|Stanway, as illustrated in "The Cotswold Collection"|
My route was soon Cheltenham bound. I noticed a sign for Dumbleton, (Paddy's home when in England)....and turned East. On entering the church gate his grave mound was clearly visible, covered in flowers with many notes of appreciation and love, from far and wide: Byronic, Hellenic and Greek Societies, and Cretan friends. A moment to savour his influence on my life. In 1977, at the age of 26 I bought a First Edition of his "A Time of Gifts" and was captivated by his trek across Holland and mittel-Europe to Constantinopel in the 1930s....Two years later, in 1979, I had resigned my job with a London publishing house and had set out too, to walk across Europe to Greece. My route was to take me through France, over the Alps into Italy, and eventually to Greece....My other influence was to be Laurie Lee. His "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" had romanticised my idea of a long walk, and homeward that same evening I stopped off at the Woolpack in Slad for a pint of Gloucester Old Spot.
I had got to know Laurie a little on his infrequent visits to Sheepscombe's cricket field. His sight was poor and his hearing no better but Cathy (with thighs like hams - see "A Rose For Winter") was his mouthpiece. The Woolpack was a disappointment. No papers or friends of yesteryear about. Just the usual pub boors outside guffawing, and in the bar, the ghost of Laurie, and an empty space awaiting to be filled by the local celebs, Keith Allen and Damien Hirst. I moved on, not keen to meet these two, and sort out Laurie's grave, opposite. Still the mound stood tall with a few flowers over his remains. The stoney soil had not settled these past 12-years. It was as if he had been buried yesterday.