The light filtered through my closed eye lids, a new day had dawned.
For a while my eyes remained closed, while other senses woke to all the other noises around me. The dawn chorus of birds feeding and chattering in their own little chirpy manner. The breeze that gently rocked together the bare branches of the trees and bushes around me.Whilst down on the distant shore, the tide rolled and crashed the sea onto the pebbled shore.
Even with my eye's tightly shut, i knew where i was.
With the firm wooden bench beneath me, a stone wall against my right side. The view to my right was unknown, for i had not seen the garden in it's day lit glory.
All that i knew was the slope dropping away before me and the memorial cross situated somewhere near the centre of the garden. I had passed it last night, vaguely recalling going down some steps to my shelter.
A sudden urgency to open my eye lids forced their muscles to react.
The filtered light was now direct, therefore making me blink as my pupils dilated and the eyes began to focus.
I was now looking straight up at the roof of the shelter, the air was still cool. From the warmth of my sleeping bag, i turned to my side to look out over the sea towards the light.
The sun had just popped out from the liquid horizon and had began it's arcing journey, up and over the far headland. A land I'd once trodden and one that i now felt so far away from.
I fired off a dozen or so sunrise photo's from my bed, not wanting to move into the fresh morning air. I knew it was still fairly early.
When i reviewed the photo's that I'd just taken i made a note of the time. 6:55am, the date was 11/04/2010.
That's over a week now I've been away. Yet on the distant horizon, i could just make out Exmoor. A place i had got to on just the second day.
So many days of walking and such little progress i thought. Then i reminded myself of the day lost resting yesterday.
Also the walk from Braunton to Appledore was a whole days walk, yet only a mile or less apart as the crow flies. Or in a straight line if you're never seen and crow fly in such a direct way, as to understand the meaning of the phrase.
As i reminisced over the past days progress, i remembered the kindness i had already found.
Closing my eyes i dozed off again with content, happy thoughts.
Footsteps and a dog panting woke me once more, a child's laughter somewhere in the garden, talking, faint conversations. I really should get up now.
The air was warmer now with the sun higher in the sky. It must of charged my body with energy, i sat up quickly. I was keen to dress, pack and get going.
An adventure awaited me. The early morning glow had gone, revealing a glorious sun shinny day, with only just a few clouds drifting in the breeze. It would be a good day! I said to myself.
Packed and dressed, i left Clovelly with a smile on my face and a spring in my footstep/limp.
My healing foot was tender, but nothing as bad as it had been a day or so ago.
Rejoining the path i had walked along in the dark, a couple nights ago. And skirting the grassy park land of Clovelly Court. I noticed wooden fences built up around the base of trees, both young and old.
The fences were there to protect the trees from grazing deer.
I'd not seen deer since being on the quantocks. On the day i left those hills, for the first time ever it felt. I did not see even one.
To the South of the cliff side walk, was a very slightly rolling landscape. The 19th century parkland had many grand Oak trees naked in their leafless state.
A large but lone Scots pine, stood tall and proud in the centre of the parkland. By the side of it lay another, this one dead. It's bark less white trunk shining bright in the sun.
All seemed quiet right now, other than bird song and noises from the wind. With the only movement being that of the trees and from the drifting clouds. It was so calming.
A flash of movement suddenly caught my eye. The first thing i noticed was the distinctive white rump.
A Roe deer had jumped the fence in front of me and immediately took fright to bounce off past me.
I was looking elsewhere as it flashed across my line of sight. Stopping just briefly to check me out from a safe distance. And in doing so revealed to me it's dark moustached muzzle and almost white chin. Finally my deer were ready to see me.
I felt this significant to how i was feeling.
When i left the Quantocks and saw no deer, i felt they too, could feel my sadness.
It was like they didn't want to see me so unhappy, therefore hid from me.
Or was it they were sad to know i was leaving them. Did they blame themselves? Perhaps they thought i didn't love them no more.
It may seem odd for you to think of wild animals as loved ones. In the way you love them as if they were family or friends.
But for me they were my friends.
I would track them, find them and watch them undisturbed. Even talk to them. They wouldn't judge me, talk back, advise or criticise me. Unlike the way i felt people did.
