I wake up in with a feeling of accomplishment. The first phase of the walk is complete and I now have a week at in before I recommence back here at in a week’s time. Originally I planned to start after , which would have given a lot more time to prepare after ‘s wedding, but then decided timing was a little tight and it would be good to get some miles ‘under my belt’. Despite the near panic packing in two days, this was a good decision.
Today I will travel by bus and train to. I must admit I avoid public transport as much as possible, so the walk is also re-introducing me to this. Travel along is especially difficult as the main transport lines seem to cut east-west across the north-south line of the dyke. However is relatively well served by buses and I can take a bus to and from there to .
I have breakfast at, £4.50 all in and huge … the sign by the kitchen hatch reads:
Annoying the Cook will result in smaller portions!
I have evidently not annoyed her.
Later in the morning I am inwith a real rambler, whom I met on the bus from , where she too was staying at the and the source of the lovely bacon smell in the kitchen this morning. now takes more leisurely walks, but in the past has walked the , , and others.
is a veteran of Youth Hostels and talked about the way many had closed over the years. For me this was my first , but I recall the many red triangles I used to see on compared to what looks a sparse scattering on the map of today. said that modern health and safety regulations had been a major problem as it was too expensive to upgrade some of the smaller hostels. Her son had been an environmental health officer, and had often felt constrained by rules and unable to use his discretion and, in cases like this, or on , plain common sense.
After finishing our cups of tea and coffee at a great bus station ‘caf’, and a quick trip to slightly space age unisex public loos, complete with round frosted porthole in the door, to the bus stands wherefound that she had another half hour to wait as she’s missed the footnote that said the bus she’d hoped to catch stopped short of . So we took our leave, she with three more buses to catch to , and then , whilst I stepped on the bus for my simpler journey on to . However, had been pleased to point out that her journeys were free with her senior citizen bus pass. Together with staying at , this makes a very affordable holiday on a pension.
On the bus through ‘s black and white timber-framed streets, I hear the elderly ladies behind talk about borrowing from the local library to download to their . I had never thought of this! I have an aversion to . I sometimes say that this is simply because the word is an oxymoron, but actually I could imagine reading a novel on a pad-size screen. It is really issues of ownership that worry me. I have nearly all the books I’ve ever owned, but how long will an be readable?
The rolling fields aroundgive way to narrow lanes through wooded valleys and the bus squeezes towards the holly-edged bank, leaves pressed tight against the windows, as a passes in the opposite direction.
Intoand a quick trip to (there’s posh) for a pint of milk. I still have my rucksack with banner on the back and when I mention technology to the cashier she says, "you know is the first town", but then, “"I heard about it, but not got the app yet." To be fair I don’t have a app, I keep meaning to, but never get round to it, and wonder just how many people have a ; the codes look impressive, but do they actually help people connect?
I recall one of the meetings of the -managed . I think it was the project who said that they had originally intended to use for their mobile app. However, after surveying their visitors, in the end they opted for simple numerical codes to type into the app as few visitors were able to scan . Why phones aren’t supplied with scanning as standard like phones, I don’t know, but until they are will remain more an icon to say "we are tech savvy", but not a practical way to access information.
Of course, even if you can read, you need internet connectivity. I found no coverage in the town, and just has some ‘ ‘ connection. Although there is a scheme to provide town-wide the practicalities of mobile technology outside major urban centre are not easy.
Later with laundry left at , I visit , home of the that hosts around a dozen different community events a day from and the , to and . , one of the staff, introduced me to and , who organise the weekly tea dance. Happily for my feet the tea dance has ended, so they just pour me a cup of tea and chat. started the tea dances seven years ago bringing together all ages, from a 94-year-old who dances solidly for an hour to four-year-olds.
There are a number of small units in a courtyard. In one is the local provider of mobility scooters, packed together like a quarter-sized car park. The man there tells me that as I set off out of town onearlier in the week I will have passed at the end of which he informed me was haunted. Happily, the caravan site I’m staying in is not.
In, the town, I now want to find a café where I can get connection to upload blog and pictures. The first place I try has none, and the lady there suggests another. If I stand outside the there is the free open , but with it threatening to spot a little rain not the most sensible thing to do with a laptop. In the end I find a café close enough to the that a little of the sneaks in and I end up chatting camper vans with some other customers and the lady on the till.
Back at the campsite I have another wonderful evening at the caravan site club house. I discuss quantitative easing with, discover that can trace her ancestors back to and learn how had the opportunity to take a small recording contract back in the , but backed out to stay in a secure job with safe money. Part of him always asks, "what if?" But look at me walking now; it was a childhood dream. Maybe it is never too late.