After a week that saw me storm out of several furniture shops, a close family friend die and yet more Zoom calls, the four walls of my office were closing in and I needed to run away.
I often feel like that.
Sofa-gate was one of the final straws with Ever Patient Husband‘s special way of failing to make a decision about anything in under a two year timescale. We’d selected the perfect sofa for our kitchen dining room two years ago and nearly bought it last year and then this year after many reminders, EPH finally agreed to buy it. They don’t make it anymore. We had to start the whole sofa buying process again.
The same happened with he chest of drawers for our bedroom. They’d stopped doing the colour. EPH had some weird aversion to putting his clothes in drawers and prefers to have them laid out on a flat surface like a jumble sale.
I‘d got to the point of not being able to speak. My soul had shrunk to the size of a small, dried pea and I had nothing left to give anyone.
I also often feel like that.
My best mate from Manchester sent me this photo
And I knew instantly that was where I needed to be.
Would it destroy the dream if I came too?
No, you’d be very welcome because you’re not a twat.
So, I announced to the family,
”I’m going wild camping for two nights and I’m leaving on Saturday.”
”Two nights?” Enquired EPH.
”Weirdo.” Said Youngest Daughter.
”Whatever.” Came my exhausted response.
You invited me but I failed you due to a prior engagement to build my new bar.
I packed the car, found a posh steak in the freezer and nabbed it for my dinner and bundled Eddie into the car.
We set off, heading to Dumfries and Galloway, following the route of a lady who had thoughtfully written a blog about wild camping in that area (https://thecampervana.com/forget-the-nc500-head-to-scotlands-forgotten-corner-for-campervan-solitude/)
I cried a lot as I approached Kippford, an idyllic village which hadn’t changed since I started going as a mere slip of a girl with my mum and older brother.
I was morning the loss of those times and the times I’d spent with my own kids there during half term holidays, pottering about, picking up shells and eating scones. Obviously this was through rose tinted spectacles because the kids had spent most of the time moaning about how far we were walking and where the next ice cream was coming from.
It was a hot day and as Eddie and I pulled up in front of Kippford Yacht Club, I tended to his needs and got some fresh water in the bowl I’d bought specially for the adventure.
He dutifully stared at the fresh water and then ignored it, preferring to slake his thirst with a muddy puddle.
We wandered down the single road in the village to The Ark (it used to be the Post Office) and ordered my sandwich and Earl Grey tea. Keeping my chat to a minimum, Eddie and I settled in for some people watching.
Eddie isn’t a talkative soul.
I resented everyone’s presence as this was my special place and decided to walk over the Jubilee Path to Rockcliffe. Most people were walking along the coast road so Eddie I took the forest road which I’m pleased to say we had all to ourselves.
We purchased chocolate pound cake, more Earl Grey tea and a lovely watercolour painting of Rough Island from the nice lady’s tea room. She’s been there for at least twenty years because I used to bribe the kids with hot chocolate at the end of our walks in her quaint tea room.
Unwilling to even make eye contact with humans, Eddie and I found a solitary rock to sit on and enjoy our purchases.
Within twenty minutes the insensitive twat family noisily crashed into our space. They literally had an entire one mile of empty coastline to choose from to sit on and they chose my bit.
”Fuck off.” I said internally. Then left in a bit of a huff.
”Right Eddie. Let’s find our home for the next couple of nights.” He agreed and trotted happily beside me as we found the least populated route back to the car.
We arrived at Killantringan Lighthouse at about 5:30pm. The single track road, lack of houses and nothing but the odd rabbit was boding well. We found ourselves on a flat bit of gravel on the edge of a cliff and parked up amidst three Campervans.
”Still too many people.” I muttered.
A further four hundred metres up an even smaller track and hey presto, I found the perfect camp.
We pitched the tent at the edge of the cliff with no one around and proceeded to make a cup of Earl Grey tea (I had bought my own - no need to lower standards even when wild camping) and sit in my picnic chair and stare into space.
Bliss. Utter bliss. Not a twat in sight. Phone off. Eddie quietly scanning the horizon and me sipping tea and slowly feeling the soul return to my body.
Then I heard very noisy motorbikes. Then they stopped and then the three not so hairy bikers had the audacity to come over and speak to me.
”Hello!” The hairiest one exclaimed in his West Country accent. Eddie barked pretending to be a fierce guard dog and then promptly rolled over the get his tummy tickled.
“Pathetic.” I thought. “If I get raped and murdered now, I’m blaming you Eddie.”
”Hello.” I replied, really meaning “fuck off and leave me alone, can’t you see I’m at the edge of a cliff with my back to humanity for a good reason.”
”Is there anywhere to camp round here?” He asked.
”Only back down the road where you saw those campervans.” Came my terse reply.
There was of course room near my tent, but I did not want company of any kind.
My monosyllabic responses finally saw them off and Eddie and I resumed our solitude.
My steak was delicious as was my night in the tent. Eddie snuggled in at my feet and we dreamt of our next adventure...
