Brian J. Rance

Author of "Finding My Place" and "Walking my Patch". Two guide books for long distance walks in the south east of England.


Illustrations from Walking My Patch by Rory Walker

‘For most of the time the lane was hollow, deeply incised below banks and hedges with very little to see out. I’m not complaining because I find hedgerows fascinating. Just looking at the fauna and observing and naming the variety of plant species is rewarding in itself.’[ Walking My Patch p04 ]
‘I decided I would have something to eat and wanted to sit at the bar and have a bar snack, but this offended house rules. A waiter ushered me to a small table in an out of the way corner and as I didn’t want a full meal, just to be awkward, I ordered a soup and roll, which of course, with all its accessories, was quite adequate. The poor foreign waiter had great difficulty comprehending my simple requirements, but got his own back with the palaver of the bill’.[ Walking My Patch p10 ]
‘I was even tempted to perform on the pool table, an experience that was rendered unique by the crazy antics of the resident pub dog; a sheep dog that insisted on chasing the balls around the table as though he were rounding them up.’[ Walking My Patch p13 ]
‘I shared my cherries with a young woman who sat on the seat next to me, a shop worker who had popped out for a smoking break, and I resisted the temptation to berate her about her disgusting habit.’[ Walking My Patch p24 ]
‘The way past the zoo became difficult with muddy bogs, and the only distraction in this dark tunnel of vegetation was the occasional glimpses of exotic animals that did not belong in the British countryside, behind miles of chain-link fencing, topped, mercifully, by vicious-looking barbed wire.’[ Walking My Patch p33 ]
‘I caught up with the three fellows in Jeskyns farm. They were elderly friends out for a leisurely walk; what an excellent way for retired gentlemen to pass the day. This encounter evoked a comparisom with the three chaps in the television programme The Last of the Summer Wine’.[ Walking My Patch p38 ]
‘I decided to kip down, head on rucksack, and have a rest for a few minutes. The air was buzzing with insects and many butterflies wafted around.’[ Walking My Patch p42 ]
‘I came across an enclosure containing a herd of red deer. Normally they are shy animals and hurry away, but today the deer were hard up against the fence, no more than a few yards away, and they made no attempt to flee. The keeper had laid out straw and a very young foal wobbled over and curled uo on a patch of hay, while a large stag proudly looked on. I tried to blot out the thought that their tameness might indicate that they were destined to end up as venison’.[ Walking My Patch p62 ]
‘I was pondering on the way forward across the fields to Sarre when a fit-looking cyclist thundered up behind me’.[ Walking My Patch p68 ]
‘I came to Minster via Bedlam Court Lane and sat outside St Mildred’s Priory for Benedictine nuns, better known as Minster Abbey. While I was sitting on a seat at the entrance, a party of nuns came out for a morning stroll and bade me good morning in a gentle sort of way.’[ Walking My Patch p78 ]
‘Once in Wye, my first port of call was the chemist to buy suntan and after-sun lotion, the latter to be administered to the burnt backs of my legs as soon as possible..... I retraced my steps up the High Street, sat in a park near the church and applied the after-sun lotion assiduously to my burnt legs,…’[ Walking My Patch p97 ]
‘I ended up trudging through Sutton Valence School and was politely, but insistently, shown off the premises by a schoolmaster who insisted there were no footpaths through the school grounds, even though my map proved him wrong.’[ Walking My Patch p107 ]
‘I passed down the High Street in front of this Dickensian pageant to the cheers and applause of the crowds lining the street. I thought that was a very appropriate way for me to finish my walk.’[ Walking My Patch p115 ]
‘As I approached, I was abducted by two ladies proffering leaflets. As I showed a mild interest, and having explained my mission, they introduced me to their Chairman named Brian. I joked that that made two of us, whereupon and rather disconcertingly, he volunteered the information that most of the men out today were also called Brian. I guess it was an age thing.’[ Walking My Patch p118 ]
‘Further along, I came face to face with a big, belligerent bull that wouldn’t budge from the path, fixing me in a defiant stare and forcing me to walk round him. I did think about waving my arms around to scare him off, but I was doubtful about picking a fight I probably couldn’t win.’[ Walking My Patch p128 ]
‘I came across a nearly fully grown lamb with its head stuck in a wire fence of about five inch mesh. No doubt the poor creature had been desperately searching for longer grass on the other side of the fence...... Its mother and sibling looked on helplessly.’[ Walking My Patch p144 ]
‘Picking my way alongside the railway for a while, across the back of the airport, with light planes taking off over my head,.....’[ Walking My Patch p165 ]
‘I arrived at Dartford station about mid-morning and changed into wet gear in the station, much to the amusement of the people sheltering in the concourse from the deluge outside.’[ Walking My Patch p169 ]
‘As I sat there, on the Council’s seat by the War Memorial, I observed a cyclist in all his slick, Lycra gear, trying to mend a puncture.’[ Walking My Patch p176 ]
‘At the top of the hill in a layby, I came across a mobile café shop and purchased two cans of cold drinks, one of which I gratefully consumed on the spot.’[ Walking My Patch p188 ]
‘Approaching the big river, I nearly had my nose taken off by a sparrow hawk that darted into the hedges in front, which were refreshingly not scalped,.....’[ Walking My Patch p202 ]
‘I passed a lovely group of brown cows with their calves hard up against the hedged fence, whose resident population of flies decided to hitch a ride on me.’[ Walking My Patch p209 ]
‘I passed a sign which said, ‘Slow pedestrians Crossing’ and I thought they hd better hurry up a bit in case they got run over. As if to admonish me for this unkindly thought, the next moment, a massive earth-moving truck thundered around the bend and nearly knocked me down’.[ Walking My Patch p215 ]
‘As I strolled through the park, a whole gaggle of Canada Geese decided to emerge from the lake and cross the path right in front of me, blocking my passage, making a huge indignant racket in the process.’[ Walking My Patch p225 ]
‘At dinner, in this rather august, upmarket establishment, one was served by waiters with one arm tucked behind their back and one arm draped with a white cloth. I amused myself in engaging the poor fellows in rather common conversation while slurping pints of lager at the table,.....’[ Walking My Patch p230 ]
‘Coming back to my room after an evening’s drinking at the bar I spent some time leaning out of an upstairs window, observing the street below, where the street cannot see you.’[ Walking My Patch p239 ]
‘.....I sat down on a tree stump for a rest, becoming covered in wood ants, which on closer inspection covered the woodland floor. Although I managed to shake most of them off in a wild dance, a few got through to bite me on exposed arms.’[ Walking My Patch p257 ]
‘In this peaceful enclave, in a short interlude of sunshine, I slumped down, still carrying my rucksack, against a wooden signpost, gratefully enjoying the moment of rest.’[ Walking My Patch p268 ]
‘I skipped across a railway line by pedestrian crossing in front of an oncoming train that greeted me with a loud blast of its horn.’[ Walking My Patch p273 ]
‘On the top of Chapel Bank, I came across an overgrown graveyard but no chapel, and this got me thinking about what had happened here.’[ Walking My Patch p281 ]