Saturday, 18 September 2010

Kites, Hills and Disasters

Fri 17th

I wake up in the morning dreaming that the car park I am on is being tarmaced and the tar had been laid with me inside it, only my wheels on the old surface. Weird, as I can actually smell the tar even after I have woken. It may have been the white vanman who tooted his horn at myself and the other motorhome that parked beside me before dark, just because he can at 5am!

I get myself sorted and ready to leave as I decided last night that I would go to the White Horse in Oxfordshire. To me it is nearer to Swindon than Oxford, but whatever. It is quite a drive and as I pass a petrol station selling fuel for £1.15 I fill up. As I drive through Shropshire and onto Oxfordshire I have plenty of time to think and put on jolly reggae love songs and sing along. I am happy and upbeat.

The carpark for the White Horse is National Trust anad they want £2 for up to four hours and £4 for all day. I figure that the spot that I park on is level enough to sleep in and get an all day ticket taking me to midnight. I reckon I’m safe until morning. I have a piece of bread and cheese and get my small backpack kitted out with provisions for Fin and I as it is a long walk ahead. I asked for an exercise regime and I have started it today. Fin is wearing a little red dandana and he loves it, so much so that when it dropped off he came and stood beside me so I could put it on him again. He is kinda cute in it and people have stopped to admire him in it.

We walk up the hill and see a sign that tells us there is a circular walk around the horse of four miles and another to Waylands Smithy where a barrow is and that is a three mile roundtrip in the other direction. I decide I want to do both and yomp ahead. The soil is not deep here at all and it is only inches to the chalk below. The fields have just been ploughed and are the palest brown. The path is ended quickly and I find myself in a clearing of trees where the long barrow sits. It was discovered and excavated in the sixties and remains of fourteen bodies found in it. It is interesting and we walk around it and then leave to go and see the horse. No-one truly knows the significance of the horse that is carved out of the hillside, but it can be seen from the road and I was shown it by Ian, my ex ambulance instructor after I qualified and I visited him more that 20 years ago. We only drove past with his then girlfriend and now I had the chance to see it up close.

I walked up the hill towards it and found myself in an ironage fort. I walked its perimeter and two young men came on with kites. I stopped to watch grinning as I love kites and these were superkites with inflatable spines. I watched as they pumped the spines up and fixed the strings. They helped each other to get the kites flying and got large skateboards out. I was excited as I imagined all kinds of stunts. The fort is absolutely on the top of the world and has a three sixty view. It is awesome up here and the sky is big. It’s one of the things I love about this area. Big skies make me feel as if I can breath and I want to put my arms out and spin. Of course I don’t, the young guys would think me a bit bonkers if I did. I stand and watch with my hands in my pockets instead.

I leave the kites and walk across the top of the hill and find the horse which gets scoured each year to keep it alive. It is on the side of a very steep hill and to get a better view I descend the hill beside it. My thighs are tested and my knees objected, but held out. God this is steep….

At the bottom is a mound with a flat top. I presume it is a man made mound and climb it, but still cannot get a proper view of the horse, so climb another hill to get a different view. God I asked for a work out and I’m getting one! Eventually I get to a more level area closer to the carpark and look back to see most of the horse, but it is obscured in places. Two men walk past with large model airplanes. It is a good day for flying.

Back at the Hobby I am tired and feel good for the exercise. I need a cup of tea and sort myself out some food as I am hungry. I turn on the gas but nothing happens. Oh no…no gas. Crap! Stupid me!

I turn on my netbook and plug in my dongle worried as I only have 8 minutes left on my phone contract. I get hold of a garage that sells gas and I drive away not really prepared to leave.
I’m really fed up at myself for not checking the gas a couple of days earlier when my brain said to.

As I drive down the road an almighty crash occurs in the back of the Hobby. I cannot just stop and drive on a little way until it is safe to do so. I have forgotten to shut the door housing the microwave and it has fallen out and onto the floor. Crap! It is clearly broken as the front panel has come away. I usually keep a basket full of bits and bobs on top of it and the kitchen area looks like Hiroshema after the bomb. I shrug my shoulders and ignore it, driving on in my best ‘bovered?’ attitude.

My concern is ti get to the garage so I can go back to the car park and sleep. Not a chance as when I get to the garage 40 minutes later I am aware that they actually don’t have any gas. I ask the woman who I spoke to where is the gas she told me was there. She informs me that the manager told her and she is embarrassed. I ask for the manager to tear his ears off, but he has gone home. The lady feels worse as I don’t lose my cool, just politely tell her to pass on my unhappiness to him the next day.

Now I am stuck as I cannot even heat up water for a wash and I haven’t a clue where to go next. I could go back to the campsite, but cannot make hot food. I have no idea where I may get gas from and it’s dark now. My anxiety levels creep upwards.

I do something alien to me and ask for help. Wow, what a breakthbrough.

I phone Claire and explain and ask if I can come to hers and park outside. She says ‘yes of course’ and I drive another two hours to hers. I am chinstrapped and with eyes squinting in tiredness I look for the signs for M4. I see a sign that says A417 Reading and follow that instead. It is a twisty country road and I pray for a garage that sells gas. I see a sign that tells me there is the last garage before the motorway coming up nad as I squint into tit my eyes open up wide as I spy gas bottles in a cage.. ’please be open’.

I drive in a and babble away to a young Asian man about how grateful I am and ask him to help me get the new bottle on board. I cannot get the hand tight screw undone and get the empty bottle on the floor to get a better purchase. The young man tries and he also cant do it. I get some mole grips and try, but only succeed in shaving some of the brass off the corners of the nut. I know its got an opposite thread so eventually with a bit of brute determination I crack the nut while the young man has gone to serve someone else. So much for hand tight! Relieved to have gas I drive off and make my way to Claire, who acts as a satnav getting me to her house in Wokingham from the motorway.

I stop at a Chinese take away and as I stand up I step onto my laptray and it breaks across the middle. Pants.. Oh wel,l that’s the three things out of the way. I’m a little upset at that one as I’ve had it for about ten years and it was a xmas present from my dad. I like it as I can sit my computer on it at night when I am in bed and it does a good job. I go and get myself some prawn chow mein as I could eat a scabby horse at this stage. It is 8 hours since I ate the bread and cheese and my stomach thinks my throat has been cut. I arrive at Claire’s who sits with me as I eat and we drink a glass of wine, which cuts to the chase immediately. I am squiffy with tiredness and anxiety. We natter along for a while, before I fall into bed and straight into a coma, relieved, safe and full of noodles.

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