Far too many years ago than I like to admit, the hill in this photograph was where I stopped. My adventurousness had reached its limit for the day.
To explain. I was young, and had recently moved to Rotherfield Way. Naturally enough, I was soon exploring my new area and found myself tentatively cycling down what I now know is the Milestone Way in Caversham Park Village. All was fine until I got to (what I now know) is the point on the Milestone Way between Dunbarton Way and Galsworthy Drive, where the path takes goes downhill just a little too steeply for an uncertain youth. I had no idea where I was, and I had no idea where carrying on would take me. I’d gone far enough.
Retracing my steps, my adventure continued. I was a newcomer trying to go home. I lived on Rotherfield Way. I was pretty sure I’d gone back the way I’d come but no … I found myself on Southdown Road. Not a mention of Rotherfield Way. Perplexed, and a leeeetle bit worried, I asked a lady walking by where Rotherfield Way was. Her reply? She didn’t know – she’d only just moved to the area!
(And there you have a perfect example of the unreliable nature of the random.)
Convinced that the road looked like Rotherfield Way even if it wasn’t called it, I carried on anyway and, yes, of course, Southdown Road becomes Rotherfield Way and I was home. Phew.
(I think it’s the case that Southdown Road was part of one development, Rotherfield Way another – and they didn’t initially join up. Go back further and once upon a time Surley Row was the – as it were – main road for the area. You can see clues to that by looking out for the properly old houses along it.)
Why am I telling you all this? Because it occurred to me as I walked up the Milestone Way today that it’s too easy to overlook the pleasure of a simple adventure. Growing up, experience intervenes and the finding of even a whiff of adventure in the day-to-day seems to get ever more elusive.
And I thought to myself, as adults, we should never begrudge the young their adventures, their discoveries. And I thought that, as adults, we should look again at finding new adventures for ourselves; we should look again at our world with curiosity. There’s a lot to explore.
As a footnote: talking to a cyclist coming up the Milestone way today, I learned that the grass around the stretch of the Milestone Way where I’d turned around is good for toboganning if there’s any snow.