9. A turning off the main road*
Sometimes, oh best beloveds, you have a bit of a day, at the end of what became a bit of a month, in the midst of what’s turning into a bit of a year. And sometimes it turns out, at the end of that day, that you have inadvertently booked yourself for the night into a hotel in a rather dingy seaside town which, despite the name, you doubt the painter Rembrandt would actually have approved of.
(What can I say? The photographs of the swimming pool were deceptive and I forgot to check Trip Advisor.)
And on those occasions, sometimes you remember that the one thing a seaside town might have going for it is that it’s right next to something which, despite their very best efforts, people have not yet succeeded in making entirely ugly. And then you might go down to the seashore. And watch the waves for an hour. And feel a little better.
And then you might stare at the hills surrounding the bay, dappled straw and ochre and olive and emerald. And you might wonder to yourself how a person could get up onto those sun-and-cloud-patterned slopes.
And then, if you were pursuing a project of this nature, you could find yourself thinking that if you just get into the car and try to drive up as many useful-seeming roads as you could, maybe you’d get at least closer to them.
Although all you find is a network of cul-de-sacs, lined with houses facing towards the bay like the monumental heads of Easter Island, you might feel that even an attempt to pursue the journey was worthwhile.
And then you might spot a pathway cut through the long grass at the edge of the road.
And you might follow it up the hill, as it twists around.
And you might find yourself suddenly in a place of surpassing loveliness, quiet but for the birdsong, on top of a hill, looking out at the Dorset countryside.
I find these days that I can tell I’m where I’m supposed to be if there are rabbits.
*Yes, I know I have missed out 6, 7 and 8. But I have been to 6, 7 and 8 places. There will be write-ups. It’s post-modern to tell stories out of order.