An Afternoon on the River Ex
It was sunny when we walked down to the Quay. I stopped into Antiques on The Quay to use the bathroom, though it was an uncomfortable experience since I was unsure of what the English customs may be surrounding "Restrooms for customers only." There were some children, up by the Quay, laughing as the fell out of their little sailboats into the river. Michael, an old friend, described how he had learned to sail there with his brothers when he was younger. We then walked, southeast, down the right bank of the River Ex.
The first 100 or so feet were along something of a boardwalk, which then gave way to a small strip of woods. Our next 500 feet was past two rows of attached houses. Old people walked past us in the other direction on their afternoon strolls. Next came a small waterfall, man-made, and we had the choice to walk across a metal footbridge before walking through a small bit of park, taking a detour down a residential street, and crossing over the River Ex on a pedestrian bridge.
Here the strollers had vanished. We were on a sliver of land that split the river into two. It would, in four miles, lead to the river's dissolution into a delta, and would, in 6 more miles, lead to its end, the English Channel, in Exmouth. But we never made it that far. We didn't even make it, down the peninsula on which we were walking, to Riverside Valley Park, but I do not regret it since, from a birds eye view, it looks like little more than a glorified flood plain than a park.
We wanted to walk along the river's edge but instead had to make our way around a strip of fenced in garden plots, which extended for about 500 feet. Though the plots themselves did not abut the river, but they were surrounded by a fence in such a way that we could not get to the river bank until the path on which we walked boar left, cutting through the plots and leading us to the banks of the Ex. We stopped and sat on stumps and watched the river run by. It had been a lovely, sunny day, and while we were up by the Quay there had been quite a few people walking about. But now, down here along the river, there was no one and it was no longer so sunny. As the rain started, our clothes became tangled in a thorn bush while we attempted to find shelter beneath a nearby tree.
We walked back, north-west, exactly the way we came, up between the garden plots and a long, green strip of land, which I can only assume serves some function related to the health of the river, since it appeared as neither a park nor a playing field. We walked, past the Quay, across a few streets, and up a cobbled hill to the bookstore that Michael had been talking about - free books. It was raining and there seemed to be nothing to do, so we took our time. I perused the horror/sci-fi section, and though it may seem silly, having come all this way from Providence, I picked up a few vintage Lovecract additions. Meanwhile, Michael was upstairs checking the computer for movie times. I joined him to look through the non-fiction selections, drink some hot cider, pet a cat, and decide on a theater.
We decided on the Odeon. A mile across town, we had to walk back through the city center, passing the small square where earlier that day I had gotten a delicious "Mexican Crêpe." In the rain, Sidwell street, on which the Odeon was located, was quite deserted, though it had the makings of a main street - barber, optician, KFC, kebab, tandori, Pizza Hut, shoe repair, Dominos, Peking house, Budget Interiors, Halal groceries, a jewelers, carpeting, and, eventually, the Odeon.
A rundown Art-Deco palace, the Odeon's interior was now saturated with the palette of the modern movie theater: black carpets with geometric designs in purple and red, streamlined turquoise (or maybe teal?) fixtures, burgundy walls, etc.. We stood behind two teenage girls, one of whose shorts were much too short. Everyone in line was getting bitter and starting to audibly complain, as there was only one attendant behind the counter. He had been seemingly put in charge of both tickets and concessions, and the line was not satisfied with his performance. Ignoring the exchange rate, which I find is necessary in these situations, the tickets were quite cheep. They were even relatively affordable once the exchange rate was
taken into account. We sat down, popcorn in one hand, soda in the other, to watch "The Bourne Legacy". We were maybe ten minute late, and the movie had already gotten rolling. I was surprised to see Jeremy Renner, not Matt Damon, running to escape an unmanned drone in the Alaskan wilderness.