I thought my heart was going to break as I closed the door to ‘The Cottage’ and twisted the old antiquated key for the last time.
A sob seemed to come from nowhere, trapping in my throat. My hand instinctively covered my mouth to stop it from escaping. Knowing Chris and the kids were behind me, watching from the windows of our new motorhome, I tried desperately to compose myself. Placing my remaining hand on the cold wooden green door to steady myself, I closed my eyes and focused on breathing.
I didn’t want them to see me cry.
I didn’t want to make Chris feel any more guilty than he already did. I didn’t want them to see the disappointment etched all over my face. I lowered my head, took one last deep breath and whispered a silent prayer to the universe…
‘Please, for the love of God, let this work out…’
Climbing into the van with more energy than I felt, I buckled up, avoiding eye contact with anyone but the dog. I could feel Chris’s all-knowing look boring into me. I’m unable to hide anything from him. He reached over, cupped my hand softly in his, winked and whispered ‘Ready?’
I nodded, swallowing hard to suppress the tears. He started the engine, and slowly we meandered down the stone chip drive, each regarding ‘The Cottage’ tenderly as we passed. Jonah, our 8-year-old son, was the first to break the silence, ‘Goodbye cottage, we love you!’ he shouted with a trembling voice as we turned the corner and lost sight of our past.
Tears fell unchecked as we chugged up the hill; all of our worldly goods clattering behind us in poorly packed cupboards. In that moment I realised we all felt the same. We loved our life in Cornwall and we all shared the same fears for our future.
After a fairly quiet and uneventful trip, with each of us trapped by our own silent thoughts, we arrived tired and aching, at our ‘pit-stop’ campsite in the middle of a torrential down pour – only to find Reception closed. In squelching flip-flops and no coat, Chris tracked down the owners; inebriated in the bar. We found our pitch amongst a LegoLand of motorhomes and hooked up.
Now wet, tired and aching, I unpacked our new whistling kettle to make a well-deserved brew. Only, we had forgotten to stop for gas on our way and passed the only water service point on the campsite – a cup of tea was out of the question…so a cold beer and a glass of wine served as a welcome substitute.
The next hour was spent trying to find everything and anything…
Pajamas, toothbrushes, the dog lead and his poo bags evaded us; so now exasperated, wet, tired and aching we decided to ‘bed down’ for the night.
Sleep actually came easily to us all after much shuffling. It is amazing how one roll from one person at one end of the van has a tidal wave effect for those at the other end. Sea sickness comes to mind.
At 3am we are woken abruptly by the sound of loud retching. It would appear dogs suffer from sea sickness too…
In a frantic bid to hurl Buddy out the door, Chris smoothed down every wall and work surface in his pants trying to find a light switch, to no avail. Jonah’s ‘monkey’ head torch was the only thing that came to hand, providing two eye-beams of essential light – but sadly 30 seconds too late. Chris stood in Buddy’s vomit with an accompanying expletive.
I had to laugh otherwise, I thought I would cry.
The morning routine was like a Rubik’s cube of maneuvering – it will require some practice for sure. Beds down, duvet’s put away, toilet tennis completed and we were finally ready to sit down for breakfast. Ahh, no gas – Costa Coffee it was.
The day ahead involved a trip back to Cornwall for LPG Gas, a man hunt for a cycle signal board and a visit to an in-car entertainment shop to beg for an emergency fitting of our cheap Japanese sat nav/radio/DVD unit that was not compatible with our van (or any van for that matter). Our friend Steve Coupland’s wise words ‘Buy Cheap/Buy Twice’ was ringing in my ears.
Buy cheap, buy twice!
With a full tank of gas and a next-day appointment at Plymouth Car Sound, we headed back to the campsite – whistling kettle at the ready.
Alas, the gas ring would not hold a flame. Now desperately running out of time, we made another frantic attempt to find a local gas engineer who could fix our cooker before our ferry disembarked for France.
Alleluia for Tamar Towing – not only did they fix our cooker within an hours’ notice – they also sold cycle signal boards! With a quick fix and another dent to our budget we rushed optimistically across town, with a minute to spare, to the in-car entertainment shop to have our cheap Japanese satnav fitted. We left Colin, our home and everything we possess, with them, in what we hoped would be another ‘quick fix’.
Seven hours later, we were still sitting in the car at the campsite looking rather suspicious, as darkness descended (thank goodness we kept one car until the last day). Holiday makers were staring bewildered, wondering if we were camping in our people carrier. We were hungry, bored and very intolerant of each other. The usual “Are we there yet” from the kids turned into a 5-minute repetition of “Have they finished yet?”
It would appear that cheap Japanese SatNav/Radio/DVD units are not easy to fit.
Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime, ‘Colin’ our beloved new motorhome turned the corner to great cheers and a loud round of applause!
Finally, we were able to make a cup of tea. However, the occasion called for something a little stronger so Chris popped the cork.
The last two days have been a living hell. Was it worth it? I’ll tell you in a month or so – once the aches and pains (both to our bodies and our budget) have abated.
Life is going to be different – we know that. We were always going to need time to adjust.
At the moment it all feels a little cramped. Everything seems like a chore. Last minute preparations are never fun. We are tired and a little stressed.
But are we happy? Absolutely.
We proudly wear our ‘Naive Novice’ T-shirts that came free with this journey and adventure.
Onwards and outwards…tomorrow we set sail!
We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.