Tuesday, 30 September 2014

No Going Back. Gulp!

This is the  lovely squishy vinyl which arrived yesterday that's going on the floor of Klaus, my motorhome.   Those small beige spots are on a silvery background which will help keep that interior looking light and spacious  Teamed with the green Santorini upholstery fabric that I finally decided on after much poring over fabric samples, it's going to look well funky and retro.   It's way off the nautical theme that I originally envisaged for the makeover but aren't minds just made for changing?

Events dear boy, which are motorhome move related, are now  happening on a pretty much daily basis.  On some, things that I've ordered arrive in the post and I get all excited and do little dances of glee. On other days I may pop into the van and move stuff around, do little bits of DIY or put my plotting and scheming down on paper.  Yesterday though  I did a really important job.  The letter terminating my tenancy was written and once Louis has left to catch the school bus I'll be nipping to the letting agents office to post it.  It's a  big landmark that means that my radical move is going to happen.   I really will be saying farewell to bricks and mortar in just a month's time.  Yikes!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Single Handywoman Blues

Every so often I think that it might be quite nice to have a blokey around for bigger hugs than an eleven year old can muster, the occasional bit of emotional bolstering and some practical know-how.  That's not to say that I can't manage on my own.  Spending the last two and a half years being single has made me resilient and fiercely independent even when I had a leg that didn't work properly.  'Shall I carry that for you?' said my manly, but due to his gayness, unattainable neighbour when the big roll of material that's going on the cushions in the motorhome arrived at his house the other day.  'No, you're alright'.  I said as I hoiked it over my shoulder. 'I'm a big strong girlie'.

Yesterday was one of those days when it would have been good to have been able to stand back, act the helpless female and coo whilst  someone else manfully took command over all those tools that I've accumulated.  Billy Bragg need not apply. He sings a very funny song called 'Handyman Blues' where he makes it very clear that he doesn't know one end of a screwdriver from another.  It came to mind a lot yesterday.  I've been thinking Viscount Linley might do due to his furniture making prowess but then again I don't need someone with that degree of expertise or indeed quite so upper class.  The Guardian ran a quiz last week where you could test how posh you are.  I managed a miserable 5/23 and only scored so highly because I know the names of items of clothing and use a smattering of Latin in common parlance. My friend Helen got an impressive 15 which has something to do with the fact that she's spent an awful lot of time around horses and is on close terms with people with names like Binky.

Anyway I digress so back to the case in point.  I just needed some simple shelves for the van's wardrobe as they will effectively triple its clothes storage capacity.  Just the job for the other half, except there isn't one. So it was down to me.  In a brief optimistic moment I did think I might be writing a 'How To' type of post today demonstrating coolly and calmly how women in my situation might cope with DIY tasks on their own without the need for a man.  Sadly it's not to be. After exercising my knowledge of Anglo Saxon to the limits as plywood is a bugger to work with, a trip to Trago Mills to buy a different saw and muscles that feel like they've gone ten rounds against Mike Tyson I do have finished articles.  In spite of the fact that they'll do the job, they're an abomination and I'm too embarrassed to show them off!  Time I think to hone some skills.   Do I learn how to use tools for woodwork properly or do I just polish up my prowess at flirting with chippies?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Using It Up

Here's the very lovely Salty Dog and I getting to grips with reducing my store cupboard essentials to a bare minimum yesterday. Somehow we made inroads into my wine supply too during our girlie night in! Here, we're  using up the last of the chapati flour in my kitchen.  I've posted the incredibly easy recipe for these Indian flatbreads before.  Oh, and the one for the dal we ate them with that used up some of my red lentil supply.  I've been eating this combo for the last four evenings.  It's so yummy I didn't get fed up with it.

There's been more action to ensure that the cupboard is bare before I move into the van at the end of next month.  I had the tin of Ambrosia rice that I won from the tombola at the Scout Christmas Fayre last year.  Blimey, that stuff was made for a tooth that is way sweeter than mine.  I've donated a whole lot of jam and marmalade to Salty Dog. Gawd knows how I've collected the stuff along the way. I certainly don't buy it.

With just three small cupboards and a teenier fridge than the one in a domestic kitchen I'm going to have to rethink what really constitutes a kitchen essential that's worth dedicating space too.  Salt, pepper, carefully considered spices and olive and sunflower oil will have a home as will tea, coffee marmite and nutella for Lou.  They'll be breakfast porridge of course and in the fridge they'll be cheddar, milk, butter, eggs and bacon.  I'll store potatoes, onions and carrots under the seat at the back of the van.  A tub of plain flour will come in handy.

All those ingredients that usually lurk in cupboards for months waiting to be used will have to be banished.  There's no room for three types each of pasta and rice.  What I'm thinking might be the solution is to shop little and often and use up, say a bag of risotto rice over three or four consecutive meals by adding different ingredients each time,  We're just going to have to see how it goes!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Living in A Motorhome: Questions I've Been Asking Myself

Here's a shot taken inside the motorhome from way back in 2011 when Louis and I spent the week before Christmas in Bristol. For those of you who are worried that we are going to freeze our jubblies off over winter please note that my very woosy square-eyed son is wearing just his pyjamas. Evidence I think that cosiness will prevail.

Things are moving in the right direction here. This weekend will see me developing nascent woodworking skills and making shelves for the wardrobe to effectively increase clothes storage. My furnishing material has arrived and David, my upholsterer has taken it away along with as many cushions that he could fit into a Mondeo around his dog.  Vince the carpet fitter has told me it's possible to refit vinyl on the floor and under the units even if it will involve some swearing because it's a pig of a job.  So some lovely, thick, funky lino has been ordered .  In about three weeks I'll be able to show off how the van has been completely transformed.  I wonder if George Clarke would be interested in an inspection!

Last Saturday I shared a bunch of questions that over people have been asking about my imminent move into my home on wheels.  Here today are the ones that are going around in my own head.

Q:  What stuff am I going to bring from my home?
A: I'm going around the house mentally picking out stuff that might not be put in storage. There's the hand blender, my hair clippers and epilator, a few books, a box of sewing gear, those two jars of sloe gin that I've made,  my meditation stool........ I've got to be careful of not creating clutter while at the same time not feeling hard done by because I'm missing some jolly useful item of kit.  Then again if I've missed something glaringly obvious I can go out and buy it.

