Walking through a wood I got chatting to Liz out walking her dog and oddly we were soon discussing the series 7 Up and sharing our views on some of the participants, particularly David who'd become the politician. And we discussed sons who do marathon.
Along a back lane I was surrounded by a pack of baying farm dogs who quickly realised I saw through their game and they escorted me off with a yappy farewell.
The weather being brisk and listening to Steeleye Span on my MP3 player I was inspired to dance a jig as I walked, heavy pack and all. A steep gradient soon put and end to that.
My route eventually led to a busy major road served by a MacDonalds and a Premier Inn. I'm ashamed to admit I indulged myself with a MacHappy Meal and headed to the Premier Inn in the hope of the £29 special deal advertised but alas this night it was the regular £70 rate. So I sadly pushed on reminding myself of the stoic 70 year young woman a month ahead of me camping wherever took her fancy. I felt a room in the Premier Inn was rather letting the male side down.
I passed through the nondescript (except for the huge slag heaps) town of India Queens and onto the equally nondescript town of Toldish. As I walked I eyed off the various wild camping opportunities right there in town not expecting to find the marked campground open.
Several possibilities emerged such as:
- Grassy patch behind a village hall
- Grassy patch above a nice pub
- Offering people with a caravan in their garden a fiver to doss in it for the night.
- an Undertakers with presumably something snug (a coffin maybe) in which to rest, in peace. And just as bad...
A cemetery (Terry Hale style).
It was then I came to the local campground with the unfortunate name of 'Gnome World' which in spite of the diminutive was the largest caravan and camping park I have ever seen. It had everything I needed for £4 including hot clean showers and a laundry.
I was offered a site with the option 'camp anywhere you like' which I took literally.
As I was about to set up the tent in the lee of two pre-loved unoccupied caravans I found one with its door unlocked so I decided that was where I would like best to camp (squat) - on the clean cosy bed out of the wind with a sitting room of my own (and less the tent naturally). The only downside was almost setting the caravan alight when my lighted sprit stove fell over. Oh well easy come easy go.
My 15kg pack weight has been no burden at all except for its surcharge (20% my body weight) on my feet giving me a couple of sore but manageable blisters. My new pack places the weight very snugly onto my hips. And I'm using everything I'm carrying so far apart from the 1.3kg tent. I'm actually now inclined to add to the weight by returning to London to the base camp David is kindly providing for me to pick up my laptop. Or maybe buy a Tablet.
Actually the pack weight is probably down to 13kgs now considering the supplies I've either eaten or lost.
I'm now also disinclined to jettison my trekking sandals because in spite of their extra weight they are a great substitute when my boots rub on my blisters, which the sandals don't.
I had three nice surprises today. The first a long text message from Adam who I met in Penzace and who set out a day ahead of me. He tells me he is struggling along the SW Coastal path with his still too heavy pack but we may yet cross paths at Bridgewater at this rate; my route is straighter and flatter.
The second is the realisation that I can listen to any of the books on my Kindle as I walk when I use the Text Speech mode. I look forward listening to Thomas Hardy as I pass through Somerset (was it? do I?)
The third is that my home made blister remedy of micro bubble-wrap is proving both comfortable and effective. I shall have to get a patent.
The only misfortune of today was losing the next day's paper strip map before I'd even used it. The nice man in the camp office offered to print me a new one from my flash drive but I'd have to wait for the main office to open at 9am the next day by which time I'd hoped to be long gone. Besides I have them as pictures on my I iPhone as backup and on my GPS app.