The next day was just as stunning so we took a walk along the Southern Upland Way towards Port Patrick - a small harbour town which offered the promise of a hot shower (according to the nice lady’s blog) at the public loos.
I was beginning to smell and even Eddie thought my hair needed washing.
The coastal path consisted of a series of little coves, steep steps and grassy knolls overlooking the azure blue sea. I took a photo of the cliff top where I’d pitched camp - you need to zoom in to see it
Port Patrick was busy with people. By this time I was feeling slightly more kindly towards my fellow humans and managed some small talk in the local store. I purchased a Magnum Double Caramel for myself and a carrot for Eddie. I’d tethered him to a lamp post and a strange man on a bicycle with a northern accent had struck up a conversation with him.
We both scoffed our booty as the strange man cycled off up a hill with his strange friend and we proceeded to seek out lunch.
I know you’re meant to have ice cream after lunch but I was on my own and had dispensed with all rules.
That’s what I like about being on my own.
We found the only remotely artisan establishment in Port Patrick. Like many places in rural Scotland, sour dough and avocado were yet to make an appearance.
Dogs were permitted so we strolled up to the counter and my heart leapt as I spied my friends artisan tea brand (https://www.eteaket.co.uk) on the shelves.
”Darjeeling tea please and a cheddar, ham and chilli pickle bloomer to take out.” I asked very politely.
”We can’t do that tea to take away. Its loose leaf.”
I know for a fact that Erica who owns Eteaket provides fully biodegradable tea bag things for such occasions, but did not argue.
The lady shop owner was a fellow Mancunian who had somehow found herself through a series of life choices running the only remotely artisan cafe in a West Coast town at the end of a windy and rainy peninsula in 1990’s Scotland. Every pub still served freezer to fryer food and there wasn’t even a boutique coffee shop.
”I’ll have builders then.”
Eddie and I took ourselves off to the “quaint gift” area of the cafe and mused over tweed dog collars and leads, soy wax candles and handmade pottery whilst we waited for my lunch.
Then I overheard the best passive aggressive conversation ever. An unsuspecting West Coast of Scotland urban dweller asked politely for a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a sandwich to take out.
”We don’t do crisps.” Said the lady.
”Can I have a sandwich then?” Asked the man.
”Which one?” She enquired.
”Cold meat?” Came the tentative response, for the man was now sensing the lady’s increasing irritation with having an actual customer.
”What kind of cold meat?”
By this time, Eddie and I had selected a tasteful soy wax burner thing entitled “Air” and a tasteful card which was to be sent as a sympathy card to the husband and daughter so sadly bereft after the untimely death of their wife and mum.
”Ham?” Said the man helpfully.
I had secretly been hoping he’d deflate the stereotype I had of him in my head and said “the finest Parma ham my good lady.” But he didn’t.
”We don’t do just ham.” She was really giving this guy a hard time.
He didn’t quite know what to do so he asked for crisps again.
”We don’t do crisps. You need to go to the store up the road. They sell crisps.”
And the poor man left empty handed and the lady felt some kind of strange victory. Not have I seen such spectacular customer service since my mum ran her gift shop in a quaint Peak District village. The Sunday browsers would wander round her shop and often leave without making a purchase. My mother could often be heard muttering “don’t fucking buy anything then” in a just about audible voice as they walked out of the door, never to return. The shop went bust.
After lunch, some people watching and listening in on conversations, Eddie and I headed for the public showers that had been promised in the blog.
We found them locked and after numerous enquiries discovered that you needed to have a mooring in the harbour to gain access. Even my offer to pay a one off fee was rejected. My newly purchased Wash and Go lay idle in my backpack as I plotted my next move.
The heat, the walk and the tent had left me looking somewhat bedraggled and I needed to be clean
As luck would have it, Eddie and I came across a waterfall on our return journey. I did my Timotei advert impression and washed my hair fully clothed under the freezing flow of fresh water. It was liberating and exhilarating all at the same time. Eddie just stared at me whilst I completed my ablutions.
I dried out on the rocks and resumed the trek back to camp.
A young couple had parked their VW Campervan next to my car and were setting up camp for the night. I liked them and had rediscovered my love of humanity by this time, plus I overheard them say “avacado” and Eddie licked their empty hummus tub clean so they weren’t going to play rock ballads at unsociable hours or have small, badly behaved children called Tyler with them.
Yes, I am a snob. If you’d been brought up surrounded by people who beat you up for being intelligent you’d be one too.
I too enjoyed that in my youth.
At about 9pm I received a message from EPH
”what are you doing?”
I replied, with “this” and a photo
Eddie and I were watching the sun set over the horizon and our wild camping adventure.
My soul had been restored, I was ready once again to tackle whatever life had to throw at me. Mother Nature had warmed me, bathed me and given me sights for my sore eyes.
I was ready to return to real life the next day, but not before I’d wandered round Wigtown, the best place ever for second hand book shops, feminist book/cafe artisan cake and coffee shop snd artist’s studio (https://sarahstewartprintmaker.co.uk)
Although my bar is awesome this also looked like a wonderful soul restoring weekend!
Come with me next time...