It had to come at some point I suppose. After more than 6000 miles in four months we find ourselves in Calais on our last day in France, waiting for the ferry home. The last few days have been a bit weird; in fact the last couple of weeks have had a little cloud above them, knowing that we’re nearing the end of a brilliant four months away. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on a fortnight’s break the first week is amazing with all those days stretching ahead, then in the middle of the second week you try not to think about the journey home, but with only a day or two to go, the gloom sets in.
What I think I’m trying to say is that we’ve done pretty well up to now – and we certainly don’t want to appear ungrateful for this fantastic opportunity which many other folks can only dream of – but being away so long kind of intensifies the feeling. We know there’ll be a three-foot pile of mail waiting for us, Gill has to sort out some work now she’s retired from teaching (how else will we pay for next year’s trip?!) and I have to crack on with my half of my business – my lovely partner Jackie has been carrying the load all the time we’ve been away having fun.
But you know what? We both have a little bit of us that’s looking forward to getting home. Mostly to catch up with family – there’s our daughter Claire’s wedding to look forward to in eight weeks, and we’ve set aside a week or two to travel to Scotland to visit our parents. There’s also the thought, and trust me – after 17 weeks in a van it’s more of a dream – of bathrooms big enough to turn round in, and water which comes from taps which you don’t have to fill up first! A proper bed! And I have to admit that some mornings I’ve opened Vince’s blinds and thought ‘Where on earth are we?’ before memory kicks in and I remember, so being in one place will be a bit of a novelty at first.
Putting all that nonsense to one side – what have we learned? What would we do differently? Not much. I mean there’s not much we’d do differently, not that we’ve learned nothing!
The most common question we were asked during the planning stages, was how would we avoid killing each other! I have to say that spending seventeen weeks in a confined space with one other person is actually fine – if it’s the right person. And I’m lucky enough to have married the right person! We’ve got to know each other even better, had some right old laughs, and the odd stormy day we had soon passed. If you want to know how Gill feels I can pass you her email address; I think she’s on her way to New Zealand as we speak…
We’ve learned that travelling every single day isn’t good – you reach a point where it’s another church, another square, another café. You have to take a bit of time out to sit and read, watch a movie or go out for dinner – just like at home. We’ve learned to be a bit more forward with strangers and ditch the British reserve. That scary looking fella staring in the window just wants to know why your door’s on the wrong side – he’s never seen a British van before. Then he’ll ask you to join him and his family for a glass of wine and a chat. The Brits we’ve met on our travels are all barking (I’m talking about you, Graeme and Sally) but what a hoot we’ve had with many travellers over drinks or meals or just sitting outside the van chewing the fat.
When I look back at our early posts I suppose I’ve learned a little bit about writing – that there’s something funny or interesting in every single day, and that’s such a valuable lesson to take back to the workaday world. When we’ve had an uneventful day or two, and I have no idea what to write, I just sit in front of the keyboard and the drivel seems to flow from my fingertips! This blog has made us many new travelling friends who comment or email, and I’ll be following their own blogs with envy over the winter. Incidentally if The Sunday Times are reading this and need a new travel correspondent – just drop me an email 😉
We’ll probably post again in a few days to say how we’re adjusting to the stationary life, and of course – Vince’s travels will continue with the odd weekend away until we can save up for another big trip. That’s a definite by the way; one of our big questions was ‘Will we want to do this again?’ The answer is a resounding ‘YES – bring it on!’
Finally – for now – thank you, for reading my ramblings, for your comments and encouragement; they mean a lot. There’s only room for two in Vince but he’s got a big heart, and it feels like you all came along with us for the ride. It wouldn’t have been half as much fun without you.
Take care of yourselves,
Love Ken, Gill and Vince 🙂