Our last adventure on the Kent/East Sussex border was cut short due to a combination of rain, poor directional sense, dark nights drawing in, and chafing in the personal area. Such things don't defeat the TADS for long. A month approximately.
They were back down in Tunbridge Wells to complete the High Weald Walk. Strictly speaking it was KADS rather than TADS. Teresa had family commitments but Kathy was keen - as long as she wasn't playing out late. That was never likely to be a problem. The walk was short. We could even afford a wrong turn - and sure enough we got one.
I took a circuitous route to get to Tunbridge Wells. From Honor Oak Park it was a short hop to Penge West. From there I walked to Penge East. A new stop to me. The station stank of rasta shit and there were some seriously odd characters knocking about. Harmless. But odd. From there I took the train to Orpington. Kathy was already on board and we met Shep and Adam in the Pleasant Cafe in Tunbridge Wells where the lucky gits were indulding in veggie breakfasts and beans on toast.
We needed to get to Groombridge and pick up where we left off last time. So we decided to walk the route in reverse. That's not an easy task on the navigation front and pretty though it was, hey look at the photos, we, of course, took a wrong turn. A bum steer into Langton Green
Kind Mr T was not in the museum but the shop was open and I bought a Fry's Chocolate Cream. Tempting though the raspberry, strawberry, and local ale hut was we passed by. Down a road with no paths where it pissed it down. Adam knew a shortcut but we didn't take it. That was my fault.
On nearing the Crown Inn, Groombridge we saw a field full of goats and kids. Lovely - as was the pub. In honour of Kathy's month of abstinence I had a pint of Black Cat. They were playing Showaddywaddy. There were a couple sat around a big wooden table who had the same walking book as me. I'd never seen anyone else with one before. We sat for a brief chat with them. They lived on Brixton Hill. It was good to meet fellow South Londoners out in 'the sticks'.
After one pint I felt so refreshed I accidentally got the tip of my finger in my photo. We headed through a gate by the side of the church and reacquainted ourselves with the goats. A kid was sucking on his mum's teat while she did a big runny shit at the same time. I do love nature.
Groombridge Place had a moat. A fucking moat. We couldn't work out who lives there now but apparently Arthur Conan Doyle attended seances and wrote Valley of Fear there during one such sojourn. Keira Knightley had also been a guest during the filming of Pride and Prejudice. There was some debate about the swastikas on the wall. Adam told me they were originally a Hindu symbol of peace. I'm looking forward to our next walk when he tells me that the only one in ZZ Top that didn't have a beard was called Frank Beard.
Through the fields we yomped, Brown cow. Black cow. White cow. All the cows were there.
Choo choo! Thomas the Tank Engine puffed by. Cotton wool clouds puffing up in to the finery. The Fat Controller would've been very proud.
The obese patrician of Sodor would've been less impressed with the stink of the sewage works. At this point it started pissing it down. But we weren't far from the High Rocks pub. Or, indeed, the High Rocks themselves.
There was a wedding going on and the bouncer (at a wedding!?) told us it was too dangerous to come in. What the fuck sort of wedding is this? The penny soon dropped. He thought we were enquiring about climbing the high rocks. In October. In the rain. Dangerous indeed. The pub was anything but. Our Brixton walking buddies were ensconced already and I took a pint of Harvey's. Shep popped out for a vape and the smoke he produced was a very poor imitation of Thomas's steam.
Back to Tunbridge Wells where I went on a swing and saw crab apples of many different colours lying on the Kentish forest floor. The Guardian occasionally runs this thing where you send in photos on a theme. If they do autumn I've got something for them.
Through the wet and windswept Pantiles we wandered. Up hill to The Opera House. Possibly the poshest Wetherspoons in the UK. It's never pleasant to buff up Brexit wanker Tim Martin's bank balance but the Chennai IPA was as smooth as a goat's fur and we got it down pretty quick before retreating to the Bengal Brasserie.
Kathy and Adam were displeased with the slow service, vocally so, but I think Shep and I didn't really give a toss and just ordered another Cobra (no Bangla!). We all agreed the food was good. I had kodu bhaji, tarka dall, rice, and naan. It was better than it looked.
We took the train back to London. I got off at Waterloo East. I felt a bit sad. Summer very much over and, much as I enjoy it, the autumn does bring a little bit of melancholia with it. We've only one TADS walk left before the season is over. I need to do something with my life.