UK Tour 2002
Colin came in to wake me up, the other two were still laying in. Feeling like I'd slept well and that I may be up and ready before the others was marred when I noticed it was 11.20am. I tend to sleep late and at home my partner always complains I take ages getting out the house if we're meant to be going out somewhere. Today we did get up late, but the day as you shall see was pretty full anyway.
Our plan for today was to go to Dartmoor, an area just North of where we're staying. As a teenager I'd visited Dartmoor on quite a few occasions, staying at an outward bound centre, I hoped to visit the people who'd run it.
Before leaving Looe Helen noticed a computer shop so I popped into check it out and see if they had some bits I needed. They didn't have them but the owner, Matthew, and I got talking. He'd remembered me from one of the pubs last night and said that if we came in tonight that we should join him and his mates.
Our first port of call was Buckfast Abbey, this is an abbey that has existed in various forms on this site for close to 1000 years.
Whilst the inside of the Abbey was intriguing, all of us said we found the place very sanitised.
By the time we finished at the Abbey my co travelers were questioning whether we'd have time to visit the outward bound centre people, Robbie and Judy. Possibly the psychotic look in my eye deterred any further comments up that road. As we set off Helen opened a miniature bottle of mead (alcoholic honey wine), and as I drove up the hill I took a swig, the driver coming towards me didn't think it was as funny as we did.
Our journey to Robbie and Judy's turned out to be one of the most enjoyable legs of our tour so far. The mist hung over the hills, the heather was a bright golden brown and green, and the whole place exuded a mysterious magical quality. I'd forgotten how beautiful Dartmoor can be.
When we arrived at Robbie and Judy's, the others went off for a walk while I said hello. The house had hardly changed since I was there last (I'd visited them about 14 years ago). Robbie and Judy looked the same too. They've lived here for 30 odd years, and were telling me that they were thinking of moving because the house was too big, it's upkeep was a strain and maybe it was time to see what other things they could do with their lives. All valid points, but as an outsider I wondered what could be worth the trauma of losing such a beautiful home in such a unique spot. The grass is always greener, golden browner, etc...... I asked if they were on the Internet, "not yet but soon maybe". I have often talked to people on the net who live in out of the way places all around the world, the idea of people who live in close knit communities reaching out to the world community is a fascinating concept to me.
Robbie said that it was strange that I came to visit them just now as only yesterday he'd said to Judy that he didn't know why he'd bothered to transfer old cine films to video lately when none of the "kids" bothered calling anymore. I said that I wondered if they had any idea how much they had meant to so many of the people who visited. They had offered a service to disabled children to discover all kinds of activities and experiences that would often have never been a possibility without their innovative and daring approach. Sadly life dealt their efforts some hard blows, then the red tape became too much and they stopped. Robbie had an exceptional gift of relating to kids, he could take us through dangerous activities and inspire confidence, teach us skills that have lasted a lifetime and tell absolutely riveting ghost stories that still haunt me today. I have tried to re tell them to my kids but I can not even come close to his story telling ability. As I told him how my life had panned out and the situation with my kids I could feel the contrast between his family orientated life and mine keenly. It was like facing my parents after failing them.
As we set off we said that I would come and visit them for a weekend soon, something I'd love to do, but I wondered if it would be another 10 or so years before we next met.
Our next port of call was Princetown. As we approached the place we drove up in to the fog so that when we got to there we felt that we were on the set of a 60's Hammer House of Horror movie. There's a large prison in Princetown, we passed it's main entrance gate several times, in the dark mist it was an imposing site that must be a disturbing site for anybody just about to serve a prison sentence there.
We went home, ate, got dressed up in our sequin and polyester suits (actually Nikki wore sequins, I stuck to black) and off to the pub then disco we went.
The disco didn't start till 11pm, so we sat around chatting, so far we've all got on better than we'd imagined and in the "forming, storming and norming" relationship model we are still awaiting the storming part. Plenty of time left for that!
When we got to the disco Nikki and I were biting at the bit to dance but the dance floor was big and everyone stuck to the walls. This was like being back at a school disco and in keeping no one danced until the last half hour. Meanwhile Nikki and I danced safely near our table until Saturday Night Fever played then guided by an uncontrollable force nearly everyone hit the dance floor singing falsetto at full volume. We had sung "Come on Eileen" and "I'm a believer" at different points through the day, so when they both got played tonight we felt fate was saying something to us. (We're sadder than I thought).
Matthew the computer shop owner was there and invited us all out for a meal on Friday, the friendliness of people when you're away from big cities, like London, is hard to get used to, and almost induces tears in me (no it's not the thought of getting food for free, it's the kindness OK?!).
It's now almost 5am and we're supposed to be going down to Lands End tomorrow. So much for our planned 8am wake up call!