This fleeting encounter with the Roe deer, although very brief, made me think back to the times spent on the hills with my friends, 'The Quantock
I tried to untangle the thoughts of why they didn't let me see them.
During that happy moment up there on the cliffs of North Devon, i realised it wasn't because they didn't want to say goodbye to me. It was that they didn't want me to depend on them solely for support.
I needed more than they could provide me.
As i walked on with the crazy thoughts of animal friendships, i came across a shelter.
A central wooden pillar rose out from the middle of a four sided bench.
From the pillar, four carved wooden wings reached out to the corners of the roof. They were supporting the fascia's that were carved with that of an angels head and wings. They held the frame of the roof.
The underside of the roof was cloaked in closed boarding forming a sort of arched ceiling. This had a lattice of timbers, which resembled ribs spreading out from a spine.
These were shaped and sanded smooth.
The ceiling was clearly a modern improvement.
Above it, the shingled roof curved up on all four sides and was sealed with a lead covering. Standing on the centre point was a large sandstone ball almost half a metre across.
The effort in the build and design was lovely. Built by Sir James. Hamlyn Williams of Clovelly Court in 1826. All the carvings were done by the former butler of the same place.
I spent a while here looking at the design and the more recent etchings by visitors. Their names and remarks scratched into the soft closed board ceiling.
Emily, Nick and Rosie. 14-9-04.
CA 4 Amy in a heart and arrow.
Nath and Ruth Forever.
I had a path to follow and people perhaps to meet to help. Not knowing where they were, just knowing they were somewhere west. All i had to do was find them.
Back through the woods i walked through the night before. Past where i saw the rabbits,then out into the clearing of mouth mill.
Back down onto the beach, i was once again by the big rock formation of Blackchurch rock.
With the sun, now on the opposite side of the rock and the sky mixture of blue and wispy white cloud. It was the perfect light for some camera work.
Whilst i was down there the loving couple came down to the beach, hand in hand.
Unlike last night, when i looked at them in envy. I now felt contentment with my being alone. I had time to enjoy the scenery, never did it dwell on my mind to want someone to share it all with someone else.
The couple didn't hang about on the beach for long, they themselves took a photo of themselves near the rock, then ascended up a path back onto the cliff top.
I continued looking at ways to capture the raw beauty of the rocks here. Mostly though i focused of the blackchurch Rock and the clouds above.
By now on my journey, i was becoming ever more conscious of the time. Often checking the time on the camera.
It was 12:30 when i left mouth mill beach.
Although i wasn't really rushing to have to be anywhere at a certain time. I was however keen to make progress, along this very long pathway.
I climbed up through a wood and back up on to the cliff top.
Once up there i looked back down to the beach at the rocks I'd been taking pictures of.
The trail i walked down to the beach, was a small pencil line running through the wooded hill side.
Up high in those woods, i could see the wilderness summerhouse.
I did not see it before whilst up there. But through research i found out that it was created in the early 1900's, by Diana Hamlyn, who was the Daughter of the Angel winged shelter's builder. Sir James Hamlyn.
From it's vantage point Diana, and now more recent visitors,who are mostly wedding guests. There they are rewarded views across to the west.Which i can see would be a wonderful place to witness and share a summer sunset from.
Leaving the views to the east behind, i travel along to my unknown destination.
All the walking now is on the cliff top and upon grass. Hill ponies graze up here, they share only a glance at me as pass them by.
The couple i'd seen on the beach and the evening before must of only been walking at a very relaxed pace, as i caught them up at a stile.
We walked together chatting. They had recognised me from the night before and were intrigued to hear what i was trying to do.
Oskar and Indi were on a few days break away from their lives as Dentists. They were up from a South Devon town. He was Polish, she was french.
I didn't want to join them, they were obviously enjoying time together. To impose wouldn't be a fair thing to do.
They stopped to take a photograph, so i chose that moment to walk on alone.
I told them it as lovely to meet them, they echoed my sentiment and wished me good luck.
A radar station was ahead of me.
It's sensing tower stood out like a giant button mushroom from the ground.
To my right, shipload bay lies at the foot of the cliff. It seems inaccessible from up here as does many of the coves along this coast.
