Today was my first walk with the local group (for ‘young’ people only) that I joined a few weeks ago on a year’s membership. After yesterday’s disappointment, I was looking forward to this, even though I had my anxieties about meeting and interacting with new faces, finding my way and and hoping that my van didn’t break down.
I arrived at the meeting point just in time and realised that there was quite a large gathering of people. I cautiously approached, looking for a leader who couldn’t easily be identified, when another women greeted me with a hello and the reassurance that I was in the right place (well, the back packs were a give-away…). That’s pretty much where our conversation ended but then, I was greeted by a ‘friend‘ I’d made weeks earlier on OKCupid. So, that was welcome and, again, gave me reassurance. I was happy to drive the rest of the way and even took three passengers with me (including my friend). There was the usual awkwardness and it all went silent inside for the last ten minutes of the drive but, we arrived without any loss of direction. No-one seemed to comment on the noise coming from my nearside-front tyre, even though I felt too embarrassed to say anything or apologise.
We started off with a walk towards Westonbirt Arboretum from the village of Didmarton. I didn’t take any photos before we stopped inside the Arboretum for lunch as I felt awkward about stopping to capture things when the rest of the group (most of) would be ploughing on ahead. I felt embarrassed as I’d not only forgotten my friend’s name (twice) but, I’d also (instantly) forgotten the name of the woman who greeted me.
It was nice that a few people did make an effort to say hello to me. I can’t say that I held any long conversations with anyone and there were those with whom I tried to keep it going but, it just seemed to die off. Why am I so crap at this?!? Walking is easy.
I’ve just received an e-mail to suggest that my blogging friend walked right past me inside the arboretum (she was there with her partner). I tried keeping an eye out for her later on but, I feel that if I wasn’t so ‘shy’ and unable to make basic eye contact with passers by then, I might have spotted her as well.
We didn’t stay within the Arboretum for too long as we still had a few miles to walk. Apparently, it was meant to be seven in all but, it certainly felt like more. As far as I’m aware, I was the only person to fall over from our group of what must have been thirty people. I first landed on both knees, before falling again as I tried to stand up. I was expecting a sarcastic cheer as I tried to laugh it off but, instead I was pleasantly greeted with concern.
After changing our shoes, we headed off to a local pub, which proved to be too small to accommodate us all comfortably. Our small group from the car-share found our own table but spent much of the time sat in a rather awkward silence. Only two of us were drinking and it soon became apparent that we weren’t that keen on the idea of going to the pub in the first place. Driving home was much the same. My van made as much noise everyone inside… Not a sound, as we headed back down the M4 towards Bristol. After leaving the M32, I had to trust my judgement on returning my passengers to the initial meeting point. Oh, this went horribly wrong… I’m still not sure if I made a wrong turn at the first roundabout or, if I missed my turning on the next but, I ended up going on a sight-seeing drive around the centre and then looping back in to the town after leaving, to follow the path I took at the start of the day. It added an extra ten if not fifteen minutes and it was so embarrassing. I apologised at the end. They said they didn’t mind but, I sensed that my friend was unhappy and that’s dwelling in my mind right now.
Was it for the fact that I got a bit lost? She was also hoping to return to Bristol sooner in the hope of catching an even going on throughout the weekend. Was it me and the fact that I made little attempt to start or hold much of a conversation with her, after two months of messaging online? I actually like her more than I would’ve expected but, it’s nothing more than that. She’s a very sociable person and there’s a lot to like about the way she welcomes people in to things. I don’t really feel as though we clicked on this first walk but, I’m glad that she was there to welcome me in the beginning.
All in all, it seems like a good group of like-minded individuals. I just hope that I can somehow find it within me to get to know some of them because I have always doubted that I have that social ability.
My friend suggested I should attempt to lead a walk some day and, yes, it is something that I could be interested in. There are a couple of walks I’ve already done solo that I would certainly consider. My only concerns would regard where we might stop for lunch and then, what pub we might visit at the end of the walk – not that there’s a shortage in these areas. It might even be good for my self-confidence.
I actually feel better having written this now than I did when I started. Those negatives are still flashing at me in my mind but, I’m looking forward to another walk next weekend. At least I should recognise a few faces, even if I fail to talk to any of them. 🙂
I really didn’t take many photos for you today so, I’ve shared them all with you here, not currently assigned to any Flickr album; simply uploaded to WordPress.
Well, I’ve got two days off work and no-one to spend them with. Instead of waiting for someone to be free to explore certain places with me, I feel I’ll have to be brave and venture out alone as per usual (provided the weather’s reasonable). I can’t keep waiting around but I’m also a little concerned as to how these group walks may affect my own walking but, should that really be an issue?
- Autumn colour in England: this orange and pleasant land (oddstuffmagazine.com)
- Autumn At Westonbirt (keithcapperphotography.wordpress.com)
- The sensory adventure of autumn (outdoornation.org.uk)