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If you have five mins:
A blog for her friends to check that she's still alive, when she's been missing for a while, and what she's whinging about now.
Monday, May 30, 2005
Journeying to Avalon
We were setting off in several cars, but had it all worked out beforehand. I got off really lightly, as I didn't have to pick up anyone, just take Pixie and Dirk from the house I was in too. Everyone was leaving at 9, except Aud and Alan, who were setting out earlier in order to pick Scott and Ian up from Birmingham, that way we'd all meet up in Glastonbury at roughly the same time.
It was a great journey down. Last year, I'd learned to detest driving. This was three-fold - I had whiplash, which made driving really painful; also I was one of only a few drivers in a large group, which meant that I had to drive if we were all going somewhere. In the past, Kate's been one of any group we're with, so we've taken it in turns, but she wasn't part of this group; and also by the latter half, Rebecca wasn't a well car, so I lived in fear of her breaking down or worse. I spent a lot of last year driving along, in a lot of pain, stressed over the car, really wishing that I wasn't driving. This journey down to Glastonbury, with Pixie and Dirk, reversed all of that. I thoroughly enjoyed not only that journey, but all the others too. (Even the final, mad journey to Gatwick on the Wednesday, I didn't dislike for my own part. If we hadn't been battling against the clock, it would have been a good journey too.) This is one of the huge gifts that I brought out of Pixie and Dirk's visit, this renewed okayness with driving again. Plus Dirk and Branny between them identified the two remaining noises that Rebecca is making, so I can get them sorted.
I've never known the journey to Glastonbury pass so quickly (excepting the time I did it in the middle of the night at 100mph). It was almost a disappointment to reach it, almost, I say, because then the excitement of being in Glastonbury took over. We stopped at Froggie's shop for ages, before meeting Bex and Pete at the Blue Note.
There were still minor stresses though, because we'd all managed to keep Branny's arrival a secret until now, but things didn't quite go according to plan. We sat in the courtyard of the Blue Note, Bex and I purposefully sitting side-by-side at the other end of the table to Pixie and Dirk, so that the text messages between Aud and Branny and us could be kept away from them. Aud and Alan had dropped off Scott and Ian, who'd joined us, then gone for Branny at Castle Cary. I'd have gone, but my absense would have been too noticeable. At first, Ian said that they were 'parking up'. Then time stretched out and out. The texts said that Branny had hitch-hiked to Shepton Mallet, while Aud and Alan were at Castle Cary. They were going for her. By now, Pixie was getting very suspicious. I ended up lying through my teeth, saying they'd gone up Clarke's Village for flares for on top of the Tor. Behind Pixie, Ian was giving me that 'you lie way too well, Harrington' look, so I was ignoring him. *grin* Then I remembered that I hadn't bought the pay and display for my car. My mind had been so full of the Branny situation that it just passed me by. My job was to get Pixie and Dirk into the Blue Note and keep them there; somewhere along the way I simply forgot about buying the parking. Pixie and I ran back to my car, but there was a parking ticket on it. (Oh! Shit, I still need to pay that!)
There was no way we could stay together at the Blue Note any longer without giving the game away. A glance at the time showed we'd been in Glastonbury nearly 2 hours anyway, so it was nearly time to check in. Off we all went to the George and Pilgrim, each of us (except Pixie and Dirk) watching entrances and waiting on the next text messaged progress report. If we'd split up now, then we didn't know how we'd spring Branny on them. Then, as Pixie signed for her room, Branny turned up. I remember looking at her, thinking, 'there's Branny'. No reaction. Looking again, 'yep, Branny'. Then the third time, 'SHIT! THAT'S BRANNY STANDING THERE!' Dirk saw her and she put her fingers over her lips. I surreptiously got my camera out. Pixie turned and it took a second to register, then she screamed and ran to hug her. LOL Two seconds later, we had an Aud and Alan too and all the surprises were over. We'd all nearly slipped up as well. The night before I'd said to Pixie, Dirk and Kate, 'Shit, I didn't get myself some pyjamas and I'm going to be... sharing a room...' Then covered it with reaching for my drink. It had sounded well suss to me, but no-one had picked it up. I'm just amazed that Pixie hadn't counted on her fingers and wondered who I'd been sharing a room with!
The George and Pilgrim had fucked up. I triple-checked since first booking the rooms months ago. Two twin rooms, two doubles and a four-poster bridal suite. Yes, yes, yes. Then, last week, I'd checked again, suddenly all of the rooms were doubles, but being charged at twin room prices... There was nothing we could do about it. Branny and I shared one double room, while Scott and Ian shared another. Branny and I originally had the four-poster room (charged at the price of a twin room.... mmmm...), but we took one look and went to find Alan. This should be his and Aud's room, as this amounted to their second honeymoon. Aud herself was over the Blue Note. She needed food urgently (medical reasons rather than plain hunger) and a breather before coming out to play. Branny and I were in the Nun's Cell. LOL Alan and Aud got the Henry VIII room, where he'd stood to watch the desolution of Glastonbury Abbey. Pixie and Dirk got the huge Abbot Selwood room, which is the room you always stand on Glastonbury High Street looking up at and wondering what it's like to be in it. Ian and Scott got the Priest's Cell, I think, or it could have been called the Confessional. It was directly above me and Branny anyway. Bex and Pete were in a newer part of the building, so their room was called 'number 10'.
Afterwards, we all split up. I nipped to the loo and discovered that I'd come on, so I went hunting Glastonbury for sanitary towels. It started really raining, in defiance of the Grove spells on the subject. Every so often, we'd all meet somewhere, like the time when most of us were crowded in Froggie's shop, buying him out of stock. Now Branny was here, my mind was onto the handfasting, which was the next biggie. I'd got all of the tools for that, but Scott was getting cake and wine. I'd walk about and think, 'Shit, I needed to ask Scott that...' twice I did that, looked up and he was in the shop as I was walking by. I did that once with Aud too. I was beginning to suss that I could call people to me, so I turned into the alley by the Blue Note and called Ian with my mind; walked out the other end and heard the word, 'Wolverhampton'. I looked across and there were Branny and Ian sitting having a brew. :-D
We largely sat there for the afternoon, with folk coming and going, which is how we usually do it. Usually I do more running off and coming back though, though there was a bit of that too. Bex asked on the arrangements for the evening and I arbitarily said to meet at the George and Pilgrim, dressed up, at half 6. Pete, Alan and (I think) Dirk were in the King Charles watching the FA Cup final, though Dirk may have been with Pixie looking around. Glastonbury is tiny, so we always tend to split up. If you need folk, you only have to stand by the Cenotaph and look around, soon enough you'll have everyone. LOL But on this occasion, soon enough everyone had passed through our bit of courtyard, so had the half 6 thing. We needed a definite time, because some needed to have a head start, as that climb is extremely steep. For a start, Branny had a torn ligament in her ankle.
