Day 5: 18th Aug 1997 Ignorant Travellers

We left early, and because we were ignorant of how long travel takes in England we were overly optimistic about what we could achieve, so we headed for Stratford-upon-Avon which was not really on our route.  The towns with their picturesque houses were a contrast the busy motorways. We finely arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon.

The swans swimming on Avon river reminded me of you drawing swans at the kitchen table while mom cooked supper; I’m pretty sure this is where I get my love of swans from. It was no surprise that Anne Hathaway’s cottage was quite touristy but all I remember was how short the doors and doorways were. Were the people really so short in those days?

Afterwards as we headed for the Yorkshire moors we missed a few turnings and our trip was made an hour or two longer. (These days it is so easy with GPS and so one doesn’t need a map for finding one’s way). I was assigned to reading the map as I had been a cartographer could read maps pretty well. We did try swapping roles but after arguing and grumping at each other,  we decided to go back to what we were good at.

I was looking forward to the next day because we planned to do some hiking on some  steep cliffs with caves and archways. Birds come here to bread from all over Europe: puffins, turns and gulls. At one point we stopped and enjoyed the scenery: Scottish blue bells and thistles appearing through the mix of grass, mist and sun. Derek sat on a thistle while trying to photograph me and of course I found this very amusing. I must have got your wicked sense of humour because when I told Aunt Marion she laughed and told me a story about your club you had but I’ll get to that story another time.

We needed to find a campsite to set up the tent for the night. This was going to be our first time camping together ever. I was so excited. I guess I had the memories of camping with you when I was young: on Noordhoek vlei and on the Chapman’s Peak coast near Hout Bay. Remember how I fitted at the foot of the two man tent? Derek didn’t share my sentiments. He doesn’t like roughing it and would rather be in a bed & breakfast, but to save money we’d agreed to try the camping out. Eventually after taking the scenic route to Scarborough we found a place outside Pickering.

Bear in mind that I am the ‘planning and organizing type’ and Derek is the ‘relaxed flexible type’. He didn’t see the need to plan the trip, booking B&B or camping sites for each day as that would curtail our freedom. I guess you’d approve of that. I could see his point and agreed to venture out of my comfort zone after all it was past the British summer holidays so we probably could find places.  Yeah I know I am slow to take risks. All this time, while traveling from London, I had an infected eye that was inhibiting my vision. This is another reason why I didn’t feel comfortable driving. I just wanted to keep my eyes closed. I thought it was an allergy but it turned out to be conjunctivitis.

Setting up the tent was easy. Thankfully we could borrow a tent and camping equipment from my friend P and her boyfriend P. It was a small two man tent. I had never seen such a tent before: dome shaped and made of light weight material. At 8pm it was still light and cooking camp food on a gas cooker was fun. I even thought about how I would like to do this in South Africa sometime in the future. Dusk was around 9.15 and we would have stayed out doors longer as we could still see quite well  if it weren’t for the midgies which chewed away at whatever part of us was exposed. We decided to make a hasty retreat and listened to the stream of explicatives coming from our fellow travellers as they got bitten. The moon was big and orange and the air cold. By the time we fell asleep I was really not feeling well. Derek complained about the mattress not being thick enough so I gave him my one not thinking that I would need it for insulation from the cold coming up from the ground. I woke up in the middle of the night and was so cold I decided to put on every conceivable piece of clothing to keep me warm. I even put socks on my hands.

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Tomorrow we will make it to Scotland. XXX

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