A little later, and several jars to the better, I felt brave enough to request some long awaited food. I tried asking the waitress first, but sheepishly she told me that, although they were still serving food, I'd better check with the manage first. So I did.
He blew out his cheeks with exasperated breath, "But...but chef's upstairs!."
Oh my God, I thought, the man is a total fruitcake! With extra blueberries!
After a passable steak meal inside me, I returned to my room. I,enjoyed an ultra hot bath and set my alarm clock for an early morning start.
It would have been a restful night, as the bed was comfortable, had it not been spoilt by the nightmares I suffered in the early hours ; dreams of missing my train to Horton and not being able to find any other means of getting there . I woke in cold sweat and 5.30am. I lay there for a few moments wondering whether I should stay in bed and catch as much rest as I could. I even toyed with the unforgivable scheme to have a really lazy day enjoying the delights (and drinking establishments) of Settle town and go back home pretending that I had completed the challenge. It was tempting for sure.
Still in the drowsy fog of my nightmare, with a surge of adrenaline I summoned from who-knows-where, I was up and preparing to leave.
True to his word, the slightly deranged hotel manager had left the elements that constituted my breakfast on a small table in the saloon bar. Two small tables were set up like this and, on discovering that one of the tables had no less than three blueberry muffins included, I presumed this was set for my, yet to meet, fellow charity walker. What favouritism.
I was halfway through my Muesli and milk, that had been left 'on ice'. When the door creaked open. It was now that I was joined by Jeff. He seemed surprised to see that his breakfast time would be shared by a bloke who looked, at this early hour, more zombie than man. He managed a courteous nod and smile of recognition, and took no time in tucking into his breakfast. I can be as anti social as the next man, especially at this unholy hour, but I was not prepared to sit this one out in silence. Especially, if it meant that I could cadge a lift off this bloke to Horton. I launched into some friendly charity-walker chat and It wasn't too long before I discovered that Jeff actually loved to talk. Yes, especially about his favourite subject , namely, himself. Jeff was looking forward to the walk as he'd been preparing for it for months, with work colleagues from Siemens. He was tall and well built chap with implausibly white teeth and a closely shaved head and was probably late 40's. He lived and worked in Faulkland, in Scotland. A group of 30 colleagues had trained hard for this event. "Only last week, " he boasted, " I completed a 4 mile run, 7 mile cycle and 10k cycle. My mates said I could n't beat their times, but I showed them. "
"I plan on a walking 4, maybe 5 miles and hour. That should get me round in good time. I am determined to enjoy it today, I don't want to suffer."
I was, immediately, reminded of the possibility. No, the absolute certainty, that I would be suffering today and there was a good chance, too, that I would not enjoy it one bit.
And as much as I needed a car-share this morning, I was not about to ask to join Super-Jeff, with his All-Star, super hero friends in their A-Team van. A van, that is, unless they weren't planning to be helicoptered into Horton, or maybe parachuting in?
I wrapped my banana and a croissant in the cling film and exchanged, with Jeff, some brief wishes of good fortune for the walk. As I left the room I heard him exclaim.
'Jesus, what am I supposed to do with three muffins?'