Sunday, 21 June 2015

Are churchyards the ultimate place to set up camp?

We met at the usual place at the usual time and headed off in the direction of Botley Hill, but with every intention of reaching the Tatsfield Bus Stop. When we got there we broke out the tea and biscuits and had a chinwag, as always, and this time it was about Chris Evans taking over on Top Gear. Neither of us are sure he can pull it off, but only time will tell. I'm still enjoying the repeats on BBC 3, which I'm guessing will stop as soon as the Evans version of the show starts (they won't want viewers comparing and contrasting).

Then Dawes Galaxy turned up. We don't know his real name. Dawes Galaxy is the name of his bike. We see him sporadically, but he's been convalescing – now there's a word – from an operation to remedy an enlarged prostate. He told us all the gory details. It's good to see him, though, and we're both glad that all is well as he's 'no spring chicken'. For a short while after he left we debated how old he might be and decided he was definitely in his seventies.

Phil made an interesting observation about Dawes Galaxy: he never gets off his bike. Whenever he turns up at the bus stop he stays on it, standing up and straddling the frame, but he won't park up, dismount and sit on the bench. I guess it takes all sorts.

They say you learn something new everyday and this week we learned that a churchyard is a good place to camp. Dawes Galaxy said he received a telephone call from a cycling pal who was travelling around the country on a bike and camping in churchyards. Churchyards? Well, apparently, they're good places to camp as they invariably have water on tap, literally, as people need running water to tend to their flowers. So, if you see a load of tents in your local churchyard you now know why.

Dawes Galaxy heads home, Sunday 21 June 2015
So-called 'wild camping' – meaning camping in fields that aren't campsites – is now illegal in England but where churchyards fall in that respect, I don't know. Andy says at least you can count on the vicar not being too upset to see you.

I used to have a mate who rented a flat in my hometown but felt he had to leave the flat because a friend of his – who was also a friend of mine – died there under rather tragic circumstances (he overdosed on heroin). One day, as I was walking down the high street, I bumped into the guy. He was selling The Big Issue (a magazine sold by the homeless) and I questioned why he was selling it. "You're not homeless, Alex," I said and he told me about Keith. I told him I knew that Keith had died and then he said that he couldn't stay in the flat any longer because the whole thing had freaked him out. Fair point. Instead, however, he was staying in the local churchyard with a few other down and outs. Whether he was kipping in the graveyard because of the running water, I'll never know, but I guess one word of warning for those with a bike and a tent: you might not be alone in the graveyard – and it's not the dead you have to worry about.

For more on this subject, click here.

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