Saturday, 23 August 2014

Parents: By Our Loom Bands You Will Know Us

'Can they come and do loom bands in the van.' Louis asked as he turned up after going out in search for friends at the campsite.  There was a gaggle of them of various ages.  'Now have you asked your parents if you can come in here?'  I said.  'After all I could be a mass murderer. '  'Yeah' said Lou nonchalantly.  'She told them she was a psychopath last year.  The kids' eyes widened and they ran off, shortly to return with Mum in tow - and Dad, a sergeant in the Met - oops!  Obviously one to investigate potential threat seriously.   He took one look, pronounced that I was alright  and then the parents settled down to share a bottle of red. Meanwhile the kids strew elastic over the floor and helped themselves to chocolate from the fridge.  I hope the scary routine gives them food for thought before entering anyone else's tent or motorhome willy - nilly in the future.

The loom band craze is great.  Really! It gets kids away from all that electronic gadgetry that is such a lure.  Come to think of it, there's some adults I know who might benefit from a bit of weaving.   And now you can spot those of us with children a mile off. Sgt Ian sported a very natty multi-coloured necklace that I sure will be hidden under the uniform when he returns to work. And here's my latest offering from Lou. 'Wow!' said Fiona, the kids' Mum.  'A double fishtail.   They take ages.'  You see we're all picking up the lingo too!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Everything I Need: The Conclusion

Here's the view from my bedroom window at Ster Greich just before I went to sleep there.  Stunning!  As I've said before I enjoy a life without want in my van. Currently the sea is my bath.  I am squeaky clean albeit salty.  As for Louis, that's an entirely different kettle of fish.  I've stepped down the usual nagging about hygiene while on holiday.  Until he smells it's fine!

New kit in the van is as rare as rocking horse droppings but there have been some additions lately.  The bluetooth speaker, a gas top espresso maker and a couple of replacement cereal bowls have all enhanced motorhome life in a way that doesn't happen in a house.  I'm so much more appreciative of all I have when there's less stuff around me. Odd but true.

I'm as happy as I've ever been living this simple way of life.  And so I've decided, with 99% certainty, to take the plunge, give notice on  Lovelygrey Cottage, put my furniture in storage and live in the van for a while. It will mark a new chapter in my life. Some will think that I'm a little nutty but hey, I've lived with that label perfectly happily for a while now.   I'm spurred on by the idea that you have more regrets about the things that you don't do.   The time is right too.  It's something that Louis is fine with now but unlikely to relish as a teenager in two years time.  

 It'll mean that I can  save hard and also  gives me ultimate flexibility to move back into somewhere with four walls and a roof at short notice with a potential advantage over other buyers or renters.   After all there won't be another property to dispose of when the ideal home materialises. Meantime, through the winter months, the sea may become a bit chilly for ablutions. Friends with nice bathrooms take note.  I might be calling in favours!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Imagining Fish

After pooh - poohing my idea that angels provide guidance in my life, my little bro' came up with a corker.  He told me how he had used creative visualisation to connect with a higher being to find him someone to marry. And now he's engaged.  'Isn't that exactly the same as asking your angel?' I asked.  He refused to have it.

Anyway, I chose yet again to ignore my 2014 spending rules and bought the book that he recommended.  'Creative Visualisation' by Shakti Gawain is an absolute corker so I'm well chuffed that I broke my own self imposed laws.  It's full of wisdom that no doubt I'll dip into as mood takes me.  The basic technique is simple though.  Get into a state of deep relaxation, imagine what you want in life and afterwards say to yourself:

This or something better
Now manifests for me
In totally satisfying and harmonious ways
For the highest good of all concerned.

The bit I like is the 'something better' part. It acknowledges that sometimes what we wish for ourselves can be limiting.

The book encourages trialling the method by asking for small things first. So no ideal house or husband to start with then.  Or even a combination of the two.  Some stay at home bloke welcoming me with stew and dumplings after a hard days work on winter evenings.   Now there's an image I could go with.  But as advised I stuck to a simple request.

Amongst the bike bits and school sports gear that we bought on our pilgrimage to Decathlon, the outdoor superstore we threw in a fishing set for Louis.  The instructions perplexed us and we only ended up knotting a whole load of line and stabbing ourselves a good few times with the hooks..So I visualised Louis meeting a kindly grandpa figure to show him the ropes.  What do you know! As I swam in the sea watching Louis rig up his rod, the very bloke showed up. Now Louis can cast expertly.  This leads on nicely to my next visualisation trick.  How about a tasty sea bass? 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sofa on the Beach

Here's Porzou, the place we were camped up by yesterday.  Not bad considering it cost nowt.  Oh I did have to stump up 4 Euros to top up with water.   Some of us 'camping caristes' even baulk at that.  We're mean buggers.

We didn't have the spot quite to ourselves. Some random French people had taken a massive '80s sofa to the beach, as you do. We were invited to take a seat  The occasion was a big multi - generational hen/stag party.  So much nicer than my own affair where I had to gingerly remove a pair of M&S blue pants from a heavily oiled Tarzan-a-gram to reveal an animal skin thong below.  I still suffer PTSD at the thought!

