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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Going Off-Piste. Volume 2

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Should have, could have, would have.

Most politicians who haven't had to put their heads on the block have hindsight by the bucket load. Farcebook is loaded with those who know everything after the event. I’m constantly surprised that the United Nations or the World Health Organisation isn’t run by 16 year olds or armchair warriors, they know everything as well. Thankfully I have a filter, most of you have a filter and we filter out the rubbish.

If hindsight was a ball of energy I would be holding it, looking at it, studying it. What would I conclude? One small change, one different direction at the many forks in my road, one small, alternate decision and my whole life would be unrecognizable. Very “It’s a Wonderful Life".

Hindsight ur no we are where we are and I would still be going off-piste.

I’ve gone off-piste and never wanted to get back on. I’ve not amassed a fortune, we live in a modest house but I can liken my life to driving down from London along the M3, A303, A30, A391 every now and again going off-piste.

Before the M3 was in existence the main road west was the London road (A30) it’s still there winding through Surrey. It goes by Englefield Green where I studied to teach. Get back onto the M3 and if you pop off at Farnborough you can get to the Basingstoke Canal centre. An excellent country park, with canal trips, a cafe and a campsite.

Just after the M3/A303 junction the road passes near Thruxton motor circuit. There's not just a race track there but in the village there's a great pub. A bit further down the road you arrive at Solstice business park. A good place for junk food and Ginsters pasties. Travel another mile into Amesbury and voila! Another great place to stop. Unless you really need a Ginsters thing. Back to the A303, soon you arrive at Stonehenge a favourite stopping place especially when heading east. A byway overlooking the stones, free parking, even overnight, a great picnic spot.

But did you know about Woodhenge? Under a mile off the A303, another great picnic spot with no junk food to be seen. Push on west to Mere another village with good pub grub. Sparkford has the Haynes motor museum which has a good cafe although there is an excellent McDonald's nearby should you so need. Half way almost and we arrive at Cartgate a free overnight stop. Excellent for us motorhomies. Drive on until the A303 turns into the A30 then 3 miles further on you find Otter Vale Ice Cream and Field Kitchen, beats a Little Chef.

Exeter has often been a stop for us. Take a 10 minute detour and find the Double Locks Pub. You’ll arrive home 20 minutes later but be pleased you made the effort and what would you do with that 20 minutes anyway. Moving on. We have been known to stop at Sourton Cross but if you come off there and back track a junction you can picnic at Meldon Reservoir. Most people don’t know how close it is or that it exists at all. At the very next junction down the A30 you can zoom off to Roadford Lake, another great off-piste stop. We parked up in our old camper one evening where we found ourselves treated to a skein of geese cruising in for the night.

Back on the road and into Cornwall but wait, just on the edge of Devon try Strawberry Fields Farm Shop at Lifton a really nice spot, really close to the main road. The junction where I got pulled over to be handed my speeding fine.

Have you ever noticed the journey home is usually quicker than the journey away. Following the obligatory Whoo! as we enter God’s Own Country generally we high tail it home. Sometimes you just need to focus on the job in hand.

My job in hand now, and for the next 4 or 5 weeks is to get out the other side of my course of chemo. Regardless of the outcome, the chemo itself is, as I’ve endlessly moaned about, nothing short of challenging. I need as many opportunities to go off-piste as possible otherwise my life is chemo and not much else.

How can I liken chemo? As a kid growing up in clay country we spent hours wandering around the clay works, carefully evading any workmen. A couple of “games” we played were sliding down the sides of clay tips on the compacted sand. On-piste. Our off-piste “game” was to find a big tip of loose sand. One particular day we found the ideal situation. A big heap of sand with a flat top. The idea was to “run like mad” and leap off the top at full pelt, it felt like flying. Now, imagine the trajectory you would follow. At first straight out but eventually crashing straight into the sand. Great fun, not so with my chemo but a similar trajectory. I’m presently heading straight down, I will definitely crash but once I've landed I just need to pick myself up. Just 2 more chemo sessions and I’ve landed (unless, of course, the chemo isn’t working but I’m not going there).

This week is going to be busy, busy, busy but I’ll still find time for Coffee Club tomorrow.

Time: Feb 2, 2021 10:00 AM Join Zoom Meeting

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