Saturday, May 30, 2015

West Stockwith, Misterton, and Everton

A walk in north Nottinghamshire with my brother today; he's recently been diagnosed with autism, memory loss, and confusion, and so, like myself, he's entitled to a pass for free travel on public transport.

I waited for the bus, the number 98 to Gainsborough, at my local bus-stop: it's actually three bus shelters right next to each other, each one served by different routes...and it can be quite confusing. When I arrived there was an elderly couple in quite a distressed state and after a few minutes they approached me. They wanted to travel to the Asda supermarket, only a mile down the road; every bus that serves these stops goes there, but the couple didn't know from which of the three stops any approaching bus would be stopping at; their eyesight wasn't very good and the buses were zooming past before they'd had the chance to work out where they needed to be standing. Instead of being bold and formulating a strategy, they were nervous and ditherers - they told me three buses had already passed without stopping. soon as I saw a bus approaching I decided to make sure it stopped for them - my bus departs from the middle of the three bus-stops and so I wouldn't have far to move to either of the other two if required. I was fortunate that the bus was kept waiting at the traffic lights only a few yards before the stops...and it was the first vehicle in the queue. I'm a mission-, or task-orientated person; it's one of the defining features of my Asperger's syndrome and I immediately assessed the situation and I knew that this bus would be stopping today...come what may. Because the vehicle was stationary the driver could easily see me, and he'd be pulling away from the traffic lights at a slow speed anyhow and so I stepped out into the road, put my arm out and prevented the bus from passing. It still required quite a bit of shouting and gesticulating for me to get the couple to understand the situation and actually get on the bus. I considered this to be my good deed for the day; I don't think the bus driver did though, and the couple were too timid and confused to really understand what was happening. It wasn't going to be my only good deed today though.

My brother was already on the bus when I boarded, he'd got on at the bus station and he told me that the driver had warned passengers travelling all the way to Gainsborough that there would be long delays and a detour of over twenty miles because the bridge over the River Trent just before Gainsborough, was closed...fortunately this wouldn't affect us - the buses were keeping to timetable by having passengers for Gainsborough change buses near to the bridge.

We got off the bus to start our walk at West Stockwith, the place where the River Trent, River Idle, and the Chesterfield Canal all meet. 

There's quite a lot to see here; a large tidal river, another river, a tidal sluice gate, a lock, and a marina - we found a sunny spot on the grassy levee and sat down to eat our sandwiches, before spending half an hour exploring the immediate area. Before setting off I opened my rucksack and took out my map, on seeing me do this the lead rider of a group of about a dozen bikers, real bikers with impressive machines with a lot of chrome, brass studs, and leather upholstery, stopped and pulled over and asked me for directions how to cross over the river. I couldn't show him on my map because it was only a sheet I'd printed off online covering the immediate area. I told him that the nearest crossing was at Keadby on the Scunthorpe road, [I'd forgotten about the M180 motorway bridge a few miles closer - I think]. I suggested that they continue riding northwards, staying as close to the river as possible so as to not get lost in the maze of narrow, winding country roads, using the river levees as a means of navigation...they are easily spotted in this flat, low-lying countryside.

After our time spent in the village we started our walk, heading westwards along the canal towpath. After only about a mile or so we reached Misterton, and my brother decided to bail out and catch the next bus back to Doncaster, saying he didn't feel very well. I think he was feeling very uncomfortable about the things I'd been telling him about his diagnosis, and the likely consequences for him - a few home truths about what would now expected of him so that he can drastically improve his basic lifeskills, his language skills, communication skills, and build up a social and support network so that he might be capable of living independently when our parents are no longer around - at the moment he's still living at home with our parents and barely functioning as a human being: by my observations he's anhedonic, totally passive, and asexual - and very vulnerable, in all sorts of ways. 

So; for most of the walk I was on my own - nothing unusual that for me. I continued along the canal until I turned off, taking a footpath across fields just before Drakeholes, to reach the pretty village of Everton. I had planned to finish the walk at Bawtry, but it was getting quite late in the afternoon, and as I passed a bus-stop I noticed that a bus going to Bawtry was due in fifteen minutes. I took the opportunity to have a quick look around Everton before returning to the bus-stop. I waited for twenty minutes, until fifteen minutes after it was due, but the bus didn't show up. I knew the returning 98 bus was due at 16:40 from a different bus-stop on the main road. So I walked down and caught that bus - it took me all the way to Doncaster. 

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