Friday, 20 January 2017

Hermits Ahoy

 I lived in Stirling, Scotland, when I was six. Right on the university campus next to a deep, tangled forest patched with bluebells and snowdrops and magical twisting trails. There was even an old pet cemetery with lovingly tended graves and thick in the forest was an abandoned hermit's cave. I remember going to the cave to eat strawberry jam sandwiches, and sitting on the mossy stone seats outside the hermit's home. I particularly enjoyed those sandwiches which is interesting because I don't like strawberry jam sandwiches at all now. Perhaps those sandwiches were the pinnacle of my life jam experience.

     At university I was called a hermit once. By a boy I actually had a crush on too. On reflection I think it was his way of saying ' hey why don't you come out' but at the time I was mortified and retracted my wings in even further. Now I feel like I truly am a hermit living in a hermit village. I am not sure it suits me. I think I hermit best when surrounded by light, noise and sea. Invisible but still there. Part of a city but on my own too. Not that I want to be on my own either, it is just when put in the situation such as the one I find myself in now the hermit in me really takes hold.

The Woodlander is also a hermit so last week we made a pact that on Sundays we should try and crawl out of our caves and go exploring somewhere. No Pressure, no fuss, just get in the car with the hounds and see what we can find.

So then last Saturday night I was tucked up in bed ( my house is freezing) and I thought 'ooh I do not want to adventure on the morrow.' Funnily enough the Woodlander was having similar thoughts but then Sunday came and we decided we ought to walk, we ought to at least try.

We ended up in Alica which is in the hills between San Miniato and the sea. The Woodlander had heard there was a loop we could walk there ( My father would approve. He likes his walks to loop.) At first we couldn't find it and we even asked a few locals who nodded enthusiastically that yes ' fare la passeggiata' but couldn't tell us where to start. There was even a town map proudly explaining there was a walk but no starting point. We didn't give up though, we were hermits with a plan, so we decided that after our recent discovery of il purgatorio perhaps we should start at the cemetery and see what could be found.

The walking path of course!

The first part was uphill so after about 600 metres we decided it was tea break time and the Woodlander brought out her thermos and we discussed Princess Diana ( as one ought when drinking tea.)

We then pondered whether perhaps we had ambled far enough before deciding that probably at the top of the hill was an amazing sweep of the land that simply had to be seen. I am glad we continued up because we then passed some ancient-looking olive trees with haunting tree bones.

It seemed like the kind of place to do some wild dog interpretative dance.

Beyond the trees there was indeed a sweeping plain with views over to the ice-capped mountains. To me it looked like Patagonia and to the Woodlander  -Wales, and we both agreed how wonderful it felt to be somewhere different for a moment.

The walk took longer than we had thought. Probably due to the rather early tea stop so by the time we found the path back around to the village  it was turning to dusk. There were some hunters about looking for wild boar whom I waved at to be friendly ( and hopefully to frighten off any poor piggies.)

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