As i walked on, i wondered whether German U-boat men came ashore here, in search of water.
The radar station was only placed here during the 1980's, as an early warning listening device. It would not of heard the silent submersible traffic from 40 years previous.
A fence guided me around the giant nosey fungus then towards the headland of Hartland point.
I'm now at the end of the Bristol channel. The Atlantic ocean will be by my side for the next few weeks at least.
When i reached the Hartland point car park, a road led down to the light house hidden from view around the headland.
A warning sign and high fence suggested i should not walk down to the light house.
I was wanting to see it, wanting to stand on the edge of the rocky headland and see the line where the Bristol channel meets the Atlantic.
My only option was to leave the main path and clamber up to where i guessed a pathway out across the jutting out cliff edge would be.
A poor quality path stopped at the foot of a scree slope. A path i guessed would be above me, just 8 feet above.
I needed both hands, so swung the camera strap around my shoulder and threw my umbrella up onto what i believed to be a level area above.
The wind was strong and blowing from the south east. As i threw the umbrella the wind caught it and blew it from sight.
I assessed the situation and knew if my footing was lost on the loose scree, I'd slip back to the narrow and vague path i was standing on. Beyond that was a sheer fall of maybe 50feet(I've used metric terms up till now, change is good).
Pulling up on the straps of my awkward pack to get it comfortable and maximise movement from my shoulders, i placed a foot on the slope and felt the rocky side for hand holds.
Being aware that the loose material i had my boot on was made of the same stuff that i was depending on for the grip of my hands.
I should neither rush or hesitate.
The less time i put pressure on either hands or feet, the less time they had to give way and cause me to slide.
Once i was confident in both area's of grip, I made my move. In one fluid motion i pushed down on my foot, whilst pulling down on the vague grip i had on the crumbing rock above me.
Once my weight was on both placed feet, i then needed to quickly transfer my hands up on to the top level. Then in a motion like that of a press up, but from a standing position, i pushed myself up and rested my knees aside my hands.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
When i think back to it. Was it really that dangerous?
Probably not. I think my risk assessment skills were altered. Changing priorities around.
Almost two weeks ago, i had had nearly taken my own life. Yet here i was now, striving to not harm myself physically. Whilst at the same time putting myself through differing levels of fatigue, based on not eating enough.
Of course in time, this will mean I'm exposing myself to danger due to lack of concentration. I was not thinking ahead to much. All i needed to do was to reach the next day and more importantly want to.
From the top i stood and realised i was in fact on a narrow ridge.
I looked to where my umbrella had landed and felt fortunate to not of lost it to the ragged shore below. Directly in front of me was an almost vertical drop right down the sea level. More than 300ft down.
The brolly was now a part of my kit. I now felt it was a vital piece, one that i needed.
It was certainly getting used. From the very first day i learnt that wind would be one of my worse enemies during the night.
The ridge i stood on had a crumbling path that led out across the headland and to a much wider area of grass. The path was maybe 20ft long and then it would be to safety.
I picked up the brolly and walked the eroding path like i was on a tight rope.
The wind was cutting across the back of me trying to blow me off course. Once again i feared the drop to my left.
Once on the other side, i stabbed the brolly into the soft grass to collect it later, in case i needed both my hands for climbing again.
That wasn't the case, only having to clamber down a steep grassy slope to the bottom.
A group of four of five people were down there. A family from Germany i discovered when they requested take a photograph of them with their camera.
They left, leaving me alone on to survey the world about me.
I took off my light weight coat as i was sheltered from the wind down there.
Below on a rocky ledge was the brilliant white lighthouse, i small one compared to others I've seen.
Given the history of the shipwrecking between here and Bude. I assumed a larger lighthouse would be in place.
Off the point lies the island of Lundy. I wished i had been able to visited it. It's home to sikka deer, seals and Puffin. Here at Hartland point, a helicopter flight can be bought to fly out to Lundy. That's only possible during the summer, boats can also be chartered to sail there from Ilfracombe. One day perhaps but not during this trip.
I spent a while sat in the sun on the grass, snapping picture after picture of things around me. The views, plants with the deep pink flower buds waiting for time to show their unfolded beauty. I even spotted a tiny spider resting on a rock. Was it also just out enjoying the weather? Insects seem oblivious to the strains of life. They don't appear to complicate it like we do.
