I salute the man in the white van as he passes me on my early morning walk, he returns the gesture with a half wave as he does every morning. I salute the man in the small black car covered in dust, his rear window is streaked with strokes made by the inadequate windscreen wiper. I stand by the side of the path and let the large white refrigerated van pass on his way to deliver salad collected from the plastic tunnels. The road stretches out in front of me and I’m glad that I left my scarf behind as soon as the sun climbs above the horizon it is hot. I wear a loose dress and stride out hoping to strengthen my aching limbs. When I was here in June I injured my back and as part of my recovery I made myself walk a short stretch of this route each day. I had little milestones and I can’t believe that I found it so difficult. I walk for about twenty minutes before turning back covering a distance of four kilometres, the furthest I’ve been so far. Tomorrow I’m going to carry on a bit further. The challenge is that the path dips again and so when I turn around I’ve got an uphill. My calves ache and I can only think it is the strain of climbing a short sharp hill, use it or lose it, that’s what the experts tell us.
When I set out the sky was still painting itself in shades of pink and blue, after a short time it becomes a mono colour of bright blue with a grey blue smudge blurring the seascape in the distance so that you can’t see where the sky ends and the sea begins. A radio plays from one of the greenhouse plastic tunnels, it’s music reminiscent of radio two five years ago, and it’s in the main English songs. A dog barks somewhere but fortunately I’ve never met one yet on my walks.
It’s sometimes an effort to get out of bed and get going but once I’m outside I look forward to my walk. I try to stop and look around so that I’m not just covering the distance but also absorbing what is around me. The earth is dry, foliage crisp and bronze. The hills are carved from hard stone, it’s as far removed from the gentle rolling hills of Dorset as you can imagine. But there is a brutal beauty about it. The ruddy colours and the harsh countryside where ibex roam and the goat man steers his herd as they forage for food in this dry land. I saw two black and white cats this morning and wondered who fed them, who cared for them, they looked to be in good health. Tomorrow I’m going to go further and see what’s around the corner and over the next hill.