Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Family Hike in Wales

As expected it hadn't taken long to reach the summit of Corn Du - about an hour perhaps. But I hadn't expected  to be engulfed in mist so thick and a view so reduced I was left disorientated with confusion. I had done this route many times. I felt no need for a map. I knew the path to my right would lead to Pen Y Fan - and so I continued my hike in the chosen direction. I knew the path would ascend to the next summit but instead I seemed to be descending. Something was not right. And so I back tracked in the direction I had come and with a few pointers from other hikers I eventually found the summit of Pen Y Fan. I wished for that map. Like navigating a room in a moonless night without light - I simply could not be sure where precisely I was located.

I did at least have a compass and so with this aid a path was chosen. And down it went and on it went. And once again, after half an hour I knew the trek was not the right one. Once again I turned around and continued back up the mountain. Tired, hot, exhausted and blinded in the mist - eventually I reached the summit of Pen Y Fan for the second time that morning. No water left and legs depleted of energy. I sat down and switched the GPS on. No satellite signal. A group of four emerged from the South and so I asked from where there trail had commenced. So this was a good bit of luck and I began my descent down the trail and back off the mountain.

I had been looking forward to this weekend. My sister had expressed an interest in going for a hike - and I suggested the Pen Y Fan hike in South Wales. It is a short hike and a good starter hike for the beginner. The plan was to meet my sister, nephew and my sister's boyfriend at the start of the hike on the Saturday morning at around midday. We would stay at a hotel in Merthyr Tydfil called the Tregenna. I would leave Hampshire on the Friday afternoon and my sister would leave Saturday morning.

And as I knew it to be a short hike I would do it twice on that day. Once in the morning. It would take me just over a couple of hours to complete - and I would rest and read in my car while waiting for my sister to commence the hike again. The same hike albeit from a different direction.

This plan ofcourse was sabotaged by the mist and the confusion. I had been hiking for four and a half hours by the time I reached the car park at the base of the mountain range. My sister and her boyfiend and my nephew arrived 15 minutes later. I looked and felt exhausted. It would have been nice to abandon the hike but the commitment was firm. I had promised the hike and so we continued - and for me this was the third ascent of Pen Y Fan on that day. Thankfully the mist was clearing and a couple of hours later we had all reached the summit. We had that joyous feeling of accomplishment that is felt when the desire to quit has been matched with the will to overcome and to ascend and to summit with the aid of nothing but one's own labour.

It was approaching late afternoon when the day's hiking was completed. We drove back to the hotel and took some time aquainting ourselves with this quirky abode. This family run hotel was great value with clean and spacious rooms and plenty of parking spaces. My nephew made good use of the parking bay as he sent his radio controlled model car wheeling and sliding under and around the real cars.

We quickly changed and made our way around to the local pub for a few drinks and to rest our aching muscles. It is a good feeling - to be with family and to chat and reminisce and reflect on the day that had been. To exchange ideas and to cover the history recent since last we met. And after the chatter and the drinks we hobbled back to the hotel and to our respective rooms and prepared for the evening meal. And this too was very nice - each of our meals were cooked with care and pride and there could be no complaints at all.

After a good night's sleep we all met again the following morning in the restaurant. It was a filling and tasty fully cooked breakfast. Once again another finely cooked meal. My sister had chosen the hotel and it was a very good choice indeed.

Following instructions from the helpful attendant we made our way to Cyfarthfa castle. The castle was designed in 1824 and built for the sum of £30,000. Part of the castle is now an art museum and the rest of the building operates as a comprehensive school. Unfortunately the museum was not open - but nevertheless it was a nice visit and a much less ardous stroll compared to the previous day's efforts.

And so we each had a long journey and so went our separate ways. It was a very pleasent weekend and each felt affirmed to ensure another hike be done as soon as could be arranged.

Peace to All

Friday, 8 August 2014

Deauville - France

There are of course many types of holidays.  My girls and I had done the Haven Park type of holiday and the beach in Spain holiday and the retreat in the mountains type of holiday.  This year we decided to book a hotel apartment in Deauville, France – and for a little additional adventure we would take the car via a ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe.

