Sunday February 7th dawned bright and crisp in complete contrast to the previous day's biblical rainfall.
We opened Norwell Village Hall at 8:30 and the ladies from Newark Group busied themselves making vast quantities of hot drinks and laying out the cake stall while the chaps tried to look busy and important arranging tables and chairs.
The first of our guests to arrive - no surprise there - was the indefatigable Chris Thompson. (Chris in full flow provides one of the classic sights of Nottinghamshire Ramblers with coat-tails flying and bootlaces undone). Rod and Jenny Fillingham arrived shortly afterwards and then the hall began to fill up, guests including senior officers from surrounding Area Councils, as well as the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Des Garrahan, who had driven up from London. Alex Staniforth and Judith Anson were also early arrivals and set up the Ramblers display boards.
The first walk left at 9:45 led by our retiring Membership Secretary, Jean Everington (although I think "retiring" is the wrong word to describe Jean). The walk was 7.5 miles to Caunton, returning across a very muddy Bathley Hill.
My own walk was a 4.5 mile walk, again involving an ascent of Bathley Hill with a fine view of the distant Lincoln Cathedral gleaming in the morning sun. We then walked down the Bathley - Norwell road, described by Pevsner in his Nottinghamshire Guide as a "delight", before making a detour to avoid George.
George is a well-endowed black Highland Longhorn bull who is billeted for the Winter, together with his admiring harem, in a field crossed by a public footpath. His owner is legally entitled to keep him in this field and, although George seems very benign, I thought it wise not to test his good nature with a 19-strong posse of walkers. I had previously negotiated an alternative route with a local farmer to skirt the field - we were able to admire George’s impressive attributes through the safety of a hedgerow!
While we were away there was another short walk taking place in the village. This was a Heritage Walk through historic Norwell, organised by Michael Jones, a retired professor of Mediaeval History who lives in the village and is Chair of Norwell Heritage Society. About 12 people went on this walk which was well received - Michael has very kindly agreed to lead a similar walk for a Summer evening as part of the Newark Group's walks programme.
Eventually we all congregated back at the Village Hall, several people having enjoyed Sunday lunch at the local pub. There was a little flurry of anxiety before the late arrival of our Area President, Paddy Tipping. I say "anxiety" because the photographer from the Newark Advertiser had already arrived and I thought we might be heading for a "Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark" scenario but all was well. Paddy arrived and a small group of us walked down the road to have our photograph taken. The photograph can be admired - or otherwise - in this week's edition of the paper.
And at 2pm the main business of the day, the Nottinghamshire Area AGM, started. But that's another story...
Chair, Newark Group