Q: Isn't cutting my hair in the van going to make a right royal mess?
A: In spite of the bad hair day accident that I had last year I still clip my own hair.  It's a messy old business and if I'm not careful the house is strewn with fine grey clippings that get trodden around.  I'm going to have to be careful not to spread these around the van.  Perhaps I'll lock myself in the bathroom to do this job to limit the potential mess.

Q:Where am I going to store my paperwork?
A: In the office at work under my desk in its existing Really Useful Box. It'll take up too much work in the van.

Q:Should I bring my Magimix and sewing machine?
A: I'm sorely tempted! There's space enough under one of the benches.

Q: Do I need a TV licence?
A: Now here's a nubby question.  Louis will officially move to the home of his dad as he lives there half the time anyway.  My  residence will be deemed to be the house of Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stuff, who have described this arrangement as  appearing like a virtual menage à trois with the dog! No funny stuff planned.  It's just the place where my post will be delivered  and I'll be on the electoral roll.  As there are two adults at this address already it does not affect the amount of council tax anyone pays.

The TV licensing authority website doesn't make it clear if I have to pay a licence fee or not.  If you have a licensed TV in the house you don't have to pay again when you're in your motorhome or caravan.  But my address won't really be my proper home. The van is!  I'm going to phone up and put the question about whether I need a licence in my own right explicitly and how to go about it. Whatever stereotypes there might be about travellers this one isn't going to be living outside the law.

Q: Do I need a printer?
A: Didn't think I did as hadn't used mine for months  but then every other piece of homework that Louis brings home seems to require him to print off images from the Internet.  Maybe we can organise it so that he does his printing elsewhere, at his Dad's house or school.  There are some mini pieces of kits available that I might have to invest in if it really proves necessary.

Q: Are there any fancy must-have storage gadgets that I haven't seen that will make life a whole load easier?
A: There's quite a bit unused gap behind the driver's seat and I'm particularly on the lookout for stylish storage for shoes and laundry.

Q: Will I be able to make bread and cakes?
A;  Absolutely yes!  Thanks to advice from Toffeeapple I've ditched the idea of a Remoska in favour of a cheaper, and apparently better, halogen oven.  One is waiting for me to collect it this morning at the local Yodel office.

Q: How am I going to top up my water without moving the motorhome each time I do so?
A:  The grey water from washing ourselves and our dishes is going to drain into a bucket and I'll empty that as I go along. But how do I keep topping up my clean water?  The opening to the tank is quite awkward and I'm after a dastardly simple or hi-tech but cheap solution.  I haven't thought of it yet.

Q: What about getting access to my summer wardrobe if I decide to extend my time in the van.  Won't it be in a storage container?
A: Because I'm intending to dress in layers there should be enough clothes to last through the summer anyway.  If not a charity shop spree might be called for.  That will of course bring about another problem to be overcome.  Where to put the winter clothes?

Although there's lots to think about I'm not too anxious just excited. I'm pretty sure that I'll work things out as I go along.

Friday, 26 September 2014

No Fear!

Do I care about what others think about me?  Of course I do.  I'd worry if they thought that I was inconsiderate, hurtful, rude or impacting on their lives detrimentally because of my own behaviour or that of my son. For what Louis does reflects, to some degree, on how I parent him.  I wouldn't like to be thought of as smelly either.  Even when others resort to perfunctory wet wipe washes at festivals and in the wilderness, I'm  there being fastidious with my soap, deodorant and perfume.  I even take my chances on US hiking trails in spite of the fact that my US friends have warned me about the alleged bear attracting qualities of fragrance. I just have to be clean!

But do I mind if other people judge me harshly because of my appearance, background, what I believe or the lifestyle choices I make? Well, in the words of the incorrigible Rhett Butler,  'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn'.

It's taken me a long time to get around to this way of thinking but as fifty approaches I'm not doing badly.  I have enough self-love and supportive friends and family who are right behind me to be able to ignore those who have a less rosy opinion based on their own attitudes and assumptions. And I wonder if they're a very small minority.  No-one so far has been terribly scathing of my 'living in my motorhome' project, for example.  Those who've expressed views against it so far have only done so because they are expressing concern about my comfort and not because they are expressing derogatory ideas.

I liked this article that I read the other day about overcoming the fear of what others think.  Doing this is such an important step to take toward being the person that you want to be.    There's wisdom here that I've already taken on board.  I thought that someone somewhere out there might find it helpful too!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Like Son Like Mother

This grainy, dark old selfie makes me laugh and will be a reminder of an excellent Mummy/Boy moment in years to come in spite of its poor quality.  It was taken last month at twilight on my favourite beach at Ster Greich in Southern Brittany where we'd parked up for a couple of nights.  Lou and I were mucking about.  You'd never have guessed would you?  Even though I look jovial I have to point out that my life was in considerable danger.  That thing tied under my nose is Louis'  two day old used sock that I'd failed to wrestle off him after twenty four hours as bedtime foot covering now seems to be de rigueur  whatever the weather.  In summer that makes it an incredibly noxious thing indeed!

With September comes more serious pursuits.  I'm back to tying my head in knots with Master's study and Lou has nearly finished three weeks at his new school.  Tuesday was a 'quick off the mark' parents' evening  to iron out problems early on.   Nothing major was highlighted.  Phew! According to his nonplussed form teacher Louis is very cheerful but disorganised.  Wonder who he gets that from?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014


Photo: Neil Kennedy
There are churches and chapels where I have like to hang around because I sense an extra special dose of sanctity in the air.  The cathedral at Wells is one such place where I got hit on my visits by those feelings of awe and wonderment.  Nearer home the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrement at Buckfast Abbey, with this modernistic stained glass window designed by the monks, does the trick.  I pop in there sometime to top up the calm.  When in France I've found peace in smaller churches like the simple Chapelle del la Joie that I discovered on the Breton coast. The church in the middle of Roscoff is another of my meditative haunts.

I am sensitive to how places feel and have chosen my homes bearing this in mind.   Even in  places where the atmosphere is generally good I've noticed that this can be temporarily  disrupted, say if a person is unpleasant when they visit.  Residual tension seems to hang around for a while after they've left the premises as well.

I hope  visitors to Lovelygrey Cottage get good vibes here. I've tried to create a happy, safe place where people can relax and share with me and Lou.   One of the reasons I believe that it feels good here is that it is relatively clean, tidy and uncluttered.  It's not been Feng Shunned to within an inch of its life because I know diddly squat about the system.  What I do know is that a tidy ordered house reflects my brain state.  It works both ways. If I'm stressed the house soon looks like a small tsunami has passed through. Conversely a cluttered, untidy environment causes me to get fretful.