My eldest would be taking one of her friends so that meant that three adult size people and a ten year old child, with luggage, would need transportation in my little Suzuki splash.  This spatial challenge was met by purchasing a set of roof bars along with a waterproof and canvas roof sack.  And in addition to the load carrying modifications to the vehicle we would also need some additional kit to meet French legal motorway moving requirements.  So a kit was purchased containing a breathalyser and various other safety items such as a first aid kit and reflective vests.


The car was fully loaded on the Monday morning and we were ready to make the 55 mile trip to Newhaven.  The skies were black with storm cloud and we were not long underway when the rain storm darkened the sky and flooded the roads.  Driving through Shoreham several streets were blocked by police vans and I was in no way certain we would make Newhaven in time to catch the Ferry.

So it was not the best start to the vacation but we did make the Ferry and boarding it was very straightforward.  The three hour cross channel trip, in spite of the storms, was pleasant and calm and various card games along with our reading material meant boredom was never an issue.

It didn’t take long to get through the passport checking barriers at Dieppe and to commence the 85 mile trip to Deauville.  It was here that my alert levels were on a high state due to driving a car built for left lane driving in a country where the right lane is the legal lane.  In addition my GPS did not have maps for France so navigation would be the old fashion way with frequent stops to check the Atlas and confirm a correct route had been taken.  Driving on the opposite side of the road and also finding Deauville was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  Once arriving in Deaville however, finding the hotel was a greater challenge.  After driving about the district and doing the circles I decided to stop at a tourist office for assistance.  The lady handed me a local map with the route penned on it – and fifteen minutes we were checking in the hotel resort.

The resort was a Pierre & Vacances site positioned near a golf course.  There would not be the arcade parlours and rides and slides associated with a Haven or a Butlins.  This resort would focus more on relaxation and we found it very pleasant indeed.  The swimming pool was a good size and so too was the apartment.  A separate bedroom, kitchen and lounge room – a home away from home.
There were no restaurants or shops in the resort – and this was fine with us and gave us an opportunity to explore the local town each evening when searching a restaurant for our main meal.  Deaville is a wonderful town and frequented by the rich and famous.  Elegant, stylish, fashionable and peaceful – we all enjoyed this five day break in the Normandy region of France.  And the pictures will tell more than my words could – and so the reader is left with some of the snaps from our little holiday in France. 


Peace to All

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Blind Love

It has been quite some time since my last post. My nomadic life was over.  I was working locally.  I had a girlfriend in Brighton and it was to her place I would travel in the evening or on a weekend.  To see my life during this period from an outside perspective - you would describe a man in love and getting ready to settle down to a normal life with the lady he loved.

But it was not to be.  An affection of the heart is such a wonderful thing and also powerful.  But it can also be all too temporary.  And there were issues and there were recriminations and now there is nothing but love lost and a nomad with a tear in his eye and a pain in his heart.

So here I am back in my caravan on the field.  The sun is shining and the weather is warm.  This afternoon I will do what I always do in times like this - I will walk.  I will walk into Chichester and the thoughts will flow through my mind and eventually there will be peace once more.

To M if you would read this - thank you for the nice times.

Peace to All

Friday, 21 February 2014

Jersey - 3

We awoke sometime between 9 and 10 on our last day in Jersey.  We dressed and packed.  While the alluring princess applied the cosmetics to her beautiful face,  I descended the stairs to the hotel’s restaurant.   The waiter showed me to my table and went off to get the coffee.   I filled the plate from the buffet of bacon, eggs, sausages, mushrooms and hash browns.  Sitting down at the table and looking out at the bay I could see that this day would not be blighted with another storm.

After the breakfast and after we had checked out of the hotel we took one last walk along the beach.  The tide was out and the views were spectacular.

