Day 47: Hornsea, slugs and spiders

Today I said goodbye to Janet who looked after me so well at the Acorn Guest House in Hull and set out for Hornsea. It took me quite a while to get across the city of Hull, which in case you were a wondering is a lot bigger than East Grinstead – I’m not convinced that it isn’t bigger that Yorkshire either – and out into the open countryside.

I followed the Trans Pennine trail but before I got there I stopped to spend a pleasant half hour in conversation with a very nice gentleman called Brian who was in his garden as I trudged by. Brian is a musician who has travelled, worked and performed all over the world and now helps asylum seekers. I hope I did a good job of convincing him to write a book about his life. I gave him my card and promised him I would be the first one to buy it if he ever published such a book. I also promised him I would say hi in this post. So HI BRIAN!

The Trans Pennine trail leads straight as an arrow through mile after mile of beautiful Yorkshire countryside and as most of the day was sunny and quite warm and for once not bedevilled by strong winds it was easy going and a pleasant walk.

Lack of planning on my part made it a hungry one because although I bought a sandwich in Hull I had not taken into account of the fact that mile after mile of beautiful open countryside meant mile after mile bereft of other beautiful things such as shops and, for once, pubs. In England you know you have dropped off the edge of civilisation when you can’t find a pub. If we should ever carelessly allow civilisation as we know it to come to an end I’m convinced that the good old British pub will be the last thing to go.

My good friend Mike Pollard however came to my rescue. We met up about 10 miles from Hull late in the afternoon. Mike caught up with me on his bike, so the bike you see in one of the photos he took of me in today’s album is his not mine. Just in case you were wondering . . .

Mike brought food, which I ate with the enthusiasm of a starving man – this walking lark sure does burn up fuel! – plus tobacco and water and having probably saved my life took some photos of my still-living persona and after a chinwag cycled away. It was kind of strange meeting up with only the second familiar face I had seen in six weeks, so briefly and in the middle of nowhere.

So on I trudged, alone again but at least alone and fed.

I reached Hornsea around 7pm. There was nowhere for me to stay tonight so I had to find somewhere to camp. Finding somewhere to camp out was harder that it sounds. You need a decent, discreet spot that gives you some privacy to suffer in peace yet where people won’t fall over you in the dark – or tractors run over you and so forth – the cops won’t move you on or the local farmer chase you off his land with a shotgun. You also don’t want to look Ike a vagrant to the passer-by if you can possibly help it.

There is nothing more humiliating than having people looking at you and you know they are thinking you are a homeless person. Numerous times I have felt like going up to people and saying, “I know what you are thinking but I am not really homeless; I am doing this for charity.” But then maybe that”s just the sort of thing a homeless person would say.

I could not find a good spot where I felt safe (and unembarrassed) in the town so decided to carry on walking and left by the Bridlington road and continued out into the countryside again. I had to walk for miles before I could find somewhere and made my temporary home eventually on the edge of a field in the middle of nowhere down a long, seldom-used footpath.

It was a mild night for once and thanks to the generosity of Mike Phillips I now have a very warm sleeping bag so I decided to skip putting up the tent and sleep under the stars. Besides, the tent would be more conspicuous and I did not want to attract attention to my presence as I was not sure I was really supposed to be camping there.

A warm night in a warm sleeping bag under the stars. What could possibly go wrong?

Well not much, except . . .

1. The discovery that the Earth is not flat was made looooooooong before Galilieo. It was made by the very first camper back in the Stone Age who discovered that it is decidedly, relentlessly and ubiquitously lumpy. Hence the very early necessity-driven invention of the mattress which predates the invention of the wheel by about a zillion years. Let’s face it, if they had not first invented the mattress, then no-one on our lumpy planet would have gotten a good enough night’s sleep to be smart enough to invent the wheel.

2. The spider that scuttled across my face at 4am. This was not a pleasant experience although the spider did not seem to mind. I half-imagined it tossing me a cheery “morniiiiing!!” as it walked gaily past my left eyeball and into my sleeping bag. The spider is only alive today because I could not find it. And believe me, I tried.

3. The fact that the field I had chosen happened to be the home of an entire army of large black slugs of the cringe-inducing variety. A considerable number of these had by the morning (I had not been able to see them in the dark and had unwiittingly probably spent the wee hours in their company, shudder, shudder) attached themselves limpet-like to my possessions, such as the neck of my water bottle, my jacket, sleeping back, sleeping mat, rucksack, socks and so forth. – although why anything in God’s creation would want to attach itself to my used socks is anyone’s guess. I am just glad that I can move faster than they do. I am also glad that none had fastened themselves to any bits of my anatomy. Believe me, I checked.

I have to admit that there is something quite magical about sleeping under the stars. But there is something even more magical about sleeping in a bed with clean sheets under your own roof next to your wife. The former is not to be missed but only if the latter is not on the menu.

Despite all that, the slugs, spider and I did manage to get a few hours of sleep. I was up at 5am and keen to be back on the road for reasons you can probably imagine. Next stop, Bridlington!

On the Trans-Pennine trail headed for Hornsea. Photos taken by my friend Ike Pollard who caught up with me on his bike

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