Updated: Apr 10
Once I’d made up my mind that I was moving on, I concentrated on getting ready for the off. I said my farewells to all. Some tried to persuade me to stay a bit longer. I explained that if I stayed another day or two, it would turn into a week, which in turn would turn into a month and so on. My mind was made up. Eleodor even said that he thought that I would be around for a couple of years!
John popped by and we went to the tea room to see Barry and Donna and to have my last cream tea. John also gave me a lift into the city, where I was able to sort my bank cards. I bought some reading material from a charity bookshop, then we had a light lunch. We had a little bit of time to kill. I had left my mobile at a repair shop. I was having a new screen fitted after having dropped it behind the burner. I collected a couple of months worth of medication from the GP to keep me going. The medication should last very well as I have cut down on the dosage to a bare minimum; enough to function. If I have to, I can take more if I overexert myself.
I popped into the pub. Unfortunately, Ryder had come down with a virus of some kind. However, I did see him briefly. I left a book with him. A book that I am sure he will immerse himself in. I said my farewells to all and had a last soirée with Claire, the senior serving wench.
I tidied up and popped across the Downs to Elham Valley to grab a shower, do some laundry and see Mark and Kaz before heading on.
In the morning, tacked down, Rowan and I left Chilham with wonderful memories and friends. I had promised that if ever I found myself in the area again, I would definitely stop for a while. And I will!
We didn’t go far. We climbed up to Molash and Challock. It was the first time that I had gone up any real hills since having to lift my caravan onto the trailer. It was clearly heavy. We turned left down the Faversham to Ashford A251 road, then turned into White Hill. We passed the main car park for King’s Wood (yet another poxy height barrier) and onto a smaller, rutted car park, that was clearly not maintained.
At night, the car park became oddly busy. Why so many cars parked there for an hour or so? From the car park a wide gravel track heads into the woods. The conclusion therefore, doggers. The next day, talking to some of the locals, my suspicion was confirmed.
Practically from my doorstep was a footpath that leads to the conifer woods a short distance on. The trees are a mix of Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce. They are being coppiced and cut into fence posts. All around are the offcuts; the tell-tale wedges left after the ends of the posts were cut into points. Here, Rowan and I walked unmolested by dogs. I collected plenty of firewood, all kept dry by the density of the trees.
Internet signal was really poor. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. But, one morning, I had a text message manage to get through. It was from the bank. I couldn’t get onto the internet to check my account in order to find out what exactly was the issue. I therefore decided to go for a walk in the hope of finding better signal. I walked up the main track for a bit. Before I had gone too far, I met a man walking his dog. We stopped briefly to chat. I explained what I was doing and asked him if he knew whether or not there was any likelihood of a better signal further on. He said that in fact, it gets worse. I decided to not bother continuing on, but return and deal with the issue at a later date. Once back home, I happened to notice that just behind my caravan, the signal improved, as it happened, just enough to get on the internet, albeit slowly. I was then able to sort the bank business out.
The next day, at last, after three days of damp and overcast conditions, the weather cleared. Time for a walk. I was just having a cup of tea when there was a knock at the door. A woman who introduced herself as Kate, from the Forestry Commission, asked, “How much longer are you staying? Only, you’re taking up a lot of space and we’ve had a few calls about it.” I said that I had been waiting for the weather to clear before going for a walk, "which I was intending to do this very day. After which, I would likely be gone by the next day." She acknowledged my response and was gone without anything really to say.
Before I was able to get out, another visitor appeared. This time, a photographer. He introduced himself as Pete, then asked whether I would mind having some photographs taken of me and once he spotted her, Rowan. He showed me some of his work, which in truth was very good. I consented to the photography. Pete took a number of shots. We had to be patient when it came to Rowan, though! Eventually, happy, he thanked me, promising to send me copies via my pages on Facebook or Instagram, or the blog and left me to my day. As yet, I have not received anything.
Eventually, I got out for my walk.
I headed up the main track. I had just reached the corner of the area of dense conifer when, who should be walking in the opposite direction? Pete the photographer. We stopped and continued chatting a while more. Pete said that he had mentioned that he had met an interesting bloke to a friend. The friend immediately cottoned on to me. The friend turned out to be Becks, the young lady who had parked by me with her friend, Helen at Mountain Street.*
Unfortunately, the standing chatting was starting to have an effect on my back. I apologised and asked whether he would like to join me for my walk. He happily consented. We had quite a chat, having conversed for the entire walk without a break. Even by the time we had returned, we had to close the conversation for fear of talking all day and into the evening!
The walk itself was pleasant. We took the right-hand track at the junction where we stood. The track continues across the expansive area. Soakham Downs is to the right and Kings Wood, left. The track meanders on through the managed wood.
Eventually, we came to a small pool where we turned left, up a footpath that took us back to the track that led us back to where we had started out.
There would have been some recent logging in the woods, as at some point in the morning a lorry, fully loaded with logs, exited the woods via the track I had just walked.
*see entry Time to get back on the road