I walked to the furthest point i could. Stopping on the very edge of a steep and long drop, to the Atlantic Ocean. It's blue and calm filled my mind with thoughts of how small i am.
The sea had been a part of the journey everyday. Even as a child, i'd spend days sat in a small boat with my father. We would pull nets, use fishing rods to try a catch fish or just cruise along in the water, like a passenger of the sea.
Back then i'd always look at the sea as a vastness. Thinking only really of the shores of wales.
I recall a time when my father would tell me if i looked carefully, i'd see Whales. Well that's what i thought he meant. It wasn't till i was in my teens that i worked out what he really meant. The same goes for the white horses he mentioned.
I smile as i think back to those innocent thoughts. Remembering all the times, that i stared out to sea, in search of galloping mares splashing through the waves.
He of course, did in fact mean the breaking waves themselves. They could i guess, appear to be white horses running through the murky blue.
Since those day's of wonder and confusion, i've grown older and i'd like to think wiser.
With that wisdom, i now know how large the oceans are and how much of the lush green planet, is in fact, just blue.
From here to the west is nothing but water for over three thousand miles. Looking over in that direction i try to picture the distant lands of Canada. Strain as i might, the curve of Earth and of course bad eyesight, means all i see is in fact, just the ocean.
To the left of west, i could look down along the land i would next walk by.
My eye's were drawn to the craggy shoreline awaiting me. Between me and the not yet visible Bude, sixteen miles to the south west is 'wreckers coast'. Named after it's history for wrecking ships during the 18th and 19th century's.
Not only did the weather and rugged coast line play a part in the tragic lost of sea men along this stretch of rocky coast. Legends suggest that during stormy nights, local farmers, struggling in the poverish times, became 'Wreckers'. They'd carry false lights to the edge of the cliff to lure or confuse the storm ravage sailors to their deaths. The 'wreckers' could then salvage any goods and sell them on.
Over 200 vessels were lost either to the gales or wreckers during this period.
It was also here that many German U-boats were destroyed during WW1. Over 200 more were sent to a watery grave between 1914 and 1918. Sunk by the wolf pack a well proven tactic to take out U-boats en mass.
If man didn't take a vessel to it's doom, then nature certainly could. Just looking at the outstretched arms of rock, reaching out into the sea, i could see it's savage hand lurking in the shallows, ready to pluck anything drifting near to it's fatal end.
Once again nature proving it's might. Little did i know, this was just a taster of what the south west coast line is like. Raw and unforgiving, yet stunning.
Just down on a barely accessible rocky beach was signs of a more recent wreck. The complete stern section of the cargo ship Johanna. It ran aground here on the very last day of December 1982. It's remains now lying rusting, battered and ruined. Various other pieces of it strewn around it and further up the coastline. I wondered why no effort is made to collect and clear all this man made debris or litter as i see that it is.
Time it was i felt to move on, to get back on the path. I was hungry, i had to find food.
Slinging my backpack over my shoulders, i shuffled the load into position and set off back up the grassy slope, collected my brolly, crossed the balance beam of ground and carefully descended the loose scree slope down to safety. It was here i realised i'd left my coat behind.
The rucksack came off, that and the brolly was left, along with my camera, on a little safe grassy ledge by the side of the cliff. Once more i scaled the scree, walked the balance beam of loose rock and ascended down to my coat then ran back again.
A care free smile was on my face. This was after all really not a big deal in the grand scheme of what i was doing. In fact it was an adventure within an adventure.
Packing my coat, hauling on the pack and gathering up the rest of my things, of which you now know: my britvic brolly and camera. I set of along that path.
On the edge of the cliff i saw a stone with a plaque bonded to it. It read:
"In proud and grateful memory of those who gave their lives in the hospital ship, GLENART CASTLE. Please remember: Master Lt.CMDR Burt, Matron Katy Beaufoy, the shops officers, crew ad medical staff who died when their ship was torpedoed by UC56 in the early hours of 26th FEB 1918.
The ship lies 20 miles WNW from this stone.
For all those in peril on the sea.
