Too nice to stay home I think, peering out of my bedroom window as the dawn breaks into glorious clear blue sky. November 1st! It can't be - but sure enough it is, because I know my monthly MTX blood test is tomorrow on the 2nd. East, West, North or South I wonder. Dorset wins the day and we head of into the rising sun over the Jurassic Coast to picturesque Abbotsbury, famous for it's tropical gardens, swannery, ancient mediaeval monastery remnants, tythe barn, St. Catherines Chapel on the hill top, Chesil Beach, The Fleet and miles of country walks to name just a few.
Good start! No one collecting car parking money at the little entrance hut, and no dreaded pay and display machines. Season obviously over. I love free parking. If it's not free we walk from wherever it is free, even if its in another country.
What's this then? A beach party going on and so early. In November? Balloons on the posts and three generations of a family all dressed as pirates sitting round a huge picnic table. We greet the merry makers. What do you know! It's grandad's eightieth, they tell us. Grandad waves happily to us and invites us to join him in a beer. "No ta, too early for me." I reply sadly. I tell him he looks well for his age but he's a long way to go before he cracks mother's 109 and that it was only the strain of doing the Telegraph crossword in under five minutes that brought on her final stroke. I notice his spirits lift immediately. It always brings hope to know it's possible to live so long and keep all your marbles intact.
So on down the great Chesil Beach then inland following the coast path to Abbotsbury where we stop for another chat with a charming learning difficulty girl and her companion tending their ponies. How happy and bubbly she is and so pleased to chat with us, perfect strangers. I'm sure she'd have kept us there all day if she could. The chocolate cakes in the village shop are just too tempting. Another 3 months off my life then. Check out St Nicholas, the village church and make a small donation then off back round the other side of the hill on top of which is perched the ruined St Catherine's Chapel. So hauntingly beautiful, so spiritual. I imagine the mediaeval monks and villagers slogging it out to reach the top for worship hundreds of years ago in all weathers. They must have been a hardy lot. Well it is Hardy country. (groan) .
As I climb back into the car and reflect that we've walked a good few miles and there are no aches and pains, I offer a silent prayer of gratitude to whoever invented MTX. I'm sure that without it the only way I'd be seeing this would be from a wheelchair.