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A better nights sleep I’m glad to say, in a deserted campsite, only disturbed by the virtuoso dawn chorus which began around 4am. By the time I got out of the tent (7-ish) the sun was shining brightly and it looked like being a beautiful day. My decision of whether or not to do the return leg of my journey was an easy one in the end. I made breakfast and coffee, packed up the bike, put on the pasty-face sunblock and charity shirt (great for getting people asking me what the hell I’m doing) and cycled over to the house in Litton Cheney, the next village, where Susie made me some more coffee.
Susie reminded me this morning before I cycled off to keep up a tradition started many years ago at this very site by our eldest, Sam, now reading Natural Sciences at Uni, of hanging around the campsite toilet block in the early morning looking for moths. It’s particularly good hunting ground as the walls are all whitewashed and the lights stay on at night. He has developed a great interest in moths ever since then, which, with typical enthusiasm, he has passed on to the rest of us. So off I went, iPad at the ready, to see what had turned up overnight. A very important part of this tradition is to make sure the block is completely deserted, or the wrong impression can be made. Luckily the campsite is tiny, as is the toilet block, and it’s almost always very quiet. This morning there was only one other tent and a few static caravans in use, so I felt safe to proceed. I was rewarded by a huge moth from your worst nightmares, clinging to the wall like harbinger of doom. If I’d discovered this on night-time trip to the loo I think I would have needed counselling and a strong drink.
I duly emailed this off to Sam for a proper identification, and he didn’t disappoint. Any moth-fanciers out there? Another bag of Minstrels is up for grabs for the first correct id (no cheating Susie or Jacob).
Desperately trying to climb the wall to do battle with the moth in a clash-of-toilet-block-titans was this beauty:
Sam also identified this one for me, and there’s another bag of you-know-whats for anyone brave enough to tell us all the extraordinary name. (Parental Advisory)
After all this excitement, I was ready to start my journey home, which meant climbing Hardy’s Monument again of course, but from the Bride Valley side this time. It’s less demanding (apart from a nasty 14% hill out of the valley,) but you still know you’ve done it. Around here you can’t avoid hills on a bike, since the A35, which has a flattish profile, is NOT bike friendly. To prove that this photo isn’t from yesterday, please note the Visitors van’s new position.
Then it was cross-country to Dorchester, entering the town through un-lovely Poundbury, or Poundland.
Maybe I’m wrong and this is the way to handle new towns, but it feels ghastly to me, like a sort of charmless, overweight Port Merion. What Poundland needs is an iconic tv series to be made here, and perhaps the rest will follow. Anyone feel differently? You know what to do. (That sounds rude, doesn’t it? I meant leave a comment!)
This ones for Susie, who often mentions Wool church and whether by now it’s made of felt from being left outdoors. I passed the Wool sewage works too but couldn’t stop – they have a special diet around here I suppose.
There are two official entries in the “Signs that are Funny” section today. Firstly this little gem from somewhere in the woods around Purbeck:
And another that reflects the pressure on farms everywhere to diversify, and to exploit the potential of tourism revenue:
As ever, all alternative captions a very welcome, with individual Minstrel (singular) prizes for funniness.
There’s a lovely stretch of cycle path called the Holes Bay Cycleway that goes right into the heart of Poole, and kept reminding me of the (slightly longer) 700km-plus Waterfront Trail in Canada which runs around Lake Ontario. They both have well marked tracks, bridges through reedbeds, and big wide open views across the water, rich in bird life. I’ll be using it for a long stretch of my journey this summer, from Toronto east to Kingston near the St Lawrence River.
Then it was back along the Bournemouth seafront and up into the New Forest, where I had decided to risk returning to the same campsite. It’s a beautiful spot and I thought Sunday night was less likely to be noisy. I’m so glad I did. The wind dropped and I pitched my tent in the evening sun. It was the warmest part of the day and when I discovered that Macron had won the French Presidency and that Arsenal had beaten Man U (apologies to neutrals, football haters, and ManU fans), I thought things couldn’t get any better. Then Susie turned up! She had taken a detour through Lyndhurst to pay me a visit and we chatted and had supper together as dusk fell. Sadly she then had to head home as not all of us can spend 4 days mucking about.
Very early night tonight as I’ve the long ride home tomorrow. I’ve pony-proofed my tent, but they’re persistent creatures. Luckily I don’t carry your Minstrel prizes with me. They’re kept in a vast chocolate warehouse in our garden.
Today’s “Tune stuck in head whilst cycling” : Henry the Eighth, or Enery the Heighth. (“11th verse, same as the first”)