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Her gaze rests on his white calves, strangely insubstantial given the expanse of khaki shorts above. The fabric strains a little with each upward movement. He doesn’t seem to notice, just keeps marching up the track, walking pole swinging and dipping in his hand. She can feel a catch in her chest. She is having trouble keeping up.
He smiles down at her, his face pinkly moist under the brim of his Tilley hat.
“Come on Val, just this last bit, then it’s downhill all the way.”
She sucks in through her teeth and carries on. The sun is warm, or so it seems as sweat blooms under her arms and down her back. Around her, the fields are strung out like a botched crochet. Shades of green are interrupted by a thread of grey stone wall, which tacks up and down hills and dips. A farmhouse or two break the pattern, dropped stitches. None of those awful bungalows here she thinks. Not like the West. Not like round Galway and Connemara. No, this time she has to admit that Nigel has picked a good spot.