Only 38 of the 206 crew and medical staff survived the german U-boat attack. The ship was said to be clearly lit up and advertised as a hospital ship therefore being safe from attack.
However the torpedo was fired. In an attempt to cover up the act, the U-boat broke cover near the sinking ship and many people found alive and in the water were shot.
I took a moment by this memorial looking west north west in the direction of the wreck and i gave that moment, to the memory of those lost lives. Staring out to sea, imagining in the distance the old steam ship, sinking taking many lives with it. Such cruel times i thought to myself.
Leaving those thoughts behind me, i turned to see in the distance a familiar sight, two people hand in hand. Oskar and Indi again.
I'd not want to be rude and pass them again, nether could i just dawdle along at a slow pace so as not to catch them up.
Fortunately for me, this breath taking area was rewarding me with so much camera time. The sky was perfect as was the sheer texture and raw beauty of the rocks. Blue's grey, greens, flashes of yellow from the gorse flowers and if i looked closely at the ground, the red buds of the early springtime flowers.
I was walking in one giant photograph. A panoramic spectacle of pure natural brilliance. An Eden, a paradise.
Most of the path was well defined, either a dusty boot worn trail, snaking it's way through the cliff top moor. Or a narrow grassy trail often winding it's way down into the valleys, passing little waterfalls along the way.
From the high points along the route i could see the distant path climbing out of the next valley, then disappearing over the ridge of the next. It would then appear in the far distance as a tiny ribbon like line, making it's way up through the faint yellowness of gorse.
At a gap in the cliff top hedgerow, a couple stood hand in hand looking out to sea. I had caught up with Oskar and Indi. Even though i was very busy taking photographs, i was still clearly a quicker walker than them. They turned as i approached, so we spoke some more. Indi immediately came to me and was rummaging in her bag. She was telling me that her and Oskar had been regretting not being able to help me in anyway. Taking out a few things and insisting i had them.
Apologising for not having anything more, she handed me a small pot of Marmalade, a single Weetabix and an orange flavoured chocolate bar.
This may of not been much to them, but it was a relative feast to me i thought as i loaded them into my pockets.
It would've been rude to of eaten them there and them like i was so very hungry. The fact that i was very hungry was now reminded to me by the sheer mention of and appearance of the food.
We walked together now for a while, all of us stopping quite often to take photographs of the scenery that surrounded us. This was usually prompted by me.
Above the village of Stoke stands a large grey stone tower, with it's giant archway gaping like a massive yawning mouth. The rear wall appeared to have been removed, letting me see right through it from my cliff top location. Through this arch i could see the church of St Decans 128 metre tall tower. Despite being just over a mile from here, it had once been used as a day marker for ships.
The yawning archway framed it wonderfully, well at least in my mind it did. So out came the camera. Followed by that of my walking companions, them talking it in turns to be photographed in the archway. They offered to take one of me, but i declined as often i would along my journey.
It was by the tower that i let the happy couple walk on ahead. I was attracted back to the staggering beauty of the coastline here. Rows of rocky arms reaching out into the sea from the cliff face, Jagged layers of compressed history slowly eroding away into the sea.
A murmur down below as my stomach rumbled with dreams of food not far from me i hoped.
I could see a small settlement not far ahead. My walking friends were gone from sight. The path met a road at Rocket cottage, where an acorn was engraved into a wooden post, below that an arrow pointing to the right was cut into the wood and painted green. Opposite was a large sign advertising Hartland Abbey.
As intrigued as i was to see it and it's grand gardens, well that's how the sign described it, i was needing food and could now not fight the hunger. Next to the sign for the Abbey was another sign pointing right, informing me of a hotel, restaurant and museum, amongst other things of interest to tourists.
Since i left Clovelly earlier today, all i'd managed to eat was a chocolate bar and a dry piece of breakfast cereal. I had picked and eaten several wild flowers if i saw them. Mostly Primroses, washed with my drinking water, fresh from one of the waterfalls that i came across during the day. They served to give the stomach something to do and to stop the aches of emptiness i had been feeling.
The path missed out the winding hair pinned road that led to the two car parks here. One at the top of the cliff, the other down by the hotel and other premises.
