Thursday, 28 June 2018

Thomas Hardy Tour. June 7th.

Wife drops me off at Shannon airport.  I don't bother having a pint or buying any food.  Catch nine thirty Ryan Air flight to Bristol.  Lovely morning.  Highlight was flying over Cardiff City ground.  Well done Neil and the lads for getting promotion!

Plane lands after only forty minutes.  Spend nextsix hours people watching at Bristol airport.  Sat outside on benches in carpark most of day.  The world and his wife seem to be going on holiday today.  Only person who makes a conversation with me all day is Irish.  Typical!  Buy cheap sandwich and a tin of farmhouse Devon cider from Marks and Sparks shop in airport.  Not paying airport bar/restaurant prices.

Six hours later, friend arrives from Warsaw.  Pay thirteen Pounds for a return ticket to Bristol Temple Mead Station and back to airport.  I later lose this ticket!  

We missed the train to Weymouth by twenty minutes.  Caught Portsmouth train to Bradford on Avon.  Three carriages packed with commuters.  Passengers practice New York stare. No one speaks. 

At a station a guard shouts for people to move up and let more sardines (passengers) into carriages. I tell him to put some more infrastructure/rolling stock and say: "Come back British Rail all is forgiven!"  In India you could ride on top of the train.  I was not impressed with South Western Railways!

Walk round Bradford On Avon.  Beautiful place with buildings made out of Bath stone.  Walked in to a chip shop and chip-shop seller asks us if we want anything?

Mr friend replies:  "That's why we're here isn't it?"

My friend disappears and goes off taking photographs and I walk into a grocers/off licence and by a bottle of dog or Newcastle brown ale and a bottle opener.  

Sit on railway platform and drunken man asks me how much: "Are the chips?"  I tell him and he asks me for fifty pence.  I give it him.  Open my Newky Brown.  The inebriated young man comes back with chips and puts thumbs up to me.  

Friend says drinking outside is a no no. Can't in England now.  Is this so?  

Catch train to Dorchester for hour and a half journey.  I learn about requested train stops.  You tell the guard which station you want to request for it to stop.  This is very strange!

Walk through Dorchester town centre.  Friend tells me The Mayor of Casterbridge lived there.  Then he shows me house where Thomas Hardy worked has an apprentice.  

Pubs closed so we go in kebab house and buy botles of water each.  We walk a couple of miles towards campsite up an a track where TH use to walk.  It is pitchus Blackus and we are not far from from thd campsite.  My old friend panics and realizes he hasn't got his small rucksack containing passport, boarding pass etc.. Must have left it at kebab house.

 I am now on my own up a country track and start thinking about mad axe men/women?  I can't standstill.  So I walk back along the track.   Suddenly I wonder if my fried left his BIG rucksack with me?  I am such a fool.  I start lloking for his big rucksack with my mobile phoe,  The Big rucksack is nowhere!  

Half an hour later I here footsteps.  Who could its my friend with his small rucksack. I try to explain that I have mislaid his BIG rucksack.   He tells me he took it with him!  Phew..!

Walk further along dark lane.  Strap breaks on rucksack.  Walk a bit further and other strap breaks.  I am now carrying rucksack and tent in my arms.  Wonderful!  

Arrive at campsite,  We manage to pitch tents at 1.30 in morning in pitch black.  Will pay for tent pitches in morning!

What a day!


  1. Gosh! What a journey, but at least it ended up alright, and it did make for a good story in the re-telling of it!
    I do miss fish and chip shops....walking along the sea front with an open bag of f&c, with the seagulls screaming overhead at us to give them some, is a fond memory. All we have here is pizza wagons!

    1. Thanks Vera. We visited Lulworth Cove on the Saturday. Reminded me of Devon or Cornwall. Lots of fish and chips, pasties, icecreams... so quintessentially English. All it needed was a pint of cider or scones with cream and strawberry jam. You should have an holiday in England Vera. Thanks!

  2. I enjoyed all that Dave, many bits of which are familiar to me in terms of trains, waiting, food, talking to people, etc. waiting, getting lost etc, not that you got lost. My father's family came from Dorchester but I haven't been since that old photo of me as a toddler on the beach! I suppose I probably still have relatives down there. We have request stops on the train here, between Norwich and Cambridge. Good idea really. Great post!

    1. Glad you can relate to my travel tale Rachel. You should write a book. It would be very good. Loved Dorchester and its people. Lovely country town feel. The request stops are a good idea. I had just never heard of them. Thanks!

  3. As I recall from my last visit to Britain (long time ago) that if you want to drink alcohol on the street you put the can or bottle in a brown paper bag and all is more or less legal I believe. Feckin hot up here today 32 deg C need a drink !

    1. Hi Heron. Sixteen years and eleven months sine I last visited England. The lady in the offlicence did just that and put the Newcastle Brown in a paper bag for me. She told me that her father came from Limerick abnd I said we cant get bitter here in West Cork. We both said we didnt like Smithwicks. Thanks!

  4. If you are looking for ideas for one of your humour-themed books, Dave, I think you've got one. Enjoy your trip, and I hope you get back home safely.

  5. Thanks Philip. I prefer to post my writing on the blog than send it off to book publishers these days. Then again if one liked my writing I would send it them. Thanks!

  6. Oh wow! What a tale. An enjoyable read, though, er it reminded me of a few things!!

  7. Thanks Valerie. I think it was my last camping and walking and public transport trip. Roasting here in Costa Del Ireland.


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