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Short stories from a long path...

A very wet day #328 has ended, the walking odometer has just exceeded 3,650 miles (with Essex's ominous fractal-like coastal tendencies suggesting the total will be well over 4,000 miles), English football has had one of its most exciting weeks ever, the countryside is blooming and the tweeting of the birds suggests that spring is well underway (or we walkers are disturbing them). Time for a few more 3-line stories - partly because brevity is ever more beautiful these days, partly because some of them are more like snippets of existence rather than fully blown stories and often because I can't remember what happened next!

Four of us arrived at the Airbnb around 5pm, tired after a long day following Hadrian's Wall up valley and down dale (the Romans didn't work round the topography). House had a For Sale sign up outside. By the time we went out for dinner at 7pm, the sign said "Sold"!

Being introduced by Airbnb host to his wife. Told us the story of how they met. Swimming class on Monday (she was teaching, he learning). He proposed later that week, on Friday. She accepted, and here they are, happily married with two delightful children.

Being shown round a house. Owner had spent last 20 years lovingly doing it up. Fantastic plasterwork - who did it, we asked. A guy who used to be a "runner" for the Kray Brothers (infamous 1960s East London crime gang). An offer one couldn't refuse...

Finished a walk. Little town in Lincolnshire, around 4pm. Perhaps 500 houses. Used to have a ferry. Still had a pub and a post box. A long town, maybe a mile long. We walked its full length, 20 minutes. Not a soul in sight, anywhere. Not even peeping out. Zombie town.

Tea and scones at the Sea Marge Hotel in Overstrand, Norfolk. Built as a country house by an American-born industrialist of German origin, Speyer. He financed much of London's underground, Scott's Antarctic expeditions etc. Churchill was visiting when WW1 broke out. Speyer was ostracized during WW1, left England for Boston and never returned.

Surprised, and delighted, to walk into a pub (The Gunton Arms, near Cromer) and find lots of original modern art, including several neon pieces by Tracey Emin.

Thirty years ago the census showed that 90% of the residents of a (rather upmarket) Suffolk seaside town lived in houses they owned. Today that proportion is under 10%. Most of the houses are now second homes, often serving as rentals. Walked past rows and rows of them.

Stayed with one of the hardest-working and good-humoured Airbnb hosts I've come across. She'd just finished baking 3 delicious cakes. Home made jam, wine, honey in house. Paid work: gardener, cleaner and a chimney sweep. Plus a mum. Always smiling, laughing.

We walked past about 8 of these rather exotic zig-zag groynes. Astonishingly, each one had a man with a camera taking photos of the groyne, with the wind farm in the background. The groyne-watchers, you might say.

Another host: after 25 years her husband left for young woman. Went as volunteer to work in Vietnam. Fell in love with Frenchman, married, returned to Lincolnshire. He couldn't stand weather; they moved to France. After 10 years, he left for a young woman... plus ca...

When I asked if the food was vegan, the owner of this Felixstowe cafe explained to me that she uses the term "plant-based food" - and only if asked. Why? Because some people react against the term vegan, and she wants people to just judge the food on its merits. I'm not a vegan, but everything was delicious. One up for plant-based eating.

Walked over another large bridge today. Signs for how to contact the Samaritans, if pedestrians are thinking of jumping off. No idea whether that works. But this bridge, just like the others with similar signs, has side barriers which are only 3 feet high. Strange...

Happy pigs, with shelter, fresh air and lots of space, living in a field near a church out of all proportion to the village it served. Covehithe church, near Dunwich, was built in the 14th century by a rich benefactor, but the residents couldn't maintain it, so a smaller church was built within its walls.

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