Adjustments

Neither K nor the Smart One are good at change so I shall be staying at the new, cheaper, much larger (no more car park sleeping for me!) Langport home for a few months and R0X1 will be spending a while in dry dock  (SORN’d – Statutory Off Road Notice i.e off road and paying no vehicle tax – for six months) parked up on our new drive awaiting MOT, minor damage repairs, servicing etc. and then, after a fantastic four years and 34,874 miles together, I shall be downsizing her. It’s going to be a wrench but I’m more than ready to adjust my nomadic ways a bit.

Towards the end of my 2017/18 eight month trip I was aware that I wasn’t enjoying myself as much as when I started motorhoming. First I blamed all the unfortunate incidents and associated expenses that occurred last trip, next I blamed the inclement weather. The Bezzie pointed out that I didn’t allowed myself time to recover physically  and emotionally from all the hospital tests and procedures of August and September last year before setting out. I was tired and stressed and more than ready to head home a month earlier than planned.

So, after a period of reflection I have made the following observations and recommendations to myself;

  • I miss my family and close friends too much to spend so much time away from them. In future I shall not be away longer than 10-12 weeks
  • I’ve had the best time dashing thither and yon, fulfilling a goodly part of my photography bucket list but continuing at such a pace is giving me quantity of experience over quality, and exhausting me. I shall slow down rate of travel
  • Much as I love Spain it’s so far away, that many miles travelling alone for so many months is not fun any more. I shall still visit Spain but France and Northern Europe will get more of my attention
  • Our move to a bigger house means I won’t have to carry all my worldly goods with me therefore I don’t need such a large motorhome. A smaller Moho means I’ll be able to park more easily in the small towns I love to visit but currently find parking space in difficult

I’m getting my mojo back …

K has decided she would like more of my photos as art work on the walls of our new home, the theme in the hall stairs and landing, unsurprisingly for a family from Torbay, will be the beach. Here are a few of the 50 odd under consideration …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Destination Zumerzet

The winds of change blew at hurricane force this week.

Last week I drove K to Somerset to visit a few primary schools that she was considering, she applied and obtained interviews at the two she favoured. The interviews took place this week, one Tuesday and the other on Wednesday; she was offered and accepted her favourite on Wednesday.

We’d been keeping an eye online for suitable housing, a search which mainly revolved around locations with a decent secondary school for The Smart One, commutable distance for K from her place of work, 3 double bedrooms and space to park R0X1, in that order of importance. Hush Episcopi Academy, Langport has a good secondary school which was recommended by the Head of one of the primary schools K. interviewed at. Recommended as the Head’s son, another high functioning autie currently in year 9 the year The Smart one is going into in September. He is doing very well there and receiving great SEN support and pastoral care. Having spotted what looked like the ideal house, within that school’s catchment area, we drove down to Zumerzet (again) today.

We looked around the small town; independent shops, butchers, artisan bakers, fortnightly market and monthly craft market, riverside walks, decent pub grub (well we had to have lunch), pet shop, vet, library post office and Drs surgery all nicely wrapped up in westcountry olde worldiness with a free ATM in an old red telephone box in the market square!

We looked round the house; as of 31st July our address will be Garden City, Huish Episcopi, Langport.

🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. Too busy for photos but I’m about to have a cheeky little cruise with BB so next time …

Winds of Change

I’m still “enjoying” lots of face ache. It turns out that it’s entirely possible to have toothache concurrently with sinusitis. I’ve cured the toothache part of it by having the offending molar removed yesterday. It remains unfortunate that the sinusitis has settled into the opposite side from the offending tooth socket so both sides of my face remain sore – thank Waitrose for fish crumble and mashed veg last night, and mashed bananas and strawberries with yogurt for breakfast this morning.

