We get them from time to time, walkers.
Being a walker myself I am happy to welcome one of the fraternity as they pass through, usually with a cheery "Of course, just up there keep the hedge to your right and the hill to your left" in response to their plaintive "Does the footpath go through here?"
Often further pleasantries are exchanged, distance walked, lovely spot, wouldn't like your feed bill, Welsh Border Collie? never heard of them, big aren't they? (In response to what sort of dog is that, Bernese, once, that's an odd dog, its a goat that's why)
Sometimes beverages are offered, rocks looked after (geologists are a funny lot) Orthodox Jews are put on the right path (literally not metaphorically) even sausages given on one really exceptional occasion (well they were the nicest walkers ever) in all walkers are welcome. Yours truly has trudged many a mile through foreign lands, militias farms, fended off wild beasts and crossed many an obstacle left by landowners.
I now realise that despite my credentials as a walker (186 miles in six days) I have crossed to the other side, I, or rather the bank, own land and this means that every now and then a walker feels they have to be obnoxious, for no apparent reason other than they think we are on different sides so seek to reinforce certain prejudices.
So there I am up to my arm pits in mud, trying not to drop a super heavy cast iron drain cover down the well, at the same time as this gravity defying drama plays out I am fending off curious pony and annoying pig (they are a strange pair) I am on the point of winning on all fronts when Bliss, a Welsh Border Collie (Bernese Mountain Dog) alerts me to the presence of a new threat. Suddenly out of the mist a fat bloke looking like he has just fell out of the pages of a Millet's outdoor catalogue lurches into view and stands silently ten yards from me and the well conundrum. Bliss, tail wagging trots dutifully towards me as I heave heavy metal to one side and shout "Morning, come on through"
Fat bloke in full Arctic expedition gear stands motionless looking at me, mud monster, pig, horse, dog, back to me. I wave him through "Paths that way" he still just stands there.
Sudden sinking feeling(unrelated to well problem) the walker is one of those who should have the third letter substituted. I climb the fence into the lane and encourage pig and dog to follow, they do. Bliss is put in conservatory where she can watch events unfold. Pig and man follow silently. Pig shut in stable. Man walks by in silence, close enough for us to have shaken hands, map case jangling with compass and whistle, his chubby gloved hands clutching a high energy bar that he is cramming into his hamster like face. He still stares at me in silence.
I break first. "Would it hurt that much just to say good morning"
More silent stares.
I walk back to the well, definitely one of those.
SOHF sets in, "This is my garden you're walking through you know, it wouldn't hurt to be polite" I shout over my mud spattered shoulder.
"Public footpath" he splutters back with oaty accompaniment.
I carry on, the well is well covered.
He staggers past our pigs.
In the distance I hear a dog bark, the Millet's man has made it to the land of the Oracle.
I see Oracle later on in the day.
Word is that a walker has passed through and felt the need to comment on our pigs being muddy. Poor pigs he said.
The only way to keep a pig clean is to keep it on concrete said the Oracle.
The man nodded.
A pig kept on concrete is an unhappy pig the Oracle continued. You ought to try living in the country not visiting it and complaining.
The fat Millet's advert broke out a Kendal Mint Cake and waddled off toward the bus stop.
He was one of those.
The Oracle agreed.