Scooting from East to West…

10.00 Monday 7 May
Leave Essex base and head for the open road, via fuel station for a top-up.

10.20
Adjust load – steering is very light, and I am carrying a heavy pack on my back – relocate to footboards between my feet. Payload successfully evenly distributed and I’m away again.

11.06
Pull up in Colchester, a mere 12 miles from base. I need to use SAT NAV, without any doubt, if I am to make it out of the county. I plug in Bluetooth headset and set Googlemaps for my first scheduled stopping place. And on I go.

Things certainly got easier from that point and I began to make good time. I started to get a feel for the road and confidence built, mile after mile. It was not an easy journey by any means, but I reached my first night’s stopover with time to spare. What happened over the 110 miles from Colchester opened my mind and my heart. It also made me a far better rider. I’ll be writing about it in more detail when I return to Essex in a week’s time.

Fifty hours after leaving Essex, I rode into Montgomeryshire – Home. I stopped to take a photograph to prove it, then enjoyed every single mile further into my home patch, arriving at my final destination less than an hour later.

 

This was my first solo journey of more than twelve miles from base, a grand total of 330 miles travelled, and in another week, I’ll be leaving Wales behind for a while and travelling back to Essex. On the way I’m going to be making a stopover at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye. It’s one of those ‘Bucket List’ things. In all the years I lived in Wales, I never managed to get to the festival, so now is my chance. More on my return about my adventures in Hay.

Hiraeth and returning to Wales

Hiraeth – a Welsh word with no analogue English equivalent, is a concept akin to the longing of homesickness and the deep desire to be home, coupled with both sadness and the joy of remembering. Hiraeth is an emotion that has haunted me throughout the time I have been living away from Wales – over twenty years. Each time I go back, I feel the wellspring of energy from the mountains fill me up, and when I have to leave again, I feel it draining from me and in its place is hiraeth.

Tomorrow, I’m starting a journey – a journey home. At this moment I am full of many conflicting sensations and emotions, not least that of the heightening of hiraeth which happens when I’m going home. I feel a little anxious. I feel excited. I feel joyous. By Wednesday when I cross the border from England to Wales, I am pretty sure I’ll be flying. The purpose of the journey is to attend a conference and to do field work in connection with my PhD project. I’ll be interviewing folk far and wide, and writing lots too.

Next Sunday morning I’ll be reading from my writing on Hiraeth to the annual conference of AWWE (The Association of Welsh Writing in English) at Gregynog Hall, near Newtown in Powys.

You can follow my journey on my Instagram and on Twitter feed by following @writingwalking on either. I’ll be attempting to update this blog each day during my journey, wifi willing.