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On the road again - 1 - Leaving Cornwall, part 2 - Bodmin Moor

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

The next leg took me onto the A30 and what was to be the last bit of dual-carriageway of any real distance that I would use on my journey east. I headed for a village called Millpool on Bodmin Moor to see a great friend, Mark.

I first met Mark back in the days I lived in Falmouth. He had fallen on hard times and at one time owed me money, but always kept in touch and promised to pay his debt. He was the one person who did. Most didn’t think that he would as he was an ex junkie. Then one day, he met a wonderful lady. Sadly though, she was not long for this world. He had moved in with her at Millpool. There, she was running a small miniature horse stud and looking after her elderly parents. After Melissa died, Mark continued to live there, keeping the farm going and looking after Melissa’s parents. I had visited a few times and cleared loads of scrap from there.*

I parked a little way up the hill from the farm; where I could tuck into the hedge out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, there is not really the room to park at the farm. Besides, the old lady, now a widow, would likely get spooked. There is nowhere within reasonable walking distance to pitch up, either. Still, we were able to get in a few hours of chinwagging, etc. The cats were fine chilling in the truck. I always have a litter tray and food and water in the truck, just in case. Mark loaded me up with some AVB (after-vape-burn), then I headed on to find a pitch on the moor. (Mark vapes his weed. The AVB is what’s left once vaped. I use it for making cannabutter.)

I trundled on up the hill and onto the moor. Once over the cattle grid, finding somewhere to park was a doddle. Soon, I chose a spot. I let the cats out and put the kettle on. I hadn’t finished my tea before a Land Rover appeared. It was a local farmer who’s sheep grazed in the area. He told me that I was not welcome. I asked, “Why? I’m not doing any harm.”

At first, he spoke aggressively. He was going on about trouble-making travellers. I explained that I was just one traveller with two cats who were out hunting. I managed to calm him down. He then explained that there had been a lot of trouble with ‘travellers’ who had pitched up on some land near Bodmin. They had trashed the land before being forcibly moved on. The clear-up operation had apparently costs some thousands of pounds. I empathised and added that people like that give genuine travellers a bad name and that I in no way associated with that ilk. He said that he was concerned about where I was parked as I could be seen from the main highway in the distance. He was worried that undesirables would spot me and make a bee-line for the area. He offered to show me somewhere else that was hidden from view. I agreed to move, saying, “Give me 20 minutes to tack down and round up the cats.” He agreed.

It didn’t take that long to be ready. I followed the farmer until he stopped at a track somewhere. He told me that I would be fine for a few days. I thanked him, then he was on his way.

The next day, I moved on. I managed to find my way across the moor towards Colliford Lake where I hoped to find a pitch nearby. Unfortunately, I soon became aware of the fact that I was being followed. I took various lanes looking for somewhere suitable and at every turn I took, I was followed. Eventually, not wanting any form of confrontation, I gave up and continued in an eastbound direction. Soon, I was crossing a cattle grid on the edge of the moor. As soon as I did so, the vehicles following me stopped and turned around!

A little way out of a village called St. Neot, I spotted a large layby that was set away from the road. I was tired and fed up after the day being harangued. I decided to stop for the night. There was woodland and a river nearby. The cats would be fine.

The next morning, I was greeted with a flat tyre. As I was skint, I had not been able to buy a spare before I left. I had a problem! Time for another cup of tea. I thought to myself, “Who do I know that would be up for a short road trip?”

“Hairy Rich!”

I ‘phoned Rich and explained the situation. I was right. He was definitely up for it. I asked him to go to Malcolm Drew’s to get me a couple of good spares. I told him that I would give him the money for them plus fuel. “No problem.” He said. He pointed out that it would have to be on Monday as it was Friday and he didn’t have time to get them that day. The weekend was out as the yard was closed. I thanked him, then settled down for the weekend.

It was a quiet weekend. I walked up to the village on the Saturday and had a wander in the other direction on Sunday. Otherwise, I just chilled. The cats did their thing.

Rich turned up by lunchtime on the Monday. I offered him £60. He told me to hang on to the money and to pay him back at a later date, as and when I could afford to. He insisted that there was no rush. He knew that I was skint. I thanked him again and promised to square up with him once I was clear of other ongoing debts. With a smile and a hug, he was soon on his way again.

It didn’t take long to change the wheel. I then dumped the flat onto the back of the truck, along with the other spare. After a quick wash up and a cup of tea, I gathered up the cats and got back on the road.

I continued east towards England and Dartmoor, crossing the border at Gunnislake.

*see entry Continued frustration and a curio

**photograph courtesy of Mark Anthony Holden

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