Whoa there, Bessie….

28 Nov

For some reason, I have a scene from Mulan in my head… you’ll have to do your own research on that one…

So, back on the road again. It’s been 16 months since I had a place of my own, since I had access to the rest of my stuff – I’ve been living in a suitcase, in and out of hotels and hostels, other people’s homes, nights on buses, planes, in airports, and even, on one memorable occasion, out on the streets of Mumbai.

DSCF6837But we’re back on the road again. It has its moments – especially before I managed to get the heating and cooking sorted (thanks, Andy). Avoiding camp sites has its upside (saving money, mostly) and its downside (no electricity, no showers, no facilities). Drawing a rapid veil over the latter, and grabbing a shower or a swim where I can, it’s down to raiding electricity from coffee shops and libraries.. likewise the internet. DSCF6838Although McDonalds and KFC have internet, they often don’t give access to power – and since the battery on my laptop now gives me around 10 minutes of useful charge, access to juice is vital. My journals have moved to my phone, which has also become the viewing platform for video and podcasts too. Android is a wonderful thing – and it has internet and sky maps, ideal for those quiet, cold yet starlit nights under the stars – and games of Go to challenge my tactics and strategy (I won one, once, but I think the computer was taking pity on me).

So finding a home for the night is about finding a space that’s sufficiently away from traffic to be quiet, and isolated enough to be peaceful. Under trees isn’t too bright, and being awoken by a herd of mooing cows is to be avoided if possible. And I would rather not be moved on at 2am by the local constabulary, thank you very much….

DoveDale (9)But there are some beautiful locations to be found, just off the beaten track. When the stars come out, and the moon rises, casting a dull orange glow over the landscape as it hangs, as if my magic, just over the horizon and close enough to touch, when quiet descends over the fields and the only sound is the distant sound of traffic, the rustle of leaves and the occasional cry of an owl or the squeak of a bat… that’s when I lay the bed out, tuck myself up in a sleeping bag and bury myself deep inside snuggly warmth – perhaps to watch a bit of downloaded TV or a few more pages in a book before the battery dies on the van (must fix that sometime).

I haven’t quite managed to secure the bookshelves, so a hard turn sometimes results in a clatter and crash from behind as Terry Pratchett and Stephen Fry join Joel Osteen and Michael Beckwith on the kitchen floor. Forgetting to secure a cupboard carries an even higher penalty, launching a combination of rice and shards of china across the galley.

But the heater is welcome, cunningly placed to toast my cold feet before gently warming the cabin. Warming coffee (in a spill proof mug) is another welcome warmer, and I am working my way through own brand soup.

Keele (6)There are moments of excitement – getting myself up at night to answer the call of nature, then throwing myself back into bed and missing, coming to rest sprawled behind the driver’s seat; discovering that that quiet, peaceful and isolated country lane turns into an Indianapolis racetrack for gigantic John Deere tractors at 6am. The moment that a fast fix on the radiator hose turns into a ball of smoke and flame half way up the M42.

So where will the latest adventure take me. Let’s see, shall we . . . . ?

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