I looked at my maps on the train and reckoned I would find where I was going easily enough without help of GPS or a compass or even the position of the sun (obscured as it was behind the clouds that rolled in as the train rolled north to Worcester). This is the sort of running I tend to do: fearless of getting lost or, more to the point, so prepared to get lost and find something new or unexpected that getting lost has become the norm, a welcome companion as the countryside and towns are explored.
So it was that I found the Alma which I knew from planning this trip last week was out of the planned way. However, I had already used my willpower running past a seemingly endless linear array of fine looking boozers and the stop to refer to the map forced my capitulation.
Several pumps called me as I reached the bar but I’ve been on a jag for porters, stouts, and milds lately and the Banks’ (apostrophe catastrophe notwithstanding) Mild got the call. The half dozen old guys (that had gone silent at the American accent emanating from this sweaty bloke) at the bar seemed to approve and went back to their conversation about jackasses that spend too much on fine wines. I wandered about for a minute or two admiring the Christmas décor and the pub carpet pattern similar to our dining room, then settled in with the ancients…the other, even more ancient ancients if I am being perfectly honest.
An almost endless stream of dudes with their young sons (in football kit) came through for pints and then disappeared off to my right (I was in the front window facing the bar). Perhaps to the garden, perhaps another room. Everyone there was on friendly terms and even I felt at home before my glass was half done. Everyone wished me well on the day without ever asking once about what the day entailed. Spectacular.