Monday, 4 November 2013

Post 15 Kent and the storm, into Sussex

Black Heath, photo by Francis Dickinson
I really enjoyed stopping at Blackheath and met some very nice kind people.
I headed south through Bromley, this part of London is without charm for me, dismal 1930s ribbon development, l had to put a shoe on Tarateeno on the way as the nails had given up, l was on my way again in 15 minutes, 12 miles to a small common just north of Biggin Hill. A grey sort of day, lit stove and rested. A park attendant came along, said there'd been a complaint and l couldn't stop there. I explained in a friendly way that l was stopping there and just refer it to the police. He went off apologetically. Later on 3 police officers came along and took my name and wished me good night. Several people warned me a storm was on its way.
The next day l went south to Edenbridge, l was getting  tired and the clocks have changed, so the days are short, l was very glad when a Traveller came by and told me to stop at Marsh Green a mile away. It's a lovely place, l tucked the wagon in the lee of some shrubs away from any trees. Later on the Traveller came and showed me photos of his wagon and horse, he had also travelled in the north and we knew  some of the same places and people. A bit later on another Traveller came and gave me some sausages and chips, really kind of him. The weather was coming in bad and l put a rug on Tarateeno, stoked the fire up and put some coal on it and went to bed. By 2 am the wind was really strong and gusting  badly, the wagon rocked violently on its springs and l could do no more than doze. By 7 am the wind had eased off, the stove was still warm so l got it going and made some tea and had a nice shave, feeling slightly euphoric  that I'd survived the storm. There is always the danger that the wagon can be blown over in strong winds. It's important to have the back of the wagon to the wind and try and be in a sheltered spot, but away from any trees, because of the danger of them falling on the wagon.
Tarateeno, Ashdown Forest
At 10.30am l set off and went to the Ashdown  Forest, quite a few trees had come down in the night, and l was glad l hadn't stopped near any, even quite a small branch can do a lot of damage especially if it lands on your head. The road was strewn with acorns and sweet chestnuts and l collected some to roast. It was a hilly journey  and l was glad to get there as both Tarateeno and l were tired. 11 miles. I got the stove lit and had  a cup of tea, this is a beautiful forlorn spot where I'm stopped. At dusk l watched a white hart, [a white stag] it came within a couple of hundred feet of the wagon, perhaps it means  good fortune is just around the corner, although l feel quite lucky already.
Steve and Lisa
The next day l caught up with two friends, Steve and Lisa, who are also in a wagon and stopped with them a couple of days, we hadn't seen each other for several years and had lots of catching up to do. We sat around the fire, chatting and sharing useful information about stopping places, ways of earning a living, people we knew, plans for the future.......  We traded  a few bits and pieces and made our farewells. Who knows when we'll meet again and where?