Packing up a home to move inevitably causes disorder.  So I'm being extra specially careful to preserve a little bit of sanctuary at a time when bits of the house, because of the sorting and packing process already look as if a bomb has gone off.  My bedroom has been cleared in advance of the other room.    All extraneous clutter has now been cleared.  It'll will be my little haven where I can shut the door on all the chaos over the next few weeks and study, sleep and make plans for a much simpler small space future.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Date with Dahl

A while back I posted some quotes from Dr Seuss. that we might all be better for taking heed of. Today it's the turn of Roald Dahl  to impart some words of wisdom to teach, not just our children, but us adults how we might bumble along better in life.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” The Minpins

“I understand what you're saying, and your comments are valuable, but I'm gonna ignore your advice.”  Fantastic Mr Fox

“I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it's impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren't feeling twinkly yourself. A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I've also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It's sure to be a phony.”  Danny: The Champion of the World

“I shall never have a bath again," I said. 
"Just don't have one too often," my grandmother said. "Once a month is quite enough for a sensible child." It was at times like these that I loved my grandmother more than ever.”

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”  My Uncle Oswald

She might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment. Look carefully at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don't let that put you off. It could be part of cleverness.
I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But--here comes the big "but"--not impossible.  The Witches

“When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important: A stodgy parent is not fun at all! What a child wants - and DESERVES - is a parent who is SPARKY!” Danny: The Champion of the World 

“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free if you truly wish to be.” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“When writing about oneself, one must strive to be truthful. Truth is more important than modesty.” 
Boy: Tales of Childhood

“Careful those who fight with monsters, that they might become monsters themselves.” 

I do hope that I am a sparky parent....oh and an eye smiler as well!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Let The Decluttering Begin!

Here's the two bags of books that I took into work on Friday to be sold in aid of the hospital's charity.  I had to overcome the strong urge to do an impression in the car park of that bloke from Viz with the unfeasibly large testicles.  Just in time I remembered that I was an upstanding member of my profession and perhaps outside my workplace wasn't the time or the place for comedic acts involving deformed manly bits.  It's a really good job that those frontal lobes in my brain do actually kick in and start working before some of the madder ideas that pop into my head are actually executed. There could be a whole lot of trouble otherwise!

So the big clear  out of Lovelygrey Cottage has started in preparation for the time a few weeks away when most of its contents go into storage.   It seems a bit stupid to keep stuff that is unlikely to be used. No room will be spared. The books had all been given to me and sat under the lid of my bedside table. It dawned on me  that seeing that I have never been a fan of detective fiction or a few of the other genres represented in my literary stash, some of them would never ever be read.  So out they went.  A cull of clothes followed on Saturday morning. I'd like to think that I will soon fit into the jeans that I wore ten years ago but it may be wishful thinking.  Even if I do I'm more

of a dress and skirt kind of girl these days and they'd probably still be unworn, taking up valuable drawer space.  So I've been as ruthless as I've ever been whilst having a sort out.  Eight bin bags were manhandled into the local hospice charity shop.

There are going to be many others who will gain from this shedding of stuff.  The local charity shops are likely to have a field day and I'm going to make some freecyclers rather happy too.  A few of my friends may well receive a surprise gift.  After all one man's junk is another's treasure.    But as ownership brings responsibility the converse might be that less possessions bring more freedom.  As this angel card that I keep drawing suggests, the biggest beneficiary from this exercise in simplification could well be me!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Whoop Whoop! Leonard is 80

Photo: Rama
Happy 80th Birthday Mr Cohen you fedora wearing old sausage!  You don't know it but because of your songs, you've been a wonderful companion to me over the years.   I could not let this occasion pass without thanking you for the inspirational wit, wisdom and humility. Oh and by the way, I've never found your music depressing. In fact the dry humour rather perked me up when I was low.

In the run up to this momentous anniversary my car journeys around the Devon lanes have been accompanied by Leonard non stop once more for I can be an obsessive bugger.  I've relived the concert at the O2  on 'Live in London' where Louis is certain he can hear me cheering.  I was pretty near the stage so maybe he's right.  The bit he refers to certainly sounds like me when I'm a bit excitable.  And I've also been listening to the 2012 album 'Old Ideas'.   Even the familiar can bring new revelations. These beautifully crafted words from 'Show Me The Place' jumped out the other day.  I find it funny that, after dire dry English lessons at school, I still profess to dislike poetry over three decades on.  Perhaps it's time that I revisited  this broad sweeping statement.

The troubles came I saved what I could save 
A thread of light, a particle, a wave
 But there were chains, so I hastened to behave 
There were chains, so I loved you like a slave

In celebration of becoming an octogenarian, a new album 'Popular Problems' comes out on Tuesday. Lucky people in the UK can preview it here before it is released in more manageable formats tomorrow.   Of course I've done this already, several times actually! 'Almost Like the Blues',  'Did I Ever Love You' and 'My Oh My' are the songs that are being put on repeat.  Let's hope that I'll be lucky enough to hear them live at a UK venue soon.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Motorhome Living: Questions, Questions, Questions

Granted, it isn't every day that a full-time working mum decides to give up a conventional bricks and mortar house voluntarily. No wonder it's whetted some people's curiosity.  Here's some of the questions that I've been asked.

Q:  Aren't you going to be cold?
A:  This is by far the commonest one.  Bless you all for thinking about my well-being.  You really shouldn't worry though.   The van is tiny so it will warm up easily with the help of a small heater.  It's insulated for use in ski resorts so can be toasty even if there's an icy Arctic blast.  My electric costs are part and parcel of the pitch fees so there's no problem about turning the thermostat up a notch or two if it gets more nippy.  And in a power cut I can revert to gas central heating powered from my propane supply.

Q: Why are you putting yourself through this?
A: I'm doing it because I've wanted to for ages and I'm aware that I'm more likely to regret the things in life that I didn't get round to. There really isn't going to be much self-sacrifice involved.  I love life's little luxuries and don't intend to forego them.

Q: Won't you miss having a proper toilet?
A:  Duh! What do you think I am?  Some kind of weirdo who loves donning black rubber gloves and carting around tanks full of wee and poo, some of which won't even be my own bodily waste .  Of course I will but it's a job that's over quickly and is a small price to pay.

Q:  Are you stark raving mad?
A: No, I'm absolutely certain that I'm way more sane than lots of rat race dwellers.  The decision to live in the van is a carefully thought out product of a sound mind and not some irrational impulsive act.

