As we walked, the path climbed steadily up the hillside. What had started out as a grey dull morning, earlier that day when we left the hotel, had turned as time passed into a warm summer day. Now the sun shone and – after a week of almost constant rain – it became a much more typical summer day.
‘Perhaps the weather is changing,’ Sarah said. She was glad to be out walking, she wanted the exercise, needed to be on the move. The last few days of watching rain through the hotel room window or over another cup of tea in some rain-soaked village café, had shrunk her; frustrated her. Now, today, out on this path, breathing in the air, brought back her willowy strength. She smiled at me as we walked. I, too, was glad to be out, feeling the walk putting life back in my legs, legs that had seemed tired and cramped the longer we waited for a fine day.
We came to a ruin, a wreck of a building of some kind. There was a wall built out of the local rough stone, more suited to dry stone walls than buildings. But there it was: a wall about seven feet on one side, the absence of a window then falling down to around ground level. We looked at each other and then sat down. I took the pack off and fished around inside it for a drink.
‘I need to…’ Sarah said, pointing off the side of the path to the bushes. I nodded as I drank, then put the bottle down on the wall as I waited for her.
‘Steve,’ she called. I picked up the bottle and the pack and followed her into the bushes.
‘What do you make of that?’ she said.
It was a path, stone steps heading downwards. I could just see a stream, tumbling over rocks, down at the bottom of the valley below. The steps had an old, very old-looking railing on the side, broken in places and overgrown with all manner of wild plants: from grass and brambles to some delicate things with tiny blue flowers.
I looked down towards the stream. ‘It looks interesting… shall we?’
Sarah nodded and off we went, just as the sun disappeared behind a dark cloud and the rain began to fall.
I remember thinking that I hoped the change in the weather wasn’t an omen, foretelling doom, but I was wrong. That was just what it was.