Over the past week, I’ve been accumulating considerable weight in coins given as change for purchases in markets, pubs, train stations, etc. Rather than pay for last night’s lodging with currency, I decided to pay as much as possible with coins.
British coins come in denominations of £2, £1, 50 pence, 20 pence, 10 pence, 5 pence, 2 pence, and 1 pence, distinguished by different colors, shapes and thickness. After breakfast, I sat in my room and meticulously counted out £10 in coins and the rest of the room charge in currency. I was able to use all my coins but for 17 pence – which I saved for later in a zip-lock bag. Back downstairs, I handed to Margaret, the innkeeper, several currency notes, and began counting out the coins. “That’s not necessary. I trust you,” she responded. But I continued to count. “Five pounds, eight pounds, nine pounds fifty, nine pounds seventy, nine pounds seventy-five, nine pounds eighty… nine pounds eighty… nine pounds eighty…” I frantically searched my pocket for a buried coin that wasn’t there.
“That’s close enough, it’s only 20 pence.” Even though 20 pence isn’t what it used to be -- what with the Brexit exchange rate decline -- I wasn’t about to short her by 20 pence. I quickly ran up to my room to see if perhaps I had dropped the coin on the floor. I hadn’t. “It’s OK, really,” she continued. Then I realized I probably put the coin with my 17 pence saved for later. I opened the zip-lock bag, but it’s only contents were the 17 pence. I gave her that.
I also had in the bag my “lucky” euro, a coin I found on the footpath the first day. I gave it to her. “That’s not a euro,” she said. “Well not a whole euro, but it says 50 cents,” I replied. It’s got to be worth more than 3 pence. “Don’t worry about the 3 pence,” she replied. “I don’t know what coin it is, but it’s definitely not a euro,” she continued.
“Well, in that case, I won’t give it to you. After all it is my lucky coin.”
Maybe she’ll find the 20 pence coin somewhere in my room, and that will be her lucky coin. If she does, it’s OK with me that she keep my 17 pence that I was saving for later.
Today’s walk passed over the noisy motorway by footbridge, through several muddy pastures, and climbed into limestone country. As I got farther from the motorway, the heavy roar of tyres on wet roadway gently receded, being replaced by the rhythmic slosh-slosh-sloshing of water inside my boots with every step. The rain finally stopped, but by the time I reached Orton everything below my knees was covered in mud.
I’ll give my pants an extra-good washing today. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find that missing 20 pence coin.