Around five, I went up to Froggie's shop to see if he was joining us. I ended up staying in there until closing, canting with him, then we meandered down to the George and Pilgrim for a pint with Dirk, Ian and Aud. Time was getting on and I realized that I still hadn't had ten minutes to quiet my mind before the handfasting. It was still full of - has everyone got their room? Do Scott and Ian want to move rooms because of the leak? Is Branny sorted with her ankle? Are Pixie and Dirk having a good time? Have Aud and Bex chilled into Glastonbury? Did Pete and Alan get to see the match? Have I got everything for the ceremony? Is everyone happy and alright? Why am I stressing? Am I happy and alright? etc etc. The usual internal dialogue of a Virgo who's accidentally vaguely 'in charge' insofar as anyone is. This sounds like I was stressing far more than I actually was. In reality, I was having a great time, just very conscious that I was supposed to have a quiet mind in a circle very shortly. I'd meant to pop into the Goddess Temple for all of this, but by the time I was ready, the place had been shut ten minutes.
So I went upstairs and found Branny in our room. Got my robes on, which felt beautiful, and, though I knew the bag had everything needful, I double-checked it. It didn't have the oil that Aud had made from Chelle's recipe. I slid into utter panic attack. I thought I'd been doing well. At one time I'd said I'd never do another handfasting, Wiccaning etc because of how panicked I got, but that was so last year. I crouched by the side of my bed in utter terror, mind just flashing with random shit; Branny walked out of the bathroom and I said, 'Branny, I'm panicking now.' She said, in her precise English accent, 'You'll be fine', and disappeared back into the bathroom. I just laughed. I got the Bach Rescue Remedy and the Quiet Life down me, picked up the bag and called that I'd meet her downstairs.
Once downstairs, those who were going early hadn't gone. There was talk of calling a taxi, so I volunteered to run them up, then walk up with the others. Aud, Bex and Branny wanted the head start, so I drove them to the Tor, then turned around in Wellhouse Lane feeling the panic really rising again. I was getting well disgusted with myself. I knew that Ian has dealt with a million panic attacks of mine, so he could sort this one; I knew that Pixie has dealt with them on the phone, but this was her big day. Aud could mother for England, when it comes to it, but I'd just dropped her off. I put on some jingly, jangly Celtic music and drove back to the George and Pilgrim. By the time I got there, I was very calm. The final panic was all over. I'd just needed that five minutes alone with Celtic music. I abandoned the car, joined the others and we walked up to the Tor.
*to be continued*
Pixie and Dirk Came to Britain!!
I'd set my alarm clock for 9am, but woke up at 20 past 7 and bounced out of bed so excited. I didn't have to be at Aud's until eleven, so there was time to kill. It had been noon until the night before. I tatted on the computer; cleared all my e-mail folders; watched a bit of telly. By 9, Aud was worn down by my incessant bouncing around via e-mail and said I could go to hers at half 10. I made a cuppa, I did a few repairs on the Witchgrove website. I wondered if there were spells for making time go more quickly.
Apparently there are. The clock was out on my computer. I only sussed when an e-mail arrived from the future! It was 40 minutes later than I thought it was and I was already late for Aud. Arrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!
Aud and I abandoned my car at FT Kate's house, while Alan and Harriet came for us in his 7-seater mini-bus. I'd chucked my keys through Kate's letterbox before I realized I'd left my handbag, in full view, in my car. I retrieved my keys with frightening ease, even for a Wulfrunian, which caused me to poke them halfway across her floor with a piece of wire I found in the gutter. I then took the wire with me in my handbag, in case any thieving Black Country dude had witnessed it all. And off we went on our adventure.
It was well cool being chaffeured down the motorway. I got to see lots of pretties that I wouldn't have ordinarily seen. Aud pointed out Chilton in the distance, where she grew up; then we stopped in Rugby, which was her 'hood before she moved into my 'hood. I got to see the field where William Webb Ellis
We only just got there in time. Roadworks and all kinds of things held us up, but we'd just parked up, had a fag and crossed the road to arrivals and there was an almighty Pixie-like screech. They had just that second arrived too, so we ran, hugged them, and Aud and I put Wolverhampton Wanderers scarves around their necks, like Hawaiian people put flowers around the necks of their visitors. Of course, until then, it had been red hot. I'd taken my jacket off in the car and was still boiling, so I didn't expect the scarves to see much wear. But soon as we left the airport, it started raining. Only showers, but the sun had just disappeared while we'd spent those five minutes in Heathrow Airport.
We drove around looking for somewhere to park up, that was reasonably secure (because of the luggage), but also on the tube line. That became a magical mystery tour and I saw parts of London which I've never seen before (which isn't that hard...). I'd originally jumped in the back, on the basis that Aud knows London to direct Alan, but the further we went the more my stomach was turning. I got to the part where I thought I'm going to throw up any second now, when Aud noticed and got Alan to pull over. I was mortified! But I suppose it would have been far worse if I'd vomitted all over Pixie in Alan's car. Once I'd had a few gasps of air and gagged a bit, I was fine. I got into the front then. It was safer.
We parked up in Hammersmith and was walking to the tube station when Cerr 'phoned! Dirk had just been speculating on what Yoda's penis looks like, which amused Cerr greatly. LOL I handed her to Pixie for a short cant, but we were nearly at the tube station, so was going to lose signal. I got to say goodbye, then ran after the others. Alan paid for all of our tube tickets and refused point-blank to have any money off me for petrol. I did try to sneak him a twenty via Harriet when he later bought a round in the pub too, but Aud caught us and sneaked it back into my pocket. Git.
The voice on the tannoy didn't say 'mind the gap' to the disappointment of me and Pixie. ('Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman...) We landed at Westminster, which was strange. Every other time I've landed at Westminster, I've had a banner or a candle and I'm about to protest something. It was bizarre seeing it minus thousands of people chanting! We had us some crepes from a stand beside the Boudicca statue, with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament over the road; then headed towards Westminster Abbey, which was closed. It had started to really rain by now, so we sheltered in the Abbey shop. I nearly bought an American-English dictionary, but Pixie and Dirk assured me that they'd never heard of half the American words in it.
We walked in the rain to Regent's Park, then under the sheltering canopy of trees to Buckingham Palace. The flag was up, which meant that the Queen was in, but we didn't ask to go in for tea, because the rain was belting down. Instead we found the nearest pub and went into it. That was fun AND surreal. Pixie and Dirk, wearing Wolves scarves, sitting with us in a pub... but also like old friends just nipping over for a visit, which was precisely what they were. But, for me, there wasn't that 'stepping out of a story-book' feel that there was in Vegas, which I reckon was because they were in my 'hood and because I'd met them before.
