Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Post 9, Heading South

Belle rolling by Soulby Bridge

Good to be back travelling along the edge of the Pennines. The villages are attractive with their sandstone buildings. I stopped at a village bakery to buy a pie, the lady gave me several cakes  that she said she wouldn't be able to sell. That was kind of her. Went back through Appleby and stopped at Soulby  by the river. Sat in the sun and made some clothes pegs. There is a good flush of September grass, l want the horses to eat as much as they can, they need it. This is quite hilly country and they'll work hard for the next few days.

Rainbow near Hawes 17th September

Tough journey up past Mallerstang to the Moorcock Inn, 14 miles into strong wind and heavy  driving rain. I neglected to put my waterproof trousers on and my Wellington  boots literally filled up with water. I didn't mind and my feet were nice and clean. I had the stove stoked up with wood before l set off, so it was  soon nice and hot in the wagon and I got changed into some dry clothes and warmed up. Later on l went in the pub, had a pint and sat in a comfy armchair  and fell asleep reading a book. The next few days l headed along Wensleydale with the wind behind me, which makes it much easier for the horses. Since leaving Cornwall in April I've done 1400 miles. The horses are in good condition. The days are getting  shorter and I'm mentally preparing for the winter. I stopped down Tinkers Bottom, near Great Ouseburn, many people have stopped here over the years. My friend Clare sent me this picture of her stopped in the same place about 15 years ago in the snow.

Tinkers Hollow                                                Alec and Clare's Wagon

Solar shower Yorkshire 22nd September

Some months ago a friend gave me this solar shower, you're supposed to lay it in the sunshine for some hours until it's nice and warm, this is fine in July, now it's the 21st of September and there isn't  enough sun, so I put two kettles of cold water in it and one kettle of nearly boiling water and this works fine. I hang it in the porch of the wagon and stand on the footplate of the shafts. I wait until no ones around and then have a shower.
View from window

It's autumn equinox and now the night's are as long as the days. I pass the evenings practicing my tin whistle or pipes, I like to learn new tunes so I don't get bored busking. I also read books in the evening and can watch films. I have a portable 12volt DVD Player. I don't have a radio or TV by choice. 
Practicing Tin Whistle

Sunday 22nd of September, woke up at 6.30am, read until 7am. Had breakfast, put new hind shoe on Belle, soon had it on, she'd worn the other one out, had horses yoked up and on my way by 8am. Beautiful morning. Sold two clothes pegs as lucky charms to a lady on the way, 50pence each, it all helps. Walked about 5miles, trotted about 5miles, watered horses on the way, got two pails of water from a lady who was in her garden, horses thirsty, hot day. Walked the next 5miles, did shopping in Howden and stopped in my normal stop almost under the M62 where it crosses the river Ouse. Got more water for the horses from a lake nearby, although l'm next to the river Ouse it's much to dangerous and difficult to get water from and it's tidal. I pegged out the horses, made a meal then lay on the bed and slept for an hour. After I'd rested I collected firewood, brushed the horses and made a lovely pot of tea. Then I enjoyed taking photos and played my pipes under the bridge. Lovely sound!

Lincolnshire, September 23rd‏
A misty start, no good going anywhere in the mist, so l gave the wagon a good sweep out and tidy. By half past nine the sun was out and l went into Goole. On the way l saw a grass snake about 3 feet  [1metre] long. It had just been hit by a car and was dead. I stopped and took a photo. Every day l see lots of creatures that have been killed. They often have interesting  expressions on their  faces, sometimes angry or sad. I pulled the wagon into Goole  high street and stopped for an hour and played my pipes. While l play, the horses just stand and go to sleep. They don't need to be tied up, they know the routine, they like the towns as there are no flies. After busking l head down beside the river Trent for 15 miles to Amcotts. I stopped in one village and chatted to an old lady of 86, l tried to sell her my spotted pony and we had a laugh . She enjoyed feeding the horses an apple. On the way a kind lady gave me a homemade steak pie and a can of cold Guinness to wash it down. I was glad as it was a hot sunny day. The pie was lovely. I was also given some courgettes , tomatoes , spinach and some  apple's. l thanked the lady and gave her a few clothes pegs. A bit further on the postwoman  stopped and gave me an ice-lolly , we'd  stopped and chatted 3 years before.  I collected some branches of dead elm for my fire. That evening l cooked some Basmati rice, flavoured with Star Anise, and l  fried the courgettes  and tomatoes in olive oil and steamed the spinach. A nice simple meal. Later on an old farmer came and sat by the fire and shared some cans of beer he'd brought.
Near Goole

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Post 8, N.W.Cumbria.

