“Do a lot of walking do you?”
Believe it or not these were the words uttered to me at the Plymouth branch of Go Outdoors today as I stood at the checkout waiting to pay for my new walking boots. As smalltalk goes this has to be one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard.
I was stood, pack on back, dressed head to toe in outdoor gear and sporting my new boots which I had already told him “Don’t box them, I’ll wear them.”
My reply was delivered with a puzzled chuckle “Yes, a bit. I’m walking the country for charity”. After paying the chap he then refused to push his brain into gear and asked if I’d like the box? “Not really” says I. “Perhaps I could make a hat out of it?” and with that I flashed a smile, grabbed my card and receipt and strode out of the store.
Honestly, there wasn’t a hint of irony!
I would like to thank Louise at the same store though, she patiently helped me pick out a new pair of boots that will hopefully last me several hundred miles or more. If I’m crippled its all her fault! Only kidding, thanks.
Its been a funny couple of days, after leaving Paignton I ended up in the village of Avonwick and the Avon Inn that kindly let me camp in their paddock. The following day the Paddock was to be used for a Strongest Man competition, exactly like the ones that seem to be scheduled for broadcast every Christmas. So I camped amongst a giant Tyre and barrels of different sizes. My thanks go to Gary and his wife for letting me stay and buy a few pints of Guinness.
Before I got to Avonwick though I passed through Totnes, a lovely town and my thanks go to Sally the landlady of the Lord Nelson for her donation and enthusiasm. As for Totnes itself it had a very odd hippy element, lots of glam older ladies looking like Edina out of Ab Fab and a whole host of mystical shops. Funny thing is, asking the locals no-one has so far explained why Totnes feels so out of place for a Devon town. Answers to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
The following day was equally as eventful, for lunch I struggled up a hill at a village Ermington and fell into a pub called the Crooked Spire. I ordered a coke and was charged 3 quid! I then asked the landlord, who had a scottish accent, if they did food “No, not any more, we used to”. I was a bit pissed off for having climbed a hill for an expensive coke and no lunch, but as I took a seat the landlord spied my Pompey top and said “Pompey Fan then? So am I”
Those magic words.
There then followed a great 90 minutes of chat between Gary and myself about Pompey and my Walk, he even nipped upstairs to make me a ham sandwich and gave me a delicious home made pie to take with me. Cheers Gary! I know you’re reading. Top bloke.
But for every Ying there’s Yang. The campsite I was heading for was in a village called Brixton and when I arrived the Warden was wandering around in a bloody Saints shirt! One minute I’m happily chatting to a Pompey Fan and the next i’m faced with the enemy. Some good natured banter ensued though and he did let me pitch up for nothing, so well done Steve the scummer!
So, I’m now in Plymouth, I reached Home Park around 2pm. It was a struggle today, I had no legs in me for some reason, perhaps two nights with broken sleep under canvas. Hopefully 2 nights being hosted by Ed and his wife Barbara should get me up and going for a long walk across Dartmoor to Exeter. I’m a bit daunted by it to be honest but if I can get going early enough on Tuesday I should get well into the Moor by the evening.
I shall enjoy my visit to Home Park tomorrow, the Argyle Trust are good people and I am sure I’ll have a lot to thank them for.
See you on the other side of the Moor! I hope!