Travel

Coast to Coast – Day 0

The company that takes our luggage from place to place have asked that we treat the ‘single’ bags like hold luggage on a plane. I.e. 20 kilo weight and nothing dangling on the outside like spare shoes etc. Which means that the several extra items that I shoved into my day rucksack may have to go straight back again with Simon. Either that or I eat a lot of it in the first two days. Oh, wait, I’ve just found out that Derek’s back is quite small and light and so if we’re talking of the weight collectively I may get away with it – if I just sit on the suitcase as I zip it up.

The drive to St Bees was smooth with Simon and Heather acting as Day 0 Sherpas. I’m just writing this as the final checks are made on the maps as to which way to turn when we step out of the B&B and beyond. We’ve all just eaten a hearty (starters, mains AND pudding) dinner at a local eatery. Surprisingly, for a small place, St Bees has a number to choose from and Lulu’s, once a railway ticket office now a Thai restaurant, was particularly tasty.

The forecast was correct unfortunately; rain. From this afternoon until well into tomorrow so all the waterproofs are ready. But that will mean a slightly lighter suitcase so that may be a good thing in the long run.

I’d never been to the Lake District before but apparently St Bees is technically not the Lakes. It’s a little bit to the left (or west if you want to get technical). However, tomorrow, when we get to Ennerdale, I can officially proclaim that I have set foot on the beloved ground of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

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Travel

Where’s Watton

I did say that I wasn’t going to do a travel blog, so a back-in-Liverpool episode about my little sojourn to Norfolk doesn’t really count does it? It has to be done now while I still have some memory of it. They don’t last very long in my head and I wish I could blame it on my age, but I think it is some hereditary thing that has been passed on by my dad, a persistent list maker whose life’s choreographies are almost totally laid out on neatly cut scraps of paper bound in a rubber band held wallet. This whole blog business is probably a little bit like that wallet. I’ll read back, many, many weeks from now and think, ‘Did I do that?’

I drove down to Norfolk, and more precisely, Watton, a small market town whose claim to fame, I was told by many people, was having several scenes from the TV series Kingdom filmed there. My old school friend Salena lives in that neck of the woods and was having her fortieth in the 19th hole of the local golf club (the entrance of which is nigh on impossible to find at night especially when someone is telling you to just go over a little hump backed bridge when there was no goddamn bridge – not even when I checked, twice, the next day). It was too late to see much of the place when I first got there, having regretted being too tight to pay the M6 toll. The sky, though, was spectacular. I think I’ve already said it on fb, but even with the hunger and being stressed by trying to find this friggin’ place, I was bowled over by just how many visible stars there were. A diamante studded cloak. It wasn’t diamonds; nobody could afford so many diamonds.
Watton by day was vastly improved by lovely sunshine. It isn’t bad looking but there is something happy making about seeing the autumn leaves tumbling slowly from the trees, letting the clear cold light glisten through the branches and bathe the charity shops with an inviting glow. Like all good modern high streets, there are many such shops here along with a dodgy art gallery or two, a Cooperative Funeral Care place and an antique shop, catering well for the average age of the residents.

I spent the morning swishing through the leaves in my, err, flip flops and meandering into the shops chatting to the locals. From the antiques man who was originally from Tottenham and sounded like a proper cockney ‘geezer’ I found that Norfolk people move too slowly – I did discover that for myself later when I was stocking up on the booze at the tucked away Tescos and waiting for the checkout man to check that the lady in front meant to get the two different types of cod fillets as one was a little more expensive madam. Keep calm and breathe. From the second-hand book seller couple who totted up my purchases with a pencil and paper I found out that Pope’s translation of The Iliad is the best one, Stephen Fry is a bit of a windbag and Charles Dickens wasn’t that far behind Jimmy Saville in his predilection for young ladies. It took a long time to get back to Salena’s by which time I was laden with shopping and had frostbite on my toes.

Her do went off very well. She had friends from Greece and Germany who were renting the same house and I saw no altercations save the potentially touch paper moment when the Greek came in and said ‘Salena why have the Germans got a bigger room?’ ‘Because they paid more darling.’ She’s not one to beat around the bush is our girl, and surprisingly the explanation was accepted and he merely pinched the iron and left. Whenever Salena and I meet up, we, or rather I, because she can handle soooo much more than me, get well and truly wasted. I was half expecting the same to happen here but apart from wearing some silly glasses and trying to teach a fifteen year how to get some rhythm I wasn’t allowed to make a complete arse of myself this time because her considerate parents, who I’d only met the night before, packed me off to bed. I think I brought out their paternal/maternal side. Either that or they wanted to be invited back to that blessed golf club again.