This is truly Mediterranean weather: clear blue skies, warm sunshine, only a slight breeze. Walking is getting to be very hot work. Yesterday, in the pretty market town of Saffron Walden, I decided to lighten my load by giving what I thought were items of unnecessary extra clothing from my back pack to a charity shop. The lady at the British Heart Foundation was certainly grateful, but looked at me a little suspiciously. I now realize that with grainy stubble on my face (I am not carrying shaving equipment) I am beginning to look more like a vagrant than a donor.
Earlier in the day, near the village of Quendon, I came across a small roadside sign reading: "Dick's Wood. Dick Barratt died 5th March 2009 aged 78. He lived in these woods for 42 years. Long may he be remembered". I asked about Dick Barratt in Saffron Walden, and learned that he had indeed lived in the woods, not far from the road, under a tarpaulin sheet for more than four decades. Apparently, every December he was invited into the houses of local people in Quendon for Christmas dinner and a bath. The rest of the year he lived entirely in the woodland, which is now named after him. As people roar by at very high speed in powerful cars -- chucking their litter into the hedgerows as they pass -- I find the tale of a man who lived quietly all alone in the woods strangely impressive.
Tomorrow I shall follow an old Roman road from Linton to Cambridge, and the next day I continue on to Ely. If the weather stays like this, I shall soon be burned to a crisp.