After a cold spell the weekend before and incessant rain throughout the week, I took advantage of a dry spell on the Sunday preceding the inauguration of President Biden in the USA, with temperatures around 4-5 degrees, for a much needed walk. On the previous Sunday, also one of agreeable weather and blue skies, I had spent the afternoon cleaning the chain and cog of my road bike, so that I could set it up with an indoor trainer I had not used in a long while. And so it was on the weekend that coronavirus deaths in the United Kingdom continued to climb alarmingly, with predictions that the total could reach 100,000 before the end of January, that I found myself desperate to be outdoors, if only to serve as a morale booster.. As I had done on several occasions towards the end of last year, I elected to walk the anti-clockwise circular route that would first take me from Royston to Therfield along the Icknield Way Trail bridleway.

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It was along the tarred road near Fox Cottage that morphs into a pot-holed gravel road, well waterlogged at this time of year, that I passed a woman and her kids, all on horseback. We recognized one another from a similar walk at the back end of 2020, when I encountered them while on the path adjacent to the backyard of their property at Keepers Cottage, in badly fading light. She recalled the previous encounter and conceded that she had been concerned I might not have made it home safely on that occasion. Her fears had now been allayed.

Before reaching the T-junction with a choice of either a shorter route to Royston via Stock Bank or the longer route via Barley, with time on my hands before the 16h30 kick-off between Liverpool and Manchester United, I opted for the latter. The bridleway via Horseshoe Farm in Barley leads directly to the black barn on the B1039 Royston Road, where my attention was drawn to the unmistakeable sound of a drone above the farmland. Two off-road vehicles were parked outside but I couldn’t figure out where the pilots where positioned. After five hours including the tea break, I made it back home. Needless to say, fatigue had got the better of me, so I lay on my bed listening to the match commentary rather than watching it on my computer.

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