I was cold, hungry and too annoyed to be miserable. From the beginning I’d said it was a stupid idea to take off into the wilderness, but as usual Mr Macho knew best.
The only consolation was he appeared to be suffering more than me. His brand new, designer walking shoes had rubbed a blister, while my decrepit old trainers were still comfortable, even if my feet were aching.
At first it had been quite pleasant. It was a bright autumn day, the sun was warm, and there was a gentle breeze. The woods looked beautiful with the myriad colours from the fallen leaves, and the last of the wild flowers peeked through the soft undergrowth.
Dusk was beginning to fall when I suggested we make tracks for the Remote Inn where I had assumed we would spend the night.
‘Typical woman, no stamina and scared of a bit of gloom,’ came the response. ‘There’s a good hour of daylight left. If I was on my own I could easily do another ten miles or more, but even you should be able to manage four or five.’
‘I told you. I checked the map, and after the Inn there’s nothing for at least twenty miles.’
‘And obviously you couldn’t sleep under the stars,’ he sneered, ‘unless the luxury tent came complete with Jacuzzi.’
I’d had enough of him and his put-downs. As soon as we got home I intended to end our short and not very sweet relationship. That’s if we ever managed to find our way home. I still had the map and compass in my kit-bag, even if he hadn’t let me use them, insisting he could navigate just using nature.
We trudged on in silence for a while, with me walking a few paces behind him so I didn’t have to listen to his patronising commentary. From my memories of the map I realised we were getting further away from the Inn, and now it was getting really dark. We had left the woods and in the distance I could see a road, more or less following the route we were taking.
Just as I was taking comfort from the fact we weren’t that far away from civilisation he suddenly veered off into a dense copse of trees.
‘Hey,’ I called, ‘where are you going?’
‘This wasn’t intended to be a walk up the high street,’ he scoffed. ‘You’ll be telling me you want to go shopping next.’
Biting my lip against a sarcastic reply I just said quietly, ‘No, but I intend to find somewhere to spend the night before it gets totally dark. Enjoy your trek.’
With that I turned away and headed in the direction of the road without a backward glance. Although he hadn’t been the perfect companion it felt spooky walking on my own, and I was pleased when after about ten minutes I found myself facing a grassy bank leading up to the road above.
Although it was quite steep I managed to find some branches to act as hand-holds, and after dragging myself up sat down to study the map. Left or right, which direction should I take? As I was deciding I noticed a hazy glow, and after twenty minutes brisk walk found myself facing the haven of the Remote Inn.
Half an hour later I had booked my room, showered, changed and was tucking into a homemade chicken pie with all the trimmings, washed down with a half bottle of wine. Heaven.
Just as I was thinking of retiring three dishevelled firemen came into the lounge bar.
‘Evening guys,’ the barman greeted, ‘looks like you’ve had a hard night. What was it this time?’
‘Some prat in the woods decided it would be a good idea to light a fire. He wasn’t too badly burned but half of the old orchard is gone.’
‘Not a local then?’
‘No. Some guy from London playing woodsman. Name of Bradley Dexter. When will they learn?’
Feeling vindicated I took myself off to the comfortable bed for a good night’s sleep.
© Voinks March 2017