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Saturday, 3 August 2013

One Girl and Two Dogs on the Bummel: hills, hikes and going hell-for-leather.

Missed the beginning? The bummel begins here

If it wasn't for keeping these notes, I wouldn't know what day it is. I feel so relaxed, like the world has paused just long enough for me to get my head together. Time, however, is marching on whether I like it or not, and so I've had a bit of a mad one today.

I woke up this morning thinking I'd stay one more night, tootle into Salisbury to see the cathedral and find a pub for dinner before leaving tomorrow. Fate, in the form of no one being available to book another night, intervened and so I instead packed up the tent, loaded up our stuff and set off into Salisbury by car. I found somewhere to park and had thirty minutes to get to the cathedral and back before the meter ran out. The boys and I ran, feeling a bit like we were in an action film, rucksack clunking away on my back and all our tongues hanging out as we panted in the heat. It must have been quite a sight.

Using a cunning method of crowd-following and spire-spotting, I got us to the cathedral in ten minutes. This meant we had enough time to catch our breaths and have a look around before sprinting back again. We used those ten precious minutes well: Harvey weed on some trees, Alfie scrounged half a sandwich (which I insisted he share with Harvey) and I took some pictures.

A slightly less frantic jog back to the car, and we were on our way to Wincanton, twinned with Ankh-Morpork, beloved of Pratchett fans and home of Bernard the Cunning Artificer, the Ankh-Morpork Consulate and all things Discwordly. We took a little detour- ahem- but made it there in good time. We had a little stroll around town before I made a determined effort to locate The Bear and have a drink.

The Bear is what I would call a "proper pub", all low ceilings and dark wood. The little bits of Discworld memorabilia were fun to peruse- a plaque, a framed set of beermats- and it was lovely to finally be able to have a visual image of the place so many of my friends visit for Hogswatch (sadly, it's too far for me to make in a weekend). The landlady was lovely and made a big fuss of my boys. One patron even dog-sat while I nipped to the loo and fell deeply in love with Alfie (what is it about Border terrier-lovers down this way? Not that he's complaining).

I stayed and chatted a while before walking further up the hill to the legendary Discworld Emporium- the creators of all the little gems, nick-nacks and collectibles that make a Discworld nut's life complete. Isobel was lovely and, after checking there were no cats lurking, let all three of us in. I browsed leisurely, enjoying being surrounded by all the lovingly-created paraphernalia before selecting a tea-towel dedicated to the goddess Anoia, a book I didn't already own (there aren't many of those) and my very own Ankh-Morpork passport! Isobel very kindly even threw in a freebie- a City Watch Warrant Card that I gather is quite special. Chuffed to bits, I thanked her and trotted back to the car and onto my next stop- Glastonbury.

The drive there was loads of fun with windy roads and huge hills. Buttercup did very well seeing as I'd added to the weight with my shopping. Glastonbury Tor was visible from a few miles away, even in the black clouds that had suddenly started dumping gallons of water at us. I may have squeaked a little maniacally at that point, as I questioned the sanity of climbing to the Tor in a rainstorm- but, to hell with it. I was here now, and it was only rain, right?

The Tor might have been easy to spot but a parking space was certainly not. I swear I drove around and around and in and out so many times I could have made some cash giving tours of Glastonbury. Eventually I parked by the Abbey, reasoning it would at least be easy to find the car again. The Tor looked really far away... but I allowed two hours for getting up there and back again, bought a ticket- and the clock started ticking.

The lashing rain that had chased us into town had died off and it was hot, hot, hot trekking through town and to the foot of the hill. Climbing it was a test; my calves were already aching from my hike the previous day, not to mention the mad dash in Salisbury and the hills in Wincanton. The boys were game, though, and pulled me the last half mile until we reached the base of the actual Tor. A hundred, a thousand steps- or what felt like it- to reach the top but, when we did- me red and puffing, the boys still unfathomably energetic- it was worth it.

The 360 degree view was simply stunning and made me dizzy. I could see the Abbey, all the way back down the hill, my little car parked beside it somewhere. I had to sit down- and not just to catch my breath. Even the boys quietened down and just sat, sniffing the air and panting gently, lips curled back in a smile. We weren't alone up there; a family of impossibly chirpy children were running around as if they had just strolled out for a nice jaunt, and there were also some serious-looking types who seemed to be meditating, or maybe they too were just overwhelmed.

I stayed there a while, too long really, until the boys began to fidget and I realised I had no where to sleep tonight. I briefly considered staying overnight in Glastonbury, but time was not on my side now and I wanted to make it to Moonfleet.

Back down to the Abbey (which can just about be seen in the photo on the left) just in time before the ticket ran out, a quick phone call to secure a pitch and we were off again, a mere forty miles south to a tiny, secluded site- more of a field, really- somewhere near Dorchester. I can't be more specific than that because I honestly don't know where we are, but it's out in the sticks, basic and pretty. If I wasn't so bogging from my exertions I'd consider staying longer but I really do need a shower.

So, as it is, the pop-up tent is out again, I'm sleeping in my clothes- proper hobo-style- and moving on tomorrow. At least we're all tired enough to sleep tonight. I 've had such a lovely day that not even the pop-up monstrosity can spoil it.

The bummel continues tomorrow...

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