I am having an amazing time on this adventure of mine. I was really looking forward to the Christmas season. My girlfriend arrived on the 23rd and we quickly began enjoying the beaches and gardens of Bournemouth, Boscombe and Christchurch. On Christmas eve we went to visit the Smith family who also lived in The Gambia during my lengthy stay there. It was great fun catching up on all the crazy fun things that them and my mother got up to. They took us for a walk along a beautiful woodland trail, whose name escapes me at the moment, which ran parallel to a small stream which empties onto Highcliffe beach. Walking along this trail you felt completely engulfed by the woods and the sound of the small stream triking around the rocks was enough to make your whole body tingle. This was a huge contrast to the masses of concrete just eight miles down the road in Bournemouth. Back at the house we sat down for dinner and shared more stories about our time in The Gambia and managed to find some pictures which brought back memories which I had long since forgotten. There was a pictures of my mother, my younger sister and a picture of me and the entire Gambia cricket team, which I was a member of for three years. It was really good to be able to sit and chat with some familiar faces, especially ones that I hadn't seen in years. There two youngest sons were now taller than me and it made me think of how quickly time was passing by, which only strengthened my drive to carry on my adventure and live life to the fullest without regrets. After dinner we headed back to my house in Bournemouth and began thinking about the next move. The plan was to have a Christmas picnic on the beach and head off to Weymouth on boxing day.
We decided to stay and enjoy the beaches of Bournemouth one more day and pack up on the 27th. We woke up early that morning and gather our things. My bag became lighter even thought I had added a few more items I had picked up in Bournemouth. We waved good bye to the house that had kept me dry and fairly warm the pass week and jumped on the bus to Poole. Once I Poole the plan was to somehow get to Weymouth where we had booked a train to Totnes. I had become conscience of the time factor and concluded that there was no way I was going to making to Lands' End and back to London in time for the 2012 growing season if I had to walk the entire journey. Plus I had a partner now and I was about to put her through a night like the one I had in the New Forest. When we arrived in Poole we were told that the bus to Weymouth was not in operation as it was a bank holiday. A quick look at the A-Z map and we decided that we would take a local bus to Wareham and hitch-hike the rest of the way. We got to Wareham around 1pm and began walking along the A352 towards Weymouth. We found a good spot to take a rest sat down, fired up my little petrol camping stove and not long after we were enjoying a nice cup of chi tea with hazelnut biscuits we bought from the co-op in Wareham. Wareham is a very small town with not much to offer, apparently, while we were laboriously carrying our rucksacks down the main street into the town one of the local came up to us and asked "Coming or going?"
"Both." I said with a smile, "We just arrived but on our way out again."
"Good! Not much to see or do in this bloody place." he said. I could here the depression in his voice. He's been living in Wareham for 20 odd years and hates it.
"Why don't you just leave and stop complaining." I thought to myself.
Once we had our fill we headed to the roundabout which exited to Swanage, Weymouth, and Dorchester and began or hitch-hiking mission. It was about half an hour before we managed to get a lift all the way to Weymouth.We arrived in Weymouth about 3pm and immediately began looking for places to spend the night. I was fine with pitching the tent in any old field, it was only on night after all but my queen had other ideas. She wanted to have a warm shower. This was understandable, I was wearing the same cloths for about a week and had not had a wash since Christmas. She didn't say it directly but I think it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to share a tent with me. I stunk.
We managed to find a campsite on the tourist information booklets which was open all year and after making a payment of £12 over the phone we now had a pitch for the night, we just had to find a way of getting there. Weymouth is a nice little city right on the seafront, very much like Bournrmouth but not as touristy, we walked to the closest bus stop, checked to times and waited......and waited. It was about an hour before we began to think something was not right. I quickly ran to the next bus stop and asked the driver "Excuse me, what time is the next bus towards Chickerell?"
His eyes widen, "The buses are operating on a Sunday service today," he explained, "it's a bank holiday you see. The last bus was at 16.20." I looked up at the large clock tower overlooking the high street, 5.56pm. Failing to realise that is was a bank holiday was miss read the timetable. We were stranded and the campsite was about 4 miles away. I wasn't about to let my £12 go to waste so we got hold of a local map from the tourist information centre and began working out a route. It looked like the site was in the middle of nowhere and I was not prepared to take to risk. Alot can go wrong in 4 miles at night. We walked into the town and located a taxi service. "How much to Bagwell Farm?" I asked
"Where?" the lady sitting behind the thin glass cubical looked at me as if I was specking a different language.
"Bagwell Farm, it's near Chickerell."
"One sec. Let me check." She disappeared under the counter for a second and reemerged with a large folder.
"Twelve pounds." she said.
We threw our bags into the back of the seven seater and we were on our way. It wasn't long before we were beyond the borders of the city lights and whizzing along the highway in almost complete darkness. We arrived at the site and once the lights of the taxi disappeared down the track Sophie turned to me and said, "I am so glad we didn't walk."
"Me too," I answered, "I can't see a thing."
As we walked down into the camping fields we passed one field filled with caravans, a huge building which housed toilets, a kitchen type setup, and showers. Ahhhh..... hot showers. This was the first proper shower I had had since setting off from London two weeks before. It was lush. Back in Bournemouth I was simply boiling a small pan of water and using that the wash with. It was simple but it worked fine. I was just an effort to do this everyday and petrol is expensive so I only did this when it was absolutely necessary. With the tent pitched and all my underwears washed and blow-dried (oh yes, there were blow dryer in the shower rooms as well) we set up the stove, cooked some rice and had a very nice meal of brown rice with cashew nuts, sunflower seeds and spicy lime pickle. Yummy.
With clean clothes and bodies, and full stomachs we could sleep comfortably knowing that 'this time tomorrow we'll be on one of the most amazing sites in Devon, Landmatters'.