Q: How is Louis going to do his homework?
A: On the table at the back of the van or lounging on his bed.  The latter is my preferred place to study.  We'll have Wi-Fi access for online assignments and research.  I'm not getting why this one is being seen as a problem.  How much space does a kid need to do a bit of maths?

Q: Won't you miss having a garden?
A: Are you joking!  I'm more  notorious than Freddy Krueger in the plant world.  Nothing lives long around me. I've even killed mint! Let other gentle green fingered people do the landscape gardening bit and I'll enjoy the benefits of their hard labour.

Q: Won't you and Louis kill each other cooped up in that small space?
A: Nope, we've tried and tested small space living together and it will be fine.  It's a rare occasion when we spend all day at home anyway. We're both too sociable and outdoor loving for that.

Q: Won't you be lonely?
A: No, unless I'm housebound through illness or injury I don't do lonesomeness.  I'm a sociable soul who seeks out people easily and I'm happy with lots of my own company as well.

Q: How are you going to have sex in there?
A: Bejesus!   Don't you get asked some personal stuff?  There's been more than one person whose quizzed me about this.  Seeing that I'm single and not a wanton strumpet, as Brian called Jennifer on 'The Archers' the other day, it's not currently an issue.  If I'm tempted to become one and the mood takes me I'm sure I'll work something out pretty easily.  After all don't the mile high club operate in spaces rather more restrictive than a six metre long motorhome?  Some things are definitely meant to be kept private so there'll be no kiss and tell if I figure it out.  It's not that kind of blog I'll have you know!

Q: What happens if you find that it is all one great big mistake?
A: I'll turn to Rightmove and choose myself a house to move into.  Simples!

If anyone else has any burning questions about moving into a motorhome that they need answering, pop them in the comments section.  You might even get a response!

Friday, 19 September 2014

So Glad You're Staying Scotland!

I've been up half the night though not by choice.  Thunder bouncing off the valley sides and great big lightning flashes cut short my sleep time.  I may have to have that eccentric little snooze that I've started to build into my office routine.  Mr Metrosexual nabbed a big leather recliner from a consultant when he left and it's a perfect spot for power napping.  My colleagues wake me when the snores get too loud!

Insomnia meant that I could keep up with the live results from the Scottish independence ballot as they came in on the BBC website. I'm British before being English and proud of belonging to the beautiful set of countries that make up the United Kingdom.  I hate break ups and  it would have been extremely sad to have been 'chucked' by part of our land.  Whilst I'm glad that the good folks in our Northern reaches have decided to continue to put up with being ruled by Westminster with the rest of us, I think those London-centric types have been sent a clear message by the narrow voting margin.   Yes, we are better together but us lot in the outlying regions need to have more control over what affects us locally.   Fat cat city types have no idea about our lives even if they do take the occasional holiday in a boutique hotel in Cornwall.

These words that I've just plucked from  Facebook are from the Scottish historian Neil Oliver.  Yes, he's the one with the flowing locks who's a presenter on Coast.  I think he shares my sentiments from across the border.

I will lay my cards on the table from the start: I will be voting No.  I have no economic argument to make. Frankly, I am sick and tired of hearing people argue the toss about the pound, pensions and the rest. I am voting No because for me, the offering by the Yes camp lacks nobility and humanity. Even more importantly, it lacks class, far less any kind of panache.

Having spent years working on the television series Coast, I think it’s fair to say I’ve seen as much of this United Kingdom of ours as anyone else living here. It’s a project that has changed my life in several ways. It has certainly caused me to fall in love with the place – the whole place. Circumnavigate these islands as I have, as often as I have, and one thing above all becomes clear: the national boundaries within are invisible and therefore meaningless.

People living in a fishing town in Cornwall have more in common with the inhabitants of a fishing town in Fife than either population has with the folk of a town in the Midlands. They have a shared experience and a common history of coping with lives shaped by the sea. The coast is another country – the fifth country – and it unites us and binds us like the hem of a garment.

The differences that are discernible as you travel around Britain are regional ones – made of accents and architecture, geology and geography. I am all in favour of people having the power to make decisions about their own patch: but I am utterly opposed to the idea of breaking centuries old bonds in order to make that happen."

There was a lot of talk about changing the national flag if Scotland left the UK but perhaps we need to do it anyway.  It's definitely missing a Welsh dragon somewhere!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Cupboard Has Got To Be Bare

Right!  It's all guns firing now.  M-Day, which is one I move out of my house into Klaus, the six metre legend on wheels has been set for 29th October.  The first campsite that I will stay in has a pitch reserved near the back gate where, five minutes down the lane, a pub is refurbished for my ale supping pleasure.  Klaus' makeover is well beyond the planning stage.  Upholstery material has been ordered and lino samples requested and there's just under six weeks to get Lovelygrey Cottage ready for  handing the keys back to the letting agents. That means a bit of decorating, cleaning, of course, packing and lots of decluttering.  My idea of what I need materially in my life is being drastically revised.

As a keen cook I have bountiful store cupboards so that I can pluck out exotic ingredients at my leisure without the need for a supermarket trip to source something weird and wonderful. Don't Jamie and the like recommend that? It's not how it is going to be in the motorhome. Space limitations mean that staples that can be kept ready and waiting for cheffy whims are going to be cut drastically.  It's going to take a bit of thought as to what really constitutes a culinary essential.  Sunflower and olive oil are on the list as are a few herbs, spices, stock cubes and sugar for the sweet toothed visitors. They'll be jumbo oats for breakfast and plain flour for pancakes and the odd baking experiment.  Oh and of course Marmite for me and Nutella for Lou.  Beyond that everything will be bought on an 'as and when basis' and ingredients used up pronto so that they don't hang around taking up valuable cupboard room.  I'll reckon I'll be expanding my cooking repertoire by researching recipes to use up dry goods left over from.

In the time before my move I have set myself the 'Old Mother Hubbard' challenge.  My cupboards containing two years worth of hoarded 'essentials' have to be emptied.  I'll be using up a load of stuff bought for one off  recipes.  The fayre served up in my final weeks at Lovelygrey Cottage  might be more unusual than it has been of late.  For instance, thanks to my now defunct lusting over Paul Hollywood there's an awful lot of white cornmeal of ground to various grade to get through.  I'm going to have to be really creative with that.   Expect some wacky recipes coming to a blog near you shortly!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mice Have Spirit Guides Too!