Making a bee line for the bar, once again saw Indi and Oskar, they had just come out carrying some drinks. I don't recall which one offered me a drink, though i graciously accepted and joined them, sheltering from the brisk wind behind a wall.
The sun was warm on our faces whilst we chatted some more, mostly about me. Unfortunately they couldn't hang around to talk for long. They needed to get back to Hartland village, so needed to walk to Stoke and catch a bus from there.
Before farewells. Oskar went to his wallet and pulled out a business card. He asked me to contact him when i get to Torquay. As they would like to take me out for something to eat and to hear more about my travels. I agreed then shared a hug from Indi and hand shake from her man. That cut out the coldness from the cool spring easterly wind and then with a "Good Luck!" they were gone.
I sat in the glow of the afternoon sun and finished my drink and that of the remaining few swigs of pear cider that was left for me by Indi. How great it felt to relax with a fine sweet drink. It had been ages since i'd drank anything so cool and full of natural flavours. A taste of springtime..Though technically from Autumn fruits!
My stomach was brought into action and sent chemical signals to my brain. The internal wiring running throughout my body, reminded me that i needed food. And work for it i must.
The hotel reception was nearby and having looked at the general condition of the buildings i saw a variety of ways to offer to help. Painting, cleaning out guttering, sweeping litter, etc. With my mind charged with these offerings, i entered the reception and rung the bell.
I looked about the foyer area whilst waiting, flicking my fingers through a selection of tourist leaflets on display. Wildlife parks, gardens and other places to visit and things to do in North Devon. Amongst them was a basic map of the coast, so i took a copy and placed it in my pocket. They are free!
I heard the door open so prepared myself and my speech. My confidence was high as i had a great day so far. Lovely kind company, beautiful views all day and such superb weather.
A man entered the room and i asked him if it was at all possible to speak with the owner or manager. He told me he was the manager so i introduced myself and offered the him my hand, eye contact was made. Then calmly i explained what i was doing and that i wished to be able to earn a meal and if possible somewhere to rest for the evening. He listened intently as i explained my situation and that i was willing to do several hours work, cleaning, painting, well anything really.
With a smile he told me that he couldn't offer me any jobs to do, but if i was to be hanging about, he would happily arrange a meal for me later when the kitchen opens. He then invited me to hang around and use the bar area to rest up and charge my camera battery if i needed to. "It should be a great atmosphere down here tonight." He told me, then continuing on. " The locals from up the village usually come in on a Sunday night."
I expressed my thanks and told him that i'd find a way to repay his kind offer. There was a few bits of litter lying about, not much, just little salt and pepper sachets, stray food wrappers. That sort of thing. Insisting that i didn't need to, he soon realised that i would anyway so thanked me and said he'd see me later.
Relieved to know i was going to get fed. I took off my bag and rested it with my brolly against the side of the hotel and set about having a little tidy up. There really wasn't much to do, the garden area was tidy. It was just under the outdoor tables and chairs where a little litter lay. Blown from the tables, not discarded in a thoughtless manner by the customers.
I collected a few empty glasses, gathered crisp and peanut wrappers. Some of which had been folded up and then wedged into the narrow gaps in the table and took them all to the bar. The barman thanked me as i explained that not only was it a pet hate of mine to leave glasses and litter about for someone else to clear, i told him of the managers kind offer and that i needed to in some way help out in exchange.
The barman had noticed my bag and told me to bring it in and to put it somewhere safe. He pointed to one of the long church pew like chairs either side of a table.
Thanking him, i did as he suggested. Near the table was a socket to charge my AA's.
It really was a fantastic day, even my aching body had not complained at all. The rest i had at Clovelly must of done me alot of good. Whilst indoors i wandered about the bar area looking at the various pictures and fish hung about in the walls. Most of the pictures were of ship wrecks, with an associated write up about them There was also a chart mapping all the wrecks along the 'wreckers coast'.
The fish i mentioned, were in fact carved out of wood at least i think they were. Surprisingly detailed they were too. All the gill flaps, eyes, fins and distinctive colourings were all in place. They were also labelled for the non knowing visitors. Bass, Cod, Thornback ray, Brill, Sardines and Conger to name a few. There was even a label next to a clock. Amusingly titled, 'Clock'.
