Having missed out at Swings and Roundabouts, I made like a squashed grape on Facebook and let out a little whine. My friends delivered support, ego-rubs and arse-kickings in equal measure and it finally dawned on me that the only person who was going to make sure I had a good time was me: “If not you, then who?” as it’s written in that important book of moral reference, Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett.
So in the morning I implemented Plan Happy Traveller. That was the first important change, as recommended by Andy Myles. Being on holiday alone may feel sad and pointless. Travelling alone is exciting and challenging. I returned to the Augusta Bakery, purveyor of excellent pizza, and almost fell at the first hurdle. My accent was, apparently, impenetrable to the lady behind the counter. I tried a few times but got worse rather than better, because when I get stressed I start to stutter. After a bit of pointing I achieved my goal, which was a big black coffee with an extra shot and a vanilla slice, because what finer pastry could there be for a traveller’s breakfast?
Back at the Youth Hostel with my spoils, I found a the kitchen was full of interesting people, and best of all, for the cash-strapped lady biker, free bread. One of the girls staying in the hostel worked in the bakery and was allowed to bring home the unsold loaves in the evening. The tomato bread was particularly good. To maintain good karmic balance I put my bananas on the pile. I’d bought them in Collie and they had not travelled well. I am a banana fascist, there is a narrow window of opportunity when they are at their best but if they get brown and bruised I can’t bear them. But because we live in a universe of infinite diversity, my reject banana is another person’s bliss.
“Battered and free,” said Margaret, later. “The perfect banana!”
Margaret was travelling with her daughter Gill and was enjoying being the oldest backpacker in Western Australia. Her husband was at home with three weeks worth of meals in the freezer and a barn full of vintage bikes. I told her about riding with the Blue Knights and my RBR adventures. She laughed at my rubber scrambled eggs. We compared flight notes and I told her the story of my accidental oxygen tank. Sometimes I think I enjoy my disasters, because if my life went smoothly, what stories would I have to tell?
My day started literally and figuratively under a cloud. I decided that maybe I felt weird and dislocated because my I’d eaten nothing the previous day except espresso, iced coffee and bar snacks. I have been trying not to turn to food as a mood-enhancer but I felt this merited an exception, so I had Eggs Benedict in Samovar in Busselton. Which came with avocados. I love avocados. And a white Magnum before climbing the lighthouse.
But my brain refused to be consoled. It was enjoying a good wallow.
These things were wrong:-
– I was the only person at the lighthouse on my own. Everyone else was a couple or a family group.
– I was going to have to share a room with someone I didn’t know. Because I was on my own. I didn’t want to share a room. But I had booked a double.
– I stopped to try a Cellar Door. @sharemyoyster had told me about these. I fancied a coffee and maybe a pizza. Or a cheese platter. That looked nice on the menu. I waited while the group of 15 placed their orders. Then the girl behind the counter took orders from four women who’d come in after me. As she headed past me again I said “Could I have a Long Black…” and before I could say “and a pizza” she said “Would you mind coming back when I’ve got everyone else’s orders taken?” Because single people’s money is apparently not as important as the money spent by people who have arrived with their families in tow. The Winery was called Swings and Roundabouts. I was going to sit with my coffee and my cheese plate and maybe even a small glass of something sparkly and write a witty post about how the day had been up and down but now it was improving. But it wasn’t. Part of me understands the economics. Part of me was just having salt rubbed into a wound that was particularly sore that day. So I got back on my bike and carried on south and had a little blub inside my lid.
Why? Because I’m stupid and I get myself worked up anticipating dramas that don’t deserve it.
When I got to Augusta the Youth Hostel was beautiful. It had a balcony with a white staircase leading to the upper floor, and a garden with a barbecue. Who am I sharing with, I asked the manager. Nobody, she said, looking at me like I was a bit dim. You’ve got a double bed, we don’t make you share with someone you don’t know.
So I took my bags upstairs to my room and it was a beautiful calm room, full of light with great big windows and vintage furniture.
I had a little walk around town. The Augusta Bakery was doing pizza night, so I ordered ham and pineapple. The Augusta Hotel Motel was doing excellent beer. The bottle shop had tins of VB and luxury crisps. I watched the sun go down. Tomorrow would be better. This was a good place.