In my December 2015 blog post I said I may not say much in 2016, but I’ve broken that statement many times, and added a number of posts since. But I think I mean it now!
I have had numerous ridiculous travel episodes in my thirty years of mostly mad travels. The last one was last week. And they have to stop. I’ve said that before, but God willing that was the final one. They happen because I plan nothing, nothing other than come up with a destination, and more often not with little resources to aid me.
I was aiming for a deserted beach. A £12 megabus ticket on the train took me from London Waterloo to Wareham in Dorset. It was pouring with rain. I had a very heavy backpack and the cross country walking route to a scenic, barren beach was ten miles long. Not so long, but it really was raining hard. I was soaked in seconds.
I got to the bay in a number of hours. I slid down the steep and long walkway to the bay. I fell twice. I was slightly scared as my back pack took me fully into the bushes and out of sight of anyone searching for a missing hiker. Looking back on that bit, thank goodness I didn’t bang my head on a rock or twist/break an ankle.
I arrived at the beach. I had no tent, no sleeping bag. I had hoped to find some discarded plastic sheeting on the beach. There were plastic bottles of course-but no sheeting. It was going to be a long cold, wet and miserable night ahead-I thought.
I started collecting wood for a fire-if it would light!
The beach was beautiful. The bay was large and sweeping. The cliffs were high and steep. I was alone-again!
I looked for cover from the rain. There were six or seven boat huts, a couple in good nick, the others pretty weather worn. But there was no cover.
I carried on collecting wood for the fire.
The sun came out. It was about 7 pm. Black clouds loomed though. I was still in trouble.
Until out of the blue two chaps came down to check out their huts. We got talking. We sat on a bench made from an old sleeper. One of them drank a beer, the other some homemade wine. I gave one of them a round of cheese I had spare. It was fun. We philosophised. We laughed. We smiled.
In short, as the clouds welled up and another downpour loomed, one of the gentleman gave me a key to his shed. “Stay the night if you want to,” he said. “There’s a new sleeping bag hanging on the wall. There’s a new camping bed as well. The gas stove’s ancient but one ring works. Clear the wood out and you’ll probably have enough space to stretch out”.
I said my thanks.
I made tea. I moved the wood. I set up the bed. I rolled out the bag.
It absolutely poured with rain.
But I slept for six hours. I was warm. I was rested. I was extremely lucky.
I walked the 4 miles back to Swanage in the morning. I applied for a few washing up jobs, talked to an interesting furniture shop owner who might take some of my stuff…and yet again borrowed a £50 note from my Mother to get home and save my aching hips.
A day’s worth of Ibuprofen later and my spine is straightening up again.
Time to pay the fifty pounds back. Time to stop borrowing. Time to stop talking so much. Time to write that travel book. Time to travel properly. That’s if I need to do anymore travelling!