I haven't been able to send out any posts in the last few days because the 'Mobile Internet' is really a big city concept, and it doesn't work too well out in the countryside, not even in what you might regard as proper towns. It did not prevent me posting from Cirencester (a proper town) before, because I had a Caravan Club wi-fi connection and could use that. But this time their router was not working, and it silenced me. The last post some days back was sent not from the Cotswolds but from a street near the centre of Newport in South Wales. Newport has beefed-up mobile phone coverage. Smaller towns do not. It's often possible to get a goodish mobile phone signal in them, which may be excellent for calls and texts, but not necessarily for the Internet. In such places, it can sometimes take up to half an hour to get a post out. In country meadows, it's impossible. So much for 3G. 4G? Ha.
I'm now in North Devon - arrived early in the afternoon - and it may be that the only place with mobile phone coverage robust enough for posting purposes will be Barnstaple, the largest town around. So of an evening, I might have to fire up Fiona, drive in, and hang around somewhere in the town centre, possibly in the rain, just to send out my latest literary effort. Obviously I will be securely locked inside Fiona. I'm not standing around out in the open, or lingering on a riverside seat, or waiting for an Internet connection under a lamp on a street corner, in case my purpose is misconstrued and I attract unwanted attention!
It was gloriously sunny and warm this afternoon. Having chatted with Ann and Phil who own the farm I'm pitched on - I've been coming here since 2009, and it's the sixth time I've stayed with them, so we are of course on first-name terms - I drove into Bideford, picked up the brochure for the annual Appledore Book Festival for Ann, and had a good wander around this attractive river town. I bought a green top for £2.95 from a charity shop, got diesel and food from Morrisons, and looked in at The Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington. There's a film on there tomorrow evening at 8.00pm that I may go to see. Yes, it's a definite plan: out for the day, whatever the weather, then cut back for a quick meal at the caravan - or perhaps fish and chips from somewhere? - then see this film at the Arts Centre. Phil mentioned that they don't mind if you take your gin and tonic in while you watch. How civilised.
It struck me, as it has often struck me before, that life in North Devon, if I ever moved here, would not be dull. Pleasant towns, interesting shops, wonderful beaches, scenery to die for, galleries to visit, performances of all kinds to attend, good dining...my kind of life. And although house prices are creeping up, they are not at Sussex levels, nor will ever be. Well, if my Brighton friends disperse, and my village neighbours move away, then I'll sell up too and move here.
Sunny it may have been today, but the sunset was the kind that warned of a storm to come. When I last heard the forecast, it said that tomorrow is supposed to be a shocker for wind and rain. Phil and Ann were not so sure about that, but I wouldn't be surprised, having seen that sunset, to be woken in the night by a howling wind, and fierce rain drumming on the roof of the caravan. If the wind is strong enough, the caravan will shudder. I won't mind. It will all be exciting. The caravan weighs over a ton, so it's not going to get blown over!
I am one of those people who relish gales, and especially thunderstorms. I have always found a loud clap of thunder thrilling, and a bright flashes of lightning something to look out for with delicious anticipation. The louder and brighter the better, even though that means the heart of the storm must be dangerously close. As a child I would have my bedroom window open, to lean out and watch. I was fearless. And in my early twenties, I'd drive out to the New Forest chasing a thunderstorm, although that was possibly quite a rash thing to do, the large number of lightning-blasted oak trees in the Forest proving that in a storm you should definitely not be there! Nothing has changed. I still like a grandstand seat if Nature is putting on a display.
Not all people enjoy thunder and lightning, of course. Some are afraid of it, and I'm not going to scoff at them, because, after all, a massive electrical discharge can destroy whatever it touches, and occasionally people do get killed by being struck by lightning, or from being too close to a tall object that is struck. However, I saw on a TV science programme that if you are inside a metal box or cage, the immense current simply flows around you, leaving you unaffected. A car is such a box, and I should think a caravan (if metal-skinned, as mine is) is surely another. So I ought to be safe in the most intense of storms.
Just now it's very calm and quiet outside. No clouds, a half-moon. It's quite chilly. Clearly, 'the calm before the storm'. Hmmm...just at the moment, I've actually got an exceptionally good mobile phone signal: let's get this published without further ado.