The rain wasn't about to let up, so Pixie and Dirk decided they'd seen enough of London and we should head back. On the tube was a woman who looked completely wrecked. You could smell the booze a mile off and the businessman holding her up looked so embarrassed. The only space in the carriage was around her, as folk were waiting for her to throw. He practically carried her off at their station. Back in Hammersmith, poor Harriet got packed into the luggage; Pixie had a near miss with a toilet stop; and we all bounced around a lot, generally over-excited.
We phoned Georgia once we were back on the road, because it was the anniversary of her divorce and also because I'd written an e-mail before I left (and posted it to mods) suggesting that Britgrovers meet Pixie and Dirk on Tuesday night in Seamus O'Donnells, but I didn't want to plan their holiday for them, so I wanted to ask them before sending it. They agreed, so I asked Georgia to do so. We all loved her up and wished she was there... though where we would have put her in that car... *giggle* I'd have had her on my lap.
We stopped off in Beaconsfield for a meal at the Greyhound pub. We snuggled around a table and that got a little surreal. *grin* It was so lovely to look up and see my friends there, especially Pixie, who I know so well but rarely see. She got a round in and went to pay with her Visa, but it wasn't signed, which is illegal here. She got all American on the landlady and the wench just accepted the card! LOL Pixie explained that no-one signs their cards in America, in case of having their signature forged. Everyone does here, so a blank one would just end up with the thief's signature on it. It's all crossing over to pin numbers anyway now.
There was a no mobile phones rule in there, so I blushed my head off when FT Kate phoned me! The whole pub cheered and catcalled, while I dashed outside. I had no idea how long it would take to get home, so I kept texting her ETAs as I got my bearings. When we got there, she opened the door in costume from her play ('Murdered to Death'). She plays Miss Maple - a spoof on Miss Marple - so was an elderly lady. LMFAO! She kept it on all through making us cups of teas and coffees or getting the beer open, then ran upstairs and came back transformed into herself.
We were up until the early hours then; opening presents; sampling peeps. Pixie's dad had sent me a little Yoda action figure, with a gun, so we executed a peep to test it. LOL Very loud and raucous, we were, but Nick (Kate's housemate in bed above us) forgave us.
Friday 20th May:
There were no real plans, but I woke up at half past 7 and heard voices in the other room. Pixie and Dirk were already awake. I remembered where I was and what was happening to me, so bounced out of bed. Understand that bounced and half 7 in the morning is relative. I bounced inwardly until I'd got two cups of tea and several cigarettes inside me, then I was awake enough to bounce outwardly too!
Aud wanted to play and Pixie and Dirk wanted to sample a traditional English breakfast, so I killed two birds with one stone and added a bonus bird for myself, by picking Aud up and going round the corner to The Lunchbox. I used to go in there every dinnertime until about four years ago. They not only remembered my name, but also the double-decker egg, beans and cheese toasted sandwich that they'd invented for me. :-o Pixie and Dirk had the full English. I thought it would turn out that despite the name it was known the world over. Nope. They had never seen the like before. Americans don't even have baked beans for breakfast. In what became a trademark of British meals, they found it much more greasy than they were used to. Dirk, in particular, was talking very wistfully about American food (and weather) by the end of their visit here. Poor cariad.
We set off for the Black Country Museum, via Morrisons, and it was really good fun. I've been there millions of times, so I thought I would just be going to show Pixie and Dirk, but in the event, I learned things about my 'hood that I hadn't known. It was visiting for my own sake then! LOL Before we went in, I'd told them that they wouldn't find the Black Country on a map, because everyone has their own idea of where it is. When we were in there, there was a short presentation over three screens telling folk all about the Black Country. A professor-type bloke pops up on one screen saying, 'The Black Country is where the coalfields were' and up popped a map of this on the middle screen. On the far screen another professor-type bloke pops saying, 'No, no, the Black Country is where the steel and iron were, the industrial areas...' The map shows a bigger area, then disappears. Up pops Ayli or Aynok, saying, 'Tha' Block Contrees we-ah a Block Contree mon seys ittis...' It became a standing joke after that, with Pixie keep saying, 'Tell, where is the Black Country?' I guess you had to be there...
We wondered around the museum then, in and out the houses, down on the tram, and taking a tour of the ironworks. The bloke doing the door really couldn't cope if something went off-script. At one bit he picked up a length of iron and Pixie jumped forward to touch it. The look on his face! LOL I actually thought he was handing it to us, but evidentally not. He told us some interesting things though. Like how the workers used to punch in their presense on a huge dial, which looked like a clockface, hence 'clocking on'; and how they used to be paid by their wages being poured from little pots into their caps, hence 'coming cap in hand'. We also nipped into the little cinema and watched a Charlie Chaplin short film, before going into the pub. We walked back up via the cake-shop - beautiful home-baked cakes, but a bit too sugary for the Americans - and the precious stones shop. I'm sure that hadn't been there last time!
We dropped Aud off then went via the garage to fill up on petrol for the next day. Dirk and Pixie had gone into the shop by the time I finished. I walked in to find that they'd paid my petrol! :-o (Pixie did this again on the Tuesday night, plus bought me Red Bull etc for the journey down to Gatwick.) That was so lovely of them.
We made our way back to Kate's and caught a taxi into Stourbridge, eating at Chicago Rock (apparently it didn't look like Chicago, even if you closed your eyes. LOL), before walking down to to the Stourbridge Rock Cafe to see Chumbawamba. We were well early, so watched Bleeding Hearts doing their soundtrack. They were quite good! Kate's brother, Andrew, and all the Stourbridge posse joined us, including Stefan, who I hadn't seen since 1993. Bleeding Hearts were brilliant, but had got us all ready for dancing, when Chumbawamba came on - minus Alice Nutter and Danbert - performing a largely accoustic set. It took a while to adjust, because we kept thinking that they'd start on the more raucous songs. They were still good, but completely at odds with the mood in the place.
It was all way too smokey for Pixie in particular as well; Dirk told me afterwards that he was shocked at just how many Britons smoke. By that point, every single person he'd met smoked, which was proving to be hard on their lungs. He mused that it might be that Americans are more educated about this, until I showed him the cigarette packets, all telling us just how bad for us they were. Branny was there when we had this conversation and she confirmed that the Dutch are also well informed. It seems that all three countries have the anti-smoking adverts too. Maybe there's something more fatalistic in the European mindset, I don't know.
Back to the Friday night, we caught a taxi home and then partied on at Kate's house. This was her night out after a long, long hard stretch of working every weekend and rehearsing for her play every night. She'd been gutted when she'd realized that the dates clashed (thus she'd had to drop out of Glastonbury, which had really upset her). I knew that she wanted to party on all night long, but Pixie and Dirk were wilting, Nick was asleep upstairs and I had to be driving a car at 9am. I felt really sorry for her, but by 1-2am, we had to call it a night and go abed, which was a shame, because I was loving it too!
