They were just not right. I walked out of the front door with the usual accompaniment… camera and bag… umbrella, travel mug full to the brim with the black stuff that seems to fuel the first few hours of my day. I’d even had the temerity to throw a few pairs of extra socks into the bag. The ominous clouds sure made me take note as soon as I stepped out. I may be needing more than spare socks by the end of the day.
I popped the front door key back through the escape hatch before setting off with purpose, chewing happily on the salami sarmie I’d hastily thrown together while making the black brew.
Something was just not quite right. Something was amiss. Was it the fact that I’d let myself out without saying cheers to the good lady, who… had earlier reminded me that it was Saturday, which… in our house means the good lady wanted more sleep. Well, let me rephrase that… needed more sleep, to recover from a long week of looking after granddad, the Wibbly Wobbly Wonder, his brother and their two uncles… not to mention her darling other half. (Note… no use of the term better!)
OK… the black clouds… the faint suggestions of mizzle… the lack of a fond (or not) farewell and good luck… the signs were all there. Then… halfway down the block, when the sarmie was fully buried in the dark pit and the hand was free, I patted down my pockets… wallet, yes, camera, yes, in the bag… fruit and water… yes, in the bag… rain wear… yes, in the bag… all OK! I patted down the pockets again… phone… NO! Drat… the good lady was going to have to field the calls from work… should there be any. I wonder if she would be able to talk them through a panel reset, should that be what they phone for.
I wondered if she’ll send me a good luck text when dreamland evaporates… well, maybe… but then, I’ll be some place else with no phone so it will be rather difficult to read the message. I wondered if the few folk at work who knew I was starting the walk today would send messages… ah well, I’ll have to keep wondering, won’t I?
I wondered, too, if any of them would be up this early on a Saturday… after the party last evening? I wondered if the slight feeling of weariness was also a sign of things to come… did I really need to take that last sip of wine before heading for the train? Did I? I even wondered if that was the last Friday evening after work late stay for me? The signs… the signs!
What I didn’t wonder about was the joy of not having the phone with me… solitude… my own thoughts all to myself. Even though I was walking through the busy inner city I would have my mind to myself. The inner debate could rage on without the suggestion of a mobile ringing or vibrating. Was that a sign as well? Who knows…
The spots on the train window way before we reached Connolly were a sign as well… drat… the more I thought of it the more I realised it was going to be a very long, lonely day. Wet may also be included in the sentence, if all the sings were to be believed. Flipping Irish summer!!
I didn’t need to wonder much longer… when the train disgorged all it’s merry passengers at Connolly it was in a downpour… wet! No need for the umbrella as it was only a short walk to the roofed section of the station… then onto the DART and to my usual getting off point. I walked past the reception’s door, gave the on duty security lad a thumbs-up… when that was returned, I kept going… no phone, no problems at work… no worries!
Somewhere along the way I felt in my pocket… the lucky penny I’d gathered off the road in front of our home village store was missing. Another sign? I was still pondering this catastrophe when I spotted another cent… whoopee… my faith in life was restored! I kept going… the mood ever so slightly improved. I’ll add… later I stumbled onto a little treasure trove of sorts… the contents of some tradesman’s trash which he’d dumped along the canal contained quite a few coins… Stirling and Euro coppers… another sign?
I rounded the bend along Camden Lane with the bells of St Patrick’s doing the half-ten chimes… remarkably reminiscent of Big Ben’s peel. So… there I was… all on my own… no fanfare… no drum roll, no commotion… just the way I like it… but, more importantly… it sort of gave me a feeling of how the folk feel who we’re trying to help.
Alone, wind-swept… mizzle… lovely summer’s day… why would you want to be out in this? I’ll tell you… not to sympathise with the folk… but, if in some small way we can get a feeling of how the folk must live rough, as it’s called here, that may help with our own quest to raise awareness of their plight!
I wondered if the new hat the good lady had supplied was supposed to blow off so easily? I think it stayed on for a full five paces before being on the ground for the first time. Another sign? It did come in useful though. The camera fitted in quite snugly… the mizzle kept at bay.
There I stood… looking down the length of the Outer Basin… wondering. Yes, was I mad? Where were my friends? Yep… I didn’t have family or friends around me… apt, I would say. But… walking can be a lonely business so I needed to get going. I wanted a photo though… of me at the start. Only for posterity… and to prove that I was there. A young lad crossing the lock kindly obliged. He asked a question or two… I informed him, very briefly, of what the madness was all about. He tapped me on the shoulder and wished me good luck.
I was off… with the sun on my back… warmish for the few minutes it lasted. Mind you… this was about the point where I really wondered about the signs and omens. Sun on my back? Yep… and rain in my face! The strong westerly almost did the umbrella before I had any use of it! So much for taking the wrong, flimsy thing… another sign?
I’ll not bore you much longer… it was one of those walks I won’t want to do again in a while. The further I walked the more convinced I became that when I’d first walked this section in late February it was warmer and even a little better! There goes that feeling again… solitary solitude… in sh*te weather.
I have to stop… but, before I greet… there’s a special thank-you I have to share. Somewhere near the 9th Lock the rain returned… drat. I needed to find a phone. I was going to get to the 12th, come hell or low water. But… then I would need to get home…
I have to say… the omens changed, dramatically! There in front of me was a pub. I stepped off the horse-walk… straight into the Waterside. What a pleasure! SK, the young lad behind the counter was soon to the rescue… his fancy phone at the ready. OK… the good lady would mobilise the cavalry… not quite so dramatic, she’d get to the 12th Lock to collect her errant husband.
While in the warm pub I thought it would be good of me to rest the legs for a few minutes… it would be rude of me to just walk out after SK’s friendly help. So… there I sat… sipping at a glass of ice-cold apple juice… lovely!
An hour or so later I made it to the 12th Lock. I was standing on the bridge looking back toward where I’d just been when a thought struck. I dug in my pocket and retrieved the coins… then another thought struck. Why don’t I leave a few of the coins on the wall? I wondered where they’ll travel to? I wondered if someone else may see the few coins as an omen or maybe even a good luck sign. I even wonder if someone may read this and go look to see if the coins are still about…
PS – I’ll do a gallery for tomorrow… I hope! 😉
PSS – I must confess… the one and only photo I took in the pub was a rather poor effort… that’s why I’ve not included it…