Solo exploration leads to adventures


Pudsey, England, where Kyle walked even though he was told it was too far.

As I walked back through a hail storm after eating a satisfying plate of sliced lamb on naan bread on a Saturday night, my American friend Erick brought something to my attention: He and Marcus, my Swedish comrade, were heading their way to a pub called the Brewery from the city centre one day when they asked their cab driver how long it takes to get to Pudsey from the Brewery. He said 20 minutes. Then they asked him how long it takes to walk there. The cab driver replied, “You can’t walk to Pudsey!”

Well, that cab driver has never met Kyle “Freshly Chiseled Calves” Fitzgerald.

You see, a few days before that fateful conversation took place, I decided to go exploring. I pretty much walked in every direction since my arrival, with one exception: I had yet to traverse north.

So I did.

I left my accommodation at noon, unaware that I would not sit down or see my blue duvet with white polka dots until four hours later.

I was continuously challenged by the terrain, walking up an assortment of hills; God forbid I walk down one. I kept my eyes peeled. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I just let my undying curiosity and open-minded spirit lead me the way.

Apparently, I didn’t realize how far I would have to walk to actually see something interesting. In my hour-and-a-half walk to this town once unknown to me, the only notable sight was that of a cat sitting near a dumpster. The white- and-black haired beast stared at me, but only for a moment as, I guess, it couldn’t handle my Americanism.

As I continued my expedition, my sharp optimism began to morph into a slight sensation of boredom. I’ve been walking for what seemed like forever now and I see nothing but cars, streetlights and houses. But that feeling of ennui neglected one very important fact: I simply had nothing better to do. So I ventured onward.

It was 2:30 in the afternoon after I walked up yet another hill. But this one was different. It led to this small town. Here enters Pudsey.

The first thing on my to-do list was to find food. All I had to eat that day was a Belvita breakfast biscuit, so one can infer that I may have been a bit hungry. I had my options of where to go, but I walked into a placed called Graveley’s simply because its sign was decorated with two anchors. I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume I ordered fish and chips.

I ate my crispy haddock and walked along the streets, taking an interest in the town. It’s taking quintessentially British. Even the name Pudsey sounds British, much more so than Los Angeles or Tallahassee.

A compact town littered with brick buildings under cloudy grey skies, Pudsey has that traditional British quirk. It still had its Christmas decorations mounted on the light poles. Pubs were unevenly spaced throughout the streets, and I would also find the occasional confectioner’s shop or tea room or local butcher. There wasn’t much activity aside from the too-excited kids being released from school. In fact, the only sounds I heard prior to their overzealous laughter were my own footsteps against the stone footpath.

Pudsey was the exact kind of thing for which I kept my eyes peeled out for. That sort of thing that one would just sort of stumble across after a series of hills and grey skies and a cat.

Would I take the bus next time? Answer: depends on the weather.


Kyle Fitzgerald is studying abroad in England this semester and writing about his excursions each week.