The weather turned to rain. I couldn’t see the point in sitting around. As a number of people had mentioned Forest Row and how it was a bit of a hippy town, I decided to have a look. At least I would be able to have a look around and get a nice lunch.
Just as I was preparing to tack down, Bernie appeared. We had another little chat. He said that he believed that the rangers knew that I was where I was. We surmised that they had decided not to bother me as I was in a quiet spot, out of the way and doing no harm. Of course, by this point, they would also have realised that I was a genuine traveller just passing through. I’m glad I saw Bernie and was able to bid him farewell. If you’re ever travelling through Ashdown Forest and come across Bernie, the parking attendant, please say hello from me. He’s a lovely bloke.
As we were entering Forest Row, I spotted one of the groups of children who had headed out from Twyford.* They weren’t looking overly happy hiking in the rain.
It was easy to find the little industrial estate and suggested parking spot in a corner behind some business units.
It is very pleasant there. There is a picnic table and a purpose built barbecue on a little patch of grass.
Also, the River Medway flows by.
It was still raining. Even so, I decided to have a look at the town. There isn’t much to see, but I did stop at an organic vegetarian café for some lunch. I got chatting to a couple who recommended a particular pub. I made the decision to have a look later that evening.
When it came to heading for the pub, I had a bit of a surprise. As I turned the corner, I noticed that the automatic gates were closed and there was no way out. Well, I could’ve climbed out easily enough, but would never get back in! I didn’t worry about it, though. I just thought, “No pint for me tonight, then.”
The next morning, the gates were still closed.
I had been told that the area was used by passing travellers and that the locals were cool about it. Besides, it’s a long weekend (Coronation), so it’ll be quiet; Business days, the area gets busy. No-one mentioned anything about it being a locked compound. I had noticed the gates, but took no notice of them. I had arrived on a Saturday, a non business day. They were open. I started to stew about it. I was potentially trapped until Tuesday morning, the first day of business that week.
At some point around lunchtime, a car appeared. A woman had gone into one of the buildings to do whatever. I spoke to her upon her return. It was then that I realised the obvious. The gates have sensors. I can drive out anytime I like. Then, I started to think differently. I chilled out and decided to stay put. I didn’t need to leave the compound. I had everything I needed. I would leave on Monday.
The day brightened and warmed up in the sunshine. I pottered about, collected some firewood, took photographs and chilled.
Rowan had a bit of a time of things. She had to stand up to three different cats. At one point, two at the same time. I re-addressed the balance by appearing behind Rowan. The sight of me was enough for the local cats to skidaddle.
On the Monday morning, I was just thinking about tacking down, when there was a knock at my door. The man asked, “What are you doing here?” I explained what had happened. He chuckled and said, “No problem.” as he went off about his business.
Ten minutes later, there was another knock. This time, another man complained that I was in his designated parking space. I apologised and again explained what had happened. He laughed and warned me that it will be packed the next morning. I reassured him that I was aware of that likelihood and anyway, was just about to tack down.
Ironically, the gates were open as I left. I pulled out onto the road and quickly found somewhere to park. I then went to the vegetarian café for some breakfast, then popped into their well-stocked shop. I had to go to the local supermarket for some meat for Rowan and I.
*see entry Ashdown Forest,part 4 - Twyford