"Come on. I thought we were going an hour ago."
"We've been doing other things. The Student is worried about transferring her money."
"She just has to go for it. Once its done she has the dollars in her account and further falls won't affect their value. If it goes up she's missed out on some savings."
"Where are my shoes?"
A few minutes later we are ready, torches in hand. It is still light but it will be dark in less than an hour.
"That's a very colourful, picturesque sunset. Can you get a photo?" The sun is a bright red sphere just above the horizon, it is sitting on a bed of cloud, two or three whisps of cloud across its disc. Colour radiates out, blending from red, through oranges and golds to pale pink before merging with the fading blue sky.
"The colours don't come out very well." The picture on the phone does not do the scene justice. It is a pale imitation.
Towards the bottom of the lane the road steepens and the trees on either side meet overhead still forming a leafy tunnel, even now in Autumn when many trees have already shed their leaves. The light and colours of the sunset do not reach us here.
"Can you smell something? It was here this morning. It got the dogs going"
"Yes, but I can't place it.Chemicals, something fermenting? I don't know."
"It's very localised. I wonder whether it's coming from those." The Webmaster points to two white bags, possibly bin liners, discarded half way up the embankment in the thin scrub.
We had seen the bags yesterday and the Webmaster had commented on the anti-social behaviour of fly tippers. Unfortunately we get a lot of that in our area.
As we emerge from the tunnel of trees and round the bend, the sunset comes back into view and we have left the smell behind.
"Wow, that's even better than it was before. Try again to get a picture."
The Webmaster again attempts to capture the magic of the sunset with his phone camera and once again it does not do the scene justice.
"The government is ignoring those MPs demanding that parliament are involved in the Brexit process."
"The 'take back control' arguement is looking silly now, and some of the Brexit supporting MPs are also complaining that this isn't what they voted for, because it is making a mockery of the sovereignty arguement, but there is still a lot of popular support for May."
"Doesn't seem as though they care about the ecomony. What are they doing? Look at the exchange rate and the problems it is causing The Student and her mates."
"I've seen a lot of tweets saying the pound was overvalued and Brexit just speeded up the correction and the low value is good for the economy and will reduce the balance of payment deficit. I think they are arguing about cheaper exports and increased tourism, but how does that work unless the exports are all generated from primary UK sources? I thought we had to import a lot of raw materials and components. If they are more expensive then the finished goods will be more expensive. And that is only on the value of the pound without additional tarrifs."
"Unless the producers absorb the cost."
"Or reduce production costs elsewhere, like wages."
"Yeah, that's probably where they can force the most flexibility."
"Well at least it will be what we voted for and not the immigrants pushing down pay, small comfort."
"It's tough for the Student and her mates. They saved and worked all year to get the money to fund their foreign exchange year and now they are the first ones hit. Unfortunately a lot of people think they are the rich elite so it either doesn't matter or somehow serves them right."
"Well they saved hard and worked during their holidays for minimum pay or little more, so they aren't rich. But then they aren't poor either. They could save the money to fund their study year because they didn't need their income to pay for their living expenses."
"I suppose so, but they are stuck there with a lot less than they budgetted. Some might not have any means of topping it up."
"Yeah, there are visa restrictions on working. I think they can only look for work on campus."
"Pensioners abroad too. Anyone who has expenses in another currency and income in pound."
We have passed the brow of the hill. The sky to our left is streaked with red, blue and white clouds. Nature is giving us a good show. At least that is still free for everyone to enjoy.
"I think it must be starting to affect everyone even if they don't realise yet. If import costs have gone up, prices will go up too. I think it is just a matter of time. I haven't seen many arguements that the cheaper exports will offset the more expensive imports. And besides the exchange rate there are other impacts. I heard that only three graduate trainees were taken on in the UK this year, could be other reasons but if it's true it is a coincidence. Last year we had more than that in our department, so somewhere there may already be people who didn't get offered a job because of Brexit."
"Big importers will hedge so they may not be suffering the full affect yet."
We turn left away from the sunset. The lane is very narrow and after gently rising for a while goes steeply down before we arrive at the climb up the stones and over the stile into the field where the horses live. The horses are nowhere in sight, maybe they are on the other side of the mound or maybe they are now taken into their stables for the night.
"We could go straight across when we reach the road and then up Broad Lane."
"We've got some new members signing up. They don't seem to have had any problems or complaints with the process."
"Well, I know where I stand. I was thinking I might go back, but not now. Pretty much sounded as though I've been told to F off. I don't know whether I'm more annoyed or upset. All the times I've stood up for him and argued his case or smoothed things over when he's pissed people off in the past. He probably has no idea. Ah well I suppose I join a long line of friends recast as the enemy. There seems to be a pattern and it's just my turn."
"What do you mean, thinking of going back? Never!"
"Mmm... I suppose you are right. Wishfull thinking."
At this point a female runner passes us. She isn't running fast but has a steady rhythm and a pretty good style although her stride is somewhat short.
"Nice style, and she's faster than me."
"And you were thinking of going back."
"Yeah. I suppose you are right. There's no point but they are a nice group, especially the kids. I don't think they would have said the type of things claimed. Even if they had actually happened they would have had no way of knowing."
We cross the road and follow the footpath which passes through several fields. We are climbling the stile in a corner where four fields meet when two dogs come charging up towards us barking and wagging their tails. They are on the other side of a mesh fence. Both are of the same breed, medium sized and reddish brown in colour.
"They seem to be fenced into that field. I can't see anyone with the. Maybe they are let out in there to exercise and run arround. What breed are they?"
"Don't know. Can't see anyone with them."
The dogs quickly lose interest and quieten down. We continue until we reach the road. The footpath continues into the fields on the opposite side, but we turn left and walk up the road to head back. It is almost dark and time to light up.
We walk back towards the houses and the pub. There are very few cars outside tonight.
"I don't have anything to support this but I feel as though he wouldn't welcome me anymore because I'm the wrong sort. We were friends for years and used to discuss and debate all types of things. We didn't always agree, but it was always amicable and we could agree to disagree, we respected each others skills and expertise even though we were very different, but now it is as though some tribalism has risen up he has some sort duty not to betray his tribe, or his class or roots, by consorting with the enemy."
"I know what you mean. It seems to be happening a lot now."
"Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know. But that's what it feels like."
A car is parked outside the car park barrier. It is becoming more common since as the days get shorter. People must know the risk of getting locked in if they come for an evening walk. As we walk through the car park and up the steps to the top of the hill there is still a faint red glow low on the horizon. The street lights in the distance are more prominent now and we need our head torches to light the way along the ridge.
"I wonder if the Student has bought her dollars yet. If we buy lots of dollars and the pound drops as predicted we might make a bit transferring them back."
"She needs the money to live off. I'm not going to start currency speculating. I don't know enough about it and it doesn't do anyone any good. Money speculators suck value out of the real market and the real economy where people do real work and make useful things or provide useful services. It isn't the same as currency exchange for purposes of trade."
We reach the track and follow it back to the road. As we reach the bend at the bottom of the hill and round it to start our final climb home, we notice the smell again.
"What do you suppose it is?
"What if there are bodies in those bags?"
"What do bodies smell like?"
"I don't know but that smells more like rotting vegetation."
"It is very localised. Must be from those rubbish bags."
"Maybe the rubbish collectors take them when they come round this week."
We reach the gate. Tonight there are no eyes watching us.
"The cats must be inside where it's warm."