Just after I'd blogged yesterday I spotted this picture which tickled me and cleared  that grumpiness away. A gift from my own angels of the non furry variety to cheer me up maybe?  All I know is that it turned out to be rather a good day with a fair modicum of fun and laughter. Not bad for a working day.

I've also confirmed my moving date and hired a removal man who will look after my furniture at a cost that's way more reasonable than the first quote that I given.  It pays to shop around. The costs of my campsite and storage are now well within budget and mean that there's lots of money left over each month for saving and travels.

I am by nature a happy  hopeful soul who expects good things to happen and guess what?  They do so very often!   I have to warn you though that adopting this approach can really piss pessimists off big time.  Silliness normally does a good job at dispelling the dark clouds when they threaten to gather overhead.  Gloom and doom doesn't hang around for long.  To be in possession of a heightened sense of the ridiculous is a very precious gift indeed.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Big Fat Grumpy Grey Clouds

For Louis the transition to senior school life has been rather easy and thankfully he's loving it.  For me, there's been a change in routine which I'm struggling with and I'm not my usual sunny self.  Not sleeping terribly well due to a mind full of ideas and the muzzy head and sore throat that suggests there's a humdinger of a cold coming on doesn't help either.

When Lou was at junior school our day started in a lovely meandering kind of way.  I'd pop downstairs at 6:30, make an enormous cuppa and then snuggle back in bed to blog and do the Guardian crossword and quiz. I'd surface to make the porridge at around quarter to eight, a very chilled Mummy Bear indeed.   For me, that constituted a pretty perfect start to set me up for a working day.

On the days that I have Lou with me that is no more.  He has to be out of the door at 7:30 to catch the school bus and consequently things are rather more rushed.  I'm doing lots of nagging to get him away on time.  This is not conducive to the peaceful, harmonious environment I try to create in our home.
Our evenings are then filled with homework which is impossible to complete if there's an after school activity. Louis started orienteering club yesterday and as I have to collect him we both didn't make it home until after seven.   A joint effort of an essay about William Morris didn't get finished until after nine and there's still stuff outstanding in the homework book. Sports kit seems to need washing daily so the schoold doesn't suffer from stinky locker syndrome.   There's so much printing going on that toner is running out at an unprecedented rate.    And  don't talk to me about  requests for money.  Every day seems to bring a new expense that I hadn't envisaged, some extra books there.  Scary Secretary and I agreed that it's quite hard to budget for all the little things that schools have up their sleeve.

I don't reckon I'm alone in being a parent who find all this change difficult.  It's going to get easier I know once I've got used to the new routines.  Hopefully the endless spendless might calm down a bit too.   But for the meantime, beware!   I'm allowing myself a day or two of unsurpassed grumpiness. Baah humbug indeed!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Motorhome Musings

We were playing with the cartoon effect on the phone camera this weekend.  How cool is this!

Even spending a weekend with two adults and a child in the motorhome hasn't put me off my imminent plan make it my residence.   It's made me realise that I'm never happier than when I'm living in it.  So it's full guns blazing here.  Bits and pieces of superfluous stuff have been removed from the van to make room for things that will be more useful.  My wardrobe and other possessions in the house  are being ruthlessly culled.  Fabric samples have arrived and I'm mulling over upholstery choices. And in the next hour a man will arrive to give me a quote for removals and storage. Once I've set a moving date then I'll reserve my pitch on the campsite.  It's all going in the right direction.

Lou and I are thinking about what we'll miss in a home made of bricks and mortar.  We both agree on the bath and flushing toilet.  He says that he values the space but that's on the minus list for me.  The greater the size of a house, the more cleaning there is.  I think I'll miss the conservatory where I sit and bask in the sun when it's too chilly outside.  My cab will have to serve this function.  I'll spin the swivel seat and soak up the rays with a cup of tea.

I won't miss the tiresome packing and unpacking of possessions from the motorhome each time that I go away.  I reckon that I've spent a good two hours doing this over the last couple of days just for a weekend trip.  Once I'm on site and fancy a little spell away it will just be a question of unplugging  the hook up, winding in the awning and setting off.  I do believe that it's going to be bliss.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Warning To Scotland!

I like the occasional tot of a single malt.  AnCnoc is my particular favourite.  According to the company's website it has a honey and lemon nose and an appetising fruitiness to its taste.  I don't know about all that  Oz  Clarke-like lingo but it's dead yummy.   If Scotland leave the rest of the UK though I might well have to review my whisky buying habits and start buying tipple that's originated from a different place.  This is what I spotted in the farm shop at Healey's where the Little Orchard Cider Festival is held.  At £175 for a  limited edition 500ml bottle, Cornish whiskey would have to be saved as an extra, extra special treat but it may be a small price to pay for patriotism.  Until Cornwall jumps the Good Ship UK as well that is!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Liquid Apples

I've woken up this morning with body parts aching that I didn't know could hurt.  It must be all the dancing that I did last night! That ska band were a bit brilliant as were Mad Dog McRea. I might have initiated a whole bunch of people half my age into the fine art of Curly Wurly jigging!

Not for me the obligatory English hobby of weekend car cleaning. Louis, Red Mel, Salty Dog  (fresh from her Menorcan exploits) and I are at the Cornwall Cider and Music Festival. One for the annual calendar I think.  This is my kind of festie.  Small, great music and lots of different  apple based beverages to try. What's there not to like?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Way Weird Reiki

I've put off blogging about something that happened last week at the risk of sounding stark raving mad.  Colleagues, though, experienced community psychiatric nurses, have volunteered their verdict about my mental state, independent of this event, in the last couple of days.  They have unanimously pronounced that I am not insane but undoubtedly eccentric. They reassure me that is a good thing and indeed a compliment!

Healing sessions with Reiki Ray  continue on a monthly basis.   I reckon I've become progressively calmer, contented and more balanced as a consequence.   Ray begins by channelling energy through my body from my feet.  I can actually feel it pulsing up and down. Honest! Then he starts the reiki proper by  working on energy centres through the body starting at the  head.  On the last occasion something weird happened. He'd moved up to the crown but I could still feel hands working on my feet.  I opened my eyes just in case some alternative therapy loving intruder had entered Lovelygrey Cottage unannounced.  There was no-one to be seen in spite of the fact that I could still feel a person moving their hands over my toes, soles and heels   'There's someone else working on my feet!' I told Ray.  He seemed non plussed 'Is it an angel?' I asked.  'Could be.' he replied.  'Or it might be a dead relative helping out'. In spite of the oddness of the situation I didn't feel at all spooked.

