Great Dunmow's Flitchway Walk
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Exploring the Flitchway
The Root and I Ventured Forth.
The sun was so warm for late April; suffering from a surfeit of sea-food eaten during my birthday feast the day before, I decided it was past time to begin my spring and summer walks: get some of this belly off and encourage the pump to keep going for a few years longer.
Releasing a relieving fart, I broke out the old legs, pocketed my navy knife with the marline spike on, grasped my root firmly and strode manfully out of the door, prepared for just about anything the great outdoors could throw at me.
My root? Don’t get the wrong idea, I wasn’t about to cast my seed to the four winds, my “root,” is actually my walking staff, a woody root made for purpose and sold outside the Cuevas de Cacahuamilpa in Mexico. Wonderful material, both strong and light with charisma thrown in. It has a head like some rare bird where the minor roots have been cut off and I have loved it dearly since I brought it back from Mexico in 2003 - couldn’t do it now, terrorism tha’ knows.
I live in Hertfordshire at the moment. Actually, you could spit into Essex from my front door (I occasionally do). But Herts is a better address, you know, or so the oldies here tell me; I could give a stuff about all that crap, having spent too much time in one-class countries like Oz and the US to be taken in by all this class ballyhoo. I mean, one look at Lawd Adonis -LORD Adonis on TV makes me want to puke (all over Lawd Mandleson if possible). How can these foppish twits strut around accepting all the forelock touching and scraping around from the parvenu?
“It’s money, honey, my little sonny.” Well…even Simon Cowell doesn’t get that much obsequious ass kissing. It’s past time we chucked all this rubbish into the trash bins of history. Actually, I am a peer…but my prismatic are broken and the spoil sports have twigged me and pull their curtains at night anyway.
Where wuz I? Oh, yes, well, I don’t live so very far from the historical and boring village of Dunmow (The council has just ordered the centuries-old duck-pond be roofed over and turned into an indoor ice- skating rink, and the fucks be ducked, er…you know what I mean). What sort of enlightened souls would have thought of that one? They-are-really-going-to-do-it! Are we living in the world’s insane asylum or where?
So ruminating about the poor ducks, not to mention the geese that live there and will also be cooked, and how I would torture Mandleson if I had the opportunity (stitch a cork in it..heh heh heh!), I made my way over to the Flitchway.
Dunmow, if you care, futzes around with a ham once a year and awards it to some lucky winner - usually a Yank who can boast about it for the rest of his life, “Why, this lil’ ol’ village near London, England, with houses with grass roofs, populated with hundreds of dwarfs over 100 years old…y‘all have a nice day” and so on. This is the Flitch of Bacon, a flitch being a cut I believe off the hog.
The Flitchway is a rather pretty and secluded path that runs from Great Dunmow (A bit like Great Britain, a humungous exaggeration), parallel to the old A130, nearly all the way to the M11 and the outskirts of Bishops Stortford, a decent burg with a dusty river and shops. It was once a little railway that ran between the two towns, but was closed some 50 years ago. It runs along the side of Hatfield Forest for a mile or so and is about 6 miles long. No cars allowed, of course, just walkers, bikers and fertilizers (gee-gees). I can’t see why horse owners are allowed to majestically pass on from the stinking mounds of dung their chargers leave in the middle of the Flitchway. I suppose class comes into it again: if you can afford horses or even to rent one, you are related to Lawd somebody and entitled by birth to crap on whom you wish. Actually, having made the obligatory British whine about the dung problem, I must be honest and say I rather like it: it smells rich and loamy and reminds me of the days I worked on farms, and it gives the local dogs something to eat and roll in. I also saw a cyclist slither into a big pile of it the other day. They are the real menace, streaking by at 20 miles an hour on this 4-feet wide path, making you leap into the air in alarm, ‘cause you haven’t heard them coming and only wimps ring the bell to let you know. The law favors them, too, I put my root into the rear wheel of one the other day, stripping all his spokes off, collapsing the wheel, and causing him to disappear into the blackberries…or was I day-dreaming again.
No one collects blackberries anymore, or not like we used to as kids in Broadstairs. None yet this year, of course, but I have been adventuring here for 7 years while I save to go back and retire in Mexico, and the ripe fruit decays on the bushes in autumn. The kids are too lazy today, in fact, you hardly ever see them playing in this ideal location. Too busy with cell phones, Facebook and the internet; computer games and having sex at 14. I only learned to wank properly at that age! I never put my root into one of the opposite sex until I was gone 18 - the other root, I mean. Now, kids are shacking up at 16 and know more about sex than I did until I joined the navy. I will confess to having made up for a tardy start, though, after four marriages and plenty of gash, as we would say, I know a thing or three.
I had a fright along the Flitchway last year. I spied in the distance coming towards me what looked like a small lion. It seems to have a mane sticking out from its head and was trotting along at a good rate. I waited rather nervously, root at the ready, when it turned off into one of the fields on the other side from the roadway and I saw it was a fox, with a chicken gripped firmly in its mouth, the chicken wings sticking out from the sides of its head. It must have had cubs close. I like foxes. I suppose if the Tories get in those idiots will be galloping around and tallyhoeing drunkenly at one another in their uppah clawse Oxbridge drawl. Give me the fox any day.
Lots of sex going on in birdland along the Flitchway today. A few of the males were already parked on a high bough caroling about how good that soft little feathery puss was and how, believe it, it‘s exclusive, while she, sated, putting the finishing touches on the nest. Some early bluebells were out and the blossom on some of the trees, May blossom and the rest. (I know as much about plants now as I knew about sex at 14).
A few pheasants gave me a indignant squawking-to about using their property during the breeding season. Male pheasants seem like they belong in more exotic climes, don’t they? The Amazon maybe, or in the wilds of Montana. They seem wasted on a dusty British B road or a forgotten path. Certainly an outstanding sight and the most dramatic of our birds along with Peregrines and Eagles - not forgetting my all time favorites, the owls.
I sometimes strike off from the Flitchway into Hatfield Forest. It’s more like open parkland these days as most of the large trees have been harvested. Strange how few people come here. The 3 quid levy to enter with your car puts many off. You can cut in from the Flitchway into the paddocks but have to run the gamut of herds of cows and bulls who don’t bother you but frighten some people.
After an hour my still green feet for 2010 began to throb, so the root and I headed for a nearbye pub for a Coke (Ha!) and then home to rest and write this humble account…
The Flitchway and Hatfield forest are worth a visit and you can jeer at the twerps filling in the 300-year-old duck pond in Gt. Dunmow if you come soonish