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
*bounce bounce bounce*
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
"So it's not so much look back in anger as look back in a slightly bad mood."
The heading quote doesn't relate to anything. I just heard it in a trailer for 'Coronation Street' and giggled my head off. Ian McKellan is in it. Gandalf canting with Ken Barlow... on-screen druid with off-screen druid. Looks like fun!
Our David and his girlfriend have had a son! Owen Edward Peach Miles, born on May 12th. *happy dance*
I have been such a productive wench this weekend. I figured that I ought to muck out Rebecca and my room just in case Pixie and Dirk come and visit here. That escalated as these things do. I've got my life on an even keel again, except at work, where I'm never going to have all my jobs done by Wednesday afternoon. Oh well, what gets left, gets left.
Major excitement this end though. I've had a bit of a breakthrough with my Prangnells. I've been looking for them in Middlesex, then I was looking on Dennis Prangnall's site and noticed that the Isle of Wight Mark and Louisa have an eldest son of the same name and DOB as my Mark and Louisa. Also he's lost track of the family after a certain time. I looked at the Middlesex Prangnells, and got in touch with a descendent of Robert. She and I were canting all evening, comparing notes. Robert and Mark are same generation, same job etc. Then I looked at my Mark and Louisa's children - the second eldest boy and girl are named for the IOW Mark's parents, though these names are John and Mary, so common enough. However, Dennis thinks the IOW Mark remarried.
What needs to happen next is that I get the 1851 census in Brummagen to see where Mark was born. That's going to be massive. For a start I've got to go to Brummagen Archives and the search could take days. If I'm right though, I've just broken down a massive brickwall in my genealogy AND that branch of my family is back to 1657.
You should see the grin on my face!
I'm feeling generally more settled these days. Really looking forward to Pixie coming. Aud keeps making me go over-excited by sending me e-mails like 'three more sleeps to go'! She's coming with me to pick them up from Heathrow. We're fighting over who gets to be the quiet and shy one; I mentioned this to Pixie, but she also wants to be the quiet and shy one. Looks like it's down to Dirk then. *grin*
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I have recieved several mails the last twenty-four hours supporting
me, telling me they don't want to repeat their support publicly (in
the grove), "because they fear repraisals".
Well, I am not really attached to "the grove" like many of the
others, so I am not afraid to speak my mind.
I was away in Dorset when the incident this pertains to blew. Since then I've been firstly floating ethereally through a Beltane forest induced state of spiritual bliss; busy at work; then doing dissertation, so I haven't had chance to read all of the ins and outs of it. I skimmed it at the time, realized there was no-one hurting who couldn't look after themself and anything needful was already done. But didn't read through everything properly.
The person saying that was someone whose views I have occasionally shared, while other times totally disagreed with.
I work so bloody hard on the Grove. I'm often up until the early hours feeling like the last lines of 'Lazarus' were written for me and the other Mods:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
And any who thinks that that is hyperbole should see our inboxes on an average day. Additionally, I sit for hours html-ing away, that the achievements of Grovers would get some publicity, that browsers might buy their wares and those passed over won't be forgotten. All five of us read every single solitary post, so that no-one will ever feel that their posts were missed and their voice not heard. We try so hard to create a welcome, a safe sanctuary just to learn about Paganism and be part of a Pagan community, and to ensure that no-one ever feels themselves outside some bloody clique.
I don't begrudge a second of it. I'm no saint. None of us are. I know that it's not just the mods who get this and the Grove wouldn't be what it is without the members. I'm not afraid of negative criticism, in fact it's welcomed because without knowing what is wrong, it can't be put right.
But to have it just dismissed like this and to be left with the feeling that our carefully crafted sanctuary, maintained through no few battle-scars of our own, is viewed by 'several' Grovers as sanitized crap. Does that mean that two years of bloody hard work on my part (three years on the part of Cerr and Anna) wasn't worth it? And to be told that by someone I'd got pegged as a friend?
Yes, it hurts. I understand a little better now why Cerr felt the need to ban this individual. She's taken the flak for far longer than I have. Anyone who wants to scream 'fluffy' should take their turn at being a WG or KO mod for five minutes, then see how long they still hold that opinion.
Part of me wants to just give up now. Tell Cerr, sorry cariad, this amount of blood, sweat and tears just isn't worth it. But that's never been my way. I learned about torture and joined Amnesty International. That's my way. I learned a long time ago that it 'takes great control to be angry', just as Joolz said. I still believe in what we do there and if that makes me fluffy, then so be it. Name-calling is always the last refuge of those who have run out of defendable arguments and so I've found whenever I hear the words 'fluffy Wiccan'. I look at those spouting such sentiments with pity, because they've reached the end of their imagination.
To those 'fearing reprisals' on the Grove, write to me email@example.com. Please don't be afraid. You would never believe the knocks each Mod takes in secret for you, we're not about to deliver one for your insecurity. We're neither Messiahs nor monsters, just human beings trying to do our best; and I'd like to explain just why it is that we try to keep the deep waters of the Grove so calm.
The Sound of Bodhrans on Rannoch Moor
I know you're probably sick of hearing about bodhrans today, particularly when it involves you having to read long chapters shortly afterwards, but I want to tell you something else.
On Samhain, 2004, as I reckon it (ie it was before sunset on November 1st), I started writing up this dissertation. To say I started it then is to bely months and months of reading and brainstorming, which really began around September 2003. Nevertheless, on Samhain 2004, I started writing. On that date, I put on the soundtrack to 'Rob Roy', which has a tune called 'Rannoch Moor Suite: Scorched Earth/Rannoch Moor Retreat/The Mists/Rob'. In amongst the soaring pipes, there is a bit where the bodhran goes beserk. In listening to it, you have to stop everything. Eyes closed and you are upon the moor, or in a forest, or up in the skies flying, running, dancing, anywhere or any place that your Celtic mind can take you. You have no choice, it's in the tune.
Back in November, in my mind's eye, I was back on a stage at a Vegas Ren Faire, dancing while a significant number of Grovers looked on. Just as I did then, I stopped wondering how I managed to be up there, I just closed my eyes and felt the music take me. Something of the substance of the Gwynedd mountains and the wild Irish sea, the old Dolgellau road, and the slate caverns, and the utterly stunning magical assault to the senses that is Uwchmynydd, something of that filled me and took me. I danced and when I opened my eyes again, it wasn't with the shy anxiety of a Mab dancing in front of hundreds of people on a stage, it was with the momentary disorientation of a Mab returning from a purely Celtic flight of spirit. You can imagine that I had a few rude awakening, when my headphones got yanked off my head during November, dancing again in layers - from the bodhran to the Ren Faire to flying somewhere else. Of late, I've just sat still. These past two days, I've closed my eyes and been in last week's Beltane forest, walking the labyrinth, seeing wonders or off on Haworth Moor, drawing down the full moon and being filled with the beautiful Mother of All.
