OK, lots have happened. The excitement started on the 27th of October - 3 days before yours truly turned 27 years old (we’ll get to that later!).
In fact it’s quite an adventure and so should be told like one:
We were going to a party in London, New Cross - a friend of mine (her name is Ilona) is a arts student at Goldsmiths and it was her 21st birthday party. It was all planned, we would get there around 21.00, which was late but it was impossible to bend time any further. I finished uni at 16.15, Alan worked ‘til 17.10 and Eccles finished at 17.00 in Bristol. The plan was to rendez-vous @ 18.20 Bath Spa Station. Of course, sod being sod and the law being what it is, the buses were experiencing serious problems getting anywhere on time. Apparently, a gas pipe was leaking somewhere and roads were duly closed. It took me 2hrs to get home (it usually takes 20mins), I was not even dressed and the party was fancy dress (theme: gory vaudeville), I was not even sure if my skeleton tights which I had ordered from Ebay would arrive on time. It was all very stressful!
I got home, the tights had come by post (yes!) put them on, packed too much shit (had to bring sleeping bags, presents, change of clothes, beer, vodka, mixers...) got changed and got out of the door all in the space of 10mins! I had to walk to the station, because of the bus problem, but literally made it with TWO seconds to spare. Alan had cleverly gotten ready from work so he was on time and Eccles was waiving at us from the train. Stage one completed successfully....
The train journey itself was rather uneventful, just the usual spillages of alcohol whilst trying to mix drinks on a train, refusal to use public lavatories resulting in pee crisis (fortunately catastrophe was avoided), excruciating ticket prices, battling boredom, putting on make-up whilst on a moving train and going somewhere you’ve never been before.
Stage two was successfully completed when we arrived at Ilona’s house.
Final touches were put on my skeleton dolly costume and I entered the public domain of a beginning party. Much alcohol was consumed and much annoyance was experienced due to my inability to engage with people who refuse to have any opinions on anything (wtf?!). I’m recently encountering this type of person more frequently than I care and I don’t understand where it’s coming from. I especially see it in people in their early 20’s - I don’t know what they talk about amongst themselves. I ended up getting too drunk (mostly to numb the iritation and anger I was experiencing) and went to bed without making a complete arse of myself (and without throwing up)
Ilona in the background, Me, Anna and EcclesStage three successfully completed.
Eccles suggest we go camping with Chris (another ex-fellow flat mate from Colchester, now in Torquey) - today! Since I love camping and being impulsive, I’m very enthusiastic and optimistic about this turn of events. Besides I don’t enjoy London very much and prefer the great (healthy) outdoors. But before all that, we must restore our energies by eating an absolutely lovely breakfast (next to a not so lovely road). Breakfast and goodbye’s accomplished we jump on the train to journey back to Bath and Bristol.
2 hours later the next stage commences. Well to be honest it never really stopped, because throughout the journey back I was umming and arring as to whether to go camping or not. It was pretty far away (actually I wasn’t even sure exactly where it was we were going), I was pretty damn hungover, fed up with trains, tired, grumpy, and very skint. Every ten minutes I would announce to Alan that I was either going or not going. Eventually, I packed a bag, ate some soup and went to Bristol where I met Eccles. We got on another train, to Exeter St. Davids and Chris met us when he got on the train at the same station, and then subsequently made us travel illegally (but honestly, we owned up to the train conductor by telling him the truth and he was very understanding about it) to Newton Abbot, where we got off. We got our final supplies (such as batteries for the single flash light we managed to bring with us) and jumped into a taxi. It was 22.30 when we arrived. The taxi driver seemed to have a bit of a screw loose himself venturing into a long tale of aliens, sectioned friends, neuro-scientific trivia (which was wrong btw) and some more aliens. By the time we arrived to our destination Eccles and I had spent more than 8 hours traveling, not counting the previous day’s journey. We opened the taxi door to a heavy mist and complete darkness enveloped us a the taxi drove away and left us alone at the edge of Dartmoor.
Fortunately we were in safe hands with Chris as our guide. Having grown up in area he had many a years of exploring the moor. But it was a bit scary anyway, it being the equinox and as all good pagans know the time of year when the border between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. I felt a bit .. hmm ‘flaunting’ in my skeleton sweatshirt, as if I was mocking the dead there on the moor (as if on cue we started talking about the many ghost stories centered around the moor, we never mentioned it again though, probably because we’re all yellow chickens). Let it be said, disappointingly, that nothing out of the ordinary happened that night, although I was pleased that I’d never finished watching “The Blair Witch Project”. I have not seen mist so thick for a long time, only in the mountains, Chris directed us to a location and we managed to circumvent most of the cow pat when laying down the tent. The tent was one Eccles had found in his house, it was a large tent and we’d never put it up before. But even though we were tired, it was late, dark and misty we managed without no problems and quickly made our little nest. The rum, beer and wine was opened and the relaxation commenced, followed shortly by a deep sleep echoed with drumming of rain on the tent (there’s nothing quite like it).
We woke at 06.00. Bright and early with the sun rising and giving us the first view of Dartmoor. It was beautiful, and worth every painful moment, all regret dissipated and being there was all that was on my mind.
I also came across "letterboxing" which I've never heard off before, so it was pure luck to find it.
Eccles' protecting me from the fierce (wild) Dartmoor ponies. First I was curious and started approaching them, but then I got a bit anxious when all 3 of them started approaching me curiously... Very cute. And as you can tell from this photo, we had quite nice weather too.
After our lunch we went for another walk and then came back to pack things up.
As we returned to camp several hours later for our lunch, we saw that many people were now coming to take their Sunday stroll. Which seemed quite surreal to me. It was as if we were camping in a public park (which of course we were, it just didn’t look like any park I’d seen before). And we did get a few odd looks, but most were friendly.
Our tent in the middle of (what we thought) was nowhere, but which was a both a popular tourist and local attraction.
A groggy "hello" from me...
The mist comes rolling in. In the photo we have Eccles and Chris and the side of a Tor (can't remember which now...)
Fortunately a friend of Chris, Richard, was kind enough to come and give Eccles and me a ride back Newton Abbot. It was supposed to be so easy. On the train and be home in a few hours. Instead we were unaware of a train change, and continued on our merry way to Reading, where we had to change to go (back!) to Bristol. I then had to wait 40mins at Bristol to get a train (two stops!) to Bath. It was painful, and this time around there was no beautiful scenery to take away the painful journey memories. I’m sure they’ll dissipate with time... But until then I’m very hesitant about boarding a train!
I arrived home at 23.30. And that my friends is the end of the weekend tale.