In our younger days my wife, Jan, and I liked to round off the working week by driving out into the beautiful Kent countryside in search of a nice little country pub and having a snifter or two, and maybe a bite to eat. A good friend had recommended a pub, the Amazon and Tiger, I believe the name was, and he said the food and beer were excellent. To assist us he had drawn a map complete with numerous landmarks and information to help us on our way.
One gorgeous Friday evening we set out to find the pub. I followed the directions to the letter until we came to a fork in the road, and I took the right branch instead of the left as per the instructions. I realized almost immediately, but the lane was too narrow to turn our car around in, so Jan suggested finding a farm gateway or similar to give us a bit more room. As we slowly drove along the lane looking for a place to turn around we both noticed a girl of about twenty walking towards us. We both remarked that she was dressed in the 'flower-power' style of the 1960's, in a sheepskin coat, tie-dyed T-shirt and wide flared jeans. She had a shock of bright ginger hair reaching well down her back and what looked like an old school satchel over her shoulder. She was smiling to herself, almost as if she knew we had taken the wrong turning, but how could she?
We carried on up the lane for about another two hundred yards until we found an entrance into a field on our right, and turned the car around. I drove carefully back the way we had come, looking for the lass with the ginger hair, so that we could ask her directions to the pub.
We arrived back at the fork in the road but had not seen the girl. This prompted Jan and I to wonder where she could have got to. The lane was too long from where we had seen her originally for her to have beaten us to the fork, and the high banks and tall hedgerows precluded her cutting across the intervening fields. There simply were no gaps to dive through.
Once more I turned the car around at the fork and went back up the lane, very slowly this time, looking for any sign of the girl with the ginger hair, but there was no trace of her at all. I even got out of the car at one point, climbed the banks and tried to push my way through the hedges either side of the lane to no avail. Yet once more I reversed into the field entrance, and set off back along the lane again, to finally try to find the pub we so eagerly sought.
This time I turned off along the correct lane at the fork, and about half a mile down the road we reached the pub. We both felt we deserved the drinks we ordered that evening!
As a postscript to this tale, we returned several times to the Amazon and Tiger over the course of the next few years and asked a few discreet questions in the bar about the hippy girl with the wonderful hair, but always met with either unknowing shakes of the head, or on one occasion, a blunt request not to be so nosey!
So Jan and I will probably never know what became of the girl, or what her story is, or was. The only certainty remains that she apparently disappeared in thin air. There was absolutely nowhere to hide along that lane, nor was it possible to reach the fork in the road before us in our car.
If, (and I stress the if,) she was a spirit, I hope she is still there, leaving other motorists to ponder her fate as indeed my wife and I still do from time to time. And now that the summer is upon us once more, I think another trip out to the Amazon and Tiger is on the cards again, and another ride up the lane hopefully to renew our acquaintance with 'The girl in the Lane'.
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