If I was ever asked what kept me sane during the writing of this dissertation, then I'd probably respond 'nothing, I went mad, just ask the mods...' But a few raised eyebrows later, having got 'was I sane to start with?' out of the way, I'd produce a list. It was my friends and family, it was Witchgrove, it was those day-trips out to Glastonbury or Lincoln, it was the certain knowledge that one day it would be over. But if I was to be asked what was an absolute, like little beats of sanity injected into my spirit every hour or so, then it was the 'Rannoch Moor Suite'. In particular, it was the bodhrans going beserk and those little mental flights of fancy which told me, 'Yes, you might be pretending to be an academic here, but witchcraft won't be found in all your research there, it's here, on the moors and in the forests and the wild Celtic dancing.' The bodhran did it. I kept the 'Rob Roy' soundtrack on repeat for the entire writing of this dissertation and the bodhran took me once an hour.
I couldn't have planned it. I guess only fortune, coincidence or the goddess herself could have done so, but just now, after I'd written my last word and was just completing the last of the cosmetic amendments, 'Rannoch Moor' came on. I didn't close my eyes, I didn't fly. I just let the music fill me as I tidied up the page. As the last echo of the bodhran sounded and the pipes brought me back down, I typed in the last full-stop and saved the work.
Unless Cerr, Draig or Laurie have anything to add to what Anna already said about the chapter they are all reading, then my dissertation is finally over.
State of Grace
After his first Eucharist, while everyone else was receiving their's, my nephew sat next to me. I looked for the state of grace and asked, 'How do you feel?' He grimaced (which I wasn't expecting) and said, 'I really need a wee!' So I sent him quickly to the loo...
Bit that I can't stop tittering about though. After the Holy Communion, all of the children sat around a table to eat their breakfast, with us family members hovering around giving them their cards and presents. Mum had bought this wind up (well I thought it was a butterfly...) dove to put in my nephew's card, so when he opened it, it would fly out with a whammy. Anyway, I'm in position to take a photo of this happening, when the head-teacher announced that Father Pat needed to rush up to St Mary's to hold the usual Sunday Mass, but he was going to say grace first. Then he stood behind our Jordan.
Thing is that Jordan was halfway through opening Mum's card at the time. While we watched on horrified, he carried on opening it and there we (Mum, Nan, Grandma and Auntie) are with visions of this paper butterfly/dove hitting Father Pat in the face at great force halfway through grace. I'm desperately trying to signal him to stop, but we were saved by a Hail Mary. Jordan stops to repeat it and cross himself, Father Pat steps away, Jordan opens the card and the thing whizzs up straight through the air vacated seconds before by the Father and off across the hall. I can't stop laughing.
For my next trick, as Jordan's Godmother (stop sniggering), I'll teach him to do nothing during grace but concentrate on the grace.
I have got a gorgeous photo of him though. He's there with his brand new rosary beads counting his Hail Mary. It was supposed to be a video, but when I finished waiting for him staring off into the distance and said, 'You know I'm recording this, don't you? Start whenever, cariad...' He reliably informed me that you say that in your head and he was. So I took a photo instead. It's as close to holy as you're going to get with that one. He's not walking ten feet above the ground with a practically visible halo above his head, like his brother was after his confirmation.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labours and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.
Monday, May 02, 2005
'Isn't it good to be lost in the woods
Isn't it bad, so quiet there?
In the wood'
~'Octopus' by Syd Barrett
WOW! OH! WOW! OH WOW! :-D I'm still sitting here grubby as hell and badly in need of a bath. It was PeteFest and it was brilliant.
We stayed at Birchwood Tourist Park for the occasion of Pete's 30th birthday (which gave me the shock of my life when I did the maths there... that means that he was only 18 when I met him! :-0). Folk came from all over the country to pitch our tents in the whole section of the camping park, as Pete had booked for us, though I think that Kate and I came furthest.
It took us 6 hours to get there. I was supposed to get the afternoon off, but I couldn't get out of a conference. That was supposed to finish at half 3. At 4, Kate was in reception waiting for me. It was still 20 past 4 before I fled and the conference still wasn't over. Thing was that we had to get to the site by 9pm and it was about as South in England as you can get without ending up in the English Channel.
We hit rush-hour. We hit road-works. We hit major miscellaneous conjestion (probably brought on by the bank holiday). Kate had contact lense trouble, which looked like conjunctivitis at that point; then got cystitis. A few miles down the A350, we hit fog and very slow cars. By quarter to 9, we were going through Blandford Forum thinking that we couldn't make it, so I 'phoned the site and a very reassuring man on the other end of the phone told us that it was ok. It was raining by the time we pulled up on the site and I told Kate I'd get someone to help me put the tent up (it's a mansion of a tent), but they'd all disappeared. We could see their tents but no people. There was also no 'phone signal. Kate looked ready to burst into tears. We put up the tent and it was mysteriously wonky. (It's only today, after taking it down that was discovered why - the ground underneath was wonky! We've spent days tatting with the tent trying to correct it! LOL) And as we were putting it up, a pole ricochetted off and hit me across three fingers, I thought I'd broken them at the time, but gritted my teeth and just got on with it.
Soon as we were up, Kate had a lie down, then went to war on the cystitus with water. It lessened slightly, but wasn't knocked into touch until the next day, when we got some stuff from a chemist in Wareham. After a half an hour or so, she was in much better spirits. The gang returned from the pub and Pete popped in to see us, but mostly it was a case of getting set up and settled down.
Saturday and Sunday
There were about 30 people there by Saturday. It really did have a festival air about it, we each had to keep reminding ourselves that this was a camping field with families on it. The 30 people came as a bit of a shock to the landlord of the Duke of Wellington pub, in Wareham, when we all turned up within an hour of each other after a full English cooked breakfast.
We basically set off in bits and drabs as another carload of people were washed and dressed enough to go. By the time me, Kate, Pete and two others arrived, the first carload had been there 40 minutes and still hadn't got their breakfast. The group after them were on the verge of saying, 'fuck this for a game of soldiers', cancelling their order and going up the road to a cafe. We'd already ordered by then. The concept of vegetarians hadn't been introduced to the landlord either. Kate had to explain it. We decided not to prosecute, because we're nice. (It's illegal in Britain not to have a veggie option on the menu.) When our food eventually came, two hours later, it was patently obvious that the tomatos had been fried in lard. It was horrible.
