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Time to get back on the road

A bloke called Andrew pulled up one evening. I had met him before, when he pulled into the car park on the other side of the village. He has a ‘smiley face’ Transit motor home. He had inherited it, along with a parrot. The next day, he mentioned that he had seen some-one from Kent County Council. They were surveying the area and mentioned that there is some maintenance work scheduled to start. No time scale was mentioned. It was my intention to leave at the end of February, which was a little over two weeks away. “The chance of anything starting by then is remote.” I surmised.

In the meantime, life continued. Passing hikers and locals were always friendly and even, chatty. One morning, half asleep, I ‘fell’ out of my caravan for a morning pee. Just then, I heard a “Good morning.” Startled, I turned and returned the sentiment. I ended up chatting for a few minutes. The greeting came from a man called Mick. He was walking the Pilgrims Way. He had travelled from at least London. All of a sudden, he asked, “Can I take a photo of you?” I said that I was not in a fit state to have photographs taken, but he took the shot, anyway.

One day, a group of around 30 came by. I had greeted the first few, before realising the extent of the numbers. As the last stragglers followed, I greeted them.

One evening, in the pub, I got talking to Claire. I said that I had originally thought of calling her a serving wench when referring to her in the blog.* She laughed and said that she wouldn’t have minded. In fact, we agreed that she is senior wench at the pub, having the most experience. She told me that she had been boasting to her friends about her ‘appearance’ in the blog. Later, she read the passage to Ryder. It was really interesting hearing my words read aloud by another. Just listening to the inflections was fascinating.

Unfortunately, after just two and a half pints, I suddenly came over all queasy. I had to apologise and make my way home, while I still could. I felt like I was about ‘to pull a whitey’. Both Claire and Ryder became concerned and offered to walk me home. I thanked them and reassured them that I would be alright. “The fresh air would soon put me right.” The next time I saw Claire, she said, “All of a sudden the colour drained from you.” Of course, what had happened was that the alcohol didn’t mix with the morphine.

My son, Michael, became concerned about my ability to gather firewood following my recent back problems. He therefore insisted that I have a diesel powered night heater. With that in mind, he sent Froggy with the said heater and a brand new leisure battery. Froggy being Froggy, happily obliged and fitted the thing straight away. As with everyone else, he is concerned about my wellbeing. I thanked them both and said that I would use the heater if necessary; in an emergency. It didn’t take long to fit, but I had to abandon my home while it burned off the chemicals used in production.

I put a post on the local Facebook pages as a reminder that I repair things; a tinker. Two people responded. First, Anthony wanted a log store made. He dropped off half a dozen pallets and some 3x2. I had said that I would make it the next day. However, the next day became busy with visitors.

I also had a bloke called Big Neil ask me to look at his ride-on lawn mower. It had got stuck in reverse. I said that I would look at it the day after making the log store. As the log store had been postponed, I went to look at the mower as arranged. I wasn’t there long before I discovered the problem. A new throttle cable had to be ordered. I was due to fit the new cable upon its arrival, but Neil got a telephone call from his daughter which necessitated him having to travel to see her. Basically, due to a change in legislation, she had to have emergency exit signs upgraded at her licensed premises. Neil went to oversee the work. Before he left, he popped by to give me a sum of money for the work I’d done.

As I had only been gone half an hour, I got on with the log store. It didn’t take long once I had sussed what I was doing. The problem I had was that of the six pallets, two sets of two were identical, but there were two odd ones. The main problem with the odd pallets was that they were two different thicknesses. I made a cup of tea and put a bifter together. I then went over in my mind how I was going to get around the odd pallets problem.

I used the two odd ones as the base. The two longer ones became the sides and the two shorter ones, the back. I overcame the problem of the differing thicknesses of the odd pallets by simply adding feet to the shallower of the two. I had to cut the ends off a number of the top slats so that there was a flat surface on which to fix the upright pallets to the base ones. I used the offcuts for feet. Then it was a simple case of strengthening the base, back and sides by adding some of the 3x2 as braces.

A couple of days later, Anthony collected the log store. We had some difficulty getting it into his van! With some re-organising, it fitted snugly. He then handed me a gallon of diesel, a gallon of water and a gallon of bottled beer, plus a food parcel. A rather excellent exchange, I think. I emptied the diesel straight into the truck and was told to keep the water butt, which is another rather excellent thing, as it has a good sized tap.

The Snowdrops were out, Spring is just around the corner.

A young woman called Helen pulled up at this time. She stayed for a few days, joined by a friend, Becks, after a couple of days. They popped in with some wine and a beautiful meal one evening. We had quite a chat.

Then one morning, a man called Richard knocked. He introduced himself as the gypsy liaison officer at Kent County Council. He explained that maintenance work was due to be carried out in the corner where the North Downs Way becomes a footpath. The fence and gate had long since fallen down and needed replacing. I said that I was aiming to leave at the end of the month and as it happened, that very next weekend was the last of the month. I resolved to leave after that weekend.

*see entry Mountain Street

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