Some of you may have noticed that I have been absent this last week or so from here, others may not. Nothing bad has happened but I have actually managed to go away on holiday.
No big deal I hear you say.
Well, after my final shift last Saturday I went in to a bit of a spin. I had Sunday to get my head around the fact that we were going to be on a ferry at 7.45 in the morning on Monday and I still had to pack. I went upstairs and looked at my wardrobe and began to contemplate what I should take. I should add at this point that we were going camping in Cornwall so the probability of changeable weather is quite high. Anyway, I lifted a handful of t-shirts, shorts, jeans and a few shirts out and bundled them in our holdall. Underwear was then added and a hoodie for the evenings. My wife was a little more exact with what she chose (always more practical at packing than me) and we had the bag all packed and ready.
Next step was to go in the loft (or attic depending on what side of the world you’re on) and get down all the essential kit. There was the tent, sleeping bags, airbeds, cooker, electric cable and, of course, the most important piece of equipment, the kettle.
This was all going too well. Something has to go wrong surely? It can’t be this easy to go away can it?
Well, so far it seemed it could be this easy.
On Sunday evening we loaded the car with everything except our wash bags and pillows (we’re not savages, we did allow ourselves some comfort) and set work on putting the odd bits of kit on the roof rack. And that’s when it began. I started to worry about whether the bungee straps would hold everything in place. What if they loosen and come off down the road? What if the equipment falls off? What if we cause an accident? I couldn’t stop thinking the worst so I went back inside for a bit to answer of these questions rationally in my head. Once I’d satisfied myself (and my wife had convinced me it would be fine) we finished strapping everything down and went to bed happy that it was all done.
We got up Monday morning with no dramas, got on the ferry and started the long drive down to the wonderful west Country. I was still nervous about the roof rack but I kept my thoughts to myself and checked it every time we stopped to satisfy my head it was still safe. All that actually moved was the tarpaulin cover and I was able to put this down to the wind catching the front and lifting it free of the bungee cords. This was easily fixed by wrapping the sheet under one of the cords at the corner. Job done. One happy camper.
On arrival at the site we found our pitch had been taken by someone else (cue rapid breathing and nervous fidgeting) but we were given another pitch of a similar size and you can imagine my delight when it was reckoned to be the best on the site. The views outside our tent was stunning and our eyes were led along the rugged Cornish coast so their mistake worked out pretty well in the end.
I won’t bore you all with the full details of the holiday but suffice to say I felt the most relaxed I have in a very long time. I had no TV and minimal internet access but I did have access to stunning beaches, precious time with my family and plenty of times where I could just be on my own and not have to worry about anything. We met up with family and friends while we were down there and all went out for a meal one evening where we could have one big catch up and chat about things as if we had never been away.
Of course there was a higher drink and rubbish food intake than we would normally have but this consisted of pasties, cider and proper ice cream topped with flakes and clotted cream. However, I’m pretty sure this could be classed as some of my five-a-day. Cider = Apples (1 portion). Pasties = Onion, turnip and potato (2 portions). Ice cream = Blackcurrant, Apple (1 portion). Plus I’m pretty sure chocolate comes from beans so that’s another portion right?
One thing I did find while we were away was that I was willing to push my boundaries a little and I even took a selfie on top of a cliff edge overlooking Kynance Cove to prove to myself in the future that I could do it.
I also discovered that stacking stones on top of each other on the beach is incredibly therapeutic. Finding the perfect balance of each stone when they are all different shapes and sizes is like trying to find a place in my head for each of my worries. Each one requires skill to place it in the right place before I can deal with it and place the next one on top of it and begin the process of turning and twisting it to stabilise the whole stack. My wife affectionately nicknames me Makka Pakka after the character in the children’s programme ‘In the Night Garden’ who has a passion for collecting stones. I don’t collect them but I do think that for something so solid and awkward they can be incredibly beautiful.
A bit like me really. Well, the solid and awkward part at least………………..