A bit of Googly research has suggested that this might be a common experience during reiki sessions and one explanation is that spirit guides help out in sessions.  The very rational part of my brain is pooh-poohing that idea.  Perhaps it was the weight of the blanket covering my tootsies.  It doesn't explain though the fact that I felt movement from whatever was touching me and variation in pressure of touch.  I think that I've just got to realise that some things just can't be explained away in conventional scientific terms.  Maybe I've just got to sit back and be accepting when those curious and curiouser things happen.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Klaus the Knaus: An Update

'Your van needs a name.'  I was told during a boozy gathering  in a very trendy Bongo on a French motorhome aire with a couple from the Midlands.  Thanks to the quantity of wine consumed I can't quite remember what their vehicle was called but I know she was a girl.  Proof indeed that you don't need a very big space at all to party. My van is definitely a boy and a German one at that. So with a little thought I've  belatedly christened my favourite hunk of metal on wheels with a suitably macho name from his home country.

Each and every day something is happening behind the scenes to make the move into Klaus a reality. Yesterday I begun to weed my wardrobe to a degree never seen before.  I am being ruthless making decisions about the clothes I keep.  After all van space is restricted and storage is too expensive to keep stuff that I could never wear again.  Lots will go to charity.  It looks like the Salvation Army, who poked a collection bag through my door, will prosper greatly from this exercise.  After all, don't they have a history of looking after homeless people and officially I will be joining that tribe?

What was more  exciting was a visit from the upholsterer who did lots of measuring, worked out how much material is needed and who has now been given the go ahead to revamp Klaus' twenty year old tatty cushions and coverings. Ninety minutes or so was spent poring over fabric samples and discounting the ones that looked like they'd be better suited to covering chairs in a residential home.  I go in a few of them as part of my job so I know what I'm talking about.

When faced with soft furnishing gorgeousness a decision is hard to make and I'm still undecided.  Do I go with the Aztec inspired Maya design or the Greek key patterned Santorini in this lovely green or maybe turquoise?  Or there's a really funky plain denim coloured chenille that would set off my existing throws a treat,  The upholsterer is going to send me a picture of a yacht where the same fabric has been used.   Whatever I choose I'll go a teensy bit over planned budget but sometimes it's worth stumping up a bit of extra cash.  After all my investment will give me years of pleasure as I'm hoping that Klaus will take me on my travels for a few years yet.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

When Friends Meet Again

True friendship survives times apart.  I haven't seen my American West Coast gang for over three years now and don't communicate all that often even on electronic media. We're all a bit busy getting on with interesting and fulfilling lives.  However I know that when we meet again in 2015 we'll pick up where we left off, like we've never been apart.  Those folks are as dear to me as the people that I see more regularly.  After all we've shared trials and tribulations along with some wonderfully good times.

It seems that human-animal relationships might be the same.  If  there's ever a moment that you're in dire need of having the cockles of your heart here's something that will definitely do that.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Keeping That Feeling of Being in France!

We came back from France last Sunday but I'm trying to extend that feeling of being back there on holiday in a way where I'm just seen as wonderfully imaginative rather than completely deluded. There's a fine line to be trodden here! I extended the time that I wore the band allowing me to use the campsite  facilities until a couple of days ago.  It adorned my hippy-ish wrist with my loom bands and I pretended that I still had access to a pool within spitting distance  When the urge to nibble takes me,  there's still exotic cheese in the fridge  and a big bottle of the lovely vanilla tinged Breton made Breizh cola for sharing with Lou  And of course breakfast porridge wouldn't be right now if it wasn't topped with a healthy squirt of the salty caramel coulis that I discovered on a previous trip in May.  I must fathom out the recipe for that so that I can knock up my own version.

Last night my musings took me back to my favourite beach at Ster Greich where I picked some of the biggest sloes that I've ever come across.  They had a crease in them like little plums. Now the French are voracious foragers but I don't think sloe gin is in their repetoire. If it was I think that they'd have been fighting over these beauties.  'Ce n'est pas bon' said a man to his companion as he observed my activities.  'Ha, what do you know, matey boy!' I thought to myself.  My digestif will have provenance.

Yesterday I nipped into Newton Abbot before work to procure a big bottle of  cheap gin.  'Now that's what I call breakfast' said the bloke on the checkout at Asda when he caught sight of my litre and a half sized bottle.  Here it is in a Kilner jar with 750g of  sloes, each meticulously pricked with a fork, and 375g sugar.  It'll need a good shake each day for a fortnight to let those juices flow. Then its just a matter of waiting for six months until drinkies time!

And here's another way I'm keeping the memory of France alive and learning the language at the same time.  Ridan, a French singer, who I  first heard in the campsite launderette, has joined the musical family that accompany around the lanes of Devon in my car.

Venez-voir la spectacle d'un conteur de la vie
Tous les soirs de la semaine se joue la grande tragédie
Du drame à la passion, aux fables de La Fontaine
Sur les bords de la Seine se joue la comédie humaine

Monday, 8 September 2014

Days Out in Devon: Paddling in Exeter

Howdy folks!  I've woken this morning and can barely use my arms as they ache so much.  Driving is going to be interesting.  The reason is that I was out on  the water yesterday using muscles that I'd forgotten I had.  Here I am with some of 'Our Little Kayak Gang'.  How exciting!  I haven't been part of a gang since schooldays. As you'll guess it's not the shoot-'em-up, drug dealing type. We're just armed with our paddles and our capacity to talk ourselves out of any awkward situation that we're found in.

The story starts on Saturday morning with a wardrobe crisis.  Scouring a cupboard filled with natty short skirts and the little dresses that are my chosen garb, I discovered that I did not have anything remotely suited to a trip down river with a possible dunking or two.  A wetsuit was what I needed.  I've been thinking of buying one for a while now after I'd achieved my target weight so I can continue my wild swimming habit in the chillier months.  That  prospect seems way off as I have the propensity to eat and drink for England.   Life's too short to stick to a rigid diet.  After all chocolate is God given isn't it?   A quick trip to Trago Mills sorted me out.  After balking at the cost of ones that were fifty quid upwards,  I sourced a quality number for £16.99 that'll do in the interim.  As I suspected, the lithe surfer look that I aspire to evades me.  I look more like Madame Cholet before she's put her apron on!

