I’ve been away. Again. To a place that will always be special for me. Despite the forty-three years that have passed since I left Britain, it will never feel like any of the other countries I visit.
I have to admit that things have changed over that time. Now, if you sit in a pub, all the conversations around you contain that B word. Various associated terms float towards you in that noisy but cosy place. Terms like “no deal”, “remain” and “leave”. But pubs themselves remain the same: the bar where you order, the drinks, the food, the pleasant, friendly atmosphere.
And then there was Whaley Bridge. Despite its name, it’s a small town. If you live in Britain, you’ll no doubt have heard of it. We hadn’t. We just followed a hiking route that happened to end up in that town, which was convenient for us because we could catch a train back from there to Buxton, where we were staying.
The first sign we saw of something unusual was when we walked close to Toddbrook Reservoir.
“That’s strange,” said David.
“What?” I asked.
“The reservoir is empty.”
I looked across the field and, sure enough, there was no water in the reservoir.
The second sign was that our footpath was closed, with a notice saying it was closed for three months. We retraced our steps to the edge of the town, where a helpful resident told us which way to go to walk to the town centre.
Then we met two men, who told us a better way to walk (through a park) and said the authorities didn’t really know how long the work would take, but it would definitely be longer than three months. The conversation then diverted to the purpose of the reservoir and the history of a long-abandoned railway line. It was very interesting, but I won’t go into it here.
We followed their advice, reached the town centre via the park, and ordered and consumed cream teas before taking the train back.
Strange happenings always come in threes, or at least this series did. My friend Gill, who lives in that area, asked me, on Scrabble, what we’d done that day.
“We walked to Whaley Bridge,” I replied.
“Lucky it’s still there,” she commented.
Huh? What was that about? I googled “Whaley Bridge” and discovered the worrying events that took place just last month. The whole saga made it to the national news, despite the preoccupation with the B word. That’s why those we spoke to didn’t think to tell us what happened. It’s probably a result of sounding British, even though we’re not, any more… almost but not quite.
If you don’t know what happened at Whaley Bridge, you can google it, too.