I always wake early when I’m wild camping and there’s a remote chance of being caught asleep… All quiet except for the birds. 33years ago this day Steve and I got wed in Wandsworth Registry Office, him in his brand new Levis bought specially, and had a pint in the Young’s Brewery Pub round the corner afterwards to celebrate. Happy Anniversary my remote love!
(Steve sent me a FB message later this same day saying “Happy Anniversary my crazy pedalling partner!”).
Riding along this back road (Yay! I’m off that main road at last!) is blissful for several reasons:
- It’s coolish at 6am.
- It’s relatively traffic free
- The views are grand and the road is now fairly level (having climbed up, and up last night)
- The moon is riding high and is a just over-ripe, waning cheese
- The verges are full of the sights and smells of chicory (so I’ve learned from Kathryn), wild sage, euphorbias, bramble, punicae, figs, olive and…
Dare I say it? .,. rubbish. The one drawback this morning. People have been dumping their trash anywhere and everywhere.
I’m seeing more wildlife away from the main roads too (not just cats and dogs) – birds of prey again, and small birds catching their breakfast. Sadly I saw two dead hedgehogs within 50metres of each other.
I rode past weird rocks on the hill - they look scored through from top to bottom and were odd shapes – like a pile of onions or similar.
Stopped at Knythe for coffee – first place I come to. I sit and watch a dog having huge fun chasing cars and lorries and a pollce man stopping some cars on the roundabout – tax check?
Shkodar is only 17miles further on so I will make it to Albania – country no. 8 today. In fact, sooner than I thought I was across the border – waved past the queues of cars (lots of SWISS cars – what’s going on? A convention?) and notice a difference in attitude immediately. The policeman on the border is positively chatty whilst I’m waiting for my passport. “Downhill to Shkoder from here”, he says, “and you can go see the castle, the lake…” With a final warning to watch out for the terrible Albanian drivers who drive like … well, drive like the Italians!” I’m waved off.
You know I was worried about my diminishing store of watercolour paper – well, I love how things work out. As I was exploring the centre of town (and it’s a big place), admiring the huge white mosque (I’m seeing more mosques and hearing more calls to prayer from the minarets) I turn up a small alleyway and there – is the art supply shop I’ve been seeking! I buy two pads of watercolour paper. Thank you, once again, Universe.
When I get to the hostel, I see it’s full of youngsters, drinking, playing games and having a good time. I feel a little out of it – not the least because of my early start that morning – but also because it’s our wedding anniversary and I’m on my own. Slightly odd and cut off feeling. A young Kosovan called speaks to me – he is studying political science and has actually been to Plymouth. He wants to know what I think of Brexit and also whether I’ve heard of Kosovo. I have (though I don’t know that much about it). He was only 5yrs old when the country was born – a small country with Albanian people, carved from the bottom of Serbia.