When they say it takes a village, we now know what they mean.
Last morning in England, and there was time for one final round of exploring.
This time though, we had the benefit of a local tour guide and an accomplished runner in his own nation, Andy Foster.
For THIS run, though, we needed to go way, way, WAY off the beaten path into a little village called Burpham (pronounced Bur-fam), where said Mr. Foster spent much of his misbegotten youth.
Some quick facts about Burpham, in case you didn't know.
Located in the Shire County of West Sussex, Burpham is a burgeoning hamlet with a booming population of 145.
This particular morning, it grew to 149.
Though, truth be told, we only saw one other human being who was actually up and about that morning, so the population numbers have yet to be verified with visual confirmation.
As you can see from the following pics, we all were feeling quite sheepish about running in town
Everyone once in a while, we'd pause so Andy could recount some of the tales of his wild youth.
Here, he surveys his former keep
Here they come
And there they go
Father and son on the mud flats of Burpham
The lone runner strikes an imposing figure on the backroads and byways of Burpham. The town covers 31 square miles. I think we covered them all that morning.
Back in the village, Andrew still scours the landscape looking for any sign of civilization.
The town has one main street. We ran it in its entirety.
The town hosts its own church, the Church of England parish church of Saint Mary.
Of Saxon origin, it has a lepers window from which lepers could watch the Mass. Or watch over Barry posing at run's end.
The cemetery out behind the church also hosts a piece of Martin Brewer lore.
Martin was often known to trump up particular authors or poets he enjoyed, and he regularly tried to get friends, family, students, and even strangers to share his passions.
This held true for music as well.
But in this case, we're talking poet and writer Mervyn Peake, whose name I heard recounted in Martin stories throughout the England trip, and I must confess, I had never heard before.
According to lore, Peake walked the South Downs of the land and there created the characters that populate his fantasy work Gormenghast.
We found where he was buried.
I still haven't found his published works.
But Martin, I'm on the case, and affirm that at some point, God knows when, I WILL read me some Mervyn Peake.
At run's end
For so many reasons, an unforgettable trip.
Here we are on the last of our running miles Across the Pond
And finally, back at town's center, our inimitable host strikes a pose in front of the town's pub, the George, built in 1736. Sadly, it was closed for business at the time of our early morning run.
Thanks for the behind-the-scenes mileage, Andy. You were a lovely host. Next time we run together, though, dial it back a notch and take it easy on us Yanks!