The lads who went to the cafe reported that they met the landlord out in the street with a newly purchased toaster under his arm. Kate overheard him on the phone telling someone to get out of bed now and get into the pub to help out. On average, the breakfasts took between an hour and two hours to arrive and got less and less as time went by. Pete had a single mushroom, not a big one, just one single button mushroom. My egg wasn't well-done. People were counting ten baked beans etc. None of the meateaters had the advertized two sausages. My tea tasted like it had been stewing for a week.
Funniest of all though was the Toast Lady. You were supposed to get your toast with your meal. Even after the landlord had bought a toaster, it still arrived an average of half an hour later. The old lady bringing them would put it down on the table, look around nervously, whimper, 'toast' and flee. One of the lads did complain three times, but none of the others did. Usually Kate would be the first up doing it, but I think that we were just having fun and it had become hilarious rather than annoying.
After a mini look around Wareham, we drove back to the campsite to chill out even more. There was talk of going to the beach later, but as time went on, it was obvious that there weren't enough drivers still sober, so we scrapped that in favour of the surrounding forest instead. Some of the others played cricket, while the rest of us sat watching and enjoying the sunshine. It was great getting to know folk like that, because it was a lot quieter than it would be later on, while smaller groups meant less people talking over each other. In short, I could hear them! LOL I also watched an Australian lose at cricket, which I understand is quite rare. Mind you, she did do 16 of those run things, before she was caught and had to come out.
After a while, though, the forest was just too enticing. I'm amazed it took me until Saturday late afternoon to do it, but I went exploring on my own. It was so cool in there, under the green, grey and black shade.I wandered and dreamed. I avoided the beaten paths whenever I encountered one and made my own, even if it involved using a tree as a convolutated bridge over a patch of nettles. I looked at pretties and meditated on Beltane. I got as far as a swamp to the north of the campsite, then came back. Everyone was still at the cricket, but Kate was about to go off to see the forest too. I let her go alone, because it was the sort of place which is lovely to explore alone. Not that I realized then just how big it was.
Wareham Forest, I know now, is 14 square miles. It encompasses marshlands, watermeadows, a fir and conifer forest, heathlands, as well as your bog-standard forest. It is BIG.
I sat another hour chilling out, then went for another adventure. This time I wasn't priestessing, I was out playing. I passed a field (heath?) which was full of rabbits. I mean hundreds of them. I gasped, thus alerting them to my presense, and as I struggled to get the digital camera out, they all disappeared down rabbit holes.
About fifty yards down the track, I saw another rabbit who darted into the forest. I looked to see where he'd gone. Now I don't know what you see on this picture, but I saw a gateway. 5ft 3" people can pass under it just as well as rabbits can and ALL the rulebooks are very clear on the subject of what to do when rabbits run past you... 'Alice in Wonderland', Syd Barrett, Jefferson Airplane... all VERY explicit. So I followed him into densest forest, though I had to stoop quite considerably a little way in. That was worth it. For a start, I saw a hobbit's house and, after a while, came out on heathland to discover a bonfire ready made up but not lit... on Beltane...
Which reminded me. I have a really good sense of direction, given enough clues, and I looked up at the sun to find my way back. I hadn't gone too far out, but the camp was relatively difficult to find. I made it back well before sunset though, so rejoined everyone at the camp to have a little sit down. As we were all present and correct, it was time for the cards and presents. Sue, Pete's girlfriend, had organized a bush survival week for him in Sussex. (Nothing to do with American presidents, a surviving in the wild thing instead.) We'd all put together to pay for it and signed the big card. He opened it and couldn't work out what it was from a brief glance at the list of things he had to take with him. Sue told him and his face was a picture. She knew her man. You could just tell that it was the perfect present for him.
Sunset wasn't far off, so I meandered back to the tent (which has a large central area) and opened my circle. I've never done a circle in a tent before, but one side was open to the west (and therefore the sunset) and the energy within was unbelievable. It was top-of-the-Tor level of buzzing. I sent a bit of it to everyone I knew who needed it, then was halfway through those who didn't need it, but should have it anyway, when Kate came back. I opened the circle to let her into her bedroom area (*giggle*), but she waved it off, saying she'll go at the toilet block as well, but wanted to warn me that folk were getting ready for our bonfire in the forest. I closed the door again and finished off. I'd just closed the circle when she returned. It was a beautiful atmosphere in there and, having seen the bonfire made up on the heath earlier, I fully expected us to run into a group of pagans out there with a fire already going.
It was quite an expedition. 30 people, some with chairs, some with lanterns, some with beer, all heading out into the forest. I kept having to run ahead or behind in order to avoid the torches. I have excellent night vision, which gets blinded by the torches. One torch in particular blinded just about everyone. I couldn't understand why so many people needed their torch when the night wasn't so dark yet, but Kate told me that people's eyes are different and some really do need it. We went quite a way into the forest, way past where I'd seen the bonfire, and I began to get a tiny sense of the size of this place.
A lad named Ben and I were up front when Pete called for a fag break. We stopped and that was proclaimed our place to stop for the night. We each took turns to forage for wood in the surrounding forest, while Pete and Ben created our own bonfire.
I love that picture. At some point during the night, I came across Pete and Ben canting and asked, 'Is Ben your Kate?' (meaning your best friend/partner in crime), Pete replied, 'No, Ben's my Ben, man.' LOL
It was really chilled out. Sitting around drinking, talking, then someone got a portable music system (of some sort, I didn't look closely enough) and all chance I had of hearing was gone. I didn't mind that, I'm used to it, but when Ben was trying to ask me about Paganism and Jim was trying to talk about... something... I had no chance. Also it's very hard to lip-read in that light. I had to keep apologizing, but I was having so much fun. Everyone was. You could see it in their faces and Pete's face was great to watch. He kept looking around and getting this little grin on his face, which I translated as 'look at my people, who came all this way to share this beautiful moment with me...'
Then IT happened. It started with a couple of flashes behind me and Kate, which first I caught and asked what that was. Then Kate caught. By the third, we realized that we were looking at a storm. It grew and it was stunning! Forked lightning, sheet lightning and not a drop of rain... Someone said that it was probably over the Solvent and we could see it because of our vantage point. But later I learned from one of those who'd returned to camp earlier that they saw it all around us, spinning around the sky, but not touching us in the centre. It was amazing enough for them, but for us... WOW! Every few seconds, the trees would light up or forked lightning would zap across an opening in the trees.
One of the wenches next to me was afeared that it would strike us, but Ed reassured her that the trees are taller and it would strike them first. But what if we were under it? I replied that we just don't sit under it. On retrospect, telling her to avoid being under trees while in a forest... She was among the group who left shortly after that. Then there was Jim, very drunk and wanting to talk to me. So he sat on a chair right in my view of the storm. I ended up talking to him like a three year old. 'Get up... move your chair there... here!' *picking it up and moving it for him* 'I can't hear you... I still can't hear you... there's a storm, music, people talking and I'm deaf... I can't hear you... I'm just going to watch this storm... I can't hear what you're saying. Shut up.' Bless his cotton socks. I met him for the first time this weekend and he was generally lovely.