Last week was half term and we took the Smart One to one of his favourite haunts, Didcot Railway Centre. We always go by train as the centre is on the old marshalling yards adjacent to Didcot station. We picked an “in steam” day but surprisingly the place was the least crowded we’ve ever seen it. This year there is an ongoing exhibition covering the part the railways, in particular the Great Western Railway, played in the first world war, in commemoration of the centenary of it’s end. I found the inclusion of two of the GWR locos and a couple of the coaches used as ambulance trains during that war particularly interesting. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to provide treatment to the wounded whilst in a moving train.

The GWR ambulance train

 

In the field.

These days the Smart One is allowed to roam the large site unsupervised, he had a hoot availing himself of several free rides on both “in steam” trains.

 

The two “in steamers” for the day

 

A few days later and totally unconnected to our day out, following a long family discussion, K handed in her notice at her current school and sent out her first applications for posts advertised in Somerset. Rents in Berkshire are horrendously high and becoming unaffordable for a single-parent teacher’s salary. In the area we are looking at we will be able to get a 3 double-bedroomed house for less than the rent on the current 2 bedroom flat. Apart from the rent issue there are other advantages to the move. We shall be closer to J&B, who are delighted that they will only have a 45 min drive to visit and to quite a few old friends of mine and K’s, including my Bezzies. We know and love the whole of the south west and for K and I it will be going home. The Smart One is a little apprehensive but there are several “outstanding” secondary schools in the area, he will be closer to his Uncle and to his maternal Grandfather and only an hour and a half’s train journey from his Dad. He’s delighted that we shall be close to the West Somerset railway, a heritage line which ends at Minehead beach (!), and is already putting forward towns and villages with stations on the line as potential areas for me to house hunt! K will be doing the hard bit, applications (two already sent) and interviews and I’ll be doing the fun bit – finding us somewhere to live.

Watch this space …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Easy travel …

When I was a young, bright-eyed student nurse in London, once every 4 weeks, on my weekend off, I would travel home by train. The weekend off came after 7 night shifts and I didn’t have to be back until 3 p.m. Tuesday for late shift. I finished at 7-45 and would walk back to the nurses home, change, pick up my bag and head for the tube at Victoria. No matter how long it took me to get changed and have breakfast, incredibly the first train in would always be a circle line and when I arrived at Paddington, there would always be a train calling at Swindon already boarding ready to depart within 5 or 10 minutes – I never consulted train timetables.

I may no longer be young and bright-eyed but my to my surprise public transport still seems to run at my convenience. OK, I did look up the times of buses to Málaga but the bus for the airport rolled into Málaga bus station just as I got off the bus from Torrox. Equally, five days days later the bus at the airport rolled up and I was on my way within 5 minutes of hugging K and the Smart One goodbye and deposited me at the bus station where I found a Torrox connection immediately; as soon as I’d paid my fare and sat down we were off. Only once have I had a delayed flight (9 hours overnight wait at Corfu with Rose and four kids, due to French air traffic controllers’ strike, 30 odd years ago), in fact usually my flights leave on time and arrive early – go figure …

My daughter does not seem to have inherited my easy travel gene, their plane was late. K texted to say they had landed and 35 minutes later I was about to reply, asking her at which airport, when I heard their approach. My grandson stormed across the arrivals hall yelling “Grandma, Grandma, Grandma” almost knocking me flat (he’s nearly my height now) and proceeded to hug me á la boa constrictor – I loved every second! K was allowed to give me a brief hug, with a wry smile and a shrug to show she knows her place in the Smart One’s world, several minutes later.

Family time

The weather wasn’t as good as it had been but wasn’t as bad as it became. The Smart One spent times on the beach getting very wet, enjoyed sightseeing small Andalucian towns and tall Andalucian mountains. Much to his and K’s delight I dialled up elevation on my Sat Nag in the car we hired as we wriggled through the twisty windies around the Sierra del Chaparral, and the pair of them were gleefully shouting out the metres above sea level (we topped out at just over 1,400) if you want the exact figure ask He Who Knows All. We visited a Spanish market and had a couple of meals out (as well as ice creams, chocolate y churros and (JJ only) a chocolate crêpe).

