Stories from the country, stories from the sea
When we'd got our bearings in rural Lancashire (ie we'd discovered the Village Pub's Golden Best and the Village Shop's butter pie) we took ourselves out and about. On the sunniest day, we climbed Parlick and got blown along the top for an enjoyable hour or so. We drove up to the Nick of Pendle and got blown around up there for a while too.
The next day M tried to persuade me to go for a bike ride. I got as far as getting all my stuff on and going out to unlock my bike, but then I came back in and said sorry mate, I'm not cycling in horizontal hail. So we went to the seaside, where we walked down the front in the horizontal hail instead. It was a novel experience for M (check out the hair!), but I remember my school days in Blackpool, where schoolmate S and I were once literally blown off our feet outside the Wimpy.
There was an impressive sand drift (how do they get the sand back where it came from?), and we bravely fought our way off the beach and into the Honey Tree restaurant. During our main course, the friendly Hong Kong Chinese waiter came over and said "are you tourists?".
Well, yes, I said. Where are you from? he asked. Oxford, I said. That was a strange moment, feeling less at home in Lancashire than a man from the other side of the world.
After lunch the hail picked up again, so we took refuge in the best second hand bookshop in the North (or possibly anywhere). We raided our respective special interest shelves (mine being the Virago one, naturally), and we got ourselves blown back to the car and away.
And the next day we *did* go cycling in the hail. Well, it only started on the way back, and it was more snow with chips of ice in it than serious hail, but it was still enough to make me cry. However, surviving it gave us licence to spend our final afternoon in the Village Pub. Golden Best is only 3.5%, so you can drink a fair amount of it as your hair steams dry in front of a peat fire.
I can't recommend the Forest of Bowland highly enough, should your tastes run to a thousand shades of green, a thousand shades of brown, and a nice pint of mild in a friendly pub. A part of me (more sizeable after all the butter pies) can't imagine needing anything else. And there I was thinking I was 100% city girl.