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Caving and flying (in more ways than one)

The main event today was caving. I know I know, I’ve already done a cave, but sadly I don’t mean caving as in going underground and chatting to a miner about his work, I mean caving as in giving up, throwing the towel in, getting too hacked off for words and coming home. Technically I was supposed to be coming home on Friday for my pal Lau’s big 3 0, but I was tipped over the edge this morning and it all got too much.

I did end up having a dorm to myself again, in fact I got the whole hostel to myself. I took the chance to talk all night on the phone and not do very much blogging or planning. Thus when I woke up this morning at 6.30 I had to get stuff done.
Now youth hostels give you until 10am to have your bed stripped and get out, reasonable. So at 9.30 when I was still blogging away I was surprised to hear a knock on my door from the hostel volunteer informing me of the time I needed to be out by. I told her I was aware and that I would be out, not to worry sweetums, be right with you. As I was hauling all my stuff (suitcase, laptop, boots, maps, leaflets, sat nav, highlighters and various other bits and pieces which fall off my struggling self constantly) out of the door, I asked the the Hostel Cow (as she has come to be known) if she wouldn’t mind if I sat in the living room for 10 minutes so I could book another hostel for tonight. At first I thought she was joking when she said “no, you have to be out by 10”, I half laughed but realised that her stony face meant she was serious. Hostel Cow then went on to add “you really are taking advantage now”. I was close to punching the woman and said “really, what’s the time?” she took a while to look at her watch and said “ten to ten”. I frowned as big a frown as I could muster and she stalked off.

Since leaving the happy company of Andy and doing eveything alone again once more I was in no state really to deal with the fact it was even raining, let alone someone telling me I was taking advantage when I wasn’t. I left the hostel, trying hard to whack Hostel Cow in the face with my laptop as I left. With no accomodation booked (again) and the sorry prospect of sitting in the car in the rain in the middle of nowhere trying to book something and plan a route I quite frankly couldn’t deal with it.

The only thing to do in this situation is phone your twin and scream the whole story of Hostel Cow, including as many terribly offensive swear words as possible, then let it all get to you and burst out crying while pulled up in small village in the middle of Rutland, I find. And so this is what I did. In her wisdom my sister listened for a while, adding appropriately offensive insults where I left gaps in my monologue and when I’d finished said “get on the A1 and come home”.

I’ve realised that as much as I love doing all these brown signs and the whole trip in general, the times when I’ve loved it most is when I’m sitting on U-boat torpedos talking about what it would be like to be torpedoed and laughing so much in bird hides that I scare off all the birds I’m supposed to be watching. Doing it alone is a lonely pursuit and sharing the experience is what matters. Maybe it’s because I’m a twin, I don’t quite know what it is, but what I did know was that another 4 days doing stuff alone and dealing with more potential Hostel Cows was something I simply wasn’t up for. So I turned right on out of that little village and got myself firmly onto the A1 and felt immediately better.

As luck would have it I spotted this sign (taken after about 8 rounds of the roundabout when I deemed it to be the least dangerous time to take a photo)

If you can’t see it very well this brown sign directed the way to a garden-come-bird-of-prey-centre-come-aviation attraction, which got me all hot under the collar, as you can imagine. So I turned off and paid this place a visit. It was the Shuttleworth Collection, which is a collection of over 40 aircraft and 30 vehicles started by a private collector, Richard Shuttleworth, who loved all things that moved on the road and in the sky. When he died in the first world war his mother started a trust to maintain the collection and educate the public about automotive and aviation transport.
The collection is set within 8 separate hangers and the amount of vehicles in there was quite frankly daunting, with everything from penny farthings, old Triumph motorbikes, carriages, classic cars and so many aircraft it was mental. Here are some pictures…
There was also a massive amount of memorabilia from both World Wars, which made all the planes come to life through stories and made me feel a bit scared and in awe of all the people who fought and lived through these times. Some of the letters were really difficult to read (not helped by my frame of mind) and there were cool pictures hung all around the hangers.


This photo creeped me out the most…

I went and looked around the shop to buy my dad a souvenir. I was going to go for an airfix but saw some reproduced Pilot’s Handbooks and with such an array of types of plane to choose from I went for one that looked big and bomberey, then ate a homemade soup in the restaurant surrounded by OAPs having their OAP lunch specials. Fair play to them, I know I will be.
After the Shuttleworth Collection I got going, southwards, and soon enough I started seeing signs for the M25, and I’ve never been happier to hit that sorry road in my life. I tuned into Xfm, felt a lot ecstatic and belted out “but it was not your fault but mine, I really f*cked it up this time DIDN’T I MY DEAR?”. Brilliant. When I got home my dad was happy to see me, but on my presentation of the pilot’s manual for the plane I’d chosen at random he said and I quote “Stirlings? Christ they were f*ckin’ terrible planes”. You have to laugh.
I’ll carry on doing my brown signing daily though guys, don’t you worry, and you’ll be kept abreast of developments as ever.
p.s. Wednesday night drinking in Patricks is back on the cards, and do I like that.