.