We have come 7 miles north of Bury, to a tiny village called Wordwell, and a farm campsite adjoining the King’s Forest (the Southern end of Norfolk’s massive Thetford Forest). Five weeks after returning from Aberdeen I was going slightly crazy being stuck at home, especially in the last few really hot days and nights. Post-adventure blues seems to be a common problem; I must admit to feeling low at the moment. So a mini adventure was called for.
I had booked ahead and the farmer was very welcoming despite losing a bet as to how Raisin would arrive. His girlfriend guessed trailer; not sure what he expected. I liked his method of removing the site bin for emptying – balancing it on his handlebars. Must be a bit pongy just under his nose.
There’s a lovely big lily pond by the farmhouse that is surrounded by nettles but which Raisin has permission to use as a plunge pool, a godsend in the heat. And there are tracks directly from the site into forest and miles of fabulous walks. We did one with my friend Janet, who visited us from nearby West Stow, and another in the evening although it was still hot.
After supper and extensive balley a profusion of insects drove us into the tent, with flying ants imitating the sound of rain on canvas by landing heavily, and in big numbers, on the outer sheet.
Despite the heat, Raisin decided to share my pillow, which is much too small for two, and set about puffing loudly into my ear. She always exhales rather forcefully when falling asleep. Once it was dark and the anty dive bombers had gone, I opened up the tent to the cool night air and nodded off looking at the stars. And felt much better.
Having left Bury St Edmunds on April 29th with a vague plan to get to Scotland, Raisin and I came to the end of our journey today, in Aberdeen. The weather has been so ‘filthy’ (Great Aunty B’s word coming in handy again) for the past few days that we did the last little leg by car rather than bicycle, but after covering what must be more than 600 miles under pedal power, I hope we can be forgiven for that.
Aberdeen looked like the big, busy place it is, with tall grey buildings and wide streets, statues and roadworks, shops and grime. We took shelter from the wind and rain at the railway station, which was quiet despite the tempting train destinations on offer: Inverness, Inverurie, Glasgow, Edinburgh (and Kings Cross). So much still to explore. Another time.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog and sent kindness and encouragement, which was a completely unexpected but much appreciated part of what has been a wonderful experience.
Now, we need to recharge our batteries and see our friends and take some time to appreciate the lovely life we have at home, with a new perspective.
Batgirl and Raisin x
All night, listening to the rain hammer our tent, I couldn’t help wondering if Bervie Water (running alongside us all of 5m away) ever burst its banks. The level had risen appreciably during the day; another couple of feet at high tide and we would be under water, the sleep mat a lilo. Cormorants had arrived to fish on the now angry looking and brown river, where before were swans and ducks, adding a sinister edge to the drama (cormorants always remind me of pterodactyls; prehistoric and scarey).
As it was, my friend arrived in the nick of time, when high tide was nearly upon us, and we unceremoniously stuffed bike, trailer, bags and tent – all, as we were too, sopping wet – into the car and headed for the hills.
Our hotel in Banchory, a town west of Aberdeen and at the edge of the Cairngorm mountains, is right by the confluence of the Dee and Feugh rivers, both raging torrents, with the bank already breached. From my window I observed an apparently uncomprehending (and presumably hungry) heron, watching the water rush past most of the afternoon.
It’s wonderful to be in a warm, dry environment (obligatory bath notwithstanding) and it feels madly luxurious to have a bed, telly, kettle, toilet and a (rather understated) wardrobe. I’m glad it’s a first floor room though, with all that riverage so near and the rain still raining.
The hotel does nice food and is dog friendly so we’ve had a good feed. There was a drawing of a mallard on my place mat this evening, a reminder of life before this journey (but that’s another story). Tomorrow the plan is to visit Aberdeen, which will mark the end of this story. If we don’t drown in the meantime.