Now Twelfth night has passed and we are well into a New Year, we’ve already broken a resolution… to get back into the blogging habit. We’ll attempt to remedy that starting now. However, we have so far kept the resolution to stay off alcohol until the first 2cv camp meeting of the year, Firkin’ Freezin’, in mid-February. It’s early days though.
Nearly everyone we meet still asks us the question ‘what was your favourite place?’, but there’s a close runner up with ‘how does it feel to be back?’ This receives a less than straightforward answer too.
Before we left we had no idea we’d be on the road so long, but the road just kept on going. We didn’t miss Britain at all, and were ambivalent at returning. Now we’re here though, after the initial shock, we are enjoying being back. Being new-returnees has seen a momentum of invitations, emails and phone calls and has meant a veritable social swirl with family and friends over the last two months. Rekindling contact with those we know well, meeting with long-lost relations, and getting to know new people, with warm welcomes all round.
Notions of what home means to us have changed. While travelling we felt at home everywhere, after all we had our home with us. We put down some sort of roots really quickly nearly everywhere we went. We’ve felt at home with everyone we’ve visited on our return too. With winter coming on though and the immense amount of rain that has come with it, a significant amount of which has made its way into the van, we realised the van would not be somewhere to fall back on as a home for more than a night or so for the time being. We now have a closer affinity with homelessness, although ours was entirely self-imposed, after plotting our journey around the UK, not always sure where our next roof was coming from. Strangely, the one place we don’t feel at home, in spite of very warm welcomes from our friend-tennants whenever we touch base there, is at our old house.
Have things changed in one and a half years? Not really. People still have the same issues, the government, the economy, changes to the education and welfare systems… life goes on… it’s the same old, same old, and we’re slowly learning the new vocabulary of onesies, Gangnam style and zuma.
We are cosily ensconced in our Herefordshire cottage for now though, putting down temporary roots in a new area. and enjoying free reign with the oven and washing machine.
We attended a meeting of a local 2cv club ‘The Wye Knots’ at a pub not too far away, not expecting to know anyone. Feeling like newbies we walked in, and realised we knew most of those present… more catching up with old friends who were surprised to see us in their locality.
Of course we have decanted our possessions from the van into the cottage, together with a few choice boxes from our storage unit. We have to get used to not having everything with us at all times, and have to think more seriously about what we need to pack when we go away. So when someone suggests going swimming, we realise that no, we can’t tag along as our swim suits are at the cottage.
Not being used to staying in houses has meant that important items have been left at various locations around the country (notably Adrian’s winter coat and phone!). Getting forgotten winter clothes from the storage unit felt like having a whole new wardrobe. Having lost weight means the joy of getting into clothes you didn’t think you’d be able to wear again. Thank goodness I didn’t get rid of absolutely everything then.
We are now embarking on the next part of our life-change project – to find a new place to live somewhere in the countryside where we can afford the space we need and want to find new ways to make a living. When I’m in London, I can’t bear to think of leaving it, but when I’m in the country I don’t miss it at all. Our old house in the South-East will be up for sale come the spring.
Meanwhile our need to be working, and guilt at not doing so, is countered with not wanting to anchor ourselves anywhere too permanently yet. There is the inner conflict with the need to settle in a forever setting and that old familiar yearning for the open road. All around us our friends are working hard, and we’re now spending ‘real’ money at British prices as opposed to spending those pretty Eastern European notes, where money went much further!
While we are getting our heads around all this, we’ve signed up for some art courses at a local college. For me I’m rekindling my interest in handmade books now I have space to do so. Adrian is going to discover the joys (hopefully) of wood carving. I’m also picking up on duties related to my role as Trustee for the Heath Robinson Trust.
A line may have been drawn under our overseas travels just for now (how quickly it all fades), but we’re still in limbo waiting to see what happens next.
Happy New Year!