Wednesday, February 25, 2009

History is Standard here

It’s Wednesday so that means it’s time for another hike. We had a pretty good sized group today. There wasn’t any snow on the ground like we had a couple of weeks ago and the temperature was slightly better than our last hike, but the skies were definitely greyer. The rain held off which was nice but we did have to trounce thru some pretty deep mud in places. Thank goodness for wellies.

I love mine. I am free to stomp thru as many giant puddles and muddy paths as I like. I feel like a 5 year old when I wear them. The word Wellie is a slang word for the Wellington Boot which is basically a rain boot. They’re called Wellies because they were made popular by none other than the Duke of Wellington himself. Wellington boots were very fashionable among the British aristocracy back in the early 1800’s but today everyone with a kid or a dog or the need to set foot in the out of doors in England owns a pair. I have some furry inserts I put in the bottom of mine in winter because they aren’t well insulated and I usually wear my ski socks with them too at this time of year.

Our hiking group met today at The Royal Standard of England (the pub, not the flag which would be a whole ‘nother post). The Royal Standard is the oldest Freehouse in the country and is located way off the beaten path in a village called Forty Green, just a few miles from our home. Btw-a Freehouse is basically a pub that is free of the control of any one brewery but since we arrived at 9:30 in the morning the whole brewing thing is immaterial to my story today.

The Royal Standard is one of our favourite places and is just oozing with charm and history. The history actually goes back some 900 years. Yes you did read that right. When you visit the pub you can check out the back of the menu to get the whole story. It’s printed there in about a size 4 font and it’s quite lengthy because hey, a lot can and does happen in 900 years! If you’d like to know more right now you can read here. Let’s just say the Saxons started brewing ale on this very site about 900 years ago and that tradition continues to this day. Well, not the Saxon part, but the ale part anyway. After the Saxons came the Normans, followed by the Roundheads and Cavaliers and then the Highwaymen and rakes right up to the locals and visitors who frequent the Royal Standard today. Now, enough history...what I really want to tell you is that The Royal Standard will serve you the most awesome plate of fish and chips around. Really, it’s like a whale or something. I’ve been enough times now that I know to order a child’s portion which is still huge but I manage.

I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself because before we could eat we had to work for our lunch. We hiked about 4 miles up hill and down, across valleys and thru some very muddy woods.

Sometimes on our hikes we have to climb over fence stiles. This is perfectly legal and is part of the fun. I think we hauled ourselves over at least 8 or 10 on today’s walk.

Quite often we pass animals and today was no exception.

Mostly though we admire the truly beautiful countryside that when you see it all you can think is how much you love this place and how you want to remember always what it feels like to walk across a farmer’s land and laugh at the sheep, to see a postbox around a narrow bend in a sleepy little village, to climb a hill and see nothing but wide open spaces stretching out in front of you, to walk thru woods filled with snowdrops and holly and conifers and laurel and have to step to the side of the trail so someone on horseback can pass you by.

You try hard to take a picture inside your mind so you can come back here again and again when you are far from England.


  1. Oh...I Love your side of the pond here! I'd never heard of "fence stiles." I am sitting here thinking how friendly is that, for others to let you pass through. As it should be everywhere. What a friendly place you have here. I will be back...really enjoyed reading up on some of your fun adventured here. I hope you have a wonderful week. =O)

  2. I love hearing and seeing stories of your time there. These are great! Love the idea of weekly hikes, what a great way to experience the area. PS ~ I don't see your sweet puppy???? :)

  3. Hi Joyce, Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying "hi". What a neat group to be able to go on hikes together and onto other's property. I love that. I enjoy seeing the landscape where everyone lives. I actually lived in England when I was one to three while my dad was stationed there in the early 1960's. I've never been back. WOuld be fun to see some of the places that my parents explored back then. I will be back! COnnie

  4. I love hearing all about your part of the world. Sometimes I feel like all there is is this little world I live in and then I stop by and read your blog and it reminds me that there is so much I want to see. I love the idea of Wellies. In fact I came within a smidge of buying a patterned pair two weeks ago. Now I want to go back and get them. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Ooooo, wish I could've come along; looks like so much fun, and such beautiful countryside! ♥

  6. Ooooo... wish I could've come along! Very beautiful countryside, and what rich history! Thanks for sharing so I can live vicariously! ♥

  7. Your pictures make me want to come back to England. I was there in 1972. It was awesome. We enjoyed the pubs too, when we were there. You will have such beautiful memories of your time there and the sweet friends that I am sure you have made. Love the group picture with the dogs! My daughter loves her Wellies. I'm going to have to get a pair too. They are so cute. I know you are counting down the days until this weekend when your girls come home. Love & blessings from NC! PS It is going to snow tonight!!!