After forcing bits of my body that didn't want to budge into that neoprene sheath and making a vow not to visit a toilet for the rest of the day I was out on the Exeter shipping canal.  Not unsupervised I hasten to add   Even though I might come across as daft as a brush I'm really quite a cautious individual.  We hired an instructor, Moss, who is a mate but also works for Haven Banks Outdoor Centre. They run a range of courses for adults and children from their spangly new place in the heart of Exeter.  Not only did Moss take us down the canal to the pub for lunch, a decent enough goal in itself in my book,   he gave us a star each from the British Canoe Union.  That's after we'd had the compulsory dunking and tried out a couple of different styles of boats.  As one of the world's most uncoordinated individuals I've developed my own unique style of paddling but it works.  Thanks fellow river rats for a brilliant fun day.  We'll be out adrift again soon.  You'll be able to find us by listening out for the singing and laughter on a waterway near you!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Dal To Die For

One of my favourite ways of socialising  is sharing food. To celebrate the end of Little Wren's placement and her success at getting a job with our team, Barbie Nurse invited us all over to her Brixham home for curry night last night. We all brought a dish to the banquet. Now I'll admit I can sometimes come up with the odd grandiose idea or two. There's a bag of hardly used chapati flour in my store cupboard, an impulse purchase from Lidl.  I said that I would make flatbread for us all as my contribution. However, just in the nick of time I got cold feet and baled out.  Thank goodness I saw the light.  Making enough chapati for twenty people would have been a gargantuan task.

Back along, while I was driving around Devon's lanes there was a recipe spot on Woman's Hour where masoor dal, a spicy lentil dish with lots of ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes was made in the studio.  It was a personal family recipe of Meera Sodha and sounded gorgeous.  I decided that making a big pot of this would be a much more attainable feat.  So I got out a couple of big pans, sharpened my onion slicing knife and made three times the quantity of the original recipe.

And here it is.  Providing this link saves me writing it out all over again.  I didn't have any cloves so missed this optional ingredient out.  I also cut the amount of chilli powder to about half of the quantity advised.  I recall that Jenni Murray might have found the dal a bit hot when she tried it and I too can be a bit of a wuss on the spicing front.  You won't see me tucking into a vindaloo anytime soon.

I have to say it was blooming delicious and I got lots of compliments about my culinary skills.  As the dal was easy-peasy to make I must let Ms Sodha have all the credit.  It'll definitely be one of the cheap simple dishes that I'll be adding to my regular cooking repetoire.  I did try taking a picture of my creation but it didn't do the dish justice. Lumpy brown stuff isn't very photogenic.  So instead here's a picture of a pea-like lentil plant for your botanical education!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Houses on Wheels: The Way Forward?

Photo: tinyhousebuild.com
I want to share something inspirational that popped into my mailbox courtesy of StumbleUpon the other day.  It's a wheeled trailer just 8 feet 6 inches wide.  Plans to build this timber clad delight are available to buy on the tinyhousebuild website.  'Eight feet six!' I hear some of you cry out.  'That would leave no room for that eccentric British sport of cat swinging!' Yet on the tiny house blog, the owner Gabrielle writes:

'To our surprise we have not felt, at any point, that we have had to make any compromises or sacrifices in our self designed and built home. Not once have we felt that our space was too small, that our needs weren’t luxuriously met, or that we didn’t have enough space to run our home business, entertain, cook, bathe, watch movies, play guitar, wrestle with our dog, or store our clothes and belongings. Not once have we been uncomfortable, hurt our backs in the lofts, struggled on our stairs, felt like our fridge or kitchen sink was too small, or felt that we didn’t have enough space for an item.'

These are reassuring words indeed to someone who is on the cusp of launching herself into small space living albeit on a tryout basis.

Photo: Guardian
Now here's another 'home' that's just seven foot wide. As it goes back some and has two storeys there's way more living space than the gorgeous house on wheels above.  It was reported in the Guardian that this was will go up for auction at the beginning of October and is expected to be sold for more than its guide price of £235,000.  If you click through on the link under the photo you'll see that living in it would be a very gloomy prospect indeed.  Even with clever architectural intervention, which would cost a packet, someone's going to have a hard job making it homely.  Give me my motorhome that's a full six inches narrower, just one storey and way less lengthy any day. The clever design and quality of light within the living space make living in it a far more attractive prospect. And I can move it around and choose views from my windows that are going to way nicer than a North London street.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A New Era

Nigh on twelve years I went out for a meal in Plymouth with a gang of girlies but was too exhausted to continue clubbing into the wee small hours with the rest of them . Even though I like a dance in other venues, night clubs are not my particular bag.   So I went back to Salty Dog's boat alone. Snuggled up in the biggest berth I felt the waves rocking the boat and Lou's little kicks like butterflies against the walls off my tummy for the first time.   I must have been about four months pregnant.   Lou used to startle after that when the fire alarm went off at work. It hardly seems like yesterday and now he's up to my shoulder.  In a moment we'll be leaving for his first day at senior school.  Doesn't he look ever so grown up? He's ever so taken with that blazer.

It's not my style to shed a tear as I wave him off at the gate.  I'm no Walter Softy.    I will however have a big cheesy grin on my face.  You'll have guessed that I'm ever so proud. I was told last week that he was a credit to me by someone who met him on holiday.  That means more than anything else I've achieved in life.  He's as bright as a button and has overcome the problems that his specific learning difficulties present.  But it's more than that.  What warms the cockles of my heart the most is that I live with the happiest person that I've ever come across. He's a well-rounded, inquisitive child who is kind and considerate, particularly to little children. He rubs along with most people,  is self-confident, emotionally intelligent and not at all sheep-like. My boy is very much his own person. And he is really funny which counts for a lot in my book.

Let's counter all this sugariness. Lou is way naughtier than I ever was at his age but terribly bad at covering his tracks.  He tells great big porkie pies often and badly and will argue the toss until sometimes I'm incandescent with rage.  He's also the untidiest creature on this planet although I think that there are loads of mums out there who would find me challengers for this title.  I think you're getting the picture that he's only really angelic when fast asleep.  There's got to be devil spawn somewhere. After all he doesn't like marmite.

