The date for departure was set for the first full moon after the equinox. It’s good luck apparently to start new ventures at that time. The Christian celebration Easter comes from the Pagan celebrations of the Goddess Eostre from the ancient word for spring ‘eastre’. The Eostre festival was timed for the full moon after the Equinox which is why Easter takes place on the first Sunday after that.
With only a few days to go I was staying with my brother and there were still several items of equipment I had yet to get, or even to decide about. Quite a few people I spoke to suggested I ought to take some form of weapon with me. A rape alarm, mace, a heavy metal keyring, even a knife. Opinion was split, and so was mine. It didn’t seem like the right attitude, bad vibe. Yet I was quite frightened about camping on my own at night in random places.
Sat on the floor I noticed a book on a lower shelf of my brothers bookcase – the fortune book. It was written in the 1700’s and was simply a book of thousands of fortunes, with about twenty to a page. There were lengthy instructions in the front about how one was to divine your fortune but I didn’t have the patience so I simply asked “should I take a weapon” and flicked through with eyes closed. I put my finger on to a spot on the page and opened my eyes.
“When you travel, providence will protect you.” it said.
“Ah. No weapons then. That’s pretty clear. Thanks.” Afterwards it seemed obvious. Of course I shouldn’t take a weapon, it would be setting the wrong intention, the wrong approach.
Having wrapped up my personal affairs I stayed a night at my parents before boarding the train to Totnes. I was very grateful that I would be staying at Stephs for a few nights before we set out, one more chance to prepare myself. I looked down at my boots which my mum had polished that morning. Returned to their original dark blue. Mum had bought them for me when I was sixteen, now sixteen years later they were still in use (but the leather was starting to crack – I should have polished them more). Dad had driven me to the station. With support like this, I thought, I have to be able to do this.
I had set myself the intention to observe during the walk. Not just to look, but to see. To see the things I wouldn’t normally. So I began on the train.
I count four spacious first class carriages as I walk through, all empty but for one to three people in each. Entering the standard class the small luggage racks are overflowing, every seat has either a person or a bag in it. Elderly women have big suitcases on the seats next to them. I get frowns and glares at my backpack as I squeeze down the aisle, brushing people’s arms or heads.
My mum used to travel on the train down to Barry to see her Grandma and they would pack all the family’s belongings into a trunk. The trunk would get collected a few days before and put on a train. By the time they arrived at my great grandma’s it was waiting in the hall.
“It obviously wasn’t prohibitively expensive, that’s what everybody did.” She told me.