My longish touring holiday is now drawing to a close. In five days' time I will be back home, and it'll be business as usual, the old routine. But also more blog postings! Quite a lot of my holiday needs photographs to illustrate what I did and what I saw, and the pictures can only be published from my PC.
This morning, for once, it's a beautiful pink and blue sunny dawn. September has not proved to be a good month for holidays in the West of England, and most mornings I've been greeted by leaden skies and spitting rain, or damp fog, even if it's bucked up later on. This unpromising weather hasn't (as the pictures will show) stopped me getting out and around, and generally having a very good time. Take yesterday for instance: up early; a dash in Fiona in thick fog to catch the 9.03am train from Axminster to Exeter St David's (I'm now pitched at Lyme Regis, by the way); a change to a local train to Paignton; and then all the views from a line that for the most part kept to the sea shore, tunneling through red cliffs time and time again, and staying so close to the water that in stormy weather all trains must be comprehensively sprayed by breaking waves. How exciting it must be to travel in such weather! It wasn't like that yesterday, even though the tide seemed high enough to cover the track. The fog dispersed, and Paignton was all palm trees and sunshine and soft mild air. You can plainly see why they call Torbay the English Riviera.
Having lunched leisurely at a harbourside pub - a full-blown roast meal - I decided to walk it off with a promenade-and-beach stroll all the way from Paignton harbour to Torquay station, which isn't that far really, but I misjudged how long it would take, dawdled, then had to cover the last mile at a cracking pace to catch the train back to Exeter. It's left me with sore feet this morning.
Not to worry. Only two objectives today. The first is my mid-weekly dilation. While on holiday I cut out the weekend session, which is in fact completely optional nowadays, and simply dilate when convenient somewhere in the middle of the week. I actually like dilation, because it's a good opportunity to visually inspect The Parts with a mirror, and a great excuse to lie back for half an hour, and totally relax.
Mind you, you need proper facilities. A caravan has them: electrically-heated warmth, a comfortable bed, a bathroom, hot water to wash with, fluffy clouds to watch through the skylight, blinds to pull down, curtains to draw, and total uninterrupted privacy. It would be horribly difficult to dilate in the average backpacker's tent. And although a hotel or guest house bedroom might have space and an ensuite bathroom, it doesn't have that absolute guarantee of privacy. Someone might knock on the door. Someone might blunder in to find you naked on the bed using a kind of dildo. There is no way you would be able to clear away the paraphernalia of dilation in a second or two. It would be a sticky moment and no mistake!
But in one's own caravan, you can lock the world out. You are quite alone and can enforce that. For me the need to dilate, the need to have privacy for it, and all the space in the caravan devoted to it, is the chief reason why I can't ever take somebody else along with me.
The other objective is to investigate a very discreet little signpost less than a mile down the road. I don't remember seeing it before. It says: River Cottage HQ. Aha! An outpost of eco-minded TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall's empire! I think I'll turn down the driveway and if confronted by people with 'you can't come in here' expressions, I'll simply offer apologies for my intrusion, and claim that Fiona overrode my wishes and brought me there against my will. But if I'm lucky, the Great Man himself will be there, and this conversation will take place:
Hugh: I know you! You're that off-the-wall traveller and food lover Lucy Melford, aren't you? Welcome to River Cottage HQ!
Lucy: And you're that renowned but equally off-the-wall chef and bon viveur Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall! How nice to meet you!
Hugh: You'll stay for lunch, won't you? We've just caught some crab, and there are two lobsters that must be eaten, and I have a dandelion and dock leaf salad ready to eat. Of course you'll stay! Only the six of us, but we've plenty of wine, too much really, and we need help to get through it all!
Lucy: With pleasure!
It all seems so terribly likely to happen. I'd better give today's garb a lot of careful consideration. A loster-coloured long top, certainly, in case of accidents while eating. Well, I can ponder my outfit while dilating! (People who don't dilate miss out on all these golden opportunities for serious thought).
And if Hugh isn't there, and there is no lunchtime invitation, then I have some sea bass in the caravan freezer for an evening meal instead. Sorted, either way!