We're starting a new phase of his life that lasts the next seven years after which he'll emerge as a grown up.  I know that time will fly by
 and I'm wondering what my boy will be like when he leaves school at eighteen.  Fingers crossed that all those good traits will still be intact!  He may even have developed that all important liking for yeast extract!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Slipper Lust

With a radical downsize in living accommodation imminent now is not the time to be developing an Imelda Marcos shoe habit! However I can't get these  slippers by Mahabis out of my head since I had a rare mad moment of wanton consumerism and clicked on their ad on Facebook.  They look uber-cosy with their breathable grey felt outer, cushioned insole and collapsible back. Where they go beyond  normal indoor footwear is that the rubber sole, which comes in a variety of colours is detachable.   You can pop outside in your slipper without traipsing dirt back into the house (or motorhome!) and it's kind of like having two pairs of shoes in one.  Genius!  Ideal for motorhome living I think.

Such gorgeous design comes at a price.  The slippers aren't cheap at £49 and it seems that the soles are normal sold separately adding an extra £15.  However the link here on the site clicks through to a bundle where the bottoms are free.  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Do Not Pass Go!

Once I was imprisoned for the best part of three whole days.  Now just before you think that I'm 'fessing up to some heinous crime I'd better explain that this was at the courtesy of the NHS rather than one of the HMP establishments. When Louis was born, the fear around baby abduction was so great that I was confined to a first floor ward for the best part of four days after my C-section. Access to the outside world was denied to me and my newborn.  It was probably through sheer boredom that Louis developed the two hourly round the clock need for milk that lasted for the next eight months. Luckily I had a bed by the window with an long ranging vista. I gazed out over to where the A38 at the evocatively named Splatford Split on the eastern side of Telegraph Hill becomes the A380 as well and planned my escape.  Luckily I was let out after a long administrative process before there was a need to resort to knotted bed sheets and tunnel building.

It is a rare day indeed that I do not go outside.  I relish fresh air and open space and cannot abide being cooped up for too long. Yesterday's experience of trying to help a family find a home for someone with advanced dementia highlighted the fact  that there may be many people with dementia out there, who through no fault of their own, are denied what, in my personal view, is a basic right.

In Devon there are care homes and  then nursing homes for people with dementia with the latter providing for those with greater need because their illness means that they are a risk to themselves and sometimes other people as well.   Due to the age demographic of the people affected by the illness many of those with this type of illness have restricted mobility.  Yet there are others who who maintain high levels of physical fitness.  Access to outside space is  important for all, however bad their disability.  It seems particularly crucial for this group of people who remain physically active.   Yet nursing homes for people with dementia do not provide this routinely.  The list of homes that I compiled that had this facility in Devon was scant.  What's more if people are unable to fund the placement themselves  their choices are very limited indeed.  The implication is that people can  be locked inside for the remainder of their lives with no 'Get out of jail free' card at their disposal.  No wonder they are climbing the walls, sometimes literally.  Behaviour and mood has to suffer as a consequence.  I'm pretty certain that I'd play up and demonstrate extreme agitation if I was locked up against my will without the hope of getting out.

There are facilities, including NHS hospitals, where ill conceived physical environment means that however good staff are, the care needs of those use them cannot be met fully.  This is a problem that can't be solved overnight.   This is a call however for the designers of new homes to incorporate unhindered access to outside space.  Yet this still isn't being done in new builds routinely and must be viewed as essential for people where medication is frequently not the answer to their problems.  Maybe it's time that this should be enshrined in legislation?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Those Few Little Extras

Yesterday evening I visited the local campsite three miles down the road from Lovelygrey Cottage to have a recce and a chat.  It's a goer!  I came clean with the owner that I was intending to effectively make myself homeless and that the van would become my main home.  The cost will be less than half of my current rent with no community charge, water rates, electricity or telephone charges.   It's directly on the route of Louis' school bus. He'll just hop on a stop before the one near his Dad's house when he's staying with me. The next step is to suss out the cost of storage of my home contents. We're definitely moving in the right direction towards the nomadic lifestyle that I would kick myself later in life if I had not tried it out.

The reaction to my decision to live in my motorhome has been mixed to say the least. Some, including my darling friend Salty Dog have been really enthusiastic. She was based on a boat for three years and thinks that living in limited space with fewer possessions lends itself to enhancing creativity and resourcefulness.   In fact she's tempted to buy her own gaffe on wheels and park up alongside!  At the other end of the spectrum there's the 'are you bloody mad?' brigade and those who are genuinely concerned about my wellbeing, particularly as to whether I will be cold and damp.

To these people I want to make one thing clear. I'm not embarking on this venture from the perspective of self denial.  I am a creature that likes my comforts and intend to make things as pleasant as possible for me and Lou.  The van is insulated for alpine skiing and will be toastie warm with just a small electric heater. Some funky interior redesign is also planned before I embark on this project to put in a bit more shelving and spruce up tired twenty year old upholstery and flooring.  Of course it was necessary to deprive myself of life's little luxuries on past wilderness hikes when reducing pack weight is paramount in order to obtain access to nature at its most pristine. Paring down possession to the bare minimum won't be required in the van. Although I've been doing some reading about vehicular payload, the ability to carry stuff with grinding pitifully to a halt, there's still a bit of room for bits and pieces over and above what I'd take on holiday. There will be everything I need - and more.

There'll be lots of cosy cushions and blankets, the toaster for bagels and eh yes, toast, some extra lighting for atmosphere and practicality and the slow cooker so that I can come home to stew and dumplings on a cold winter's night.  I'm sorely tempted to fork out for one of these Remoskas too, the Czech tabletop cooker that Lakeland sell which seems to have a huge following of adoring fans.  There's no oven in the van so this will expand my cooking repetoire to include roasts, cakes and baked potatoes.   Does this sound like deprivation?  I  hope that I've gone some way to reassuring those who've been having a bit of a worry that my life will be good.  Very good indeed!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Busy Doing Nothing.....

...except  swimming - cooking - reading - shopping - cycling - playing house in the motorhome - eating - dancing - foraging - needlepoint - self healing - sight seeing - napping - fishing - walking - beachcombing - meditating - socialising - litter picking - boules - beer, wine and cider tasting - lino cutting - writing - planning - star gazing - photography - sunbathing - crabbing - cafes - paddling - singing - boardgames - making friends - loom banding - phoning home - laughing - creatively visualising - driving - card games - watching bands - practising the lingo  - laundry - reiki -  lighting candles in churches -  talking - wildlife watching - go karting - listening to music on Spotify - aqua aerobics - quizzes.  Phew!

That's a summary of what we did on holiday.   I'll drive to work for a well earned rest this morning listening to this wonderfully upbeat song that Louis and I chose as our theme tune for Summer Holiday 2014.