thesticks

"Have you got the app for identifying the stars?"

"It's cloudy, I'm the only star you'll see tonight."

"Haha. I think my torch needs new batteries, it keeps flashing at me. I'll take the Student's torch as well as mine."

"It's cold. I'm putting a coat over my fleece."

 "I think I'll do the same., it'll be more comfortable. I was too hot in that very thick fleece on Monday."

It is already dark. We set off with all three torches. Two showing white to the front and one red to the rear.

We can hear the Old Dog barking. She doesn't like us leaving her behind.

"I don't think it is as cold as Monday," I remark. We walk down the lane.  "Is that a car stopped in the middle of the road with its main lights on?"

"I think it's waiting for us."

"Maybe the driver thinks we are two bicycles heading towards him or her."

We continue to walk down the lane. The car remains where it is for a couple of minutes and then as we get closer the driver must realise we are pedestrians and slowly moves towards us. We step on to the grass verge to let it pass.

At the bottom of the lane we turn, squeeze through the stile, avoid the mud, turn off the red light and climb up the hill. We are walking our regular evening route tonight.

"I see the chief Brexit minister has said he will consider paying to stay in the single market. The Brexiters are raging."

"So Boris has told four ambassadors that he is in favour of free movement and Davis is considering paying to stay in the single market."

"Yep. At least according to the news."

"So what will the Brexiters gain from that?"

"Not much. Makes you wonder why they are wasting so much time and effort."

"Politics. I wonder if the Lib Dems will win in Richmond."

"Goldsmith had a big majority, it will be difficult."

"Yes, but it's possible. If the main difference is Brexit and Richmond was the one of the most anti-Brexit constituencies in the country they may pick up a lot of votes, even from Tories. Also he didn't do himself many favours with his London Mayor campaign. A lot of people wont forget that."

"Can't see much tonight."

We are walking quickly and have reached the top of the hill. The view is obscured in the cloud. A few white and many more orange lights, with fuzzy halo, are visible. Occassionally we see a blue light. Emergency vehicles on the main road across the valley.

"We forgot to find the fluorescent strips," I say. We arrive at the road and I turn on the red light and pull it's bank over my head, arranging it to shine behind me. "These head torches are pressing into my head. I'll get a head ache soon" I complain.

"I've been looking into the different codec types for the VOIP," said the Webmaster suddenly. "The phone software has a range of them and it will select the first one that matches. You can change the order to see if there are any which give better quality. Or there are others some you can pay for from the service provider."

"How much?"

"Not much but it isn't worth it if they don't noticably improve the quality."

"Well when you called last night I could hear you OK but your voice was electronic sounding and there were noises. A bit like when a loud speaker is turned up too high. Sometimes it sounded like you were underwater."

"That could be your phone."

"I don't think so. It's usually fine."

"It may be the sample size and frequency, or the bandwidth."

"Unlikely to be bankwidth. When I work from home the VOIP is no different from normal landline quality - better than ours actually."

"Well we need to experiment before we pay for a different set up."

We reach the stone climb up into the field. A horse, wearing its red and white rug is standing near the stile.

"There's only one horse. I can't see the others."

"They'll be somewhere with their alien eyes staring at us out of the dark."

"You and your aliens. Fancy being scared by a cow in the dark."

"I could hear a funny noise and when I went closer two wide spaced, small glowing lights appeared and followed me about."

"Yeah. It was a cow in the field opposite our gate eating grass, chewing and breathing. It looked up when it heard you."

"It sounds louder in the dark."

We walk through the fields but don't see the other horses.

We fix the red light again and walk up the road, past the pub and turn in towards the car park. The gate is still open even though it has been dark for nearly two hours. A car is leaving from one of the houses which uses the same access route.

"He'll be out to lock the gate. He must leave it until this time for his workers or visitors or whoever to leave for the day."

"There's still a car on the car park. They risk getting locked in."

"No, I think he checks and they have their lights on. Looks like they're leaving now anyway."

We walk up the steps and towards the bench. "Apparently that's the most popular bench in the village," said the Webmaster, for the second time showing off his local knowledge. Obviously he learns a lot from Facebook!!

Visibility is still poor. No view and no stars. We have been walking quickly. At the post where the paths cross the Webmaster stops for a wee.

"I think you are doing this out of habit. Marking you territory like some sort of dog."

"Yes, I'm claiming this hillside and warning all the dogs it is mine."

At the track we turn towards the lane. A car approaches from behind. The owner of the solitary house is going out in his expensive looking car. We stand to the side to let him pass and adjust our lights again in readiness for reaching the lane.

"We really must find the reflective strips." I say.

No more vehicles bother us and we walk the rest of the way home in the middle of the lane.