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„The fallen leaves in the forest seemed to make even the ground glow and burn with light”
— Malcolm Lowry, October Ferry to Gabriola

Exercise 3 — The Long Way Home

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For questions 1-15 read the text about a bike journey back home to Bournemouth from London. Use the root of the words given with the relevant number to form a word that fits the space.

The Long Way Home
Even going home can be an adventure

In the age of the infernal combustion engine, distance has begun to lose meaning. We climb into a box, put the radio on and climb out again a few .......... (1. effort) hours later, several hundred miles away from where we started. A ’good’ journey has become synonymous with an .......... (2. event) one, where nothing obstructs the swiftest possible transition from one place to another.

And sometimes that’s fine, that’s all what we want.

But journeys don’t have to be like that; even everyday ones can be given a bit more meaning and memorable heft. Take going home – especially returning to a familiar place like your parents’ house. This is a journey that most of us will have made dozens or hundreds of times. The turns and timings are familiar, the final few miles deep-set in the memory. My parents live in Bournemouth, down on England’s south coast. I now live in London; going back to the coast usually means three .......... (3. think) hours on a coach.

But this time I wanted to do it differently. My degree work in Photography at the London College of Communication explores ideas of home and family, and so, with a couple of friends in tow, I decided to make the London to Bournemouth journey by bicycle. Three days of discovery and distance.

We left London on a .......... (4. summer) day in early September .......... (5. equip) with padded shorts, pannier bags and cameras we hopped onto our bicycles not really knowing what to expect.

As we were all used to cycling around London, we were familiar with the city and had explored its .......... (6. little) known parts as well as the tourist-tangled centre. But the route beyond was something of an unknown – a three-day excursion via Brighton and Portsmouth – dead south, then west along the crinkly coast back to my seaside town. We’d be taking smaller roads, meandering and pausing in a way that coaches never can.

We are all familiar with the .......... (7. romantic) attached to the bicycle as a mode of transport – zipping around, hopping on and off as we wish, the opportunity to easily explore our .......... (8. round). The sound of tyres on tarmac and the air tumbling past you as you speed along. However, on our big .......... (9. home) ride the ’cycling senses’ seemed to be even more heightened.

They say that freewheeling is the next best thing to flying, and imaginary wings lifted our souls as we flew down long empty country roads. Quite abruptly, the trees at either side of the road cleared and sun washed over us. Our ears were filled with the .......... (10. deaf) roar of traffic – traffic that I would normally have been part of – on the motorway beneath us as we flew out over the M25, feeling impossibly fast. The sudden sharp contrast between that raging corridor of metal and the .......... (11. weigh) freedom of our bicycles left us silent.

With every gentle mile, the space between my new home in London and my childhood home by the sea became rich with experience.

The sun grew hotter throughout the day as we pedalled our hardest up the hills to Brighton. Gradient gains meaning when your legs are your engine. We refuelled – as one must on the English coast – with fish and chips in Brighton and an ice cream as the late afternoon sun jewelled the waves under Worthing Pier.

As the days grew on, our muscles grew tired and our tan lines grew darker. When night fell, we tumbled gratefully onto friends’ sofas and shared their lumpy single beds. Rising early with aching limbs each morning, we quietly packed up and left, rolling out onto roads unknown.

Arriving at the banks of the River Hamble, we loaded our bikes onto the tiny, lurid pink ferry boat and bobbed across the water before striking west again towards Southampton and into the thousand greens of the New Forest. I spent a lot of time as a teenager exploring the .......... (12. deep) of these woods, and cycling through them set those memories swirling like motes in sunlight. The trees leaned long over our heads, the smell of the soft-shaded earth and the songs of unseen birds filled our senses.

All too soon, perhaps an hour away from Bournemouth, we suddenly realised how close we were to my home and stopped to reflect on our little journey by an abandoned farmhouse in an .......... (13. grow) field.

We took a few last shots on our cameras and hit the road again for the final push, yearning for the sight of Bournemouth Pier. We arrived on the Promenade in Bournemouth hot but happy, glowing with a sense of achievement and adventure.

Much to my surprise, my parents were waiting for us on the beach, pleased we had finally made it. Wheeling our bikes through Bournemouth Gardens, we made the unanimous decision to sink a .......... (14. celebrate) pint before catching the train back to Waterloo.

In terms of punctures, tumbles and scrapes, our journey had been ’uneventful’, but the intricacies and .......... (15. eccentric) we had seen of the English landscape more than made up for it. Even just picking our way through unfamiliar housing estates, sleeping villages and towns that had once been nothing more than a name on a signpost became somehow exciting on our cycling mission. If you’re unable to explore new and far-flung landscapes, try looking at a familiar one from a new perspective.

Even going home can be an adventure.

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