Sierra del Chaparral

The Smart One impressed with his Spanish wherever we went, receiving beaming smiles, high fives and sincere compliments – he’d only been in the country a few minutes when he asked the car-hire chap to give him the directions to the courtesy bus stop in Spanish, repeated the directions back perfectly and guided us to it effortlessly. Go JJ …

🙂 🙂 🙂

Time travelling

The Girls duly arrived on time and with baggage at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. Not a friendly motorhome pick up/drop off airport. All express parking height barriered, so they had to scramble in with barely a hello as I stopped illegally, and with an equally illegal stop, scramble out and bid a short goodbye – probably just as well as I don’t do goodbyes and we had time for the hellos once we got to our overnight at Autorive.

Entirely unperturbed by the cloudlike UFOs, we had a lovely few days. The weather was very kind, Argeles-sur-Mer bathed in very warm sunshine, and a couple of idiots got wet – one merely paddled the Med, the other swam – brrr, it wasn’t that warm …                        I was tempted to go on the double decker carousel just because I’ve never seen one before, but Daisy would not’ve been allowed.

We were ladies wot lunched, visited a few nice places (if you’re going to Elne, check it’s open, it wasn’t when we went) and then quick as a wink it was back to the airport for that hurried goodbye.

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Elne (closed)

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Argeles-sur-Mer and the UFOs (note the aliens on the beach)

Port-Vendres

Collioure

A couple of drives later and I’m at the border (will they have to put in border control for Brits after Brexit?) and will cross into Spain tomorrow. During yesterday’s drive I was admiring how vibrant the leaf colours were; haven’t seen colours (or leaves) like those for a while, it felt like I’d travelled back in time a month. I also saw loads of black kites – I presume that’s what they were, they looked exactly like the red kites at home, except the red bit was black.

So it’s au revoir la France and hola Espagna.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Matinee theatre

I went to the theatre yesterday afternoon and …

Three nice things happened;

My ankles measure as slim so that’s two parts of my body sorted!! I’m sure however, that my beautiful slim ankles did not look sexy in the pair of black compression knee-hi’s I was measured for!

My admitting nurse having suddenly disappeared came back to announce that she’d gone back to the computer to check my date of birth because, to her, I look and act well younger. Knew there was a good reason to love the Portuguese! No reason to love my son who sent me this card 10 days ago which I’d suggested as a good buy for his Uncle’s birthday and J forgot to send … J’s piss poor excuse was there was no point in wasting it and he deemed it just as appropriate for my birthday – well it might’ve been if it were pink.

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My daughter came to collect and sign me out of the hospital – they wouldn’t discharge me without a “responsible” adult’s signature. As K walked in the ward the lady in the bed opposite exclaimed “That’s my son’s teacher!” – it’s a small world is about the truest cliché of them all. In view of the fact that K is indeed her son’s teacher, I refrained from doubting the validity of K’s claim to responsible adulthood in front of the child’s mother.

Three great things happened;

I finally got my treatment and all the slightly iffy cells are no more, they are removed, deceased, they are dead as parrots.

I woke up from the anaesthetic, I am none of the above.

The third time was a charm, I can leave for all points south on Saturday and don’t have to change the ferry booking for a fourth time.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Liberty of London

Over recent years K and I have fallen into the habit of having an afternoon of girlie time each December admiring all the glitter, bling, tinsel and bauble of Christmas decorations. We mostly go to garden centres, the one at Henry Street, Aborfield being our favourite locally. After discovering that Liberty’s Christmas shop is already open and as we’ve missed the last two years because in ’15 I was in Spain and in ’16 K was unable to walk, K decided a return to Liberty of London was called for – we haven’t been for several years. Okay it’s only September but I leave for the winter in a few days. There was a certain lack of yuletide excitement but there was sparkle and colour in abundance, all inside that wonderful Tudor revival building –  and there was Afternoon Tea …

we had a great time.

🙂 🙂 🙂