Thursday, July 16, 2009

24 June 2009 : Day 25: Emsworth to Fleet (Hayling Island)

After breakfast at the hotel ....

another wild life vignette just round from the marina.

Mick says there were lots of cygnets in Emsworth but the foxes swim after them and eat them. And the swans have eaten all the ducklings though I tell Mick I have just seen a surviving duck family round the corner.

Pat offers me a seat at the crowded Flintstone Tearooms. She's there with her mother Lilian who she visits every day.

Pat tells me her husband, Dave, was diagnosed with emphysema last year. It's hit his confidence and he's depressed. I tell her about the Breathe Easy network and encourage her to contact the Portsmouth group, where Dave will be able to get valuable support from others living with the disease. It makes me remember how stricken I felt, and how disabled at the time of my own diagnosis.

Back at the hotel while I'm playing about photographing my remaining food - a pair of pears - on the bedroom windowcill, the avocado makes a bid for freedom and plunges to the ground. I'm two floors up and wait in horror for a shout below.

When I leave, the avocado is splatted on the ground like dog poo. Conscience gets the better of me and I dispose of it to curious stares. One way or another my time at this hotel has not been my finest hour.

1.30 p.m.
Temperature and humidity not recorded.
Warm, some cloud, humid.
O.S. Explorer Map No. 120
Distance cycled: 6.5 miles

Off along the pavements by the A259. Everything is fine until I turn left at the A27 roundabout. Somehow I've missed the NCR 2, a traffic free route, and find myself cycling along this crazy road which is also signed as the A3M. It might as well be a motorway proper, it is simply terrifying. HGVs pass me by a hair's breadth followed by gusts of destablising wind. I shouldn't be here - I'm cycling on a motorway.

I nearly fall off into the slipstream of a huge yellow Canute Distributions pantechnichon. I have seldom been so scared, and never so grateful for the even brighter yellow high-vis waistcoat that Keith of Herberts Cycles in Whitstable donated before I left.

At Havant I head south across Langstone Bridge to Hayling Island,

and along country roads...

until country music hits me from a low building on the right. It is a club for seniors - I claim the status and am welcomed in. Pamela "The Duchess" Richmond is singing and a large circle dance is going on.

The club is run three times a week, set up privately by two domiciliary care companies. It seems to work well, well attended and with many of its clientele having dementia but still engaged in what is going on. It is much more animated than much social services provision I've seen previously, which feels a bit troubling

And Pamela's doctor is pleased that, despite her chronic asthma, her singing keeps her so healthy.

4.30 p.m.

I register at the Fleet Caravan and Camping Site. £10 a night, and my best smile sadly produces no reduction in the fee. The tent area is very quiet, with lots of old oak trees, mostly peopled by workers from a cable company who are working in the area.

One of them comes across to tell me that a family of owls in the tree I've pitched my tent under make a loud snoring sound during the night.

A convenient Chinese takeaway on the main road round the corner supplies a large dinner.