Now Lou is a sucker for a TV wedding.  'Don't Tell the Bride' is a favourite as is 'Marrying Mum and Dad'.  Odd choices for an eleven year old boy but there you go. 'Can I organise your next wedding pleeeease?' he asked for the umpteenth time as we strolled back up the sand. I finally caved.  The promise of a big settee by the seaside sealed it.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Free Five A Day

Look at this marvellous selection of veg. They're of a kind and quality that would have tempted me to have made an impulse purchase if I'd come across them in a shop.   I'm especially a sucker when it comes to multi - coloured tomatoes.  What was especially good about this lot was it didn't cost a penny.

Don't worry. I haven't taken to robbing allotments although according to Mama Lovelygrey who has one, some people do.  No, this lot was given to me by kind ladies from the Prince de Bretagne veg company.  They were doing a promotion on the ferry. It  would have been thrown away if I and a bunch of hungry scavengers didn't take them. What sacrilege! Romanescu and Chorizo cheese anyone? I've always thought those pointy bits look like one of Madonna's bras.

Now here's mystery veg. It's not often one stumps me. I'm quite good at food quizzes.  Someone on Facebook said it was salsify.  Cheers for that Roz but I'm not sure. I think I had that in my Riverford box once and it was smaller. This is mooli sized. And no it's not a mummified condom or the rear end of a dachsund as Helen and Alison thought.  This is definitely edible and not in a strawberry flavoured rubber Johnny kind of way.   Further suggestions gratefully received, sensible and otherwise.  Oh and what to do with it in a van equipped with two rings and a barbecue.  Our cooking methods are limited by this.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Best View In France - Not!

Bonjour mes amis.  We arrived yesterday evening in the country that I view as my second home.  Yes France, All of your beautiful beaches, mountains and cities are mine all mine.   I shall take my pick of where to stay by your stunning Breton coastline for the next fortnight. One day I might choose one place with an idyllic cottage to settle for longer but for the moment you're my favourite place to satisfy my deeply ingrained wanderlust.

This was the view from the motorhome  window last night.  Don't worry that my journey seaward has been curtailed.   I chose to stay here. Really!

E Leclerc at St Pol, a branch of my favourite French supermarket chain, is just ten minutes from the ferry port which was dark on our arrival. Camping on its doorstep in the free quiet motorhome aire adjacent means as soon as it opens we can stock up on goodies francais before moving down to more scenic stops.  Folk music at Concarneau beckons after lunching on the cheese from our early morning supermarket sweep.

 Lots of the supermarkets around these parts provide parking for us camping caristes.  They recognise that we bring in business.   Goodness knows what would happen if I camped up outside a Sainsbury's branch in the UK but I'll hazard a pretty good guess.  The relaxed laws on where I can stop and stay in my behemoth is one of the reasons why I love this land so much.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Nanu Nanu Shazbot

Photo: Eva Rinaldi
It was probably inevitable that I was going to post a tribute to Robin Williams after hearing about his death. But first let me tell you what I was up to first thing yesterday morning.  After going downstairs for my obligatory morning cuppa I came back upstairs to wake Louis up as Zombie Mama.  She looks and sounds exactly like me but instantaneously turns into a fierce undead creature who tries to suck his brain out of his nose.  Lou loves the fusion of fear and mirth that my transformation brings.  We end up having a great big play fight and crying with laughter.  Sometimes one of us get hiccups.

In the depths of my depression I didn't relish  moments like that.  I still had them but they didn't bring the joy that they do now. Yet I was able to mask the feelings of despair so that Louis was unaware of what I was going through.  I didn't miss a day of work either.  Looking after my kid and holding down a job were pretty much all I could manage though.  Looking back, I'm proud I prioritised those two activities.  And I'm also grateful that things didn't get a whole lot worse.  Even though life didn't seem worth living I was never tempted to contemplate suicide.

Back to Robin Williams.  Another good, talented and wise person takes their life.  Even those with many gifts are not immune from this horrible illness which has tragic consequences for those who have no rest from the damaging thoughts that it provokes.  Rest in peace, good man.  I loved you as Mork when I was a child and in Awakenings and Good Morning Vietnam.   You will be remembered for the happiness that you brought to others and the compassion that you showed during a life well lived.

It seems an appropriate time to re-out myself,  a happy, busy and strong individual,  as someone who has suffered mental illness.  Thankfully with drugs, self-help therapy and time I recovered fully.  I  hope with all my heart that I stay well and continue to really enjoy life, especially larking around with my son as that is priceless.   There is still stigma attached to mental health problems and I'd lie if I said that I personally hadn't come across it.  But it's dwindling and will diminish further if the message that no-one is immune is put out there as often as possible. So I share my story of personal hope freely.  If it persuades one person to seek help before another life is prematurely cut short then it's absolutely worth it!