At the far end of the room taking pride of place over an opening to the next room, was a fish model over a metre long. A Porbeagle Shark.
If i've not already mentioned, my self named nickname is 'Sharki'. Chosen because of my fascination of Sharks. Since i was a child and caught my first little dogfish, i was drawn to these gilled little monsters of the deep. Then after watching the film Jaws, from the safety that was behind a cushion(just how that was going to save me.?.) my fascination grew so i began collection books and magazine articles about them.
Even to this day i watch and learn more about them, wishing someday to swim with them. Not just the placid ones, the ones portrayed as monsters Carcharodon carcharias, the Great White.
The porbeagle hung on the wall is a close relative to the Great White shark, it belongs to the same family. However by comparison this is but a tiddler to use a fisherman's term.
From where i stood looking at a model shark, the sun bursts through the window lighting the room. I'm drawn by it and walk outside once more with the camera. I wander about taking photo's of sea and the land around it. Most of the people that had been mulling about had left and all seemed to be getting quite. The last few empties i returned to the bar and sat down to write and review all the photo's i'd taken through the day. There was lots of them and i became immersed in checking them all and deleting all the bad ones. Time ticked slowly away.
Customers began arriving including three men. I remembered seeing them in Clovelly, both in the village and in the Red lion. I chatted to them for a while, mostly about our shared experience of the coast path. They'd come over from Belgium just for a long weekends walking. They bought me a pint as their meal arrived, so i thanked them and left them to eat in peace.
I didn't make it back to my seat. People had been filing in and somehow i ended up talking to many of them. From local farmers, coast guards to tourists. A good mix and i seemed to not to have to talk about myself to much. I just blended in and joined in with the banter as i drank.
I'd forgotten about food, distracted by conversation and laughter. That was right until the managers wife came over and asked if i'd eaten yet.
"No." I told her, adding. "I didn't want to appear rude and to put in an order given my situation." " Don't be so silly. Would Pasty and chips be ok?" she replied.
This was at about 7:30pm, i knew it was time for the sun to set. I grabbed the camera and rushed out, just to late, missing it's descent below the horizon. I managed a few photo's of the pinking skyline, returning to my table just as a plate of food was served to me.
I ate greedily unlike my last proper meal back at the tea room on up-a-long, down-a-long.
Pasty and chips was a simple dish, but it was food and certainly not unpleasant food. I cleared the plate by mopping up a smear of tomato sauce with a last chip and placed the knife and fork together on top, then pushed at all to one side, fed and satisfied.
My journal was on the table with the pen. Opening the book, i placed the black nib of the pen on the line at the end of my last entry. Staring at the page i wished the words to form. And then i began to write. "I slept well, being rewarded with a stunning sunrise sky scape....." The words flowed for a while, the noise of a busy pub around me faded as i became absorbed in writing.
Gone was the loneliness and tiredness, i felt good. I'd eaten and found somewhere to chill for the evening. Shelter for the night didn't even cross my mind. I'd soon learn to be a little more proactive with my search for places to bed down.
More glasses appeared abandoned on empty tables, annoying me a little as the users needed to go near the bar to either leave the premises or to order the next drinks. It's really not to difficult, to take a couple of empty glasses with you. I shouldn't complain though. Collecting these glasses meant i could help, even if it's just in a small way.
Sat on her a own, a lady drank from a half pint glass. I'd seen her also at the Hotel in Clovelly. She was on her own there too and had with her a small rucksack. She was reading a book of sorts.
A rather plain looking lady, dressed in ordinary outdoor clothes. Mousy unkept hair and characterless glasses gave me the impression that she was perhaps a school teacher or librarian. If such a stereotypical appearance of either profession was appropriate.
The lady looked up and recognised me from Clovelly. She too was spending a few days walking the coast path, though by her own admittance hadn't been covering nearly as many daily miles i had been. She came across alot differently as her appearance suggested she would. I thought she'd be shy, quiet and dare i say it boring. Where in fact she was confident and amusing.
We talked about the coast path together whilst she finished her drink and packed her book into her bag. She was staying in the hotel and was about to leave to her room. I left her to it and wished her a pleasant nights sleep. She had finished her trip and was heading back to her home in the morning.
