‘Have you seen this?’ David asked his wife, waving the Guardian at her.
‘No, what is it?’
He read the heading; ‘Ribble Valley officially named UK’s happiest place.’
‘Really? Well, we always knew that, didn’t we?’ she said. ‘The trouble is, now everyone will want to come here. What’s the line in that Eagle’s song – Call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye?’
David shrugged. ‘Can’t see that happening.’
‘Do you think we’d ever leave?’ Helen said.
‘Why would we? We’ve got everything; lovely walks, scenery, Clitheroe, all the pretty villages, yet we’re not far from large towns, even Manchester is easy to get to.’
Helen sat beside him to read the full article.
‘Pubs,’ David said. ‘We’ve got some great pubs.’
‘Houses can be expensive, that’s true.’
‘Good schools,’ he added.
Helen read on, laughing at the final paragraph about the rain and a sick dog. ‘I think people here can be as miserable as anywhere else in the country,’ she said. ‘They must have done the survey on a sunny day.’
She stretched. ‘Fancy a walk this afternoon?’
‘If you want.’
‘I’m missing the Camino,’ she admitted, ‘walking every day, rucksack on my back, the wide, Spanish landscape before us.’
‘I miss the mountains,’ he said. ‘I’ll never forget how beautiful O Cebreiro was the morning after I lost you.’
‘Then found me again. Your fault for marching off in the first place, and in the middle of a storm.’
‘Always my fault,’ he said. ‘I’ve learnt to admit it.’
Helen put a hand on his knee. ‘Happy memories.’ She reached up to touch his cheek, ‘but thank goodness you got rid of that beard!’
Walking Alone due for publication spring 2020