09/08/12 Arran, what a laugh.

The islanders, who I’d convinced myself were miserable, proved to be a friendly and jolly bunch.

Preconceived ideas? Me? What was I thinking? I’d actually beloved the results of a government survey?!

All thoughts of Mr Alarm Call soon dissolved as I met friendly dog walking lady and smiling,”I’m just going out in my boat,” man…

It was kind of alarming, though, how quickly I pigeonholed the inhabitants of the island following….what?

Well, very little evidence, that’s what.
Since I’d been cracking on recently, I’d given myself a couple of easy days to finish off this bit of my adventure.
I ambled past the official campsite – it felt a bit tucked away – certainly not next to a mighty fine castle – it was opposite the distillery though.

I’d been told of the big hill that separated the two sides of the island.

Yeah, I know, I’ve fallen for that one before…

The big hill turned out to be a long hill.

Halfway up, on the west side of the island. is a bench – on the bench is a plaque with a message from Margaret and David Bartlett telling whoever has the good fortune to read it to enjoy the view.

Well, it would be rude not to.

I sat there a while and pondered…
Having pondered sufficiently I wandered off.

For a day where I was supposed to be taking it easy I was moving remarkably well…

The next three miles floated by as I found myself enjoying the pull of gravity on the other side of the big hill.

As is my way, I dipped my hand in my pocket for the trusted iPhone for confirmation that I was bowling along famously.

I must have put it in the other pocket…I do that from time to time…maybe I’d missed it in the first pocket in amongst my non-business cards…maybe…..

Oh God, I’d left it on the bench!

In one swift movement, I took Darth II off my back, set Hubert next to the road and stuck my thumb out.

The world had obviously decided I’d suffered enough as a couple from Amersham stopped, oooh, some 5 seconds into the hitching a lift process…

They drove me to the bench and they drove me back amid a flurry of who are you and what are you up to’s.

The iPhone was sitting on the bench, waiting patiently for me. I had failed the Johnny Gauld number 1 rule for leaving a place – always look back.

As we drove down the hill back to my children, Darth and Hubert, Mr Amersham spotted a refuse lorry, “What a shame, they’ll have lifted your things…”

Wasn’t he the funniest man alive?
I’d had enough frights for the day, thanks.

I was back on the road, with all my bits and pieces, with that wonderful feeling of having only waited 5 seconds for a lift.

Much better than Steve the hiker’s average.

Competitive hitching? I really am an arse.

The rest of the walk was really a bit of a hoot, including…

The Freeman’s – they stopped in their car, thrust £20 into my hand, while she told me her family was riddled with mental health problems;

Sheila, on her bike, greeting me like a long lost friend…we chatted, she told me I was mad…for walking on these roads with erratic traffic…she joined the group and donated £20 on the Virgin Money Giving site…

A few other chatty folk and then…
Arran, Kenzie and their lovely family. I initially chatted with granny at the picnic area where I’d decided to camp – she was…well, completely covered as she suffered a nasty reaction to midge bites….

We watched mum, dad and their 3 boys as they paddled about in their inflatable canoes in the millpond-still sea.

The youngest 2 came gambolling over to me – they were absolutely high on life as we talked about everything from canoeing to jelly fish to fishing….to…
It was lovely – Kenzie was about 9 and Arran, who was quick to tell me he had a learning disability, was about 11.

“Arran? This is incredible, they named an island after you – how cool is that?” I did gush a bit…

They were loud, excited and excitable. Mum and dad apologised for my exposure to this joy, fun and general exuberance…

They apologised – I should have thanked them – I grinned like a loon for the 2 hours they bounced around me.
Arran gave me a big hug before they all piled, canoes, granny and a dog too, into their car – an absolute master class in logistics and all round familiness….

I can’t believe a fell for the old, “A recent survey says…” trick.

People are people – they’re happy, they’re sad, they’re annoying, they’re a joy to be with…and everything in between…

I shouldn’t believe everything I read in the papers.

Walk a mile

Chris

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