As she left, i looked up at the wall next to the shark. There was a collection of photo's of racing cars and bikes. Of course! This was the location of one of the southwest hill climbs. There amongst the photo's were two images of people i knew. Richard and Leslie. Ex work colleagues of mine from a few years back. I remembered them telling me many a tale of their racing experiences here at Hartland, not to mention the nights of drinking here in the bar. The race was only half a mile long, from the lower car park to the upper car park. And having now seen the road, it's funny to imagine just how short a distance it was, to have so many thrills and spills whilst trying to get a motorbike up the hill, in the fastest time.
Returning the empty drinks glasses to the bar, i thanked the manager and his wife for their kindness and joined them for a moments conversation. Talking firstly about the hillclimbs and then as usual about my journey, where i was heading, why and for how long. All things i really wasn't sure of the real answers to.
I knew i was heading around the coast, but for how far i really wasn't sure..I mean what happens after Poole? And then the question of why. Was i running away from life, me, the past, the future? I told them about my depression but was that the real answer to why i was on this journey? I think so, but maybe not.. Then there's how long will it take.
Not knowing where and why, the journey may take longer than forever, or it may end tomorrow if i weaken or hurt myself.
Having these questions asked to me was a good thing. It gave me a chance to question myself, my own thoughts and feelings. And in doing so, i got to evaluate my state of mind. I was noticing the more people i spoke too about it and the further away i was, from the place i once called home. I'd open up more and give more detail. Before i was less revealing, just saying i was depressed and on a journey of self discovery. Often people would fill in the blanks for me and come up with their own theory's on why i was doing, what i was.
As the time passed, so did all the customers. It had been quite a day, my best yet. Everything just flowed into a pleasurable days adventure. It was getting late and i began to wonder where i was going to stay for the night. No options were offered to me during the evening in the hotel, so it was down to me to improvise and find somewhere. I collected all my things and thanked for a final time, all the staff that made me welcome. One last look around at the pictures, paintings and the shark, then i left into a cool dark night.
Opposite the hotel was a terrace of buildings. A cottage, a shop and the museum. Nothing really stood out as good shelter and i knew there wasn't anything else about for a mile or so.
At the end of the terrace by the car park was a shed, it's door slightly ajar. Hope entered my mind for a comfortable nights sleep after a very enjoyable and fortunate day. I checked behind me and saw no one around, so flicked on my torch and shone it through the crack in the door. Crates of empty bottles and beer barrels stood in one corner, cardboard boxes from food packaging scattered across the floor to the side. The stink of stale beer, wine and juices, filled the air from within the shed. The expression my face naturally took on, wasn't one i wished to wear all night. So i walked away fearing the worse. That tonight after my finest day, i would be in the wind during a cold starry night.
I decided to have one last look down the far end of the terrace and perhaps be able to head down to the Quay. Maybe there's building down there.
On the left of me as i passed the first section of building, a set of stairs went up to a little square patch of concrete. A rear entrance to the museum. I walked up there and noticed the doorway had not been used in a long time. This little area appeared to be a sheltered smoking room. Luckily it didn't smell that way.
The floor was easily 6 foot long and at least 5 foot wide.
Perfect, my choice was made, this would be my shelter for the night.
Three chairs were in this little shelter so i positioned them on the top step so they formed a bit of a wind block. I then got my brolly and opened it fully. It was the same diameter as the width of the stairway, even better i thought. And added that to the chairs.
All my bedding was laid out in an order i had perfected, i stripped off and slid into the cold sleeping bag. Within seconds the heat from my body radiated off the lining making the sleeping bag warm against my bare skin.
I read the book for a while as it was proving to be a great way of sending me to sleep. Images of nanobots and electronic gizmo's drifted through my mind, my brain trying to recreate the novel in my head. Yet again my eyelids grew heavy, they closed and my headed nodded me awake again. After several attempts to stay awake and find once more where i read up to, i gave in, turned off and removed my head torch to settle down for the night.
The last thing i remember hearing,was the voices of staff leaving and the starting of cars, then all was dark and very shortly my mind was thoughtless and i was asleep.