I was so energized by it. Downright high! The place, the setting, the company, the storm AND it was Beltane. As the storm died down, I wanted to run wild. I did a lap of the little bonfire and was about to tell Ben about the leaping over it, when I realized that he was missing. Looking up the track, I could see the storm still going on further up and a little incline in the track, which I could only tell by silouette in the lightning. I asked Kate if she wanted to come a walk up there, but she was too comfy. I was wanting the walk and two seconds of silence just to kiss the goddess's skirts for letting me be me and be there.
I wondered on up the track, being careful not to deviate from it, because it was dark and even I recognized that I could get lost. A little way up, I found Pete and Ben collecting wood. Ben was considering the walk too, but he needed to take the wood back. I told them that I'd only be five minutes and walked off along the track, transfixed by the lightning in the distance, the moment and the forest all around. Very careful to stay in a straight line along a single track... the irony...
I reached a gate and from there could watch the storm in the distance. As I sat, I heard a scuffling and a little yelp. I strained in the darkness to see and made out a fox about ten feet away. OMG! I just stared and as I did, it came towards me, right at my feet as they dangled from the gate. I barely breathed, but I could hear it panting. It came to me suddenly to wonder if foxes would attack... you'd think that I'd know by now, wouldn't you? But no... then, as I watched, it seemed to become transparent then ran away. I sat there half in shock. It was either an hallucination (I wasn't entirely sober...); a real fox (this was the early hours and everything in darkness pixelates greatly with all the buzzy, golden lights (phrenozones?); a ghost fox; or it was my totem/familiar showing itself. I didn't know then and I still don't know.
I thought I'd consult Kate or Pete on the subject, so meandered down the track again. Partway down, a track forked off and I nearly took it, then remembered - Stay on the straight line, so you don't get lost. I looked down and the track very distinctly led one way, but there was a slight curve which made it look like a fork. That other was a track going off it. I walked on. What I failed to notice was that I'd never once, on the way up, walked around even a slight curve. That had been my track and I was now walking along another track which led at right angles away from both where the others were AND the camp-site. We reckon that was around half 2. I made it back to the campsite, utterly exhausted, at around half 8 the next morning after spending the entire night walking around the forest trying to find my way back.
The first question anyone asks, if their look of horror hadn't already asked it, is 'weren't you scared?' No. I was never once scared, even after it became obvious that I was lost. I trusted myself and I trusted the Goddess. Besides I had enough cigarettes to last me. It was Beltane and I figured that this was all part of the Great Universal Game. Very early on, I was looking up and saw torchlight up a ridge and what sounded like Kate and Pete. I got my torch out and flashed them. One figure waited at the top, while the other came down the track. In the torchlight, I could make out Kate's orange blanket/coat, then, as I watched, the apparition changed and became a Maiden, all in white, complete with white cloak. She went behind a tree and never came out again. The torchlight had gone from the top as well. Later, Kate and Pete told me that they'd never gone away from the fire together.
I didn't have time to contemplate that, because just on it there was an almighty shrieking howl very close by. I still had my torch in my hand, so swung around with it on. There was a huge electrical pilon and I wondered if something had been electrocuted. I moved over there and the howl continued. I remembered that sound from the Wyre Forest - foxes! It moved away, getting quieter, which is how I know it's moving away. Putting my witchy, hippy head on now, would that have been my animal guide warning me that I was on the wrong track and to follow now? Seeing that pilon was the first time I wondered if I was on the right track, because I didn't remember seeing it on the way up. Then I pointed out to myself that I wasn't sober AND I'd been watching the storm in the other direction at the time. I kept going.
Eventually I arrived at the camp-site. Now I knew that I'd taken a wrong turn, but serendipidously, because there were a couple of things we'd forgotten which I could pick up and fill up with water. I did the latter, went to the loo and then looked for the tent. Or any tent would have done. There were no tents. I walked all the way to the main gate having spent about half an hour in there and discovered that this was the wrong campsite. Being so late, there was no-one around to ask directions, so I set off again. I didn't know then but that site is separated from ours by a thin wall of trees. It was about 10 mins away from Birchwood site, but, as we'd approached each time from the other side, I had never seen it.
As I said before, I have a good sense of direction. I usually only have to go somewhere once to memorize it. Folk find this hard to believe after Saturday night, but it's true. What my downfall was was that it was cloudy, therefore I had very little to go on; I didn't know either the lie of the land or the forest, as I'd never been to Dorset before, let alone Wareham; and I was in a totally different part of the forest from where I'd been earlier. The few clues I had, I utilized. I looked up and found the Plough and the Pelaedes. I remembered staring at them before the storm and where they were in the sky, then I faced them and headed in that direction. I also thought I'd seen the pilons to the north of the campsite (no, they were telephone wires, I learned later), so I kept them to the north (the pilons were actually to the south of the site...).
I found the A35 four times, but the first time didn't go near it because there was a van parked at the gate of the track and I didn't want to have to hurt anybody. The second was when I was at the gate of the first campsite. I decided that a main road would be better than a forest, insofar as I could get a clue to where I was, phone a taxi to take me to my campsite and then find the gang from there. I walked up it, pondering where I was going to find the taxi number from, when I saw the van at an entrance to the forest. I remembered that! I wasn't long lost when I first saw it, so I still must be close! I walked further up and re-entered the forest (I was actually moving in the opposite direction to both campsite and gang here.)
I passed a hillfort and noted it for returning and taxi purposes, then went on walking. It was around this time that I texted Kate to announce that I was lost. I didn't want Pete to think I'd disappeared in a huff or something. There wasn't much network coverage, so it took a while to send it. She didn't get it for an hour or more later. By then I'd been as far as a sign to Bloxworth (one and a quarter miles away) and a sewage works. This gave us later the scope my walking - probably a three and a half mile square of forest. Along the way, I saw definitely three foxes, none of which disappeared and all of which started howling at me.
It was around this time that Kate got my text and phoned me, but her battery was going. The moon had just come out and she just had chance to tell me where the moon was from her view from the fire, when her battery cut out. She didn't think I'd even heard that, but I did and it was crucial information. Thank you Kate and thank you Lady. I had been walking towards the moon, now I knew that I had to walk away from it. This was all going well until I found the hillfort again. My spirits sagged then for the first time. I knew that the hillfort was near the wrong campsite... I just didn't know that the wrong campsite was next to ours, so I turned around and walked back to another main track. This still kept the moon behind me and, I reckon now, would have taken me near to the fire.