We then set out to explore the western side of the island.  The western coast of Jersey faces the Atlantic ocean.  Exposed to the ocean’s forces this side of the island appears battered and bruised.  Pretty and quaint towards the east, tough and weathered towards the west. 

We started our exploring in the South Western corner, a place called La Corbiere.  Here the sand was replaced by sharp and dangerous rock.  I wondered how many boats had been sliced to threads on this bit of the Jersey coast.

We then drove the the Les Mielles Nature Reserve and parked the car once again.  Looking towards the west it was a surprise to see a group of para gliders floating on the thermals.  More evidence that the flight back to England would bear no comparison to the choppy flight arriving at the island.

Driving down the Grand Route des Mielles the intention was to frequent a military museum.  Jersey is an interesting place for the military enthusiasts because it was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War.  Today however the museum was closed so we continued along the coast until we reached a Mexican restaurant called El Tico.  The place was packed and islanders were queuing for a table and we would be in for quite a wait so decided against the meal.  Instead we entered a surfing accessories shop nearby.  It was a clearance sale and it did occur to me that my daughter might appreciate some beach fashion for her approaching birthday.  A quick phone call however confirmed that surf ware was not cool at the moment so no purchases made here.

Our flight was at four and it was time to head towards Jersey’s airport.  Returning the car couldn't have been easier – park the car, lock the car and posit the keys in a letter box inside the airport.  Jersey airport is small and relaxed and we treated ourselves to Jersey ice cream before boarding the plane.  And that was our little weekend escape to Jersey.  It was a pleasant weekend and a convenient reconnaissance for a possible summer holiday further on in the year.

Peace to All

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Jersey - 2

Starting the day with a full English breakfast is always a treat.  And so with a full stomach I vacated the room while M, recovering from a recent cold, remained behind to relax in bed in a room with curtains drawn tight and a Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the handle. Outside of the hotel I took a few moments to enjoy the view out over the St Brelades ‘ bay.  For those with a love of sand and of heat – this indeed is a very worthy summer destination.

Crossing the road I was able to look back towards the hotel.  A four star hotel owned by the chairman of a premier league football club and recently renovated and upgraded to include a health centre and an impressive swimming pool – I felt the booking, this time of the year, to be a bargain.  A double room in a four star hotel for only 65 pounds a night including breakfast – yes that is value for money.
Saint Helier is the capital of Jersey with a population of 33,000 and it didn’t take more than ten minutes to arrive there in the Ford Fiesta. The difficulty, as is the case with most towns and cities of Europe on a Saturday morning, was to find somewhere to park the vehicle.  Most of the car parks required a season ticket of some sort – not something your average tourist is going to have available.  I found a multi-story, parked the car and proceeded to wander through the streets of the island’s capital.  After the storms of the previous week I was happy to be able to walk and to observe a city without the rain and without the wind.  The town didn’t seem remarkable in any way, except perhaps for the sense of class and order that will always percolate through the alleys and squares of any super wealthy town.
After paying the computer in the car park the required fee I drove back to the hotel to pick M up and begin out island tour.  We headed east and parked the car on a coastal allotment that was a ten minute walk from Mont Orgueil castle.  Built in the early 12th century the castle’s purpose was the defence of the island and it was later used as the Island’s prison.  We gave consideration to a tour of the castle but a little cafe called Cafe Louise in Gorey village caught our attention.  And so we sat down in the little cafe and ordered our soft drinks and also ordered a bite to eat.

We then took a walk through the village and a little art and craft shop caught our attention.  This was artist Jane James’ second shop on the island. And so we entered the little shop and on this sunny and calm day a most extraordinary change in the weather occured.  As quick as flipping a light switch the weather changed from bright and sunny to dark and gray and the village was a chorus of ice crystals as the hail fell from the skies.
Thankfully the artist allowed us to remain in the shop until the mini storm had passed.  M bought some souvenirs in appreciation of the lady’s kindness and we recommenced our journey around the island.  We decided to visit the Eric Young Orchid foundation.  Neither of us has a particular passion for orchids – but there is no reason why vacant time, while away on tour, cannot be given to such an unusual attraction.  For those with a passion for the orchid – this place would be a Disney Land of sorts to be sure.
Strong scents and stunning colours and beautiful designs of nature.  Such variety and beauty awaits the visitor to this shrine of the orchid.  M and I decided on a little photo competition.  As we rotated from flower to flower taking photographs with our phones, I gave some reflection to our relationship.  I had a love for her deep and mysterious, bright and sweet.  I cared for her immensely and felt sure we could have a life together once our differences were resolved.

