SATURDAY STROLL TO SEE STRANGE SITES OR SIGHTS? ONE OF THESE IS NOT STREET ART.
ANSWERS AT THE END.
WHAT IS IT? ANSWERS BELOW
POP UP POETRY
RIVER AFTER HIGH TIDE
When I was lying on the couch having biopsies taken, the doctor said ‘Do you want to be treated at Bournemouth or Poole hospital?’ My immediate response was Poole, to her surprise. I explained that though I lived in Bournemouth and the hospital is nearer as the crow flies, my local buses both stop right outside Poole hospital, while Bournemouth hospital involves two buses, waiting and stress or perhaps one that only goes once an hour. After this discussion on buses it dawned on me she must have been certain, with all the tests I was having that morning at the Dorset Breast Screening Unit ( at Poole hospital ) , that I did have breast cancer.
I didn’t actually come back on the bus after my operation, but there were numerous routine visits and breast cancer patients are under the hospital for five years, so my decision was wise. Perhaps I should add that this bus journey does take an hour, which would horrify car drivers, but you can relax and catch up with blogs on your phone or people/passenger watch/eavesdrop. The hospital is also a short walk from the main town with shops? – well modern shopping is for another blog – museum, eateries and Poole Harbour, so if you have only been to the hospital for a quick blood test you can at least make an outing out of it.
I have been using buses since before I was born, everywhere I have lived, except for an Australian country town; so I have earned my bus pass. If you don’t drive, walking, cycling, buses and trains are essential and we non drivers are good for the environment, not that anyone thanks us. But I totally understand that lots of people have no reliable public transport or just think we are insane. The typical new bus passenger gets on board explaining to everyone that he doesn’t normally go on buses, but his car is at the garage getting fixed. He then looks round for an empty seat or the least weird looking person to sit next to. If, when you go on a bus for the first time, you have waited a long time at the bus stop, the driver is rude, there are some very odd people on board plus the local drunk, the bus is packed with noisy school children and you are squashed standing in the aisle I can understand that you would vow never to go on a bus again.
But part of the fun of buses is you can never be sure what will happen! Sometimes something worse happens, such as hearing that your local bus company has suddenly gone into liquidation… That happened to our yellow buses, just as they were celebrating their 120th birthday. Luckily for me we have another bus company, suitably called More Buses, already running my favourite blue bus, M2, going frequently back and forth between Southbourne and Poole bus station with heating, on board Wi Fi, phone chargers and electronic boards and speaker messages telling you which bus stop is coming up. They stepped into the breach within days ( far more efficiently than governments run countries ) offering jobs to yellow bus drivers and bringing in More buses from all over the place. This has made local trips interesting as buses of all colours and ages have turned up, so you have to be very careful to check the numbers. Don’t get on the green bus covered in pictures of trees and ponies and highlighting the delights of the New Forest and expect to go to this fantastic National Park if it says 1a on the front. There have also been drivers who have to ask the passengers which way they are supposed to be going.
Hey Ho, all part of the fun of buses and then there are the passengers, can you even be a writer if you don’t take buses? Hearing people’s life stories, missing your stop because you have got so involved in the phone conversation going on behind you. One early evening I got on the bus at Poole and a chap at the front had a homemade guitar, literally made of bits of wood nailed together and string tied on. It did actually make notes and he was telling everyone about it, in fact he talked non stop till he got off in Bournemouth, at times like these I love buses.
Do you go by bus? If so, have you had any strange trips?
I had been planning to blog about our earliest form of transport for a while, then walking took on yet another aspect last week with the royal funeral, the various processions leading up to it and of course The Queue. But first back to basics.
I don’t do hills. I don’t do walking. I don’t like walking.
I was once watching a comedy in which the teenager daughter greets her mother’s return home. ‘I didn’t know where you were, I thought you’d gone for a walk.‘ Mother replies ‘Walk! I’ve never been for a walk in my life.’
Someone describing how the heat was not a problem in Singapore with the air conditioned malls… I asked ‘What if you want to go for a walk?’ He replied looking puzzled ‘Why would you want to go for a walk?’
Why would you not want to walk, the most natural activity for humans, exercise that costs nothing and a handy way to get where you want to go. During Covid lockdown it was one of the few activities allowed and non dog owners discovered new delights. I love walking, but I have no desire to trek to either pole or up to Everest base camp; solo or with companions, who I would be intensely irritated with by the third day… But ordinary walking, enjoying the fresh air, scenery, perhaps photography and probably ending up at a nice cafe or pub is fun for everyone… What do non walkers do when they go for a day out or on holiday? You may think National Trust Houses have large grounds because the original owners owned all the local land; no, it’s so we can have a nice walk before having lunch in the restaurant and looking round the house. No holiday is complete without a walk along a cliff path or a steep ascent up a hill to enjoy the view.
Modern technology, from super electronic wheelchairs to state of the art artificial limbs allow many who are disabled to get out and about with their friends and family who are fit and able to walk. Walking is freedom and not to be taken for granted; those under repressive regimes or living in dangerous areas cannot just go out for a walk. If you are used to walking everywhere it’s a reminder of the privilege when you ‘do something’ to your back or knee and suddenly can’t walk. The leaflets we were given when having chemotherapy suggest that ‘going for a short walk will help combat fatigue’ – this turned out to be a joke as most of each three week cycle it was a struggle to get to the front gate or up the stairs. It was an insight into the chronic fatigue that people with Long Covid and other debilitating medical conditions have to cope with.
So back to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth 11. Whatever your views on royalty or television ( blanket ) coverage of the events, there was a fascination with both the formal traditions and the spontaneous acts of those who came to queue to watch a procession or for The Queen’s lying in. There is something dignified and humbling about the men of the family and others close to the royals walking slowly behind the coffin. Princess Anne joined them, as she did for her father’s funeral, a token man for the day? Presumably it is tradition that only the men walk. If any of the chaps didn’t like walking they were in for a tiring time. I like a brisk walk, walking slowly at a measured pace is much harder, I have tried it round the house. Nor did I go up to London to join The Queue, almost a pilgrimage. They had a long distance to cover at a very slow pace, I wondered if there were escape points for those who changed their minds and just wanted to go home.
There are environmental benefits if everyone walked on short journeys and for writers it is one of the best ways to see real life, but those are topics for another blog.
Are you a walker or non walker? If you enjoy walking what is your favourite sort of walk?
Just pictures – no explanation