I stood at a crossroads and I could hear a car on the road. I listened and I could hear music and voices. In short, I could hear my friends. This hadn't been the first time, but it had been the first time in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, I can't tell direction of sound. I was also getting tired by then. I was seeing wondrous things and having quite an adventure, but I wanted to be with the others celebrating Pete's birthday. Frustrating, to me, is wanting to punch something. This wasn't frustration, but some kind of milder cousin. I figured it would give folk a laugh back at the fire and it wasn't my fault. Pete would understand that (and he did and they laughed after they'd got the being concerned over with). I had no concept of time, I didn't realize how long I'd been gone. I looked at the moon; I discounted (foolishly) the road as not being ours; and, as it was getting lighter by then, I looked around at the landscape - the first time I was able to over any distance. Across two fields was a bit of forest which looked like ours and it kept the moon in the right place. It never occurred to me that even though I couldn't tell sound direction, there was a fireside gang of people who could. Why didn't I just shout? I thought of phoning Kate and getting her to shine a torch into the sky, but her phone battery had just died.
I headed over the fields, then saw a flash of yellow - gorse bushes. Our campsite was surrounded by gorse bushes. From the gorse, I could find the fire! I walked over to find a beautiful sight, a massive stretch of gorse, a maze of it. I had a toilet break, but had already noticed the main road behind it. I knew it to be the road that I should be dismissing... and didn't trust my sense of direction AGAIN. So I turned around and made my way across some bracken and wetlands, then, climbing up onto a bank of a brook, I felt something slip from my pocket. Looked down and couldn't see what, checked fags and lighter... checked 'phone... shit. I ended up with everything out of my bag looking for it. It was gone. Thing is, nothing else was missing, so I don't know what the slipping sensation was. I even climbed down into the brook and peered through bracken and ground nests looking for the Ddraig Goch of my mobile.
Decision time. I knew I had it when I spoke to Kate. I knew where I'd been since and it was light enough to retrace my steps while searching. I only had vague clues as to where 'home' was. I decided that the sensible thing was to see if I could find the phone on the basis that if I got injured or collapsed that might be my salvation. Also, if I gave up and went for the road, then I'd need it for a taxi, unless I wanted to add 'finding a phone box' to my list. If I'd thought that I knew where I was for definite, I'd have said sod the phone, it's replaceable. So I retraced and found it in the gorse-bush place. It must have slipped out as I squatted for a wee.
I made my way back across the wetlands and across the bracken. As I crossed a heath, I saw a patch of forest turn into the most magically beautiful colour. I turned and welcomed a glorious dawn. That's when I stopped walking for the first time, sitting on a rock at the edge of the forest, thanking the dawn for coming. You see, I'd celebrated Beltane in a circle during which I'd watched the sunset. I now knew precisely where east was and I knew where west had been in relation to the camp-site. I walked, and walked, and walked.
I stopped. Deer! Remembering the lesson of the rabbits, I didn't fumble for my digital camera, I just watched and loved it. There were four of them, so graceful. Each froze and watched me, so I did too. It seemed to go on for an interminable amount of time, until my legs screamed to sit down, so I moved and they fled. They weren't like deer as I imagined, either grey or red with white spots. They seemed dark grey to black, very small with white, broad, stumpy tails. I entered a forest trail and ended up on that same damn road.
The really stupid thing is that each time I'd followed a clue, I'd ended up back in the vicinity of the campsite, but upwards of ten mins walk further south-east. Had I just trusted that, or got the message, and persevered, I'd have got there, but each time I turned around and ended up approximately three miles too south at one time. This time I was too tired, I decided to stick with the road on the basis that it had to lead somewhere and if I collapsed from exhaustion, then a passer-by would see me. I stood there and looked up and down this forest road. No clues. I looked at the sun, I chose north-west. :-D
After about 20 mins walking, and wondering if you could call 999 over being lost or report yourself as a missing person or something, I got so despondent for the first time. I knew Kate's battery was dead, but I'd half-sat, half-lay on a grass verge at the side of the road and just wanted to pretend I could call her. So I did. Her phone had been off long enough to get some charge in the battery. Looking back, I was so pathetic a figure there! LOL I didn't cry and there was nothing she could do to help me (I knew that and told her), but I just wanted to hear a friendly voice. Why the fuck I didn't phone one of the Americans, I'll never know... but then it was good canting with Kate, because if something did happen, she'd know that I was last on a proper road somewhere in the forest.
It gave me heart enough to get on my feet and carry on walking. A few minutes later, I saw the van at the end of the track and knew that the wrong campsite was just up the way. They would be open now. I could get directions or a taxi. I walked in there and just fell onto a bench. I got my phone out to tell Kate where I was, but the buttons wouldn't work. I figured it had been damaged lying in the dew, but it worked before and since.
A man came by with some dogs and I asked him where Birchwood was. 'Just there, through the trees'. I stared at him. 'Pardon?' He gave me directions, but I couldn't take them in. I wrote them in my book and just blurted out, 'I've been lost in the forest all night!' He said, 'All night?' 'Yes, I got separated from my friends.' I was losing my voice and I could hear the knackerness in it myself. He replied, 'You should get better map-reading skills.' I nodded and got up, thanked him and followed his directions. I still managed to take a wrong turn, but within sight of the road. I decided against his short-cut beside the sureity of the road.
Within five minutes, I was at the entrance to our campsite. That was such a beautiful moment! As I walked down the driveway, I saw my guide from the other campsite coming out of the short-cut he'd sent me down. I waved and called 'thank you' again, touched that he must have followed to see me alright, but carried on walking towards my tent. There was no sign of anyone. (They were all sitting IN tents, I found out.) I was too tired to think what this meant. I opened our tent and Kate called out, 'Who's that?' She sounded really scared. 'It's Jo.' I mustered. 'Are you alright?' 'Exhausted, but sorted, ta.' She didn't say anything else, and I thought she was gone to sleep. Moving as quietly as possible, I removed my sopping wet DMs and socks, revealing white, wrinkled feet. I sat down and had a fag. My phone told me it was half past 8 in the morning.
I needed fresh water (a cup of tea would have been better, but there was no easy access to one) and the loo, before I lay down. I found Sue in the toilet block and told her what had happened. She'd been abed and didn't know. She looked at all my cuts and scratches and said to wash them. I told her I could deal, I have a first aid kit in the tent. I asked her if there was a cafe on site, because I was desperate for a brew. Nope. I went back to the tent, opened my bedroom section and just crashed. Then heard a beep, beep from Kate's half. 'Are you awake?' 'Yes' Kate opened her section and we canted for a bit. I'd just got to the 'and I could die for a cuppa', when the tent-flap opened and there was Sue with a huge beaker of tea. I nearly cried.