 Solway 1st September

North West Cumbria. Went round  around Carlisle on a lovely new bypass, I've never liked Carlisle, so l think it's a great idea. Stopped on the shore at Allonby, cold windy day. Lit my woodburner and cooked scrambled eggs. A retired couple who live in the village invited me over for a drink, that was kind of them. Much warmer  and sunny the next day and l went to Maryport and played my pipes. These  pictures were taken by my friend George Bell. The people in this part of Cumbria are nice and friendly. Lots of the lads have a few cobs  and will drive a wagon to Appleby horse fair for their holiday. One old man said to me , "that's a lall cob, feeet ." I think that translates as, "that's a nice fit cob."  One night l stopped down  'potter's lonin '[lane]. In the old days Gypsys  were often called potter's up here, this is  because they would  travel around hawking pottery that they'd  bought in Staffordshire. When l got to the top of a hill near Caldbeck , l stopped and had a rather poignant look north, back across the Solway to Scotland, l did have a lovely time there and wondered when I'd be back.

 A handfull of pegs

I visited 'Swanny.' He has several good cobs and a wagon. He asked me to show him how to make a clothes peg. It looks easy when you watch someone do it but takes a bit of practise, especially if you're going to make them quickly. I usually have my secateurs  on the porch of the wagon and cut a few wands out of the hedge as l go along. Hazel is best but Sally willow is ok. I couldn't get rich selling pegs, but l like making them and keeping the tradition alive. Only a handful of people make them now.
Swanny and his Grandson

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Post 7

Wayne with his van stuck

I stopped one night on the shore of Loch Ryan. On the shoreline there are thousands of cockleshells and they make a very satisfying jingling sound as you walk on them. There were two Scottish ladies, sisters about sixty years old, stopped near me in their car. They were on holiday and simply slept in the car, quite a small one. The car had broken down and the electric windows no longer worked. The ladies were completely unconcerned  [och  nae bother] by what would have been a calamity to most people. They had been there some days and when they wanted shopping they walked the couple of miles into town and then got a taxi back. They seemed to be very content and spent their time reading, chatting and laughing. They were very friendly and kind and one of them collected some driftwood for me for my fire. They told me they'd  arranged for a breakdown truck to collect them at the end of the week. By contrast,  a couple of days later, whilst going over the hills towards  New Galloway l met Wayne. Wayne was ,hot, tired, anxious and frustrated. He'd got his small van stuck in a ditch and needed help. Very few people use this road, luckily l was  able to pull his van out with my cob , Wayne was very glad and relieved that I'd been able to rescue him. Later on he came back with some cans of  beer, a loaf of bread and a pineapple for me. That was kind of him.  The following day l went to the Ken Bridge Hotel to get some drinking water and a beer. The landlord  said, " are you Michael? I said "yes,  why?" "Wayne's  got you two pints in!"

My cob pulled it out, very calmly...
I had a good trip over the hills from Stranraer to Dumfries, staying on quiet roads through dramatic wild country .  Visited my friend Gabrielle in the woods to see the tree house she was living in. It was nice but l prefer my wagon. She helped me make a new cowl for my chimney. I stopped one night at the Grey Mares Tail waterfall and had a good swim and shower . I enjoyed browsing on raspberries , blackberries  and cherries and  soft hazelnuts. I like to walk beside the horse, so l can pick fruit on the way. Our eyes are really developed to work best at a walking speed. Travelling on a bicycle or by car you really miss a lot.