Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tales from Exmoor


This is a first for a blog entry from me. I am not actually typing this at all. I am actually using Dragon dictation software which is working fantastically.

I actually bought this software about 18 months ago. But shortly afterwards my computer died and I bought a new one. I neglected to install the software on the new computer until today, so it's been sitting unused all that time. It really is an amazing piece of software. I am hardly having to correct a thing, and it's quite nice being able to sit here and just talk and not type. Anyway, I guess we had better get on with the blog, which continues with the story of my holiday.

So, our time at Butlins was coming to an end. However, I had some repairs to effect to the car before we left. On Thursday morning I got up to discover the wing mirror on the drivers side hanging off the car. Now I had had problems with this before it had been knocked off previously that it had been repaired effectively. We had managed to drive down to Minehead through torrential rain and wind without the mirror falling off yet somehow it had fallen off while the car was parked. I did briefly wonder if my nemesis had gained his revenge for his ducking from the bumper boats, but I fear it is more likely that someone had clipped me in the car park.

So with the drive down into Devon to come, I needed to get the mirror fixed pretty sharpish. Claire googled hardware shops for me and we discovered that there was indeed one in Minehead. However after an hour fruitlessly searching up and down the streets, I discovered that it had closed down. I trudged back down the high Street, wondering how I was going to get to Devon with the mirror hanging off the edge of my car attached only by a cable, when I was lucky enough to find a motor spares shop. I went in and they had duct tape and extremely strong glue, which between them did the job. Hopefully that would be the end of things falling off of my car the rest of the holiday, little did I know what was yet to come.

So Friday arrived, and the end of the first part of our holiday. With car packed up, we headed off for part two. This required a trek across Exmoor, and what a trip it proved to be. Not far from Minehead we approached an area known as “Porlock Hill”. I suppose I should have been aware that this could be somewhat cardiac inducing by the fact that out here in the middle of nowhere there was actually a diversion via a toll road advertised as “avoiding Porlock Hill” for the princely sum of £2.50! If you can imagine the difference between the M6 and the M6 toll road well this was more or less the same thing, just with about 0.01% of the amount of traffic. Anyway - £2.50? Bollocks to that, I thought. Well I did start to wonder at one point if this was a bad decision, I don’t think I have ever traversed a road where the gradient is 1:2 before. Crawling up in first gear with a 10 year old car just refuelled, with 4 people and several suitcases was quite a challenge. But we made it – just.

Up on the moor, a rather bizarre experience came upon us. Deciding to stop for a break due to kids whingeing, wanting drinks etc, and me needing a wee, we pulled off at a very high point in the middle of nowhere into a layby. Now I didn’t want to take a leak in full view of the road, so wandered off up into the moor – some way in fact, as there were no bushes, nothing, or cover, and despite the lack of traffic, anyone from two miles away could have spotted my nob out, in fact it was probably visible on Google Earth. Not that I am showing off, it’s just that in miles and miles of heather and clear blue skies, I would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

So wandering a hundred yards or so from the road, in the middle of nowhere, I spot the strangest thing. A flash of colour in the heather – what can it be? I walk closer, and find – two bunches of freshly cut flowers, well back and not visible from the road.

Now I am used to seeing roadside shrines which are always very sad, but this was not visible from the road, what was it doing there? I have to admit to being nosey and looking closer – there was a card attached, and a note saying “We miss you Den”. And also a stack of letters which obviously I left unopened. What struck me as odd was that this stuff was all bone dry, despite the fact it had been raining that morning, and not a car or person in sight. Very strange in fact. But scatted around not far away were several empty Strongbow cans. Suddenly I felt a certain affinity with Den. Who was he? How did he come to have flowers laid there for him? And what made me stop (who hates stopping on journeys) at that precise spot.

Did Den want me to find him, a kindred spirit?

Cheers Den, whoever you were, I’m raising a glass of Strongbow to you right now.


Jason xx

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