Finished with the orchids we drove back to St Brelades bay via St Heliers and continued past the hotel until we came to the Marquandeer Inn.  It had been a busy day and so refreshments were ordered and we spent a good hour comparing our pics and deciding whose would be best.  Ofcourse we each voted our own to be winners and so that was a bit of fun and a nice ending to the daylight hours of our Saturday in Jersey.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Jersey - 1

Jersey is not part of the United Kingdom, but is a dependency of the British Crown and relies on the United Kingdom for its military defence.  It is located just off the coast of Normandy, France and has a population of 98,000.  Its economy is largely based around tourism and the financial services.  This was the middle of February and my partner and I had a planned weekend break together alone on this island.
It was late afternoon and there I stood in the airport in front of the self check-in terminal.  The screen requested a booking reference and after I entered in the code,  and there it was in big red bold capitals – CANCELLED.

Thus began our weekend journey to Jersey Island.  It was hardly a surprise.  The winds had been gusting at 40 miles per hour and many other flights had been cancelled.  A quick check before heading off to the airport suggested our flight was still on – but now we needed other options.

The Flybe supervisor took our details and we agreed to the 7.35 flight from Gatwick airport.  We were at Southampton airport and so Flybe hired a coach, which we boarded at 4.00 pm for the 87 mile trip.  In these conditions and with a peak hour traffic load it didn’t seem possible to make it in time.  The driver didn’t seem too pleased to have been called out at such short notice – for a journey whose arrival time seemed impossible.  And we didn’t arrive at the airport until 7.00 pm and this was not to be an issue since this flight would not take off until 10.00 pm anyway.

This was also a night of the valentine – and it was hoped to have been in Jersey on time for a romantic meal in the four star hotel that had been booked.  Instead dinner was to be steak and chips in an airport diner – average food but fiercely overpriced.  Not the best start to this romantic break away. 

After a long wait our flight was called.  It was a twin turboprop Dash-8 and we were seated at the back.  The wind blew fiercely and the plane shook and vibrated even while still on the tarmac. 
 It felt foolhardy to be taking off in such a small plane in such conditions – and even more so when bigger and heavier planes had remained on the ground rather than risk a flight.  But the captain had made the assessment – and so it was to be a flight through a violent sky over an English channel whose waters roared and frothed like mad men in the torment of an endless nightmare.

Something was not quite right while approaching Jersey’s landing strip.  During the descent the plane had chopped and pitched and shook to the tune of the gusty wind.  The flight felt beyond the control of the plane’s rudder and ailerons and so it was no surprise to feel the plane detach from the descent, at around 500 feet, and begin ascending once more into the heavens.  The landing was abandoned and another twenty minutes or so was spent hovering above the earth waiting for a more stable atmosphere to glide the plane down to safety.

The second attempt felt just as choppy as the first but this time the landing was not abandoned.  The plane descended in a buffeting wind and the wings oscillated up, down and from side to side.  And if it was hardly a smooth landing, still the wheels didn’t smack the tarmac like a falling slate of cement and we were all safe – and we all felt grateful enough to compliment the captain with a hearty round of applause.

It didn’t take us long to disembark from the plane and head out to the airport’s arrival lounge.  We found our car rental stand and the representative gave us our Ford Fiesta.  The journey to the St Brelades hotel only took ten minutes.  It didn’t take us long to check into the hotel, find our room – and embrace our slumber after a long and exhausting journey.