Today I decided my Father Christmas locks must be shorn. From the options available on Google we selected Donna-Marie of Southampton Street, Ringwood. Jackie drove me there and we made an appointment for 3.30 p.m. which was five hours away. I set off on a walk and Jackie went shopping. We met two hours later in Poppies coffee shop above their baker’s, where I had an all-day breakfast and Jackie enjoyed a cauliflower cheese. After this we bought quite a few pieces of cake-making equipment at The Lighthouse cookshop and returned home before revisiting Donna-Marie, who was a delightful young woman who gave me an excellent haircut and lots of cuddly chat, a couple of hours later. She said she had wondered to a customer who she had been styling when I made the appointment why Derrick wanted his hair cut when Father Christmas hadn’t been yet.
My walk took me back to the riverside area swamped by the river Avon. Conditions were much the same as they had been on 30th November. Screeching seagulls claimed the fields where a few remaining horses stood to get their feet wet.
The raised path I had walked a couple of weeks ago is part of the Castleman Trailway, which, turning right along the river, I wished to explore further. This follows the Southampton to Dorchester Railway Company’s now obsolete line. The railway branch line was another of the casualties of the Beeching axe of 1964. The Trailway runs from Salisbury to Poole. If you can find it, you can walk it. My regular readers will expect me to have had trouble finding it. I did not let them down. Passing the still drowned garden I had first seen on 30th November, I soon came to Hurn Lane. No continuing footpath, just Hurn Lane, a great big roundabout, that and another road to cross, having walked under the A31. No Trailway sign. Just the roar of heavy traffic. I walked on a bit, looking this way, and that, and the other, puzzled. I asked a woman for directions to the trail. ‘Where do you want to get to?’, she asked, and seemed somewhat nonplussed when I replied that anywhere would do. I clarified matters by saying I was new to the area and just exploring. She pointed back the way I had come. I had to explain that and say I wanted the other direction. She then proceeded, augmenting her verbal instructions with clear pointing, to lead me in exactly the opposite direction to the one in which I needed to go. Very soon I was dicing with death on the A31.
Back I tracked to the place where I had asked directions, and asked another couple. They were going there themselves, did it regularly, and wondered why the signs ran out when they did. ‘Someone ought to tell them’, the man said. So, if ‘them’ are reading this, please take note. Before the next sign appeared we had crossed two roads and walked round a left hand bend. It was not visible from the direction in which I had first been led.
My guides walked on ahead as I rambled. Some way along the trail I took a comparatively dry path up into trees and heathland which I traversed for a while before taking a very muddy track down, which led me to a ditch I had to leap across to get back to the trail. I retraced my steps to meet Jackie. Beside the Ringwood part of the trail is posted a laminated sign asking walkers to uproot the menace that is Himalayan Balsam.
Had I met the couple before the first woman, or had the signing of the Trailway not petered out I would not have gone on a false trail as I would have been led only in one direction. My title for today’s adventure was inspired by an exchange with Louisa who had posted on Facebook that her 5 and 3 year old daughters were walking around the house singing songs from One Direction, the latest boy band. When I had asked whether the songs were anything to do with The X factor, she had told me they were by this band, and added ‘get with it Dad’. Well, I’ll have you know, my darling girl, they came third in that programme in 2010.
We had a light salad this evening before going off to The Amberwood pub quiz, which we won.