Out In All Weathers

We’re off walking tomorrow over the Downs.
The forecast’s atrocious; they must think we’re clowns.
But we’re hardy souls, who love the fresh air,
Setting toe onto track, the wind in our hair.

So get out the back pack, check all the kit.
Clean mud off the boots, remove all the grit.
Dig out the waterproofs, haul out the cap.
Reconnoitre the route on a pathfinder map.

Butter a roll and rinse out the flask.
Leave a note by the kettle for the morning task.
Mustn’t sleep in, set both alarm clocks.
Now where did I put those hiking socks?

Rain pounds at the window during the night
And it’s still looking grim at dawn’s early light.
But after a shave, a shower and tea
The clouds begin lifting over the sea.

At the meeting point all spirits are high.
The first speck of blue appears in the sky.
Chattering aplenty a head count is taken,
There are some drowsy eyes still to awaken.

Our leader reminds us this isn’t a race,
But strides it out at a fairly brisk pace,
While a volunteer remains at the back
To make sure the stragglers pick up the slack.

There’s a gradual climb after a mile,
Then it’s right by the hedge and over a stile.
Here, progress is slow as we form a queue.
What an opportune moment to take in the view.

Long, rolling hills dotted with sheep,
Surround the Long Man close to Bo Peep.
Take the old coach road where once would be met,
Artists and writers of the Bloomsbury set.

Stop by the tearooms at the halfway mark,
Timed to perfection for it’s turning quite dark.
A heavy downpour drives us inside,
Where a Victoria sponge is eagerly spied.

Well fed and watered, cross over the lane,
Stepping through puddles in the last of the rain.
A wary eye is kept on the ground,
To avoid any sliding or slipping around.

Stretches of mud appear up ahead,
Hiking sticks at the ready to steady the tread.
Into the meadow via the kissing gate,
Taking a breather while we congregate.

One final chance to drink in the scene,
Rape seed so yellow and fields of green.
Bad weather departed, sun warm on our backs
Now strolling homeward down well trodden tracks.

Roger Lee